Fight Against HIV/AIDS in Africa Should Focus More on Blood Safety, Dybul Says
A renewed focus on unsafe blood transfusions and used syringes is needed to combat the spread of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, Ambassador Mark Dybul -- who serves as the U.S. global AIDS coordinator and administers the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- said on Wednesday during a visit to Zambia, Reuters reports. Evidence shows that sexual transmission of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa is stabilizing because of education programs, Dybul said, adding that preventing transmission through blood transfusions remains a challenge in the region because of inadequate medical facilities and high HIV prevalence. Dybul during his four-day visit aims to evaluate HIV/AIDS programs in Zambia, where one-fifth of the country's 10 million people are HIV-positive, according to official estimates (Shacinda, Reuters, 10/18). The U.S. has pledged $149 million in PEPFAR funding in 2006 to HIV/AIDS programs in Zambia to increase access to antiretroviral drugs, train health workers and broaden counseling and testing in rural areas. PEPFAR has committed $570 million to Zambia for its HIV/AIDS programs, according to the AP/CBS News (Mwanwangombe, AP/CBS News, 10/18). According to Reuters, much of the funding from the U.S. goes to the Maina Soko military hospital in the capital, Lusaka, which serves only military personnel and their families. Dybul during his visit also urged African countries to build on programs that stress abstinence and condom use and that focus on nonsexual transmission of HIV, including preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission (Reuters, 10/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.