HIV Transmission Through Medical Procedures in Africa

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Even back in the 1980s, not long after HIV was identified as the virus that caused AIDS, medical transmission was recognised as one of the possible modes of transmission.

[] Some important research went into establishing the extent of unsafe medical practices and the results suggested that these practices could transmit HIV very rapidly.

As a result of this research the possibility of medical transmission was all but eliminated in Western countries. But virtually no research was carried out to establish the contribution of this kind of transmission in African countries.

WHO, various UN agencies, leaders of all descriptions, professionals of all descriptions, various globally represented organisations, institutions, universities and others flew the flag for heterosexual transmission of HIV in developing countries (though not in developed countries).

The few exceptions to this were considered to be denialists or trouble makers. There are still few exceptions and they are still quickly branded and dismissed by the HIV industry elite. []

Well, maybe medical transmission of HIV is not very high; maybe it is lower than heterosexual transmission. Maybe all the fuss is about nothing and maybe I’m just one more person poking his nose in where it doesn’t belong.

But we are entitled to know why medical transmission of HIV has not been properly investigated, why it is still dismissed as being almost non-existent. The recently published (though based on out of date data) Modes of Transmission Survey for Kenya suggests that medical transmission accounts for 0.6% of all transmission, based on an assumption that seems to have been pulled out of thin air. []

The same survey notes a finding that puts the rate at 2%, over three times higher. But this is still dwarfed by most of the other modes of transmission, especially heterosexual transmission. And even 2% sounds ridiculously low.

But those who are still being branded as mavericks for questioning the received view point to many bodies of data that have managed to investigate medical transmission rates of HIV. []

Those bodies of data show that medical transmission is extremely significant, perhaps even more significant than any other mode of transmission, including heterosexual transmission.

All the dissenters are asking is that these results be taken seriously and subjected to rigorous testing. [] If medical transmission of HIV even stands at 5%, this would still account for millions of people currently living with HIV and hundreds of thousands of people who have died of HIV.

One of the most heartrending things about people dying of HIV, as opposed to other diseases, is that they are, because of the unexamined and long held assumptions of so many ‘brilliant minds’, vilified, ridiculed, shunned, persecuted, sneered at and humiliated just when they are in most need of sympathy, love and basic humanity.

If it is even remotely possible that we as people are guilty of such terrible injustice to fellow human beings, surely that is in urgent need of investigation? Far from dying because they have engaged in what may or may not be risky sexual activity, people may be dying because they have followed the advice of well educated professionals.

It’s almost unthinkable that many, or even any recent cases of HIV have been transmitted by the very professionals that are supposed to be preventing and treating the disease. But it is even more unthinkable that we could suspect such a thing is happening and do nothing about it.

Maybe there is a danger that people will stop going to health professionals and stop seeking medical treatment, even vital vaccinations and life saving treatment, because of a complete lack of confidence in the profession. But that is something the profession will have to deal with because they certainly don’t deserve any confidence or respect until they have fulfilled obligations that have so long been outstanding.

It is possible that in some countries, going to the doctor may curently be a significant health hazard, carrying risks of infection with HIV and many other blood borne diseases. In the field of HIV, nothing is more important right now than establishing the extent of HIV transmission through medical treatment.

Guesst Post from Simon Collery: I am campaigning for the recognition of non-sexually transmitted HIV, which may be a significant contributor to some of the most serious epidemics, which are all in sub-Saharan Africa. The extent of non-sexual HIV transmission is unknown because no comprehensive investigations have been carried out. But there is a lot of evidence against the view that sexual behavior alone can explain the massive epidemics found in countries such as Swaziland, Botswana and South Africa. While I do blog about other subjects relating to Africa, this is my main concern.

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