Don’t get HIV from health care!
HIV transmission during health care is a big issue in Africa and a smaller but often important issue elsewhere as well. Some skin-piercing cosmetic services are dangerous as well. HIV can survive on skin-piercing instruments (such as razors) for hours even when dry and for weeks when wet (such as in a syringe). HIV transmits much more efficiently through skin-piercing instruments than through sex.
Should you be concerned about bloodborne risks? Do you know anyone in your community with an unexplained HIV infection (not from sex, injection drug use, or mother-to-child)? Are you confident reused skin-piercing instruments are sterile? Here are two ways to find, stop, and avoid bloodborne risks:
1. Investigate! The best way to protect yourself from bloodborne risks is to make sure someone investigates unexplained infections to find and stop their source (see “Investigate” and “Outbreaks and Unexpected Infections” in the menu on the right). Investigations work: In countries where governments investigated unexplained HIV infections, subsequent HIV infections have been rare except in people who inject illegal drugs and in men who have sex with men.
2. Avoid bloodborne risks! Ensure that whoever gives you a skin-piercing procedure during health care or cosmetic services uses new or sterilized instruments (see menu on the right). Countries where more people are aware of bloodborne risks have less HIV. Worry about skin-piercing instruments, but DON’T WORRY ABOUT THINGS WITH NO RISK! Bug bites and everyday activities are safe. People with HIV have skin that keeps the virus in, and others have skin that keeps the virus out.
Controversies: Other sections in this website (see the menu on the right) consider controversies related to HIV in Africa, including male circumcision, Depo-Provera injections for birth control, and unethical medical research.
How did this happen? The last section in the website (Who failed us? in the menu on the right) considers the experts and institutions who, knowingly or unknowingly, mismanaged the response to Africa’s HIV epidemics.
This website does NOT discuss HIV transmission through anal or vaginal sex, mother-to-child, or injection of illegal drugs. You can find information on these risks from many other sources.