Further to a recent report that parents of 23 thalassemic children who were thought to have been infected with HIV through contaminated blood transfusions were calling for an investigation, it appears their demands are being met, at least in part.
There will be an investigation to, in effect, establish who to blame for the outbreak. The families have a right to expect compensation, but how about recognition that healthcare associated transmission of HIV (and other diseases) can and does occur? How about an investigation to establish how often such incidents occur elsewhere, or how often they might occur in the future? Don’t we want to prevent HIV?
Once the issue becomes top-heavy with lawyers, they are the only ones who will benefit to any great extent. But it is possible that many people are vulnerable to infection with HIV, hepatitis and other diseases through unsafe healthcare, and indeed, unsafe cosmetic procedures. It’s not just children who are at risk, everyone who receives any kind of skin-piercing treatment, whether medical or otherwise, is at risk.
A reminder that unsafe healthcare is not the only possible source of HIV and other diseases comes from an Australian, who is suspected of having been infected after getting a tattoo in Bali. It’s not surprising that it takes one Westerner to become infected for an entire mode of transmission to be investigated, but this is the kind of warning that should have been heard in the run up to the World Cup in South Africa. Instead, there was little published but the usual fatuous rubbish about sex.
HIV experts are well aware that conditions in non-Western countries can be dangerous and that HIV can be transmitted in healthcare and cosmetic facilities: “While tattooists in Western Australian must comply with strict regulations and a code of practice, tattoo parlours overseas may not meet the same standards.” It’s just rare to read about exactly what this means for Westerners. But if Westerners are at risk, so are non-Westerners.
That may come as a surprise to UNAIDS, who are fond of warning their own employees and, at the same time, denying that non-sexual HIV transmission plays a significant role in African epidemics. Worse still, they don’t feel any attention should be given to non-sexual transmission, with the result that people are pretty confused about sexual transmission and totally in the dark about non-sexual transmission.
If I haven’t made it clear before, I think UNAIDS is an expensive waste of money that could be spent on health and development in general, rather than supporting the sexual fantasies of a bunch of overpaid and ineffective bureaucrats.