An official at the Department of Health in the Philippines has called for “the public with risky sexual behaviors to undergo HIV testing”. This is said to be due to UNAIDS’ ‘Global AIDS Report’, which claims that the country is one of nine where cases of HIV “rapidly increased by 35% in the last 10 years, from 2001 to 2011.
While it is true that the number of people estimated to be living with HIV in the country has gone from about 5,000 in 2001 to about 15,000 in a decade, this is in a country of almost 100,000,000 people. Prevalence is estimated at 0.1%. Also, what the report I have (from 2013) underlines is an increase in infections among injection drug users, no mention of sex (for a change).
The article concludes that “HIV infection is transmitted through sexual intercourse, by blood transfusion and from an infected mother to her child”. But this is not helpful to those who may have been infected as a result of unsafe healthcare, traditional or cosmetic skin-piercing procedures.
Luckily for the Philippines Department of Health, in 2007 a team of people carried out and published an “Assessment Survey of Injection Safety and Safety of Phlebotomies, Lancet Procedures, Intravenous Injections and Infusions in Government Health Facilities in the Philippines“, using a survey developed by the WHO (Tool C).
The survey found, among other thngs, that “the frequency of re-use of needles and evidence for attempts to sterilize used needles was low (less than 16%)”. Given the billions of injections administered every year around the world, I wouldn’t consider 16% to be low, but we’ll allow them their opinion.
The survey also noted “High frequency of noncompliance to best injection safety practices are widespread in the government facilities including…use of multidose vials with needles left neglected onto the diaphragms”, “High frequency of high risk practices prone to needle stick injuries”, a widespread lack of adequate sharp disposal systems, incomplete protection for hepatitis B and that “Almost all facilities were unable to show a manual of injection safety or a manual of waste management”.
Unluckily, UNAIDS is not going to take any notice of such a report because, even though the Philippines is not in Africa, where it is claimed that almost all infections with HIV are a result of sexual behavior, the institution can not accept that unsafe healthcare plays any role whatsoever in HIV transmission in poor countries, with understaffed, under-equipped and overcrowded health facilities.
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