Africans aware of blood-borne risks have less HIV
Here’s a good reason to pay attention to bloodborne risks: In countries in Africa where more people are aware that contaminated skin-piercing instruments are a risk for HIV, people are less likely to be infected.
During 2003-7, national surveys in 16 African countries asked people how to prevent HIV. In these surveys, the percentage of adults who mentioned “avoid sharing razors” as a way to prevent HIV ranged from a low of 8.5% in Swaziland to more than 40% in Ethiopia and Senegal. Where more people were aware of bloodborne risks, the percentage of adults HIV-positive was lower.
In six of 16 countries only 9%-23% of adults said sharing razors was a risk; in those six countries, 4.5%-27.0% of adults were HIV-positive in 2019. Whereas in the 10 countries where 26%-44% of adults said sharing razors was a risk, only 0.2%-3.1% were infected.
Figure: Percentage of adults with HIV vs. percentage aware of blood-to-blood risks (for a larger version, click on the image)
In five countries where less than 15% of adults mentioned razors as a risk for HIV (Kenya, Lesotho, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe) the percentage of adults with HIV infections ranged from 5.6% to 26%. On the other hand, in six countries where at least 30% of adults mentioned razors as a risk (Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Niger, Rwanda, and Senegal) the percentage of adults with HIV ranged from 0.8% to 2.9% only (see Figure).
An internet search in 2010 (3-7 years after the surveys reported in Figure A1.2) found evidence of public education programs warning people about bloodborne risks in 13 of the 16 countries. The only three countries without evidence of such programs were eSwatini, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe, the three countries where adults were most likely to be infected.
1. Brewer DD. Knowledge of blood-borne transmission risk is inversely associated with HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa. J Infect Dev Ctries 2011; 5: 182-198. Available at: http://jidc.org/index.php/journal/article/view/1308/518 (accessed 7 July 2011). Percentages of adults with HIV are for 2009 from UNAIDS and from national surveys.