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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


Safety Precautions in Health Care Settings


Health Action AIDS

In addition to the need to continue to fund programs aimed at stopping sexual transmission of HIV, HIV transmission in health care settings requires immediate and sustained attention. Every year more than 500,000 people contract HIV in health care settings. According to numbers endorsed by the World Health Organization, every year at least 260,000 people become infected through unsafe medical injections, and at least 5% of new infections, or 255,000 people, become infected through unsafe blood transfusions.

Unfortunately, many health care providers in developing countries have neither the training nor the supplies to implement universal precautions such as safe injection practices and the use of gloves, goggles, and other protective gear. Without adequate training or supplies, some health care providers reasonably fear for their own safety, which may lead them to refuse to care for people they believe are infected with HIV. Providing funds and technical assistance to enable health care providers everywhere to implement universal precautions at all times is one way that the United States can combat stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.

Key Facts

According to the World Health Organization, unsafe medical injections cause millions of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C infections, along with HIV transmission. Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C infections are responsible for 1.2 million deaths every year.

 As many as 70-90% of injections in developing countries are unnecessary.

 Re-use of injection equipment is especially high in parts of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where syringes are re-used without sterilization at least 50% of the time.

As of 2000, only 13 of 46 countries in WHO's African Regions had implemented national blood safety policies.

 Injection safety policies are among the ost cost-effective interventions for reventing HIV infections.



What Donor Countries Can Do

The United States Congress has provided p to $75 million to enable clinics in the developing world to protect their patients and medical and nursing staffs from infection. Additional funding could be used to implement training and education programs for health care providers and the general public on the dangers of unsafe injections, the importance of using new and sterile syringes for each patient, the importance of using only single-dose vials and the appropriate use of injections.

Assist AIDS-burdened countries in revising their national HIV/AIDS strategies to incorporate safe health care practices, including injection safety.

Coordinate injection safety efforts among all health projects.

Support the development and implementation of safe and effective destruction procedures for injection waste.

 Provide funding for supplies and training to enable health care providers in developing countries to implement universal precautions.

Add health care risks and HIV transmission as a new research area for the National Institutes of Health HIV Prevention Trials network.