Safety Precautions in Health Care Settings
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
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.
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
many as 70-90% of injections in developing countries are
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.
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
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
health care risks and HIV transmission as a new research area
for the National Institutes of Health HIV Prevention Trials