584 views | Stanley Ugagbe | March 17, 2021
Dr. David Gisselquist, an independent consultant with experience in anthropology, rural development, and health, has canvassed the need for people who know about unexplained HIV infections (in their families and friends) to mobilize community and government efforts to find and fix the cause of these infections.
He made the remark on Tuesday during a book presentation virtual meeting, organized by Adonis & Abbey Publishers Ltd, a London and Abuja-based publisher of professional books and peer-reviewed academic journals, in conjunction with The News Chronicle, an online Newspaper.
In the presentation, Dr. David, who expounded on his newly published book, Stopping Bloodborne HIV: Investigating Unexplained Infections (2020), averred that the book ‘follows years of informal and formal discussions about bloodborne risks for HIV in Africa and about how to stop or avoid them.’
He stated that a case where; a baby is infected with HIV while the mother is negative is unexplainable by mother-to-child transmission. Another instance, which he cited is the case of an infected spouse whose only lifetime sex partner is HIV negative may seem to an unaware person as unexplained.
“There are explanations, of course. Each such infection likely came from HIV-contaminated blood through some skin-piercing procedure – injection, infusion, tattooing, dental care, or other – with reused and unsterilized instruments. But until someone finds the source, the infection is unexplained. And whatever facility and procedure caused it may continue to infect others.”
Dr. David quipped that “this book is for and about sub-Saharan Africa because that is where people have the biggest risk to get HIV from health care. Skin-piercing medical procedures are unreliably sterile in other countries as well. However, since HIV infections are less common outside Africa, reused instruments are less likely to carry any HIV that could infect subsequent patients. Patients in Africa and elsewhere face other health care risks including, Hepatitis B and C infections from contaminated skin-piercing instruments, wrong diagnoses, and other errors, but that is too much to discuss in one book. I focus on unexplained HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Delineating on the book, he stated that “to help people in affected communities resist shame, and blame; health officials, media, HIV counselors, and others need to tell people clearly, insistently, and repeatedly that many if not most HIV infections in the community came from bloodborne risks, and not sex. People also need to hear about how to recognize and avoid risks to get HIV from skin-piercing medical and cosmetic procedures.”
According to him, “projecting from current trends, people in sub-Saharan Africa will be living with a heavy HIV/AIDS burden for decades, with tens of millions of people relying on ART to live. Annual numbers of new infections have been falling too slowly to prevent epidemics from continuing into the next generation. During 2010-2019, the number of HIV-positive Africans increased by an average of almost half a million per year.
The expert, who reeled out many procedures, said “The changes needed to reduce bloodborne risk, are not held back by budgets. Safer procedures may even save money, as when patients accept oral or no treatments instead of useless injections or infusions. What is needed is not more money but rather more transparency, accountability, and care to do things right (for example, sterilizing or at least boiling reused skin-piercing instruments).”
David noted that in the book, he x-rayed: Investigating Unexplained HIV Infections outside Sub-Saharan; Health Experts Advise Africans: Ignore HIV from Health Care; African Governments Accept Unexplained HIV Infections; Evidence from a Double-barreled Smoking Gun; Rejecting the Myth that Almost All HIV Comes from Sex; Errors and Delays in Responses to Africa’s HIV Epidemics.
The meeting, which reverberated positively among participants, was moderated by Joan McDappa, Business Development Manager of Adonis & Abbey, The News Chronicle.