Figure: Percent of adults with HIV vs. percent aware of blood-borne risks
Source: For each country, the percent of adults who say “avoid sharing razors/blades” is the average of percents for men and women from 16 surveys, excluding adults who were not aware of HIV or had been previously tested for HIV, as reported in: J Infect Dev Ctries 2011; 5: 182-198. Percents of adults with HIV (except for DRC and Ethiopia) are for 2009 from: UNAIDS, Report on the Global Epidemic 2010; for DRC and Ethiopia these are for 2007 and 2005, respectively, from national surveys available here.
Dr. David Gisselquist, Dontgetstuck Collective
John J. Potterat, Independent STD/HIV consultant, jjpotterat [at] earthlink.net
Dr. Deena Class, Global health and development consultant
Simon Collery, Dontgetstuck Collective
Dr. Joseph Sonnabend, JSonnabend [at] btinternet.com
Dr. Janet S. St. Lawrence, Professor Emerita, Mississippi State University
Dr. Mariette Correa, Associate Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati, India
Dr. Wallace Dinsmore, Consulting Physician, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast
Dr. François Vachon, Emeritus Professor, Denis Diderot University, Paris, France
23 October 2012
Dear Dr Gisselquist and colleagues,
Thank you for the open letter sent to Mr Sidibe, Dr Chan and Dr Kim on 15 October, 2012. We recognize that unsafe injections, skin piercing, blood transfusions and surgical procedures can contribute to HIV transmission, and advise countries that an effective HIV response should take into account all available data on modes of transmission in the design and implementation of their response.
As part of our commitment to reducing HIV incidence and new HIV infections, both the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNAIDS have produced guidance with unsafe skin-piercing procedures. UNAIDS Prevention Policy Paper, and the WHO Global Health Sector Strategy on HIV/AIDS, 2011-2015 make explicit reference to the importance of preventing unsafe injections, surgical practices and blood transfusions. WHO and UNAIDS advise countries to scale up proven and cost-effective strategies, policies and programmes that are tailored to their actual HIV epidemic and its social, economic and health system context (Know Your Epidemic/Know Your Response).
Recently, WHO's Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan called for action on injection safety. Since this call, a cross-departmental working group has been created to develop a policy document and implementation plan on the safety of all therapeutic injections.
Thank you for raising these issues in the letter and for your efforts in the fight against HIV.
Paul de Lay
Deputy Executive Director, Programme UNAIDS
Dr Hiroki Nakatani, Assistant-Director General, HIV.AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases