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Press Release

December 18, 2008 
Unsafe medical injections linked to HIV infection, new study finds

Calverton, MD - A new MEASURE DHS study of 10 sub-Saharan African countries finds that, in most countries, receiving multiple medical injections is significantly linked to being HIV-infected, for both women and men. Having ever received a blood transfusion also tends to be positively associated with being HIV-infected.

The study is based on eight Demographic and Health Surveys: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, and Zimbabwe; and two AIDS Indicator Surveys: Tanzania and Uganda. The surveys were conducted between 2003 and 2006.

Between 30 and 50 percent of adults report receiving medical injections in the 12 months preceding the survey.

Knowledge about the risk of HIV infection from unsafe medical injections and blood transfusion is low, according to the study. Despite years of HIV/AIDS education efforts, few women or men surveyed perceive themselves to be at risk of HIV infection due to medical injections or blood transfusion.

These findings, reported in Medical Injections Use and HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa, suggest that medical injections and blood transfusion as potential modes of HIV transmission deserve more attention from HIV/AIDS programs and medical providers. Health education programs in sub-Saharan Africa can promote knowledge of potential risks of HIV infection from unsafe injections and blood transfusion. Health care systems can strengthen national injection safety and blood safety guidelines and expand medical injection safety and blood safety programs.

The Demographic and Health Surveys and AIDS Indicator Surveys are funded by the United States Agency for International Development through the MEASURE DHS project and is implemented by Macro International Inc. in Calverton, Maryland.