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High population & HIV

Mar 28, 1997

I have a doubt on the spreading of aids through means other than sex. Mostly , the facts seen in the internet talk about a U.S Scenario, but take the case of populated nations, where some places are crowded & unhygenic, Is there greater chance of infection if there is no public hygene,for eg, walking with open wound in an area where human excreta/ public sewage water is lying onthe road or , sharing scissors/knife in a hair cutting saloon. Arent these risky? What is the statistics you have about this kind of infections? If it is sex alone which causes aids, it should be more so in the U.S and not in countries like China and India, because U.S is supposed to be more sexually permissive.And drug abuse is almost non existant in most places in India. It would be nice to hear from you about this. Another question- will HIV infected patients have low haemoglobin levels and anaemea? Looking forward to hear from you.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question. HIV is clearly spread in ways other than sexual contact. However, it is not transmitted through any form of casual contact, since HIV will not survive outside the body. It has also been proven for many years that HIV is not transmitted through sewage or water. There are, of course, many other infectious diseases that can be transmitted through sewage, and poor hygiene. Diseases that are spread through poor hygiene (like Hepatitis A) have drastically different disease spread patterns, as compared to HIV/AIDS.

Unprotected sexual contact is found all over the world. That is quite obvious. However the use of condoms is very rare in many countries due to both cultural barriers, and availability (it's hard to get access to condoms in many poor/developing nations). To say that there's more sexual contact in the USA vs. any other country, is without basis in fact.

In non-Western (developing) nations, especially those in parts of Africa and Asia, most cases of HIV transmission have been directly linked through heterosexual contact. However, HIV may also be transmitted through the blood supply and the medical facilities of many poorer countries. In many poorer nations with substandard medical facilities, the blood supply may not be checked for HIV, and needles (and other medical devices) may be shared between patients. Poorer nations may not be able to afford screening the blood supply. They may also use syringes and needles more than once, rather than throw it away after a single use (as is routinely done in Western/Developed nations).

I do not agree with your comment that "drug abuse is almost non existent in most places in India." Drug abuse is found everywhere in the world (India included). However Intravenous (IV) drug use is not common in poor/developing nations. Remember, needles are a rare commodity in many poorer nations. I personally do not know the rate of IV drug use in India, but I would not be surprised if the number of IV drug users in this part of the world were low. However, non-IV drug abuse is found everywhere in the world. All forms of substance abuse are linked to HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's). See the question, "AIDS & SUBSTANCE ABUSE" for more information about this topic.

The key here is that worldwide, the primary way HIV is transmitted, is through sexual contact. However, non-sexual infection can also occur. In some parts of the world, this occurs through sharing IV drug needles (especially in the USA and other developed nations). In other parts of the world, this may occur through substandard medical facilities, or cultural practices which can lead to direct blood-to-blood contact.

As for persons with HIV/AIDS having low levels of hemoglobin and anemia (low number of red blood cells), this is certainly a possibility. Sometimes this can be medically related, and other times it can be a side effect of certain medications. However, having a low hemeglobin level or anemia is not an indication of HIV/AIDS. There are many, many other medical conditions totally unrelated to HIV/AIDS, that can lead to anemia, and low hemoglobin levels.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

Broken Glass and HIV
HIV+ Women who have had a baby

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