Fear of Knowing AIDS Status Causes Blood Shortages in Zimbabwe
September 12, 2005
The National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS), Zimbabwe's primary reservoir of blood and related products, is appealing for donors as the country faces a critically low blood supply. The majority of the Zimbabweans avoid donating blood for fear they might learn of their HIV status.
Zimbabwe is among 39 countries in the world that have blood donations systems that are 100 percent voluntary, as recommended by the World Health Organization. It was also the first African country to screen for HIV before using donated blood in transfusions.
But in a country where around 90 percent of the estimated 1.8 million people with HIV are unaware of their status, many are avoiding donating blood, seemingly feeling that "ignorance is bliss."
To combat the trend, NBTS is campaigning to collect as much blood as possible in remote areas, at schools and other places where people gather in large numbers. NBTS has designed programs to reduce transportation costs for donors and enhance awareness of the importance of a steady supply of safe blood for Zimbabwe's blood bank. The service is also planning on stepping-up donations among uniformed forces.
In recent years, the country's blood supplies have mainly come from young people, especially school children, since adults now shun donation. Youths now contribute 75 percent of total blood stocks.
Xinhua News Agency
09.11.05; Josiah Mucharowana
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.