USAID Plans Probe of AIDS Research
March 5, 2003
The U.S. Agency for International Development said yesterday that its HIV/AIDS experts plan this week to begin examining research suggesting that AIDS in Africa is more commonly transmitted through dirty needles than through heterosexual contact. "I have asked to see the original scientific studies," said Anne Peterson, a physician and head of the USAID Bureau for Global Health. "The epidemiology of the disease fits that it is mainly a sexually transmitted disease. I need to see the data," she said.Adapted from:
Three articles published in the March edition of the British Royal Medical Society's International Journal of STD & AIDS challenge the almost universal belief that 90 percent of HIV in Africa is transmitted by heterosexual sex. According to the authors, as little as 30 percent of HIV transmission in Africa can be attributed to sex, while a much greater amount can be attributed to unclean health care practices, such as dirty vaccination needles and contaminated blood. The World Health Organization and UNAIDS have called a meeting for March 17 in Geneva to discuss the research. Peterson said someone from USAID would attend the Geneva meeting as well.
Peterson said she knows several of the report's authors, and that they are "pretty reputable," but she is withholding judgment on their findings until she can see their research for herself. "We have always been concerned about needles as a route of transmission," she said. She said it is her goal to designate AIDS prevention funds to the areas that scientific data indicate would be most effective.
USAID will be responsible for disbursing much of the AIDS money Congress allocates from President Bush's AIDS funding commitment to Africa and the Caribbean. If the findings are correct, it could force a major reallocation of funds that go into HIV prevention programs. "It is possible that we have underestimated" the number of people infected through unclean medical practices, she said. "We plan to take a pretty hard look."
03.05.03; Tom Carter
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.