Monday, April 11, 2011

Africans Aware of Blood-borne HIV Risk Less Likely to be HIV Infected- Interdisciplinary Scientific Research

Contact: Devon Brewer FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MARCH 25, 2011
Interdisciplinary Scientific Research
Africans Aware of Blood-borne HIV Risk Less Likely to be HIV Infected
SEATTLE, USA -- New research indicates that knowledge of blood-borne HIV risk may
play an important role in preventing HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa.
The research, published in the March issue of the Journal of Infection in Developing
Countries, was done by Devon D. Brewer, director of the research firm Interdisciplinary
Scientific Research. “I found that Africans who were aware that HIV could be spread
through sharing razors were less likely to be infected with HIV, especially in southern
Africa. Also, in countries with low rates of HIV, many adults were aware of such bloodborne
HIV risk, but in countries with high rates of HIV, very few adults knew about this
danger,” Brewer said. He noted, “if people don't know all the ways a disease spreads,
they can't protect themselves effectively.”
Brewer analyzed data from the Demographic and Health Surveys in 16 sub-Saharan
African countries. The surveys are based on nationally representative samples of
adults. Other analyses showed that the relationship between knowledge of blood-borne
risk and HIV infection cannot be explained by demographic factors or sexual behavior.
In contrast, Africans who knew about condom use as an HIV prevention strategy were
more likely to be infected than those who didn't know about this strategy.
Mali conducted suitable surveys in 2001 and 2006. Malians' knowledge of blood-borne
HIV risk increased dramatically between the two surveys, while HIV prevalence fell
during the same period.
Brewer said “countries in west, central, and east Africa with low rates of HIV and
relatively high awareness of blood-borne HIV risks all had implemented public HIV
education campaigns that focused on such risks. However, in southern Africa, where
HIV rates are very high and knowledge of blood-borne risk is low, public HIV education campaigns have not addressed blood-borne HIV risks.”
He continued, “evidence shows that public health officials in these countries and in international and foreign aid agencies were keenly aware of these risks, yet deprived the public of this life-saving information.”
It would cost very little to include a focus on blood-borne HIV risks in existing public HIV education campaigns. The results from this study suggest that such efforts might be crucial for a country to avoid, or turn back, a severe HIV epidemic.

Keywords: HIV, hygiene, blood, knowledge, public education
The full citation to the article is: Brewer DD. Knowledge of blood-borne transmission risk is inversely associated with HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of Infection in Developing Countries 2011;5:182-198.

Dr. Brewer received no funding for this study.

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