FACTS: HIV transmission through Blood & Blood Products
Of course, there are other fluids that also have high concentrations of the virus which include semen, vaginal fluids as well as breast milk.
Therefore, apart from blood itself, the products simply include pus and serum. This mode of transmission actually explains why one might be HIV positive even without engaging in sexual intercourse!
Now, to cut all these explanations short, let us learn how blood and blood products cause HIV transmission.
1.) Blood Transfusion
Infection can occur if one is transfused with infected blood. Currently in Kenya, like most parts of the world, all the blood we donate is goes through the following tests:
- HIV, Malaria, Syphilis, Hepatitis B & C and the blood group & Rhesus factor are identified. Contaminated blood has to be discharged immediately in accordance with medical waste disposal guidelines. The safe blood is kept in a blood bank for 3 months and tested again for HIV before being released for use.
2.) Professional Exposure
Many co-practitioners, paramedics, hospital cleaners and waste managers are at risk of HIV infection due to the nature of their work. If at all this happens, do not hesitate to inform your clinician or doctor/in charge.
Usually, an exposed person is put under PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis) before 72 hours after the exposure elapse, for 4 weeks.
3.) People With Injecting Drugs(PWID)
Actually, these people are common in urban areas. In Coast or Mombasa, Kenya we call them “mateja“. In spite of them being PWID, they tend to share some syringes as they are injecting.
4.) Traditional Communal Circumcision and FGM (Female Genital Mutilation)
Most communities that circumcise tend to encourage the sharing of circumcising tools as part of the ritual.
For example, the Bukusu community in Western Kenya that practices male circumcision in a ceremonial way every August.
In addition, we also have the Pokot community that has been doing FGM according to their customs. All these practices may transmit the HIV to larger number of adolescents if safe measures are not in place.
Otherwise, we understand that FGM is against human rights and therefore illegal in most countries but that is a topic for another day!
5.) Sharing of sharp objects during ear-piercing/ notching, body tattooing e.t.c
Firstly, HIV is found in high concentration in the following body fluids:- Blood, vaginal fluids, semen and breast milk.
Secondly, HIV is found in low concentration that is medically not significant in saliva, urine, sweat and tears.
For example, for an infection to take place, one needs contact with 0.001ml of blood or 5 litres of saliva.