Kenya’s 2010 Service Provision Assessment Survey shows that the majority of hospitals and health facilities in the country don’t have all of the items and services they need to prevent hospital acquired infections. That’s all infections, not just HIV. And that’s everyday items, such as clean running water, soap, surgical gloves and the like.
So it’s not surprising that when there is a disaster, such as the fire at Sachangwan, Rift Valley province, a few years ago, the majority of people who are admitted to hospital subsequently die.
The fire in the Sinai slum a few days ago involves similar numbers as the one in Sachangwan and the Kenyatta National Hospital has run out of “clinical material like bandages” and are appealing for donations.
While UNAIDS documents about HIV transmission never fail to use terms like ‘universal precautions’ to prevent patients being infected with blood borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis through contaminated blood, during such emergencies, and there are many, it is not possible to screen out blood from people who are in the ‘window period’, during which they may test negative although they are positive.
In fact, both the blood donor and the recipient can face risks when adequate procedures are not followed. Many donors have been infected in the past, probably after equipment was reused without sterilization. And WHO have reported that only 12% of donated blood is properly tested.
UNAIDS may wish to claim that donors and patients face no risks but they don’t even believe that themselves. So it’s worth checking up on the precautions you can take using POST (Patient Observed Sterile Treatment).