Dirty needle estimate "too conservative"
The World Health Organization's long-held position that dirty needles cause 2.5% of African HIV exposures is too conservative, says a leading researcher at the United Nations agency, prompting questions about a congressional bill focused mainly on unsafe sex. Health and Human Services secretary Tommy Thompson has launched a review of all research linking AIDS and medical injections, possibly laying the groundwork for changes in how the legislation's $15 billion in funding is distributed.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a member of the Senate's health panel, requested the review after he turned up a WHO report listing four separate studies that found dirty needles responsible for 8%, 15%, 41%, and 45%, respectively, of exposures in sub-Saharan Africa. The report, dated December 19, 2002, concludes that "the lowest attributable fraction calculated on the basis of the data provided by the authors [8%] exceeds our 2.5% modeled attributable fraction, suggesting that our estimate is conservative."