In a move supporting recent highly criticized studies suggesting that HIV is being spread in developing nations primarily by unsafe medical practices and not sexual contact, the U.S. Senate on Tuesday approved an amendment requiring $75 million of the $15 billion, five-year global AIDS initiative to be used to improve medical safety. Three recent studies have suggested that the vast majority of HIV transmissions in sub-Saharan Africa result from reused hypodermic needles, contaminated blood products, and other unsafe medical practices. But most AIDS and medical groups, including the World Health Organization, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, and other United Nations programs, roundly panned the studies, saying data shows 90% or more of HIV infections in developing countries occur through unprotected sex.
The Senate amendment, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), requires $75 million of funds for the global AIDS initiative to be spent to improve the safety of the medical practices the studies claimed were causing HIV infections. Under the amendment, $46 million will be spent on blood safety, and $29 million on injection safety. Because a roll call vote was not taken on the amendment, it was unclear whether senators voting for the measure understood exactly what the bill would do, Senate observers said.