Report on HIV risk factors among infants in the Joe Gqabi health district of the eastern Cape province
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The risk factors associated with non-vertical transmission of HIV/AIDS have not been identified conclusively, and further empirical research is needed to identify them. In a review of published evidence on HIV prevalence in paediatric health care settings in Africa, risks for horizontal transmission in African children exposed to health care settings mainly depend on the viral load, the specific procedures involved, and the care taken to implement infection control and universal al precautions (Gisselquist et al, 2004). Other factors contributing to non-vertical transmission include use of HIV-infected wet nursing, accidental switching of babies at birth, sexual abuse (Hiemstra et al, 2003).Considering the low efficiency of HIV transmission through sexual exposure- even for child rape (Brody et al, 2003; Lindegren et al, 1998; Van As et al 2001) - sexual abuse and premature sexual activity cannot explain more than exceptional cases; similarly, infected wet nurses and switching of babies are unlikely to account for more than rare cases. A study by Shisana, et al targeting children 2-9 years old in Free State South Africa, the first of it kind in sub-Saharan Africa, provided evidence on nosocomial infections (hospital and dental care) in children in South Africa. The study also identified the cultural risk factors in understanding HIV infection in children. Additional evidence suggestive of healthcare-related infections is based on a limited number of random surveys. Empirical evidence is needed on risk factors associated with non-vertical transmission of HIV/AIDS. Risk factors, including: hygiene practices and safety of medical equipment in health and dental facilities; breastfeeding of children by non-biological mothers; safety of blood supplies; child sexual abuse in the family and neighborhood context, or in relation to sex tourism; and some traditional medical practices. This report presents risk factors that predispose infants born HIV negative to HIV infection as from 6 weeks post-delivery to 12 months in 15 clinics within the Joe Gqabi District Municipality (previously Ukahlamba District) of the Eastern Cape Province.
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