At Public Awareness for Healthful Approach for Living (PAHAL), we are highly concerned about the misinformation and myths connected with HIV, especially in the light of threat issued by some pranksters to Anna Hazare camp to inflict HIV infection on their group members by using HIV contaminated blood.
We condemn such mis-information campaigns generated in national and international media.
Ironically such stories arise from the national capital and have a potential to create major panic among the people, particularly among those having been associated with the Anna Hazare campaign.
It is possible that to get cheap publicity or to divert people attention from the vital issues encompassing the country as also the most common mode of HIV transmission, some pranksters concoct such stories. Unfortunately they receive undue attention.
In the absence of any authentic backing from scientific community, the media runs such Human interest story. This reinforces myths among people, ignoring the scientific instructions and thus propagates several unfounded theories of HIV spread through casual contacts, needles, eatables and water making panic-stricken people run for help and testing.
Often such rumour-mongering mill causes flutters. Similar stories make come-back from different parts of India, while authorities watch helplessly, issue statements in knee-jerk response and allow the matters to become bad to worse.
The current incident has proved once again that the ‘myths’ about AIDS spread faster than the virus itself. Health education is very important and simplified scientific information is the only key to prevent AIDS.
Let us once again reaffirm that it is difficult to contract HIV, as the virus does not survive outside human body for long. Virus dies as soon as Blood dries! HIV contaminated blood supposedly used for pricks like the ones described, doesn’t pose any real risk of transmission.
The Virus dies at 70degree C in 10 minutes and at boiling temperature within a minute. The virus is inactivated or killed with detergents, bleach, soaps, alcohol, spirit etc. PHO Guidelines to prevent such panic:
1. News like these, are plain rumours, without a slightest element of truth in them.
2. HIV cant’ be transmitted through pins, needles in public places; from water, eatables even if they are contaminated with Blood. There is not a single documented case of HIV infection anywhere in the world to prove such weird transmission.
3. Just establishing veracity of such mail will not yield in anything as concrete proof of real intentions. Giving any credence and filing FIRs is waste of energy and manpower
4.The rate of HIV transmission with a needle-prick of fresh HIV-contaminated blood is extremely low ~1 to 3 in 1000 (0.1 to 0.3%), so even 1000 pricks of fresh blood-soaked needles will not yield more than 1 infection even theoretically, leave apart infecting Anna.
5. Even if one is pricked with a suspicious needle, starting post-exposure prophylaxis using two drugs Zidovudine + Lamivudine withing 8 hours will prevent HIV almost 100%
6. Anna and other at so called high risk of such pricks can even be given Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis using Tenofovir, will prevent HIV almost 100%.
7. Conduct AIDS education programs on war footing and strictly dis-regard rumours