Points to Consider: Responses to HIV/AIDS in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean

Author: David Gisselquist

Gisselquist D, Points to Consider: Responses to HIV/AIDS in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, London: Adonis and Abbey, 2008. $25 paperback – available through amazon.com and many other retailers. Review by Amber Craig.

An intriguing new book by David Gisselquist exposes the unsafe health care system as a large factor in HIV transmission in Africa (and other regions with generalized HIV epidemics). While this book spends very little time discussing the issue of circumcision directly, it is yet another nail in the coffin for the theory that promoting circumcision will have a major impact on reducing HIV infections in Africa. In fact, given the evidence Gisselquist presents, introduction of more health care services in the form of mass circumcisions will place Africans at GREATER risk for HIV because of how rampant unsafe health care practices currently are in Africa.

Gisselquist makes a strong case showing how blood exposures from health care services, through the use of unsterile equipment and unsanitary practices, are responsible for much of the HIV exposure and transmission in Africa, and how those in charge of public policy are ignoring the evidence and sweeping this problem under the rug. While the WHO and UNAIDS continue to publicly claim that blood exposures in health care setting account for only an extremely small percentage of HIV transmissions, Gisselquist presents convincing evidence to the contrary. After reading Gisselquist’s book, there can be little doubt that unsafe health care is a major factor in HIV transmissions, at least in Africa.

This book should be required reading for anyone involved in global HIV planning, and is worth a read by anyone who is concerned about the global HIV epidemic. There is a clear need for more resources to be devoted to uncovering how big the problem of blood exposures through healthcare is in Africa, and fixing these problems. This book’s expose of the dangerous health care system in Africa provides yet another reason why promoting circumcision in Africa is likely to have disastrous consequences.

Reviewed by Amber Craig with Edits by J. Steven Svoboda 12-08