Although the exact source and factors leading to the HIV pandemic are unclear, it has been suggested that iatrogenic transmission, such as transfusions and intravenous injections in the hospital, may have contributed to the spread of HIV. Hogan et al. have used two other nonlethal blood-borne viruses as surrogate models to study the start of the HIV epidemic in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Using epidemiological, serological and sequence data from a cross-sectional study of 839 elderly residents in Kinshasa, researchers identified 217 (26%) individuals seropositive for hepatitis C virus (HCV) and 26 (3%) for human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV-1). Phylogenic sequence data models suggest that iatrogenic transmission of HCV and HTLV-1 occurred at the same time and place as HIV, with specific subtypes of HCV associated with particular routes of iatrogenic exposure. Although iatrogenic transmission of HIV is quite low today, the international medical community must remain vigilant in order to protect patients from iatrogenic transmission of emerging infectious diseases such as Ebola.
Category: Transfusion-Transmitted Infections
- Frost SD, Kwofie SK. Surveys, Serologies, and Sequences Reveal History of Iatrogenic Transmission of HIV-1. J Infect Dis 2016;214: 341-3.
- Hogan CA, Iles J, Frost EH, Giroux G, Cassar O, Gessain A, Dion MJ, Ilunga V, Rambaut A, Yengo-Ki-Ngimbi AE, Behets F, Pybus OG, Pepin J. Epidemic History and Iatrogenic Transmission of Blood-borne Viruses in Mid-20th Century Kinshasa. J Infect Dis 2016;214: 353-60.