January 28th, 2010
02:14 PM ET

Health of rescued girl

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been on assignment in Haiti, covering the earthquake aftermath. He talks about the girl pulled from the rubble after 15 days and answers other questions.

Filed under: Haiti

January 28th, 2010
11:59 AM ET

What is the risk of HIV infection in Haiti?

As a feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers' questions. Here's a question for Dr. Gupta.

From Lise in Quebec:

How are you protecting yourself from AIDS while trying to help people in Haiti? I know AIDS was already prevalent there.


Lise, thank you for the question. Whenever possible, all medical professionals here in Haiti are following normal medical hygiene protocols; we wear gloves and make sure medical instruments are sanitized even if in some cases that’s done with alcohol.

Just to be clear, HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is not easily spread. In fact according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the chances of a health care worker becoming infected with HIV from an open cut or even an open wound is no higher than approximately .3 percent.

We asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the AIDS problem in Haiti during this crisis and he said that “(AIDS) is the very least of the problems that health care workers will face in Haiti. The prevalence of HIV in Washington, D.C., is higher than that in Haiti and so you can make the case that an emergency room health care personnel who sees a lot of trauma in a general hospital in D.C. is at an even greater risk of getting stuck with a contaminated needle…than is a health care worker in Haiti”

In recent years, Haiti has shown some improvement in infection rates and antiretroviral use. As of the United Nations’ last report, Haiti has lower HIV/AIDS prevalence than the Bahamas. According to the World Health Organization, two thirds of HIV infections are in sub-Saharan Africa.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.