Tuesday, 1 May 2007

What is the Real Number of Libya's Aids Cases?

On an older post of mine (October 2006) about the Libyan Aids Children, I posted a video made by Mickey Grant called INJECTION, the maker of this video, Mickey Grant had put a comment on my post that I over looked, what I find really scary if true, is his claim that there are many more Aids victims in Libya than what we are led to believe, he claims that there are an estimated 100,000 Aids cases in Libya, I will leave you with his comment and hope InshaAllah that his claim is wrong:
"I appreciate any comments regarding my film and like to respond to some of them, both good ones and bad.I have a hard time understanding why Azizi thought my findings were inconsistant with the overall problem I addressed which has to do with safe health care in Africa. When I started this film I knew nothing about the case of the children in Libya. I needed a case study for my film. Many of the experts who were supporting the theory of the safe health care problem to be more than the 2-5% which the WHO insist it is were very well versed on HIV outbreaks in the past such as one in Russia. I decided to approach the problem in Libya as it was a very active story. It appeared the outbreak was mostly from syringe reuse. As stated in the film, the WHO actually investigated prior to the nurses being arrested and concluded this was the case. Libya asked the WHO to make the report secret which they did. Therefore, I don't think there is much inconsistence between my findings and the WHO. Next the Libyan authorities started arresting many different medical workers from different countries. These workers had no idea what potential charges were going to be made against them. Eventually they arrested Kristiana who tells much of the story of her arrest in my film. She had bags of blood for transfussions in her refrigerator. You have to understand that the nurses and doctors in Libya often have to buy medical supplies on the black market. The refrigeration unit in Kristiana's clinic didn't work, that's why they were in her refrigerator. What is even more amazing, she didn't even work at the children's hospital. Later the Libyan authorities would state that these bags contained the deadly HIV which had been given to them by "John the English." It was also over a year before the nurses were told of their charges. I did try to look at the evidence the Libyans used and that's why I interviewed the lawyer of the nurses. I went to Libya and tried with an open mind to interview people but that's impossible as Libya is a totalitarian state under kaddafi. Next to no journalist I know of has ever been allowed to do real interviews with the families of the children. I went to Rome where many of the children were being treated for that purpose and I found that the only way the families could participate in an interview was if a Libyan Agent was present and they were too scared to do that. Since I wasn't allowed to do any interviews in Libya I then searched for a nurse who had worked in Benghazi. It took me a year. She verified the problem of not having medical supplies such as syringes. Also, she verified that the nurses had complained from the start about having to reuse syringes 50 or more times. The Libyan authorities threatened them if they continued to complain. The Libyan authorities were fully aware of these bad practices. In fact, even the WHO told them. There is not a "big question mark" as Azizi puts it. kaddafi is a micro-manager in his dictatorial style. There is no question that he had an awareness of what he was doing. When doing an investigation such as this one, it is not only the scientific person such as Dr. Colizzi that counts, it's also the eye witnesses which included this nurse and the WHO.
Mr. Azizi also attacked the human rights activist in my film as unknown. Rick Halperin is on the board of Amnesty International. Nearly every year Libya under kaddafi Libya is one of the greatest violators of human rights.
Mr. Azizi also says that pointing the finger at someone will not do any good. Well, someone is responsible for this tragedy. Pointing the finger at that someone will help prevent this tragedy from being repeated some day. I say some day because the HIV outbreak in Libya is enormous compared to the approximately 3,000 cases that Libya says exist. There are other hospitals in Libya with the same type of outbreak and are unknow to the public and likely to the patients. Remember, this is a country that asked the WHO to classify the true report that indicated that the over 400 children got HIV from unsafe health practices (not a CIA plot lead by the nurses}. I personally would estimate the outbreak in Libya to be over 100,000 cases. kaddafi is a man who does not want to deal with the truth, that's why he had the WHO report classified. The Bulgarian attorney discovered intelligence about the other outbreaks and the court questioned him for hours as to who told him. This is serious stuff. I believe the entire reason for blaming the nurses is a cover-up to prevent the Libyan population from discovering how bad their health care situation has been and currently is.
My efforts in making the film ultimately are focused on the Libyan children but not only the childen in Benghazi. Likely thousands of Libyan children have HIV and kaddafi has made this knowledge "classified" just as he did in the WHO report. I spent a great deal of time focusing on the nurses as it's critical to realize the truth, that they did not do this rediculously invented story of a CIA plot. The reason I first interviewed the families of the nurses and their former instructors and co-workers is that I wanted to find out if they were the kind of people who could do the horrible thing the court accused them of in the first place.
When I started this film project I had no bias for or against kaddafi. Now, I do have bias after all the discoveries I made. I purposely don't capitalize his name so as to add insult to this killer. He is the one who should have been sentenced to death. He is the one who killed the Libyan children. There are no fair courts in Libya. He controls everything. I'll never forget when I was asked in Libya not to say his name but refer to him as "the leader." What an ego. I believe that even this very day likely several more Libyan now have HIV as a result of the medical practices created by his rule. When it comes to the lives of these children, I'm sorry, but I get very direct and strong with my words.

18 comments:

mani said...

Salam Anglo

Thank you and Mickey grant for this. An eye opener.

salam

Suliman said...

Greetings!

Another episode of sensationalism, and of course, it comes complete with another conspiracy theory. I don't know how Mr. Grant arrived at his estimate of over 100,000 HIV-infected people in Libya, so I would not put a lot of stock in it. Of course, saying that does not in any way "accuse" the Libyan government of full disclosure. In fact, there is some evidence that the HIV/AIDS prevalence in Libya is much larger than reported, at least much larger than reported initially, but 100,000 seems too large.

If you follow WHO reports, you will notice a huge jump in the number of reported HIV/AIDS cases in Libya. The WHO numbers are summarized in charts at the following address:

http://mindamir.blogspot.com/2006/12/blog-post_17.html

Over the period 1989-2000, the total number of reported cases was 74, which clearly does not agree with the known facts about 430+ children contracting the virus in 1998 or thereabout. Libya's number of reported cases in 1998 is only 33, which does not even amount to 10% of the Benghazi children. Clearly something is amiss. Since 2000, the numbers have been growing at a rate of about 2000 cases per year, so that by the end of 2004 it reached over 9000 cases! Something is a miss, indeed.

Perhaps the most alarming number coming out of Libya is the one on HIV prevalence among prisoners. According to WHO data, the rate of infection in Tripoli prisons is 18%. That number is staggering. In the US, where the HIV rate among prisoners is about 1.8%, people are still alarmed that it is four times larger than the rate for general population. In Libya, the general poulation rate is 0.13% nationally, and in Tripoli it is 0.4%. If these numbers are true, then the prisoner rate is more than 130 times larger than the general population, and about 45 times larger than the general population in Tripoli. Contrast those ratios with the ratio of 4 in the US. Oddly enough, some scientists publishing in the Libyan Journal of Medicine, and celebrated in some Libyan circles, use (misquoted) CDC guidelines for rates of infection of healthcare providers in the US as a basis for arguing that the number of infected children in the Benghazi case is too large to be explained as a case of nosocomial infection. Those authors claim the CDC number are "accepted around the world," when in fact, no one in his right mind would mistake US hospital statistics for being representative of the conditions in Libyan hospitals, anymore than anyone could use prisoner rates in the US to estimate the number of HIV infected prisoners in Libya. But that is another episode of sensationalized nonsense, albeit by "experts" not laymen.

The bottom line: 100,000 cases would be difficult if not impossible to hide, and it is therefore unlikely to be true. However, the number reported by Libyan authorities have been growing at a huge rate, and it is likely that they still do not amount to the full story. Also, Libya has a lot of migrant workers who come from African countries with very high HIV/AIDS prevalence. If Libya has one million African workers from countries with a high HIV prevalence, then 100,000 cases would not be out of the ordinary. But, the truth is, we do not know much about the illegal worker population in Libya, and we don't even know how many come from which country.

The reported rate for prisoners in Tripoli is unheard of, and it might even be an unfortunate typo (writing 18% instead of 1.8%); but at face value, it is absolutely shocking and needs to be corrected or confirmed. That is the role of the press, but unfortunately, Libyan press is either dead or pretending to be alive by recirculating nonsense that they steal from unnamed sources and don't even attribute it properly to its rightful owners. The latest example of that kind of Ali Baba press can be found at the following address:

http://www.akhbar-libya.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6904&Itemid=1

a_akak said...

I think the truth lies between suliman and the author of the video, however, i have yet to watch the whole thing but from what i have read from his comments, i would say the truth does lie between the two

Fe Aman Allah

Living Away said...

Well, it is not the first time that I heard about his accusations! At least it seems that there is someone worried about the children.

By the way Anglo, do you know if is easy to buy condom in Libya?
Everybody knows that preconception and no-information are the biggest factors to increase AIDS’s cases!

Take care!
Leandra

Maya M said...

While agreeing with Suliman that Mickey Grant is likely exaggerating, I wish to cite the article "Characterization of HIV-1 subtypes in Sfax, Tunisia" by Karray-Hakim et al., published in Tunis Med. (2003). I've accessed the abstract via PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=12793069&query_hl=1&itool=pubmed_DocSum); French speakers may write to the authors to ask for a copy of the article. It states that as early as 1993-1997, among 20 patients diagnosed as HIV+ at a particular Tunisian hospital there were 2 Libyans carrying two different HIV-1 strains. Moreover, one of the 18 Tunisian patients claimed to have been infected in Libya. I think this study alone portrays a picture that should worry every Libyan.
Also, Highlander recently wrote that HIV test is now required in Libya for marriage and even for work (http://lonehighlander.blogspot.com/2007/02/pre-marital-hiv-test-yes-or-no.html). This sounds like the country is affected more seriously than officially admitted.

Trabilsia said...

Sulaiman ,
Good to have you back !
Now here I totally agree with you ie of it being an exageration. As no real data is available freely. Ive ben to many hospitals here(doing charity work ) and believe me its no easy task to find someone who'll trust and let you in to visit the children with AIDS,let alone see the records.
Take care and have a lovely day !

Leandra ,
Hope all is well .
Condoms are found in every pharmacy on the counter and in all flavours.
For the pre-conception info ,this too is given in schools and leaflets are continuously being handed out .
Have a lovely day!

Anglo,
I wish you well and may Allah bless you. Sorry for taking up your role ie of the host.
Have a super day! (as the Brits would say )

Anonymous said...

thanx that was really enlightning
though i still cant decide where i stand about this whole issue due to unclear info i just dont want to presume the worst on any of both sides concerned.

and i totally agree with leandra i dont think it's as simple as trabilsia is making it look though she's the one living there!!!

Concerned said...

Trabilsia .. you might as well add "sex education" is given at primary schools!! What’s next? are you talking about Tripoli, Libya or Tripoli USA? If you have any official website links please enlighten us, peace.

mani said...

..sigh...

Trabilsia said...

Anglo ,
Im not taking over LOL and I thank you for an intersting post.

Anoynmous,
Im the one living here and you can quote me whenever you wish.


Concerned ,
I am talking about Tripoi Libya of course !

What's wrong if sex education were to be given in schools???? I mean hellooooo is this the 21 st century or not ??

And to all may Allah / God bless
you !

Mickey Grant said...

Greetings from the "exaggerator":

It is the over 1 million population of Africans from other countries that has played a very essential role in getting this outbreak to a critical stage. All it takes is a Sub-saharan mom bringing her child with who is HIV positive to a clinic. Most of the Libyan clinics use multi-dose vials and reuse syringes. That one instance would infect possibly 10 other children or patients. Add up the total number of clinic in Libya and depending on the estimate you make over a period of 5 years, you may come up with figures much higher than the one I mentioned of 100,000. All of this through a method of contamination other than sex. I hope I'm wrong about these figures. I sure hope so. Think about the fact that a madman is running the show and that includes the health care system. When this outbreak was first discovered and the WHO investigated and determined it was dirty health care (ie, syringe reuse), don't you find it really unusual that kaddafi had the report classified? Imagine if later the Libyan people find out that the HIV outbreak was even 50,000? Let alone 100,000. If kaddafi classified this WHO report, what's to stop him from classifying an enormous outbreak. Once a hospital gets contaminated, it's extremely hard to clean it. You have no idea how prevalent syringe reuse is across Africa. Did you know that the HIV virus can live in a syringe for in some instances up to a month? It is a perfect tool for spreading HIV. Libya had enough medical supplies donated by the WHO and others. Why were the Bulgarian nurses having to buy medical supplies on the black market? Not just the Bulgarian nurses but Libyan doctors, nurses and others from other countries. During the embargo, kaddafi sold just about everything he could get his hands on. That included medical supplies. And this is suppose to be a dictator who loves his people? For 400 cases to be transmitted via just one small clinic, imagine this practice in most of the other clinics in Libya? Several researchers helped me come up with the 100,000 figure based on the bad practices occuring at the children's clinic (Benghazi) in relationship to all the clinics in Libya.

Mickey Grant said...

I just returned from Bulgaria and spent an evening with the Palestinean doctor and one of the nurses. I asked both of them if they thought it was possible that there could be as many as 100,000 HIV cases in Libya and they both agreed that there could easily be that number. In fact, the previously imprisoned nurse indicated that the outbreak is so large that the Libyan government has created "towns" of AIDS victims and the existance of these towns is classified so the Libyan public doesn't discover the extent of the outbreak.

Consider that the same unhygenic practices such as reuse of syringes were not just limited to Benghazi but to most of the other clinics in Libya. During the time of the trade embargo kaddafi sold everything he could get his hands on including millions of dollars of donated medical supplies. The Palestinean doctor indicated there were no supplies at the clinic. In fact, according to another nurse who is in my film, they had to purchase these supplies on rare occassion when they showed up at the black market. Presently, I'm adding a new ending to the film which includes interviews with the freed nurses and doctor.
Mickey Grant
Mickeyfilm@aol.com

Mickey Grant said...

Shortly after the nurses were freed and after they were back in Bulgaria, I had the opportunity to interview some of them. One of the questions I asked was whether or not my estimate of potentially 100,000 HIV cases was an exageration or not. One of the nurses indicated that it was likely higher than that. She said that Kaddafi has built towns to house AIDS victims that are classified so the general public doesn't find out how poorly he has managed public health.

Mickey Grant

Mickey Grant said...

A few years have now passed since I did my investigation which so many of you concluded was an 'exageration.' I believe that the Libyan people are the most passive people I've ever known and I've worked in just about every country. kaddafi is severely mentally ill, a pedofile and the verifiable list of atrocities he's committed goes on and on and is verified every year by the Amnesty International report on Libya. Yet, it is my finding that most Libyans want to give him a free pass. There is next to no Libyan opposition worth anything to stop him. One of the worse sins sited in the Holy Koran is the one of lying. He's lied to a nation, to the world yet Libyans just seem to stand around and like I said, let him be. I feel so sorry for any child born in Libya, not just about the HIV, but about the fact that the parents and authorities allow such a mentally ill man and his relatively retarded so stay in power. It's beyond understanding of a guy you so cruelly call an exagerator after I donated over 5 years of my life trying to figure out why your children were dying.

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