Aids and Karate Training

by George Mattson

by Robert Kaiser

I was pleased to see AIDS addressed in your article forum but would like to make some, I believe, clarifying comments.

I have been a volunteer, educator (faculty member Comprehensive AIDS Program, University of Miami School of Medicine, vice president for operations, National Leadership Coalition on AIDS) and direct care provider in the field of HIV/AIDS for almost ten years. Although your posted ariticle is fairly accurate, I think it is difficult to understand what is being said by the way it is said.

For example: the author writes about “transmission of AIDS…”

AIDS is a medical diagnosis based on specific clinical data. HIV, widely accepted as the virus that causes AIDS, can be transmitted, AIDS cannot. People who are HIV infected may or may not develop the diagnosed illness of AIDS. Most have, but not everyone has. Who knows what the future holds. Although it is looking better everday.

There are only three known ways of transmission of HIV:

1) Sexual transmission: involving the exchange of body fluids such as semen and vaginal fluids from an infected person to another.

2) Blood products: either by sharing HIV contaminated needles with another, or blood to blood contact such as from an open wound of an HIV infected person to an open wound of another person. And of course receiving infected blood products from transfusions, etc. However, those chances (I believe the American Red Cross quotes less than a 1% chance) are very slim and most people who need transfusions will die without them and HIV won’t have anything to do with it.

3) Parinatal transmission: this is transmission from mother-to-child during the birthing process. This type of transmission might occur during pregnancy, during delivery, or possibly from drinking the mothers breast milk. It is estimated that about 1/3 of all children born to HIV infected mothers will be born with HIV infection and develop the disease. Once again, recent research suggests treatment improving the chances of the child being HIV negative.

So unless students in the dojo are having sex or giving birth they have one thing to be careful of: BLOOD! As blood is not unknown in the dojo, teachers and students alike should be aware of the potential dangers and handle each situation appropriately.

This means treat everyone the same, treat every occurance of blood in the same manner: as though it is infected. If you must handle or clean up another person’s blood wear latex gloves, clean the floor with a hot water/bleach or disinfectant mix. There is no reason to get hysterical about it or obsessive. I guarantee you you can not tell if a person is infected by looking at them (unless they are suffering from debilatating aspects of the disease such as Kaposi’s Sarcoma, a disfiguring cancer of the skin and organs or wasting syndrome which causes sever weight loss). So don’t discriminate, treat everyone the same.

As your medical author stated, casual contact will not transmit HIV. You cannot get HIV from hugging, casual kissing, shaking hands, using the same phone, copy machine, toilet, glass of water, bo, sai, etc.

In finishing, in the dojo your only concern would be blood. So be careful, not hysterical. And enjoy your workouts.

I hope this has helped.

Bob Kaiser

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