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Norwegian Infectious Disease Specialists Have New Theory On HIV In Africa 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the snail-problem dept.
mdsolar (1045926) writes in about a Norwegian team who believe they have an explanation about the unique distribution of HIV in Africa. "While around the world a vast majority of AIDS victims are men, Africa has long been the glaring exception: Nearly 60 percent are women. And while there are many theories, no one has been able to prove one. In a modest public health clinic behind a gas station here in South Africa's rural KwaZulu/Natal Province, a team of Norwegian infectious disease specialists think they may have found a new explanation. It is far too soon to say whether they are right. But even skeptics say the explanation is biologically plausible. And if it is proved correct, a low-cost solution has the potential to prevent thousands of infections every year. The Norwegian team believes that African women are more vulnerable to H.I.V. because of a chronic, undiagnosed parasitic disease: genital schistosomiasis (pronounced shis-to-so-MY-a-sis), often nicknamed 'schisto.' The disease, also known as bilharzia and snail fever, is caused by parasitic worms picked up in infested river water. It is marked by fragile sores in the far reaches of the vaginal canal that may serve as entry points for H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Dr. Eyrun F. Kjetland, who leads the Otimati team, says that it is more common than syphilis or herpes, which can also open the way for H.I.V."
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Norwegian Infectious Disease Specialists Have New Theory On HIV In Africa

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  • by retroworks (652802) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:41PM (#46973969) Homepage Journal

    Lived in Africa 2.5 years, mid 80s. It was obvious to us that anyone with a diagnosed anything, any previous disease (such as shisto but also STDs and malaria) has had an injection with an unwashed needle. I've written letters to WHO. Even when we brought our own hypodermic needles to European run hospitals (Norwegian mission in my case), the white doctors would forget and use a used needle.

    Africans typically felt cheated if they went to a doctor and didn't get a shot, and most doctors kept "vitamins" to inject as a placebo. My suspicion has always been that this link to western hypodermic needle / syringe use would be embarrassing to the WHO, same as the dysentery outbreak brought to Haiti by UN helpers. If I'm wrong, I hope someone can at least point to the study showing vaccinations with used needles are NOT the main cause of HIV in Africa, I'd sleep better.

  • by Beeftopia (1846720) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @04:41PM (#46974969)

    Per the CDC, black hetero females in the US have just about 4 times the new HIV infection rate than white hetero females: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/basics/ataglance.html [cdc.gov]

    More CDC statistics here: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/basics/ [cdc.gov]

    Certainly this is a worthwhile course of investigation by the Norwegians, but the relatively high black female HIV prevalence in the US could indicate factors specific to race and not merely location.

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