HIV And Cancer – What Patients Need To Know

HIV cancer

Each year, the HIV virus infects more than one million people around the world, with an estimated 1.7 million individuals infected in the year 2018. Africa accounts for quite a large percentage of adults and children that are infected with this virus. In the Eastern and Southern regions of Africa, an estimated 57% of adults have been infected with HIV.

A large number of those individuals who have been infected with this particular virus have not yet been tested – and do not realize the risks that they are facing with their general well-being. One particular risk that needs to be addressed is the fact that there is an increased risk of cancer among individuals who suffer an HIV infection.

The Increased Risk Of Cancer Caused By HIV

A common question asked by those infected with the HIV virus is whether or not they are truly at a higher risk of cancer. The short answer is yes – there is actually a significant increase observed in the risk of cancer among HIV sufferers. It is, however, important to note that the risk is only increased for a specific number of cancerous diseases.

When a patient develops cancer after they have been infected with HIV, the condition will usually be referred to as HIV-associated cancer.

The most important types of HIV-associated cancers that patients do need to be wary of include:

  • Cervical cancer (only applies to female patients who are infected)
  • Kaposi sarcoma (a type of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma that is considered aggressive and dangerous)
  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome defining cancers, also called AIDs-defining cancers

The increased risk of these cancers among individuals with HIV is defined as follow:

  • An HIV positive individual is 500 times more likely to develop Kaposi sarcoma than those who are not infected.
  • There is a 12x increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma among individuals with HIV.
  • Women diagnosed with HIV are also three times as likely to develop cervical cancer compared to those female patients who are not infected with the virus.

In addition to considering these HIV-associated cancers, there also seems to be an increased risk of other cancers among these patients:

  • Liver cancer
  • Anal cancer
  • Oral cavity cancer
  • Pharynx cancer
  • Lung cancer

In addition to considering these factors, it is important to note that when the HIV virus is accompanied by certain conditions or complications, there is a further increase in the patient’s risk of developing certain cancers.

One example is Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus. This disease is also called human herpesvirus 8. The presence of Epstein-Barr virus, along with HIV, also puts a person at a higher risk of both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Patients with HIV and infection with either hepatitis B or C are also at an increased risk of developing cancer in their liver.

Using testing kits, such as those provided by Ghana Medicals, can help a person detect the presence of HIV at an early stage – which might assist in reducing the risk of cancer when appropriate treatment is initiated.

Weak immune system

People who are infected with the virus that causes HIV to have a weak immune system and have also been found to be at a significantly higher risk of developing certain types of cancer. Those individuals who are affected by certain complications associated with HIV are at an even higher risk of developing these cancers.

References

https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/global-statistics
https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/hiv-fact-sheet#r2

Syphilis Infection in Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District, Ghana

Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District

By identifying the risk factors of the common STDs, we will be able to raise awareness for their existence and over time, work to eliminate them. With that, we can act to decline the STD rates on a global level, with a focus on where those rates are the highest. That is exactly what a group of researchers has done back in 2019, trying to identify the risk factors for existing syphilis infection among pregnant women.

What are the syphilis risk factors among pregnant women in Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa District in Ghana?

Syphilis is one of the common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is caused by a bacteria called Treponema pallidum. Like any other STD, syphilis as well is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, including oral, vaginal, and anal sex.

The first and most characteristic symptoms of existing syphilis infection is a painless sore that can appear anywhere on the sexual organs, rectum, lips, or inside the mouth. People usually fail to notice this first symptom and continue to live with the existing infection, eventually helping it spread if they engage in unprotected sexual intercourse in the near future.

Although we have penicillin since the 1990s, there is a continuous spread of syphilis on an international level, with more than 10 million individuals being diagnosed with an existing syphilis infection each year. Of course, the prevalence of syphilis is higher in high burden countries and rural areas such as Africa, especially in the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa.

The overall prevalence of syphilis in Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana has been estimated to be around 3.2% with a higher prevalence among women, about 5.7%, as compared to men, among which the prevalence is around 1.7%. The prevalence seems to be dangerously high among pregnant women with a prevalence of 1.6% in 2016, which poses its own threats knowing how syphilis can be easily transmitted to the baby in the womb during pregnancy.

But it is not only the congenital syphilis infection that we need to fear. Other complications such as stillbirth, low birth weight, spontaneous abortion, and neonatal death are possible as well. In fact, syphilis during pregnancy is considered to be the second leading cause of stillbirth on a global level.

Because of the high prevalence rates, researchers have conducted a study that was later published in 2019, with the hopes of identifying the exact risk factors for developing a syphilis infection during pregnancy among pregnant women in the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa. Identification of the risk factors can help to later focus on their elimination and improvement so that the rates of syphilis can significantly decline.

One of the risk factors was found to be married since syphilis infection was more common among couples that have been married as compared to those individuals who have been single, although the difference was not significant. The prevalence of syphilis was high in those who have reported a history of coerced sexual intercourse and those who have engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse of any kind with multiple partners. Living in rural areas such as the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa played one of the biggest roles as a significant risk factor.

Biggest risk factors

As it turns out, being in a marriage, living in a rural area, and having a history of coerced sexual intercourse play the role of the biggest risk factors for syphilis in the Aiskuma Odoben Brakwa district in Ghana, Africa where there has been a high syphilis prevalence, especially in women and in pregnant women.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5973824/
https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-3967-6#ref-CR5
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6527824/
https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/35/Supplement_2/S200/316361
https://www.who.int/gho/sti/en/
https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-3967-6

How Big Of A Role Does Migration Play In HIV Transmission In South Africa?

South Africa and HIV

Identifying the risk factors for HIV and STD has had a positive impact on the prevention and treatment of these serious diseases. But is migration one of those risk factors? Should we be considered about the millions of people who are migrating across South Africa and spreading HIV and other STDs? A 2003 study has investigated this very same question, so let’s find out the answer, shall we?

The role of migration in HIV transmission among those living in South Africa

Africa is one of the countries with the highest STD prevalence in the world, being one of the high burden countries as it is. A study published in 2016 has revealed that there are approximately 36.7 million people infected with HIV on an international level, with 2.1 million of those living in Africa alone. But it is not only adults that are affected by this frightening disease. Over the years, it has been suggested that 91% of the HIV-infected children are living in Africa, as well.

And it is not only HIV that we need to be worried about since there are many common STDs such as gonorrhea and syphilis that are also frequently diagnosed in Africa as well. Despite the fact that they are curable as compared to HIV, they still present an economic burden and a factor that reduces the quality of life for these individuals.

Researching common factors

Researchers have made an effort to discover the most common factors that contribute to the high HIV and STD rates in Africa. It has been revealed that people living in Africa are usually unaware of the risks that these dangerous diseases pose, but studies have also revealed that there have been many people who are very well aware of these risks and still fail to get regular check-ups and proper treatment when needed. For example, a study published in 2019 has revealed that it is the feelings of shame and fear that are preventing these people from asking for help, which is why they decide to live with the consequences in silence.

But the search for the factors that contribute to the high HIV rates has begun as early as 2003 when a study has been published in the Journal of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Researchers have conducted the study to investigate if migration plays any role in the spreading of the HIV infection.

For the purposes of the research, 196 migrant men and 130 of their rural partners, including 64 nonmigrant men and 98 rural women, have been included in the study. The male migrants have been recruited at work in two different urban centers with their rural partners being invited to participate as well, while the nonmigrant couples have been recruited for comparison. Questionnaires and blood samples for HIV detection have been used to determine the presence of HIV infection in both migrant and nonmigrant couples.

What the study revealed was that migration is one of the high-risk factors for HIV infection, next to practicing unprotected sexual intercourse and having lived in four or more places during a lifetime. For women, being the partner of a migrant man has not been considered to be a significant risk factor for HIV. This draws attention to proper workplace interventions to prevent further spreading of HIV and other common STDs.

Conclusion

Over the years, researchers have been able to identify any high-risk factors for HIV and other common STDs. With that, they have been able to raise awareness and work to reduce the high HIV and STD rates on an international level. One of those high-risk factors for HIV has been migration, especially in South Africa. With that, we are one step closer to causing a significant decline in the STD and HIV prevalence and preserving people’s lives.

References

https://www.amfar.org/worldwide-aids-stats/

https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-hiv-africa#fnref1

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article/authors?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0223414

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10918165_The_Impact_of_Migration_on_HIV-1_Transmission_in_South_Africa

How long it takes for STD symptoms to appear or show up on a Test?

STD Testing

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a common occurrence across the globe, particularly in developing countries such as Ghana. The public stigma associated with getting tested leaves sexually active people at high risk of developing some STD or unknowingly transmitting it to someone else. Sexually active men and women should get tested at least once a year and even frequently, so if they have multiple partners. Most people wonder how long it takes for symptoms of STD to show up or when they get detected through testing, and we are about to provide the answers. Read on to learn more.

How long it takes for STD to show up?

At first glance, it may seem logical that as soon as STD-causing bacteria (or virus) enter the body, you can get a test that would detect it. However, the processing route is more complicated than that. Generally speaking, we get infected when bacteria or other pathogens enter our bodies. Every infection has its own timeframe for susceptibility or incubation time, and STDs are not the exception.

For some STDs, the body starts producing antibodies to counteract infection and develops symptoms in a matter of a few days, but for others, it may take up to several months for the first signs to appear. Below, you can see the incubation period for various STDs:

  • Chlamydia – 7-21 days
  • Genital herpes – 2-12 days
  • Gonorrhea – 1-14 days
  • Syphilis – 3 weeks – 20 years depending on the type
  • Oral herpes – 2-12 days
  • Trichomoniasis – 5-28 days

During the incubation period, a person may not experience symptoms at all. Bear in mind that some people don’t develop any symptoms at all. So, if you’re in a high-risk group of developing some STD, it’s a good idea to get tested, but not too early as you may test negative i.e., the STD might not be detected. Wait for the incubation period to end or consult a doctor who will advise you regarding the right time to get tested.

When to get retested?

People with some STDs may need to get retested after a while to make sure their infection has been cured completely. Some patients don’t need to get retested, though. Here are a few examples:

  • Chlamydia – 3 months
  • Genital and oral herpes – no retesting necessary (lifelong infections)
  • Gonorrhea – 3 months
  • Syphilis – 4 weeks
  • Trichomoniasis – 2 weeks

Why get tested?

Most people underestimate the importance of getting tested. The danger of STDs is that they don’t always induce symptoms, and it’s easy to spread them to sex partners. When left untreated, they can cause a number of complications. Therefore, make sure to get tested and protect your health, general wellbeing, and partner. Nowadays, it’s easy to learn whether you have STD because it’s possible to get tests online and do the whole thing in the comfort of your home.

Every type of STD has its own incubation time during which people usually don’t notice any symptoms. Testing too early could yield negative results even if the person has STD, so test at an appropriate time if you suspect to have some sexually-transmitted disease. Or even better, get tested for STD once a year and even more frequently if you have multiple sex partners.

References

https://www.healthtestingcenters.com/how-long-should-i-wait-test-std/

https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/sexual-health/how-soon-do-sti-symptoms-appear/

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-it-take-for-std-to-show-up

The Common Causes of Vaginal Discharge in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe and STI

Every woman has had her experience with vaginal discharge; however, it seems that more and more women in Zimbabwe have had their experience with abnormal vaginal discharge, due to until now, unknown reasons. From the long list of potential causes, a study published in 2019 has finally pointed out the two most common causes of abnormal vaginal discharge in adult women in Zimbabwe.

What do you need to know about vaginal discharge?

Most women have experienced vaginal discharge at least once in their lifetime, and even more often than that, thinking about how vaginal discharge is considered to be a normal and regular occurrence among most women. There are different types of vaginal discharge that differ according to their color and consistency. For example, white, either watery or mucus-like, vaginal discharge, as well as brown colored vaginal discharge, is considered to be normal.

However, when a woman is experiencing either yellow or greenish vaginal discharge, especially if it is accompanied by a rather unpleasant smell that indicates that yeast or bacterial infection is probably present. Many common STDs and STIs often present themselves with vaginal discharge, among other symptoms. Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are most commonly affected by a present vaginal discharge, but there are other potential causes as well.

What are the common causes of vaginal discharge in Zimbabwe?

A study published in November 2019 has investigated the common causes of vaginal discharge in Zimbabwe, which, as you may know, is one of the African centuries where there is a high STDs prevalence. Because many young people in Zimbabwe become sexually active at an early age without being fully aware of the risks that the common STDs may bring into their lives, as well as, the importance of how to properly practice safe sex, they are one of the especially vulnerable groups that are commonly affected by STDs.

The study has revealed that it is bacterial vaginosis that is the most common cause for abnormal vaginal discharge being present. Bacterial vaginosis is a type of vaginal inflammation that is caused by the overgrowth of the already present bacteria in the vagina. Other symptoms such as itching, foul-smelling odor, and a burning sensation during urination are present as well, due to bacterial vaginosis.

But vaginal discharge has also been commonly caused by Gonorrhea, which is suggested to be the STD that is most often diagnosed within the adult women in Zimbabwe. Studies have been showing a high rate of Gonorrhea cases among adult women, with approximately 6.6% of the adult women in Africa being affected by Gonorrhea.

Luckily, both bacterial vaginosis and Gonorrhea are easily treated by following certain guidelines. Metronidazole, Clindamycin, and Tinidazole are the usual treatment choices used to treat bacterial vaginosis, with high success rates among its patients.

Future of BV in Zimbawe

Every day, more and more women in Zimbabwe are facing the troubles that come with abnormal vaginal discharge, most commonly caused by bacterial vaginosis and Gonorrhea among the adult women in this country. Although proper treatment for both bacterial vaginosis and Gonorrhea has been made available, it is a shame for so many women to still struggle with these potentially dangerous conditions.

References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bacterial-vaginosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352279

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6879447/

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0205863

The True Impact of Chlamydia Through History in Africa

Chlamydia in africa

Chlamydia is a tremendous public health concern across the world. But, there is one particular continent that has long been struggling with this common sexually transmitted disease, and that is Africa.

Based on statistics, around 50 million women across the globe carry this infection, but 34 million of them live in Africa, particularly the southeast and Sub-Saharan region. Research estimates that the 10% decline in population growth in this region is the result of chlamydia infection, while 30% is caused by gonorrhea.

While chlamydia may not be the primary cause of population decline, it does have a heavy impact on people’s lives. Those who fail to get treated are vulnerable to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility.

Even though this infection can be easily avoided and treated, there are around 5 million newly reported cases of infection every single year, and most of them are recorded in Africa. Here, we will talk about the history of this infection, how it’s being managed today, and analyze the statistics on why chlamydia is still so prevalent in Africa.

The History of Chlamydia in Africa

Chlamydia has deep roots, and to better understand these roots, we have to start from the very beginning. Prior to the colonial period, there was one particular region in Africa that stood out from the rest. It was the first region ever to be introduced to sexually transmitted diseases, and that is south Ghana.

Ghana is located in the western part of Africa, with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. Its strategic location and land made it popular among European settlers. At this time, the settlers forced their way into society and brought the sexually transmitted infections, like chlamydia, to the African region. These infections were never before seen or experienced by the African population.

By the 1920s, syphilis and gonorrhea became widespread with more than 1500 cases recorded in the southern part of the country, records show. Many years later, in 1946, with the arrival of troops and influx of laborers during World War II, tens of thousands of newly recorded cases of various STDs became a serious problem for the region.

At this time, there was no one responsible for controlling the STDs in the country or the continent, which led people to seek other unsafe treatment alternatives to manage the symptoms. Those infected purchased sulpha drugs on the black market.

These drugs were extremely dangerous to their overall health but were the only method of treatment available to the mass population. It wasn’t until 1986 that government officials finally turned their attention to managing STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and AIDS.

In an effort to put an end to these serious diseases, in 1992, STD control programs, treatments, detection, and prevention methods were finally initiated.

How Is Chlamydia Managed Today?

In 2008, Africa gained access to top-quality STD programs for effective treatment. These treatments are available all across the continent, and since then, around 44% of those infected have received proper treatment. Based on the records from decades ago, this is a considerable improvement.

Now, many health practitioners and volunteers participate in programs to raise awareness of STDs to help those infected better understand their infection. These efforts have paid off, and since 1999, chlamydia infections have dramatically decreased. With the help of counseling, now 85% of people are aware of the existence of STDs, and many of them have access to adequate treatment.

Why Is Chlamydia Still a Serious Problem in Africa?

For many years, the world has had access to proper STD treatments and preventive methods, but in Africa, these bacterial infections still remain a pressing concern. Based on records, Africa is the number one most infected region with STDs. It’s so prevalent that 14 million children have lost one or both of their parents due to these infections.

There are four major reasons that hinder the effects of STD treatment programs in Africa, and these are:

  • Inadequate Infrastructure
  • Lack of funding
  • Insufficient workforce specifically trained to adapt to this environment
  • Discrimination

Many infected have yet to try to manage their disease or attend programs. Most of the people who don’t get counseling, medications, or don’t use preventions are males. Results have shown that these programs and coverages are not enough to control the epidemic.

Most of the population in Africa is poor and can’t afford any vaccines or medications for treatment. Also, health facilities that offer chlamydia treatment services are far away from rural neighborhoods and are often situated near more populated cities or towns. This makes the facilities less accessible for a huge percentage of the infected population.

But, even if all individuals had access to these treatment facilities, health practitioners will often face one major problem, and that is the discriminatory law.

People who live in Africa are very discriminating towards individuals who are found HIV positive or carry any STDs. Those who carry the infection and publically announce it can get humiliated in front of their village or tribe. Based on statistics, women often carry the blame for spreading infection, such as chlamydia, regardless of who actually transmitted the infection.

Out of fear of being tested positive, those infected would avoid getting tested or receive proper treatment. This is something many health practitioners are unequipped to deal with.

Chlamydia has a long history, particularly in Africa

Africa has long been the most infected continent with sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia. Due to poverty, lack of information, proper education, medical facilities, and treatments, these infections have become an epidemic. This is how the bacterial infection has affected the entire continent and how it’s managed today.

To cope with such a serious problem, people should first learn about these infections. That way, they can overcome the discrimination and prejudice they have about these infections. However, this is something that can prove difficult in the African region. Despite the success in treating these infections, chlamydia still remains a serious issue for most of the population.

References

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-018-3477-y

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7705861

http://data.unaids.org/pub/report/2009/jc1700_epi_update_2009_en.pdf

https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-around-world/sub-saharan-africa/overview

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chlamydia_trachomatis

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(19)30279-7/fulltext

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8511712

HIV in Kids

HIV information

HIV does not only affect adults. Unfortunately, it does not choose according to sex, age, race, or any factor, which results in affecting anyone at any point in time, at any place around the world. Still, there are some groups that are affected more commonly than others, and young children are not excluded from this group. HIV is quite common among kids as well, causing their quality of life to significantly decrease over time while being responsible for millions of children dying because of it.

Causes of HIV in kids

In most cases of HIV in children, we are looking at HIV being transmitted during pregnancy from the infected mother to her baby in the womb. In a lot of cases as well, the virus has been transmitted during the period of breastfeeding. HIV and syphilis are the two STDs that can be easily transmitted during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

That is why it is usual to get tested for both HIV and syphilis during the first visit to the doctor’s office once a pregnancy has been discovered. If there is a case of HIV or syphilis, early diagnosis and treatment greatly lower the risk of the chance of the virus to be transmitted to the baby.

Sadly, but true – A lot of children have been infected with HIV as a result of sexual abuse or rape. Young female children that are traditionally married to older men, often get infected with HIV and later transmit it to their baby. In fact, the younger the child is, the higher the chances to get infected with HIV, and other STDs for that matter are. In addition, adolescents that engage in unprotected sexual intercourse of any kind, including oral, vaginal, and anal sex, are also exposed to the risk of HIV and AIDS.

How common is HIV in kids?

In 2016, 2.1 million of them children under the age of 16 on an international level, were diagnosed with HIV. Of those, it is suggested that 91% are living in Africa, resulting in about 3.2 million children infected with HIV in 2013. Now with the majority of HIV-infected children living in Africa, AIDS has been considered to be one of the leading causes of death among adolescents in this country.

In most cases, it has been their mothers who have transmitted the HIV infection during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to the lack of awareness, failing to notice the present symptoms, and asking for help in time.

Treating HIV in kids

Although there is no cure for HIV, there is a wide variety of medications that can be used to support a healthy condition and prevent HIV from progressing to HIV. Usually, a combination of medications is being used to treat the present symptoms and prevent them from progressing in the future.

The main goals of any HIV patient are to keep the number of CD4 cells as high as possible and reduce the viral load of HIV. In order to do that, along with the proper treatment, regular blood tests are done in order to measure the levels of CD4 cells in the body.

Millions are affected around the world

Affecting millions of young children around the world, with most of them living in Africa and other high burden countries, HIV represents a dangerous and life-threatening virus that needs to be prevented the best that it can. With infected mothers transmitting their HIV infection to their baby during pregnancy, and the infection spreading through unprotected sexual intercourse, it is easy to understand how we have such a big number of affected people, and sadly children, living all around the world.

References

https://www.avert.org/professionals/hiv-social-issues/key-affected-populations/children#footnote7_yfxramp
https://www.amfar.org/worldwide-aids-stats/
https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/UNICEF_Annual_Report_2015_En.pdf

What Everyone Should Know About World AIDS Day

HIV information

Every year December 1 is marked as World AIDS Day around the globe and an opportunity to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, inspire people to get tested, and encourage them to learn as much as they can about this widespread problem. But, you don’t have to wait for December 1 to learn about HIV. You should use every opportunity you have to get informed. Scroll down to see what everyone should know about HIV.

What is HIV?

Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV is a virus that damages a person’s immune system, especially CD4 cells (also known as T cells). Over time, especially when not managed properly, HIV destroys so many cells that the immunity is unable to protect the body from diseases and infections.

HIV vs. AIDS

Most people think HIV and AIDS are the same things, but they are not. HIV is a virus, but AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a condition. Developing HIV can lead to AIDS. In other words, AIDS is stage 3 of HIV and develops when the virus has caused significant damage to the immune system. Not every person with HIV will develop AIDS.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is spread from one person to another through bodily fluids that include blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids, and breast milk. One person cannot get HIV through casual contact with an infected individual e.g., through a handshake.

What are the symptoms of HIV?

Within two to four weeks after HIV infection, a person may develop flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills, headache, rash, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and muscle or joint pain. These symptoms may last a few days, but in some people, they persist for several weeks. Symptoms are usually mild, and most people don’t even notice them.

As the virus marks progress, the swelling of the lymph nodes becomes more pronounced, and other symptoms worsen too.

Who is at risk of HIV?

Factors that increase the risk of HIV include:

  • Having unprotected sex
  • Presence of STD
  • Use of intravenous drugs
  • Being an uncircumcised man

Is HIV curable?

Unfortunately, no! HIV is a lifelong problem. Scientists and doctors are trying to find a cure for HIV, and hopefully, in the near future, they will succeed. At this point, there are various treatments, such as antiretroviral therapy, to manage this condition and prevent complications or its progression to AIDS.

Prevalence of HIV

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 37.9 million people had HIV in 2018. In June 2019, 24.5 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy. The prevalence of HIV is particularly high in sub-Saharan countries. This is partly due to low awareness of HIV, stigma associated with getting tested, and insufficient prevention campaigns.

HIV is still a global problem

Although the number of people with HIV has decreased over the decades, millions of people, including children, still have it. This lifelong condition can be managed with antiretroviral therapy that prevents complications and progression to AIDS.

Read more: HIV in Ghana is on the rise

Read More: HIV in Nigeria

References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hiv-aids/symptoms-causes/syc-20373524

https://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hiv-aids

Rwanda Being the First Country to Possibly Wipe Out Cervical Cancer

Rwanda and sexually transmitted infections

With cervical cancer being one of the most common causes of death all around the world, especially in high burden countries such as Rwanda, the people in Rwanda have made a great step forward, focusing on wiping out cervical cancer altogether. With the techniques and methods that they have developed over the years, the rates of cervical cancer have declined, offering their residents an opportunity to live a healthier, longer life.

Rwanda and the possibility to completely wipe out cervical cancer

Cervical cancer has represented a potentially life-threatening health issue for the longest time now, accounting for more than 68 000 new cancer cases in Africa. Every 23 out of 100 000 women is estimated to die from cervical cancer, with every 34 out of 100 000 women being affected by it. These are some frightening numbers.

Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV (Human Papillomavirus), with HPV-16 and HPV-18 being the two most common types of HPV out of the 100 different ones that are most frequently leading to cervical cancer.

Read more: 1 in 9 men has oral HPV

Being the most common type of cancer in their country, the people of Rwanda, Africa have decided to put a stop to it. It was 2010 when Rwanda first decided to make wiping out cervical cancer a health priority, agreeing on a partnership with the pharmaceutical company called Merck that was supposed to deliver the much-needed HPV vaccines and with that, contribute to the preventing HPV in the first place.

It wasn’t easy to raise awareness

It took the authorities in Rwanda a long time to raise the much-needed awareness and convince the parents to agree on getting their children vaccinated. There are different reasons as to why that was the case. While some deny to talk about reproductive health and think of it as a taboo, others believe that by vaccinating their children, they ought to become promiscuous in the near future, engaging in frequent sexual activity with multiple sexual partners, thus exposing themselves to the other common STDs.

But since then, the authorities in Rwanda have succeeded at changing more and more people’s opinions, helping to protect younger lives, thus becoming potentially the first country to wipe cervical cancer.  A lot of things have changed since Rwanda first decided to focus on eliminating cervical cancer. Nowadays, they are offering the newest vaccine called Gardasil 9, which works by preventing nine different types of HPV.

But it is not only their prevention method that has improved over the years. Today, Rwanda also focuses on proper screening and managing the cases of cervical cancer, offering support along the way. They are now offering proper immunization for other dangerous diseases such as rubella, polio, and measles, helping the lifespan of the people of Rwanda to double between 1995 and 2011.

Effective prevention was key

Since 2010, which is when the authorities in Rwanda first decided to make a great change in the lives of their female residents, the rates of cervical cancer and HPV infections have successfully declined. It was all about effective prevention through immunization that has been made available and offered to everyone, in addition to offering proper management and treatment that has helped increase the life expectancy of the people of Rwanda.

References

https://www.afro.who.int/news/cervical-cancer-common-amongst-african-women

https://travelnoire.com/rwanda-could-be-the-first-country-to-eliminate-cervical-cancer

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/05/30/health/rwanda-first-eliminate-cervical-cancer-africa-partner/index.html

The Benefits of an Early Diagnosis for STIs

The Benefits of an Early Diagnosis for STIs in Africa

More than 448 million people around the globe are infected with STIs. 110 million of those infected live in the sub-Saharan African region. That’s is almost a quarter of the entire population carrying these infections.

For many years now, sub-Saharan Africa has been dealing with a high prevalence of STIs. Syphilis, chlamydia, trich, herpes, and gonorrhea are a serious issue for Africa, with Gonorrhea having the highest prevalence in the southern region registered at 4.6%.

This infection, like all the others, is extremely common among the young population between the ages of 15 to 24. If these infections are left untreated, they will have a significant impact on the quality of life, reproductive system, and a child’s health.

So, why is early diagnosis important for treating these infections? Let’s take a look at why early detection and treatment are vital for those infected.

The Importance of an Early Diagnosis for STIs

Early diagnosis for STIs is the key to a successful prognosis for these infections. The sooner people get diagnosed, the better the chances of receiving medications for successful and quick treatment effects.

This, in fact, allows people to have a better opportunity in treating these infections rather than transmitting them. An early diagnosis helps people live longer and reduces their chances of developing these infections later in life.

Detecting the STIs early on plays a crucial role in stopping the transmission of these infections to the unborn child or sexual partner. In certain cases, it might even save someone’s life.

By treating these infections on time, people can avoid:

  • Infertility
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Cervical cancer
  • Birth defects or pregnancy risks
  • Dementia
  • Organ damage
  • Stillbirth

If people do test positive for any STIs, no matter if it’s a parasitic, viral, or bacterial infection, it’s important that they seek treatment to avoid these health complications and live a healthy life.

Most STIs can be treated with simple medications, but if left untreated, they can result in HIV or AIDS. However, AIDS/HIV will require different drugs to suppress the virus rather than to eliminate it.

Why Do People in Africa Have the Highest Prevalence in STIs?

Even though many developing countries, particularly in the African region, do have access to screening equipment for STIs, these infections still remain a major problem for the entire population.

Africa has inadequate treatment and prevention gaps for controlling these infections. Because of the limited access to such treatments, many STIs remain undetected and untreated.

Also, due to the cultural stigma surrounding STIs, many infections remain undiagnosed, and people often don’t get adequate treatment.

If these STIs are not managed on-time, people are prone to developing an HIV infection and transmitting that infection.

Early diagnosis and treatment for STIs are vital

Early diagnosis and treatment for STIs are vital, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. To control the constant transmission, people need access to early screenings and proper antibiotics to treat these infections.

While Africa still remains the most infected region with sexually transmitted infections, it’s without a doubt, the most important area to address and increase awareness of this problem and to make screening options, diagnosis, and treatment available for the entire population.

References

https://sti.bmj.com/content/87/Suppl_2/ii10

https://sti.bmj.com/content/87/Suppl_2/ii19

https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002511

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00054174.htm

https://www.washtenaw.org/1348/Benefits-of-HIV-STI-Testing

http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1415-790X2011000300011&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en