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

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

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

New Survey Results Indicate That Nigeria Has an HIV Prevalence of 1.4%

Nigeria and HIV

According to a study conducted by UNIAIDS and the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), about 1.9 million people are living with HIV in Nigeria. However, the federal government of Nigeria has released a result that indicates an HIV prevalence of 1.4%.

Read More: HIV in Ghana is on the rise

This is contrary to the previous estimates of 2.8%. During the launching of the Revised National HIV and AIDS Strategic Framework (2019-2021) held in Abuja recently, Muhammadu Buhari, the President of Nigeria, acknowledged that there are now fewer people living with HIV in the country than before. This is a clear indication that the country has improved drastically with preventive measures and response to the epidemic in recent years.

Optimism of possibly ending AIDS in Nigeria by 2030

The president also expressed optimism that the end of AIDS by 2030 might become a possibility for Nigeria. He went ahead to urge all stakeholders and relevant agencies not to relent in their effort to bring the epidemic to an abrupt end.

Mike Sidibe, who is the Executive Director of UNAIDS, acknowledged the new estimates as a welcomed development. He went further to express satisfaction about the country’s present disposition towards HIV and AIDS. That it will allow the country to reach out to more people living with the virus, he also expressed optimism that the end of the epidemic is drawing nearer come 2030.

New estimates

According to the new estimates, there are more women (15-49 years) living with HIV than men. The national prevalence is 1.4% among adults between the ages of 15 and 49 years. HIV prevalence in children is about 0.2% of the total population of people living with the virus. However, several NGO’s and agencies have risen to stop the spread of HIV among children and infants.

With the new estimates, it is expected that the federal government can better invest in preventive measures and conduct effective planning for the control and prevention of HIV and AIDS in the country. More so, some populations will be controlled and limited to the barest minimum, such as female sex workers. When the virus is heavily suppressed, the rate of transmission through sex will be significantly reduced.

The Minister of Health

In a speech delivered by the Minister of Health, Isaac F. Adewole, he opined that people living with the virus need to have access to healthcare and retroviral drugs to achieve a high degree of suppression. He also said that pregnant women should have access to antenatal care and undergo proper testing for the virus during each pregnancy. “Early detection is the key to controlling the spread of the epidemic. Let’s ensure the next generation is free from HIV,” he concluded.

The new data generated are more accurate than the previous estimates because they are based on an enhanced methodology and an expanded surveillance system. Over the years, the number of facilities and agencies responsible for HIV prevention has tripled. The number of mother-to-child prevention centers has increased drastically. This has led to an increase in the response rate to the epidemic.

HIV in Ghana is on the rise

HIV information

Ghana has been struggling to reduce the number of HIV infections for years. In this region, there are around 150,000 people with HIV. In 2014, the HIV prevalence rate was recorded at 1.37%, with the lowest rates registered in the north region of Ghana, and the highest in the east.

To control this epidemic, the government appointed the Ghana AIDS Commission. This commission is in charge of handling the treatment, awareness, and education for HIV and AIDS-related health issues.

But, despite the increased awareness and access to HIV treatment, this disease in the Sub-Saharan African region is still one of the most common causes of death. Statistics from 2017 show that HIV was, in fact, responsible for 13,878 deaths.

The Rates of HIV Infections in Ghana Keep Increasing

There is a drastic increase in individuals infected with HIV, according to the Ghana AIDS Commission.

Based on the 2018 statistics, there were 19,931 newly recorded HIV infections, stated the commission in a most recent announcement in 2019, December 1. Their announcement was released to the community through media, mosques, and churches.

3,317 of the newly infected were young children between the ages of 0 and 14, while the rest of the 16,614 were adults.

The most common ways of transmission for the 334,717 already living with HIV, are through:

  • Unprotected sexual intercourse
  • Using various unsterilized sharp instruments.
  • mother-to-child transmission (MTCT)

Statistics from 2016 show the same results, the number of newly infected individuals from 2010 to 2016 increased by a staggering 21%. The most infected were those between the ages of 15 and 24, which are 45% of all the infected.

While Ghana has successfully managed to reduce other common STIs infections by 16%, HIV still remains a serious problem.

What Is Being Done to Control HIV in Ghana?

To ensure access to medicines for HIV treatment, the PEPFAR (The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) has issued $23.7 million for AIDS and HIV treatment in Ghana. With the help of additional programs, PEPFAR has implemented a load of viral testing to prevent and control the spread of the infection in this region.

The Network of Persons living with AIDS and HIV in Ghana have been urging the government to boost their District Assemblies Common Fund to provide more funding for HIV and AIDS treatment.

A conference was held in May 2018 to propose new measures for controlling the HIV disease. Some of the leading institutions that participated in the conference were the CDC – Atlanta’s Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. HIV Research Program. At the conference, the government stated they would assess implications by 2020 in an effort to end AIDS and HIV by 2030.

HIV infections are still a pressing matter for Ghana

HIV infections are still a pressing matter for Ghana. This epidemic has forced the region to start working on implementing a series of programs and policies to stop the spread of the disease and better-manage the infection. More time is necessary, however, to see the full extent of these changes and whether they will have any positive results.

References

https://www.myjoyonline.com/lifestyle/2019/November-29th/hiv-infections-on-the-rise-19000-new-cases-recorded-in-2018-ghana-aids-commission.php

http://www.healthdata.org/sites/default/files/files/images/news_release/2019/HIV%20Press%20Release%20-%20GHANA.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIV/AIDS_in_Ghana

https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Government-raises-concern-as-HIV-infections-increase-by-21-650173

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6527824/

Signs and Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

HIV information

People can feel completely healthy for years before they even realize they are infected with HIV. Sometimes it may take ten years before the symptoms show up. Which is why regular testing is important for anyone who suspects they have been exposed to the dangerous virus.

This includes individuals who have had unprotected intercourse or anyone who has shared needles or syringes when taking drugs. Adequate treatment is crucial for managing the symptoms.

Since the symptoms of the virus can vary from person to person, it is very hard to generalize it. That’s why the virus has been divided into three stages, each with its own symptoms and characteristics.

  1. Stage 1 – Acute HIV
  2. Stage 2 – HIV Dormancy
  3. Stage 3 – AIDS

Read More: HIV and AIDS

The Symptoms of HIV Typical for the First Stage (Acute HIV)

Based on statistics, 80% of the people with HIV during the first couple of weeks, experience symptoms that feel very much like the flu. This stage will begin 4 or 6 weeks after the individual has been infected. At this stage, the body will mobilize the entire immune system to fight the virus. As a result, the symptoms can be the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Exhaustion
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the muscles and joints
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes
  • Upper body rash
  • Vomiting
  • Weak muscles

For many, these are not significant symptoms, which is why many people ignore them. If you believe in having been in contact with someone carrying the virus, it’s best to get tested.

The Symptoms of HIV Typical for the Second Stage (HIV Dormancy)

According to statistics, the second stage of HIV can last more than ten years. But, the biggest issue for this particular stage is that most people don’t even have any symptoms. As a result, they can unknowingly pass the virus to someone else.

As the virus progresses, it will deteriorate the immune system affecting all the white blood cells that help the body fend of viruses. In the end, the system will be more susceptible to various diseases, infections, and bacteria.

To monitor the second stage, blood samples are important. They can help analyze the T-helper and white blood cells count in the system. Once the number of these cells falls to a certain level, the third stage begins.

The Symptoms of HIV Typical for the Third Stage (AIDS)

Based on recent statistics, 17,803 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with stage 3 HIV, known as AIDS. Thirty-three of them were children not older than 13, while 4,308 were females, both adolescents, and adults; the rest were males.

This stage begins when the immune system of the infected individual has been destroyed. Even the slightest and insignificant infections can be fatal. Some of the symptoms may include:

  • Bleeding
  • Bruising
  • Constant exhaustion
  • Extreme and unexpected weight loss
  • Fungal infections (vagina, throat, mouth)
  • Lengthy periods of fever (more than ten days)
  • Prolonged and severe diarrhea
  • Soft and swollen and lymph nodes on the groin and neck
  • Sweating during the night
  • Wheezing

Read More: HIV Modern Treatment

References

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/stds-hiv-safer-sex/hiv-aids/what-are-symptoms-hivaids

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

https://www.avert.org/about-hiv-aids/symptoms-stages

https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/overview/index.html

Modern Treatment of HIV

HIV information

The first case of HIV was reported back in the early 80s. When the disease first came about, patients have a very minimal chance of survival.  Unfortunately, the disease still remains widespread – especially in Africa, where an estimated 25.7 million people are infected.

Nowadays, though, many patients of HIV can live a long and healthy life thanks to medication. The medication can control and mitigate some of the symptoms, but it does get rid of the disease.

Read More: HIV and AIDS

Drugs Used to Treat HIV

There are four primary medications used to treat HIV. Doctors usually prescribe a mix of these, the exact quantities varying from individual to individual.

  1. Reverse Transcriptase

This drug ensures that the HIV virus does not multiply by making copies of itself.

  • Protease Inhibitors

These inhibitors block enzyme protease within the HIV cells.

  • Integrase

HIV can integrate itself into a person’s DNA, making the patient a permanent carrier of HIV. This drug inhibits integrase, and the enzyme used to integrate the virus. By doing so, the medicine prevents the virus from spreading to other areas of the immune system.

  • CCR5 Inhibitors

CCR5 are receptors located on the membranes of white blood cells. The HIV virus uses them as gateways to attack and ingrain themselves within the cells. This medicine inhibits these receptors and prevents the virus from spreading more.

Read More: Signs and Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

Modern Combined Therapy

The HIV virus is particularly difficult to target because of its changing nature. The genetic makeup of the virus changes frequently, and thus, it’s easy for the virus to become resistant to medication.

To counter this problem, modern treatment methods make use of Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART). This method involves doctors prescribing a mix of different messages, each with a particular dosage. South Africa is currently conducting its third-line HIV treatment program for people who are resistant to the first and second lines.

What’s important to note is that even if the medication works in tackling the effects of the virus, it will not completely cure it. The patient will still test positive for the virus and so can transmit it to others as well.

Side Effects of HIV Treatment

HIV treatment as some common side effects such as:

  • Headaches
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Mood Swings
  • Weight Gain

These are only some of the side effects patients may of the treatment face. Every case will vary from individual to individual. It is also typical for patients to have adverse reactions to medications when they begin their course. It’s likely that you will have to test out a few different combinations of medicines to see which one suits you best.

Read More: STD’s in Africa

What’s next?

Advances in science have now made it possible for patients of HIV to live long, healthy lives. In particular, Anti-Retroviral Therapy is a great method of treatment for patients today. Research in Ghana has also shown that it’s cheaper for patients in the long run.

References:

https://journals.lww.com/aidsonline/FullText/2017/10230/The_costs_of_HIV_treatment_and_care_in_Ghana.13.aspx

https://www.aidsmap.com/news/jan-2019/south-africa-reports-successful-third-line-hiv-treatment-programme

https://www.afro.who.int/health-topics/hivaids

HIV and AIDS

HIV information

HIV is a harmful virus that damages the entire immune system by killing the white blood cells responsible for fighting off infections. Eventually, the immune system will become weaker and prone to diseases, leaving the entire immune system impaired.

Based on the latest statistics from 2018, around 37.9 million people deal with AIDS/HIV around the world, 1.7 million of them are children younger than 15. Even though in the past, this virus was deadly, now, the life expectancy of a person with HIV is the same as those without the virus.

However, these effects can only be achieved with proper treatment and adequate medications.

Read More: Signs and Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

How is HIV Transmitted?

Specific fluids like semen, vaginal, rectal, seminal, blood, or breast milk can spread the virus. Here are the most common forms of transmission through these fluids.

During Sexual Intercourse

The main way of transmitting this virus is via intercourse. Plenty of bodily fluids will come in contact with the reproductive organs. During unprotected sex, the risk of the infection is the highest.

Injections

Anyone who uses needles, typically drug users, will exchange needles, syringes, or other equipment they use for injections. This is another way they can transmit the virus.

From a Mother to a Newborn Child

A woman with HIV can transmit the virus to her child while in labor or when pregnant. However, breastfeeding is another form of transmission that can be passed onto the child after it has been born since breast milk contains the virus. The chances of transmission are from 15%-45%.

Typical Symptoms Associated With HIV

HIV is categorized in different stages, three to be exact (acute, chronic, and AIDS). If a person avoids treatment for an extended amount of time, the symptoms will get gradually worse.

Some often mistake them for the flu and don’t get tested in time. According to statistics, out of more than a million people infected with HIV in the U.S., 14% of them didn’t get the right diagnosis because they were unaware they were infected.

As a result, it’s important to recognize the symptoms and seek help immediately. These are the most common HIV symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Pain in the muscles
  • Neck pain
  • Rash on the torso
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sore throat

Read More: HIV Symptoms

Proper Diagnosis

It may take a month before HIV is detected for someone who has recently been infected. The tests for HIV are considered reliable; however, there are certain cases where they might show incorrect results. So, it’s paramount that people get tested multiple times to get a proper diagnosis.

Treatment

There are no medications, antibiotics, or any form of treatment that can completely cure the HIV virus. But, with the help of modern medicine, proper medications and therapy can help manage the condition, and aid individuals live a normal life as much as possible.

Read More: Modern Treatment of HIV

How to Prevent HIV

Using a condom during intercourse is the main way of protection, even during oral and anal intercourse. Different medicines are available for those who believe they might have been exposed to the infection. It’s a treatment that lasts four weeks and reduces the risk.

References

https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/global-statistics

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/17131.php

https://www.who.int/hiv/topics/mtct/en/

https://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/understanding-aids-hiv-symptoms#1

All You Need to Know About STDs in Africa

Online STI Test Kits For Home Use

STDs or Sexually Transmitted Diseases are a serious burden for the overall health of many people in Africa. These diseases not only do they affect health, but they also have economic and social consequences. Based on statistics from 2018, more than 20.6 million people in the south and eastern African region have HIV.

Read More: HIV and AIDS

However, the problem doesn’t solely include AIDS or HIV; in fact, it includes HCV, HPV, syphilis, gonorrhea, HBV, and more. The core of the problem begins with the poor knowledge and awareness of Africans regarding STIs. Based on statistics from 35 different countries across Africa, only 66.8% use condoms, and just 42.5% believe it is possible to get HBV from intercourse.

Read More: Gonorrhea in Ghana

Read More: Syphilis in Ghana

Read More: Genital Herps (HSV) in Ghana

Read More: Chlamydia in Ghana

Most people in Africa hide their STIs because they consider it to be disgraceful. This is a cultural phenomenon that has put a strain on the way people deal with the diseases. Patients are afraid to seek help or address the issue. Research from 2017 shows that 37 million people across the globe live with HIV, while 66% of all cases come from the sub-Saharan African region. That is a total of 5.6 million people. In other words, South Africa has the biggest number of people who live with HIV. 

Even though the economy in Africa boomed in mid-2013, it still remains the poorest continent in the world. In South Africa, the number of people infected with HIV continues to grow, but treatments and other forms of support, like counseling, have increased as well. Despite the scientific progress for treating such diseases, cultural traditions and laws remain a barrier for preventing STIs all across the continent.

Main Focus:

  • The Risk Factors Associated with STDs in Ghana
  • AIDS and STDs in Ghana
  • Genital Herpes Is a Serious Issue
  • Syphilis During Pregnancy
  • Current Challenges and Problems to Overcome

The Risk Factors Associated with STDs in Ghana

Based on statistics, more than a million STIs are transmitted across the globe every single day. Some of these STIs can be treated, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, but others can have serious consequences on the overall health.

In all developing countries in Africa, including Ghana, this is a serious issue, since STIs are the most common bacterial infections that can be transmitted in the area.

The reason why this is so important is that such infections as HIV, for example, can be a serious potential epidemic for the entire continent, research shows. These symptoms in females are easily recognizable like:

  • Discharge
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Painful or trouble urinating
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Blood in the urine

However, in many cases, these symptoms don’t appear often making patients delay their necessary treatment or transmit the disease even more. According to research, if the infections are left untreated, they could make women susceptible to complications during pregnancy. They can cause chronic pain in the pelvic area, infertility, pneumonia, or blindness.

The symptoms in males are a little different, studies show. The most typical symptoms may include:

  • Discharge
  • Narrowed urethra
  • Inflamed testicles
  • Sterility

AIDS and STDs in Ghana

Many infectious diseases, like gonorrhea, were first recorded in Ghana before the European settlers colonized the land. In the southern part of Ghana, syphilis and gonorrhea became a serious problem in the 20s. It took years before the problem dissipated. But, during the late 40s, with the arrival of the troops from World War II and laborers, syphilis and gonorrhea cases only spiked once more.

Based on records, the government didn’t take any necessary precautions to stop the spread of the diseases. As a result, people had to find a different alternative that would help ease the symptoms, and that was sulpha drugs. These were, in fact, illegal drugs only sold on the black market in Ghana.

When the first time AIDS was diagnosed, and cases with trichomonas, gonorrhea, and chlamydia were registered, back in 1986, the government turned their attention towards this serious problem. In 1993, programs were introduced to help control the spread of the disease and raise awareness.

However, due to the lack of funds, people can’t afford to insist on using condoms, which remains a serious issue for the African population.

Genital Herpes Is a Serious Issue

According to statistics, a lot more people in Africa have genital herpes compared to the U.S. Researchers believe that identifying the properties of the viruses widespread in Africa could open the door to new possibilities. Particularly in creating vaccines that could help reduce the rampant infections.

The reason why this is so important is that patients who suffer from genital herpes are more at risk of developing AIDS or HIV. Herpes contains many cells, specifically immune cells, that the HIV infection will target.

Based on the same statistics, 90% of adults in the southern African region have genital herpes compared to the 20% in the U.S. Even though herpes is not something that has recently been discovered, it persists in the African community, often affecting a single person for decades.

For people who never notice these symptoms, the virus could be a silent infiltrator that will slowly disintegrate the health over time. It will make the person prone to more serious infections in the near future.

Read More: Genital Herpes (HSV) Symptoms

Syphilis During Pregnancy

Studies show that Africa has a lack of coverage for treatments and screening for syphilis infections in clinics. The benefits of having such treatments have been well-documented across the years. Statistics show that this particular bacterial infection is accountable for 50% of all stillbirths, particularly in Mwanza.

If this infection is properly treated in the African regions, it can help save many lives. However, it remained an unsolved problem in this continent for a long time. It wasn’t until 1992 that the number of pregnant women screened for syphilis elevated to 100%. Compared to 60% during the previous years, it is a welcome change. Furthermore, 50% of their partners also received proper treatment for syphilis, meaning there are a lot of people who have yet to be treated or screened for syphilis.

Read More: Syphilis Symptoms

Control and Management

According to research, despite the valuable efforts to increase public awareness and knowledge of STIs in Africa, all sexually transmitted diseases remain a huge problem for the general public. These diseases result in numerous deaths, problems with pregnancies, cancer, illness, and more.

In fact, Africa is the number one most affected continent by both STIs and HIV in the world, statistics show. Based on the same statistics, around 14.1 million children have been recorded losing both or one of their parents due to sexually transmitted diseases.

Since 2008, effective and high-quality programs have been implemented. Each of these programs focused on providing treatment for HIV and necessary consultations. The idea was to raise awareness and improve the overall cases in different countries around the continent. Since then, 44% of children and adults are now receiving proper treatment. That is a lot more compared to the 2% coverage patients had in 2003.

The coverage for many is fruitful. Unfortunately, there are many individuals in Africa who have yet to attend programs to control their disease. This is the main problem, and a real challenge for the programs since individuals such as these fail to get tested or receive counseling. Most of these individuals are men.

The increase in the effectiveness of the coverage itself is not enough to diminish the real epidemic across the continent. There is a lot more work to be done to prevent this serious issue. More implementations and findings are necessary if the efforts are to continue.

Due to the lack, or the non-existent infection programs in Africa, it is more difficult to control the epidemic.  But, there is one research, previously mentioned, that shows the effect of the already-implemented programs in this region. Since 1999, syphilis and chlamydia infections have drastically decreased, making these programs beneficial and important.

With all the efforts and available counseling, now 85% of the people in Africa are aware they are HIV positive, and 79% of them now get proper treatment, statistics show.

Current Challenges and Problems to Overcome

All the important advances in research for HIV and STDs have been coming from the data collected in Africa. Many of them are now used on a daily basis in clinics around the world. That makes this continent one of the most important places for studying the effects of the infections. 

But, there are three major problems that slow down further improvements and successful treatments. Those problems include:

  • Inadequate funding
  • Lack of workforce that has been trained to work in this environment
  • Proper infrastructure

Without any of these factors, any further success is seriously impaired. Firstly, infections such as gonorrhea require constant management and monitoring to avoid the spread of the infection. Secondly, all the treatments required and testings necessary cost a lot of money. This can put a huge strain on the currently available funds.

To manage the costs, quick and cheap syphilis tests are now conducted in African regions. Another serious problem that affects the whole effect of the program is discrimination. In many, if not all, African countries, it is impossible for healthcare workers to give any help to patience because of the discriminatory law. Lastly, international partners are crucial in programs such as these. Without partners, the research won’t be able to receive proper funding or take up numerous different strategies.

In this current situation, the HPV vaccine is difficult to afford, which is why many people, particularly women, are at risk of cancer or other diseases. To make the vaccine available for everyone, manufacturers should reduce the cost. After all, these vaccines can save a life.

To make sure that children don’t get the same disease, research shows, it is better to implement the HPV vaccine into typical vaccination schedules for children.

There is also another problem that shouldn’t be overlooked. There are some people in Africa who are more vulnerable to STIs than the rest of the population. These people are sex workers, young women, transgender people, men who have intercourse with men, and those who are imprisoned. While others can still get these infections, the people who meet these specific criteria are more exposed to it, making the infection difficult to control.

Conclusion

For Africa, any sexually transmitted infections are a serious problem. This continent has been the main front for STI research in the last couple of decades resulting in numerous valuable research that could potentially be life-saving.

However, such results can’t be achieved over-night. It requires a series of long-term data, dedication, and collaboration with people and partnerships. In the past, STIs were not that focused on, and people had to rely on illegal methods to obtain medications.

When this research was first introduced, it was able to address only specific issues and focus on counseling. But, as the years progressed and the infections spread, more interventions had to be implemented. Due to the strong scientific evidence, the problem of the STIs is now strongly acknowledged making it a top priority to solve.

The approach to the disease was changed in an effort to bring acceptable care for patients in need. As a result, it was possible to implement interventions that would help control the spread of infections.

To overcome this problem, there are plenty of different steps that should be taken. Some of these steps have begun many years ago, but remain an unsolved issue today. The real problem rests in the multiple factors that halt the progress. Despite having the necessary technology and data for controlling such infections, a lack of funding and cultural restrictions make the problem even more difficult to deal with.

Without a proper vaccine, it is almost impossible to prevent HIV in Africa because of how widespread it is. Since the sexual reproductive health in Africa is considered taboo and irrelevant, it makes it more difficult to share awareness and increase overall knowledge.

Cooperating with partners has made training programs, treatments, counseling, and teaching activities possible. These programs have proved effective.

Reference

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0213224

https://www.unaids.org/en/resources/fact-sheet

https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000097

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

https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/sexually-transmitted-infections-(stis)

https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00007435-200811000-00011

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-4035-y

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)61729-2/fulltext

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110415083142.htm#targetText=In%20southern%20Africa%2C%20infection%20rates,percent%20in%20the%20United%20States.&targetText=In%20evolutionary%20terms%2C%20the%20herpes%20viruses%20are%20very%20old.

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

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

https://sti.bmj.com/content/86/7/488?ijkey=f61101ad7ea4a6d38d38ad09d08ea667c028b5ad&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

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