Molluscum Contagiosum in Africa

Molluscum Contagiosum Image

Africa has a warm tropical climate. Researchers have observed that molluscum contagiosum is more prevalent in warm climates with lightly dressed children. In Mali, the disease is among the common dermatoses in children.

According to Medscape,  child molluscum is prevalent in some regions of Africa like Papua New Guinea. More than 52% of children over two years and 17% of an entire village population in the East Africa region suffered from lesions that resulted from a molluscum contagiosum outbreak. Scientists attributed the outbreak to the warm climate and poor hygiene conditions.

What is molluscum contagiosum?

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection caused by a poxvirus (of the Molluscipox Virus genus).  The infection results in the formation of round, smooth pearly lesions that occur anywhere on the body. 

The lesions appear mostly on the neck, face, genitals, legs, and abdomen either in groups or alone. It can last for six to twelve months and as long as four years. In children, it’s a minor problem but unsightly. It’s serious about adults and immunocompromised people like those with HIV

Symptoms of molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum appear as pink, white, fresh-colored lesions with a pit in the center. They’re also pearly, painless, with a size ranging from 2 to 5 millimeters. They cluster, or appear alone anywhere it affects the body. May appear on hands, armpits, face, and any other place that can facilitate skin to a skin infection. Sexually transmitted Molluscum contagiosum appears on genitals, upper thighs, and lower abdomen.

Transmission of molluscum contagiosum

As the name suggests, molluscum contagiosum gets spread highly by skin contact with an infected person. Lesions in the genital area occur because of sexual contact. Swimming in a pool contaminated with the virus can facilitate transmission. The more exposure to the virus, the more chances of developing Mollusca. 

Effect of molluscum contagiosum in people with HIV/Aids?

Immunocompromised people like those with HIV/AIDS are extremely at risk of contracting an infection from molluscum contagiosum. The lesions are more in number and larger and take significantly longer to heal in people with HIV/AIDS. 

Diagnosis of molluscum contagiosum

Diagnosis of molluscum contagiosum can either be done by conducting a biopsy of the cells from lesions or by observing characteristics of the nodules as the molluscum contagiosum has identifiable specific characteristics. 

Molluscum contagiosum treatment 

Treatment of contagious molluscum infection is usually unnecessary because it can go away in immunocompetent people. However, treatment is highly recommended when its larger, numerous, and appears in an awkward place and especially for immunocompromised people.

Treatment involves:

Immunocompromised therapy

Those people with HIV/AIDS and other conditions that are immunosuppressant are prescribed with immune-boosting therapies and Antiretroviral drugs. Intralesional interferon has been used despite its undesirable side effects but has been observed to work well in healthy people. 

Topical treatment

Iodine, podophyllotoxin cream, salicylic acid, cantharidin, and tretinoin. Podophyllotoxin is recommended for men, rather than pregnant women, because of its toxic effects on the fetus.

Oral treatment

Oral treatment usually applies to pediatric patients who are afraid of the pain associated with pricking or squeezing the lesions. Oral cimetidine is painless, safe, and can be administered by parents at home.

Physical removal

This technique is painful and mostly done on adults. It’s inadvisable to do it by yourself because you may infect other parts of the body or risk spreading to others. 

Curettage (removal by piercing and scrapping off the cheesy part), cryotherapy (freezing the nodules by using nitrogen), and use of laser therapy are among the physical methods of molluscum contagiosum lesions.

Prognosis of Molluscum contagiosum

Molluscum lesions are more persistent in people with immunocompromised systems, while in healthy people, they disappear after 6-12 months on their own.  If the lesions aren’t treated earlier,  it might take up to 5 years to get rid of it. Early treatment helps in getting it under control and by stopping its spread.  About 35% of healed patients got re-infected with the virus. Reasons for recurrence are yet unknown.

References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8641888/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12639455/

https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/910570-overview#a3

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/guide/molluscum-contagium

https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/molluscum-contagiosum/treatment.html

https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/molluscum-contagiosum-treatment

https://dermnetnz.org/topics/molluscum-contagiosum/

Three African Skeletons from Early Colonial Mexico Reveals the Tale of First-Generation Slaves

Three African Skeletons from Early Colonial Mexico Reveals the Tale of First-Generation Slaves Image

In 1518, Charles 1 of Spain issued an authorization to transport African Slaves to Mexico. The slaves were forcefully abducted into the transatlantic slave trade and taken to Mexico. Centuries later, the heritage of the slaves has become an important aspect of the cultural and genetic heritage carried by the larger population of Mexicans.

Study Reveals a lot of Things About Slaves

The findings published by Current Biology offers insights into the lives and health status of the first generation African Slaves before and after they were forced into a life of slavery. The study is based on the analysis of the remains of three Africans who were buried in the 16th Century mass grave discovered at the San José de Los Naturales Royal hospital in Mexico. 

Researchers discovered that the front teeth of the three individual had decorative modifications which are consistent with the ritual practices observed in African slaves in Portugal. The practice is still practiced today by sub-Saharan people living in West Africa.  When the genetic information of the individual’s teeth was extracted, it confirmed they were indeed Africans, perhaps among the earliest to be forcefully brought to America.

Genetic analysis also indicated that the partial linage of all the individuals carried a Y -Chromosome, which is highly predominant in West African and also a common amongst African Americans.  The genetic signature obtained from the molars showed that the three men originated from parts of Western or Sothern Africa. The isotopic and genetic data extracted from the teeth of the three Africans indicate that they were both born and raised outside Mexico.

According to Lourdes Marquez, Muffin, an archeologist, the trauma etched on their skeletons showed that they were slaves. Osteological analysis of their bone revealed a life of hardship, conflict, and trauma once they arrived in Mexico. Anthropologists discovered large muscle attachments on the upper body of one of the skeletons, which point to continuous physical labor.  One of the individuals was found with healing needles (used in traditional medicines) in the thoracic cavity as well as a gunshot wound. The second individual showed thinning of the skull bones, mainly associated with anemia and malnutrition. The third guy’s skeleton indicated the signature of stress from demanding physical labor, as well as a poorly healed broken leg.  

Study Revealed Slaves Were Infected With Several Viruses and Bacteria

From the remains, researchers also uncovered the genetic material of two pathogens that infected the two individuals when they were still alive. One individual suffered from the hepatitis B virus, which is usually found in West Africa. While the other one was infected with a bacterium (Treponema pallidum), a causative agent of yawsa disease that shares similarity with syphilis, both microbes were closely related to African strains, meaning that they contracted the infections in Africa before they were forced into slavery and bought to Mexico. 

Osteobiographies of these men showed they suffered a tremendous ordeal, but they survived.  Their tale is one of hardship but also strength. They endured and adapted to the changes inflicted on them.  Scientists are yet to find a link between the deaths of these individuals and the hardship they experienced; scientists are not sure what killed them. 

Even though they were buried in a mass grave in the colonial hospital cemetery that can be linked to an epidemic like measles or smallpox, scientists didn’t find any sign of infectious disease in their remains. 

These findings paint a clear picture of the cruelty of the transatlantic slave trade and its biological impact on the people living in this new world. Also, it shows us that it’s not always about the Native (American) or European experiences; the Africans are part of the story too.

References

https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/S0960-9822(20)30482-6.pdf

https://ecommons.luc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=3408&context=luc_theses

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Dental-Modifications-in-a-Skeletal-Sample-of-Found-Wasterlain-Neves/e3eefcca22a6268590c3a555366105108f649223

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/magazine/1619-america-slavery.html

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-319-22330-8_9

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6013024/

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/07/remote-pacific-island-doctor-has-revived-60-year-quest-eradicate-disfiguring-disease

Human T- cell Leukemia Virus type 1 (HTLV-1) and type -2 (HTLV-2) in Africa

HTLV (Type 1 and 2) in Africa Image

Human T- cell Leukemia Virus type 1 (HTLV-1) and type -2 (HTLV-2) are closely related, but distinct retroviruses endemic in Africa.  They are highly transmissible and casually linked to different severe diseases.

An epidemiological study carried out in Gabon revealed that the prevalence of HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 is 7.3% and 0.1%, respectively.  The prevalence of these retroviruses has escalated over the years from North to South African, varying from 0.6% in Morocco, to 5% in several sub-Saharan countries like Cameroon, Benin, DRC Congo, and Guinea Bissau.  HTLV-2 is mostly observed in people in Western Africa.

What is (HTLV-1) and (HTLV-2)?

HTLV is a retrovirus that infects the white blood cells called T-lymphocyte/T-cell. These cells play an important role in the body’s immunity. HTLV (also known as the Human T-cell lymphotropic virus )  falls in the same family as HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus), the only difference is that it doesn’t cause AIDS (Immune Deficiency Syndrome), but they’re transmitted in the same way. 

Transmission

HTLV type-1 and type- 2 require cell-to-cell contact for efficient transmission. Transmission occurs through:

  • Sexual intercourse
  • Mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy
  • Sharing of needles and syringes
  • Transfusion of cellular blood components
  • Breastfeeding

Signs and Symptoms of (HTLV-1) and (HTLV-2)

HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 generally cause no signs and symptoms, although people infected with HTLV-1 might develop HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/ tropical spastic Paraparesis (HAM/TSP), adult T-cell leukemia (ATL), and other diseases. 

About 2% of People infected with HTLV-1 will develop HAM/TSP.  This is a chronic and progressive nervous system disease. Its signs and symptoms include:

  • Unexplained fall
  • Constipation
  • Urinary inconsistency
  • Numbness and pain in the lower limb
  • Low back pains 

In the later years, patients will experience progressive leg weakness, followed by the exasperation of the urinary and sensory symptoms.  While patients might still walk after one or two decades, others might be confident in wheelchairs for months after the onset of the disease. 

Those who will develop ATL – a type of cancer caused by the abnormal multiplication of white blood cell might experience symptoms like:

  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Skin rash
  • Fever and sweats
  • Frequent infections

HTLV-1 might also cause arthritis, uveitis, myositis, alveoli is and dermatitis. HTLV-2 isn’t linked to any specific disease, but researcher speculates that it might later result in neurological conditions like:

  • Gait Abnormalities
  • Sensory neuropathies
  • Mild cognitive impairment
  • Erectile dysfunction 
  • Motor abnormalities

 Diagnosis

Human T-cell leukemia virus, type 1 and type 2 are often diagnosed based on blood tests to identify antibodies to the virus.  

However, most people in Africa suffering from both HTLV-1 and 2 are rarely diagnosed because they never develop any signs or symptoms related to the infection. 

They only to discover they have the virus after undergoing screening for blood donation or blood testing for adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) or HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/ tropical spastic Paraparesis (HAM/TSP).

Treatment                                                     

There are no specific drugs or vaccine to date for HTLV-1 and HTLV-2.  They can only be managed if detected early and prevented from spreading to uninfected persons. People with T-cell lymphoma/leukemia can access various treatments, options like chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, and antiviral drugs.

Promoting safe sex, discouraging the sharing of needles, and screening can lower the number of infections. Mother to child transmission can be managed and reduced by the screening of a pregnant mother, so they can avoid breastfeeding their babies.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00021234.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2901658/

https://jvi.asm.org/content/72/9/7664

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/13550289709015802

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2879950/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC164244/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4678997/

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/hodgkin-lymphoma/treating/high-dose-chemo-and-stem-cell.html

http://htlvaware.com/uploads/2/1/5/5/21557664/htlv_inflam_2014.pdf

Marburg Virus in Africa

Marburg Virus in Africa Image

Marburg virus is believed to have originated from Africa.  The virus has claimed over 100 lives in central Africa. The most recent recorded outbreak was in Uganda in 2017. Other’s sporadic cases and outbreaks have been reported in Kenya, South Africa, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe. 

Recently, researchers discovered an Angola-like strain in Fruit bats in Sierra Leone. This marks the first appearance of the deadly Ebola-like virus in West Africa.

What is the Marburg Virus?

Marburg Virus is a rare but deadly virus that causes hemorrhagic fever.  The virus infects the cell lining of the blood vessels and a subsection of the body’s immune cells, resulting in capillaries leaking blood. 

The virus falls in the same Family as Ebola and is the causative agent of Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever (MHF).  MHF is a disease with a fatality rate of about 80% and was first discovered in 1967, after a simultaneous outbreak in Marburg and Frankfurt in Germany, and Belgrade in Serbia.

Transmission

Marburg is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted between animals and humans. The Egyptian Rosette fruit bats (Rousettus aesgyptiacus) have been identified as a reservoir host of the virus.  

Once a bat is affected by the virus, it enters its saliva, urine, and feces-  which may be deposited on the surfaces of the fruit when the bat takes tiny bites. The virus is then transmitted to animals and humans who eat these fruits.  

The virus also spreads via close contact with infected persons, their blood, or other body fluid like saliva and semen. 

Sign and Symptoms 

The initial signs of the infection are the onset of sudden fever, aches, myalgia, and chills. As the infection spreads throughout the body, the patient will start experiencing nausea, sore throat, abdominal pains, vomiting, and acute diarrhea. 

The signs and symptoms of the Marburg hemorrhagic fever make it difficult to distinguish it from other infectious diseases such as Malaria, typhoid fever, and other viral diseases. 

Even though it causes severe bleeding, most patients die from circulatory system failure, which triggers shock and multiple organ failure.

Treatment

There are no drugs or vaccines that can fight off Marburg Virus. Usually, treatment is limited to supportive hospital therapy like balancing electrolytes, replacing lost blood, treatment of infections, and maintaining blood pressure and oxygen status. However, there are experimental treatments that are validated primates but are yet to be tried in humans. 

Prevention

Prevention measures against Marburg are not yet well defined, because transmission between wildlife and humans is still an area of ongoing research. Nevertheless, people should avoid contact with fruit bats and primates in West and Central Africa.  In the case of an outbreak, presentation measures of human-to-human and secondary transmission are the same as those used for Ebola and other hemorrhagic diseases.

Why is the Marburg Virus more prevalent in Africa?

Encroachment of humans into the habitats dominated by bats and monkey exposes them to a new set of viral disease these animals harbor that. 

Furthermore, the poor economies of African countries have left many people improvised, and the only way they fend for themselves and makes some little income is by hunting and bushmeat (killing monkey and fruit bats). 

References

https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/marburg/symptoms/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p1220-marburg-found-in-bats.html

https://www.afro.who.int/health-topics/marburg-haemorrhagic-fever

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30883555/

https://www.who.int/csr/don/25-october-2017-marburg-uganda/en/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4447827/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3321919/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X04001604

https://www.iamat.org/risks/marburg-hemorrhagic-fever

Current COVID-19 Pandemic as A Trauma Trigger for Gay Men Around the World

Coronavirus Lockdown May Help Reduce The Spread of STDs Image

A recent article was written by Alex Bitterman, a professor, and chairperson in the Department of Architecture and Digest at SUNY Alfred State seems to be what everyone is talking about. In his article, Alex Bitterman is comparing the effects that two pandemics have had on the global population, especially on gay men. He is comparing the current COVID-19 pandemic with the AIDS/HIV pandemic that happened in the early 80s. 

As he explains, the current pandemic is similar to the one that had happened when AIDS/HIV first occurred. Much like then, we are now practicing self-isolation and social distancing as a way to protect ourselves during these rather uncertain times. Although not many may remember, this is exactly how gay men have been feeling when HIV/AIDS first struck the Earth. 

Knowing nothing about the new disease, having no vaccine, or treatment available that they could rely on is similar to how the entire world is feeling now whenever they think about COVID-19. Alex Bitterman explained his current situation as one filled with panic – a situation that serves a trauma trigger for anyone who has been living through the HIV/AIDS pandemic since it has first started. 

To make things even worse, COVID-19 has spread even quicker than HIV/AIDS, affecting every continent and almost every country in a matter of a few months. But there is one difference that he reminds us of and that is – COVID-19, unlike HIV/AIDS does not focus on impacting the gay and bi men in the world, but rather does not choose whether it will be children, men, or women of any age that will be affected by it, potentially even putting an end to their lives if they shift their focus for only a minute away from following the provided prevention guidelines. 

For COVID-19 it does not matter whether you are rich, poor, black, white, young, or old as we have seen so far. Any gay/bi man who has been affected by HIV/AIDS could confirm that HIV/AIDS comes more than just the characteristic symptoms, it also comes with shame, guilt, and discrimination that these men are feeling because of the disease that has entered their body and live. 

Alex Bitterman also talks about how important it is not to let that happen to anyone who has been affected by COVID-19. He alerts that now is the time to focus on finding a solution, a treatment, that will stop this pandemic from spreading even further. And we could not agree with him more. Faced with such a horrible situation, we need to work together on finding a cure and a vaccine that can help us protect the most fragile ones. And maybe we can use this experience that we have now to make a better effort at finding a solution for anyone who has been affected by HIV/AIDS in the future.

References

https://www.advocate.com/commentary/2020/5/11/many-gay-men-current-pandemic-triggering-hivaids-trauma

The Most Common STIs In Nigeria

Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Nigeria Image

Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) or Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are caused by viruses, parasites, or bacteria and spread through sexual contact (vagina, anal or oral), skin, mouth, or genitals. No! They cannot be transmitted from toilet seats.

STDs occur worldwide, but some infections are common in less Industrialized countries, mostly found in Africa. Some STIs lack a specific cure-only the symptoms can be diagnosed. However, others may be cured, such as Thrichomiasi, by the simple use of antibiotics (bacteria born).

For decades the prevalence of STIs in Nigeria has been on the rise at an alarming rate. Not only in the cities but also in rural areas. The condition is even worse in rural areas than in urban areas due to a lack of proper orientation.

Here are the most common sexually diseases in Nigeria.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea, even the name itself, is scary. It’s one of the most common and serious infections in Nigeria, and it threatens the well-being of residents. In 1963, WHO found Lagos with the highest Gonorrhea rate in the world.

Being a bacterial disease caused by Neisseria gonorrhea, it attacks and affects the genital tract. The weird part, the bacteria can also grow in the eyes, mouth, and anus. This bacterial infection leads to pregnancy difficulty, and sometimes it can lead to infertility if the fallopian tube gets blocked or damaged.

Gonorrhea symptoms usually appear within ten days after infection. But according to various studies, the sign and symptoms of the disease can take months to appear in certain unique persons.

Chlamydia

This is a bacterial infection caused by Chlamydia trachomatisIt affects both men and women and leads to abdominal pains, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and back pains if not treated. The early stages of the disease come with no symptoms, so it becomes so difficult to detect and treat.

The silent infections are dangerous and lead to dire consequences like infertility, pelvic, and ectopic pregnancy. Fifty percent of infertility and salpingitis in women results from Chlamydia infection.

HIV

Yes! This disease has a lot of speculation around its origin. They say it came from monkeys, but religious leaders stick with the notion it’s a form of punishment from God. What do you think?

According to studies, HIV/AIDS has widespread publicity in Nigeria than other STIs diseases.

This Virus caused disease is the most dreaded of them all. It’s a human immunodeficiency virus that messes with the body’s immune system- the ability of the body to fight off disease-causing vectors (Bacteria, Viruses, and Fungi). Lack of proper management results in AIDs, which is chronic and life-threatening.

Syphilis

The rate of infection of Syphilis in Nigeria has increased over the years because, at the early stages, this bacterial infection is difficult to detect. If the disease goes untreated, it eventually spreads to your brain, internal organs, and brain.

Caused by a bacterium known as Treponema pallidum, the bacterium enters the body through the mucous membranes and skin during sexual intercourse. The initial signs of this disease are genital sores, then progressed with general rushes, and finally scabs and disfiguring abscesses all over the body.

Hepatitis B

This is a life-threatening liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). It’s not only a Nigerian problem but also an African. If left untreated or unchecked, it becomes chronic, and people can die from liver cancer and cirrhosis.

In 1982, scientists developed a vaccine against hepatitis B to help in preventing 95% of the infection and chronic liver disease.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2486771

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2486771

http://www.nigeriamedj.com/article.asp?issn=0300-1652;year=2014;volume=55;issue=1;spage=9;epage=13;aulast=Arinze

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jstd/2015/260126/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15655014

http://www.tjogonline.com/article.asp?issn=0189-5117;year=2019;volume=36;issue=2;spage=224;epage=231;aulast=Opone

https://www.iamat.org/country/nigeria/risk/sexually-transmitted-infections

The Benefits of Self-Testing for HIV and Other Common STDs

STD Home Testing Offers An Affordable Way To Reduce The Incidence Of STDs

Thinking how big of a role have shame and fear in the continuous rise of STDs prevalence, researchers have found a way to make testing for the common STDs a bit easier and comfortable. With the invention of self-testing kits for HIV and other common STDs such as gonorrhea, syphilis, and herpes, people are now free to test themselves at the privacy of their own homes. 

How does self-testing for HIV and other common STDs work?

Self-testing is a process that allows the individual to get tested and later interpret the results at the privacy of their own home or whatever safe and private place that they choose. Currently, there are various brands of self-testing kits; however, they are all offering a somewhat similar form of self-testing kits. 

These kits usually come with instructions and all of the needed material to collect the required sample, which is most often a blood sample or a mouth swab. Today, we have self-testing kits that can detect the presence of gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, HIV, and other common STDs. While using a self-testing kit to detect gonorrhea or syphilis requires the sample to be sent out to a laboratory that the manufacturer is collaborating with, HIV self-testing kits usually provide somewhat of accurate results in a few minutes.

There is the second, third, and fourth generation of HIV self-testing kits, with the fourth generation tests being able to detect a presence of recent infections, which is suggested to be the best option for a self-test. The HIV self-tests are detecting the presence of IgG and IgM antibodies, and with that, they are detecting the presence of HIV. 

All non-reactive self-test results are considered to be negative for the presence of HIV. However, all reactive (positive) results need to be confirmed later by visiting a healthcare professional and doing proper treatment. Despite that, self-tests are highly valuable in the detection of HIV.

The benefits of self-testing

The benefits of self-testing are clear. Having the option to get tested, not only for HIV but for other common STDs as well, while enjoying complete anonymity surely increases the number of individuals that decide to get tested and ask for help in the cases of a positive result. 

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has conducted an evaluation of HIV self-testing among men who have sexual intercourse with other men. The international controlled trial has shown that men who have sex with other men and decide to get self-tested are more likely to get tested more frequently as compared to those who choose to visit the local healthcare facilities instead. 

The trial also showed that despite the fact that many have thought that having the ability to self-test at home can make individuals feel more comfortable to engage in risky sexual behaviors, self-testing did not increase this risk. Self-testing has helped many individuals to identify their HIV status and become aware of their HIV infection. 

Self-testing kits for the common STDs have been especially popular in Africa, where there is a high STDs prevalence, and sex and reproductive health are still stigmatized topics, often linked to feeling fear and shame of getting a positive result which only contributes to the rise of the STDs prevalence. The possibility to get tested and stay anonymous in the process plays a big role, encouraging more and more individuals to get tested and determine the state of their current reproductive health. With that, the rates of the common STDs, including HIV, are expected to decline over time.

Conclusion

Self-testing has played a big role in enhancing the quality of life and life-span in general of the many individuals that otherwise engage in risky sexual behaviors. With the ability to get tested for STDs at home and get the results in a matter of minutes, people are more likely to pay better attention to their reproductive health, especially in high burden countries such as Africa where talking about sex and reproductive health often causes feelings of shame and fear.

References

https://www.aidsmap.com/about-hiv/how-accurate-self-testing-hiv

https://hivstar.lshtm.ac.uk/publications/

https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/testing/self-testing.html

https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002512

Syphilis Is Still A Life-Threatening Issue for Women in Sub-Saharan Africa

Syphilis Is Still A Life-Threatening Issue for Women in Sub-Saharan Africa Image

STIs are a major health concern for pregnant women across the entire Sub-Saharan Africa region, with a prevalence of 2.7%. Statistics show that every year, 1,640,000 pregnant women infected with syphilis remain undetected, including those who receive prenatal care. 

More than 2 million women expecting a baby have syphilis in sub-Saharan Africa. That’s around 4% to 15% of all the women in the region.

This infection is the reason behind 50% to 80% of adverse effects for pregnant women that can result in disability or infant death.

But, there is one major problem in developing countries such as these.  Only a tenth of pregnant women actually get proper treatment or are diagnosed with syphilis. 

This emphasizes the need for proper syphilis treatment and testing, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where the syphilis infection rate is so high.

Is There a Way to Control Syphilis In Pregnant Women?

The technology to control, manage, and treat syphilis has been accessible globally for decades. Syphilis treatment and screening is the best cost-effective way to reduce mortality in infants by boosting the child’s immune system. 

These treatments help mothers stop the transmission from infecting either their partner or child. 

But, despite its efficiency, this treatment hasn’t been implemented in most health facilities across sub-Saharan Africa. Studies show that even though it’s a national policy to screen pregnant women for syphilis while they receive prenatal treatment, many women are not screened. 

This increases the chances of infant mortality rates, which can have a serious impact on both the child and the woman’s health. 

What Happens to Women Who Don’t Get Treated for Syphilis?

Women who don’t get adequate syphilis treatment, are four times more likely to have an unfavorable pregnancy compared to those who can manage their infection. 

If left untreated, this infection poses a risk for the unborn child. In reported cases of pregnant women who failed to receive on-time treatment, syphilis was recorded responsible for:

  • 20% of small births
  • 20% of deaths
  • 40% of stillbirths.

How Can This Problem Be Fixed?

With the currently available health programs for prenatal care, there are some measures that should be taken that will stop the spread of the infection and prevent infant deaths, suggests the Department of Health, USA.

It’s important to make syphilis screening a top-priority for women who are carrying to help identify the infection during prenatal care. This is a basic principle crucial for every country with high syphilis rates. 

If this infection is diagnosed, penicillin can help treat it. Pregnant women should seek syphilis screenings early in their pregnancy for optimal care and proper treatment. This will make sure they deliver safe and healthy babies. 

By promoting the importance of screening and treatment for syphilis, women will be more aware of the dangers they face if they fail to get treated on time. With the help of adequate promotion, women can take stronger precautions to stay away from this infection. 

Conclusion

In developing countries, syphilis infection still poses a serious issue, with more and more women failing to get screened. Treatment and adequate prenatal care are vital for women in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. With proper treatment and on-time diagnosis, syphilis can easily be avoided. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness of this issue.

References

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2019/4562385/

https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/pregnancy/effects/syphilis.html

https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/syphilis-pregnancy.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11238427

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Antenatal-syphilis-in-sub-Saharan-Africa%3A-missed-Gloyd-Chai/218fdd5577664e2cf93bdce73f1e7baae5542a3a

We Are Faced with A Global Condom Shortage Due to The Coronavirus

We Are Faced with A Global Condom Shortage Due to The Coronavirus Image

Since the initial coronavirus outbreak, we have been faced with many challenges. Many of us have lost their close ones, their jobs, their businesses, etc. and we had to learn that money is not worth anything if you do not have your health. But today we learn about yet another great challenge that we are about to face – a global condom shortage due to the coronavirus.

A global condom shortage happening due to coronavirus

Practicing safe, protected sex by using a condom is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and potentially life-threatening sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). But how are we supposed to practice safe sex if there are no condoms left in the world? Are we looking at STD numbers increasing in the following months due to the global condom shortage? The answer to that question is, unfortunately, yes. 

While the coronavirus has shut down many small businesses, restaurants, cafes, and shops, it has also put a lock on one of the biggest condom manufacturers – Malaysia’s Karex Bhd. Karex Bhd. is responsible for the production of one in every five condoms worldwide. Now, we are looking at a shortfall of 100 million condoms that has happened since the manufacturer has been forced to shut down its production. 

But Malaysia’s Karex Bhd. is not the only large condom manufacturer that has been affected by the coronavirus and forced to put a stop on their production. One other major condom-producing country is China which has now become recognized as the first country ever hit by the new coronavirus since early December.

The good news is that the company has been permitted to restart its production again, although with only half of its workforce. This would be the solution to protect the workers and still supply the world with the needed amounts of condoms to protect our reproductive health. 

However, for the people living in Africa where the number of new STD cases is constantly increasing, this temporary condom shortage will reflect negatively, causing even greater losses. If the rest of the world has to deal with a condom shortage for only two weeks to a month tops, things are not the same when it comes to Africa. In Africa, the condom shortage is expected to last up to a few months, which is scary and dangerous.

And a condom shortage could result in not only a rapid increase in STD cases but also in new coronavirus cases. If an unwanted pregnancy or an STD case is to happen, the people would have to go to the hospitals and ask for help – a place where we have all been advised to avoid except in major emergencies. Luckily, the Durex – one of the major brands, is offering their products online to help supply every one of us with the needed help to protect our reproductive health.

References

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/27/global-condom-shortage-coronavirus-shuts-down-production

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-malaysia-karex/condom-shortage-looms-after-coronavirus-lockdown-shuts-worlds-top-producer-idUSKBN21E1OJ

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6188893/

Botswana – A Place Where the Incidence of STIs And HIV Keeps Increasing

Botswana – A Place Where the Incidence of STIs And HIV Keeps Increasing Image

Botswana, located in South Africa, with its second-largest town – Francistown, remains a place where a continuous increase in STIs and especially HIV has been reported. STIs have been recognized as a public health problem in Botswana that requires special attention. Mr. Richard Matlhare, a coordinator over at the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAHPA) has spoken about the current challenging situation that the people living in Botswana are faced with.

The continuous increase of new STIs and HIV cases recorded in Botswana, South Africa

Botswana is the heart of one of the most severe HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world. Botswana has been recognized as the place with the third-highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS cases in the world, right after Lesotho and Swaziland. 

Back in 2018, there have been approximately 370,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. 20.3% of those have been estimated to be between the ages of 15 to 49. In 2018, about 4,800 death cases due to AIDS have been reported, marking HIV/AIDS as a serious health issue that threatens the people living in Botswana, South Africa. 

One of the major high-risk groups for HIV/AIDS is sex workers, or more precisely – female sex workers. As Mr. Richard Matlhare has explained, female sex workers are the main population living with STIs and HIV due to the nature of their work. 

The following factors, that have contributed to the high incidence of HIV/AIDS have been listed:

  • Practicing unsafe, unprotected sexual intercourse with no use of condoms or other prevention methods;
  • Incorrect use of condoms;
  • Alcohol and/or drug abuse;
  • Having multiple sexual partners;
  • Being unaware of the reproductive health of their partner/s.

Condom usage is the primary prevention method against unwanted pregnancy and STIs, including HIV/AIDS. However, most sex workers rarely use a condom, and when they do, they often use condoms incorrectly. There is also the issue of sex workers being paid a higher price if they do not use a condom or other prevention method against STIs. Because of the nature of their work, many sex workers engage in alcohol and/or drug abuse, making them more vulnerable when it comes to the transmission of STIs and HIV/AIDS. 

Over the years, there have been multiple sex workers that have decided to ask for help regarding their reproductive health and the presence of STIs at government hospitals. That is certainly good news, however, most sex workers choose to disclose their identity which makes it impossible for them to be tracked down in the future and offered treatment for the existing issue, thus contributing to the reoccurring STI. More effective ways of both prevention and treatment ought to be found if we want to see a promising decline in the new STIs cases.

References

https://allafrica.com/stories/201909200254.html

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

https://www.iamat.org/country/botswana/risk/sexually-transmitted-infections