How STDs Affect Quality of Life

How STDs Affect Quality of Life Image

The scourge of sexually transmitted diseases or STDs known globally is endemic. It is an estimate that over 20 million people are living with HIV in East and Southern Africa alone. If other regions of the African continent are to be included, that figure is colossal. Besides the HIV/ AIDS problem, there is a silent epidemic that is devastating the African society daily. The BBC News WHO statistics show that the prevalence of curable sexually transmitted diseases rate at one million new infections daily.

What is troubling is the age demography and gender of the most affected groups of society. In most cases, it is the reproductive bracket of between 16 and 49 years that suffers. In a recent forum in Rwanda, African first ladies met to discuss the impact of STDs on the lives of women and children. 

On this platform, we shall look into the effects of the STDS on the quality of life. This is most notably in the African context.

  • Psychological Trauma

This is the first thing that affects the victim. Africa is still a pretty conservative society when it comes to matters of social morality. Ironically, it has the highest number of sufferers. This paradox is the principal cause of the frustrations of most victims. The first thing one feels is a shame. Sexual infections like chlamydia and syphilis bring about serious manifestations in the genital area. 

The stigma that comes with opening up can be devastating. Family members and the immediate support base distance from the victim. When this happens, one ends up with nothing to lean on. In some cases, even health professionals trigger shame by assuming the sinful life of the victim. Ultimately, the sufferers become social pariahs and isolate themselves. That can lead to mental disturbances in victims. 

  • Reproductive Health Problems

The social fabric of African society is primarily patriarchal. Thus some communities may condone men to have multiple sexual partners. Women are on the receiving end of this practice. The reproductive effects of STDs in women are more severe than in men. The clinical symptoms gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis come out when some of the reproductive organs are on their decline. 

In the wake of these situations, many women contract STDs and suffer silently. The health facilities in most areas lack the necessary medication on the same. Again, the stigma in society pushes people to go for self-medication. This opens the way for more destruction to the internal reproductive system. Untreated STDs cause numerous consequences. The most endemic is infertility in both men and women. Numerous families end up in divorce or separation due to the lack of children.

  • Social Disintegration

The extent of poverty in the communities is a primary factor in the spread of STDS. Men prey on young girls and vulnerable women for sex in exchange for financial favors. Since the men are the financiers here, the young girls have little say on the matter. This leaves them exposed to STDs and HIV. It is alarming to see the high rate of school dropouts in girls due to pregnancy. The perpetrators of these acts usually are grown-up men.

While several organizations are working to educate young girls about STDs and financial empowerment to women, success is still low. It is this equality gap that brings about the vulnerability in girls and women. In poor settlements, girls rarely finish their studies. This contributes to the high number of sex workers. The lack of protective knowledge also gives rise to the spread of STDs and the ultimate disintegration of society.

  • Economic Strains

On a personal level, victims of STDs use a vast amount of their finances to treat the diseases. In most cases, they do this in total discreet silence. For those with HIV, the burden is more significant. The ARVs are more expensive than treatable gonorrhea or chlamydia. Though gonorrhea is easy to treat, the reinfection makes it difficult for most treatment. So, misuse of drugs is gradually giving rise to drug-resistant strands of gonorrhea. Subsequently, that will give rise to the cost of medication by the patients.

In some countries, the government offers subsidies in the medication. Though this is good, the amount of money that goes to the medicine deprives other crucial sectors of the economy of funds. In 2015, Swaziland spent USD 16 million on the treatment of HPV. With a per capita background of USD 2,598, it is a high cost for a population of less than two million. 

 In South Africa alone, 71,000 people died in 2018 of HIV related deaths. This deprives the country of the most productive segment of the economy of human resources. Without the human resource, the economy will have a reduction in growth.

  • Poor Societal Growth

It is a result of the lack of prevention that gives rise to this factor. Six percent of the pregnancies in Southern Africa report cases of syphilis. The deaths resulting from the STDs are enormous. With many parents dying of AIDS, young people see the engagement in unsafe sex as a way to gain meaningful employment. Oblivious of the dangers, the cycle of infections continue. This places the parental responsibilities on the grandparents who are less economically viable to cater for the families. 

In other parts, private organizations are doing an excellent job in sex education and rehabilitation of young girls. But, the rise of commercial sex workers in urban centers is slowing the battle to curb the STDs. Traditional myths and societal norms are making STDs part of our daily lives. In some societies, men believe that having sex with a young virgin will cleanse you of syphilis or gonorrhea. This increases the cases of insecurity in impoverished settlements. 

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/sexually-transmitted-diseases

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-48542403

https://allafrica.com/stories/201912040006.html

https://www.everydayhealth.com/stds/stigma-stds-mental-health-lgbtq-youth-whats-connection/

https://www.webmd.com/women/features/women_and_chlamydia#1

https://www.fhi360.org/sites/default/files/webpages/Modules/STD/s1pg11.htm

https://www.avert.org/news/urbanisation-rural-uganda-driving-hiv-country

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

https://www.nation.co.ke/news/gonorrhoea-becoming-harder-to-treat/1056-4006696-11o12ea/index.html

https://www.itg.be/E/Article/syphilis-almost-eliminated-almost-everywhere-except-in-africa

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177762

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

https://srh.bmj.com/content/46/1/73

Herpes in Nigeria

Common Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Nigeria Image

Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that targets the mouth and reproductive organs of the body. The disease is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which has two types: type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). 

HSV-1 is known to cause oral herpes, which infects the lips and mouth. Symptoms include cold sores and fever blisters. HSV-1 is not considered an STD by many healthcare experts, but it is still a serious health concern.

HSV-2, better known as genital herpes, is more severe than its oral counterpart. It affects the genital area, unlike HSV-1, which is limited to the mouth and causes lesions, including blisters and sores, on the skin. HSV-2 can only be contracted by skin-on-skin contact with an infected person. To contract HSV-2, you must come into direct contact with either the mucous membranes from or an exposed cut of an infected individual.

Having one type of HSV does not guarantee that you have the other one too. The two types act independently of each other and even target different areas. However, it is still possible to have both if you contract them at the same time, but one cannot cause the other.

Herpes in Nigeria

Nigeria is in the midst of a healthcare crisis; the rates of genital herpes in Nigeria are higher than in any other country with an estimate of 77.8% of adults being carriers of HSV-2. Older people have a higher prevalence of the disease, with the 51-60 year age group having the greatest rate of disease occurrence. The rates of prevalence are higher in unemployed people than in those with jobs. 

Pregnant women also experience cases of HSV-2. A survey carried out in Benin, Nigeria, showed that a staggering 46.3% of consenting pregnant women from a sample population were HSV-2 positive. 

Diagnosis of Herpes

Herpes is diagnosed by either one or a combination of the following methods:

  • Viral Culture: A lab test is conducted on a sore or tissue sample from the patient.
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): This method is used to replicate your DNA from a sample of your blood, sore tissue, or spinal fluid. The resulting DNA is then tested for HSV.
  • Blood test: a blood sample is tested for the presence of HSV antibodies.

An expert physician, especially one working in a region densely affected by herpes, can also diagnose the disease based on a simple physical exam.

Portable Herpes Test Kits

Due to the strong prevalence of HSV in Nigeria, the government and many organizations have made efforts to make self-examination common. Luckily, this can easily be done with the help of portable herpes test kits. 

These kits contain testing materials like cotton swabs and test tubes, as well as shipping envelopes. A person who suspects an infection must collect either a sore tissue sample or mucus sample and send it to the given address marked on the kit inside the special envelope provided inside the package. After a few days, you can access the test results online.

If you’re worried about being infected, but feel uncomfortable about going to the hospital, this is the perfect choice for you!

Challenges Associated with Treating Herpes in Nigeria 

Nigeria is suffering from a herpes epidemic. Despite efforts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other NGOs, the virus still runs rampant amongst the Nigerian people. There are several challenges associated with the eradication of HSV in Nigeria. 

Firstly, Nigeria is a developing country with the highest levels of poverty in the world, overtaking other developing nations like India and Ethiopia. This poverty is the primary reason why it has become so difficult to eliminate herpes from the area. 

Due to poverty, the Nigerian people face a severe shortage of medication as well as testing methods. Their overall lack of education has led to most adults being unaware of the dangers of herpes. This lack of awareness prevents them from practicing safe sex, which increases the likelihood of HSV contraction. 

Those who are aware of the symptoms of HSV often have limited methods of confirming it. There is both a shortage of hospitals and testing kits in the region. Even the efforts made by NGOs are insufficient to confront the healthcare issues faced by the 86.9 million people living in poverty in Nigeria.

Additionally, the shortage of clean water and the prevalence of unhygienic conditions have led to an increase in HSV cases as the majority of Nigerians cannot afford to practice good hygiene.  Due to poverty, many people also cannot afford contraceptives and are thus exposed to diseases that are transmitted through direct contact with genital sores and mucus. 

Interestingly, HSV sometimes appears with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Reports say that HSV-2 makes it easier for people to contract HIV, but making it harder to treat them because of the compromised state HIV puts their immune system in. This is by far the most complicated challenge faced by healthcare providers trying to eliminate HSV in Nigeria. 

An individual affected by HSV-2, as well as HIV, cannot be treated the way a person with only HSV-2 would. Using excessive medication would harm the patient more than help them because of how weak HIV/AIDS has made their body.

Nigeria is severely affected by herpes, which is caused by HSV. It is a viral disease that cannot be treated with antibiotics, making treatment harder than initially anticipated by healthcare experts. The majority of adults in Nigeria suffer from HSV, especially HSV-2, which affects the genital area.

Despite the efforts of multiple NGOs, termination of herpes seems near impossible due to the widespread challenges that affect Nigerians. There is no exact solution for the condition, but medical experts around the world are working towards a cure.

References:

https://www.pulse.ng/lifestyle/beauty-health/genital-herpes-causes-symptoms-and-prevention-of-this-ailment/xnv9z5t

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319524.php#transmission-of-hsv2

https://allafrica.com/stories/200810140635.html

How STD Affected Economic Development in Africa

How STD Affected Economic Development in Africa Image

Economic development in the African region remains low, and STD risks are an ongoing concern. Out of the 40 million people with HIV, 70% of those infected live in Africa. In 2001, 3 million died from the disease, which made it the fourth deadliest disease on the globe. 

Statistics anticipate a steady decline in the African economy for the following years, but the fiscal crisis due to STDs is unlikely to end. These diseases affect the region on a social and demographic level. Poorer households, children, and women are among the worst affected. 

STDs are arguably the most influential factor for the continent’s economic growth, particularly for poor and developing regions. Africa’s human capital is on a decline, and without adequate health care, preventive methods, nutrition, and medicine, a lot more people will fall victim to STDs

The Demographic-Economic Impact of STDs in Africa

This pandemic affects the economic growth rate in Africa by 2% to up to 4% annually. STDs reduce productivity, labor supply, exports, and increase imports. 

Economic measures, treatment, and prevention programs specifically tailored towards managing these diseases are the key to limiting their effect on the economic growth in the region. 

The Effects of STDs on Labor Productivity

Since STDs have long affected the African region, they’ve massively reduced labor productivity. The annual costs in correlation with the sickness have reduced productivity per employee. The reduction in these costs has lowered profits and competitiveness. 

The decline of the agriculture sector in the African region is a typical example of reduced labor productivity from HIV. Those who carry the infection are unable to work. Individuals who’ve carried STDs for a long time have decreased their fertility rates, which has resulted in a massive collapse in newborns. For the most infected areas, this epidemic has left countless orphans behind, unable to get the education or skills they need to participate in the agriculture sector. 

With the constant increase in mortality rates, there are fewer skilled workers available. With the reduced labor force, the individuals who can work are predominantly the younger generation who lack the skills or knowledge to work in a specific sector, which directly influences the company’s productivity rates. 

As more and more workers take sick leave, productivity is slowly taking a downfall affecting the investments that generate human capital. Since the most affected are women and children, the sectors that focus on employing a general women workforce are at a serious threat of experiencing the economic impact of HIV. 

The Effect of STDs on Labor Supply

STDs or HIV, in particular, affect the labor supply by increasing morbidity and mortality. Certain sectors of the labor market are directly affected. 

In the southern region of the continent, 60% of the workers who work in the mining industry are between 30 to 44 years old, many of whom are infected with STDs. In 2002, records predicted that 15 years in the future, the workforce would decrease by 10%.

Many years later, the impact of the diseases did show a significant change in the workforce, which has forced many companies to find a cost-effective way to reduce the prevalence of HIV and STDs. However, with the increase in health care costs, company-sponsored voluntary testing and counseling programs have become more difficult to implement. 

The Effects of STDs on the Taxable Population

STDs, especially HIV, seriously hinder the taxable population, greatly lowering the available resources for public expenditures like healthcare or educational services. As the tax revenues fall, government incomes slowly decline as well, forcing them to spend more on STD treatments and prevention if they are to create an effective way to get out of the fiscal crisis. 

Each household has to spend more on healthcare services to manage STDs and lose income in the process. The income loss has led to reduced spending, which has taken the investments away from the funeral, healthcare, medication, and education spending. 

According to statistics, households who live with an HIV infected individual spend 50% more on medical expenses than any other non-infected household. Due to the increased costs in treatment, many results in working in the sex industry. The sex industry in the African region adds an additional income to a household. However, it leaves them vulnerable to becoming infected with STDs or transmit the infection onto a sexual partner. 

The Effects of STDs on Exports and Imports

Decreased domestic productivity has a major impact on exports and imports. Decreased life expectancy reduces the GDP in many African regions. From 1990 to 2025, the growth rate is expected to be between 0.56% to 1.47% lower. In 2000, these predictions did show the expected results and had decreased by 0.7% annually from 1990 to 1997. 

There is a massive decline in export income, but a significant increase in imports with expensive medications for STDs and other goods for the healthcare industry coming in at a much higher price. 

As a result, there is no balance between import expenditure and export earnings. This puts a strain on the government budget, resulting in debts by default. To control the debt, African governments rely on international help and economic assistance. 

Government’s Response to STDs in Africa

Multiple governments from the sub-Saharan African region have denied the problem for many years. Some have just recently decided to start addressing the issue. Due to conservative values and underfunding, the prevention of STDs has remained a serious problem in developing regions indirectly affecting the country’s supply chain.

In other words, the STD pandemic in Africa is more than just a medical issue; it’s a major problem for the continent’s economic growth and advancement. Therefore, more medical interventions are necessary to put these diseases under control. Learning about the economic environment in this region can help build sustainable STD programs for managing the conditions.  

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1122139/

https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001869

https://www.cmi.no/publications/786-socio-economic-effects-of-hiv-aids-in-african

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_impact_of_HIV/AIDS

http://www.policyproject.com/pubs/SEImpact/SEImpact_Africa.PDF

How Condoms Saved Africa From STDs

How Condoms Saved Africa From STDs Image

As governments, experts, volunteers, development partners, and various other agencies gather across the southern and eastern Africa, for one common cause, it shows just how important it is to mass distribute condoms as a pivotal strategy for controlling STDs. 

ESA (The East and South Africa), the home to almost 550 million people, has successfully made notable progress in managing STDs, particularly HIV in the region. Since 2018, ESA has experienced 30% fewer HIV infections as opposed to 2010. As of recent statistics, 1 in 3 women now uses condoms, compared to 1 in 4 in 2010. 

Condoms have played a decisive role in preventing STDs, HIV, and unwanted pregnancies in countless countries, including the African continent. The distribution and production of these products have significantly decreased the rates of STDs in sex workers and the general population. 

In fact, the use of condoms is now higher than ever. In western African countries, now 30% of the younger population between the ages of 15 to 24 use a condom regularly. Yet, STDs still remain a serious issue for the entire continent.

The Importance of Condoms in Africa

Despite all the programs and positive progress, ESA is still the most infected region with STDs and HIV on the globe.  

STDs prevalence rates continue to skyrocket, resulting in a massive increase in STD transmission. The most vulnerable individuals are young women, which account for 25% of the STD infections, HIV in particular. This is where condoms play a vital role in preventing STDs and unplanned pregnancies. 

Condoms are a cost-effective method for managing STDs. They have prevented more than 50 million HIV transmissions since the 80s. While 30% of the population now uses condoms, it’s not enough to tackle the epidemic completely. 

Despite the affordable condom prices, the funding for obtaining condoms in the sub-Saharan African region has reduced over the years. To tackle the infection rates and reduce them to 500 000, it’s important for the government to remain committed, increase their investment, and prevention methods available for the general population, in particular, support the demand for condoms.

Higher Condom Supply Is Necessary

Condoms are a must-have product for the African region. They are effective in managing diseases, but they are also convenient and easy to use, and most importantly, don’t cost as much as other alternatives for preventing and treating STDs. However, right now, there is a huge gap between condom supply and people’s needs. For the ESA and sub-Saharan region, the yearly gap is 3 billion condoms, while the need is 6 billion. 

To end the STD epidemic, it’s crucial to lower maternal deaths by 70% for the next ten years. That’s where tackling the supply and demand problem comes into play. At the moment, there are only five manufacturers that produce condoms for the entire African region. That’s not enough to keep up with demand. 

The Interest in Free Condoms Hinders the Private Condom Manufacturing Sector

In other European, Asian, or American countries, free condoms are considered easier to access. However, commercial ones are considered more appealing, better-quality, and more trust-worthy. People would rather choose a commercial condom rather than a free one. This keeps the private sector in a healthy business environment. But, for many African countries, it’s the complete opposite.

According to statistics, some condom users are more than willing to buy condoms. More than 90% of users in Nigeria will pay for these preservatives, which makes it one of the most important products to invest in. But, the interest in preservatives varies from country to country.

Some regions, like Zimbabwe and Kenya, do have individuals who would pay for condoms, but many of them would rather obtain free preservatives rather than commercial ones. 

The reason for that is the scarce funds. Free condoms in Africa, still remain a more popular prevention tool than paid condoms for the majority of the African population. However, the public sector has a limit to providing free condoms, since they heavily depend on donor support.

This is an unsustainable long-term strategy for supplying condoms to the general population, and it significantly hinders the private sector. 

Tackling the Condom Production Problem

With a limited condom production, the regular supply remains a problem for the African region. To keep up with demand, especially with the ESA region, it’s crucial to identify a plan of urgency for manufacturing condoms for the entire population. Local manufacturing is simply not enough to cover the scale of the epidemic. 

Firstly, to prevent the onset of potential STDs or HIV, billions of more condoms should be produced. Secondly, if more companies manufacture the same product, it will add more competition to the market and help keep the low prices. This strategy will also avoid a stock-out, improve supply chain management and local procurement. 

Thirdly, more companies mean more work, and more work provides more jobs. This kind of environment will promote trade in the entire continent, keep the private sector involved, and save the continent’s currency. 

Currently, UNFPA is working with governments, investors, and manufacturers to bring in more developers and partners for the condom manufacturing business in the region and boost the distribution and procurement capabilities.

UNAIDS has already implemented a strategy with ambitious goals to boost the availability of condoms from 2016 to 2021 to up to 20 billion every year. Instead of the current 30% condom use, the interest in preservatives is expected to increase by 90% for both middle and low-income countries. 

New developers will make condoms more available for the general population and will satisfy the supply and demand for such products to control the epidemic of STDs. With more condoms becoming available, it would be much easier for the population to access these products and prevent the onset of STDs.

References

https://www.who.int/hiv/mediacentre/news/condoms-joint-positionpaper/en/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6339129/

https://esaro.unfpa.org/en/news/manufacturing-condoms-africa-urgent-health-and-economic-priority

https://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/pressreleaseandstatementarchive/2016/february/20160212_condoms

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6339129/


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

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

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

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.