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

Chlamydia in Africa

Chlamydia in Africa Image

STD is short for the sexually transmitted disease. There are many kinds of STDs. Chlamydia is a kind of sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. It is among the common ones and is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse.

Chlamydia is curable; however, due to the lack of information about the said infection, many are untreated and are only detected when it’s at its worst. Hence, the rise in deaths related to it. In Africa, there are about 92.6 million new cases of STIs. This includes Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Treponema pallidum, and Trichomonas vaginalis. Among these STIs, according to WHO, Chlamydia has about 5.1 million or 2.6% prevalence rate in Africa.        

Symptoms

Chlamydia affects both men and women. However, the symptoms and severity differ. Most men with chlamydia experience pain when urinating, feeling of tenderness and swelling of the testicle, and penile discharge. A study focusing on STIs in Ghana has found that out of 186 people who have been tested, 167 had Chlamydia; 24% of them were men, and 76% were women. 

There are a lot more symptoms in women. Women who are diagnosed with Chlamydia usually experience an urgency to urinate, discomfort when urinating, yellow vaginal discharge that usually has a foul odor, low-grade fever, bleeding between periods, pain when having sexual intercourse, and the swelling of the vagina or around the anus. Also, it complicates pregnancy, and it also puts risks on the child. One study found that chlamydia trachomatis antibodies were found in 33.3% of mothers with stillbirths. It may also damage the eyes, lungs, and skin of the child.  

Contraction & Diagnosis

Contrary to what many believe, Chlamydia cannot be spread by kissing, toilet seats, or hot tubs. It can be spread from person-to-person through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. The bacteria can also enter one’s body when a body part moistened with infected secretion come in contact with the eyes. Chlamydia is diagnosed by testing samples from a urine sample, throat, vagina, or cervix. 

Treatment  

study in 2008 found that about 9.1% of adults in Africa are being infected by Chlamydia. It mostly infects young adults from age 15 to 25, since this age is the most active in sexual activities. Once diagnosed, patients will be prescribed with antibiotics. Aside from this, it is suggested to abstain from any sexually related activities to avoid the spreading of the infection; the abstinence should last for about a week or until the prescribed antibiotics are finished. Azithromycin and doxycycline are two antibiotics that are often prescribed to treat the infection. With early detection and proper treatment, the infection might be gone in just about a week or two. 

References:

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2016/9315757/

http://www.ijstr.org/final-print/jan2014/Chlamydia-Trachomatis-Prevalence-In-Ghana-A-Study-At-A-Municipal-District-In-Western-Ghana.pdf

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2016/9315757/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2956315/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chlamydia/treatment/

All What You Need to Know About Trichomoniasis

All What You Need to Know About Trichomoniasis Image

Sexually transmitted infections affect the lives of many people all around the globe. Many of these infections are usually left undetected, and some eventually lead to deaths. According to The World Health Organization, the four most common STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and syphilis. All four infections are curable; however, they also increase the risk of having and spreading human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). According to the WHO African Region’s findings, there are high incidence rates for gonorrhea and trichomoniasis in both men and women in Africa. The study targeted adults aged from 15 to 49.     

Some of the causes of the increasing rate of trichomoniasis include lack of education, inadequate health facilities, alcohol, and drug abuse, and having multiple sexual partners. Another cause in South Africa is the migration of men from rural to urban areas to find employment. A study concluded that among 367 South African men semen samples, almost half displayed infectious microorganisms; the result was achieved because according to the study, males have more contact with sex workers and casual sexual partners,    

What is Trichomoniasis?

Trichomoniasis is a sexually-transmitted infection caused by a protozoan parasite, Trichomonas vaginalis. In the whole African region, about 42.8 million is infected. It occurs mostly in women than in men. According to studies, this infection is mostly asymptomatic, 85% in women, and 77% of men. When symptomatic, upper reproductive tract disease syndrome may also occur. A study conducted in 2017 concluded that out of 604 vaginal samples, 196 reported some vaginal infection symptoms; 38 of these had trichomonas vaginalis. 

Symptoms

When symptomatic, it usually takes about 4 to 28 days before some signs appear. Do note that some people do not experience any symptoms at all, so it is still best to get tested. For trichomoniasis, symptoms may include:

For women:

  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge – colors might be gray, white, yellow, or green
  • Genital burning, itching, and redness
  • Pain when urinating or when having sexual intercourse

For men:

  • Irritation inside the penis
  • Burning feeling when urinating or after ejaculating
  • Penile discharge

Diagnosis

You can’t be diagnosed with trichomoniasis just by basing on your symptoms. A health care provider can only detect the infection by doing laboratory tests. Tests like rapid antigen and nucleic acid amplification tests can also be done if the first tests aren’t conclusive.   

Treatment

The commonly prescribed medicine for trichomoniasis is either metronidazole or tinidazole. Many are asked to have megadoses. It has also been noted to not take alcohol for 24 hours after taking metronidazole, and 48 more hours after taking tinidazole. These medicines can cause nausea and vomiting. Secnidazole is another medicine that could be used to treat trichomoniasis. Secnidazole is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial vaginosis, which is a certain type of vaginal infection. It stops the growth of bacteria.      

Once diagnosed and after treatment, a retest should be done after about two weeks to three months; this is done to reassure that you have not been reinfected. 

References:

https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/97/8/18-228486/en/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/279839364_Trichomonas_vaginalis_in_Sub-Saharan_Africa_occurrence_and_diagnostic_approaches_for_the_male_partner

https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/7/10/e016959

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/trichomoniasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20378609

https://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/stdfact-trichomoniasis.htm

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/trichomoniasis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20378613

https://www.ajmc.com/focus-of-the-week/secnidazole-may-successfully-treat-sti-disproportionately-affecting-black-women

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

There Are Billions of People Living with Herpes Worldwide, The WHO Reports

There Are Billions of People Living with Herpes Worldwide, The WHO Reports Image

At the beginning of May 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) published some rather worrying findings. According to the WHO, currently, there are billions of people living some sort of herpes infection. 

The herpes infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of the herpes simplex virus, responsible for causing two different infections. HSV-1 is guilty of causing oral herpes which characterizes itself with cold sores, whereas HSV-2 has been causing genital herpes for years now. 

Back in 2016, it was estimated that approximately 13% of the world’s population, aged 15 to 49, has been living with HSV-2. That is roughly 491 million people affected by genital herpes. The WHO suggests that today, about half a billion people are living with genital herpes, while several billion people have oral herpes. As for oral herpes, back in 2016, the data shows that approximately 3.7 billion people worldwide, have been affected by HSV-1. A noticeable difference in these numbers can be seen. These new findings only highlight the importance of proper prevention and treatment when it comes to such dangerous viral infections. 

HSV-1 and HSV-2 both pose a danger if left untreated. Genital herpes is one of the four most common STDs on a global level. Rectal inflammation, bladder problems, and meningitis are only some of the many complications that can happen due to untreated herpes infection. 

If a woman is pregnant and infected with herpes for which she has now received proper treatment, the chances of transmitting the infection to the baby during the birth are big. Later, the baby can suffer from brain damage, blindness, and even death due to herpes. Having an untreated herpes infection increases the risk of contracting another STD. The risk of HIV is three times higher among those with untreated genital herpes infection. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for herpes yet. Despite knowing all of the potential risks and dangers, we are still left without a vaccine that can help us prevent herpes as well. Having no vaccine or cure that we can rely on, only exposes us to a greater risk of getting affected by herpes and the many dangers that come with it. 

Until a vaccine has been found, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns against the need to increase awareness about genital herpes on a global level. Many countries face the problem of having been denied access to the usual antiviral medications such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir which are usually used to treat HSV-1 and HSV-2 in the other parts of the world. This is yet another problem that deserves our undivided attention to find a proper solution. 

References

https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/01-05-2020-billions-worldwide-living-with-herpes

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/herpes-simplex-virus

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

HIV/AIDS Survivors Remind Us of Using Fauci Guidelines as A Way Out of the COVID-19 Pandemic

HIV/AIDS Survivors Remind Us of Using Fauci’s Guidelines as A Way Out of the COVID-19 Pandemic Image

In late April 2020, Anthony Fauci was standing next to the president of the United States, Donald Trump, taking part in a White House briefing, discussing strategies that can potentially end the current COVID-19 pandemic, and help us get back to our normal lives as soon as possible. Many of you may not recognize the name Anthony Fauci, but that is not the case with the gay and bi community in the United States.

Who Is Anthony Fauci?

Anthony Fauci is an American physician and immunologist who has served the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since the 1980s which is when the HIV/AIDS epidemic was happening all around the world. Faced with this new virus and the troubling disease that it was causing it, Anthony Fauci and his colleagues were struggling to find an answer to the origins of the virus itself as well as the potential treatment and cure. 

Today, HIV/AIDS survivors remind us of those times and warn us about the importance of taking that very same epidemic as an example of what we should and should not do today as we face yet another pandemic. Since the initial HIV/AIDS outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports nearly 32 million people have lost their lives due to HIV/AIDS, while 75 million in total have been infected. COVID-19 has appeared first in late December 2019 and has managed to infect 2 million people, while killing about 165,000. 

Many gay and bi men talk about the current pandemic and the similarities, but also differences, that can be easily spotted when compared to the one that has happened nearly 40 years ago. Much like HIV/AIDS, our behavior can help limit the spread of COVID-19, which is why it is very important to follow the provided guidelines that recommend social distancing and self-isolation similar to how changes in behavior have helped reduce the number of infected by HIV/AIDS.

In the United States, certain populations seem to be exposed to a greater risk of COVID-19, similar to how gay and bi men were once exposed to a bigger risk of AIDS/HIV. In the case of COVID-19, it is those in the African American community that are the most vulnerable. The most probable reason as to why that is is the limited access to health care resources that this population usually has. 

We Saw This Before But This Maybe Worse

The AIDS/HIV epidemic has sure taught us a lesson that we can use in these uncertain times. Back then, we managed to see what the result was of the lack of awareness, testing, and refusing to change our behavior. Now we get to rely on that information as well as new technology to help us manage the current situation the best that we can.

References

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/fauci-guided-us-through-aids-crisis-too-survivors-say-its-a-roadmap-for-coronavirus/ar-BB12PU0C

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

https://www.who.int/gho/hiv/en/

Syphilis and Al Capone: The Disease That Took Down the Most Notorious Crime Boss

Syphilis and Al Capone: The Disease That Took Down the Most Notorious Crime Boss Image

But, this time, with a peculiar and a more interesting perspective. 

With the latest release Fonzo, starring Tom Hardy as Al Capone, we get to see the Chicago crime boss and his final battle with syphilis. The once-formidable man is psychologically scarred at an early age from a disease he was too ashamed to admit he had. He died at 48 years of age in 1947. 

Josh Trank, the director of the movie, called it an “impressionistic film”, capable of becoming a 20th-century icon. 

But, like any other movie plots, the stories can get exaggerated. The question is, did syphilis scar Capone’s mental health for good? How did it really affect him? Here, we will shed some light on the portrayal of syphilis in Al Capone based on the Fonzo movie. 

How Did Al Capone Contract Syphilis?

The crime boss was married to Mae, played by Linda Cardellini. However, he continued having multiple affairs while he dabbled in organized crime. But, he didn’t contract the disease in his adulthood. On the contrary, he got it when he was much younger. Capone contracted the infection as a teen, probably from a sex worker while he still lived in Brooklyn. 

Did Al Capone Get Treatment for Syphilis?

There are many rumors and speculations about what happened to Al Capone. Some are saying he developed a particular phobia of needles, which is why he didn’t get treatment. But, according to an Al Capone biography by Deirdre Bair, that’s just a myth.

What we do know is that Capone kept his condition hidden until he was diagnosed in prison. The movie starts by focusing on his deteriorated mental health and the symptoms he experienced in prison.

Did Syphilis Really Take a Toll on Al Capone?

When penicillin was discovered back in 1928, syphilis was an easily treatable infection. But, before the drug was identified, the disease was the most painful and foul infection to deal with. Al Capone was born in 1899. He contracted the infection before treatment became available.

Back then, syphilis was marked in three separate stages. The first one was characterized by developing a chancre in the infected area.  The second stage was marked by the symptoms of the flu and rash. Then, for minorities, the disease could re-appear decades after the patient was infected and cause serious brain damage and even death. 

This is exactly what happened to the crime boss. Despite the millions of dollars in his pockets, Capone’s life was hardly easy. Syphilis destroyed his emotional and physical well-being. 

His condition worsened over time while in prison, eventually crumbling his overall health completely. He developed neurosyphilis, which affected his central nervous system and ensured his early prison release.

Even though the infection served as a free “getaway” card, it rendered his heart weak causing heart failure and death.

References

https://books.google.mk/books/about/Al_Capone.html?id=WXJ_CwAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y

https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/movies/2020/05/12/capone-fact-check-true-story-tom-hardy-gangster-movie/3113181001/

https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a32439185/al-capone-dementia-syphilis-treasure-true-story/

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/infectious-disease-sprung-al-capone-alcatraz