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

How Early Treatment In Aids (HIV) Prolong The Survival Years

Drug-Resistant HIV on the Rise, WHO Warns Image

Throughout the world, there are more than 37 million people currently living with HIV. The major problem with the significant prevalence of HIV is the fact that about 21% of people infected with the virus are unaware of their status. 

In Africa, there are some locations where almost 40% of the local population is infected with HIV. Botswana currently has the highest prevalence of HIV, with an estimated 39.9% of the adult population in the area being infected. The prevalence is also alarming in Zimbabwe, where an estimated 33.7% of the population is infected. 

Advances In Treatments For Aids

Antiretroviral therapy remains the most common treatment option that is provided to patients who are diagnosed with HIV infection. While these drugs can provide an effective approach to delaying the damage that Aids causes in the body, it is important to take note of the current challenges that are faced. 

This includes drug toxicity and the possibility of developing a resistance to the medication used as part of antiretroviral therapy. Additionally, the burden of having to take multiple doses of drugs each day can feel overwhelming. 

Some of the more recent advancements in Aids treatment options include:

  • Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors
  • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors
  • Protease inhibitors

Even though these drugs do offer a more potent effect on the virus that causes Aids, it is important to understand that initiating treatment at a later stage may still not yield effective results. 

The Importance Of Early Treatment

Treatments that are currently available for patients who have been infected with Aids have advanced to the point where the individual has presented an opportunity to experience a normal life. The use of antiretroviral therapy, along with some of the newer pharmaceutical drugs, can effectively prolong the survival years that a patient can expect when they initiate treatment. 

The major problem that is currently being faced with these treatments is the fact that a number of people with aids are unaware of the infection. This means the individual might only learn that they have been infected with the virus at a time when they start to develop complications associated with the infection. 

When a person learns of the infection at this stage of the infection, the treatment may not yield such a significant improvement in symptoms – and the extension of the individual’s survival years may not be as effective compared to implementing the treatment at an early age. 

The good news about early treatment is that testing for HIV has become significantly easier. Medical companies like Ghana Medicals present individuals access to accurate testing kits that can be used at home – offering a more private way of testing for the infection. 

Conclusion

Being infected with HIV can cause a number of adverse effects on the body and lead to an early death. While there are many advancements in aids treatment, early treatment is still essential to assist in providing the patient with an increase in survival years. The implementation of treatment means detecting the infection at an early stage – which is why routine testing for HIV is critical. 

References

https://www.avert.org/global-hiv-and-aids-statistics

http://www.bioafrica.net/subtype/subC/HIV_prevalence_rank.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3892621/

An Unexpected Rise in New Syphilis Cases Has Been Reported in Saskatchewan

An Unexpected Rise in New Syphilis Cases Has Been Reported in Saskatchewan Image

Syphilis is one of the four most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the world. Nearly 6 million new cases of syphilis have been reported each year globally among people aged 15 to 49 years. Since the discovery of penicillin, both, the treatment and the prevention of syphilis have been made easier. However, because of how easy it is for this infection to spread – through oral, vaginal, and anal sex, as well as passing the infection from an infected mother to her baby, we are still faced with a large number of new STD cases. 

Still, it always comes as a surprise to us to see several new syphilis cases that have almost tripled, as it is the case with Saskatchewan, a small providence in Canada. Recently, the Saskatchewan Health Authority has made public the number of syphilis cases registered between the first quarter of 2019 and 2020. 

What it came as a surprise to both the authority and the public is to learn that the number has almost tripled between these periods. In January, February, and March 2019, there has been a total of 58 new cases of syphilis. The shocking revelation of 158 new cases of syphilis during these same months the following year, in 2020, speaks for itself. 

Understandably, the authorities have been quite concerned with this new information since syphilis can be quite dangerous and cause damage to multiple body organs such as the eyes, brain, and heart. The authorities alert anyone who has been engaging in risky behavior, has multiple sexual partners, or is a sex worker, to protect them accordingly against this and any other STD that can potentially end their lives if not put under control.

The authorities also go on to explain the potential reason as to why there has been an increase in new syphilis cases in the Saskatchewan providence. They have been aware of a similar increase in new syphilis cases in the surrounding northwest and northeast areas of the providence, as well as in the cities of Saskatoon, Regina, and Prince Albert. They suspect these events as a potential explanation for the new rise in their providence.

They have announced a decline in chlamydia and gonorrhea cases, however, they do suspect that could be the result of the current COVID-19 outbreak. Like in most countries that have been hit hard by the pandemic, Canada as well has been faced with a suddenly unavailable routine testing due to COVID-19 lockdown.

They are eager, however, to use this time that they have right now to come up with a new strategy that is supposed to help them reduce the overall number of STD cases. Making routine testing available again is the priority number one as well as raising awareness and educating people on how to properly protect themselves. 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6089383/

https://www.ehealthsask.ca/services/manuals/Documents/cdc-section-5.pdf

The Role of Fear in Proper HIV Testing and Treatment in African Men

A recent study has shed some light on the reasons behind the high HIV percentage within people living in Africa, especially within adult men. As it turns out, fear has a lot to do with why so many African men fail to ask for help for their HIV symptoms in time, risking their health and lives. In the following article, we will explore the results of the previously mentioned study.

How dangerous is HIV?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, which, as the term suggests, is a virus that damages the immune system. Although unprotected sexual intercourse is how HIV is most often transmitted, what a lot of people do not know is that HIV can be transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids, and even breast milk. Unfortunately, there is no cure for HIV, but scientists all over the world are working on finding one.

In 2016, approximately 36.7 million people were living with HIV worldwide, with 2.1 million of those being children under the age of 15. Speaking about Africa, there have been an estimated 23.8 million people infected with HIV. To make matters worse, it has also been suggested that 91% of infected children with HIV are living in Africa. More than one million adults and children die because of AIDS each year in Africa alone.

How big is the role of fear in proper HIV testing and treatment among African men?

In the last couple of years, it has been one of the main tasks to make proper HIV testing and treatment available to all people living around the world, with a special focus on underserved areas, such as Africa. Luckily, there has been a lot of success in providing proper testing and treatment for almost all different STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), including HIV. Testing and treatment are usually free of charge to make it easier for people to get regular check-ups and maintain their good health.

But as it turns out, availability is not the biggest problem of them all, when it comes to STD and HIV testing and treatment. A study published in October 2019, has revealed that STD and especially HIV is often linked to shame and fear among men living in Cote d’Ivoire, Africa, which makes HIV a taboo, a topic that very few people are open to talk about. This results in a lack of action when it comes to getting proper check-ups and treating the condition so that a longer than expected life span can be possible for those infected with HIV.

The study revealed that 1 in 40 adult men are infected with HIV, with only one-quarter of them being aware of the disease that they have been carrying. And since HIV is such as stigmatized disease where these men live, it is harder for them to ask for help when they need it. These men have been worried about how HIV would impact their ability as a father, partner, and as a healthy individual who is able to provide for his family, maintaining a steady job, when they are unaware of the risks that are to come with leaving HIV untreated. 

Conclusion

With HIV still being a stigmatized disease in Africa, fewer and fewer African men are prepared to ask for help or a simple check-up, which results in a high number of HIV cases in Africa alone. Afraid of seeing a positive result and its impact that it can have on their lives, these men avoid getting tested and getting proper treatment afterward.

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

Promising Results of Herpes Vaccine HSV529 in Phase Trial 1

New Discovered Origin of the Herpes Simplex Virus from Africa Image Promising Results of Herpes Vaccine HSV529 in Phase Trial 1

Over the years, researchers have tried finding a proper phrophialictic and curative agent that we can use against HSV529. And it seems that 2019 is the year that they have finally reached their goal. Although it is only phase 1 and their vaccine sure needs a lot of additional work to be done, the Herpes Vaccine HSV529 vaccine has delivered some promising results.

Herpes Vaccine HSV529 shows promising results in phase trial 1

There are two types of the Herpes simplex virus – Herpes Simplex 1 (HSV-1) and Herpes Simplex 2 (HSV-2). While HSV-1 is transmitted by oral to oral contact, the HSV-2 is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, causing genital herpes. Having multiple sexual partners, struggling with another STD, and being female are the three major risk factors for developing an HSV-2 infection.

Looking into the data on an international level, approximately 11.9% of the nation aged 14 to 49 have HSV-2 infection. In Africa alone, the rates of genital herpes are considered to be especially high, affecting from 80 to 90% of the African nation. 

Unfortunately, there is still no cure made available for the Herpes simplex virus. That leaves us with some effective treatment options that can help with the difficult symptoms caused by this virus and what it seems to be the most important issue now – prevention.

But that does not mean that researchers are not making a further effort to find a cure that we can rely on. That is how they got to test out the new Herpes vaccine HSV529, which amazingly showed many promising results! What makes the HSV529 vaccine different from the ones investigated before, was the fact that instead of inducing neutralizing antibodies like the ones before, the HSV529 vaccine is a replication-defensive HSV2 vaccine that is able to infect cells and with that, result in a broader immune response.

The research was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases in September 2019. This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that was meant to investigate the effects of the HSV529 in adults aged 18 to 40 years. A total of 60 participants were divided into three groups that received either the vaccine or placebo at 0, 1, and 6 months. For the purposes of the research, the vaccine was administrated as a 0.5 ml solution containing 1×10(7) plaque-forming units on day 0, day 30, and day 180. 

The results showed that HSV529 was safe and effective at eliciting neutralizing antibody, serving as a potential prophylactic or a therapeutic vaccine. Future modifications have to be done in order to improve its immunogenicity further, but this is a promising step forward to eventually find an effective cure that we can one day use.

Conclusion

Research done investigating the effects of the new HSV529 vaccine has shown promising results in preventing and potentially curing HSV2 in the future. Although there is a need for further investigation and modification to be done, the new HSV529 vaccine has delivered some promising results as never before. With the HSV529 vaccine, we are looking at millions of lives being saved and future HSV cases being prevented.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes-detailed.htm

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110415083142.htm

https://academic.oup.com/jid/article/220/6/990/5486075

https://www.precisionvaccinations.com/sanofi-hsv529-vaccine-candidate-derived-hsv2-strain-186

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

The Use of Dual HIV/Syphilis Tests during Pregnancy

Risk Factors for a Syphilis Infection Among Pregnant Women in Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District, Ghana Image

Proper HIV and syphilis testing, as well as testing for any other STD, is important over each life period, but it earns a specific significance during the pregnancy period, especially when we are talking about HIV and syphilis that pose the risk of being transmitted from an infected mother to her baby. With the new guidelines determined by WHO (World Health Organization) for dual HIV/syphilis testing, we have found a new hope to see an improvement in the HIV and syphilis cases around the world, with a special focus on Africa. 

How can the use of dual HIV/Syphilis tests help support a healthy pregnancy?

HIV and syphilis are two highly dangerous sexually transmitted diseases during the nine months of pregnancy, not only because of their difficult symptoms but also because of the high risk of HIV and syphilis being transmitted from the infected mother to her child that is still growing and developing inside her womb. Unfortunately, HIV and syphilis are still quite common among pregnant women, especially among those living in Africa, which is one of the centuries where the highest population infected with HIV/syphilis has been living in the past couple of years. A study investigated the HIV prevalence by involving approximately 10,000 pregnant women and showed that of all, around 3% of them became infected with HIV during the course of their pregnancy.  

Left untreated and undetected, HIV and syphilis can lead to a number of health issues not only during pregnancy but also during childbirth as well. Transmitting HIV and/or syphilis is not the only health issue that we are talking about. These infections can lead to low birth weight, stillbirth, spontaneous abortus, and many other potential health risks as well.

Luckily, all pregnant women are supposed to undergo proper HIV testing at their first visit at their doctor’s office, as well as throughout the next nine months. When detected in its early stages, HIV can be efficiently controlled and treated, although not cured, so that the negative effect on the little one can be as minimalized as possible. With the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART), the risk of transmitting the disease during pregnancy, and later during childbirth and breastfeeding, can be significantly reduced, which will have a positive influence on both the health of the mother and the child.

But things are a bit different when it comes to testing for syphilis during pregnancy. While 60% of the pregnant women across Africa have been tested for HIV, less than 40% of them have been tested for syphilis. A study published in 2019 also revealed that 4% of all pregnant women had not been tested for HIV nor syphilis. Syphilis also poses great threats left untreated, which is why it is of vital importance that every pregnant woman gets tested for both HIV and syphilis at least once during her pregnancy, as WHO (World Health Organization) suggests.

The WHO has come to suggest a rather effective method that is thought to improve the numbers of cases in which proper testing for both HIV and syphilis has been done. The method that they recommend is a dual HIV/syphilis test that will be introduced as a part of the regular antenatal care for each pregnant woman. 

By introducing dual testing, WHO suggests that the cost of testing will decline while the number of women that are getting tested and potentially treated when needed, will be increasing, which is just the effect that we have been looking for so long now.

This can be especially beneficial for high burden countries such as Africa in which expenses play a big part in maintaining the good health of its population. With the reduced expenses rate, it will be more affordable to offer more and more women to get properly tested during their pregnancy.

Conclusion

With the new dual testing for HIV and syphilis suggested by the WHO, we are looking at a potential decline in new cases of HIV and syphilis in the future. This testing method for HIV/Syphilis will be of a high value for pregnant women since they are facing the risk of transmitting the infection to their child and with that struggling with devastating complications and a potential spread of the initial infection. 

References

http://www.aidsmap.com/news/jun-2015/many-south-african-women-become-infected-hiv-during-pregnancy-posing-high-risk

http://www.ncsddc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/ncs_366_third_trimester_screening_brochure_page_by_page_mechanical_12-28-16.pdf

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/51254011_Optimal_time_on_HAART_for_prevention_of_mother-to-child_transmission_of_HIV

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02454816

Syphilis Rates Are A Major Concern for Women to Start Seeking Antenatal Care in Ghana

Syphilis Rates Are A Major Concern for Women to Start Seeking Antenatal Care in Ghana Image

If a mother is infected with STIs, she risks transmitting the infection onto the unborn child. If not treated, women risk a miscarriage, birth defects, early delivery, stillbirth, illnesses, disabilities, or even death of a newborn.

Antenatal care, commonly referred to as prenatal care is a healthcare preventive that focuses on consistent check-ups by allowing midwives or doctors to prevent and treat any health complications to ensure a safe pregnancy.

Even though there is an available and effective treatment for anyone with STIs, particularly syphilis, more than 10 million people are still infected with this infection across the globe. 90% of all cases of newly infected come from developing countries, especially Ghana.

The Prevalence of Syphilis and the Need for Antenatal Care in Ghana

In Africa, based on records from 2012, the prevalence of syphilis was recoded to be at 0.2%, with Ghana being among one of the most infected with a prevalence of 8.5% in the metropolis, 4.5% in Kumasi and 3.9% in Accra. 

Based on the World Bank’s statistical analysis from 2015, the prevalence of syphilis of women attending prenatal care has increased by 1.2% from 2012 and is stated to be at 2.7% in 2015. Compared to the reported 6.1% in 2009, this is a drastic decline. 

How Many Women in Ghana Actually Seek Antenatal Care?

Screening and treating pregnant women for a syphilis infection has long been the main focus for doctors. In an effort to stop the transmission of the infection, women have been advised to receive antenatal care. 

Based on a survey for the reproductive and sexual health in Ghana, particularly in Accra, of all the women interviewed, 23% reported having or recognizing STI or UTI infections. But only 7% stated seeking preventive care. Due to the low interest in antenatal care, only 53% of Ghanaian women receive proper care during childbirth by a skilled medical professional. 

Why Don’t Some Women Get Proper Antenatal Care in Ghana?

Pregnant women in Ghana often face multiple difficulties when it comes to seeking antenatal care. For many women, this is a controversial treatment. Due to cultural limitations and distrust in modernized medicine, women still give birth at home.

But, for those who do want to gain access to antenatal care, they experience multiple issues, some of which are: 

  • Insufficient funds
  • Lack of a female treatment provider
  • No permission to get treatment

In Q5 of 2015, 22.7% of women stated they needed more money to receive this treatment, and without an adequate income, these women couldn’t receive the antenatal care they needed. 

Another issue was the gender of the treatment provider and permission to get treatment. 19.5% of all pregnant women in Ghana didn’t want to be treated by male treatment providers and preferred females instead, while 4.1% didn’t get permission.

Despite the efforts to help women safely deliver their child, for many the “modernized” version of childbirth has not made much of an impact. With common STIs, such as syphilis still posing as a serious issue for women in Ghana, antenatal care is crucial for safe childbirth and a healthy baby. 

References

https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11898

https://bmcinfectdis.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-019-3967-6

https://tradingeconomics.com/ghana/prevalence-of-syphilis-percent-of-women-attending-antenatal-care-wb-data.html

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01459740.2001.9966199?src=recsys

New HIV Testing Guidelines Released By WHO to Help Reduce HIV Prevalence and Improve Treatment Coverage

WHO Revise STD Treatment Guidelines As Threat Of Antibiotic Resistance Escalates Image

WHO is constantly working to provide better methods of eliminating the risk of the many dangerous STDs, especially in countries where the risk is at its peak, with Africa being one of them. Because of the high HIV rates, among other STDs in Africa, the WHO have decided on new guidelines that are believed to help reduce the HIV prevalence, not only in Africa but worldwide as well.

WHO has released new guidelines for HIV testing

WHO (World Health Organization) has released new guidelines for improved and more accurate HIV testing as well as better treatment coverage for people all around the world, but with a special focus on Africa where the HIV prevalence has especially high. In Africa alone, there have been approximately 23.8 million people living with HIV. About 91% of the children affected with HIV on an international level have been living in Africa.

Luckily, since things have been taken more seriously, from 2010 to 2018, we have seen a major decline in the HIV rates in Africa. From 2010 to 2018, the new HIV infection rate has declined by 28% in eastern and southern Africa. The decline has happened thanks to the expanded HIV treatment that has been made more available to the people living in this country, as well as thanks to the many campaigns that have aimed to increase their awareness. 

In the spirit of World AIDS Day on December 1 and the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA 2019), WHO has released new guidelines that are meant to increase the effectiveness of HIV testing and treatment and accomplish an even greater decline in the HIV rates.

The new guidelines established by WHO now include:

  • Using three consecutive reactive tests to provide an accurate HIV diagnosis as compared to the two consecutive reactive tests that most high burden centuries, such as Africa, have been using so far. This new guideline has been thought to make a huge difference in providing a diagnosis that characterizes itself with maximum accuracy;
  • Extending the accessibility of self-tests, not only for HIV, but also for most STDs such as Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and Hepatitis. With the possibility of doing a self-test at home, there is a higher chance that the high-risk individuals will regularly do check-ups and ask for help in the presence of a positive result;
  • Using social media platforms to increase awareness about HIV and proper testing that can potentially save the lives of high-risk individuals;
  • Providing rapid tests as an alternative to the previously used laboratory tests that cost more money and take longer. Rapid tests, as the term suggests, can deliver accurate results in 2-3 weeks, while costing a lot less, making testing more affordable for the high burden centuries and their residents;
  • Using HIV/Syphilis dual testing that can eliminate the chance for a mother-to-child transmission to happen.

Conclusion

The new guidelines provided by WHO are designed to cause an even further decline in the HIV and STD rates among people worldwide, with a certain focus on Africa as one of the countries where the rates of the common STDs and HIV are especially high. It is believed that the new guidelines will make testing and treating the common STDs easier for the people living in high burden countries and with that, gradually reduce these rates.

References

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