HIV And Cancer – What Patients Need To Know

HIV cancer

Each year, the HIV virus infects more than one million people around the world, with an estimated 1.7 million individuals infected in the year 2018. Africa accounts for quite a large percentage of adults and children that are infected with this virus. In the Eastern and Southern regions of Africa, an estimated 57% of adults have been infected with HIV.

A large number of those individuals who have been infected with this particular virus have not yet been tested – and do not realize the risks that they are facing with their general well-being. One particular risk that needs to be addressed is the fact that there is an increased risk of cancer among individuals who suffer an HIV infection.

The Increased Risk Of Cancer Caused By HIV

A common question asked by those infected with the HIV virus is whether or not they are truly at a higher risk of cancer. The short answer is yes – there is actually a significant increase observed in the risk of cancer among HIV sufferers. It is, however, important to note that the risk is only increased for a specific number of cancerous diseases.

When a patient develops cancer after they have been infected with HIV, the condition will usually be referred to as HIV-associated cancer.

The most important types of HIV-associated cancers that patients do need to be wary of include:

  • Cervical cancer (only applies to female patients who are infected)
  • Kaposi sarcoma (a type of B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma that is considered aggressive and dangerous)
  • Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome defining cancers, also called AIDs-defining cancers

The increased risk of these cancers among individuals with HIV is defined as follow:

  • An HIV positive individual is 500 times more likely to develop Kaposi sarcoma than those who are not infected.
  • There is a 12x increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma among individuals with HIV.
  • Women diagnosed with HIV are also three times as likely to develop cervical cancer compared to those female patients who are not infected with the virus.

In addition to considering these HIV-associated cancers, there also seems to be an increased risk of other cancers among these patients:

  • Liver cancer
  • Anal cancer
  • Oral cavity cancer
  • Pharynx cancer
  • Lung cancer

In addition to considering these factors, it is important to note that when the HIV virus is accompanied by certain conditions or complications, there is a further increase in the patient’s risk of developing certain cancers.

One example is Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus. This disease is also called human herpesvirus 8. The presence of Epstein-Barr virus, along with HIV, also puts a person at a higher risk of both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Patients with HIV and infection with either hepatitis B or C are also at an increased risk of developing cancer in their liver.

Using testing kits, such as those provided by Ghana Medicals, can help a person detect the presence of HIV at an early stage – which might assist in reducing the risk of cancer when appropriate treatment is initiated.

Weak immune system

People who are infected with the virus that causes HIV to have a weak immune system and have also been found to be at a significantly higher risk of developing certain types of cancer. Those individuals who are affected by certain complications associated with HIV are at an even higher risk of developing these cancers.

References

https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/global-statistics
https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/infectious-agents/hiv-fact-sheet#r2

New Discovered Origin of the Herpes Simplex Virus from Africa

New Discovered Origin of the Herpes Simplex Virus from Africa Image

Recent research has shown that more recent events, which include the eighteenth-century slave trade led to the viral dispersal of the herpes simplex virus. The herpes virus is an infection that exists in two strains: HSV virus type 1 and type 2. The former is commonly transmitted by oral contact and infect its victims around the mouth. But the type 2 HSV is transmitted sexually. 

Until now, there have been lots of misconceptions and assumptions about the origin of this virus in humans. But recently, an Italian team conducted a study on the herpes virus and discovered some surprising facts about its origin and history. 

Type 1 of the herpes virus primarily affects the skin and causes orofacial lesions. While the type 2 herpes virus, which is best described as a sexually transmitted disease is the primary cause of genital herpes experience by many people. 

In recent years, the virus has spread out its tentacles and affected more than 3.7 billion people globally. In the long run, the infection can lead to fatal consequences for anyone. 

During pregnancy, a pregnant woman who is carrying the virus can infect an unborn child upon delivery, and the consequences can be fatal for the newborn.

The Origin of The Herpes Virus

A lot of factors are involved to guarantee a better understanding of the virus. To start with, one needs to grasp some information about its origin and history. To this effect, a research team conducted a study on the virus recently. And the results indicated that the virus might be from a more complex origin than expected. 

It was discovered that the two virus strains (HPV 1 and 2) have firm roots in Africa. It was, therefore, necessary to determine the time in history when the strains left the African continent.

Type 1 and type 2 herpes simplex virus had high similarity with the ones that infected apes in Africa many centuries ago. It is believed that the virus later evolved to infect humans.

The University of Milan and the IRCCS Medea collaborated for the study to become a success. You will find the published version in Molecular Biology and Evolution. Since the virus evolved with their hosts to infect humans, it was apparent that Africa was where the herpes virus type 1 and 2 originated. 

How The Slave Trade Promoted The Spread of The Virus

The mass migration of millions of Africans from the continent into the United States and other countries in Europe made the viral strains that infect many today to leave the continent centuries ago and spread to other parts of the world, including Asia and Europe.

With the aid of technology and archaeological discoveries, scientists have been able to estimate the pace at which these viral strains evolved and gradually infected millions of people worldwide. To date, the herpes simplex virus is among the topmost deadly viral diseases fast ravaging the human population and threatening to wipe it out of extinction if ignored.

Manuela Sironi, who is the study co-author of the research project, opined that the team leveraged some statistically precise methods that permit the dating of most viral origins and how they dispersed. He also said that from the conclusions derived in the study, it was discovered that the strains of the herpes simplex virus type 1 migrated from Africa about 5000 years ago. And the migration of the viral strains of the herpes type 2 didn’t occur until recently during the eighteenth century. 

From the data derived in the study, it was obvious that the existence of the slave trade and mass migration of many African citizens led to the widespread of the viral strains. That is why the prevalence of these viral strains is now higher in the Americas, followed by Africa and less dispersed in other regions of the world.

The fact remains that before the colonization of many African countries, these viral infections existed as minor strains and mostly affected animals and just a few humans. But the emergence of the slave trade into the Americas generated lots of unhealthy habits, unsafe practices, and the mass sexual exploitation that took place led to the aversion of these viral strains from animals to humans. They spread quickly due to unhygienic living conditions too, a condition that was predominant during the slave trade era and pre-colonization.

As these migrants landed in other countries, they were mostly exploited as slave workers and worked for their masters in factories, mills, and farmlands. Subject to an inadequate system of living and untold hardship, this further boosted the longevity of the virus and made it spread easier than before. During this time, humans were unaware of the existence of this deadly disease and its mode of operation. 

Not until many years later, during the era of great discoveries in technology and medicine, did scientists and medical experts conducted research that led to the development of these viral strains.

Although various studies have been conducted on viral existence in humans, lack of adequate archaeological information, history data, made it almost impossible to reach valid conclusions. But, it was not until recently when these group of Italian researchers embarked on this study, that a shocking revelation was made public. 

What Does This All Mean?

It is now a known fact that the slave trade introduced several pathogens into the American continent, of which the herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 are just a few of them. Another pathogen worthy of mention is the Yellow Fever virus. But the majority of these pathogens remained confined to tropical areas for many centuries and only began to spread among humans when they perceived a fertile ground among the populace.

It is believed that further studies will help researchers to gain insight into the resistant nature of the herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2.

References: 

https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/7606/20151101/who-more-3-7-billion-people-world-herpes.htm

https://academic.oup.com/mbe/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/molbev/msaa001/5698714?redirectedFrom=fulltext

http://slaveryandremembrance.org/articles/article/?id=A0002

Herpes in Nigeria

Herpes 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

Why Is It Important to Get Tested for STDs?

Online STI Test Kits For Home Use

STDs stand for sexually transmitted diseases, among which the most common are Gonorrhea, Syphilis, genital herpes, Chlamydia, AIDS, and many others. As the term suggests, STDs are diseases caused by viruses or bacteria that are transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, including oral, vaginal, and anal sexual intercourse.

Sex is still a taboo in many countries, including Ghana, which only contributes to the widespread of the many possible STDs. Back in 2017, it has been revealed that Gonorrhea has affected approximately 6.6% of the women and 3.5% of the men in Ghana.  The prevalence of the HSV-1 and HSV-2 (Herpes Simplex Virus) was also high in the female population in Ghana. And syphilis has been found to be present within 2.7% of the women in Ghana as well. The prevalence of HIV in the adult population in Ghana was reported to be around 2.4%, being especially high in the Volta Region.

Read More: Gonorrhea in Ghana

Read More: Chlamydia in Ghana

Read More: Syphilis in Ghana

Read More: Genital Herpes in Ghana

5 Reasons why it is important to get tested for STDs

Here you get 5 reasons to get tested for STDS

It is an easy and quick procedure

For most STDs, the diagnosis includes taking a blood sample, a urine sample, or a simple swap. This is a process that can take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. It is simple, easy, and quick, and not to mention that in most countries, testing for any STD is free of charge.

Early diagnosis is the key

Early diagnosis is the key to most health problems, including STDs. By detecting an existing STD in its early stages, you are increasing the success of treating and even curing it. Although learning that you are struggling with an STD can be scary, it should not hold you back from doing what is best for your health.

There is the proper treatment for most STDs available

Science has offered us proper treatment methods for most STDs, making it even possible for them to be cured. Even the hardest STDs can be properly treated and maintained so that the patient enjoys a good lifestyle and health quality as much as possible. The first step is getting diagnosed.

Read More: All you need to know about STD’s in Africa

Often STD symptoms are not visible

Unfortunately, many STDs are not causing any symptoms or are causing only mild symptoms until they enter a late stage. Once they enter a late stage, the damage is greater, and the treatment is harder and longer. If you suspect that you might have an STD, you should definitely get tested. For most STDs, their symptoms are not visible by the human eye, and testing is the only way to find out if they are present or not.

Testing helps protect your health

STDs threaten to reduce the quality of your health, introducing various health risks into your life. Infertility, cervical cancer, pelvic inflammatory disease, damage to the internal organs, are only some of the potential health risks due to undiagnosed and untreated STD.

Product: STD Test Kit Bundle (One Step)

Product: STD Test Kit Bundle (Right Sign)

Any STD should be reported to a health professional as soon as its first symptoms occur. However, that is often not the case. While feeling ashamed is probably the most common reason to not report a present STD, people, especially in Ghana and Africa in general, often fail to find a proper health professional that can diagnose and properly treat their health issue. It is of high importance to consult a doctor about any present health issue, including a present STD. And here are five reasons why you would consider talking to a doctor about it.

References

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

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0205863

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6081947/

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

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5998162/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sexually-transmitted-diseases-stds/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351246

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8261726

https://www.parkview.com/community/dashboard/the-risks-of-untreated-stds

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