HIV and syphilis are dangerous enough when they appear alone, but even more dangerous when they appear together, causing a co-infection to occur, especially in pregnant women, thinking on all of the things that can go wrong with both the mother’s and the baby’s health. in the following article, we will look a bit deeper in the prevalence of a HIV/syphilis co-infection in Ghana, Africa and discuss the risks that an infection of that kind brings.
HIV and syphilis co-infection
HIV, short from human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that damages the human immune system, causing the unfortunately well-known disease called AIDS. HIV is most commonly transmitted due to unprotected sexual intercourse, including oral, vaginal, and anal, while it can also be transmitted through bodily fluids such as saliva, blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids.
Currently, there is a dangerously high HIV prevalence around the world, with an especially high rise in the number of HIV cases in Ghana, Africa. As of 2014, there have been roughly 150,000 people infected with HIV in Africa alone, while it has been suggested that around 91% of the children infected with HIV worldwide are living in Africa.
But it is not only HIV whose rates are high in Africa. There are other STDs to be mentioned as well, with syphilis being one of them. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a bacteria known as Treponema palladium. This infection is also transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, with dangerously high rates on an international level, and approximately 8.5% prevalence of syphilis in Cape Coast, Ghana.
The prevalence of HIV and syphilis co-infection in Ghana, Africa
What is frightening about HIV and syphilis is that they often appear in a sort of co-infection, being strongly linked with one another. Although syphilis alone is highly treatable thanks to the discovery of penicillin, it increases the incidence of HIV infections on an international level.
Syphilis and HIV can be transmitted during pregnancy from the infected mother to her baby in the womb, increasing the risk of neonatal death, spontaneous abortus, low birth weight, and congenital syphilis and HIV infection among many others. Because of the high probability of an existing HIV/syphilis infection during pregnancy, it is of vital importance that every pregnant woman is tested for both HIV and syphilis as early as the first visit to the doctor’s office as well as all throughout the different stages of pregnancy.
A study published in the Journal of Infection investigated the seroprevalence of HIV/syphilis co-infection in Ghana, Africa. The results showed that the seroprevalence of HIV/syphilis co-infection is approximately 18.4%, which serves as a relatively high seroprevalence. The researchers continued to explain how early testing and detecting in addition to proper treatment in the cases where there is a positive presence of HIV or syphilis or a co-infection for that matter, contributes to the reduction of the risk of these two infections being further spread among the population.
The study also revealed that when there is an HIV/ syphilis co-infection, the patients usually present with the first HIV symptoms a lot earlier, as compared with those patients where there is only HIV infection being present. This means that by raising awareness, we can work to improve the chances of these patients noticing and reporting their symptoms in the early stages, eventually proceeding to gain access to proper treatment with penicillin and ART (antiretroviral therapy).
In the last couple of years, more and more people in Ghana, Africa, as well as all around the world, have been struggling with an HIV/syphilis co-infection. This co-infection is known to bring various risks and reduce the quality of life of these individuals, but what is even more dangerous is the impact that this co-infection has on the health of pregnant women and their babies.