New HIV Strain Discovered

Implant Protect Women From HIV Image

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that Africa is the most affected region by HIV and AIDS in the world. Young women are particularly affected. The numbers show that in 2018, there were 20.6 million people with HIV in eastern and southern Africa and 5 million in western and central Africa. The wide prevalence of HIV is a serious problem on a global level, but even more so in African nations. The problem becomes even bigger with the fact the new strain of HIV has been discovered.

New strain of HIV

When the term HIV comes to mind, we think of a single virus that weakens the immune system and causes many other complications. But, the truth is that HIV has several subtypes and strains. Just like other viruses, this one can also evolve and mutate over time.

The new strain of HIV is not something scientists discover every day. In fact, for the first time in 19 years, a team of scientists has identified the new strain, which only confirms that fighting HIV is more vital than ever. Their findings, published in the Journal of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, showed that the new strain is the subtype of HIV-1 Group M, subtype L. In other words, scientists discovered a mutation in Group M, the most common type of HIV and viruses from this group is responsible for AIDS crisis on a global level.

The discovery of a mutation seems scary. We immediately think of all sorts of unwanted and horrible scenarios, but there is also a silver lining. You see, early detection of the new strain allows scientists and doctors to contain and study the virus, develop new treatments, and anticipate other mutations. This could help prevent the virus from escalating uncontrollably. Without detection, that would not be possible. 

The new strain of HIV was discovered through the usage of next-generation sequencing technology that allowed scientists to build a whole genome at a lower cost and higher speed. Abbott Laboratories, which carried out the research, employed the new technology and upgraded it with new techniques to focus on a portion of the sample. That way, they were able to sequence and complete the genome fully. 

Preventing HIV

HIV is not a death sentence, and, when caught early, the symptoms can be managed as the current treatments are effective. But, the emphasis is placed on prevention through regular testing. Sexually active men and women, especially those with multiple sex partners, should get tested regularly, and thanks to at-home tests, this process is easier than ever. Other things to prevent HIV include using a condom, practicing safe sex, avoiding risky sex, staying away from engaging in sexual intercourse with multiple people.

Conclusion

Scientists have discovered HIV strain, a mutation in Group M, the most widespread type of this virus. The discovery of the new mutation allows scientists to work on the new treatment options and anticipate further strains. There is no reason to panic, scientists say. Make sure you test regularly and practice safe sex to decrease the risk of HIV. 

References 

https://www.afro.who.int/health-topics/hivaids

https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/global-statistics

https://journals.lww.com/jaids/Abstract/publishahead/Complete_genome_sequence_of_CG_0018a_01.96307.aspx

HIV Patients Exposed to A Higher Risk of Coronavirus

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus – a deadly virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, better known as AIDS. Transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, HIV/AIDS is one of the main deadly sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), although there are other possible ways of transmission. 

HIV patients in fear for their lives because of the new coronavirus

HIV, as deadly and dangerous as it is, is not uncommon. Back in 2018, there were approximately 37.9 million people affected by HIV around the world. 36.2 million of those were adults and around 1.7 million were children younger than 15 years. 

And it seems that it is Africa where most of the infected population with HIV – both adults and children, live. As of 2014, in Ghana, Africa, alone there have been roughly 150,000 people diagnosed with AIDS, and the assumption is that the numbers are even greater because of the well-known fear that HIV/AIDS is treated within Africa. But what is even more unfortunate is the fact that around 91% of the HIV-infected children live in Africa. 

HIV-positive individuals and AIDS patients are constantly living in fear for their lives because of how fragile their immune system is. And although therapy does help a lot, they are still treated as chronically ill individuals. 

Now, with the new coronavirus outbreak since early December, which first happened in Wuhan, China, it seems that this fear is even greater, and for a good reason, that is. Because of their poor immune system, HIV/AIDS patients are exposed to a higher risk of getting infected with the new coronavirus as compared to the general population.

The problem is that the coronavirus, although it causes flu-like symptoms, is also the cause of many death cases. In fact, as of 27th March, there have been roughly 28,269 deaths due to the coronavirus on a global level. In South Africa, there have been 1,170 infected and only one case of death. In Egypt, there have been around 536 infected and no dead, which is certainly good news. 

Because of their weakened immune system, these individuals are unable to fight off the infection, thus being exposed to a higher risk of not only being affected by it but also being affected by worse complications and possibly even death. That is why any chronically ill patients, including HIV/AIDS patients, are warned against the dangers of coronavirus.

They are advised to stay in self-isolation and practice social distancing as two of the best prevention methods that we know of when it comes to the coronavirus. Awareness has to be raised if we are interested in protecting these and any other chronically ill patients from the deadly coronavirus that does not seem to stop affecting more and more people all around the world, including Africa. 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4924471/

https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/global-statistics

http://www.healthdata.org/sites/default/files/files/images/news_release/2019/HIV%20Press%20Release%20-%20GHANA.pdf

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/coronavirus-cases-top-100000-italy-deaths-rise-live-updates-200327231629838.html

Botswana – A Place Where the Incidence of STIs And HIV Keeps Increasing

Botswana – A Place Where the Incidence of STIs And HIV Keeps Increasing Image

Botswana, located in South Africa, with its second-largest town – Francistown, remains a place where a continuous increase in STIs and especially HIV has been reported. STIs have been recognized as a public health problem in Botswana that requires special attention. Mr. Richard Matlhare, a coordinator over at the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAHPA) has spoken about the current challenging situation that the people living in Botswana are faced with.

The continuous increase of new STIs and HIV cases recorded in Botswana, South Africa

Botswana is the heart of one of the most severe HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world. Botswana has been recognized as the place with the third-highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS cases in the world, right after Lesotho and Swaziland. 

Back in 2018, there have been approximately 370,000 people living with HIV/AIDS. 20.3% of those have been estimated to be between the ages of 15 to 49. In 2018, about 4,800 death cases due to AIDS have been reported, marking HIV/AIDS as a serious health issue that threatens the people living in Botswana, South Africa. 

One of the major high-risk groups for HIV/AIDS is sex workers, or more precisely – female sex workers. As Mr. Richard Matlhare has explained, female sex workers are the main population living with STIs and HIV due to the nature of their work. 

The following factors, that have contributed to the high incidence of HIV/AIDS have been listed:

  • Practicing unsafe, unprotected sexual intercourse with no use of condoms or other prevention methods;
  • Incorrect use of condoms;
  • Alcohol and/or drug abuse;
  • Having multiple sexual partners;
  • Being unaware of the reproductive health of their partner/s.

Condom usage is the primary prevention method against unwanted pregnancy and STIs, including HIV/AIDS. However, most sex workers rarely use a condom, and when they do, they often use condoms incorrectly. There is also the issue of sex workers being paid a higher price if they do not use a condom or other prevention method against STIs. Because of the nature of their work, many sex workers engage in alcohol and/or drug abuse, making them more vulnerable when it comes to the transmission of STIs and HIV/AIDS. 

Over the years, there have been multiple sex workers that have decided to ask for help regarding their reproductive health and the presence of STIs at government hospitals. That is certainly good news, however, most sex workers choose to disclose their identity which makes it impossible for them to be tracked down in the future and offered treatment for the existing issue, thus contributing to the reoccurring STI. More effective ways of both prevention and treatment ought to be found if we want to see a promising decline in the new STIs cases.

References

https://allafrica.com/stories/201909200254.html

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

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

Drug-Resistant HIV on the Rise, WHO Warns

Drug-Resistant HIV on the Rise, WHO Warns Image

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a retrovirus that infects the immune system’s cells and destroys or impairs their function. Although rates of HIV decreased worldwide, it is still prevalent. In fact, about 36.7 million people around the globe are living with HIV, but 17 million of them are receiving medicines called antiretroviral therapy (ART) to help manage the condition. Despite the wide prevalence, progress in diagnosing and treating is evident, which is why the latest news came as a shock to patients and healthcare professionals worldwide. Drug-resistant HIV is on the rise! To find out more, keep reading!

Drug-resistant HIV

The World Health Organization (WHO) released a report which warns about drug-resistant HIV, which only hinders the progress made so far regarding the treatment of this severe condition. 

The WHO HIV Drug Resistance Report 2017 surveyed 11 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Of these, in 6 countries, the drug-resistant virus was reported: Argentina, Namibia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, and Uganda. The fastest increase in drug-resistant HIV is recorded in southern and eastern Africa. 

Shockingly, 10% of people starting the ART had a strain of HIV that was resistant to some of the most commonly used medications. Although you probably don’t find a 10% figure as such a threat, it is a big deal if we take into consideration millions of HIV patients worldwide. What’s more, once the threshold of 10% is reached, WHO immediately warns those countries to take necessary measures and urgently review their HIV treating programs. 

Drug resistance is a major problem worldwide

According to the WHO, antimicrobial drug resistance is nothing new. In fact, it is one of the growing challenges that healthcare professionals around the world face today. Viruses that are resistant to medications endanger global health and sustainable development. 

It is of huge importance to be proactive about this problem, particularly when it comes to drug-resistant HIV. The increasing rate of viruses that are resistant to medications prevents WHO and countries individually to end AIDS by 2030. 

Drug resistance to HIV occurs when patients do not follow the recommended treatment properly. Failing to adhere to the treatment plan isn’t about being irresponsible. In a vast majority of cases, patients do not have consistent access to necessary HIV treatment and care. 

Patients who develop drug-resistant HIV start to fail therapy, but they are also able to transmit this dangerous virus strain onto other people. As a result, HIV levels in their blood increase unless they make urgent changes in the treatment plan. The problem is that treatment becomes more expensive and difficult to obtain in countries with the highest HIV rates. 

Higher drug-resistance, more dangerous effects

HIV is dangerous as it is primarily because it affects our body’s ability to develop healthy immunity. A patient’s body is attacking itself. That’s what makes HIV is so severe. Scientists, doctors, and governments have worked hard to reduce HIV rates and develop medicines to help manage the condition. However, drug-resistance could induce more dangerous effects. 

Increasing resistance could lead to more infections and deaths. This would undermine the progress that has been made recently. Mathematical modeling reveals that 135,000 deaths and 105,000 new infections could occur in the next five years if no action is taken regarding drug-resistant HIV.

HIV is a potentially life-threatening condition that damages the immune system and interferes with the body’s ability to fight diseases, infections, viruses, and other threats. The infection can be transmitted from one person to another, and millions of people are infected. Science and medicine made significant advances in treating and preventing HIV, but WHO warns about increasing rates of drug-Resistant HIV. It usually occurs when patients don’t adhere to the recommended treatment. This happens due to limited resources and inconsistent access to the treatment plan.

References 

https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/statistics.html

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2017/hiv-drug-resistance/en/

http://time.com/4865443/drug-resistant-hiv-world-health-organization/

How Fear Inhibits HIV Testing and Treatment in African Men

How Fear Inhibits HIV Testing and Treatment in African Men Image

HIV is a potentially life-threatening virus that damages the immune system, causing a disease known as AIDS to develop. It is through unprotected sexual intercourse – including oral, vaginal, and anal that this dangerous virus is being transmitted from one person to another. 

Although HIV is spread all around the world, affecting roughly 34 million people, it seems that Africa is one of the countries with the highest incidence where around 69% of the infected people live. And unfortunately, children are not spared of this horrible disease as well. 91% of infected children with HIV/AIDS are thought to live in Africa

Fear prevents African men from getting tested and treated for HIV

Although for the longest time now, the lack of knowledge has been linked as a contributing factor to the continuous spread of HIV in Africa, it seems that there is an even bigger factor to be considered. We are talking about fear. But when we mention fear, we do not mean fear of the disease itself, but fear of how these people would be treated by other people in their society once they are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

A new study published in 2019 in PLoS One has demonstrated the influence of fear upon the decision-making process to get tested and properly treated. The focus of the study has been men and how the feeling of fear influences them in a scenario where they would have to get tested for HIV and then treated if needed. Multiple interviews and surveys with 227 African men have been conducted to gather enough data on the topic.

The men were later divided into three groups – men who were unaware of their HIV status, men who were aware of being HIV positive but not getting any treatment, and men who were aware of their status of being HIV positive and getting properly treated. It was discovered that many men tend to hide their positive HIV status and with that trying to preserve the image that they have created for themselves and are showing to the people in their surrounding environment.

It seems that the men living in Cote d’Ivoire, Africa, are afraid to get tested for HIV, contributing to the continuous spread of this disease. The source of their fear is the fact that HIV/AIDS is still considered to be a stigma in Africa and often being linked to feelings of shame and fear, thus resulting in a lack of much-needed action. It seems that the African men fear that their HIV positive status will interfere and lower their masculinity and, therefore, their ability to form and support their families, work, and actively engage in their society. 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4924471/

http://files.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiology/2012/gr2012/20121120_FactSheet_Global_en.pdf

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

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6808548/

STDs Symptoms in Men

STDs Symptoms in Men Image

Various symptoms are expected to develop due to STDs, and it is important for every man to keep these symptoms in mind. That is why in the following article we will briefly discuss the most common STDs and their symptoms in men. 

The most common STDs and their symptoms in men

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection of the genital tract that can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral unprotected sex. Chlamydia usually goes unnoticed there are very few to no symptoms showing. In fact, it has been estimated that around 25-50% of the male patients with Chlamydia experience no symptoms whatsoever. And the ones that do, usually struggle with:

  • Swollen testicles
  • Painful urination
  • Penile discharge

The good news is that Chlamydia is easily treated with the use of antibiotics. However, repetitive infections are possible and quite common, which is why past patients are advised towards protected sex and regular testing for Chlamydia. 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is one of the most common STDs known to men and women all around the world. The most obvious reason to get infected with this difficult virus is of course, through unprotected sexual contact. Men who get infected with HPV usually do not develop any symptoms right away. Some of them might develop some symptoms months or years after the initial infection. The most characteristic symptom of HPV is genital warts which develop when oral or anal sex is listed as the main reason. Otherwise, oral warts are expected to develop.

When it comes to HPV, it is better to prevent it than to treat it. That is why there is a vaccine that anybody can get as a way to protect themselves against HPV. Of course, protected sex is another valid prevention method not only for HPV but for all STDs in general. HPV, if it does not show any symptoms, can resolve on its own without any treatment. However, if there are symptoms present, then you definitely need to visit your doctor.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is another bacterial infection that can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, thus affecting the urethra, anus, and throat. Gonorrhea in men rarely causes any symptoms to develop. However, when they do, the following symptoms are expected to develop:

  • Painful urination
  • White, yellow, or green penile discharge that usually occurs one to fourteen days after the individual has been infected with the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Pain that is felt in the testicles
  • Itching and soreness in the area of the anus
  • Bloody discharge from the anus
  • Skin rash
  • Painful, swollen glands in the throat

Gonorrhea is also treated with the use of antibiotics. Once again, past patients are advised towards safe, protected sex and regular testing. They also need to be explained the increasing rise of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, which will make treatment more difficult in the future.

Genital herpes

Herpes is an infection due to the hepatitis simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of hepatitis, of which type 2 is always transmitted through unprotected sex and leads to the development of genital hepatitis. The symptoms of genital herpes in men include:

  • Painful blisters in the genital area
  • Burning and tingling sensations around the blisters
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes

When it comes to herpes, there are some general methods that can be used to treat the momentary outbreak; however, future outbreaks are expected to happen. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent any future outbreaks. 

AIDS 

AIDS is a life-threatening disease that is caused by an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus. HIV can be transmitted through a variety of ways, including unprotected sexual contact with a person infected with HIV or who is a carrier of HIV, contaminated needles, from mother to child during pregnancy, etc. This virus attacks your immune system, causing mild to more severe infections to develop in your body. Other than that, upon getting infected, there are some general symptoms that can be experienced including a sore throat, headaches, skin rash, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. It can take up to 10 years for the infection and disease themselves to be diagnosed. Prevention is key when it comes to AIDS and HIV.

HIV A Concerning Factor Among Young Adults In Sub Saharan African Region

HIV A Concerning Factor Among Young Adults In Sub Saharan African Region Image

Human immunodeficiency virus, more commonly known as HIV, is proving to be an increasing concern among the younger population in Africa. Recent studies show a particular concern among younger people aged between 15 and 29. This calls for appropriate strategies to be implemented to reduce the rate at which HIV prevalence in Sub Sahara Africa is rising. 

AIDS Indicator Surveys Data Regarding Sub Sahara Africa

HIV is a disease with no current cure. There are effective treatments available, but many people do not obtain the right treatment at an early stage. HIV rates in Sub Sahara Africa also seem to be a major concern. A recent collection of survey data suggests that action needs to be taken among the younger population in Sub Saharan African regions. 

The study looked at data from three geolocated surveys. Data were collected from the following surveys:

  • Demographic and Health Surveys (DHSs)
  • AIDS Indicator Surveys (AISs)
  • United States Agency for International Development Survey (USAID)

Survey data was analysed for the periods 2008 to 2009, as well as for the period 2015 to 2016. 

A total of 113,000 adult individuals from Sub Saharan areas of Africa were included. This accounted for 53,000 young adults. There was a 7.7% prevalence of HIV among young adults in Mozambique. The lowest incidence rate was found in Tanzania, with a prevalence of 2.2% among young adults. At a subnational level, up to 15% of the Sub Sahara African region may be affected by HIV. 

The study found that the areas of Africa with the most concerning number of young adults infected with HIV included:

  • Zimbabwe
  • Mozambique
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Tanzania
  • Zambia

The high prevalence rates of HIV among young adults were primarily linked to specific factors. These included:

  • Behavioural factors
  • Socioeconomic factors
  • Environmental factors

The researchers behind the study do note that environmental variables and economic activity seemed to play the largest role in defining the prevalence of HIV in specific subpopulations.

Researchers do note that further studies are required to assist with providing more accurate data. This can help the healthcare system of Sub Sahara Africa better understand why there is a high prevalence rate of HIV among younger individuals in the area. 

Appropriate action can be taken at this point too. Risky sexual behaviour was considered a major concern when looking at young adults in Sub Sahara Africa. With this in mind, appropriate action may help to yield an improvement in providing education to the young adults and ensuring there is a decline in the rate of such behaviour. The young adult population should also be made aware of HIV symptoms

Several STDs are currently considered to have a high epidemiology in Sub Sahara Africa, including HIV. Recent evidence suggests that there is an increased concern regarding the spreading of HIV in the younger population Sub Sahara Africa too. Appropriate strategies need to be developed to help reduce the rate at which the prevalence is increasing and to provide adequate treatment to those already infected. 

References

https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003042

How to treat HIV/Aids

How to treat HIV/Aids Image

If you are diagnosed with HIV, then you need to start treatment as soon as possible to avoid replication and multiplication of the virus in your body and damaging the immune system.  The good thing is that due to medical advancements and research, there are better HIV treatment options today than there were some years back.

When seeking medical help from your doctor, always share with them the history of your infection including all past health complications as well as alternative medications or therapies you have been using and all drugs and supplements you have been taking. Once the doctor prescribes the medication, always follow the instructions keenly and take the drugs correctly so you can slow down the replication of the virus and have the infection under control.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART)

This is the most effective HIV treatment option that involves taking antiretroviral drugs. There are quite many of these drugs, but all fall into six major categories each fighting the virus differently. All antiretroviral drugs work to improve how well the immune system works, control replication and multiplication of the virus, slow down and stop the symptoms, and prevent the spread of the virus to other people.

The main categories of ART drugs include;

  1. Nucleoside/ nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors-NRTIs (these work by forcing the HIV to use fake versions of building blocks hence preventing replication and multiplications)
  2. Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors– NNRTIs (these work by binding to a specific protein to prevent the virus from making copies
  3. Protease inhibitors-PIs (these work by blocking proteins needed by infected cells to create new HIV particles
  4. Fusion inhibitors– enfuvirtide, the first fusion inhibitor to be approved by FDA works by preventing the virus from getting into the healthy cells.
  5. CCR5 antagonist– these work by blocking the entry of HIV into healthy cells, works differently from how the fusion inhibitors work
  6. Integrase inhibitors– these drugs work to stop HIV from multiplying by blocking a major protein that allows the virus to put its DNA into healthy cells.

Monoclonal antibody– this is a modern type of antiretroviral therapy drug explicitly prescribed for adults living with HIV and whose HIV has developed resistance due to the use of multiple HIV medications. The drugs work by preventing HIV infected cells from spreading the virus and affecting uninfected cells. Others work by increasing the efficacy of drugs you are already using.

It has however been recommended that a combination of these drugs is the best way to have your HIV under control and preventing the virus from being resistant to a specific drug. A report by US Department of Health and Human Services, recommends that any HIV patient starts with three drugs from at least two of the main groups depending on the specific medical conditions they are suffering or likely to experience and how well their immune system is working. The doctor may also include other medicines for other specific health problems related to HIV.

The sad thing about the ART drugs is that they come with various side effects; however, newer medications are manufactured in a way that they do not cause much of the side effects. Among the common ones reported in a research study include;

  • Fatigue
  • Skin rashes
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Sleeping problems
  • Digestive discomfort
  • Memory loss
  • Pain and numbness

See your doctor immediately for guidance in the event you experience any of the above side effects. Also, never stop or skip your doses as that would make the virus stronger and dangerous. Continuous tests will also be necessary to help your doctor ascertain how well the prescribed medicines are working and better plan your treatment. Among the ongoing tests, you will be subjected to include; viral load to determine how much of the virus is in your blood, CD4 count to assess the health status of your immune system, blood tests for such conditions as blood sugar, and anemia, urine test to determine the state of your kidneys, triglyceride tests and tests for STIs like syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and herpes.

References

https://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/aids-hiv-medication#1

https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/understanding-hiv-aids/fact-sheets/21/53/what-to-start–choosing-an-hiv-regimen

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5012643/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28910489

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3764307/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3138376/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15110129

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2777720/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3541389/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2630880/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3786003/

HIV Patients Exposed to A Higher Risk of Coronavirus

HIV Patients Exposed to A Higher Risk of Coronavirus Image

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus – a deadly virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, better known as AIDS. Transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, HIV/AIDS is one of the main deadly sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), although there are other possible ways of transmission. 

HIV patients in fear for their lives because of the new coronavirus

HIV, as deadly and dangerous as it is, is not uncommon. Back in 2018, there were approximately 37.9 million people affected by HIV around the world. 36.2 million of those were adults and around 1.7 million were children younger than 15 years. 

And it seems that it is Africa where most of the infected population with HIV – both adults and children, live. As of 2014, in Ghana, Africa, alone there have been roughly 150,000 people diagnosed with HIV, and the assumption is that the numbers are even greater because of the well-known fear that HIV/AIDS is treated within Africa. But what is even more unfortunate is the fact that around 91% of the HIV-infected children live in Africa. 

HIV-positive individuals and AIDS patients are constantly living in fear for their lives because of how fragile their immune system is. And although therapy does help a lot, they are still treated as chronically ill individuals. 

Now, with the new coronavirus outbreak since early December, which first happened in Wuhan, China, it seems that this fear is even greater, and for a good reason, that is. Because of their poor immune system, HIV/AIDS patients are exposed to a higher risk of getting infected with the new coronavirus as compared to the general population.

The problem is that the coronavirus, although it causes flu-like symptoms, is also the cause of many death cases. In fact, as of 27th March, there have been roughly 28,269 deaths due to the coronavirus on a global level. In South Africa, there have been 1,170 infected and only one case of death. In Egypt, there have been around 536 infected and no dead, which is certainly good news. 

Because of their weakened immune system, these individuals are unable to fight off the infection, thus being exposed to a higher risk of not only being affected by it but also being affected by worse complications and possibly even death. That is why any chronically ill patients, including AIDS patients, are warned against the dangers of coronavirus.

They are advised to stay in self-isolation and practice social distancing as two of the best prevention methods that we know of when it comes to the coronavirus. Awareness has to be raised if we are interested in protecting these and any other chronically ill patients from the deadly coronavirus that does not seem to stop affecting more and more people all around the world, including Africa. 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4924471/

https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/global-statistics

http://www.healthdata.org/sites/default/files/files/images/news_release/2019/HIV%20Press%20Release%20-%20GHANA.pdf

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/03/coronavirus-cases-top-100000-italy-deaths-rise-live-updates-200327231629838.html

How Common is HIV and Syphilis Co-Infection in Ghana, Africa?

How Common is HIV and Syphilis Co-Infection in Ghana, Africa?

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).

Conclusion

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.

References

http://www.healthdata.org/sites/default/files/files/images/news_release/2019/HIV%20Press%20Release%20-%20GHANA.pdf

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0953620508001301

http://www.panafrican-med-journal.com/content/article/33/252/full/

https://www.journalofinfection.com/article/S0163-4453(10)00277-X/pdf