Researchers suggest parasitic worm is the reason why African women suffer HIV at higher rate than men
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/22/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
A common parasitic worm in Africa may be responsible for the high rates of HIV infection in women in Africa. Reports in The Lancet, as well as the New York Times, claim that schistosomiasis worm infection causes women and girls to be uniquely susceptible to parasitic infection because of the worm's behavior in the female body.
The schistosomiasis worm is a dangerous parasite which can increase the risk of HIV infection. It can also be cured with a pill that costs eight cents.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A Norwegian infectious disease team working in South Africa have come up with an explanation as to why women suffer higher rates of HIV infection in Africa. Globally, men suffer HIV infection more than women, likely because men tend to be more promiscuous, whereas women tend to be more conservative in their behavior.
Men and women are the same in Africa as everywhere else in the world, except for some reason, African women living in Africa suffer higher rates of HIV infection than men. Researchers have long been trying to figure out why this is so.
It was a Norwegian team working in rural South Africa that thinks they may have found the answer. A chronic parasitic worm, common across Africa, may be to blame. Known as the schistosomiasis worm, these water-borne parasites infect women, commonly as they do laundry in the open waterways across the continent.
The parasite is common and women typically become infected when they enter rivers to do laundry or swim. The infection is more common than even syphilis and herpes.
The difference for women is that schistosomiasis makes its way into the vaginal canal and creates small sores inside, near the top of the canal. These sores likely open the way for HIV infection.
Not all sexual contact with an infected person results in the successful transmission of HIV. The deadly virus must first pass through a woman's natural defensive barriers including mucous lining and the surface of the body's internal tissue to enter the bloodstream. Only then can HIV enter the CD4 cells, which are the body's immune cells and the natural human home for HIV. Once in those cells, a person becomes HIV positive and the disease runs its course.
However, schistosomiasis lesions also attract CD4 cells, which respond to the parasitic infection to fight it. That response means there's a higher concentration of CD4 cells in the lesions, this making HIV infection much easier.
Although the science is not yet proven, leaving this as only a strong hypothesis, it could explain why nearly 60 percent of HIV victims in Africa are women as opposed to men.
The greatest tragedy of all however, may be the ease with which this common parasitic infection may be treated. The schistosomiasis worm can be killed by one of the world's cheapest medicines that costs just eight cents per pill.
There's a lot that needs to change in order to win the fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa. At the root of the problem is sexual promiscuity instead of chastity, monogamy, and abstinence, which are guaranteed solutions to HIV. Worse, a permissive counterculture is at work, telling people that the use of condoms will suffice to halt the spread of HIV, despite the fact that decades of permissive, libertine tactics have done little to stem the tide of new cases.
Still, the world has an interest in defeating HIV and AIDS, which is a terrible scourge on the world, bears long-lasting economic, emotional, and moral impacts in addition to the physical harm that it does. Millions of children live with HIV infection through no fault of their own.
The only way to help is to break the cycle which starts with promiscuity and may be exacerbated by parasites. Part of the program is to provide inexpensive medications that truly make a difference.
Through the BUY A DOSE, GIVE A DOSE program, ordinary people, like yourself, can do extraordinary things for as little as $3.00. For each gift you send to fight HIV and AIDS, Your Catholic Voice Foundation will send a matching dose, effectively doubling the power of your action.
Please help turn the tide against HIV and AIDS in Africa. Buy a dose now, and give two. Help save a life for as little as a few dollars. Act now.
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