Africa’s Lowest Cost AIDS Prevention Strategy?

Over the years I have written a lot (and beaten the drum pretty hard) about the importance of female genital schistosomiasis (FGS), its devastating effects on young women, and its key role in promoting HIV/AIDS transmission in Africa. FGS occurs when the eggs of Schistosoma haematobium are deposited in the uterus, cervix, and vagina of girls and women living in the major affected areas located in southeastern Africa and Francophone West Africa and Nigeria. A number of clinical studies have documented how the trapped eggs and resulting granulomas cause pain and contact bleeding, and ultimately shame, marital discord, and even depression. Two independent epidemiological studies (led by groups from Oslo and Weil Cornell Medical College) have linked FGS to multifold increases in acquiring HIV. While the exact mechanism for this is still unclear, presumably the schistosome eggs and granulomas produce sufficient ulceration and bleeding to facilitate virus entry leading to HIV infection.

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