Fighting Schistosomiasis Would Help Reduce HIV Incidence, Researchers Say

“The transmission of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa could be slashed if efforts are made to combat the spread of the waterborne disease schistosomiasis by providing clean water, sanitation and health education, a study reports,” SciDev.Net writes. Schistosomiasis can cause genital ulcers in women, making them more susceptible to HIV infection, the news service notes. “To test whether schistosomiasis infections could be reduced in a cost-effective manner, researchers from Norway, South Africa and the United States plugged epidemiological and clinical data from Zimbabwe into a mathematical model,” SciDev.Net reports, adding, “They found that community-based interventions — providing universal clean water, sanitation and education, as well as the drug praziquantel to treat schistosomiasis in children — would be a cost-effective way of cutting the two infections at between $725 and $1,000 per individual over a period of 20 years.” The news service continues, “And because these interventions can reduce schistosomiasis and HIV transmission, as well as diarrheal disease and bacterial infections caused by infected water, they should be economically attractive to policymakers, the researchers write in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)” on April 15 (Nakkazi, 4/23).