Global Health Community Should Integrate Female Genital Schistosomiasis Treatment Into HIV/AIDS Prevention, Control Efforts
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases: Female genital schistosomiasis and HIV/AIDS: Reversing the neglect of girls and women
Peter J. Hotez, director at the Center for Vaccine Development at the Texas Children’s Hospital, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, and professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, and colleagues
“Since the 2000s, we have known that female genital schistosomiasis (FGS) is likely the most neglected gynecologic condition and HIV/AIDS cofactor across sub-Saharan Africa. To date, the global health and HIV/AIDS communities have not used the opportunity to prevent new HIV/AIDS infections through highly cost-effective schistosomiasis control and elimination in Africa. But recently, this situation may be shifting toward the better. … [N]ow, both the Department of Control of [Neglected Tropical Disease (NTDs)] at the World Health Organization, together with UNAIDS, are working towards joint programs of policy and advocacy to create some paradigm-changing shifts. Similarly, there is an urgency to integrate schistosomiasis treatments into broader health systems for women’s health, including antenatal programs, HIV/AIDS prevention programs, and cervical cancer screening clinics. … The overall neglect of the serious consequences of FGS represents an affront to the girls and women of Africa and their families in poverty-stricken communities. We have the supporting data and tools to both prevent FGS and reduce HIV/AIDS transmission in Africa. We shouldn’t continue to leave this extraordinary opportunity on the table, unused” (4/4).