Authors: Kamran Rafiq & Marianne Comparet
Schistosomiasis is a parasitic disease affecting more than 250 million people worldwide – despite the scale of infection and the existence of a cheap and effective treatment, this disease of poverty and its patients remain highly neglected. Now, researchers have established a strong link between a genital form of schistosomiasis and a highly increased risk of contracting HIV, particularly in young women.
Indeed, lesions caused by Female Genital Schistosomiasis (FGS) could increase up to four-fold the risk of young women and teenagers contracting HIV when they become sexually active. Conversely, a proven and inexpensive treatment for schistosomiasis (which is donated to the WHO) could drastically decrease the risk of new infections in regions where both HIV and the parasite Schistosoma haematobium are endemic. Treating for schistosomiasis early on in a patient’s life could become an important strategy in sharply reducing HIV transmission.
On the occasion of World AIDS Day 2017, the International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases is launching the disease report: Female Genital Schistosomiasis: the most neglected gynaecological disease as part of its ISNTD Disease Briefs. This report highlights the strong linkages between FGS and HIV infection and also sends out a strong call for accelerating advocacy, policy and intervention collaboration between the HIV and Neglected Tropical Diseases communities.
Click here to view and download the ISNTD Disease Brief: Female Genital Schistosomiasis: the neglected gynaecological disease.