MEN and women with bilharzia are more vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, a Zimbabwean researcher says.
By Patricia Mashiri in Victoria Falls
Presenting his findings at a stakeholders feedback meeting on the results of the impact assessment round six of Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for Schistosomiasis (SCH) and Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis (Sth) in Victoria Falls, Director of National Institution of Health Research, Professor Nicholas Midzi said people with Bilharzia have a high chance of contracting HIV/AIDS.
“We engaged 570 reproductive women and observed that more than 40% of them who had urogenital SCH had female gento SCH (refers to the presence of eggs of the worms that caused the disease or wounds wherever they are trapped in the tissues when they are present in the reproductive organs.)
“Results showed that women with genital SCH were three times mostly likely to contract HIV than females who did not have the disease. This shows that the wounds make it favourable for the spread of HIV virus,”Prof Midzi said.
Prof Midzi said they took to studying the correlation of HIV and Bilharzia among males with the focus area being Masvingo in 2017.
“A research was done targeting the male group in which they tested the semen viral load in which men with both Bilharzia and HIV/AIDS and men with HIV only. After treatment they found that men with Bilharzia had a lot of viral load in their semen which showed that HIV is easily spread because of sores created by Bilharzia,” he said. “We assessed the level of viral load in the semen so we compared males who did have bilharzia and the males who didn’t have bilharzia but had HIV and noted that males who had core infection of schitosomiasis and HIV had higher viral load in their semen compared to those who didn’t have bilharzia but HIV only
Health Ministry Director of Epidemiology and Disease control, Dr Portia Manangazira said there was need for collaboration with other colleagues in the health system so as achieve the same goal which is the elimination of new HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis new infections.
“There is need for us to collaborate and work with other colleagues in health so that we will achieve one goal in ending HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, SCH and STH. We all have one goal which is to eliminate disease in the country therefore, working together is the best idea we can do to achieve the main goal,” Manangazira said.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care and its partners which include the World Health Organization (WHO), Higherlife Foundation, The End Fund among others are committed to end the new infections of Neglected tropical diseases in the country.
According to the Regional Strategic Plan for Neglected Tropical Diseases in the African Region 2014-2020 Schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helminthiasis are among the preventative chemotherapy neglected tropical diseases of global importance which are targeted for elimination by the year 2025.
The research was conducted in line with the Association Of Bilharzia Of The Reproductive Organs In Reproductive Women With HIV Transmission in Zimbabwe in Mashonaland central Shamva district and Mupfure area.