HIV + NTDs – the Relationship

16 07 2012

In early April, we wrote a blog post about the END7 Campaign’s work to raise awareness and donations in order to eliminate seven neglected tropical disease (NTDs) by 2020.

We are dedicated to fighting these devastating diseases because they infect more than one billion people around the world. That’s one out of every six people who is likely to suffer from blindness, malnutrition or disfigurement due to these totally preventable diseases.

But in addition to minimizing suffering from these effects, controlling NTDs is also important for success in fighting other diseases notably HIV/AIDS. In many parts of the world, there is quite a bit of geographic overlap between NTDs and HIV/AIDS. In fact, research demonstrates that there are increased odds of having HIV when an individual is co-infected with an NTD. For instance, women with female genital schistosomiasis (FGS) have a three-fold increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS compared to those not burdened by the disease. Moreover, soil-transmitted helminths (or intestinal worms) can actually worsen the progression of HIV toward AIDS by increasing viral loads.

These high rates of co-infection mean there are a number of opportunities for the NTD and HIV/AIDS communities to join forces to coordinate and collaborate on further research and treatment programs for these diseases.

We’re hosting a workshop at AIDS 2012: XIX International AIDS Conference to begin these discussions. If you’re attending, we hope you’ll join us!

To learn more about NTDs and the links between these diseases and HIV/AIDS, visit END7 on Facebook and tell your friends and family to do the same.

Heena Patel
Communications Department
Sabin Vaccine Institute

Image courtesy of Esther Havens