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Norwegian Infectious Disease Specialists Have New Theory On HIV In Africa

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the snail-problem dept.

Medicine 118

mdsolar (1045926) writes in about a Norwegian team who believe they have an explanation about the unique distribution of HIV in Africa. "While around the world a vast majority of AIDS victims are men, Africa has long been the glaring exception: Nearly 60 percent are women. And while there are many theories, no one has been able to prove one. In a modest public health clinic behind a gas station here in South Africa's rural KwaZulu/Natal Province, a team of Norwegian infectious disease specialists think they may have found a new explanation. It is far too soon to say whether they are right. But even skeptics say the explanation is biologically plausible. And if it is proved correct, a low-cost solution has the potential to prevent thousands of infections every year. The Norwegian team believes that African women are more vulnerable to H.I.V. because of a chronic, undiagnosed parasitic disease: genital schistosomiasis (pronounced shis-to-so-MY-a-sis), often nicknamed 'schisto.' The disease, also known as bilharzia and snail fever, is caused by parasitic worms picked up in infested river water. It is marked by fragile sores in the far reaches of the vaginal canal that may serve as entry points for H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. Dr. Eyrun F. Kjetland, who leads the Otimati team, says that it is more common than syphilis or herpes, which can also open the way for H.I.V."

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Overpopulation (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973687)

Don't these scientists realize what's going to happen if they cure AIDS?

Instead of a slow culling, we're going to have catastrophe. It'll be 4+ billion hungry Africans vs the rest of the world. Maybe the West is bent on self destruction, but the East will eventually put up a last stand. It's either that, or extinction. The result will be far worse than if we just led AIDS take its course.

Morally, one should support the spread of AIDS and other infectious diseases.

Re:Overpopulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973789)

You have the mindset of the Christian God.
Mass genocide...hey, it works.

Re:Overpopulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973859)

To be fair, we are going to eventually have to stabilize our growing population. Or find more place for humanity. Letting $insert_disease_here maintain relatively high mortality rates gives the world time to slowly see the issue appear and look for plausible, non-drastic solutions and avoid several consequences of uncontrolled exponential growth instead of having to radically change views to deal with what may turn out to be a potential black period in human history (mass starvation, riots, criminality rates going to an all time high).

That, however, is no justification for not trying to find a cure for several health issues we have nowadays, nor is it a justification for not using such cures if we were to find them. After all, we have Europe, which seems to have not issue with population growth and I suspect that explosive growth in human population in some parts of the world will fall once they turn into better developed areas and mentalities change. Or we'll just implement china's population control laws. So all will be good, regardless.

-- trying to turn potential flamebait thread in constructive discussion --

Okay. The West's problem with AIDS is exclusively (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973973)

gays spreading it. There are a few solutions. Ban bisexuality, ban homosexuality, mandatory testing and dick tattoos for homosexuals and anyone at risk of carrying, or death to AIDS carriers.

Re:Okay. The West's problem with AIDS is exclusive (4, Informative)

Barsteward (969998) | about 6 months ago | (#46977299)

no, its heterosexuals spreading it. there have been lots of stories going around africa that to cure yourself of aids you have to have sex with a virgin girl and of course the catholic pope still telling them not to use contraception (now thats a good christian thing to do..).

Re:Okay. The West's problem with AIDS is exclusive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46977571)

... and of course the catholic pope still telling them ....

Yeah, thank the Buddhist Lord it isn't the Protestant Pope or the Lutheran Pope or even the Shinto Pope. Those other Popes are much more rational. :P

Re:Okay. The West's problem with AIDS is exclusive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46977851)

Those other Popes are much more rational.

Such as the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria?

Re:Okay. The West's problem with AIDS is exclusive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46980869)

no, its heterosexuals spreading it.

Heterosexuals spreading it is completely unrelated (and stating the obvious considering that lesbians have a fairly low risk of passing the disease to one another).

The theory just states that these women have a vulnerability that will dramatically increase their chances of contracting AIDS, regardless of who they're having sex with and why.

Re:Overpopulation (5, Insightful)

Sardaukar86 (850333) | about 6 months ago | (#46974675)

My understanding is that short of enforced sterlisation or genocide, an improved standard of living and quality of life is the only sure way to curb population growth.

If the world really wants to see Africa bootstrapped out of poverty, we'd be focusing our efforts on the aid groups that are already providing tools, techniques and technologies (too tautological?) that can enable self-sufficiency for African villages wherever possible.

We send altogether too much aid in the form of food and goods which will always be a juicy target for the local factions.

Re:Overpopulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46976113)

Maybe it's simply easier not to suck Africa dry on natural resources and stop free market for a while. It amazes me that I pay $5 a kg for the same tomatoes that are sold in Africa cheaper than an African can grow themselves. That EU for ya...

Re:Overpopulation (1)

Major Blud (789630) | about 6 months ago | (#46978281)

Agreed, but unfortunately the only way to prevent this aid from falling into the hands of warring factions is through military action. It seems like every time this is tried, accusations of imperialism and colonization are made. Operation Restore Hope may not be the best example, but it's the first that comes to mind.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Overpopulation (4, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about 6 months ago | (#46974831)

The key to reducing birth rates is raising the opportunity cost of children. First world countries have falling birth rates because women have other opportunities and the cost of raising 3+ kids (in terms of hours not worked for pay as much as actual outlays for food, clothes, etc.) is very high.

Letting $insert_disease_here maintain relatively high mortality rates ENCOURAGES birth rates because it increases poverty and so decreases the (opportunity) cost of having children.

Re:Overpopulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46976993)

And the easiest way to do that is with education.

Re:Overpopulation (1)

Barsteward (969998) | about 6 months ago | (#46977307)

yes, and healthier populations would help as the reason for many kids in one family is generally the high mortality rate of those children. birth rate drops when they are educated and healthy.

Re:Overpopulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46978267)

"opportunity cost " Another new paradigm shift from the people who want to sound intelligent.

How about,
"The key to reducing birth rates is educating women about how much shit they can do or buy with the money they would've spent raising children."

But that doesn't work. Doesn't make me feel smug.

Re:Overpopulation (2)

serialband (447336) | about 6 months ago | (#46979737)

According to Isaac Asimov, lower birth rates are attributed to giving women more power in all aspects of society. When women are empowered in more than just being a good mother, they don't feel the need to have all those children.

See his interview with Bill Moyers from 1988

http://billmoyers.com/content/... [billmoyers.com]

Re:Overpopulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46975539)

Nice try. But that approach was documented in the Old Testament.

Inconveniently for you, the New Testament preaches forgiveness (turning the other cheek).

Re:Overpopulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46976069)

Inconveniently for you, the New Testament preaches forgiveness (turning the other cheek).

How would you like that New Testament shoved up your faggot ass ?

Re:Overpopulation (1)

Barsteward (969998) | about 6 months ago | (#46977317)

can you point to the place in the new testament where jesus et al discredited the old testament and he preached that his old man had it all wrong?

Re:Overpopulation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46977875)

Easy now, youl have every Protesting Catholic (protestants) who sees that, up in arms. They seem to think Yeshua pre-empted Torah with some out-of-context verse about grace. Then they base their whole faith on this, while ignoring the fact that the apostles continued to observe Torah after Messhias passing. Talk about selective processing! Wow!
          YHVH finds homosexuality an abomination and ordered the Hebrews to put them to death for practicing it during the Exodus. This was a time when they were to be fruitful and multiply in order to be numerous enough to TAKE the promised land from the Canaanites. Im positive he still finds it an abomination, BUT, to be more specific, he did not want Gays accepted amongst his believers, didnt want their influence amongst his societies, the ones he wanted to multiply. He did NOT say to not be compassionate to them in their environment or to hunt them down and punish them. Only the ones defying his will amongst his own. Turns out things like sexuality IS a choice in spite of fallible mans silly revelations to the contrary and their pathetic excuses to cover their asses.

Re:Overpopulation (1)

OakDragon (885217) | about 6 months ago | (#46978887)

Don't blame a Christian God for AC Troll's notion. It's a product of the progressive left.

Re:Overpopulation (0)

aristotle-dude (626586) | about 6 months ago | (#46979011)

You have the mindset of the Christian God. Mass genocide...hey, it works.

You atheists are funny. You don't believe in god but then you blame god when people get sick as a consequence of bad behaviour. I have a fool proof way to not get HIV. Ready for it? Are you really ready? Ok here it is.

Don't fuck random strangers. Find a life mate who does not have HIV and marry them. Then remain faithful.

Why is this so damn hard for people to understand? Your choices often have consequences. Make the right choices in life.

Re:Overpopulation (2)

pijokela (462279) | about 6 months ago | (#46973857)

Having more people dying will not stop population growth. Even in Africa AIDS treatment works enough that they can just have more children to compensate for the people dying with AIDS. We need children to stay alive so that people will not want more then two children in their family. This has happened in Asia and it can happen in Africa.

And Africa will have 4 billion people. There are already so many kids there that it will happen and nothing - especially AIDS - can stop it.

Look at the presentations of this guy for more info:
http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_... [ted.com]

Re:Overpopulation (1)

guises (2423402) | about 6 months ago | (#46974639)

There are already so many kids there that it will happen and nothing - especially AIDS - can stop it.

Well you're right about AIDS, but your fatalism isn't needed. Ultimately you're probably right, the population in Africa (and elsewhere) will probably balloon out of control, but that doesn't mean that nothing can stop it and that we should just give up.

You piss me off a lot less than the people here who adamantly insist that everything is corrupt and voting is worthless and we should all go and live in caves, or go on killing sprees, or whatever. There are an awful lot of nihilists on Slashdot... At least you're mostly right, it will be very difficult to rein in the population at this point, but giving up is not the right answer when a problem gets difficult. Education can go a long way towards combating that sort of thing, and Africans, especially in the poorer areas, put a high value on education.

Re:Overpopulation (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46974055)

Don't worry. If there was ever a cure for AIDS, it would certainly be sold expensive enough that nobody but the "deserving few" will get it.

We and the Africans can as well go to hell.

Re:Overpopulation (1)

TWX (665546) | about 6 months ago | (#46974301)

Don't worry. If there was ever a cure for AIDS, it would certainly be sold expensive enough that nobody but the "deserving few" will get it.

That's not how markets work.

First, yes, it would be hideously expensive, and only those few that could afford it would buy it. As that supply of customers is exhausted, the patent holder or manufacturer(s) would be forced to lower prices and to increase supply in order to maintain profitability through increasing volume with lower overhead. Eventually that tier of customers would be exhausted, and they'd further have to lower prices and expand manufacturing, etc.

I do fully expect that disease treatment in poor countries would still be expensive per-capita, even after the drug companies end up with bottom-barrel pricing over time, and I do expect that the disease wouldn't be totally eradicated in these populations or even pared back to the infection levels of wealthier countries, but I do expect that the epidemic would be reduced to levels that aren't completely destructive to society. I also expect that NGOs and other third-parties would push very hard for as much treatment as possible and for prices to come down or for subsidies.

The hard part will be convincing people to stop having so damn many kids. With an uptick in longevity it will absolutely be necessary for a reduction in new population, lest the already strained continent end up even worse off than they are now.

Re:Overpopulation (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46974431)

If you have the cure and I have the disease, there's two things that could happen. I have the cure and you have the money or I have the cure and you have a bullet. It depends on the price you're asking for.

Re:Overpopulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974745)

or I have the cure and you have a bullet. It depends on the price you're asking for.

Your bullet will be best used for your own suicide, because the world doesn't need an idiot like you.

Re:Overpopulation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46975261)

True, that's not how markets work.

But it's how patent law works.

Re:Overpopulation (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 6 months ago | (#46974083)

Not so. High death rates sustain high birth rates. The only proven way to do this, is by economic development to the extent that they pass the demographic transition -- a key milestone where kids turn from being an asset to a liability. THAT'S how you contain population growth.

How to achieve that by conventional means? No idea; fixing Africa is like the labours of Hercules, and nobody knows how to fix that cesspool of ignorance and corruption.

Reasonable, no smoking gun. (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#46973697)

Problem is that, according to the TFA, there are plenty of OTHER reasons for the high incidence of female AIDS:

That rape, incest and domestic violence are rife in southern Africa, where the AIDS epidemic is worst. That syphilis and herpes are rampant. That impoverished, fatherless young women are forced to pay with sex for food, clothes, grades and even car rides.

Still, it sounds like it's reasonable and important to treat the disease schistosmiasis [wikipedia.org] on the grounds that it has other chronic, serious issues. Do the longitudinal study to see if it brings down HIV infections. A potential two in one.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (3, Insightful)

carlhaagen (1021273) | about 6 months ago | (#46973731)

A contributing factor is probably their outrageous belief that copulating with virgin girls "dispels" the HIV.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (2)

Ecuador (740021) | about 6 months ago | (#46974413)

Or, unexpectedly, copulating with a virgin does cure HIV (also Cancer, Herpes and the common cold), and it is the reason only 40% of the AIDS victims are men. In that case it would be worth exploring whether we could cure female HIV using virgin boys...

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (4, Funny)

gmhowell (26755) | about 6 months ago | (#46975375)

it would be worth exploring whether we could cure female HIV using virgin boys...

You're just searching for a compelling reason to get a woman to sleep with you.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (1)

greenfruitsalad (2008354) | about 6 months ago | (#46977711)

i'm not sure they believe this in africa but this is most definitely common knowledge in india.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973739)

Yes, the disparity of percentages--60% female sufferers and 40% male sufferers--is based on the fact that men are more likely to have multiple partners than women.
--Polygamy: men with multiple wives is culturally accepted in southern Africa. (Probably all of Africa but I only travel to South African and Mozambique.)
--Work takes men away from their wives "back home" and they have sex with other women. South Africa has 100Ks of immigrant (legal and illegal) workers. The Portuguese rented Mozambican men to South Africa, for instance, during the colonial days.
--etc.

Women really get "the short end of the stitch" in southern Africa.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974101)

If men have more partners they should be more likely to get stds... As it stands right now it appears you have not only elevated an unsupported speculation to the level of fact, but the speculation does not even make sense! Please explain your chain of reasoning better.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 6 months ago | (#46974443)

fact, look it up. and also look up the incidence of infection for various types of sex, by gender.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974471)

It is a fact that having fewer sexual partners means you are more likely to get STDs? I am going to have to ask for a reference rather than bother looking that up.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (1)

stoborrobots (577882) | about 6 months ago | (#46976535)

The relevant statistic is how many other partners your partners have had. If you have sex with only one very promiscuous person with low health safety standards, you're still very likely to catch something.

Promiscuous people are more likely to catch stds, but they're also more likely to spread them after they've caught them.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974813)

If men have more partners they should be more likely to get stds...

Only if their partners also have multiple partners.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46975039)

In that case, men and women should be, at most, equally likely to get the std. I don't see any way that this can lead to women being more likely to get stds.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (1)

RoLi (141856) | about 6 months ago | (#46977085)

Only SOME men have multiple partners. Quite a lot Africans (arguably most of them) can never afford a woman or even a prostitute.

And yes, studies have already confirmed that the AIDS rates are higher for high-income African males than poor ones.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973827)

"Do the longitudinal study to see if it brings down HIV infections"

Epidemiological AIDS research, like polio research, has been confounded by changing/inconsistent definitions. It is nearly impossible to tell what is going on, really ridiculous stuff.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973995)

Nothing about how they engage in sex with men who sodomize each other? Oh, forgot, monkeys engage in homosexuality, so it can't be bad in any way.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46975643)

Also consider anal sex done to women. Anal sex is the killer and doesn't care who does it. It is often done as birth control or to "preserve virginity".

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974041)

also a lot of those women were still 'cut', in a savage way. seems to be asking for infections too.

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (5, Informative)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 6 months ago | (#46974329)

These authors aren't the only ones to have identified a link between schistosomiasis and HIV, see this 2011 paper [plosntds.org] in PLoS NTD for example.

It seems pretty obvious that any source of genital sores is going to increase the risk of HIV transmission, especially considering that this is the entire basis of increased infection rates for individuals engaging in anal sex.

Still, the link to HIV should only slightly increase our desire to deal with schistosomiasis, because schisto is already the second-most socio-economically devastating illness in the world (after malaria). It causes liver and kidney damage, diarrhea, and vascular disease. It is associated with bladder and colorectal cancers, increases metastasis of other cancer (including breast cancer), impairs mental and physical development in children, and leads to reduced cognitive function and work ability in adults. Further, only one drug is widely used to treat the disease (praziquantel, aka PZQ), and resistance has begun to be observed. 200 million people are believed to require treatment, and more than 600 million are at risk of infection.

Disclaimer: I develop automated drug screening methods against NTD, including schistosomiasis

Re:Reasonable, no smoking gun. (5, Informative)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 6 months ago | (#46976059)

Thought I would also mention how bizarre the schistosoma (genus) parasites actually are (more details can be found e.g. on wikipedia).

The eggs are deposited into water by infected humans, and infect certain snails. The snails later release a larval stage which has a tail, but no functional digestive system. These penetrate the skin of a human host, losing their tails in the process. The next larval stage is a few micrometers in size and has a sucker; it can now eat. They typically migrate to the lungs, where they will mature for about 1 week, living off the blood of the host.

As they mature into adult parasites, which are up to ~10 mM in size and visible to the naked eye, they migrate again, often to the liver or intestine. If possible, they will also find mates. The female parasite lives in a canal formed of by the male flatworm's body rolling up. The breeding pairs are monogamous and individual parasites may live for decades. During this time, the pair will reproduce continually, producing up to thousands of eggs per week (depending on species).

The eggs are deposited into the infected person's feces, where they find their way back into the water supply, but about half of the eggs become trapped in the body. These eggs mature normally, releasing many antigens which contribute to an active immune response which leads to most of the symptoms of the diseases.

The parasites are highly evolved to fit their human hosts, to the extent that they depend on human enzymes in order to complete certain essential metabolic pathways. They also have genes which are highly similar to human genes, which may help the parasite evade the immune system (such genes could have evolved or been acquired through horizontal gene transfer).

This may rub many "PC leftists" the wrong way (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973705)

There's a strong belief cemented down there among HIV infected people that is not really known outside Africa; to summarize, the superstition is that if you indulge in intercourse with a female virgin, you will be cured from HIV. No joke. This I got explained to me time and again by several members of a student exchange group comprised of young Africans from Botwsana, Namibia and ZA.

Africa and AIDS (-1, Troll)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 months ago | (#46973737)

Africa and AIDS... think this calls for some popcorn...

I love you (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973761)

zasd

Schistosomiasis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973793)

Schistosomiasis has been around for hundreds of years, so why would it suddenly be related to HIV

Re:Schistosomiasis (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973845)

It probably always has been. They are just now discovering that it's possible. Same reason with Syphilis is related to Blindness and Deafness. It just wasn't know they were linked for a long time. Medical science my friend.

Re:Schistosomiasis (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973899)

For such an ostensibly science-oriented place it amazes me how many utter fucking retards post here.

Fuck off and kill yourself.

Re:Schistosomiasis (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 6 months ago | (#46974109)

You've been trolled. Congratulations.

Re:Schistosomiasis (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46973939)

Schistosomiasis has been around for hundreds of years, so why would it suddenly be related to HIV

Presumably because HIV wasn't present for it to be related to until recently.

The Norwegians' thesis is that schistosomiasis simply makes transmission easier because it damages intravaginal mucous membranes that would otherwise be more likely to impede viral infection.

They aren't postulating any recent changes in behavior for schistosomiasis, or even any special selectivity for HIV (the compromised membranes would presumably have much the same risk for assorted other sexually transmitted diseases), it's just that those two are now coexisting over a large area that they had not historically, since HIV is comparatively new.

Re:Schistosomiasis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974037)

One thing I never got is why HIV infection starts out with a relatively homogeneous population of virus, but then becomes more variable over time (in the same patient). Then when the next patient gets infected, it looks like the origin was a single virus followed by mutation into a heterogeneous population in that patient. It is almost like the situation of a single sperm fertilizing the egg. Perhaps I misunderstood something from the papers I read.

Re:Schistosomiasis (5, Informative)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 6 months ago | (#46974245)

When DNA is replicated in most life-forms, there are extensive proofreading mechanisms which identify replication errors, cut them out of the DNA, and then re-copy those sections.

In contrast, HIV does not extensively proofread new DNA during viral replication. That means that copy errors are quite likely, and over time lead to a heterogeneous population of mutant viruses in an infected person.

Like other viruses, HIV has evolved a balance between correct and incorrect DNA replication which keeps the virus deadly while still evading the immune system.

Re:Schistosomiasis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974341)

Same AC. Why are new infections homogeneous if they were transmitted from a person with a heterogeneous mix of HIV? As a starting point here is a paper I found:

Diversity of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1) env Sequence after Vertical Transmission in Mother-Child Pairs Infected with HIV-1 Subtype A
http://jvi.asm.org/content/77/5/3050.full

A homogeneous virus population was seen in six (46.2%) infants, of whom two were infected in utero and four were infected peripartum. A more heterogeneous virus population was detected in seven infants (53.8%), four infected in utero and three infected peripartum.

The number of infants found to be infected with a homogeneous virus population is lower than expected from the results of other studies (1, 19, 24, 30). Technical differences can contribute to this finding since in most of the studies the information was obtained through clonal sequencing or heteroduplex mobility assay (HMA).

Re:Schistosomiasis (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 6 months ago | (#46974541)

Most likely because the single virus strain in each case was the one that beat the infected person's immune system long enough to take hold. HIV is really not all that easy to transmit. It's just virulent and deadly once it takes hold.

Re:Schistosomiasis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974741)

This seems a priori unlikely, but not impossible, to me. Is there usually one dominant strain in patient 1 that gets passed to patient 2, or do some strains have something in common that makes them easier to transmit?

Re:Schistosomiasis (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 6 months ago | (#46975959)

If it sounds unlikely, consider that a single bacterium, which only doubles every generation, can rapidly give rise to large colonies. For example, with a reasonable doubling time of 1 hour, 1 bacterium will become ~268 million in 48 hours. In contrast, viruses can create hundreds or thousands of copies with each generation. When actively replicating, they can spread very quickly.

The variety in diversity of viral populations in recent infections is probably caused by a variation in initial viral dose (b/c more particles make genetic diversity more likely), and also by effects like the two you mentioned. I'm a graduate student in biochemistry, and I've learned never to assume that those types of phenomena are mutually exclusive.

By the way, this popular summary [sciencedaily.com] describes a model experiment on the feasibility of very low dose infections and how genetic diversity of the viral population varies probabilistically with the initial dosage.

Re:Schistosomiasis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46976739)

It is not that a single virus particle can cause disease that surprises me. The surprising thing is that it is common for only one "strain" out of 10+ does so in the case of HIV. Your first paragraph would seem to argue against this occurring.

Africa doesn't need pills. It needs books. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973877)

Education and literacy are the biggest things you can do to prevent AIDS, and a legion of other diseases. Africa doesn't need cures. It needs a political system that isn't corrupt, and a way to educate women. If the culture doesn't accept those things, then the culture must change - or nothing else will.

Until that happens ; wait, what's the definition of insanity again?

Re:Africa doesn't need pills. It needs books. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974201)

insanity
[in-san-i-tee]
noun, plural insanities.
1. the condition of being insane; a derangement of the mind. Synonyms: dementia, lunacy, madness, craziness, mania, aberration.
2. Law. such unsoundness of mind as frees one from legal responsibility, as for committing a crime, or as signals one's lack of legal capacity, as for entering into a contractual agreement.
3. Psychiatry. (formerly) psychosis.
4. a. extreme foolishness; folly; senselessness; foolhardiness: Trying to drive through that traffic would be pure insanity.
b. a foolish or senseless action, policy, statement, etc.: We've heard decades of insanities in our political discourse.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/insanity [reference.com]

Re:Africa doesn't need pills. It needs books. (0)

Mashiki (184564) | about 6 months ago | (#46974421)

You know, people have tried that. They were called racists and colonialists, right now in society it's a no-win scenario because every time *insert* tries to do something to uplift humanity, that needs a hand. There's some brain dead idiot out there screaming that "they're doing it to *insert insane reason.*" You know, much like the eradication of polio, after all that's just a myth. It's really a clever plot to make people sterile.

I say to hell with the lot of them, let them enjoy their polio, starvation, and diseases if they don't want help. One of two things will happen, they'll either get their shit together and want to do something. Or they'll kill themselves off and save everyone from their own stupidity. Personal note: I've done my bit traveling this rock trying to save people from their own stupidity, and living 700 years in the past. It's not worth the effort at this point, not unless people, governments, or groups are willing to get their hands dirty to do it.

Re:Africa doesn't need pills. It needs books. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46978667)

I say to hell with the lot of them, let them enjoy their polio, starvation, and diseases if they don't want help. One of two things will happen, they'll either get their shit together and want to do something. Or they'll kill themselves off and save everyone from their own stupidity. Personal note: I've done my bit traveling this rock trying to save people from their own stupidity, and living 700 years in the past. It's not worth the effort at this point, not unless people, governments, or groups are willing to get their hands dirty to do it.

The Chinese have now taken a big interest in the natural resources in Africa.

They will probably employ the locals, and add a new flavor of corruption, money, ways to make money (if you have connections.)

The killing and misery has only just begun.

Re:Africa doesn't need pills. It needs books. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974475)

actually, treating diseases like HIV/AIDS solves A LOT of problems

in fact i cannot imagine how you should study in a country where 50% of your teachers are dying of AIDS, or when you yourself are sick of AIDS, and e.g. as a virgin girl, you might get raped because some guy thinks this cures his HIV.

Re:Africa doesn't need pills. It needs books. (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 6 months ago | (#46975709)

Abstinence, masturbation, internet porn (yeah, fight the spread of AIDS by giving people access to the "internet is for porn"), and monogamous relationships are the biggest things you can do the prevent spreading AIDS, assuming there are still some uninfected individuals. Listening to the preachings of the catholic church, and even entering nun-hood or monk-hood for a few individuals could drastically reduce the spread of AIDS. The key to reducing AIDS is adhering to strict religious practices, pick any religion, be it catholic, anglican (like Desmond Tutu is), muslim, buddhist, hindu - they all work. Well maybe not hindu, because of the Kama Sutra, and India is on it's way to be the most populous country in the world, but even they have ascetic self-denying. And the Hindi complain that it's the Muslims in India that keep having too many kids they can't support and can't control themselves. There are lots of issues all over teh world.

PS. Some Southern Baptist preachers from the US could help out a lot, at least it'd be a start, even if the level of ascetism, self denial, and monk hood is not as prevalent in the Southern Baptist church, like it is in Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu religions. There is a Mad TV episode with Snoop Dogg and Reverend Bishop Rump Shaker Robinson that illustrates the issues.

Re:Africa doesn't need pills. It needs books. (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 6 months ago | (#46975797)

One way the internet porn can help is that you can see so many mindblowingly hot women on it, that you can get your senses dulled, you can get yourself jaded, to better control yourself with the women in your life around you. There are two sides to everything though, as the women around you will suffer greatly from not getting the attention they feel they deserve, but it's usually a man's duty to control sexual behavior, as a man can rape or force sex with an unwilling and unaroused woman, but it's not impossible, but a lot more difficult the other way around. All he gotta do is control his mind and try to keep his penis limp, and orgasm and ejaculation is almost a mental thing too, it may be possible to control your thoughts and never orgasm even if she's mindblowingly hot, even if you're tied up and she's jerking you or sucking you forever, so sexual intercourse is controlled by the male, and because of that he's the one fully responsible for promiscuous behavior, not the female. All he gotta do is not react, she may feel terribly depressed over not being able to seduce him, but sometimes that's a small price to pay, because promiscuosity can kill you, or sometimes it can. I'm not saying you shouldn't have any promiscuosity, but there are different degrees, and monogamy may be too difficult to adhere to, but like doing it with 2 other people for a full year or many years in a row, one of them doing it with another 2, so even if not fully monogamous, the promiscuosity or disease spreading stops at 2 couples, and doesn't spread all over the frigging population. I fully put the blame on the males in the spread of AIDS in Africa, and absolve the females from any blame. The females have a biological clock ticking, they can't just sit and wait patiently, the hormones and emotions are raging in every woman, but a man has no such issues, so he should be the one to control himself, and control the spread of AIDS.

Re:Africa doesn't need pills. It needs books. (2)

sillybilly (668960) | about 6 months ago | (#46975899)

By the way gorillas have small testicles and are highly monogamous, but chimps are very promiscuous and have large testicles to keep up with production. Of course in absence of a disease like AIDS or other STD's like syphilis, the promiscuous ones may quickly overtake the population compared to the self restrained ones, and drive the self restrained extinct very quickly, so there is always a balance in how non-promiscuous you should get, to adapt to the circumstances. Life adapts. Of course it's possible to have a lot of kids(that you may not be able to support but somehow, through poverty, they can reach adulthood) through a non-promiscuous monogamous relationship, and overtake the population like that, playing chicken with everybody else as to how far we can drive overpopulation issues before we stop. But promiscuity usually correlates with how many kids you have, especially for the men, that get around, a man can have 100 kids by 100 females within 3 months, while a woman has to wait 9 months before having a 2nd child. So the promiscuity struggle for dominating the population is controlled by the males a whole lot more than the females. A female usually wishes a man to stick around, but sometimes he values a man that lies to her to seduce her, then dumps her to go on to the next female, because the males she'll rear this way will also have a higher chance of survival, higher chance of promiscuous behavior. So a female is guilty for choosing the promiscuous men, too, as ultimately life and death is in the female's hands. She controls abortions, she controls upbringings, she controls what the son is going to be like in sexual behavior, while the father controls, has the most influence on what the daughter is gonna be like in sexual behavior. But regardless how his mother raised him, a man can choose to control his own behavior. There is this concept of personal responsibility.

Re:Africa doesn't need pills. It needs books. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979875)

You know who else told just-so stories that started to get really weird half-way through like this? Hitler.

Injections and needles (5, Interesting)

retroworks (652802) | about 6 months ago | (#46973969)

Lived in Africa 2.5 years, mid 80s. It was obvious to us that anyone with a diagnosed anything, any previous disease (such as shisto but also STDs and malaria) has had an injection with an unwashed needle. I've written letters to WHO. Even when we brought our own hypodermic needles to European run hospitals (Norwegian mission in my case), the white doctors would forget and use a used needle.

Africans typically felt cheated if they went to a doctor and didn't get a shot, and most doctors kept "vitamins" to inject as a placebo. My suspicion has always been that this link to western hypodermic needle / syringe use would be embarrassing to the WHO, same as the dysentery outbreak brought to Haiti by UN helpers. If I'm wrong, I hope someone can at least point to the study showing vaccinations with used needles are NOT the main cause of HIV in Africa, I'd sleep better.

Re:Injections and needles (2)

retroworks (652802) | about 6 months ago | (#46973993)

http://www.irinnews.org/report/87356/africa-hospital-acquired-hiv-underestimated

Actually here's an article that they did finally find African medical treatment to be a major cause of HIV, but it wasn't until 2009. Once you identify hospitalization and treatment as a primary cause, any correlation with any record of prior treatment for anything (e.g. shisto) is contaminated by the fact that whoever was diagnosed with the correlated illness probably got a shot.

Re:Injections and needles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974207)

If things are as bad as you say, couldn't the HIV tests themselves be spreading it?

Re:Injections and needles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974255)

Depends on how it's done. There are single use sampling kits. And some types of used needles *can* be cleaned, preferably with beach and an autoclave, especially intramuscular needles for deeper injections. The thin, subcutaneous needles for insulin are much tougher to sharpen and re-use: they're too thin.

Re:Injections and needles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974439)

"single use sampling kits"

However, just because they are supposed to be single use does not mean they are being used only once. Hopefully there is someone keeping an eye on this, it would be pretty messed up if HIV testing made you HIV positive.

Re:Injections and needles (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974469)

white doctors

That ignores the Republican's campaigns to encourage needle reuse. They are responsible for the meteoric rise of AIDS in the 80s. They kept HIV tainted blood a secret until they were able to infect tens of thousands of children in the US. That is their way. Their kind wants every non-white, non-rich person to die. Their needle reuse campaign proves it. White doctors, as you noted, are one of the largest group of those hateful people.

I'm skeptical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973983)

As a child I spent a few years living in South Africa. I recall being taught in school that the Bilharzia snails were only found in rivers that flowed into the Indian Ocean. One rather old article I found on the web confirms that, and also says that rivers above 1200m (4000') were generally considered free of the snails and parasite.

I didn't read TFA, but there are plenty of places in sub-Saharan Africa that are either over 1200m or don't have rivers that flow to the Indian Ocean, yet the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in females, as I understand it, is pretty evenly spread throughout, and not just limited to areas where Bilharzia is rampant.

Re:I'm skeptical (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#46974043)

You didn't read the TFA but decided to look for an old article somewhere on the web? Look at the nice Wikipedia article. It shows that the disease is endemic to much of Africa and the Caribbean. I don't think the Caribbean borders on the Indian Ocean.

An overlap of HIV incidence (especially male:female infection ratios) and Schistosomiasis infection rates would have been nice, but not at all critical for the argument as it is not described as the sole reason for the unusual ratio.

Thinking about it further, there are certainly other STDs that do not have a 1:1 male:female infection ratio. Male and female anatomy and physiology is rather different which may lead to different rates of infection or entirely different disease courses. The interesting bit about TFA is that it is certainly reasonable to treat Schistosomiasis in it's own right. If you can decrease HIV infection as well, you get bonus points.

Re:I'm skeptical (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about 6 months ago | (#46974271)

That information about Bilharzia is wildly inaccurate. Take a look [wikipedia.org] at the actual epidemiological information if you're interested.

Re:I'm skeptical (-1, Troll)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 6 months ago | (#46974337)

Even the Bergrivier has Bilharzia and it flows to the Atlantic. Bilharzia is carried by blacks. Wherever they go, it goes.

"The Origin Of Aids" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974013)

"The Origin Of Aids"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWd4KblpDsc

Prevent "thousands" of infections a year? (1)

glwtta (532858) | about 6 months ago | (#46974465)

Isn't the incidence of new cases in Africa something like over 5,000 a day?

the US government created AIDS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974477)

in a lab

there you go, no more speculation

Re:the US government created AIDS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974531)

This would make some sense. For example, in the original Montagnier paper (that he got the nobel prize for) there is a gel with arrows pointing to non-existent bands.

Evidence elsewhere does not support it ... (2)

kbahey (102895) | about 6 months ago | (#46974863)

Evidence elsewhere does not support this theory.

Egypt for example, has one of the highest Schistosoma infections rates. Even its other name, Bilharzia, is after the guy who discovered it in Egypt in the mid 19th century (Theodor Bilharz).

My own father died from complications of Schistosoma. This is because in the 40s and 50s, the treatment involved antimony injections, and they used to stand up patients in line, and inject them all with the same glass syringe one after the other. This caused Hepatitis C virus to spread, even before they diagnosed the virus.

Back to the theory: Egypt has a very low AIDS incidence rate, so that seems to negate the finding.

However, there are many species of Schistosoma, so there may be variations there. And this vaginal version is something I have never heard about before. So perhaps the species they found over there is the cause.

What's the reason in the US then? (3, Interesting)

Beeftopia (1846720) | about 6 months ago | (#46974969)

Per the CDC, black hetero females in the US have just about 4 times the new HIV infection rate than white hetero females: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/basics/ataglance.html [cdc.gov]

More CDC statistics here: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/basics/ [cdc.gov]

Certainly this is a worthwhile course of investigation by the Norwegians, but the relatively high black female HIV prevalence in the US could indicate factors specific to race and not merely location.

Re:What's the reason in the US then? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46975593)

Perhaps because the rate of black male HIV is so high.

Lead a horse to water and all that.

Re:What's the reason in the US then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46977991)

I would think it's less specific to race, as western society defines it, and more correlated with education on preventing infection and access to health care. You're forgetting that the greatest amount of genetic variability for humans exists in Africa, so as a result it's problematic to make assumptions on genetic susceptibility towards a given infection based solely on skin color, since that isn't a limiting factor for the vast majority of alleles potentially found in a human organism.

Pronounced shis-to-so-MY-a-sis (1)

dohzer (867770) | about 6 months ago | (#46975357)

Thanks for explaining that it's pronounced exactly as anyone would expect from simply reading the name.

Re:Pronounced shis-to-so-MY-a-sis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46977621)

Shhhhh... his toe's o[n] my ass, sis.

correlation != causation (1)

technosaurus (1704630) | about 6 months ago | (#46976559)

How many times does it need to be said?

Re:correlation != causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46977219)

Seven hundred and thirty-eight.

Have anyone read this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46976597)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0895263998

The Numbers (1)

brit74 (831798) | about 6 months ago | (#46976885)

In the US, gay and bisexual men make up the majority of new HIV cases. But, among heterosexuals, women outnumber men in the number of new HIV cases. For whatever reason (perhaps because semen sticks around longer in the vagina than female wetness stays around on the penis after sex), it's known that a woman's chances of contracting HIV from an HIV-positive male is higher than the chances of a man's chances of contracting HIV from an HIV-positive female. If I remember correctly, the chances of an infection are about double for women compared to men.

"Women have a much higher risk for getting HIV during vaginal sex without a condom than men do" - http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/ge... [cdc.gov]

You'll also note that, on the graph shown on this article, if you ignore the gay and bisexual men graphs (listed as "MSM" or "men who have sex with men"), women outnumber men in new infections. For example, in the US, about twice as many heterosexual black women (5300/year) are diagnosed with HIV each year as the number of heterosexual black males (2700/year).

Perhaps what's going on in Africa is that homosexual males are less likely to get HIV - because so many of them are in the closet or keep to a small number of sexual partners for fear of attacks. http://www.theguardian.com/wor... [theguardian.com]

Or maybe HIV is just so common in Africa that transmissions among heterosexuals has surpassed the homosexual rate (which, given the two risk factors of "gay" and "in Africa" has got to be putting homosexual HIV rates near 100%, but you can't get higher than 100%).

Or maybe there's just a lot more sleeping around in Africa among heterosexuals. Afterall, the reason the homosexual HIV rates are so high is because gay men tend to have a lot of sexual partners.

The important thing to keep in mind here is that, if you ignore the homosexual male population, the rates of HIV infection among heterosexual women is naturally higher than the HIV infection rate among heterosexual men.

Even if correlation != causation, it's plausible. (1)

Kelerei (2619511) | about 6 months ago | (#46977681)

As someone who grew up in KZN, I find the correlation interesting. Bilharzia is a significant issue (don't even think about swimming in the rivers unless you're in the Drakensberg mountains -- particularly in northern KZN where one also has the possibility of crocodiles deciding that you'll be a tasty morsel), and KZN is also the province with South Africa's highest HIV infection rate. Obviously, the correlation does not imply causation, but from the information presented in TFA, it's certainly plausible and, in my opinion, worth researching further.

I'm going to back those that have already posted that it's worth treating bilharzia in it's own right. If it contributes to a reduction in the HIV infection rate, so much the better.

Possible solution: tell the men about schisto! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46979297)

The disease, also known as bilharzia and snail fever, is caused by parasitic worms picked up in infested river water. It is marked by fragile sores in the far reaches of the vaginal canal

Ewww...

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