​The transmission of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa could be slashed if efforts are made to combat the spread of the waterborne disease schistosomiasis by providing clean water, sanitation and health education, a study reports.


Genital Schistosomiasis and HIV Infection

Genital schistosomiasis, which causes vaginal ulcers, has long been known as a risk factor for HIV infection, as well as infertility and miscarriage, among women in Africa. It is caused by a flatworm transmitted through dirty water.


Genital schistosomiasis is usually acquired by children and women. It lives in the bladder and genital tract, causing lesions around the vagina and cervix and resulting in a condition known clinically as female genital schistosomiasis.


Community based interventions - treating children for schistosomiasis

To test whether schistosomiasis infections could be reduced in a cost-effective manner, researchers from Norway, South Africa and the United States plugged epidemiological and clinical data from Zimbabwe into a mathematical model.


They found that community-based interventions - providing universal clean water, sanitation and education, as well as the drug praziquantel to treat schistosomiasis in children - would be cost-effective way of cutting the two infections at between US$725 and US$1,000 per individual over a period of 20 years.