Sunday, May 31, 2009

Parasites: Giving a Deworming Drug to Girls Could Cut H.I.V. Transmission in Africa

Parasites: Giving a Deworming Drug to Girls Could Cut H.I.V. Transmission in Africa

Researchers think that administering a deworming drug, praziquantel, to girls in rural Africa could reduce transmission of HIV. The drug costs 32 cents a child and prevents a worm disease, schistosomiasis, that starts as a urinary tract infection. Left untreated, the UTI can lead to female genital sores that make HIV transmission easier. Girls should be protected before they reach sexual maturity, because the drug will not cure sores once they form.

90 percent of cases of schistosomiasis occur in Africa, where people get it from wading into snail-infested water to swim or wash clothes. The first symptom is bloody urine.

A pilot program suggests that children and young adults in Africa can be treated for $22 million; repeating that every two years for a decade would cost $112 million.

Elaine Su

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