MALARIA could be contributing to the spread of HIV in Uganda by making carriers more likely to pass on the viral disease to their sexual partners, according to a new research.
Scientists have discovered that the virus spreads rapidly when HIV-positive people are also infected with malaria, raising the chances of transmission through sexual intercourse.
The more HIV one has in their blood, the faster oneâ€™s CD4 cell count will fall, and the greater the risk of transmitting HIV through sexual intercourse, according to the research.
More so, high rates of HIV may also be having a reciprocal influence on the prevalence of malaria in patients.
This is because the virusâ€™s compromising effect on the immune system leaves people more vulnerable to other infections.
In other words, malaria or HIV infections could make the other worse.
The findings were made by a team of paediatricians from Makerere University College of Health Sciences.
The findings were presented yesterday to the 5th national paediatric HIV/AIDs conference in Kampala.
The conference was held under the theme: Children and HIV.
The findings suggest that efforts to control each of the two infections can benefit the other.
Dr. Jane Achan from Makerere College of Health Sciences said HIV infection disrupts immune responses to malaria and may increase the incidence and severity of malaria.
She explained that the routine interventions for HIV may impact upon the incidence of malaria.
Achan added that therapies for each infection may impact upon the other, leading to unanticipated effects on drug efficacy or toxicity.
Malaria is the worldâ€™s deadliest disease. It kills around one million people every year, mainly children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa.
Uganda loses 320 people to malaria everyday, while about 1,192,372 people are infected with HIV. A total of 350 people are infected with HIV daily.
Few Ugandans know their sero-status and almost everyone is susceptible to being infected by malaria parasites.
Dr. Sabrina Bakeera-Kitaka from the Makerere Paediatrics and Child Care Department said only 12% of the 33 million Ugandans know their sero-status.
Ugandaâ€™s study on malaria and HIV is in relation to other studies which have been done elsewhere by researchers in the past.
She cited a study conducted in Kisumu town, Kenya, which disclosed that 5% of HIV infections were attributed to malaria.
The study added that 10% of adult malaria episodes are related to HIV. This translates into 8,500 extra HIV infections and 980,000 malaria cases among adults.
Research links rapid HIV spread to malaria infections