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Ebola + HIV in West Africa: Double Whammy?

Nov 9, 2014

We have been wondering if HIV/AIDS patients in West Africa are more affected by Ebola? Easier to catch? Advances more quickly? Higher mortality rate? I have not been able to find anything about this on the internet. There was an article about access to routine health care services being cut off due to all the resources being poured into Ebola relief, which is bad in the long run, but what about the pathophysiology of the disease? Any insight from you would be appreciated.

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting your interesting question.

As far as I know (and have been able to search), there's no literature or reports on any interaction between Ebola and HIV at the physiological or virological level.

Both viruses produce serious, often lethal infections, but they are unrelated other than they geographically overlap in West Africa. To date, there are no reports that people living with HIV are at greater risk of Ebola.

In my opinion, while Ebola is a serious health threat in West Africa, it's of limited impact to date in the rest of the world. The most important thing about the two viruses, is that policy makers working on Ebola need to heed the lessons learned from the early days of the AIDS epidemic, and appreciate the impact that ignorance, stigma and discrimination have in fostering the worsening of suffering and death.

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