Malaria May Boost Mother-to-Child HIV Infection -- Study
December 14, 2005
Mother-to-child HIV transmission (MTCT) may be more likely when the mother is also infected with malaria, suggests a study presented at the Fourth Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Pan-African Malaria Conference 2005, held Nov. 13-18 in Yaounde, Cameroon. An international team of researchers investigated the correlation after noticing MTCT increased at the end of the rainy season, when malaria is most prevalent.
In Cameroon, researchers from the Cameroon Pasteur Center and the Paris-based Pasteur Institute studied the placentas of HIV-positive and -negative pregnant women with or without malaria. They found that malaria infection boosts production of a substance that could increase HIV replication in the placenta, preventing it from protecting the fetus.
"Our research highlights the fact that placental malaria ... could play an important role in mother-to-child HIV transmission in utero that has been underestimated," said Anfumbom Kfutwah, a Cameroon Pasteur Center virologist.
"Each disease by itself is a major problem both for the individuals affected and the health care system," said Andreas Heddini, MIM's secretariat coordinator. "But the fact that they frequently occur together is a major complicating factor, and we need more research to clarify how the two infections interact and how best to treat co-infection."
A correlation could prompt health officials to consider routinely screening pregnant women for both diseases and treating malaria to reduce MTCT, said Kfutwah.
11.18.05; Tansa Musa
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.