Friday, May 15, 2009

A link between HIV and climate change?

Africa Science News Service: According to Pamela Kaithuru, Head of Counseling Unit Kenya Meteorological Department told Africa Science News Service that while it is still coincidental that highest rise in temperatures was in 1998, a year also that marked the peak of HIV prevalence, there was need for science to bring out the correlation. She said almost 90% of the worlds disasters today are climate related and it is the intention of this work to find out any correlation between climate change and HIV.

She said direct impacts of climate change on health would be due to exposure to thermal extremes hence altering the rates of heat- and cold-related illness and death. Due to altered frequency and or intensity of other extreme weather events like floods, droughts, storms etc death, injuries, psychological disorders could result as well as damage to public health infrastructure. She said climate change may be viewed as having no direct link with HIV and AIDS for the modes of transmission of HIV ‘could’ have nothing to do with climate.

She notes that what is undeniable however is that climate change may hasten the disease progression and make its management complicated and expensive, against the backdrop of diminishing resources. …Populations, more so in sub-Saharan Africa that have high rates of HIV infection are most vulnerable to a worsening or prolongation of the epidemic due to climate change.

Climate change has had social, economic and demographic impacts affecting most economies, infrastructure and resource supply more so for developing countries.

As a result a wide range of public health issues have arisen further magnifying the challenge of HIV and AIDS. She said other climate conditions like the EI Nino have been linked with vector borne diseases like malaria which is very fatal especially for pregnant women and children and more so for those whose immunity is compromised by HIV.

According to Kaithuru, disasters are characterised by damage to infrastructure, displacement of populations to ‘unhealthy’ living conditions in emergency management measures….

Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 budding from cultured lymphocyte. This image has been colored to highlight important features; see PHIL 1197 for original black and white view of this image. Multiple round bumps on cell surface represent sites of assembly and budding of virions. From the Centers for Disease Control

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