Malaria at the XVII International HIV conference

Malaria is estimated to kill over 1 million people a year, mostly children, while the annual death toll from HIV/AIDS approaches 2 million. Where these diseases overlap, “Malaria contributes synergistically with HIV/AIDS to morbidity and mortality in areas where both infections are highly prevalent, such as in Africa south of the Sahara. In addition to providing immediate health benefits, prevention and treatment of malaria may lessen transient increases in HIV viral load during malaria episodes and thus help limit the progression,” according to the World Malaria Report.

iasmexico_banner.gifWith the clear public health links between the two diseases, one would have expected to see more reports about malaria in HIV within the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico. Search at the conference website on malaria as a key word turned up only four abstracts or session outlines that actually addressed malaria, not just presentations that happened to spell out the full title of the Global Fund, and thus inadvertently mentioned malaria.

An abstract by Imani et al. reported that, “HIV infection was significantly associated with cerebral malaria in children admitted to Mulago Hospital and the prevalence of HIV infection among those with cerebral malaria was 9%.
Recommendation: Malaria prevention should be an important component of education and counselling of HIV infected children and their caretakers. A large study is recommended to establish whether there is a correlation between the level of HIV immunosuppression and cerebral malaria.”

Oloo and colleagues presented on “Strengthening HIV/AIDS programs for transport sector workers through a regional trade union approach in East and Central Africa.” Among their recommendations was the importance of providing “integrated reproductive health, malaria and family planning services to transport workers through the resource centers.”

A workshop is being organized on, “Uniting and Empowering Civil Society on CCMs: How AIDS, TB, and Malaria Organizations Can Work Together on CCMs and in GFATM Advocacy,” and is crosscutting on the three diseases.

Finally, Raposo et al., presented the topic, “Counseling and testing in health: a public health approach to increase access to health promotion in Mozambique.”  They stressed the need for linkages with other health services. A model for better integrated services was described that included, “Additional counseling is provided for malaria prevention, environmental health, uptake of antenatal care during early pregnancy, and institutional delivery.”

Better integration of disease control and prevention efforts is needed to better serve those in endemic communities. Integration should also be evident in advocacy efforts such as international conferences. We can’t afford the medical model that looks at diseases only, not the people who suffer from multiple problems.

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