Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency
virus (HIV) which is transmitted through sexual intercourse, blood
transfusion, and unsafe drug-injecting practices, and from mother
to child during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding. HIV attacks
the immune system after a variable symptom-free period, the
patient becomes vulnerable to major infections which can prove fatal.
There is no vaccine yet and no cure for AIDS, but combined antiretroviral
treatment helps. Prevention is crucial and must be promoted through
condoms, safe sex, safe blood supplies, the non-sharing of needles
or syringes, and treatment of infected mothers before and after
TB is an often deadly bacterial disease which
can affect many parts of the body, mostly the lungs. It is transmitted
through close contact with a patient suffering from infectious TB.
AIDS and TB go hand in hand TB is the leading cause of death
among sufferers who are HIV positive, and AIDS is contributing to
the spread of TB. The BCG vaccine may give some protection, although
its efficacy is questionable in adulthood. Effective, inexpensive
treatment exists, but its impact depends on how well it is followed
and for how long many months of treatment are necessary.
As a consequence of poor treatment compliance, the emergence of
(multi)drug-resistant bacterial strains is now becoming a major
Malaria is caused by the parasite Plasmodium
which spends part of its life cycle inside a mosquito. The parasite
is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. As yet there is
no antimalarial vaccine. Prevention involves mosquito control and
bite prevention, mainly through mosquito-repellent impregnated bed-nets
and taking antimalarial drugs. Malaria is curable if promptly diagnosed
and treated, but parasite resistance to treatment is a growing problem.