, Volume 281, Issue 3, pp 455-460
Date: 12 May 2009

Exploring the feasibility and possible efficacy of mass treatment and education of young females as schistosomiasis influences the HIV epidemic

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Abstract

Purpose

Genital schistosomiasis may be a risk factor for HIV, but chronic lesions in adults may be refractory to standard treatment. We aimed to investigate young girls’ risk factors for gynaecological schistosomiasis, possible protective factors and possibilities for behavioural change and mass treatment in rural Tanzania.

Methods

A standardised questionnaire was used to interview females between 5 and 20 years of age in a small cross-sectional study.

Results

One third of the girls were found to be at risk of acquiring schistosomal infection. Younger and older girls were engaged in more risk behaviour than the 10–14-year-olds. Knowledge of the parasite was associated with less risky water contact, and most of the girls had acquired this knowledge through primary school education.

Conclusion

Mass treatment for gynaecological schistosomiasis should be done in collaboration with the school system as a joint venture with the health system in order to reach non-enrolled girls who may be at particular risk. Research is still needed to assess the preventive effect of treatment on genital lesions and on HIV incidence.

The first three authors contributed equally to this work.