Schistosomiasis Research in Endemic Regions

NIAID-supported investigators also research schistosomiasis in countries where the disease is common. Projects concerning the association between schistosomiasis and HIV acquisition and transmission include one in Tanzania in which a preliminary study in 800 women is being expanded to better quantify the association between parasite burden and HIV acquisition and to clarify the roles played by specific immune system cell types in the cervix in enhancing HIV acquisition in women who also have schistosomiasis. Another investigator is using data from large longitudinal studies in Kenya and Uganda to test several hypotheses, including whether schistosome and HIV co-infections lead to more rapid disease progression in people newly infected with HIV. 

In Brazil, an NIAID-supported project is focused on finding ways to eliminate parasites entirely from urban areas where schistosomiasis transmission occurs in relatively small and concentrated regions. Data on human, snail, and parasite population characteristics and dynamics in these urban “islands” will be used to direct elimination efforts. 

Another project involving “hot spots” (areas of schistosomiasis persistence and reemergence despite aggressive control measures) is using genomic and longitudinal epidemiological data from long-running studies in China to identify the origins of new infections in hot spots and the relative contributions of human spreaders and movements of people and animal hosts between villages to the emergence of cases. This information will be used to fine-tune control efforts to focus more tightly on the key sources of infections in areas approaching elimination.  

To learn more about risk factors for schistosomiasis and current prevention and treatment strategies, visit the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) schistosomiasis site.

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