AIDS is an epidemic in Africa, which has led to widespread speculation about people’s sexual practices there. But it turns out that it’s race that makes them so vulnerable to this disease!

A gene which evolved to protect people from Malaria increases their vulnerability to HIV by 40%. BBC News quotes researcher Robin Weiss as saying, “The big message here is that something that protected against malaria in the past is now leaving the host more susceptible to HIV.”

BBC quotes AIDS activist Ade Fakoya as saying, “There has always been this myth that people in sub-Saharan Africa were more likely to get HIV because of differences in their sexual behavior, or that they are more promiscuous. This shows that it’s not that simple…”

Of course, AIDS attacks WHITE people too. It’s been discovered that a common vaginal infection may make women more susceptible to contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Studies of over 30,000 women from around the world show that women with bacterial vaginosis?the most common type of vaginosis in women of reproductive age?are more likely than others to be infected with HIV. BV results in several changes in the vagina that could explain why it increases the risk of HIV. Researcher Jennifer S. Smith says, “If additional follow-up studies show that there was a relationship between BV and the risk of incident HIV infection?then increasing the treatment of BV could be considered for the future prevention of HIV infection.”

The danger is not yet over: The number of Americans infected with the HIV virus each year is much higher than current government estimates. The CDC said 56,000 people had become infected with the virus that causes Aids in 2006, which is much more than their earlier estimate of 40,000. BBC News quotes the CDC’s Richard Wolitski as saying that the 2006 incidence estimate “reveals that the epidemic is, and has been, worse than previously estimated,” and says the findings are a “wake-up call that the US HIV/Aids epidemic is far from over. The new estimates underscore the need to expand access to HIV prevention to gay and bisexual men, especially younger men, and to expand access to African-American men and women as well.”

As the world warms up, mosquitoes?and the Malaria they bring with them?could become as big a health problem for the West as it has long been for Africa. Scientists are desperately trying to prevent this by genetically engineering mosquitoes that are resistant to the disease.

On the ABC News website, Maria Cheng quotes malaria expert Regina Rabinovich as saying, “This is one of those high-tech, high risk innovations that would fundamentally change the struggle between humans and mosquitoes?It would potentially transform what the field looks like.”

The research is being funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (Microsoft money), which as donated almost $40 million to the project.

Art credit:

Does the past help us figure out what will happen in the future? Only if we have the right interpreter!

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