Chagas Disease: Poverty, Immigration, and the ‘New HIV/AIDS’
May 30, 2012 3:26 PM Subscribe
What if a deadly epidemic was burgeoning and almost nobody noticed? In the latest issue of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, a distinguished group of virologists, epidemiologists and infectious-disease specialists say that’s not a hypothetical question. They argue that Chagas disease, a parasitic infection transmitted by blood-sucking insects, has become so widespread and serious — while remaining largely unrecognized — that it deserves to be considered a public health emergency.Extending the metaphor, they liken Chagas’ stealth spread to the early days of AIDS:
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"Both diseases are health disparities, disproportionately affecting people living in poverty. Both are chronic conditions requiring prolonged treatment courses… As with patients in the first two decades of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, most patients with Chagas disease do not have access to health care facilities. Both diseases are also highly stigmatizing, a feature that for Chagas disease further complicates access to … essential medicines, as well as access to serodiagnosis and medical counseling."
Hotez PJ, Dumonteil E, Woc-Colburn L, et al. (2012) Chagas Disease: “The New HIV/AIDS of the Americas
”. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 6(5): e1498. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001498
Tanowitz HB, Weiss LM, Montgomery SP (2011) Chagas Disease Has Now Gone Global.
PLoS Negl Trop Dis 5(4): e1136. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001136
Sarkar S, Strutz SE, Frank DM, et al. (2010) Chagas Disease Risk in Texas.
PLoS Negl Trop Dis 4(10): e836. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000836