A WEAPON AGAINST AIDS: DDT
December 18, 2006
When a worldwide ban led by the United States on the use of the insecticide DDT began in the early 1970s, it may have contributed not only to a resurgence of an old killer, malaria, but also to the spread of a new and deadly plague, AIDS, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).
A study by researchers at the University of Washington's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and published in the journal Science documents how malaria and HIV have a deadly symbiotic relationship, one helping to spread the other, making both more deadly.
- Scientists at the center have discovered that when someone with HIV has a bout of malaria, it can cause the virus levels to surge as much as sevenfold, an increase that lasts after the malaria ends; because HIV affects the immune system, the likelihood of getting malaria increases.
- In regions where both diseases are common, malaria may be responsible for almost 5 percent of HIV infections, and HIV may be behind 10 percent of malaria episodes, said lead researcher Laith Abu-Raddad.
The group paid particular attention to Kisumu, Kenya, where both diseases are prevalent and good tracking data are available. In Kisumu, the relationship between the diseases resulted in about 8,500 extra HIV infections and 980,000 additional cases of malaria over several decades.
- Malaria sickens about 500 million people each year, killing more than a million, mostly children, and mostly in Africa.
- Sub-Saharan Africa has about 24.7 million HIV-infected people with the U.N. putting 2005 deaths from AIDS in Africa at 2 million.
It would be a double tragedy if millions of people died needlessly over the past three decades from both AIDS and malaria due to environmental hysteria over DDT, says IBD.
Source: Editorial, "A Weapon Against AIDS: DDT," Investor's Business Daily, December 18, 2006.
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