Sexual Health news - HIV

Salmonella variant spreads through HIV-positive individuals in Africa

According to a new study published in the journal Nature Genetics, a variation of the bacteria Salmonella Typhimurium is spreading through sub-Saharan Africa. HIV-positive individuals are especially vulnerable since the virus weakens their immune systems, as reported by French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The new germ, which has been present on the continent for 52 years now, causes invasive non-typhoidal salmonella (iNTS), which is specifically prevalent in Africa. Of those affected, 22 to 45 percent cases are fatal, and researchers suspect that it's contagious.

This is significantly different from salmonella infections seen in developed countries like the U.S., in which the bacteria is typically a result of food poisoning, induces diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset, and lasts between four to seven days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 42,000 Americans report the illness every year, but less than 1 percent die from it.

In Africa, iNTS is hypothesized to be more powerful because it is spread by HIV, anemia, malaria or malnutrition seen in children, the AFP reported. These conditions prevent the body from being strong enough to fight off such an infection. In fact, the study's investigators suggest that the genetic makeup of the bacteria is evolving into a typhoid-like bacterium, allowing it to spread around the body.

"Our findings suggest the current epidemic of iNTS and its transmission across sub-Saharan Africa may have been potentiated by an increase in the critical population of susceptible immune-compromised people," researcher Robert Kingsley told the news source.

Researchers believe that the AIDS epidemic is contributing to the rise in iNTS cases.