by David Njagi And Naomi Antony
Excerpted from: allAfrica.com
29 September 2010
Nairobi - Malaria, and other common African infections, may make women more susceptible to HIV/AIDS than they are in the developed world, according to a study that may help solve the mystery of the vastly different infection rates around the globe.
Researchers who compared immune cells in the genital tracts of women in Kenya and the United States, found that Kenyan women had more "activated" cells, which are more vulnerable to attack by HIV. Cells can become activated as a reaction to infection.
It is the first time that scientists have shown that immune cells in the genital tract are more activated in African women, though higher activation elsewhere in the body has already been demonstrated. The activation may be an "important additional contributor" to the high infection rates in African women, according to the scientists, led by Craig Cohen (right), of the University of California, San Francisco, in the United States.
"We believe that these findings should also start to dispel some of the preconceptions and stigma surrounding HIV acquisition among young women in Sub-Saharan Africa," said the authors, writing in the journal AIDS.