Malaria and HIV /AIDS

Malaria and HIV/AIDS are a horrible mix of infections that encourage each other to the total detriment of the patient.

Human immunodeficiency virus, (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system; making the patient more susceptible to diseases and infections. Malaria which is a parasite attacks the red blood cells with little or no resistance from the immune system which is under attack from HIV. This places the patient living with HIV at very serious risk.

For this reason it is generally accepted that a patient who is living with HIV who is infected with malaria will experience a more severe infection as their immune system is not working properly. The malaria in turn will worsen the HIV infection by increasing the patient’s viral load.

People living with HIV who travel into or who live in malaria endemic areas are at risk from severe malaria. Studies have shown that the worse a person’s HIV infection the worse their malaria. In Africa it has ben shown that HIV infected local residents living in high risk areas get more severe infections more often.

Recently it has been noted that people living with HIV have poorer responses to some antimalarial medications. This is particularly true for the Artemesinins and sulphadoxine / pyrimethamine (SP). Also, some antimalarial drugs clash with the antiretroviral (ARV) medications used in treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Malaria patients with HIV generally experience more severe infections.

  • Malaria and HIV / AIDS in Pregnancy
    Because HIV / AIDS weakens the immune system which in the pregnant mother is already suppressed any resistance the body might have to the parasite infection is drastically reduced. HIV positive mothers who are infected with malaria have a harder time recovering from the disease because of the presence of HIV in their system.

    HIV positive mothers are more likely to have increased infections, and adverse birth outcomes. They are also more likely to develop clinical malaria. Some research indicates the co-infection with placental malaria and HIV during pregnancy significantly increases the risk if HIV transmission from mother to newborn.

  • Travel Advice
    No one should ever put themselves at risk from malaria; especially those living with HIV. Medical experts strongly suggest that people living with HIV should not expose themselves to the risk of malaria and should, if at all possible, avoid travelling into malaria endemic areas.

    If the exposure to malaria is unavoidable they should speak to their HIV care giver and travel clinic about the best preventative strategy. If malaria is contracted then disclosure of their HIV status to the attending physician would be essential for planning their treatment regime.