Animal and human studies suggest that Schistosoma mansoni infection may increase risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) acquisition. Therefore, we tested 345 reproductive age women in rural Tanzanian villages near Lake Victoria, where S. mansoni is hyperendemic, for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and schistosomiasis by circulating anodic antigen (CAA) serum assay. Over one-half (54%) had an active schistosome infection; 6% were HIV-seropositive.
By univariate analysis, only schistosome infection predicted HIV infection (odds ratio [OR] = 3.9, 95% confidence interval = [1.3-12.0], P = 0.015) and remained significant using multivariate analysis to control for age, STIs, and distance from the lake (OR = 6.2 [1.7-22.9], P = 0.006). HIV prevalence was higher among women with more intense schistosome infections (P = 0.005), and the median schistosome intensity was higher in HIV-infected than -uninfected women (400 versus 15 pg CAA/mL, P = 0.01).
This finding suggests that S. mansoni infection may be a modifiable HIV risk factor that places millions of people worldwide at increased risk of HIV acquisition.