Chagas disease, caused by the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite, bears a striking resemblance to the HIV epidemic, and could cause a similar “humanitarian catastrophe”, according to an editorial in PLoS NTDs.
10 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean are infected with the parasite, which causes lifelong illness if not treated aggressively in the early stages of the disease. For comparison, 34 million people worldwide are infected with HIV. The authors call for action:
Stark similarities exist between today’s global Chagas disease epidemic and the first two decades of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This translates into a humanitarian catastrophe for the poorest people in the Americas and elsewhere. This perceptible health disparity demands urgent attention by global health policy makers to prioritize Chagas disease and develop a comprehensive strategy for control and elimination efforts, blood screening and point-of-care testing, maternal and child interventions, health education, and parallel research and development.
The full editorial is here. It’s long, but not particularly technical and is a fascinating read, so I’m not going to rehash it here.