Chagas Disease Is Being Compared To HIV

West Nile virus, Zika and lyme disease are certainly not the only insect-borne diseases that are commonly spread throughout the United States. Chagas disease, which is not as well known as the above three diseases, but still just as common, comes with symptoms that experts say are similar to the symptoms associated with the early stages of HIV. Chagas disease is a parasitic disease, and much like HIV, it is possible for victims to contract the disease and not show any symptoms for a long while afterwards. The disease is hard to detect like HIV, and chagas infects over thirty thousand people in America alone.

America is not the only region of the world where chagas is prevalent. Over ten million people are infected with chagas worldwide. Most victims live within the Americas. As a result of many radical changes made to immigration policies during recent decades, chagas has moved beyond Central America, where it was once contained. A marked increase in travel between America and Central America has also been a contributing factor. Due to the high number of people infected with chagas, coupled with the ability to prevent the contraction of the disease, chagas has been labeled by experts as a “neglected disease”.

As with most diseases, chagas most commonly spreads among populations that are stricken with poverty, and suffer from a lack of medical care. Most victims living within the United States relocated from Latin America. Chagas is preventable, and even people that contract the disease can be rid of the parasite with aggressive treatment, which can include three months of hospitalization. But this is not the most frequent scenario, as chagas is normally not detected by its victims due to the lack of initial symptoms associated with the disease. This disease, therefore, is often spread through blood transfusions. Chagas has also been known to travel from pregnant mothers to their offspring, but these cases are far less common. Luckily, the only obstacle standing in the way of prevention is a lack of proper education, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aim to increase chagas awareness among the American public.

Why do you think that chagas disease has been neglected by disease prevention professionals for such a long time?

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