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Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Malaria Infection


Scientific evidence suggests that persons with HIV/AIDS, who are having reduced immunity against infection, are susceptible to other infectious diseases. In this context an attempt is made to examine corollary of two diseases, such as malaria and HIV/AIDS: one which occurs naturally and extensively in tropical and subtropical regions and is influenced by the physical environment, and the second which is a relatively modern disease which can occur anywhere in the world where human activity is prevalent and human factors are the principal influence. UNICEF (2003) report suggests that there is high prevalence of both HIV and malaria infection in Africa, and “a small interaction between the two could have substantial effects on population.”

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In this geographical investigation of HIV and malaria pandemic attempt is made to examine and analyze data about the incidences of these two diseases and investigate the importance of migration, transport, and lifestyles as agents that foster the exacerbation of the diseases. An attempt will also be made to evaluate whether human factors are the major influence on its spread and development.


It is proposed to critically and rigorously analyze and evaluate the underlying attitudes and values that influence spread of HIV and malaria in order to reach an independent supported conclusion.

The information used within this report has been taken from a variety of secondary sources, for example: the internet, UN agencies; charities, newspaper articles, reports, and books. It would be impractical to collect primary data from people abroad however information from the interview with the information officer at Terrence Higgins Trust has been included in this report.

The report attempts to be value free, although secondary data is likely to be biased as articles can be written subjectively. Further study is based on transmission factors of HIV and malaria as depicted in Figures 1 and 2 given below.

Transmission Factors
Transmission Factors

Source of secondary data, its reliability, and links

Type Resource Info obtained Limitation/bias/reliable
Statistical info from UNAIDS – WHO 2007 Global HIV/AIDS estimates to end of 2007 It clearly states that it is an estimate and up-to- date information for year ended 2007. The U.N in its endeavor to be value free and impartial for political reasons, it functions as an advocate particularly for the poor. Statistics including a case study of China, showing maps and data on a specific area of China, It may be difficult to determine whether the figures, maps, and statistics are correct, because there is no accurate data on proportion of drug users who are actually living with HIV. Policy about CAFOD’s use of condoms in relation to HIV prevention. Because it is a religious catholic based website, with some bias as regard to condoms, they do not advocate condom use. The data may be biased Detailed graph and table of It is a public health authority website for European Union policy makers. “Euphix is a web-based knowledge system for health professionals, policy makers and others. It presents structured European public health information giving a special insight into similarities and differences between EU Member States.” Its role is similar to the U.N’s and information may be reliable. Updated news and links to online African news media, and information on Africa and its regions. In English and French. Africa Online is positioned to provide both individual and organizations alike with solutions which can be based on each client’s specific needs. Information is adapted to suit the needs of clients who may require skewed figures to prove that their product works. offers educational programs, produced in collaboration with leading researchers and physicians in the field, which are presented in an engaging multimedia format. It aims to allow public to acquire knowledge that will help to maintain a high quality of life. The mission of The Whyflies is to explore the science, math and technology behind the news of the day, and to present those topics in a clear, accessible and accurate manner. Whyflies is located in University of Wisconsin-Madison, and also covers science at all institutions that are engaged in scientific research.
Information that the university of Cape Town suspended the head of virology for misconduct following an investigation that he endorsed an unregistered possibly toxic herbal preparation as a treatment for AIDS. Reliable information – it is not yet proved that herbal medicine can cure HIV/AIDS and this shows that the professor had other interests for declaring herbal products.

Definitions of related words to the two diseases


  • Disease: A specific illness, unhealthy condition.
  • Physical Environment: The conditions of climate and surroundings, E.g a town, a city, desert, mountains sea.
  • Human Factors: Factors relating to human conditions,E.g Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
  • Hiv/AIDS: Human immunodeficiency virus causing AIDS. (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, a condition that breaks down a person’s natural defences.)
  • Malaria: a life threatening disease transmitted by mosquitoes.
  • Pandemic: An epidemic of infectious disease that spreads through populations across a large region, a continent, or worldwide.
  • Parasite: an organism with no benefit to another in symbiotic effect. It feeds off a host.



Malaria is a life threatening disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is generally dependent on the physical environment. It has become a pandemic that contribute to high morbidity and mortality among children under ages 5 years and pregnant women. Malaria is linked more strongly to the physical environment because spread of malaria is dependent on climatic conditions. It is crucial to evaluate whether this disease is linked only to the physical environment, or if there are more human influences causing the spread of the disease

The lifecycle of a mosquito
Figure 3: The lifecycle of a mosquito

Types of Mosquito

There are four types of malaria parasite: Plasmodium falciparum is the cause of malignant malaria which is fatal, whilst the other three cause more benign types of malaria which are much less likely to prove fatal. It was believed that the disease came from fetid marshes, hence the name malaria, (bad air). The real cause of malaria is a single-cell parasite called plasmodium. The parasite is transmitted from person to person through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito.

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Types of Mosquito

Figure four
Figure 4
Figure 5
Figure 6


HIV/AIDS is often referred to as a pandemic (an infectious disease or epidemic which occurs worldwide). Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a blood born viral infection that attacks the immune system and eventually causes Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). A person can be infected with HIV through unprotected sex with a person already infected, injection or transfusion of contaminated blood and blood products, sharing unsterilized syringes among injection drug users, and from an infected mother to her baby. “HIV is not an airborne, water-borne, or food-borne virus, and does not survive very long outside the human body.” It is a blood-borne disease, only transmitted through human activity and unlike malaria it is not a vector born disease and has no environmental influence in its transmission. HIV/AIDS in particular is a much politicized subject in South Africa, because the South African government denied the prevalence of HIV and AIDS link for many years. It is estimated that there are 33.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS, about 2.5 million new cases are infected with HIV, and 2.1 million deaths from AIDS during the year 2007 (WHO: a global view of HIV infection


A global viev

Chinese construction

Chinese construction worker walks past a poster depicting a young AIDS victim, that is part of an awareness campaign on World AIDS Day in Shanghai. Nearly 100,000 children of parents who died from HIV/AIDS in China face a bleak future due to inadequate education and discrimination.

Figure 4 
Figure 4 

Delivering Coffin to AIDS Victim in Kampala

Men use a motorbike to deliver a coffin to a house in Kampala, Uganda, where the resident has died of AIDS. Uganda was the first African country to fall victim to the HIV/AIDS virus.

Method of transmission of Malaria and AIDS/HIV


Malaria can be termed as water borne disease, as it was often thought as an environmental disease dependent on coming into contact with the mosquitoes that breed in water. Recent research has shown that the human effect on ecosystems has also influenced the spread of malaria. Research has shown that the link between climate change, use of fertilizers, nitrogen in particular, through river run off, as well as deforestation (indirectly responsible for global warming due to rise in green house gases which have a warming effect) has increased the number of malarial parasites and mosquitoes. Mosquitoes thrive in warm waters. In increased precipitation and higher temperatures more breeding sites are available for vectors such as mosquitoes. Furthermore, it is argued that the decreased use of DDT corresponded with an increase in outbreaks of malaria.

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From figure 6 it may be seen that the spread of HIV is predominantly routed in the eastern countries of the Europe. It is evident that HIV/AIDS in China is growing (See figure 7), because at the end of 1994, only a limited outbreak of HIV was reported among paid blood donors in central China. 

Evidence suggests that with the opening of blood and plasma collection stations particularly in rural areas in China in the 1980s, to counter the shortage of blood products after a ban, there was increased incidence of blood contamination with HIV. More poorer rural Chinese were lured to donate blood as the collection centres offered 50 Yuan ($7) for plasma and 200 Yuan ($28) for blood. From the words of donors that: “We all sold our blood to make money. We sold blood to pay the local taxes, to support our kids through school, and to make a living” it is clear that poverty was a driving factor for selling blood. ( Woman from Henan Province.35)

It was presumed that the blood supply was initially contaminated with HIV from the blood collected from HIV infected drug users. It then spread rapidly amongst paid blood donors due to unhygienic methods used for plasma collection. Blood used for plasma collection was normally pooled and mixed together in a container from which the plasma was removed. The remaining blood, after plasma extraction, was then injected back into the donors to speed recovery time. The exact number of individuals infected with HIV in this way is contentious, but it is expected to cross hundreds of thousands of people including both the paid donors and those who received blood transfusions9

Figure 5
Figure 5

Major epidemic amongst rural population due to blood plasma donation in the 1990s.

HIV cases

  •   1 – 100
  •   101 – 500
  •   501 – 1000
  •   1001 – 10,000
  •   10,001 – 30,000
  •  30,001 – 50,000

Statistics show that young people (under 25 years old) account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide. The AIDS epidemic in Eastern Europe is also rapidly increasing. This has happened since the fall of communism. In 2007, some 1.6 million people were living with HIV, compared to 630,000 in 2001. AIDS claimed an estimated 55,000 lives during 2007, which is nearly seven times as many as in 2001. It is difficult to determine a precise figure. The epidemic in Eastern Europe is primarily driven by injecting drug use and government backed blood drives – (see figure 4) and the criminalization of this practice makes it difficult to gain an accurate picture of the proportion of drug users who are living with HIV.

Figure 6
Figure 6
Trends in newly diagnosed AIDS
Figure 7: Trends in newly diagnosed AIDS cases per million population, in four European regions, 1988-2006

In figure 7 it can be seen that AIDS cases per million populations have risen sharply from 2002 to 2006. This is primarily associated with lifestyle choice, particular poverty that promotes unhealthy blood donors, as well as unemployment, addiction and lack of funding for drug rehabilitation centres. Statistics show that In 2006 there were over 25 million newly diagnosed AIDS cases in Eastern Europe compared to the West which had 16 million, the central region with 3.5 million and the European Union with 13 million newly diagnosed AIDS cases. So far as developing and transitional countries are concerned it is reported that ‘9.7 million people are in immediate need of life-saving AIDS drugs’ of these, only 2.99 million (31%) are receiving the drugs.

The increased drug use in China along the ‘road of death’, on the border with Burma – a route running 1500 miles, and prostitution among foot soldiers in this area the numbers have increased rapidly leading to 80% of the population being infected in some areas.

Each year millions of migrant workers pass along the route selling drugs to supplement poor wages, and sleeping with prostitutes. Also when China developed into a market economy deprived of subsidies poor farmers began to sell blood to blood banks. This infected blood transmitted HIV/AIDS faster when it entered the pharmaceutical industry.

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During the first years of the new millennium China woke up to the very real prospect of a generalized AIDS epidemic in the country. The governmental intervention to control HIV/AIDS received more impetus, and has implemented many strategies to target high prevalence groups, as well as concentrating on education of general population about HIV prevention. In any country where rates of injecting drug use and needle sharing are highest, a fresh outbreak of HIV is liable to occur at any time. For countering such contingencies provision of clean needles and intervention programs are vital. It is crucial for China to take steps to make their strategies to combat AIDS more ideally to “ensure program implementation at a regional and local level; and to respect the human rights of those living with HIV in China”


It is found that climatic changes influence spread, risk, and endemicity levels of vector-borne diseases. Satellite images to map malaria risk levels and initiating global intervention is suggested as the best options for controlling vector borne-diseases. An integrated and systematic vector control in tune with local situation, past experience, and evidence based practice, which is more cost effective, can help reduce global incidence of malaria.


There is some similarity between HIV and Malaria as both are transmitted through blood and has become pandemic. HIV is transmitted through infected needles and blood transfusion equipment, whereas malaria through infected mosquito bite. Malaria can also be increased in severity by human or, anthropogenic influences as climate change due human activities and changes to the soil nutrients, such as increased use of nitrogen fertilizers, encourages mosquitoes to thrive. (Article Appendix A)

Malaria is linked more strongly to the physical environment than AIDS, which is essentially a sexually transmitted disease. (although it can be passed on in other ways: through contaminated blood or blood products contaminated hypodermic needles and even from mother to child during childbirth). There are relatively few diseases that are linked to specific natural environments, and malaria is primarily linked to natural environment, because presences of vector mosquitoes are linked to climatic changes, water logging, and manmade environmental hazards.

Malaria bednets
Malaria bednets
Andy Tatem
Image courtesy of Andy Tatem

Processing imagery into thematic datasets such as this image showing three different land surface temperature (LST) cycles across Africa (blue signifies strong annual LST cycles; green, strong bi-annual LST cycles; and red, strong tri-annual LST cycles) is critical component of effectively mapping vector-borne diseases like malaria.


Web Sites


Jones, Sarah, Human Rights, Clean Environment, Wayward Publishers, 1993

Brannen, Dodd and Oakley, Young People, health and family life, OU Press, 1994

Fact file 2005, carel Press, several editorial team staff.

Other resources

Interview with Information Officer, Kerri Wells of Terrence Higgins Trust

Geographic distribution 2004, CDC, 2009, Web.

HIV transmission: Frequently asked questions 2009, AVERT, Web.

Malaria and HIV/AIDS 2003, UNICEF Malaria Technical Note # 6, 2009. Web.

Meeting basic needs, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Orgainzation, 2009. Web.

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