A United Kingdom-based organisation, Frontline Aids, carried a study on bilharzia and came to the conclusion that the disease, which is also called schistosomiasis, increased the risk of HIV infection threefold.
The report says that there are two types of bilharzia, the first affects the digestive organs while the second affects the urinary, genital and reproductive areas. The report adds:
It’s this second type which causes female genital schistosomiasis (FGS), which can result in open sores on the cervix and v_gina, inflammation and contact bleeding among women and girls.
… open sores, inflammation and exposure to blood give this easy access, similar to having a s_xually-transmitted infection.
Bilharzia falls under the category of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and affect over 1.5 billion worldwide.
In Zimbabwe, over three million young people are at risk of contracting the water-borne disease.