Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Chagas Disease: “The New HIV/AIDS of the Americas”
Chagas is a tropical parasitic disease caused by the flagellate protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. T. cruzi is commonly transmitted to humans and other mammals by an insect vector, the blood-sucking "kissing bugs" of the subfamily Triatominae (family Reduviidae) most commonly species belonging to the Triatoma, Rhodnius, and Panstrongylus genera. Endemic Chagas disease has emerged as an important health disparity in the Americas. As a result, we face a situation in both Latin America and the US that bears a resemblance to the early years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Most affected are people living in poverty. Chagas and HIV/AIDS requires prolonged and expensive treatment. More than 8 million people have been infected by Chagas, most of them in Latin and Central America. But more than 300,000 live in the United States.