In recreational, domestic and professional freshwater contact, people in endemic areas may acquire schistosomiasis (Bilharzia). Infections with S. haematobium commonly cause severe egg-induced pathologies in several major organs, notwithstanding significant damage to the genitalia of both women and men.

Recent studies have substantiated the biologic plausibility that female genital schistosomiasis (FGS) may elevate general transmission of HIV and that control of schistosomiasis might also impact on HIV-AIDS. Mass drug administration (MDA) against schistosomiasis has been successfully implemented in certain African countries for several years. Since the London Declaration in 2012, more than 10 drug companies have committed themselves to providing medications for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and donors that will undertake to organise the distribution of free tablets to endemic countries. The prospect of free anti-schistosomal treatment in the battle against HIV, sexually transmitted diseases and other reproductive tract morbidity has renewed the interest in research on FGS.

During the workshop, the latest findings on FGS and on implementation of MDA for African NDTs will be addressed.

The objectives of the workshop are the following:

  • To present the latest findings on genital schistosomiasis and NTDs-MDA
  • To develop a new research agenda on interactions between HIV and schistosomiasis
  • To promote agendas on best diagnosis and future treatment
  • To advocate for scaled-up interventions against NTDs.

The workshop will be a two-day meeting with four series of break-out sessions. Experts in NTDs, in particular schistosomiasis, HIV and pediatrics will participate. The press will be invited. We seek to explore and solidify the pathways for further research on the interactions between HIV and schistosomiasis, the needs in this process to revisit the pathogenesis of disease across the different age groups (including under-five years of age), the implications of the different genital lesions (in males/females), the problematic clinical inspection and staging, the disease manifestations, and how to best inform and engage with patients and parents in schistosomiasis endemic areas.

Implementation research for treatment will be discussed and the epidemiological considerations needed in the wake of better water and sanitation, the many transmission hot-spots, urban risk populations, and how to handle low-endemic areas. Praziquantel dosage, duration, frequency and timing will be revisited. The physical and mental development of children will also be considered, the different target groups that need special attention and the diagnostic assays needed to identify them and appropriate tools to treat them.

Furthermore, the meeting will emphasize the need for South African institutions to engage and better support the protection of children.