A Simple Theory, and a Proposal, on H.I.V. in Africa

Donald G. McNeil Jr. – New York Times – Monday, 12 May 2014 (originally published 10 May)

Women gathering water from river.
The disease thought to contribute to AIDS in African women is caused by worms picked up in infested river water. Image: Joao Silva/The New York Times

OTIMATI, South Africa — While around the world a vast majority of AIDS victims are men, Africa has long been the glaring exception: Nearly 60 percent are women. And while there are many theories, no one has been able to prove one.

In a modest public health clinic behind a gas station here in South Africa’s rural KwaZulu/Natal Province, a team of Norwegian infectious disease specialists think they may have found a new explanation.

It is far too soon to say whether they are right. But even skeptics say the explanation is biologically plausible. And if it is proved correct, a low-cost solution has the potential to prevent thousands of infections every year . . .

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