NAPLES, Fla., March 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- An intensive search of the medical literature has revealed no research yet on whether Zika mosquitoes could occasionally transmit HIV, reports Leslie Norins, MD, PhD. He says investigating this possibility, is important because Miami-Dade in 2016 led the U.S. in both cases of domestically transmitted Zika virus and in new infections with HIV. He urges research be planned now for the summer mosquito season.
He was intrigued by a theoretical scenario: a mosquito sucking blood from a person infected with both Zika virus and HIV. Could that insect then transmit both infections, or only one? And who would believe a chaste male claiming a mosquito gave him AIDS?
Dr. Norins, who trained as a physician-scientist, has been a medical publisher for 40 years. His findings appear on Analizir.com.
Official doctrine asserts that mosquito transmission of HIV doesn't happen, says Dr. Norins. But tracing back the origins of this widely-repeated belief, he found it is based on only two scientific papers, both almost 30 years old. And these have weaknesses, he believes.
One was a 1988 field study, in rural Belle Glade, Florida, 85 miles north of Miami. An epidemic of 93 AIDS cases there caused national alarm when mosquitoes were mentioned as possible transmitters.
Government investigators concluded that 59 could be "directly" liked to another AIDS case. But only 30 had "risk factors" of homosexuality or I.V. drug abuse. The remaining 29 were unexplained.
For another 35, heterosexual contact was, strangely, labelled a risk factor, though it is not one in the U.S. Apparently, there was a kind of profiling, since a footnote says that back in Haiti heterosexual spread of AIDS was common. The inference was that since these heterosexuals were from Haiti, national origin explained their AIDS.
The second study, in 1989, was a laboratory one, using mosquitoes under artificial conditions. An unusual genus was chosen, the "elephant mosquito". It does not suck blood, or transmit any human diseases. Injected HIV survived briefly, but did not grow. The relevance of this to what occurs in nature is not clear.
Dr. Norins recommends a research push in Miami in summer to trap Zika mosquitoes that may have fed on HIV-positive patients, plus laboratory experiments using Zika mosquitoes and HIV.
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SOURCE Dr. Leslie Norins