Vodafone Healthline doctors discuss the origins of HIV


On the ninth episode of Vodafone Healthline, the in-house doctors discussed the origins of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and precautions to stop its spread.

While Dr. Kwekuma Yalley – General Practitioner, and Dr Aba Folson – a cardiologist, did not completely debunk the claim that HIV came about because of sex between humans and apes, they used the opportunity to educate listeners.

Dr. Yalley explained that there is a documented link between the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to a disease in monkeys/chimpanzees known as the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV). However, the mode of transfer to humans is not through bestiality. Researchers highly suspect it to be caused by butchering monkeys for bushmeat.

The theoretical causal link, he explained, is that because of a lack of advancement in technology in the 80s and 90s, people who handled those infected apes did not use protective gear; and when sick, were not quarantined as with COVID-19 and Ebola.

This made it possible for the virus to live within humans and continue to spread. The complexity of HIV is due to its constant recombination or mutations. There are already many subtypes of the HIV-1 strain, and the diversity is growing.

Dr. Folson explained that HIV lives with us now, and the most important thing to do is to take precautions to contain its spread.

“Whether it is from monkeys or chimpanzees, now we know that the most common mode of spread is from human to human – mainly through unprotected sexual intercourse. So, the emphasis should be on how we live safely amid recent sexual lifestyles that predispose one to the virus,” she said.

She explained further that during vaginal sexual intercourse, the vaginal glands secrete fluids which reduce the friction and this reduces the risk of exposure. However, with anal sex there is more friction and that increases the risk of infection. The doctors therefore encouraged the practice of safe sexual behaviour as a precaution against the disease.

The Healthline team was also in Kwaman, a suburb of Kumasi, to rescue little Akosua Sarfoa – born with both hands and legs deformed, making it impossible for her to walk or hold items with her hands.

She was referred to St. Joseph Hospital in Koforidua, where doctors performed a surgery to correct her legs. However, they could not work on her hands because of lacking funds.

Though Akosua Sarfoa yearned to be in school, her condition was a major stumbling block. Fortunately for the family, Vodafone Healthline came to their aid.

Akosua’s grandmother and mother were overjoyed with the intervention, since they had become concerned that, with age, Akosua’s joints and bones would become inoperable.

In the health education segment, Dr. Innocent Adzamli – a clinician, touched on rheumatic heart disease. This condition, he explained, is damage to the heart valves caused by a disease known as rheumatic fever. The valves are channels through which blood flows to and from the heart. This health condition affects blood flow, and hence functioning of the heart.

He added that the symptoms are migratory joint pains which move from one joint to another in the body. If not properly treated, this condition advances from fever to rheumatic heart disease.

He ended by saying that with early detection the disease can be healed. However, when it aggravates to heart failure, it becomes difficult and expensive to treat.


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