Integration of FGS into HIV / SRHR and NTDs programmes and services

October, 2023
Isis Umbelino-Walker, Felicia Wong, Matteo Cassolato, Anastasia Pantelias, Julie Jacobson, Christine Kalume

Female genital schistosomiasis (FGS) affects approximately 56 million women and girls across sub-Saharan Africa and is associated with up to a threefold increased prevalence of HIV. Integrating FGS with HIV programmes as part of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services may be one of the most significant missed opportunities for preventing HIV incidence among girls and women. A search of studies published until October 2021 via Scopus and ProQuest was conducted using PRISMA guidelines to assess how FGS can be integrated into HIV/SRH and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) programmes and services. Data extraction included studies that integrated interventions and described the opportunities and challenges. A total of 334 studies were identified, with 22 eligible for analysis and summarised conducting a descriptive numerical analysis and qualitative review. We adapted a framework for integrated implementation of FGS, HIV, and HPV/cervical cancer to thematically organise the results, classifying them into five themes: awareness and community engagement, diagnosis, treatment, burden assessment, and economic evaluation. Most activities pertained to awareness and community engagement (n = 9), diagnosis (n = 9) and were primarily connected to HIV/AIDS (n = 8) and school-based services and programming (n = 8). The studies mainly described the opportunities and challenges for integration, rather than presenting results from implemented integration interventions, highlighting an evidence gap on FGS integration into HIV/SRH and NTD programmes. Investments are needed to realise the potential of FGS integration to address the burden of this neglected disease and improve HIV and SRH outcomes for millions of women and girls at risk.

FIG Female Genital Schistosomiasis