Asymptomatic malarial parasitemia represents the largest reservoir of infection and transmission, and the impact of coinfection with HIV-1 on this reservoir remains incompletely described. Accordingly, we sought to determine the prevalence of asymptomatic malarial parasitemia in Kombewa, Western Kenya, a region that is endemic for both malaria and HIV-1. A total of 1,762 dried blood spots were collected from asymptomatic adults in a cross-sectional study. The presence of parasitemia was first determined by a sensitive Plasmodium genus–specific 18S assay, followed by less sensitive species-specific DNA-based quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays. The prevalence of asymptomatic malarial parasitemia by 18S genus-specific PCR assay was 64.4% (1,134/1,762). Of the 1,134 malaria positive samples, Plasmodium falciparum was the most prevalent species (57.4%), followed by Plasmodium malariae (3.8%) and Plasmodium ovale (2.6%) as single or mixed infections. As expected, the majority of infections were below the detection limit of microscopy and rapid diagnostic tests. HIV-1 prevalence was 10.6%, and we observed a significant association with malarial parasitemia by χ2 analysis (P = 0.0475). Seventy-one percent of HIV-1 infected volunteers were positive for Plasmodium 18S (132/186), with only 29% negative (54/186). In HIV-1-negative volunteers, the proportion was lower; 64% were found to be positive for 18S (998/1,569) and 36% were negative (571/1,569). Overall, the prevalence of asymptomatic malarial parasitemia in Western Kenya is high, and knowledge of these associations with HIV-1 infection are critically important for malaria elimination and eradication efforts focused on this important reservoir population.
Address correspondence to Carolyne Kifude, Basic Science Laboratory, U.S. Army Medical Research Directorate–Africa/Kenya Medical Research Institute, P.O. Box 54, 40100, Kisumu, Kenya. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Financial support: This work was supported by National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases R01 AI104423 (to V. A. S. and S. L.).
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