Can mosquitoes transmit HIV Naked?
Can mosquitoes transmit HIV Naked? Throwing out the fact the naked science scrapbook. Hello and welcome to the naked science scrapbook from the naked scientists. This time we’re answering the question, could HIV be transmitted like malaria. Some diseases like malaria are transmitted by mosquitoes which act as vectors carrying infections from one person to another. So if a mosquito feeds from an individual with HIV, could this virus be passed on?
Well, first, let’s look at how Malaria is transmitted. Malaria is caused by a parasitic organism called Plasmodium. When a female Anopheles mosquito bites a malaria-infected person, Plasmodium, from their blood infects cells in the mosquito’s digestive tract, forming a structure called an oocyst. After a short while, this OSS hatches releasing structures called sporozoites, which look a bit like tiny worms. These then burrow into the saliva glands of the mosquito and are then injected into the next person that the mosquito feeds from spreading the infection. So by infecting and growing within the mosquito itself, malaria increases the number of infectious parasites within the insect and also targets itself to the saliva glands, maximizing the odds of the infection being passed on. But what about HIV? Well, unlike malaria, which is a single-celled parasite, HIV is a virus. It’s also very fragile and doesn’t survive well outside the body for long periods of time. This is why it’s mainly passed on by direct contact with infected bodily fluids, such as breast milk, which can transmit the infections from mother to baby in blood or by having unprotected sex. Luckily, this means that even if a mosquito did drink from an HIV infected person, the virus wouldn’t be passed on. And there are two reasons why not. Firstly, the HIV particles wouldn’t survive being in the digestive tract of the mosquito, where digestive juices would destroy the viruses which are not equipped to cope with them. Secondly, and more importantly, unlike malaria, HIV cannot infect and grow within mosquito cells. This means that it cannot increase or amplify the amount of infectious virus carried by the mosquito. nor can it make its way to the saliva glands to ensure that it’s injected when the mosquito takes its next meal. As a result, the risk of HIV transmission by mosquitoes is fortunately vanishingly small. However, this isn’t to say that mosquitoes don’t transmit other diseases. The dingey and yellow fever virus is also spread from infected to susceptible people by mosquitoes. But the difference between these and HIV is that these agents have evolved rather like malaria to infect and multiply within the mosquito itself, increasing the efficiency of transmission. The best way to avoid catching malaria when in areas where it’s found mainly in the tropics, is to avoid being bitten by a mosquito. So use insect repellent, cover up exposed skin and sleep under a mosquito net. for HIV, the best way to avoid catching it is to practice safe sex and never share things that could transfer blood or bodily fluids like needles or razors. Hopefully, scientists will soon develop an effective anti aids vaccine. But until then, prevention is definitely better than cure. That’s it for this time. To get the answers to more science questions. Join us online at the naked scientist.com forward slash scrapbook. Bye