HIV/AIDS, parasites and co-infections: publication patterns in China

Parasit Vectors. 2009 Jul 9;2(1):31. doi: 10.1186/1756-3305-2-31.


Background: Since its discovery, HIV/AIDS has arguably captured more attention among the Chinese biomedical research community than most other infectious diseases. Traditional parasitic diseases, on the other hand, are perceived as being increasingly neglected. However, it has long been recognized that interactions between HIV and other infective agents, including parasites, influence the health status of people living with HIV/AIDS. This study aimed at systematically reviewing the Chinese scientific literature on HIV/AIDS and parasites between 1986 and 2006 in order to substantiate or refute these claims, and to highlight neglected research areas.

Results: Searching the three largest Chinese scientific literature databases, in the China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) a total of 24,511 citations dealing with HIV/AIDS and 15,398 parasite-specific publications were identified. Wanfang Data and VIP Information (VIP) contained 15,925 and 13,873 entries dealing with HIV/AIDS respectively, while 12,043 and 7,068 hits were scored when searching for parasitological references. The number of publications dealing with HIV/AIDS in China increased exponentially from 6 in 1986 to 3,372 in 2006 whereas the publication activity in the field of parasitology was more erratic and lately started to decline. Epidemiology was the most-reported field of endeavor, accounting for 26.0% and 24.6% of the HIV/AIDS and parasitological literature, respectively, while publications dealing with health education only represented 2.9% and 0.7% of all publications, respectively. The total number of Chinese articles focusing on HIV/AIDS and parasite co-infection was 650, with large year-on-year differences in publication numbers. The single-most frequently studied system was HIV-Pneumocystis carinii co-infection.

Conclusion: The present study revealed that in China, the fields of parasitic diseases, especially opportunistic parasitic infections linked with HIV/AIDS, is increasingly neglected. This suggests a need to enhance research in the field of opportunistic parasitic infections and parasitology in general.