July 12, 2011
Here is a quick look at a few HIV/AIDS stories recently reported in the media:
Gonorrhea's Growing Resistance to Antibiotics Concerns CDC (From HealthDay News)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has noticed that gonorrhea -- one of the most common and easily treatable sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) -- isn't as easy to treat anymore. By analyzing samples from over 30 states between the years 2000-2010, researchers found that over the years the STD is steadily becoming resistant to cephalosporins, the only remaining class of antibiotics available to treat the disease.
HealthDay News reported:
To date, there are no recorded cases of patients with gonorrhea that couldn't be treated with these antibiotics in the United States. ...
The researchers called for increased efforts to develop new treatments and a boost in gonorrhea surveillance in order to identify emerging patterns of antibiotic resistance in gonorrhea as they occur.
Over time, gonorrhea has developed resistance to several antibiotics. The CDC currently recommends dual therapy of cephalosporins with either azithromycin or doxycycline. Treatment options would become substantially limited if gonorrhea becomes resistant to cephalosporins, the researchers warned.
Left untreated, gonorrhea can cause infertility in women and increase the risk of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, for men and women.
Earlier this week, Japanese researchers stated that they have found a new strain of the STD that is resistant to all currently available antibiotics. The newly identified strain, called H104, has genetic mutations that make it resistant to cephalosporin antibiotics. Scientists say the new strain could lead to a global health threat if new drugs and effective treatment programs are not developed.
HIV/AIDS-Poverty Link Strongest in the South (From USA Today)
A report conducted by USA Today found that nearly all U.S. counties that have high rates of HIV/AIDS cases are south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The newspaper used data from the AIDSVu project, the first effort to use state-of-the-art methods to map HIV infection rates by county, which was produced by Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health.
USA Today reporters Steve Sternberg and Jack Gillum wrote that the epidemic, while still prevalent in big cities on the East and West Coasts, has become "heavily entrenched among black men and women in pockets of poverty in 11 Southern states."
Harold Henderson, an HIV expert at the University of Mississippi, says Southern states suffer from a host of health issues, including HIV, for reasons that extend from poverty to a lack of education and fragile families. He added that many children in the South lack sufficient sex education.
"The age when kids first become sexually active is pretty young in the Deep South," he says. "That has a lot to do with the fact parents don't do a good job of (educating their kids about sex). And if you happen to live in a broken home, with drug use and poverty involved, you may not be getting the parental supervision you need."
The new analysis identified 175 counties that rank among the top 20 percent for both HIV and poverty, all but six in the South. Two of the six are the boroughs of Brooklyn and the Bronx in New York City. Seven states -- Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia -- did not share their county-level data.
The report also found that African Americans on average were poorer than whites in 96 percent of the 175 counties with high HIV and poverty rates. In some counties, more than 40 percent of blacks live below the federal poverty line and those same counties had some of the highest rates of HIV infection in the U.S.
Around 25 percent of newly diagnosed Americans are not successfully linked to HIV care within six to 12 months of their diagnosis, and between 10-20 percent of patients remained unengaged in care three to five years later.
As a means to understand what these barriers to care are, the CDC conducted a small, qualitative study of 42 people and found that people who had never accessed medical care before testing HIV positive were seriously unhappy with the post-test counseling they received and believed that the doctors lacked compassion, were not helpful and were rarely available.
There was a range of issues that the participants discussed: counseling seemed poor and lacked quality; counselors lacked compassion; incorrect information was given ushering in a mistrust of the medical system; they were given passive referrals, in which they were given brochures by doctors as opposed to the doctors being active and actually facilitating the referral themselves; letters and follow-up phone calls that were promised did not happen; and a serious discontent with the case management system. These experiences serve as additional barriers as to whether people trust the information that is being given to them and will seek treatment, support and care.
Of the participants, 79 percent had been diagnosed between five and 10 months prior to the study; 21 percent having been diagnosed up to 19 months beforehand; two thirds were African American; almost half under the age of 30; 71 percent were male; 50 percent earned less than $15,000 a year; and only 10 percent earned more than $40,000.
This study, which is part of a larger CDC project called Never in Care Pilot Project, has a downfall -- there was no comparison group. So, for people who had accessed medical assistance prior to their HIV diagnosis, there was no data about their experiences with post-test counseling.
HIV/AIDS Activists to Serve as Atlanta Pride 2011 Grand Marshals (From The GA Voice)
Camp Allows Kids Affected by HIV/AIDS a Week in the Woods (From WLKY.com)
Chapel Hill-Led Group Will Get $32 Million to Fight the AIDS Epidemic (From The Charlotte Observer)
Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
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