July 28, 2011
Here is a quick look at a few HIV/AIDS stories recently reported in the media:
Thursday June 28, 2011, marks the first official World Health Organization-supported World Hepatitis Day. This day is aimed at raising global awareness about the liver disease that kills about a million people every year, and the viruses that cause it, which affect nearly 2 billion people worldwide.
Experts believe that most people are unaware that they even have the disease and as a result are unknowingly infecting other people. The disease is largely spread by contaminated water and food, blood, semen and other body fluids.
[WHO hepatitis specialist Steven] Wiersma said the disease -- which has five main viruses -- produced a "staggering toll" on health care systems around the globe and had the potential to spark epidemics, as well as being the main cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
Of the five viruses dubbed A, B, C, D and E, a new WHO document says, B was the most common and could be transmitted by mothers to infants at birth or in early childhood as well as through contaminated injections or injected drug use.
The E virus, transmitted through infected water or food, is a common cause of outbreaks of the disease in developing countries and is increasingly observed in developed economies, according to the WHO.
To learn more about hepatitis and new treatment breakthroughs, read the following:
AARP Tackles the Graying of AIDS in Its July/August Issue (From AARP Magazine)
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic, AARP Magazine, a health magazine for people 50 and over, spotlighted six long-term survivors from around the country in its article "AIDS: 30 Years Later."
The diverse group, which included Olympic swimmer Greg Louganis and James Bender, a past This Positive Life interviewee, discussed a range of topics including stigma from the early days, being diagnosed in a pre-antiretroviral America and societal complacency around condom use.
The Baby Boomer crowd is no stranger to HIV/AIDS. AARP wrote:
Of the estimated 1.1 million Americans with HIV, some 407,000 are over 50; by 2017, half of the total HIV-positive population will be over 50. New treatments have allowed many patients to live far longer, and far better, than they could have in the early days. But the aging of AIDS is not simply a result of new treatments. Shockingly, one in seven new diagnoses of HIV or AIDS is in a person over 50.
"The burden of this disease is going to be borne out in the older adult," says Stephen Karpiak, Ph.D., of the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA) in New York City. And the health care system will feel its impact. Older people with HIV contract more diseases of aging than their uninfected peers -- even when the virus has not progressed far enough to warrant a diagnosis of AIDS. And though HIV is often transmitted by sharing hypodermic needles, older Americans are more likely to get it through unprotected sex. Many think condoms are only for preventing pregnancies -- or that a partner over 50 is less likely to have the disease.
What's Next for HIV Prevention? Paying People to Be Healthy (From aidsmap.com)
Whether it's to get students to study harder or help people to quit smoking or lose excess weight, researchers have tested whether monetary incentives can alter one's behavior. This same approach is being used in HIV/AIDS research too.
Aidsmap reported that at the International AIDS Society conference in Rome last week, a number of monetary incentive studies were presented: Incentives for people to use preventative health services; incentives for people to remain infection-free; and incentives for students to remain in school.
Despite the potential effectiveness of these programs, these approaches are not always popular. Aidsmap wrote, "Critics say that these kind of programmes are a form of social engineering that pays people to do things that they wouldn't want to do otherwise. The programmes are paternalistic, dismissing the values and choices of some individuals and imposing the priorities of others."
It also added:
Such approaches are not without their critics, but those participating in a conference symposium on the topic mostly felt that these interventions are trying to tackle structural factors and have the potential to be effective, especially when used alongside other prevention interventions.
"We shouldn't look at behavioral economics as the new magic bullet," commented Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim of the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA). "This fits into a broader combination approach," she said.
Do you believe that we should pay people to stay healthy?
AIDS.gov Gives Nonprofits Some Helpful Social Media Tips (From aids.gov)
Hearing Loss Tied to Age, Gender, Race; Not HIV (From AIDSmeds.com)
U.S. to Take Another Look at Gay Blood Donation Ban (From the National Journal)
Take-Home Chlamydia Tests Tied to More Screening (From Reuters)
Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
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