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Inside News

April 2003

CDC Issues Health Alert for SARS

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a health alert for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a new respiratory illness apparently originating in Asia and now reported in several countries. The illness usually begins with a fever, chills, headache, myalgias and malaise, followed by a respiratory phase characterized by a dry, nonproductive cough and dyspnea. Persons with these symptoms who have traveled recently to Hong Kong, Guangdong Province in China; Hanoi, Vietnam, and Singapore; or their close contacts (if symptomatic); may be at risk and should be reported to the CDC. For more information, go to (CDC, 3/22/03)

NY Lawmakers Push for Oversight of Inmates' Health

A package of bills that would extend New York State Department of Health Oversight to reviewing AIDS and hepatitis C care in prison facilities passed New York's Assembly Health Committee. Similar efforts in the past have failed, mainly for the lack of a majority sponsor in the Republican-dominated Senate. New York's Commission of Corrections, a watchdog group, is currently charged with establishing minimum health care standards for inmates, but critics charge that the prison system exists mostly without oversight, resulting in inconsistent care. Corrections officials maintain that what they are doing works and point to the decline of AIDS-related deaths and TB outbreaks in prisons in the last decade. (Associated Press, 3/23/03)


HHS Announces Contracts to Develop "Safer" Smallpox Vaccines

Health and Human Services officials announced two contracts for the development of "safer" smallpox vaccines that could be used to protect people with compromised immune systems, including people with HIV/AIDS. The administration agency discourages people with HIV/AIDS, eczema, atopic dermatitis and cancer, heart disease, as well as pregnant women and organ transplant recipients from receiving the current smallpox vaccine. (Kaiser Daily Reports, 2/27/03)

Prisoners Not Entitled to Hepatitis Treatment, Court Rules

The Montana Supreme Court denied prisoner Keith Brown's petition for hepatitis C (HCV) medication and returned the case to a lower court recently. The divided court said it needed an official determination of whether the diagnosis was correct. The court also asked for a determination on whether there is an effective treatment for HCV. In Montana, about 30 percent of the state's 2,750 inmates have hepatitis, according to the state's DOC chief medical officer. (Associated Press, 3/01/03)

HIV Serostatus Affects Rearrest Rates of Ex-Prisoners

Researchers at the University of Washington presented results of a study contending that inmates with HIV infection are more likely to be rearrested upon release than HIV-negative inmates. Fifty-seven HIV-positive inmates were compared to 254 HIV-negative inmates at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle, Washington. Using the log rank test in Kaplan-Meier survival analysis, statistical difference in the relative risk of rearrest occurred for the HIV-positive group, according to investigators. The full report, "Rearrest: Does HIV Serostatus Make a Difference?" was published in AIDS Care: Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV (2002;14(6):839-849). (AIDS Weekly, 2/10/03)

Experts Warn of TB "Time Bomb"

A tuberculosis epidemic in Russia fanned by a rapidly growing number of HIV infections has the potential to spread multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) worldwide, according to a US TB expert. TB can be one of the first signs of HIV infection, while HIV infection can turn a latent TB infection into active, infectious TB. TB accelerates the progression of AIDS and is the biggest killer of AIDS patients worldwide. In Russia, overcrowded prisons are incubating both TB and HIV. Many inmates with TB develop resistance to two or more of the main antibiotics used in treatment. Of 300,000 prisoners released each year, 30,000 have active TB and 10,000 have MDR-TB. (Edmonton Journal, 3/8/03)

Pilot Programs: DOT for Hard-To-Reach Communities

Researchers from Brown University reviewed pilot programs that have used Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) to increase access and adherence to HAART among hard-to-reach patients, including patients who have difficulty adhering to medications or have trouble accessing care. One program uses an outreach worker to dispense the medications within the patients' communities; patients receive once-daily regimens. All patients in the program had substance-abuse disorders. The review finds "moderate success" and urged further study, noting that DOT may be well-suited for individuals leaving prison. (Medscape, 2/24/03,

Support Program for Former New Jersey Inmates Profiled

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently profiled a two-year pilot program that began last year to provide support services with for former inmates with HIVAIDS, substance abuse problems, or mental illness. Keeping Connected is administered by the AIDS Coalition of Southern New Jersey and is supported by a two-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The program, which expects to serve 250 clients over the two-year period, assists clients with housing, food, employment, transportation, and other needs, including follow-up to make sure the clients are getting the help they need and are continuing with local services. (The Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/9/03)

Back to the HEPP Report April 2003 contents page.

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This article was provided by Brown Medical School. It is a part of the publication HEPP Report.
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