HIV/AIDS Newsroom: January 2, 2001
Persistence of DNA From Mycobacterium Tuberculosis in Superficially Normal Lung Tissue During Latent Infection
12/30/00 Vol 356, No. 9248, P. 2133; Hernandez-Pando, R.; Jeyanathan, M.; Mengistu, G.; et al.
With nearly one-third of the world population infected with latent Mycobacterium tuberculosis, an international team of researchers investigated whether the DNA for M. tuberculosis is present in lung tissue with no specific histopathology and, if so, the specific cellular location. The scientists used in situ polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to study macroscopically normal lung tissue from 47 people in Ethiopia and Mexico, with lung tissue from six Norwegians acting as negative controls and six Ethiopian tuberculosis (TB) cases serving as positive controls. The researchers found that it-situ PCR and conventional PCR showed negative results for the control necropsy samples from Norway, while the two methods provided positive results for the six known TB cases in Ethiopia. For the 47 individuals with macroscopically normal lung tissue, the in situ PCR detected 15 cases, five of the 13 from Ethiopia and 10 of the 34 from Mexico. Conventional PCR with extracted DNA was used to confirm these results. The researchers suggest that their findings regarding the location of M. tuberculosis DNA could aid in efforts to develop strategies to eliminate the disease.
Congress' final budget agreement in December included a measure to fund a $655 million compassionate compensation package for more than 5,000 hemophiliacs who were infected with HIV via tainted blood products during the mid-1980s. As part of the deal, $100,000 will be given to each of the 5,500 hemophiliacs who contracted HIV this way, or their survivors. However, the bill did not include individuals who were infected from transfusions; the National Hemophilia Foundation and others asserted that including people infected via transfusions would make the measure too expensive and could lead to its failure. Now, Sens. James M. Jeffords (R-Vt.) and John Edwards (D-N.C.) are planning a compassionate compensation bill for people who contracted HIV from transfusions, but getting the legislation approved will be difficult. One contrast with hemophiliacs is that people infected with HIV from transfusions did not have a group to represent their interests, the National Association of Victims of Transfusion-Acquired AIDS, until a couple of years ago. Hemophiliacs have had several active organizations lobbying on their behalf, fighting for the Ricky Ray Hemophilia Relief Fund Act in 1998 and continuing their efforts to make sure it was funded. In addition, some lawmakers mistakenly believe that because HIV-infected hemophiliacs are being compensated, the issue of HIV-contaminated blood has been resolved.
Half the World's Population Lives in Cities, Group's Report Says
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (www.stlnet.com)
12/30/00 P. 15
A recent study by the Population Institute strongly urges governments to make urban areas better areas in which to live. According to Werner Fornos, president of the Institute, "By 2050, an estimated two-thirds of the world's population will be living in urban areas, imposing even more pressure on the space infrastructure and resources of cities, leading to a social disintegration and horrific urban poverty." The researchers said that whereas the most populous cities in 1900 were in North America or Europe, the only industrialized cities making the top ten on that list at the end of the century were Tokyo, New York, and Los Angeles, and the latter two will likely not be on the list by 2020. The authors noted that the increasing growth of cities can lead to sanitary, health, and crime problems. The report said, "City slums are breeding grounds not only for waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid and gastroenteritis, but sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS." The report suggested that industrialized countries assist poorer countries by increasing financial aid to help fend off "the devastating problems associated with urbanization."
A report in the January issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology indicates that while many pregnant women in the United States are aware that HIV-infected pregnant women can transmit their infection to their infants, some are not so sure how the virus is actually passed on. Researchers, led by Dr. Emmanuel B. Walter of Duke University Medical Center, found that almost 40 percent of the 1,400 women surveyed were not certain if an HIV-positive woman could transmit the virus to her baby via breast-feeding. In addition, nearly 33 percent thought that babies born to a woman with HIV would definitely become infected, and 49 percent were not aware that there are drugs that can help reduce the risk of newborns contracting HIV. The researchers did note, however, that nearly 90 percent of the women questioned had been offered an HIV test during their pregnancy, with most agreeing to the test, and 60 percent said that routing HIV testing of all pregnant women should be required by law.
In the struggle to battle the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), public health investigators in Wake County, North Carolina, travel door to door to talk to people who have tested positive for an STD but have not come back for the results or have rejected treatment. When the people are not home, investigator Alice Stanford leaves an envelope marked "confidential" that informs the recipient: "You have been exposed to a communicable disease." The message urges the individual to come in for treatment because "this is URGENT." Under North Carolina law, people who test positive for, or who are exposed to, an STD must obtain treatment. For HIV and syphilis, health officials also must try to trace the individual's sexual partners. In 1999, Wake County recorded 101 cases of HIV, 90 cases of AIDS, 105 syphilis cases, 1,597 cases of chlamydia, and 1,570 cases of gonorrhea.
Up to five guards at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Center in Toronto have tested positive for tuberculosis (TB) after having been exposed to an infected inmate, according to a new report. The inmate was at the center for only a few weeks, but the guards reportedly were not told that the individual was infectious until the day she left on December 15. Corrections spokesperson Julia Noonan noted that all inmates are tested for TB at the time of their arrival, but she could not say how long it takes for results to be reported.
A new program from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is working to encourage seminaries to help African-American clergy members discuss sex. Seminaries participating in the program will offer courses about AIDS, teenage pregnancy, and other issues. The first seminary to offer the program, United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, will have six "Reproductive Choice Fellows" in its doctor of ministry program. These individuals will work for the coalition for three years after receiving their degrees, giving lectures, attending workshops, and promoting discussions about sex.
A study published in the December issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases (2000;182:1672-1677) suggests that reduced interferon-gamma production by T cells in HIV-1-infected women may increase their risk for Chlamydia trachomatis pelvic inflammatory disease. Researchers from the University of British Columbia Center for Disease Control in Vancouver studied peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 22 HIV-1-infected women and 73 HIV-negative women at a clinic in Nairobi, Kenya. The authors note that compared to the uninfected women, secretion of interferon-gamma stimulated by C. trachomatis antigens was impaired in the HIV-1-infected women. The researchers conclude that the results serve as indirect proof of interferon-gamma's protective role against C. trachomatis through the CD8 T-cell lymphocyte pathway, although further study is needed.
In a New Year's message on Sunday, Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa pleaded with citizens to change their sexual behavior in an effort to stem the spread of HIV. "How many of us have changed our behavior, eschewing completely those ways of life that contribute to the spread of HIV?" Mkapa asked. Statistics show that, as of December 1999, there were more than 8,800 cases of AIDS in Tanzania, and 1.75 million were infected with HIV.