HIV/AIDS Newsroom: January 3, 2001
Serotypes of Chlamydia Trachomatis and Risk for Development of Cervical Squamous Cell Carcinoma
New research indicates that some strains of Chlamydia trachomatis appear to significantly increase a woman's risk for cervical squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Researchers studied 128 women with invasive SCC in Finland, Sweden, and Norway. Blood samples were tested for exposure to 10 different C. trachomatis serotypes. The results showed that serotype G is the most strongly associated with subsequent development of cervical SCC, although serotypes I and D were also linked to the cancer. The researchers also note that the risk of cervical SCC was increased by the presence of immunoglobulin G antibodies to more than one C. trachomatis serotype.
Drug Shortages Become a Worry at Hospitals Around the Country
New York Times (www.nytimes.com)
01/03/01 P. A1; Petersen, Melody
Hospital administrators across the United States have become aware in the past year of a growing number of drug shortages in areas that have typically never been in danger of a low supply, such as aids in pregnancy and cardiac arrest, creating the risk of complications associated with the treatment of those events. There appears to be no single reason for the low levels of a wide variety of medicines; drug-specific reasons include changes in production schedules by the manufacturers, the consolidation of the drug industry, which alters the emphasis by some drug makers from one therapeutic area to another, and the end of some drug production as large pharmaceutical firms focus on newer, more profitable products. As hospitals scramble for alternatives or have no other recourse than a drug that no longer is produced, the risk to patients grows and the cost rises as hospital stays are longer or newer drugs are used at a higher price. Often, the problem is exacerbated by the just-in-time distribution technique invented by industries like car manufacturing and adopted by the drug industry, decreasing the storage space necessary for stockpiles of drugs -- but increasing the risk of a shortfall. The Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Infectious Diseases Society of America are working to identify which key drugs are most at risk. In 1999, a commonly used generic antibiotic, penicillin G, was suddenly found in short supply. Hospitals were able to use more expensive antibiotics for most conditions; however, there was no substitute for babies with congenital syphilis. Meanwhile, drug giant Aventis has created a rationing system for the tetanus-diphtheria vaccine, which is now in short supply after routine maintenance at its factory took longer than expected and the discovery of poor manufacturing practices at the vaccine's other maker, American Home Products, forced a temporary halt in production.
Infectious Diseases Manual in Work for Street Folk
Fred Weller, a former drug addict and homeless person in Edmonton, Alberta, has found a new calling as an author. He organized a group of friends, and, in collaboration with the local Streetworks needle-exchange program, wrote a first-aid manual for the street. "We figured we knew the kinds of things people in this lifestyle need to know. Practical stuff," Weller explains. The book -- which discusses how to deal with such situations as stabbings, overdoses, and miscarriages -- has been such a success that social service departments throughout North America have distributed it. Now, the group is working on an infectious diseases manual for addicts and homeless people. Streetworks estimates there are 10,000 injection drug users in Edmonton. The organization's Marliss Taylor, a registered nurse, notes that "some estimates put the number of [hepatitis] C cases at 60 to 80 percent of the needle-drug user population," and she estimates that 7 percent of injection drug users in Edmonton are infected with HIV. The new manual from Weller et al.-- who call themselves Natural Helpers -- will focus on the spread of infectious diseases through needles, including tips on how to avoid them, what to do, and where to go for help. The booklet will also include helpful information about other conditions that affect homeless people, such as tuberculosis and lice.
The European Agency for the Evaluation of Medicinal Products (EMEA) recently warned that 28 people in North America and Europe developed tuberculosis within a short period of taking Remicade, an anti-inflammatory drug marketed by Schering-Plough in Europe and Johnson & Johnson in the United States. Based on the severity of these reports, the agency said it was advising that use of the drug be stopped if active TB is suspected until the diagnosis was rejected or the infection was treated. The EMEA noted that in many of these cases, the onset of active TB developed after three or fewer infusions of the drug, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. A spokesman for Centocor, the company which developed the drug, pointed out that prescribing information it supplies lists TB as a possible side effect.
Starting this month, a church in the Greater Cincinnati area will launch an HIV testing program. The project was undertaken by the wife of the Rev. Michael Harris, pastor of Emmanuel's new Mt. Zion Christian Fellowship in College Hill. Harris said, "As far as we know, we're the only area church authorized to do testing." The Ohio Health Department has trained Mamie Harris and other volunteers to conduct oral HIV tests. Reverend and Mrs. Harris have also learned about pre- and post-test counseling, and how to make referrals for treatment.
Mass Prison Amnesty in Russia Raises Health Fears: The Country's Dickensian Prisons Are Rife With TB, AIDS and Other Infectious Diseases
Russian Justice Minister Yuri Chaika announced Tuesday that he will release nearly 350,000 prisoners this year in an effort to "introduce more humane methods of criminal prosecution and punishment for crimes." Many people are concerned, however, that the amnesty program could be dangerous for an already unhealthy society, as many of the prisoners are infected with tuberculosis (TB), HIV, or other infectious diseases. Statistics show that one of every 10 prisoners in Russia has TB, and one-third are infected with drug-resistant strains of the disease. Human rights advocates agree that overcrowding is a problem in Russian prisons, but they say the answer lies in developing a more humane jail system, rather using amnesty as a "quick fix."
Forty Nine Percent of Beijing High School Students Say
Premarital Sex OK
A new study of Beijing high school students reveals that almost 50 percent of 739 first-year senior high school students surveyed had no problem with premarital sex. According to a report in the Beijing Evening News, nearly 10 percent of those not opposed to premarital intercourse felt it was okay if couples had sex "soon" after they met. The report indicated that while about 17 percent of respondents reported having hugged members of the opposite sex and about 10 percent had kissed, less than 1 percent of the students -- mostly 15- and 16-year-olds -- reported having had sex.
Eritrea: Helping Eritrea Fight HIV/AIDS, Malaria, STDs and TB
The World Bank has agreed to provide a $40 million credit to help fight HIV, malaria, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and tuberculosis (TB) in Eritrea. The disease control project will support the Eritrean government's efforts to decrease and eventually eradicate those diseases that are easily controlled and change overall good health measures and awareness. The $40 million credit for the HIV/AIDS, Malaria, STDs and TB Control Project will come from the World Bank's International Development Association.
Statistics show that, as of year-end 1999, there were over 6 million people with HIV in Asia. The region, home to 60 percent of the world's population, is predicted to be the next major HIV hotspot to erupt into a massive epidemic. In South and Southeast Asia alone, 800,000 new HIV cases were reported last year, mostly in India. The infection rate in Cambodia is about 4 percent of the adult population, while in Thailand, it is about 2 percent. The primary modes of HIV transmission in Asia are heterosexual sex and injection drug use, and underreporting of cases is widespread. In China, for example, the United Nations estimates that just 5 percent of all HIV infections are reported. Experts note that unless aggressive measures are taken, the disease will start to affect the economy, as it has in parts of Africa. As part of their efforts to fight the disease, some Asian nations are participating in or conducting tests of possible new AIDS therapies. In Thailand, researchers, funded in large part by the U.S. firm VaxGen, are testing a vaccine intended to protect against HIV subtypes B and E. For their research, half of the 2,500 HIV-negative injection drug users involved in the study will receive seven injections of the AIDSvax vaccine over three years, while the other half will receive placebos. Another drug being tested in Thailand is called Remune, originally developed by Immune Response and now licensed to Trinity Medical Group in Thailand. The drug, made up of deactivated HIV, attempts to boost the body's natural immune system. At a current cost of $2,100 for the three-shot Remune series, the drug is more affordable than the AIDS drug regimen now available in Thailand, although the price is still a key factor. Recently, a large-scale U.S. study of Remune was stopped early after researchers found the drug offered no real benefit to patients.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.