HIV/AIDS Newsroom: January 9, 2000
An Old Nemesis Keeps Scarring San Francisco
New York Times (www.nytimes.com)
01/09/01; P. A10; Nieves, Evelyn
Heroin use continues to be popular in San Francisco, some 20 years after the threat of HIV infection made the drug more dangerous than it had been before. Indeed, throughout the United States the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates that the number of heroin users has soared from 600,000 at the beginning of the 1990s, to 980,000. The increase, the agency says, can be attributed to new forms of the drug, the myth that heroin is safer when not used intravenously, and to the "heroin chic" look seen among models during the early 1990s. In the West, Washington State, Oregon, and California have the greatest incidence of heroin use; however, states like New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Michigan are also having problems with the drug. In San Francisco, which seems to attract troubled young people from all over the United States, many heroin users are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The virus is very infectious, notes Dr. Andrew Moss of the University of California at San Francisco, and people who contract HCV are at risk of developing liver disease, cancer, or cirrhosis, with many not showing symptoms for several years.
Some adults in their 20s and 30s are abstaining from sexual intercourse, according to new research. Reasons for their abstinence vary, ranging from religious beliefs to the fear of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. According to Edward O. Laumann, co-author of "Sex in America: A Definitive Study," only about 2 percent of the population has not had sex by age 30. He notes that while anecdotal evidence points to people being more accepting of sex before marriage, sexual morality and abstinence-based sex education programs have also received a lot of attention in recent years. Dr. William Emener, chairman of the rehabilitation and mental health counseling department at the University of South Florida in Tampa, points out that many young adults are becoming more aware of the health and relationship matters faced by the previous generations and are trying to avoid issues, such as divorce or HIV infection, that may have affected the lives of their parents or older friends.
President Clinton Awards the Presidential Citizens Medals
U.S. Newswire (www.usnewswire.com)
President Clinton recognized 28 individuals on Monday for their service and accomplishments in a number of areas, including the fight against AIDS. The Presidential Citizens Medal, first established in 1969, was awarded to researcher Dr. David Ho, actress Elizabeth Taylor, and pediatrician Dr. Helen Rodriguez-Trias, among others. Dr. Ho has contributed greatly to the store of knowledge about HIV, including conducting breakthrough work on the use of protease inhibitors in combination with standard therapies for HIV and AIDS patients. Taylor has long been dedicated to the war against AIDS, helping to focus national attention on the deadly disease. Rodriguez-Trias, meanwhile, has worked to prevent the spread of HIV and has lobbied to better the health of women and children.
Directors of a Vancouver company have come under fire as Health Canada probes the company's current marketing of a potentially deadly chemical called isobutyl nitrite. The drug, popularly known as "poppers" and is said by users to enhance sex, has been criticized by AIDS activists for promoting the spread of HIV and causing health problems on its own -- including death, if taken with Viagra. The company, AAA Packaging of Delta, markets the chemical in packaging labeled "leather cleaner" or "video-head cleaner." Illegal for sale or use a drug in both Canada and the United States, isobutyl nitrite is legal for limited non-drug industrial applications. While legal advisers to Health Canada have said that "in the absence of any drug claim, really those products fall through the cracks" of existing laws, an investigation by the Vancouver Sun found that the drug is being marketed online by AAA Packaging and other companies as a mood-altering drug.
In a policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics argued that more messages of sexual abstinence need to be directed at the nation's youth, to counterbalance the effects of the nearly 14,000 sexual references viewed by the average teenager each year. In their statement, published in the group's journal, Pediatrics, the doctors highlighted the importance of bringing more awareness to youths of the risks of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) by urging wider discussions between patients and doctors. They also felt video rental stores and theaters need to be urged to enforce the rating systems currently in place, and encouraged school systems to incorporate a media education curriculum into their sex education programs to clarify sexually oriented marketing messages being sent via television or music. The statement cited studies revealing that 21 percent of teens have had four or more sexual partners and one in four sexually active teens contract STDs annually.
A study published in the December issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology (2000;21:780-785) reveals that side effects from post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for HIV are common, although treatment toxicity is rarely serious. Dr. Susan A. Wang of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and associates prospectively collected data on the safety of PEP treatments using nearly 500 case workers who were exposed to HIV on the job. Of the 449 patients for whom six-week data were available, more than half of the 197 people who discontinued PEP reported doing so because of adverse effects; nearly 40 percent discontinued treatment because they learned the source patient was not infected with HIV. Approximately three-quarters of the patients reported some symptoms while taking PEP, most commonly nausea, fatigue or malaise, headache, and vomiting.
The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 500 million Chinese are infected with tuberculosis (TB), including 6 million with active disease. The country launched the world's largest TB control project during the 1990s, and was able to increase the cure rate to 90 percent. The program only spanned half of China, however, and it is also threatened by the advent of drug-resistant strains and the end of World Bank financing in 2002. Vice Health Minister Yin Dakui cautioned last year TB could affect economic growth in China. Doctors Without Borders moved into Danian to aid the population during the aftermath of a major flood five years ago, but locals have been resistant to medical help. Since then, the international group has been training local doctors, refurbishing the hospital and building clinics, and attacking TB among the region's 12,000 people.
During a conference with African health officials on Tuesday, Danish ministers plan to reveal a new strategy in Africa's war against AIDS. One of the largest development aid donors in the world, Denmark said it is committed to fighting HIV in Africa, backed by its Partnerskab 2000 (Partnership 2000) aid program. The program aims to reduce the rate of infection and stem the spread of the virus. Danish Cooperation Minister Anita Bay Bundegaard is slated to meet with the health ministers of South Africa and Uganda Tuesday, and also with Dr. Peter Piot, the executive director of UNAIDS.
New research indicates people with HIV will be more satisfied with their doctors if they believe their physicians are knowledgeable about the disease and show empathy. Researchers questioned 203 HIV-infected individuals, taking into account sociodemographics, HIV risk, alcohol and drug use, and health status and quality of life. After six months, the researchers interviewed 146 of the patients, asking them if their primary care physician met their expectations and how satisfied they are with that individual. More than half of the patients were almost completely satisfied with their doctor. Whereas previous studies have shown a significant association between a patient's characteristics, the characteristics of the site of care, and overall satisfaction, this study revealed no link between satisfaction and any sociodemographic, risk, or health factors. Principal investigator Dr. Jeffrey Samet of Boston University's Schools of Medicine and Public Health, notes, "The important qualities of primary care physicians had to do with how they communicated with their 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.