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HIV/AIDS Newsroom: February 1, 2001

Early Detection of Reverse Transcriptase Activity in Plasma of Neonates Infected With HIV-1: A Comparative Analysis With RNA-Based and DNA-Based Testing Using Polymerase Chain Reaction
Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (
01/01/01; Vol. 26, No. 1, P. 93; Reiseler, Ronald B; Thea, Donald M.; Pliner, Vadim; et al.

This study details the research into the applications of Amp-RT in the early HIV-1 infection diagnosis process and prognosis of infants, and compares results with earlier RNA and DNA-based PCR testing. HIV-1 transmission from mother to infant is the primary cause of the infection in children, so doctors are continually in search of a way to diagnose the infection quickly enough to be able to introduce aggressive antiretroviral treatment in anticipation of the toxicities and difficulties of administering the overall therapy to the infant. Tests using reverse transcriptase concluded that the new drug had no significant advantage in predicting the disease progression, perhaps because it is given too early when there is no proportional growth of the defective RNA for accuracy. Researchers stress that the study data is evidence of the usefulness of early testing for infants as young as 14 days old who have been exposed to HIV-1 and that early testing can result in more accurate disease progression predictions.

South Africa Relents on Maternal HIV Care
Washington Post (
02/01/01; P. A1; Jeter, Jon

Starting in March, nine provinces in South Africa will begin testing all pregnant women for HIV at public hospitals. Women who test positive will be given nevirapine and a six-month supply of formula to help prevent virus transmission through breast milk. Under the program, which has not yet been announced officially, Germany's Boehringer-Ingelheim has agreed to donate nevirapine to South Africa for five years; however, it is still not certain whether the amount of the drug donated will be sufficient or if more will have to be purchased. In South Africa, approximately 4.2 million people are infected with HIV and an estimated 70,000 babies are born infected with the virus or contract it soon after through breast-feeding.


Dirty Medical Devices May Have Infected Hundreds
Ottawa Citizen (
02/01/01; P. A3

Health officials in Ontario, Canada, tested hundreds of people for infectious diseases Wednesday, after learning that improperly cleaned endoscopes may have exposed them to hepatitis A, B, or C, or HIV. Officials at the Group Health Center in Sault Ste. Marie said that some of the older devices were cleaned using a procedure meant only for newer models. In all, about 250 patients were examined over the past two months, during which time some of the newer endoscopes required maintenance and older models were used in their place. The head of the center noted, however, that the risk of infection is extremely low.

Clinic Hits The Road to Fight TB; Health Workers in Mobile Unit Reach Out to Immigrant Farm Workers with Diagnostic X-Rays as Follow-up to Skin Test
Los Angeles Times (
01/31/01; P. B1; Mena, Jennifer

A clinic at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County, California, has begun a mobile tuberculosis (TB) testing program intended to reach the county's transient immigrant farm workers. TB rates are continuing to rise among the immigrant population in the United States, and although the actual number of new cases has decreased in Orange County, health care workers believe there are a greater number of immigrants infected with the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the proportion of TB cases among foreign-born people in the United States rose from 29.8 in 1993 to 41.6 in 1998. There were 131,377 new cases documented overall during that time in the United States, and one health official reports that there are 267,000 people who have tested positive for TB in Orange County. The mobile x-ray TB clinic is targeting the estimated 89,000 migrant farm workers in Orange County, many of whom live in crowded conditions, which could facilitate the disease's spread. The mobile service was started after health officials realized that some workers who did test positive did not return for follow-up X-rays, often because the tests were far from home, they had no transportation, and they did not want to miss a day's work.

U.S. AIDS Panel Tackles Third World Research Ethics
Reuters Health Information Services (
01/31/01; Zwillich, Todd

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is preparing to launch a new initiative in world AIDS research that will address matters regarding the increasing concern for the ethics behind human drug testing currently ongoing in some foreign countries. The advisory panel associated with the NIAID, The National Bioethics Advisory Commission, expects to release a final report within the next few weeks that will recommend policies for more restrictions and higher ethical standards for use in developing countries. HIV research is of particular concern in this issue, as scientists and health experts have found that developing countries have neither the physical or technological infrastructure required to sustain adequate and ongoing health care. The situation is especially difficult in Africa, where HIV infection rates among adults in some areas top 30 percent.

St. Paul Program Rewarded; Teen Abstinence Plan Gets Funds
Florida Times-Union (
01/31/01; P. N1; Carter, John

A second funding grant of $460,000 has been awarded to the St. Paul Community Empowerment Center of Jacksonville, Florida, to support Project TAG (Teen Abstinence Groups). The program is designed to educate preteens and teenagers about lifestyles that avoid sex before marriage. Foundation spokesman Ken Adkins feels the center has been able to target the conscience of the community, creating discussion groups and reaching out into the community with positive messages, both spiritual and emotional. Additionally, he believes that Project TAG may well save lives of many teens through encouraging abstinence and preventing many from contracting HIV. The challenge that Project TAG often faces, is turning the marketing glitz of alluring and exciting images of sex completely around so that teens will see the other side.

Cardiovascular Disease Risk Markedly Elevated in HIV-Infected Patients with Lipodystrophy
Reuters Health Information Services (

Physicians from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston recently concluded that HIV-infected patients with lipodystrophy are significantly more at risk from cardiovascular disease than HIV patients without fat redistribution and healthy controls free from either illness. Details of the study -- published in the January 1st issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases (2001;32:130-139) -- indicate an increase in waist-to-hip ratios, fasting insulin levels, and diastolic blood pressure in the lipodystrophy group in comparison to the two control groups. Individuals with both diseases were also at greater risk for impaired glucose tolerance, diabetes, hypertriglyceridemia, and decreased levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Safe Dose Established for New Anti-HIV Drug, Setting Stage for Larger Trial
Reuters Health Information Services (

Preliminary data from a phase I/II trial of azodicarbonamide (ADA) indicates that the HIV-1 zinc finger inhibitor is generally safe and could be beneficial to some AIDS patients who are experiencing virologic failure, when used in combination with standard antiviral therapies. Researchers from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitat in Germany report in the January 5th issue of AIDS (2001;15:33-45) that most of the 15 subjects tolerated ADA well and that toxicity was dependent upon the dosage. The tests indicated that ADA increased the percentage of CD4 cells and the CD4/CD8 ratio and decreased plasma RNA viral load levels in comparison to baseline data.

BioChem Gets U.S. Patent for Improved AIDS Cocktail
Reuters (

BioChem Pharma has received a U.S. patent for a cocktail of the AIDS drug lamivudine, or 3TC, in combination with other antiviral drugs. The patent includes compositions made up of lamivudine used in combination with other antivirals and also other ways of using lamivudine to treat HIV.

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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.