HIV/AIDS Newsroom: August 29, 2000
State Checking Schools for Sex Ed Materials
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (www.accessatlanta.com)
08/29/00 P. 8A
South Carolina's Education Department is questioning school districts throughout the state to find out how many use sex education materials opposed by Attorney General Charlie Condon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided the materials, but Condon claims the information "repeatedly authorize[s] or even encourage[s] premarital sex so long as teenagers properly protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases." Condon says the material violates state law, which requires sex education to focus on abstinence and relations between married couples.
AIDS patient Richard Hollingsworth is offering the world a chance to see how he and his family deals with his disease. He broadcasts their lives on the Internet 24 hours a day to show how an ordinary family copes with a family member infected with HIV. Hollingsworth, who lives in Victoria, British Columbia, explained that he wants to help save lives with the Internet show. The idea for the Webcast came after Hollingsworth walked through Canada to promote AIDS awareness, and people told him he helped them to overcome HIV stereotypes. Although he is in poor health, the site will continue with three couples and two single people. Canadian filmmakers are also creating a documentary based on Hollingsworth that Indian and Chinese health officials have said they will show.
Drug Intake Interruption Can Boost Body's Responses to AIDS: Study
Agence France Presse (www.afp.com)
A new study from scientists at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia shows that drug intake interruptions can increase the body's response to HIV in patients with chronic infection. One patient studied could control HIV without drugs for four months, the report said. The researchers suggest that some HIV-infected individuals may be able to use planned interruptions in drug treatment to boost their immune systems. The findings are published in the September issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases (2000;182:766-775).
China has started a campaign to end the illegal market in re-used disposable syringes, according to a report in the China Daily. The health ministry requires all hospitals to destroy discarded syringes so they cannot be resold and risk spreading blood-borne diseases. The World Health Organization estimates that up to 50 percent of injections in China are unsafe, and about 12 percent of all Chinese are chronic carriers of hepatitis B virus. The newspaper report noted that officials in one eastern province recently seized 10 tons of used syringes.
The United Nations will start a program next year that will focus on slowing the spread of HIV around migration routes in West Africa. Border crossing points in Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria will be targeted. UNAIDS Program Director Cynthia Eledu stated that migration factors could lead to a rise in infections, as vulnerable groups like drivers, traders, and smugglers require HIV prevention education and access to condoms.
The Ghanaian government reportedly has ordered 500,000 female condoms to fight the spread of HIV. A pilot project run by the United Nations Population Fund and the Ghana Social Marketing Foundation to introduce the female condom revealed that the prophylactic was very popular, particularly among young women. An estimated 400,000 Ghanaians are infected with HIV.
The World Health Organization (WHO) urged African health ministers attending the 50th regional committee meeting in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to take steps to reduce the HIV transmission rate among newborns. WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland noted, "We have no time to lose in order to save thousands of babies from HIV infection." Brundtland said that a contact group will meet with member states and pharmaceutical representatives next month to discuss the issue. She also announced that the WHO will focus on mental health during the next year.
The Ugandan government has formed an agreement with organizers of an AIDS conference to change the theme and objectives of the meeting, which was set to start on Monday. Professor Peter Kanyandago, the local leader of dissident group of scientists, said the conference had to be drastically altered because the government felt it could destroy advances the country has made in the fight against AIDS. Aggressive prevention efforts helped to reduce HIV infection rates in Uganda by half between 1992 and 1996. The original theme of the conference was to be "Making Sense: Alternative Views on the Origins and Causes of AIDS in Africa"; however, Ugandan officials said that was too controversial and could lead people not to believe that HIV is the cause of AIDS. The conference organizers question HIV testing and the usefulness of drug therapy, believing AIDS is caused by socioeconomic factors like poverty.
Teenagers can be hard to reach with HIV prevention messages. Donna Futterman, director of the Adolescent AIDS Program at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, says teens need to be reached at their hangouts and through popular culture. HIV prevention programs for youths should also focus on testing. Futterman's project "HIV. Live With It. Get Tested," has youth-friendly testing sites and offers HIV care. Futterman has learned that teens can be influenced with messages that use their own slang. The Adolescent AIDS Program has peer outreach workers who speak to youths at schools and parks, and a Web site, located at www.hivlivewithit.org. Another program, Project ACTION, is a national prevention campaign that focuses on community action, mass media messages, skills building, and condom availability, according to Janet Livingstone, head of U.S. programs for Population Services International (PSI). PSI first works with local community leaders and health care workers to explain Project ACTION's objectives. The group then researches the target audience and works to help the youths understand their risk. "We help them to negotiate condom use, in other words," Livingstone explains. The last step is to provide inexpensive and easily accessible condoms for the young people, in locations such as recreation centers, pizza parlors, record stores, and video arcades.
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.