HIV/AIDS Newsroom: September 1, 2000
High Mortality Among Women With HIV-1 Infection in Thailand
08/26/00 Vol. 356, No. 9231, P. 771; Kilmarx, Peter H.; Limpakarnjanarat, Kanchit; Saisorn, Supachai; et al.
Researchers from the HIV/AIDS Collaboration of Thailand and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that HIV-1 infection was introduced in northern Thailand during the late 1980s, and from there it spread quickly. The authors compared mortality rates among women with prevalent and incident HIV-1 infection to rates among HIV-negative women as part of a continuing study of female sex workers. Of 500 women enrolled in the study between 1991 and 1994, 32 percent had HIV infection. A total of 68 women died, including 59 who were HIV-positive at the start and seven who seroconverted. The researchers note that all reported causes of death for the HIV-infected women were related to immunosuppression. There was no use of antiretrovirals through 1997, and injection drug use was reported in only 1 percent of the females. According to the investigators, "These very high mortality rates among HIV-1-infected women, in comparison with uninfected women, provides additional strong epidemiological evidence that HIV-1 infection causes AIDS and death as a result of immunosuppression."
Researchers launched on Thursday clinical tests of the first HIV vaccine specifically designed to fight Clade A HIV-1 infection, which is prevalent in many parts of Africa. A total of 18 volunteers in Oxford, England, will receive the experimental vaccine, according to the Medical Research Council. The researchers said they will conduct further trials in Nairobi, Kenya, if these first tests are successful. Andrew McMichael, director of the council's human immunology unit, noted that future trials would include subjects at high risk for HIV, and the researchers should know if the vaccine is effective in three to five years. Sponsored by the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, the research involves a vaccine that is made from DNA fragments intended to strengthen the immune system and that cannot transmit HIV. Further information about the Oxford AIDS Vaccine Initiative is available online at www.oxavi.org. Separately, scientists in Thailand announced Thursday that they have successfully recruited 2,500 volunteers to test an AIDS vaccine in the country.
If Mom OKs Birth Control, Teens More Likely to Have Sex
Reuters Health Information Services (www.reutershealth.com)
A new study from Drs. James Jaccard and Patricia Dittus of the State University of New York, Albany, shows that teens who think their mothers approve of them using birth control are more likely to have sex. A total of 10,000 students in grades seven through 11 were interviewed, revealing that teens who felt strongly that their mothers approved of their use of birth control were two times more likely to have sex for the first time than those who did not feel they had such approval. The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health (2000;90:1426-1430), suggests that talking to teens about safe sex is not enough, but that the emotional and consequential effects of sex should also be considered. The report noted that teenagers who consider themselves to have a good relationship with their mothers were less likely to have sex during the study period, and those who did have sex were more likely to use birth control.
In Louisiana, the Governor's Program on Abstinence is going on a 100-city tour to launch the new campaign. At the 81st stop, in St. Bernard Parish, no one showed up, although it turns out the lack of audience was due to a scheduling error instead of a lack of interest. The program, which was developed out of the federal Welfare Reform Act of 1996, is designed to educate people about sexually transmitted diseases, promoting abstinence as the only sure way to prevent becoming infected. Gov. Foster hopes to create a 36-week, one-hour-a-week abstinence-education curriculum that could be used in both public and private schools throughout the state as early as next year. "We want to make abstinence cool," said Dan Richey, the coordinator of the program.
German researchers led by Dr. Uwe Wintergerst of University Children's Hospital in Munich have found that HIV-infected patients treated with indinavir have drug concentrations in saliva similar to plasma levels. Therefore, saliva could be used to monitor the drug and study its antiviral efficacy. Samples of blood and saliva were taken every hour for four hours from 10 HIV-infected patients treated with antiretrovirals including indinavir. The researchers report in the September issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (2000;44:2572-2574) that this technique could be modified to measure nevirapine as well.
Zonagen, a biotechnology company based in The Woodlands, Texas, has received a small business innovation grant to study a topical therapy for genital herpes. The $96,843 grant from the National Institutes of Health will be used to investigate topically applied alpha-interferon for the treatment of the sexually transmitted disease. Genital herpes affects 45 million Americans over the age of 12.
Canadian Blood Services will not allow people who spent over six months in France between 1980 and 1996 to donate blood. The federal health department stated that the risk of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or mad cow disease, has forced the precautions. While there has never been a reported case of humans contracting the disease via blood transfusions, nor have there been any cases in North America, Health Canada is taking the precautions in the wake of a blood scandal in the 1980s in which thousands of people contracted HIV and hepatitis C after receiving tainted blood from the Canadian Red Cross. Canadian Blood Services has since been established to take over the Canadian Red Cross' blood donation responsibilities, and the government has agreed to pay billions of dollars in compensation to people who received the contaminated blood.
The Israel AIDS Task Force has reopened its doors after protests led to increased financial support. The Health, Education, Labor, and Social Affairs Ministries will transfer 500,000 New Israeli Shekels to the group that provides HIV care and prevention education. Pressure on government officials, including a hunger strike by task force activists, helped reopen the group.
Becton Dickinson Biosciences is voluntarily recalling a lot of isoniazid (INH) used for antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST) for tuberculosis (TB). Customer complaints and investigation found that vials of streptomycin could have been mislabeled as isoniazid. The results of tests with the recalled INH are not reliable, and a second test using nonrecalled INH should be performed. Patients undergoing the four-drug treatment regimen for TB should not worry, because most infections are susceptible to first-line anti-TB drugs. Patients who have finished the regimen before repeat AST results are available do not need more therapy. The recalled INH lot was distributed as parts of BACTEC S.I.R.E kits (lot nos. 9327296, 9342298, and 9327298) and as an individual drug for reconstitution (BACTEC Isoniazid kit lot no. 9327297) between January 2000 and August 25, 2000.
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.