HIV/AIDS Newsroom: September 8, 2000
Socioeconomic Status and Survival of Persons With AIDS Before and After the Introduction of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy
09/00 Vol. 11, No. 5, P. 496; Rapiti, Elisabetta; Porta, Daniela; Forastiere, Francesco; et al.
Researchers for the Lazio AIDS Surveillance Collaborative Group examined the survival and socioeconomic status (SES) of AIDS patients between two periods, 1993 to 1995 and 1996 to 1997, which is before and after the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Data taken from the AIDS Surveillance System of Lazio, Italy, showed that 1,474 people with AIDS lived in Rome at this time. Neighborhood SES and survival were compared using three variables. The results indicate that 34.1 percent of the AIDS patients were alive in mid-1998. During the second time period studied, there was an increased relative risk of dying for persons of lower neighborhood SES, and females in the fourth SES level had the highest risk of dying. Between 1993 to 1995, there was little risk of death by neighborhood SES for any age group or gender. For the 1996-to-1997 period, those with lower SES had a higher risk of death, especially women and drug users. The introduction of HAART in Italy in 1996 led to the association between low SES and risk of death, since those in the lowest social class had fewer resources and opportunities for treatment, the researchers concluded.
Dr. Robert Greifinger, a court-appointed medical auditor, told a Superior Court in DeKalb, Georgia, Thursday that not treating inmates' communicable diseases could threaten the public's health. Greifinger--who audited the DeKalb County Jail for three days as part of a suit in which inmates at the jail are fighting for better care--cited tuberculosis, HIV, and other sexually transmitted diseases as risks to other inmates and jail workers; however, he said they will eventually also affect the public when an infected inmate is released. Greifinger noted he also found several trash bags filled with prisoners' requests for medical treatment. Judge Hilton Fuller has given the plaintiffs and inmates a week to respond to the doctor's report.
U.S. Efforts on HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases
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The Clinton administration has released a statement showing its strong support for United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for international action to fight HIV. The statement notes that the White House also backs Annan's recommendation that health research be focused on issues that affect the majority of the world's people. AIDS, for example, took the lives of 2.8 million people in 1999, while millions continue to die from vaccine-preventable infections and many more die from disease which still need vaccines, including AIDS and malaria. The statement also lists actions the administration has taken that support the recommendations of the U.N. Millennium Report in terms of the threat of global disease issues.
Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe, told participants at the United Nations Millennium Summit this week that three of his cabinet ministers and many traditional chiefs have died from AIDS in the last several years. Mugabe asked for international help to fight the disease, which is taking the lives of an estimated 2,000 Zimbabweans a week. Mugabe, who also noted he has lost a "countless number" of extended family members to AIDS, encouraged global participation to halt the epidemic.
Japanese researchers, led by Dr. Hideji Hanabusa of Ogikubo Hospital in Tokyo, have found a way to separate HIV-1 from the semen of men infected with the virus, so it could be used for artificial insemination in uninfected women. The study involved semen samples from 12 HIV-1-infected men with hemophilia. To separate the virus from semen, the researchers tested continuous or discontinuous Percoll gradient centrifugation followed by the "swim-up" method and found that it reduced HIV RNA to undetectable levels. The findings are published in a recent issue of the journal AIDS (2000;14:1611-1616).
Researchers from Northwestern University Medical School and Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center are studying interleukin-2 (IL-2) as a possible way to increase T-cell counts in HIV-infected patients. A recent study showed that IL-2, a T-cell growth factor, significantly boosted T-cell counts, versus treatment with only antiviral drugs, and did not increase the amount of HIV in the blood. The investigators are seeking HIV-1-infected adults who have been taking two antiretroviral drugs for at least six months and have a viral load of less than 10,000 copies/milliliter.
Researchers at the World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics report that sex education in school, contraceptive use, and legal abortions helped reduce the teen pregnancy rates in Sweden and Scandinavia. For every 1,000 Swedish teens aged 15 to 19 in 1965, 50 became pregnant; but that rate had fallen to 10 pregnancies per 1,000 women by 1995. Dr. Roger Short, professor of reproductive biology at Australia's University of Melbourne, said the United States could reduce its high teen pregnancy rate with youth-to-youth sex education campaigns. The Netherlands has the lowest teen pregnancy rate and one of the lowest abortion rates worldwide, due to its openness about sex, formal sex education, and easy access to services, according to Dr. R.H.W. Van Lunsen of the University of Amsterdam.
Austrian, Swiss, and U.K. officials are trying to track down blood plasma contaminated with HIV, hepatitis C, and syphilis, that was allegedly sold by South African firms to brokers in Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Authorities fear that brokers have been selling relabeled contaminated blood products to various countries for over 10 years. A recent confidential investigation conducted by South Africa's Department of Health determined that infected blood plasma not suitable for human use had been exported within the past decade. Although he noted that more information is needed about the situation, Dr. Luc Noel--the coordinator of blood transfusion safety for the World Health Organization--said that anyone who relabels unsafe blood products, thus putting others at risk, should be punished.
The Hepatitis Foundation International has published a liver wellness primer for teachers that contains hepatitis B virus prevention messages. The pamphlet is intended to help teach students about avoiding liver-damaging behavior, including substance abuse, and hepatitis B vaccination. The messages are aimed at children in kindergarten through 12th grade. The book has information on hepatitis, its symptoms, and treatment.
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.