HIV/AIDS Newsroom: September 15, 2000
F.D.A. Panel Rejects Bid to Ease Ban on Blood Donations by Gays
New York Times (www.nytimes.com)
09/15/00 P. A25
The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) scientific advisers rejected on Thursday a proposal to lift the ban on gay men donating blood, with a 7-to-6 vote. The advisers cited a lack of evidence showing that the nation's blood supply is safe from AIDS. Men who have had sex with men, even just once, since 1977 are not allowed to donate blood. The policy was adopted in 1985. The policy change -- being debated at a time when the nation faces a severe blood shortage -- could have resulted in about 62,300 gay men, or men who had gay sex once, potentially donating blood, according to the FDA's Andrew Dayton. Approximately half of the nation's blood banks wanted the change, seeking a reduction in the period of proscribed gay sex; however, the American Red Cross said it is against any changes in the ban. The panelists called on the FDA to further consider how to change what some consider a rule that discriminates against healthy homosexual males.
At a White House prayer breakfast on Thursday, President Clinton called on America's religious leaders to fight for more U.S. funding to help other nations with debt relief, disease prevention, and education. The president said that the United States has responsibilities to help with debt relief and should lead the battle against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Clinton announced that he has proposed a tax credit, additional funding to buy drug treatments, and $100 million more to help impoverished nations deal with the AIDS epidemic.
Giuliani Pulls His Charts Out for a Review of New York
New York Times (www.nytimes.com)
09/15/00 P. B9; Lipton, Eric
New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani recently presented data from an 800-page study known as the Mayor's Management Report, which show that the city is doing better overall but slipped in a few areas compared to last year. The mayor said that crime and new cases of AIDS are down, while tourism and employment are up. While there were some improvements and even some declines, Giuliani said, "There is no question I think the city is doing better now than it was seven or eight years ago, and it's doing better than it was last year." The reports showed that new AIDS cases fell almost 20 percent in 1999, while new cases of tuberculosis and lead poisoning also declined. On the negative side, however, the report showed that the number of AIDS-related deaths rose from 1,978 to 2,028 last year.
The House of Representatives passed on Thursday a $4.9 billion budget for the District of Columbia. The city's 2001 budget, which was narrowly passed with a vote of 217 to 207, included much debate as Democrats charged Republicans with shortchanging the capital city. GOP lawmakers added riders to the budget that bar the use of federal or local funds to help addicts exchange dirty needles for clean ones and also prevent the city's only privately funded exchange program from working within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, day-care facilities, public housing complexes, and other areas in which children might be found. The so-called social riders would essentially halt the program intended to stem the spread of HIV. Clinton vetoed a version of the city's budget last year, in part, because of a needle exchange-related rider.
San Francisco health officials believe a new advertising campaign will help reach HIV-positive gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, sending the message "HIV stops with me." The paid television ads, which will be broadcast starting next week during prime time on UPN, ABC, and cable stations, emphasize prevention for people already infected with HIV. Tom Coates, director of the University of California at San Francisco's AIDS Research Institute, explained that "the message is that infected people need to be taking on leadership roles in the community and responsibility for stopping the spread of HIV." A San Francisco health department study released last month revealed increasing HIV infections among gay men in the city and a decline in consistent condom use among gay men. The new ad campaign encourages gay men not to make assumptions regarding their partner's HIV status and urges HIV-infected men to inform sex partners of their status. The campaign Web site is www.hivstopswithme.org.
The Office of Public Health's HIV/AIDS program may increase its prevention efforts in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which ranked 12th nationwide in AIDS case rates in 1999. The Baton Rouge metropolitan area had 189 new AIDS cases last year, for a rate of 32.6 cases per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New Orleans recorded 414 new AIDS cases, for a rate of 31.7 cases per 100,000. Beth Scalco, the HIV/AIDS program administrative director, explained that the rise in Baton Rouge is partly due to intravenous drug use, and she noted the case rate was also high among African Americans and heterosexuals. Scalco said, however, that plans to use state money for condom distribution have been opposed by some groups that promote abstinence. Tom Farley, former medical director of Louisiana's HIV/AIDS program, also pointed out that the state's high case rates of HIV and AIDS are directly related to high rates of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), since having an STD facilitates the risk of HIV infection.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government has announced its support for the national AIDS strategy for the next four years. According to the country's National Council on AIDS and related diseases, the plan's chief goals are to end the transmission of HIV and limit the disease's social impact. ACT Health Minister Michael Moore stated the plan also emphasizes the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, fighting the use of drugs in the community.
Abbott Laboratories, led by vice president for pharmaceutical development John Leonard, has launched a new program called "Step Forward." The program, which helps children orphaned by AIDS, was formally started in July. Abbott's team spent a year researching the needs of populations dealing with AIDS, including children in Tanzania and Romania. They decided to focus on four areas of need: local healthcare, voluntary testing/counseling, community support, and education. There are 13.2 million AIDS orphans, most of whom cannot speak for themselves and have few resources. The Step Forward project and grants to other organizations lead the company's efforts. A Step Forward grant to the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) will help a children's AIDS program in Romania, which is trying to set up a state-of-the-art pediatric AIDS clinic. Abbott's ideas are based upon principles of acquiring first-hand knowledge about how the children live and how involved the program must be. The Step Forward initiative also addresses an area's infrastructure, helping everyone -- even those not directly infected with HIV, but who also need basic education and improved health conditions. Jose Zuniga, president of IAPAC, notes that AIDS initiatives should have long-term educational goals to help the children who live there, because "otherwise, the children who survive the AIDS epidemic will inherit countries that are economic and cultural wastelands."
A satellite broadcast called "HIV Prevention Update: Men Who Have Sex With Men" will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, November 30. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Public Health Training Network will sponsor the forum, which will focus on HIV prevention among men who have sex with men (MSM). The broadcast aims to get information to groups and people who provide health to MSM. Speakers will address HIV among MSM, effective prevention programs, and how to get help. Further information is available online, at www.cdcnpin.org/broadcast, or via the CDC's Fax Information System, by calling (888) 232-3299, then entering document number 130030 and a return fax number.
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.