HIV/AIDS Newsroom: October 2, 2000
Enhancement of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1-Specific CD4 and CD8 T Cell Responses in Chronically Infected Persons After Temporary Treatment Interruption
Journal of Infectious Diseases Online (www.journals.uchicago.edu/JID)
09/00 Vol. 182, No. 3, P. 766; Papasavvas, Emmanouil; Ortiz, Gabriel M.; Gross, Robert; et al.
A study of five chronically HIV-infected subjects with antiretroviral therapy-mediated virus suppression and five untreated controls was conducted to compare the virologic outcomes of treatment interruptions. An interruption of therapy for 55 days, on average, showed that restarted therapy suppressed the viral load in four of five subjects by 33 days with no decrease in T cells percentage. The one subject who did not resume treatment maintained a low viral load, report the scientists from the Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania.
A new report from the United Nations Population Fund concludes that women need more power in relation to sexual activity and its effects. According to the group's annual report, increased power for women could help avert many unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, maternal deaths, infections, and other problems. The report, titled Lives Together, Worlds Apart: Men and Women in a Time of Change, found that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect five times more women than men. Increasing women's power could thus help avoid many of the STDs contracted every year, the report said. The retiring head of the population fund, Dr. Nafis Sadik, noted that major changes in just discussing issues like rape, incest, and female reproductive rights have occurred in the last few years. She said that the fact that AIDS, the sex trade, and sex education for adolescents can be openly discussed at the United Nations and government offices "is an indication of massive, massive change in thinking." According to many women's health advocates, the greatest change in thinking with regards to women's health and rights came after a 1994 conference in Cairo that Sadik directed.
Mandela Repudiates Mbeki on AIDS
Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com)
09/30/00 P. A16
In a recent interview, former South African president Nelson Mandela asserted his belief that HIV causes AIDS. The report, published by Independent Group newspapers, quoted Mandela as saying he would recognize "the dominant opinion which prevails throughout the world" until he was shown definite proof that this is incorrect. South Africa's current leader, Thabo Mbeki, has taken a contrary position, claiming he will not accept the link between HIV and AIDS unless an international panel he has commissioned can prove it. A recent report from Welfare Minister Zola Skweyiya indicated that unless aggressive measures are taken, AIDS will take the lives of 6 million South Africans over the next decade.
U.S. health officials say that needle injuries cause about 1,000 serious infections every year, including HIV and hepatitis C. Legislation slated to be voted on by the House of Representatives early this week would mandate that facilities use safer needles that either retract or blunt their points after being used. The measure would help safeguard the nearly 10 million American workers who use needles in patient care every day. The legislation, which has received bipartisan support and the backing of the American Hospital Association, would also require nursing personnel to help choose the safety devices.
Arizona health officials are launching this week an advertising campaign that supports sexual abstinence for teenagers. With the fifth highest teen birth rate in the United States, 29.6 of every 1,000 teenage girls in Arizona had a baby last year. That figure is down from 38.9 in 1995.
A fund being established by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) will help Caribbean and Latin American nations access more affordable AIDS treatments. The organization's Directing Council has approved a resolution to request PAHO to set up a regional revolving fund that would make bulk purchases of AIDS drugs. Details of how the fund will operate are expected to be available within two months, according to a senior PAHO official. Representatives for the organization noted that in addition to lowering AIDS drug costs, emphasis must also be placed on effective educational treatments and delivery system efforts.
An Australian AIDS organization is warning that a rise in unsafe sex among young homosexual men signals a need for renewed efforts against HIV. Chris Puplick, chairman of the National Council on AIDS and Related Diseases, noted an increase in HIV rates in New South Wales and Victoria. He said, "There has been an increase in the level of unsafe sexual behavior particularly among young gay men in major metropolitan centers, and that behavior is a challenge to the public health strategies that need to be put in place." Puplick pointed out that whereas many older gay men have seen other people with HIV or AIDS, new treatment options may make AIDS seem less of a fatal disease and more of a chronic infection, possibly with a vaccine in the immediate future.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic will reverse Botswana's population growth in a decade, according to a new United Nations report. The study forecast that by 2021, the country's population will be nearly one-third lower than it would have been without AIDS and the economy will have declined by one-third. The report also noted that between 40 percent and 50 percent of pregnant women in Botswana are infected with HIV.
Working with the Mississippi State and District Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers recently investigated a cluster of HIV-infected individuals within a social network of 122 young men and women in rural Mississippi. Results from the investigation indicate that of 78 people tested for HIV, five young women (median age, 16 years) and two men (median age, 25 years) were infected, all of whom are believed to have acquired HIV through heterosexual sex. Interviews with the seven infected individuals and 22 uninfected sexual partners reveal a network of young people at high risk for HIV. Over half (52 percent) had a history of sexually transmitted disease and almost all (97 percent) reported multiple sexual partners. The young people infected were more likely to have initiated sex at a younger age than their uninfected counterparts, and the young women infected reported having had sexual partners much older than themselves (at least 10 years). In addition to highlighting the need for HIV prevention efforts in this and other settings where high-risk sexual networks exist, the findings also point to a critical lack of knowledge and access related to HIV treatment. Only two of the infected individuals had seen a doctor for care, and five of the seven were unaware that treatment for HIV existed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a draft 5-year plan for HIV/AIDS prevention for public comment. The draft strategic plan was developed collaboratively by external consultants active in HIV/AIDS prevention and CDC staff. The draft five-year strategic plan details priority goals, objectives and strategies for domestic and international HIV prevention. The draft plan can be accessed at CDC's website (www.cdc.gov) or by calling the NationalPrevention Information Network (NPIN) by calling NPIN at 1 (800) 458-5231. The public comment period runs until October 23, 2000.