HIV/AIDS Newsroom: October 10, 2000
Increased Serum Level of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in Pulmonary Tuberculosis
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine Online (www.ajrccm.org)
09/00 Vol. 162, No. 3, P. 1120; Matsuyama, Wataru; Hashiguchi, Teruto; Matsumuro, Kenji; et al.
Japanese researchers investigated an increased serum level of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) among patients with Crohn's disease. The scientists believed that VEGF could be related to pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), so they analyzed the serum level of 43 patients with active TB, 29 patients with old TB, and 25 with acute bronchitis. The serum levels were higher in patients with active TB than those in the other groups. The researchers conclude that VEGF could be associated with the pathogenesis of pulmonary TB.
Freya Sonenstein and colleagues at the Urban Institute will soon release a study that calls for better sex education for boys. The researchers say that young men need programs to address sexual relationships, sexually transmitted diseases, prevention of pregnancy, and fatherhood. While the objectives may seem obvious, Sonenstein points out there is a need to target such programs for boys. Noting that the report is "a starting point," Sonenstein said, "We know that there's evidence that young men seem ready to change their behavior, and now we need to learn how to change this readiness into behaviors that accomplish what we set up as goals."
Teaching Teenagers a Subject Many Know All Too Well
New York Times (www.nytimes.com)
10/10/10/00 P. D7; Gilbert, Susan
A recent survey from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation showed that parents want help in providing sex education to their teenagers. More teenagers are having sex earlier, about 31 percent by age 15 in 1995, according to a study published earlier this year in Family Planning Perspectives. Casual sexual encounters not including intercourse are becoming more common in middle school, too. Young teenagers are reporting to people like Dr. Andrea Marx, an adolescent doctor in Manhattan, that they have oral sex because they think it is "safe," meaning an activity that will not lead to pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and also because they want the experience. However, STDs can be transmitted during oral sex, which experts note has emotional consequences as well. Experts believe that conversations about sex between parents and teens must start in middle school. Many parents are reluctant to warn their children, but teenagers say their parents should focus on being less preachy and better listeners. William Pollack, director of the Center for Men at McLean Hospital, suggests that parents not open the conversation about sex directly. "Begin by asking about cliques at school or something else that's emotionally meaningful in their [children's] lives. That may touch off a conversation about sexuality." Parents who feel they truly cannot talk to their children about such issues as STDs or sexual desire are recommended to enlist the help of a doctor or a well-informed adult.
With the combined support of Microsoft head Bill Gates, U.S. biotech concern Chiron, and drug maker Aventis, a new organization focusing on the development of the first new class of tuberculosis drugs in three decades has been launched. Existing treatments are very effective, but they are expensive and require a six-to-nine-month course that can result in low compliance. The Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, which is partly an effort to respond to growing criticism that drug makers are neglecting the poor, plans to use research and development facilities donated by pharmaceutical firms to develop a more effective treatment.
Fifteen teenagers in Des Moines, Iowa, are learning to teach other youths about HIV and AIDS. The teens, who belong to Youth Against HIV/AIDS, are studying to become peer educators. One student explains that she is doing this because she wants to learn more about AIDS, as it affects many people her age. "It is becoming more common because everyone is having sex," she said, "But a lot of people aren't educated." Another student noted that her goal is to help other teens realize that while no one plans on infection, teens are at risk and need to know how to protect themselves.
Dr. Audrey French from Rush Medical College in Chicago and colleagues report that vitamin A deficiency may contribute to cervical cancer development in HIV-infected women. The researchers, whose study is published in the October issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases (2000;182:1084-1089), assessed vitamin A concentrations in the blood of more than 1,300 HIV-positive women and studied cervical cells for signs of cancer, including human papillomavirus infection. The study found that 15.5 percent of women had too little vitamin A, and 36.5 percent of the women had abnormalities in their cervical cells. According to the researchers, HIV-positive women with low blood retinol (vitamin A) concentrations were nearly two-thirds more likely to have particular abnormalities in the cervix than women with higher concentrations of the vitamin.
Drs. Alan Engelman and Hongmin Chen of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School have found that blocking HIV-1 retroviral integration after a certain processing step could inhibit HIV-1 replication. The researchers compared the activities of viral preintegration complexes from different strains with a replication defect. Engelman and Chen, who report their findings in the Journal of Virology (2000;74:8188-8193), believe that it may be feasible to isolate inhibitors of HIV-1 integration that halt virus replication after the 3' processing phase of retroviral integration.
South Africans are using about 75 percent more condoms this year, according to the country's deputy president, Jacob Zuma. This suggests that AIDS awareness programs are working, said Zuma. The official, who noted a clear association between HIV and AIDS, noted that demand for free condoms from the government has soared from 200 million in 1999 to about 350 million. Meanwhile, South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has denounced a report in the Johannesburg Sunday Times which claimed that members of parliament had access to AZT, and she noted that parliamentarians had no say about whether their health insurance made provisions for the drug.
Taiwan will send Liberia as many as 6 million condoms early next year, according to Andrew Hsia, director of the foreign ministry's international organization department. The plan is part of a World Health Organization effort to stem the spread of HIV. Hsia noted that the United States previously agreed to donate 1 million condoms and also said Taiwan may help fund a $2.3 million HIV prevention program in Chad.
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.