HIV/AIDS Newsroom: October 11, 2000
Tuberculosis Control and Molecular Epidemiology in a South African Gold-Mining Community
09/23/00 Vol. 356, No. 9235, P. 1066; Godfrey-Faussett, P.; Sonnenberg, P.; Shearer, S.C.; et al.
A molecular and epidemiological study of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) in gold miners in South Africa evaluated 438 patients. The clusters featured groups of patients with Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates with identical IS6110 fingerprints, and the risk factors between clustered and non-clustered patients were compared. The researchers note that fingerprints were made in 419 of these cases, including 371 that had greater than four bands. A total of 248 of those cases were separated into 62 clusters, the largest two of which included 25 percent of the clustered patients. The authors found that least half of the TB cases were due to transmission within the community. In addition, patients with isolates indicating multidrug resistance were more likely to have failed treatment; however, they were not as likely to clustered as individuals with a sensitive strain. Although 177 out of 370 patients had HIV, the researchers note that the virus is not associated with clustering. The authors conclude that better interventions are needed to stop the transmission of TB in the mining and overall community.
A new advertising campaign from the British government states the average age when young people lose their virginity. For girls, the age is 17, and for boys, 16, said the Health Department. Yvette Cooper, the minister of public health, and other experts hope the statistics will reduce pressure on teens to have sex, once they know the facts. Using the slogan, "Sex, Are You Thinking About It Enough?," the campaign also offers advice on contraception and preventing sexually transmitted diseases.
TB a Problem in Prisons Around the World
Fox News Online (www.foxnews.com)
The World Medical Association (WMA), which represents doctors from around the world, is warning that overcrowded prisons help breed tuberculosis (TB). At the group's annual meeting in Scotland, the doctors said that high-risk conditions in prisons must be overcome to stop the spread of diseases -- including TB, hepatitis C and HIV -- in jails. The WMA's Declaration of Edinburgh states, "Overcrowding, lengthy confinement within closed, poor lit, badly heated and consequently poorly ventilated and often humid spaces are all conditions frequently associated with imprisonment and which contribute to the spread of disease and ill-health." The declaration -- which is not legally binding for governments, although most follow WMA statements when establishing policies -- also notes that prisoners should not be put in solitary confinement without sufficient access to healthcare.
New research indicates that tampons may be used to test for some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), by absorbing fluid in the vagina that can later be tested. Scientists, led by Dr. Patrick D.J. Sturm of the University of Natal in South Africa, assessed the diagnostic tampon on 1,030 women with no signs of infection. Sturm reported at a recent meeting sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology that the tampon was useful in diagnosing Trichomonas vaginalis, detecting 247 cases of the STD while the traditional swab method detected just 191 cases. The researchers note that the tampon test may help women avoid the embarrassment of going to a clinic, since they can do the test at home.
John Docherty and colleagues at Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine have found that a chemical in red wine can block herpes viruses from replicating. Previous research indicates that resveratrol may offer some protection against heart disease. A report in the September issue of New Scientist notes that a modified version of the chemical has anti-herpes activity and can be added to contraceptive foams or lubricants for condoms.
Dr. Giuseppe Pantaleo of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and a multicenter team report that a combination of abacavir and amprenavir can suppress HIV replication and stabilize CD4 T-cell counts when given soon after infection. A study of 41 HIV-infected patients who were antiretroviral-naive and 49 controls showed that virus replication was suppressed in the HIV-positive patients in comparable numbers to HIV-negative subjects in about 24 to 48 weeks. Dr. Pantaleo also noted that the patients' triglyceride and cholesterol levels remained good after 72 weeks. The study is published in the October issue of AIDS (2000;14:887-897).
The South African government is calling for sexual abstinence in an effort to fight the AIDS epidemic. Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said that individuals who cannot abstain or be faithful to one partner should be sure to use condoms. She also noted that while South Africa cannot afford to provide antiretroviral drugs for everyone, the government is working with drug firms to obtain price cuts.
Veena Lakhumalani is a health educator who has traveled from India to Ukraine to help teach sex workers to protect themselves from HIV infection. Up to 250,000 people in Ukraine are infected with HIV, as the virus spreads beyond intravenous drug users to others, including commercial sex workers and their clients. Lakhumalani is working with female sex workers and UNAIDS to educate prostitutes about diseases like HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD). According to Lakhumalani, many of the women have very low self-esteem, and it has been difficult convincing them of the need for self-help groups for protection and information-sharing. After one year, the project has reached a wall, according to Olga Balakireva of Ukrainian Institute of Social Research. Problems with legislation, attitudes, and law enforcement agencies abound. Funding will soon end, but Balakireva hopes the project can serve as a model for other Commonwealth of Independent States nations.
An international conference on diseases like AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis has been scheduled for December 7 and 8 in Okinawa, Japan. Representatives from the Group of Eight countries will attend, as will groups like the World Health Organization and representatives from Asian and African nations. The conference on infectious and parasitic diseases is a follow-up to the G-8 summit held in Okinawa earlier this year.
A World Disasters Report issued by the International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies shows that infectious diseases kill more people than earthquakes or floods. AIDS, malaria, diarrhea, and respiratory diseases killed 100 times as many victims of natural disasters last year. The report notes that diseases like malaria, syphilis, and tuberculosis are reemerging because of failing health systems. Other factors like urbanization, climate change, environmental pollution lead to health risks as well. A 1995 World Bank survey revealed that health spending fell 15 percent on average for 53 countries. The infectious diseases claiming lives can be prevented, often at the cost of only $5 per person. The report cited several low-cost community campaigns in Uganda and Cambodia.
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.