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HIV/AIDS Newsroom: October 19, 2000

Effect of Pregnancy on Chronic Hepatitis C: A Case-Control Study
Lancet (
10/14/00 Vol. 356, No. 9238, P. 1328; Fontaine, Helene; Nalpas, Bertrand; Carnot, Francoise; et al.

French researchers performed a study of pregnant women with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, comparing liver biopsy samples taken before and after delivery of the babies. Twelve pregnant women with HCV infection and 12 non-pregnant women with HCV took part in the study. The results revealed that pregnancy may worsen histopathological injury related to hepatitis C, although the researchers note that the long-term effects of this are unknown. The liver deterioration may also be related to post-partum immune rebound.

Health Care: Production of Rapid HIV Test Kit Halted
Atlanta Journal and Constitution (
10/19/00 P. 2E

Abbott Laboratories Inc. has stopped production of its rapid HIV test kit due to manufacturing problems. In a letter to test consumers that was released Wednesday on the Food and Drug Administration's Web site, the company said it hopes to restart production within 30 days. The rapid test kits, the only such tests available on the U.S. market, provide results within about 20 minutes.


Survey Sees Condom-Less Casual Sex Rising
Bangkok Post (

Up to 12 percent of Thai men aged 16 to 24 do not use condoms during casual sex, according to a Durex survey of 18,000 sexually active people in 27 countries. The study found that, on average, about 28 percent of Thais use condoms, while 25 percent used oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. The survey's results show that 15 percent of Thais ages 16 to 55 do not use condoms because they have no concerns about pregnancy, while 7 percent said they are not concerned about sexually transmitted diseases. Other reasons cited for not using the prophylactics included either the individual's or his or her partner's dislike for condoms, the use of other contraceptive methods, and a lack of availability.

Teen Pregnancy, HIV, STD Prevention Program Proves Cost-Effective
Reuters Health Information Services (

A new study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (2000;154:1017-1024) shows that a school-based pregnancy, HIV, and sexually transmitted disease prevention program among high school students can save money. Dr. Margaret Davis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention led the study, which evaluated a program based on 345 sexually active high school students, taking into account costs for the program and teacher training. The Safer Choices program helped increase condom use by 15 percent and other contraceptives by 11 percent, preventing an estimated 0.12 HIV cases, 24.37 chlamydia cases, and 2.77 gonorrhea cases, and 18.5 pregnancies. The researchers estimate the program saves $2.65 in medical costs for every dollar spent on the program.

Gay, Bisexual Men Not Getting Hepatitis Vaccines
Reuters Health Information Services (
10/18/00; Cunningham, Chris

A study conducted for the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) shows that gay and bisexual men are not getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. The survey of 2,566 men revealed that only 35.5 percent had received the two shots to prevent hepatitis A, although that number is up from 22.3 percent in the previous year, and 38.9 percent were vaccinated for hepatitis B, versus 33.4 percent one year ago. GLMA spokesman Ron Tierney said many factors -- including affordability issues, discomfort with medical professionals, and a lack of awareness -- contribute to the low coverage rates. He also noted that gay men may be uncomfortable discussing with their doctors matters that could be associated with sexual identity.

Prostitute Crusader Gets Grant to Study Transgender HIV Rate
Vancouver Sun (
10/18/00P. B5; Howell, Mike

Health Canada has granted C$30,000 to a group of Vancouver activists to help them study HIV rates among transgendered and transsexual prostitutes in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Jamie Lee Hamilton, who used to be out on the streets working as a transgendered prostitute and who was charged with having a common bawdy house earlier this year, will still participate in the study. But Mark Milke, British Columbia's director of the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation, claims that Hamilton should not be a part of the study, since the public may regard the research negatively "if it's associated with the alleged owner of a brothel." Hamilton and the other researchers hope to learn about prostitutes' street lives so that they can target HIV infection specifically among transgendered or transsexual sex workers. The grant will pay costs for travel, hotels, and materials needed to write the study. CACTUS, a Montreal-based outreach program for prostitutes and street people, is the lead agency involved in the study. The report's deadline is March 31, and its results will be sent to AIDS outreach programs across Canada.

Bacterial Infection Increases HIV Infection Through Upregulation of Viral Coreceptors
Reuters Health Information Services (
10/17/00; Agrawal, Alka

Researchers from the Netherlands, led by Dr. Tom van der Poll, have found that concurrent bacterial infection can encourage HIV replication through upregulation of chemokine receptors on T-cells. Van der Poll and colleagues at the University of Amsterdam injected eight HIV-negative volunteers with lipopolysaccharide, testing the surface levels of CXCR4 and CCR5. They were surprised to find that bacterial infection increased the surface levels of the two chemokines per CD4 T cell. The researchers, who report their findings in the journal Blood (2000;96:2649-2654), believe intercurrent disease should be closely watched and treated in patients with HIV.

Botswana Receives UN Funds to Fight HIV/AIDS
PANA News Agency (

Under the terms of two agreements it signed with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Botswana will receive $9.08 million for HIV prevention efforts. The UNFPA deal will give Botswana $7.9 million over the course of five years, with the funds coming from a $57 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The UNAIDS funds, worth $1.18 million over three years, will be used for a project that aims to improve reproductive health and promote safer sex among people living in urban areas.

AIDS Misconceptions Spawn Coca-Cola Remedy in Malaysia
Kyodo News Service (

Lack of knowledge regarding AIDS is creating unsafe misconceptions in Malaysia. According to the Sun newspaper, the Sarawak AIDS Network (SAN) said that some prostitutes believe they can prevent HIV infection by using Coca-Cola as a disinfectant. The sex workers and their partners reportedly spray the soda on their genitals before having sex, possibly believing that the cola bubbles can kill HIV, SAN's Dr. Andrew Kiyu explained. Kiyu, the deputy director of the Sarawak health department, noted that other myths in the Borneo Island state involve ways to identify HIV-infected individuals based on their appearance or body odor.

A Killer on the Run
New Scientist (
09/30/00 Vol. 167, No. 2258, P. 18; Ainsworth, Claire New findings from researchers at the University of British Columbia and TerraGen Discovery in Vancouver show that tuberculosis (TB) has a weak spot. The teams discovered chemicals that inhibit bacterial enzymes called protein kinases. Testing a number of chemicals on Streptomyces, a bacterium distantly related to TB, showed that kinase inhibitors could stop bacterial growth. This new finding provides a broad base for developing new drugs for TB, as long as they do not interfere with human protein kinases.

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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.