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HIV/AIDS Newsroom: October 25, 2000

Interactions Between Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 and Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Infection in African Women: Opportunities for Intervention
Journal of Infectious Diseases Online
10/00; Vol. 182, No. 4, P. 1090; Mbopi-Keou, Francois-Xavier; Gresenguet, Gerard; Mayaud, Philippe; et al.

A study by researchers from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Central African Republic evaluated the relationships between herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) and HIV-1 in 300 women in Bangui, Central African Republic. Blood samples were tested for syphilis, HIV, HSV, and levels of vitamins A and E. Herpes simplex 2 was found more often in HIV-seropositive women than in HIV-seronegative women. In addition, among the 23 women who were shedding HSV-2 DNA, there was a significant link between genital HIV-1 RNA and HSV-2 DNA levels. The researchers note that, "if confirmed, such associations highlight the urgent need for HSV-2 control measures in populations at high risk of both infections."

Across the USA: Kentucky
USA Today
10/25/00; P. 14A

In Jefferson County, Kentucky, the rate of syphilis cases last year was about four times the overall rate for the state, although it was down from 1998. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 67 cases of syphilis reported in the county in 1999, for a rate of 10 cases per 100,000 people. In the previous year, there were 91 cases and the rate was 13.6 cases per 100,000.


South Africa Sees Scant Role for Key Drugs in AIDS Fight
10/24/00; Swindells, Steven

South Africa's Health Minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, announced Tuesday the country's new guidelines for fighting AIDS, which include limits on the availability of anti-AIDS drugs like AZT. Under the new guidelines, the costly drugs will not be available to pregnant women trying to prevent HIV transmission to their children, nor will they be offered to individuals who have been raped. Noting that antiretroviral drugs are toxic, Tshabalala-Msimang said there are other interventions that can help prevent mother-to-child HIV infection; the policy recommendations to reduce the risks of such transmission focus on breastfeeding, safer sex, nutritional supplements, and vaginal cleansing with an antiseptic solution. According to the new government guidelines, approximately 50,000 South African children have contracted HIV from their mothers.

Companies Reach AIDS Drug Deal With Senegal
10/24/00; Reaney, Patricia

Glaxo Wellcome has made a deal with Senegal to sell anti-AIDS drugs for a reduced price as part of an initiative announced several months ago by five pharmaceutical companies to provide more affordable drugs to Africa. Glaxo will offer Retrovir, Epivir, and Combivir for approximately $2 a day. A company spokesman said the company is also in talks with Uganda and Kenya about reducing drug prices, while Senegal reportedly has negotiated deals with Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Each of the five drug firms involved in the initiative is working out separate price reductions with African nations, but they are all part of the same UNAIDS program, the Glaxo spokesman explained.

Diplomatic Dispatches: Alert to Links Between Poverty and AIDS, U.N. Honors Voice From the Islands
Washington Post
10/25/00; P. A20; Boustany, Nora

Four people received the U.N. Development Program's Fourth Annual Race Against Poverty Award earlier this week, including AIDS activist Maire Bopp Dupont of Tahiti. Bopp Dupont, originally a radio journalist, discovered two years ago that she was infected with HIV. She has since become an AIDS advocate for Tahiti, which has the second-highest number of reported AIDS cases in the Pacific islands. AIDS is linked to world poverty, U.N. agencies assert, and with the reduction in human capital in the countries hardest hit by the disease, the number of doctors and teachers could decline significantly in just a few years.

Groups Get Grants to Improve Health
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
10/24/00; P. 3B

The Florida Department of Health has announced $10 million in grants to various community groups through 2002. Areas in which the grants will be used include infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, immunizations, diabetes, and cancer. One grant went to the Hope House of Palm Beach, which received $100,000 to provide HIV intervention programs to African Americans and Haitians. In addition, the HIS Great Commission in Palm Beach County received grants of more than $150,000 to offer medical screening services in impoverished areas.

Judge Gives Tattoo Artists Shot in the Arm
Boston Herald
10/24/00; P. 1; Weber, David

A Superior Court Judge has overturned Massachusetts' ban on tattooing, saying it is a form of free speech. Judge Barbara Rouse, who noted that tattooing is the sixth-fastest growing retail business nationwide, wrote in her decision that "the Constitution looks beyond written or spoken words as mediums of expression. Exhibition of the human body is also protected expression, whether nude dancing, or otherwise." While tattooing is now legal in the state, it will be unregulated until legislation governing it is enacted. The state tattooing ban, from 1962, aimed to stop the spread of diseases like hepatitis, tuberculosis, and syphilis. Patrons should be aware of clean needle practices and not go to amateur artists.

Approval for Glaxo HIV Drug
Financial Times
10/24/00; P. 32; Pilling, David

Glaxo Wellcome's HIV drug Agenerase has been approved in Europe for AIDS patients who have failed other treatments. The protease inhibitor, which was discovered by Vertex, has already been approved in the United States. The drug can be taken without food or water restrictions.

For Post-Industrial Scots, Drugs to Die For
Philadelphia Inquirer
10/23/00; P. A1; Gerlin, Andrea

Heroin addiction has become an epidemic in Glasgow, Scotland, where over 100 addicts a day come to the Drug Crisis Center to exchange dirty needles for clean ones. Glasgow has an estimated 10,000 heroin addicts, and 70 people die from overdoses every year. Based on a study of 280 Scottish inmates last year, heroin was detected in 31 percent of urine samples -- a rate higher than that in 35 American cities in which the same research was conducted, including Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Neil McKeganey, the professor who led that study, was surprised at Glasgow's high incidence but could offer no concrete reasons behind the surge. Personal stories tell of childhood abuse, prostitution, and addiction, starting with preteens and continuing through addicted grandparents. The bulk of heroin users are males aged 18 to 35, typically unemployed school dropouts. Even the risk of death is not powerful enough to make users stop heroin. A bacterial outbreak in the spring caused infections at injection sites, leading to organ failure and several deaths. During the three-month outbreak, 60 people became infected and 23 people died. Laurence Gruer, a consultant for the Greater Glasgow Health Board, said they believe the source of heroin was contaminated with Clostridium novyi. Britain's National Crime Intelligence Service reported earlier this year that most heroin enters the country after traveling from southwest Asia to the Balkans and Netherlands, and it is then transported to Scotland by cars and trains. Law enforcement officials say they know the problem is huge, as drug-related crime is rising, but there is no easy solution.

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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.