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HIV/AIDS Newsroom: October 30, 2000

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Type 1 Antibodies in Perinatal HIV-1 Infection: Association With Human HIV-1 Transmission, Infection, and Disease Progression
Journal of Infectious Diseases Online (
10/00; Vol. 182, No. 4, P. 1243; Pitt, Jane; Henrard, Denis; FitzGerald, Gordon; et al.

A study of anti-HIV-1 antibodies involved 242 pregnant women and 238 infants, comparing perinatal transmission and infant disease progression. The researchers found that maternal anti-p24 and anti-gp120 antibodies were inversely associated with vertical transmission rates, independent of the mother's hard drug use, CD4 cell count, and serum vitamin A levels and other factors. Maternal plasma immune complex dissociated p24 and HIV-1 RNA copy number were strongly correlated with antibodies, however. The researchers also note that starting from birth, infants with fast disease progression had lower levels of anti-p24 than infants who did not have rapid progression.

Seven Transfused at Shizuoka Hospital in 1980s Have Hepatitis C
Kyodo News Service (

Seven young people given unheated imported blood products in Japan's Shizuoka Prefecture in the early 1980s have hepatitis C virus (HCV), hospital officials announced Monday. The infections were detected after a 20-year-old student, who had an operation at the hospital as an infant, was diagnosed with HCV infection earlier this year. The officials then found that six individuals who had been treated with unheated blood products in the early 1980s had already been treated for HCV. According to officials, the seven individuals had already been screened for HIV, and tested negative, but they had not been tested for HCV.


Research Implicates TB in 1918 Flu Pandemic
Los Angeles Times (
10/30/00; P. S2

A study from the University of California at Berkeley claims that the large number of the deaths in 1918, when a flu pandemic took the lives of some 500,000 Americans, was due to a concurrent outbreak of tuberculosis (TB). At the time, TB spread as factory employees worked in close, poorly ventilated situations. Based on studies of bodies recovered from the Alaskan tundra, doctoral student Andrew Noymer reports in the current issue of Population and Development Review that people ages 20 to 40 were most likely to die in the pandemic of 1918, being the group most affected by TB. After the pandemic, the death rate from TB fell sharply, which Noymer suggests is because the flu may have killed many of the TB patients.

In Rural China, a Steep Price of Poverty: Dying of AIDS
New York Times (
10/28/00; P. A1; Rosenthal, Elisabeth

Small, rural towns in central China are experiencing an unreported epidemic of AIDS, with HIV rates of nearly 20 percent in some areas, according to covert research. Chinese officials deny there is a problem, however, and outside researchers are not allowed to study the topic. The high incidence is due to farmers selling their blood to people called blood heads, who reuse contaminated needles to collect the blood. Adding to the threat is the fact that the donated blood is pooled and, after the needed elements are taken out, the rest is returned to donors. One woman, Dr. Gao Yaojie, a 76-year-old retired physician, is working to educate the farmers and discourage women from selling their blood. "Many people think AIDS is a bad disease," Gao said, "so they don't talk about it and don't admit they have it." One local official also expressed concern that many of the widows and widowers of AIDS patients remarry soon after their spouse's death, and, if infected themselves, may continue to spread the virus. Dr. Gui Xien from Hubei Province tested 155 blood samples in Shangcai County in Henan for HIV and found that 96 tested positive for the virus. Some area officials are trying to help the AIDS patients, but they have limited knowledge and no funding. Endless blood shortages in hospitals and a lack of donors has led to the blood selling problem. Poverty has also led many people to sell their blood -- some of whom try to do it twice a day, a local official claimed in an unpublished report. Experts note that while blood selling has declined since the practice was made a criminal offense a few years ago, it has not stopped and some hospitals and drug makers reportedly continue to use black market blood.

High Rates of Sexually Transmitted Diseases Frustrate City Officials
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (
10/28/00; P. 8; Riley, Marianna

St. Louis continues to have one of the highest sexually transmitted disease rates in the nation. The city is ranked eighth-highest for syphilis, third-highest for gonorrhea, and second-highest for chlamydia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hilda Adams, acting director of the St. Louis Health Department, said that budget and staffing limitations have prevented campaigns against gonorrhea and chlamydia. The city is participating in a national campaign to eliminate the disease by 2005. In 1999, St. Louis recorded 51 cases of syphilis, down from a peak of 915 cases in 1993 but up from the seven cases recorded five years before that.

Depressed Gay Men Have More Unsafe Sex
Reuters Health Information Services (
10/27/00; Mozes, Alan

Dr. Gary Rogers, program director of The Care & Prevention Program, has found that sexually active gay men with long-term, low-grade depression are more likely to have unsafe sex than homosexual or heterosexual men without depression. Rogers studied over 400 gay men who were assessed for depression and sexual behaviors. The researchers found that one-quarter of the program enrollees had chronic moderate depression, and 40 percent of these men reported engaging in unsafe sex within the past six months. The findings will be presented in Melbourne this week at a meeting of the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine.

HIV-Infected May Get TB Again and Again
Reuters Health Information Services (

HIV-infected people who contract tuberculosis (TB) are more likely to have relapses than individuals without HIV. A study of 233 patients, including 142 who were HIV-positive, found that those with HIV were more likely to have a relapse of TB, unless they were taking isoniazid. Researchers found that there were 7.8 reinfections per 100 HIV-infected people per year who were not taking isoniazid, versus 1.4 infections per 100 HIV-infected people per year who were taking the treatment and 0.4 cases per 100 HIV-negative individuals per year. Dr. Daniel Fitzgerald of Cornell University Medical College in New York reports in the October 28 issue of The Lancet (2000;356:1470-1474) that six months of rifampicin and 12 months of isoniazid could reduce the risk of recurrent TB among these patients.

Ethiopian President Urges Efforts to Fight Spread of AIDS
CNN Online (

Ethiopian President Negasso Ghidada has called for efforts to slow the spread of HIV. He told a meeting of the National HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Council that the war against AIDS is not fully organized yet. "The battle we are waging against the pandemic has not yet been properly organized, and until we prevail over this devastating enemy, it will inflict substantial human, economic, and social losses," the president said. He noted that there is no accurate count of HIV cases in the country, but health officials estimate 3 million residents are infected. The World Bank recently approved nearly $60 million for the country's HIV prevention and control efforts.

99 Percent of Malaysian AIDS Patients Can't Afford Treatment
Agence France Presse (

The Malaysian AIDS Council has asked the government to help provide therapy to AIDS patients, since only about 1 percent of the country's AIDS patients can afford the drugs. The treatments cost up to $526 a month, The Sun paper quoted Council President Marina Mahathir as saying. Mahathir, the daughter of Malaysia's prime minister, noted that "the antiretroviral drugs are not locally available and need to be imported, which makes them too costly for an average income earner, [and even] more so for poor families."

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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.