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HIV/AIDS Newsroom: October 31, 2000

Evaluation of Etest for Susceptibility Testing of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis
Journal of Clinical Microbiology Online (

10/00; Vol. 38, No. 10, P. 3834; Joloba, Moses L.; Bajaksouzian, Saralee; Jacobs, Michael R.

Researchers from Makerere University Medical School in Uganda and Case Western Reserve University compared the Etest method for susceptibility testing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to the agar proportion method. The researchers found 100 percent categorical agreement between the tests for rifampin, ethambutol, streptomycin, and ofloxacin, and 98 percent for isoniazid. They note that Etest provided results within six to 10 days, and concluded that it was suitable for testing the agents against the bacterium.

Work Week: Needlestick Law Win May Inspire Health Care Workers to Press for More
Wall Street Journal (

10/31/00; P. A1; Wood, Winston

Lawmakers last week approved a bill that requires healthcare facilities to use retractable syringes to prevent needle stick injuries to workers. Every year, there are over 500,000 accidental needle sticks, and more than 1,000 of those incidents lead to HIV or hepatitis C virus infection. The Service Employee International Union, which lobbied for the measure for three years, notes that it may use lawmakers' increased awareness of healthcare safety to push for higher hospital staffing levels, the focus of several recent nurses strikes.

[D.C.] Housing Complex Under TB Watch
Washington Post (

10/31/00; P. B2; Goldstein, Avram

An elderly man who lives in public housing in Washington, D.C., has been diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB). As a result, health officials are now testing hundreds of residents and visitors to the housing unit on L Street. So far, TB skin tests have been administered to 184 elderly and disabled residents and others, and 32 have tested positive. Those 32 will receive chest X-rays this week to see if they have active TB, but health officials theorize that most of the individuals were likely infected years ago and the disease never surfaced. Preventive drug therapy can prevent the disease from being active, and patients diagnosed with active TB must take antibiotics for up to six months. Margaret Tipple, chief of the District's TB control program, said, "The thing that's hard with TB is the uncertainty -- the fact that you may have been exposed long before and that you can't tell from looking at someone whether they may have been exposed or are active."

HIV Also an Issue for Older People
Akron Beacon-Journal Online (

Susan McCollum, counselor for Planned Parenthood of Stark County, Ohio, helps teach people over 50 about the risks of HIV. Older people are not immune to the virus, and must know its methods of transmission. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 10.9 percent of men with HIV and 9.4 of HIV-infected women are 50 or over. Older people -- who may be newly alone after divorce or widowing -- may not be informed about or comfortable with condom use, McCollum explains. In addition, the executive director of Planned Parenthood in Stark County, Bonnie Bolitho, notes that some older people incorrectly think that HIV only affects homosexuals or young people, and many are not comfortable talking about sexuality.

Sexual Abstinence Measure [in N.J.] Receives Criticism After Study
Bergen Record Online (
10/30/00); Cannon, Kathleen

Legislation proposed by New Jersey Assemblywoman Marion Crecco (R-Essex) has been criticized after a survey by Rutgers University found that most parents are satisfied with the present curriculum. Currently, students are informed about abstinence and contraception; however, Crecco's measure would have schools emphasize abstinence during sex education. The lawmaker noted that while discussion of contraception would not be prohibited under her bill, abstinence would be stressed as the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. To support her position, Crecco cited a Chicago study which found that teenagers who have abstinence-based education delay their first sexual encounter longer. The Rutgers survey found that 88 percent of New Jersey residents wanted a balanced approach to sex education and only 8 percent favored abstinence-only classes.

A Step Toward Creating an Edible Vaccine for Hepatitis B
New York Times (
10/31/00; P. D3

Scientists, led by Hugh Mason of Cornell University's Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, have genetically engineered a potato with the hope of making it an edible vaccine for hepatitis B. The current vaccine is based on an antigen in yeast. According to Professor Mason, "We have shown we can produce the same antigen in plants." Mason pointed out that the current hepatitis B vaccine is not inexpensive and it requires refrigeration, which makes it difficult for remote distribution. The researchers report in the journal Nature Biotechnology that mice who were fed the genetically engineered potatoes produced antibodies against hepatitis B. Mason also noted that besides potatoes, other possible hosts for the vaccine might be corn, spinach, or even a candy bar.

Cervical Shedding of CMV, HSV Higher Than Expected in HIV-Infected Women
Reuters Health Information Services (

A report in the October issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (2000;183:948-955) shows that the rate asymptomatic of shedding of herpes simplex virus (HSV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) DNA from the genital tract of HIV-1-infected women is higher than once thought. The researchers, from the University of Washington at Seattle, said the results are significant, since asymptomatic shedding can transmit HSV and CMV. PCR tests were used to detect shedding in cervical swabs of 17 women infected with all three viruses. A total of 10 percent of the 450 cervical specimens had detectable HSV.

Study: AIDS Devastating Africa
Las Vegas Sun Online (

Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research group, has found that AIDS in Africa is reducing life expectancy, lowering fertility, and leaving millions of orphans. According to Worldwatch Institute chairman Lester Brown, the epidemic is not being made the priority it should be, either in Africa or elsewhere. While Uganda offers some hope by lowering infection rates and Zambia may also be reducing its infection rates, life expectancy has dropped significantly in Africa. By 2010, life expectancy without AIDS in Zimbabwe would be 70 years; however, that number will likely fall below 35 with AIDS. HIV cuts fertility rates as well, Brown said, noting that by the time symptoms appear, women are much less likely to be pregnant than HIV-negative women. The report also noted that because more females than males in Africa are being infected, many men will not be able to find wives or will move to other countries in search of a spouse.

Project Links PCs to Fight AIDS: Healthy Living
Atlanta Journal and Constitution (
10/31/00; P. 3D; McKenna, M.A.J.

A new "distributive computing" project called "Fight AIDS at Home,", uses existing connections on the Internet to link personal computers to a network that compares anti-AIDS drugs against genetic variations to find the best one. Downloadable software from Entropia allows personal computers to help evaluate AIDS drugs. The software, called AutoDock, runs when the computer is not processing other data. Users should be aware of their privacy needs and research the project before taking part.

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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.