HIV/AIDS Newsroom: November 3, 2000
Hepatitis C Numbers Alarm [Allentown] Health Bureau
Allentown Morning Call Online (www.mcall.com)
11/03/00; Wlazelek, Ann
Allentown, Pennsylvania, appears to have a major hepatitis C virus (HCV) threat, after 223 of 511 at-risk people tested had positive results. Allentown Health Director Barbara Stader said she was surprised by the 44 percent infection rate, since Allentown "is not New York City or Philadelphia." Following federal health officials' recommendation last year that blood centers and hospitals attempt to locate possibly infected donors and recipients of blood transfusions, Stader's staff hosted special clinics for nearly 18 months to test children born to infected mothers and adults who injected drugs, received blood transfusions before 1992, or had sex with an infected partner. None of the individuals who tested positive for HCV were infected with HIV, Stader said. According to Vicky Kistler, the manager of communicable diseases for Allentown's Bureau of Health, the individuals at greatest risk for infection were injection drug users who had shared needles.
Northeast Michigan health officials are asking that hunting guides and taxidermists get tested for bovine tuberculosis (TB), which, in theory, can spread from deer or cattle. Although no documented cases of that have occurred in the state, the risk is there, as bovine TB has been found in deer and cattle in 11 counties. "We just want people to take precautions," explained Rosanne Schultz, nursing director of the health department for Alpena, Cheboygan, Montmorency, and Presque Isle counties. Thus far, bovine TB has been found in 300 deer and 19 cows, as well as in a pet cat, coyotes, and raccoons. In addition to testing, hunters are being warned to wear heavy-duty waterproof gloves when gutting deer and coveralls when processing the meat. A total of five Michigan residents have been diagnosed with bovine TB, although none of the cases can be traced to the northeastern part of the state and three of the cases are in immigrants from Mexico, where TB is prevalent among cattle.
Teen Pregnancy Ups Risk of Mother-to-Child HIV
Reuters Health Information Services (www.reutershealth.com)
Dr. Lynne Mofenson of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported recently at the American Academy of Pediatrics meeting in Chicago that HIV infection in teenage girls in the United States has not been reduced and is contributing to mother-to-child transmission of the virus. In the United States, the mother-to-child HIV transmission rate has dropped from 25 percent to 3 percent, Mofenson said, but it can be reduced further with elective cesarean section delivery. According to Mofenson, sexually active teenagers are not likely to be tested for HIV. Some solutions to reducing the mother-to-child transmission rate are universal HIV testing for pregnant women, better prenatal care, and treatment with antiviral drugs during labor.
The office of Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton has turned in letters to investigators that falsely claim to be from her office and wrongly inform people they have HIV. No one knows who wrote the letters, which include the mayor's name and address on the envelope. The return addresses were from a Target Store in Florida and the company's headquarters in Minneapolis; the U.S. Postal Service has determined that neither the mayor's office nor Target were involved. In the letters, the recipients were referred to as patients and they were also given some background information about the disease.
The World Bank praised Thailand's success in fighting AIDS among sex workers, but it also called for the country's response to be flexible, focusing on new risk groups. World Bank Senior Economist Martha Ainsworth noted Friday that because the disease in Thailand has moved beyond sex workers to other groups of society, Thailand must set certain priorities. According to the World Bank's new report on Thailand's AIDS policy, these include expanding condom use, preventing HIV through injection drug use, and providing access to cost-effective treatments for opportunistic infections. The report noted that prevention spending represents only 8 percent of the country's national AIDS program budget, which has been slashed in the past several years.
The rise in intravenous (IV) drug use is fueling an AIDS epidemic in southeast Asia, the World Bank said Friday. A cheap supply of heroin, growing poverty, and the effects of an economic crisis are contributing to the problem. Almost all south Asian countries except Cambodia have rising rates of drug use, said Chris Beyrer, director of Johns Hopkins University AIDS Training Program. In Bangkok, Thailand, HIV rates increased from 2 percent of IV drug users 10 years ago to more than 40 percent now. Rates of HIV are also increasing among IV drug users in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Myanmar. World Bank Economist Martha Ainsworth noted that unless aggressive measures are taken, IV drugs users will continue to be "a reservoir for transmission [of HIV] to the rest of the population." Ainsworth asserted that drug addicts must be provided with clean needles, counseling, and education.
The incidence of HIV-related Kaposi sarcoma is growing in South Africa, according to a report in the International Journal of Cancer (2000;88:489-492). A total of 4,883 patients with cancer or cardiovascular disease at three South African hospitals were tested for HIV, and the researchers determined the odds ratios for HIV infection for 16 major cancer types. The risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma related to HIV was lower in South Africa than that reported in Western countries. The researchers also found that the rates of histologically diagnosed Kaposi's sarcoma in South Africa tripled from 1993 to 1996, although the prevalence of the disease in South Africa is lower than that found in other African nations with more extended HIV exposure, including Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Tuberculosis (TB) has increased worldwide in the last 10 years, according to Gro Harlem Brundtland, director-general of the World Health Organization. Brundtland, speaking at the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, said, "Russia has very many physicians, sanatoria, and clinics working on the tuberculosis problem, but it experiences a shortage of middle-echelon medical personnel, of medicaments, and means of assistance to first-time patients. The TB problem is particularly bad in Russian prisons, Brundtland said, noting that some inmates suspected of having the disease are put in investigation prisons for up to three years.
The AIDS epidemic is slowing in the United States, but not among African Americans and Hispanics, who account for over two-thirds of new HIV infections. African Americans represent over 50 percent of new infections, while African-American and Hispanic women account for 78 percent of new cases for women. Surgeon General David Satcher explained that "the epidemic has evolved from one centered on white gay men to one increasingly impacting people of color, women, and the young." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set new goals to focus on cities with at-risk minority groups. Some barriers to reducing the HIV rate are that many minorities feel they are not at risk, some people distrust federal programs and will not seek help, and the stigma surrounding homosexuality and AIDS. Satcher also noted that many HIV-infected young people are not aware of their infection. Earlier this summer, at the 13th International AIDS Conference in Durban, the CDC reported that 7 percent of young gay men are infected with HIV, and most had not previously been tested. Two new federal initiatives on AIDS, the Leadership Campaign on AIDS and the Crisis Response Team, will work to reduce the stigma surrounding the disease and develop prevention campaigns for high-risk communities.
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.