HIV/AIDS Newsroom: November 13, 2000
U.S. Priorities -- HIV Prevention
(10/27/00) Vol. 290, No. 5492, P. 717; Catania, Joseph A.; Morin, Stephen F.; Canchola, Jesse; et al.
Scientists at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the AIDS Research Institute in San Francisco make suggestions on how to allocate prevention resources for AIDS patients. Based on data from surveys conducted in San Francisco, including the Young Men's Health Study and Urban Men's Health Study, HIV incidence fell during the 1980s for all groups. Men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for 46 percent of U.S. AIDS cases last year, but the authors note that this group only received 28 percent of HIV risk-reduction spending, while heterosexual transmission represented 17 percent of cases but received 31 percent of the risk-reduction funds. The researchers note, "The allocations would make more sense if one believes that the HIV epidemic is declining among MSM, and increasing among heterosexuals." They assert, however, that the data indicates otherwise, and U.S. prevention priorities should be reassessed. Heterosexual prevalence levels of HIV remain low overall, while incidence and prevalence among MSM are generally very high. The researchers recommend that greater priority be given to long-term HIV surveillance systems instead of HIV case-based reporting, so local communities can become better informed about how to allocate prevention resources to the groups most in need.
A study of 41 primate species by Charles Nunn of the University of Virginia and colleagues found that primates with the highest numbers of sexual partners had the most disease-fighting white blood cells. The research suggests that immune systems evolved to prevent diseases transmitted that animals may be exposed to via mating. Nunn noted, "The implication of our finding is that the risk of sexually transmitted disease is likely to be a major factor leading to systematic differences in the primate immune system." The study is published in the November 10 issue of Science (2000;290:1168-1170).
Teens' Sex Questions Reveal Cluelessness: Web Site Finds Much Confusion Over the Basics
USA Today (www.usatoday.com)
(11/13/00) P. 8D; Elias, Marilyn
Many American teenagers are ignorant about basic issues about sex, ranging from arousal to pregnancy, according to questions posted on a popular Web site. The teen sexuality site www.sxetc.org, which is sponsored by Rutgers University, receives basic questions from teens nationwide. Danene Sorace, the program manager of the site, discussed the site at the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality meeting in Orlando on Sunday. According to a random sample of questions posted between July 1999 and June 2000, the issues most often discussed were pregnancy, sexual response and mechanics, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), confidentiality with regards to services, and body image. Angela Diaz, director of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in New York, said she is not surprised by the popularity of the site and the questions asked, particularly because some teens are not comfortable talking about sex with their parents, nor their parents with them. "Parent involvement is great, but I think these kids are at least trying to be responsible by avoiding pregnancy and STDs," she said.
New findings from a study of more than 128,800 women suggest that women with normal Pap smear results can wait up to three years for their next screening. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women with normal results have a very low risk of cervical cancer, whether they waited nine months or three years for another Pap test. The main author of the study, Dr. George Sawaya of the University of California at San Francisco, noted, however, that women should discuss waiting longer between tests with their doctors. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend yearly screenings for most women.
The Nai Zindagi, or New Life needle exchange center, offers drug users in Pakistan clean needles and information on HIV and AIDS. Few addicts in Pakistan are aware of AIDS; however, more are switching from smoking heroin to injecting it, according a 1999 study by the United Nations Drug Control Program in Pakistan. Approximately 3 million Pakistanis are habitual drug users, some 50 percent of whom are addicted to heroin. The increasing popularity of injecting drugs is a "warning sign of the potential for an epidemic of HIV infection" in Pakistan, the United Nations said. While fewer than 200,000 HIV cases have been recorded in Pakistan and a recent Nai Zindagi study of 200 injection drug users found that none were HIV-positive, nearly 90 percent of the study participants had contracted hepatitis C virus, which is also transmitted via needles. Mohammed Aziz Khan, an anti-narcotics official at Interior Ministry, admitted they know little about AIDS and how to educate the public. "Rehabilitation and reducing demand have been our areas of tremendous weakness," he said. "Now we see AIDS coming, and we know we won't be immune if we have a lot of intravenous users."
Although government neglect and thriving prostitution have helped make the Caribbean's AIDS epidemic second only to that in sub-Saharan Africa, officials and activists have expressed hope for the future. More than 5 percent of Haiti's adult population is infected with HIV, while rates in most Latin American nations are under 1 percent. In the Bahamas, a popular spot for tourists, 4 percent of adults are HIV-positive.
Britain has announced that it will give approximately $35.65 million to help developing nations afford safe contraceptives. The donation, to the United Nations Population Fund, will be used to buy male and female condoms and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases. Britain's Department for International Development noted that the U.N. agency may not have been able to meet the growing need for contraceptives in developing nations, a situation that could lead to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal and child deaths. The grant comes in addition to Britain's annual allocation of 15 million pounds to the U.N. population group.
Speaking at a four-day seminar in Sydney, Prof. David Cooper of Australia's National HIV Center said that HIV infection rates in the Asia-Pacific region make it make it a key arena in the war against the disease. Many nations in the region are offering only limited or no treatment, a situation which Cooper said will result in many people dying prematurely. He noted that "usually, these are people at the most productive ages in the workforce in these countries."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that two draft documents on HIV are now available for public comment. The public can submit comments on the documents, "Revised Guidelines for HIV Counseling, Testing, and Referral" and "Revised Public Health Service Recommendations for HIV Screening of Pregnant Women," in writing and posted or via email by November 30, 2000. Copies of the drafts can be obtained by contacting the CDC National Prevention Information Network, at P.O. Box 6003, Rockville, Maryland, 20849-6003; by calling (800) 458-5231; or from the CDC's Web site, at www.cdc.gov/hiv.
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.