HIV/AIDS Newsroom: November 15, 2000
Translating HIV Care
Journal of the American Medical Association (www.jama.com)
11/08/00; Vol. 284, No. 18, P. 2309; Voelker, Rebecca
The Eurasia AIDS Knowledge Network is a new Internet resource for Russian-speaking clinicians, providing HIV and AIDS information to healthcare professionals in the countries of the former Soviet Union. The network contains up-to-date treatment information, as part of a project with the American International Health Alliance and Medical Advocates for Social Justice. Medical Advocates executive director Gordon Nary observed, "Many physicians and other health care professionals in the global community cannot access [HIV/AIDS] data because they are not fluent in English, a factor that cannot be a litmus test for access to medical data." The Russian-language site will initially focus on HIV control and postexposure treatment for healthcare workers. Further information is available from the AIHA's Web site, located at www.aiha.com, and the Medical Advocates, at www.medadvocates.org.
Russia has the fastest-growing number of new HIV infections in the world, according to Arkadiush Mayshik, head of a United Nations program in Moscow. With 70,000 HIV cases now registered in the country, Mayshik said that nearly 40,000 infections have been diagnosed since January. Most of the cases are among individuals aged 18 to 25, and approximately 90 percent are drug addicts. The World Health Organization recently issued a warning about the AIDS epidemic in Russia, noting that the actual number of HIV infections is 10 times higher than official statistics indicate.
Decatur Has Big Syphilis Outbreak
Birmingham News Online (www.al.com)
11/14/00; Livingston, Rose
Alabama health officials are targeting apartment complexes and workplaces in Decatur in an effort to end a syphilis outbreak that has infected 27 people, primarily Hispanic men, in the last six weeks. Health officials attributed the spread of the sexually transmitted disease (STD) to prostitutes going door-to-door. Mike O'Cain, director of the state Health Department's STD program, indicated that Decatur ranks second in the state for syphilis cases; Birmingham, which has the most syphilis cases in the state, has recorded 78 cases so far this year. As part of the effort, healthcare workers, working with a number of translators, plan to test the blood of 1,000 people during the first part of the week. On Monday, follow-up blood tests from tests that were taken last month in another complex were also conducted. Syphilis is easily treated with penicillin, said O'Cain; however, because the disease is very contagious, health workers also need to try to identify and locate any previous sex partners of those now infected.
Suveni Mabunde of Nairobi, Kenya, was unknowingly tested for HIV by his engineering firm during a routine checkup. The results were sent to his employer of two years, who then informed him of the positive results and told him he must leave. According to Nairobi attorney Paul Amollo, thousands of Kenyans have been dismissed from their jobs because of their HIV status. State firms in Kenya are required under law to provide health care and private firms generally offer such coverage; however, there is no legislation to safeguard workers who contract a serious illness. The country spends approximately $2.6 million a day to treat HIV and AIDS patients, Cabinet Minister Marsden Madoka said, and the epidemic has cost the economy $10 billion in the last 16 years. The annual per-capita income in Kenya is $340, and Amollo notes that "paying [the] medical bills of staff members with AIDS could finish" many companies off. So far, there have been no lawsuits filed against employers who dismissed HIV-infected workers.
New findings published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases (2000;31: 987-994) show that HIV patients who receive new nucleoside analogues (NAs) benefit from protease therapy. Dr. Pierre-Marie Girard of Hopital Rothschild in Paris and colleagues studied 608 HIV-positive individuals to assess the long-term effects of antiretroviral therapy on treatment-naive and NA-experienced patients. The researchers found that after 22 months, 88 percent of the treatment-naive and 57 percent of the previously treated subjects had undetectable viral loads. The authors concluded, therefore, that treatment failure in therapy-naive patients should be low.
A study from Drs. Rick Zimmerman and Katharine Attwood of the University of Kentucky has found that high school students in a relationship or who think their friends are having sex frequently are more likely to have sex earlier in high school, as are teens who drink alcohol. The four-year survey of 950 ninth grade students showed that 47 percent of teens in a relationship had already had sex in the ninth grade, compared to 23 percent of those not in a relationship who had sex. Attwood reported at the American Public Health Association meeting in Boston that it necessary to understand that students form two groups: those who have sex earlier and those who wait. Those students who postponed sex until they were older were more likely to have higher grades or were involved with religious activities.
The Reggie McKenzie Foundation of Highland Park, Michigan, has received a $35,000 grant from the Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charitable Foundation Fund to continue a second year of health education programs for teenagers. Project Impact 2003 will teach youths aged 12 to 18 about healthy life choices, said director Eleanor Blackwell. The health classes discuss such issues as sex education, including sexually transmitted diseases and birth control; nutrition; drug awareness; and positive attitude development. The foundation was started in 1982 by Reggie McKenzie, a former professional football player.
Glaxo Wellcome said on Tuesday that the South African medical board has granted its approval for the sale of a medicine that contains AZT. Approved for sale by the Medicines Control Council on November 10, Combivir is expected by Glaxo officials to become available to the public next week. The decision is a victory for AIDS activists and Glaxo Wellcome, which has been trying to have Combivir approved for the past three years. However, AZT has been officially available only in the private sector since it was registered more than a decade ago in South Africa; and the drug still will not be available to the public sector, save for health workers who are at risk for contracting HIV because of their jobs, leaving the majority of the population to remain untreated.
Japan said Tuesday that it has donated $5.2 million to help Yemen, one of the world's poorest nations, battle tuberculosis. The funds will be used to buy medical equipment throughout the country. Japan's ministry for planning and development noted that Japan also recently donated $4.5 million for nine hospitals in Yemen and also helped build three TB treatment facilities.
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.