HIV/AIDS Newsroom: November 27, 2000
Mucosal Shedding of Human Herpesvirus 8 in Men
New England Journal of Medicine (www.nejm.org)
11/09/00; Vol. 343, No. 19, P. 1369; Pauk, John; Huang, Meei-Li; Brodie, Scott J.; et al.
A study from John Pauk and colleagues from the University of Washington at Seattle, evaluated the patterns of shedding of human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) among men who have sex with men (MSM). A total of 112 MSM provided samples, 35 percent of whom tested seropositive for HHV-8. Of the 39 HHV-8-seropositive subjects, 27 agreed to take part in the study, including 11 who were HIV-positive. Of 880 samples taken from these men, HHV-8 DNA was found most commonly in oral cavity samples. A positive test for HHV-8 was also associated with such factors as more male sex partners, a history of hepatitis B, gonorrhea, genital warts, or herpes virus type 2. The subjects of the study had no evidence of Kaposi's sarcoma. HHV-8 was found in 30 percent of oropharyngeal samples, compared to only 1 percent of anal and genital samples. A history of deep kissing with an HIV-positive partner was also an independent risk factor for HHV-8. The researchers conclude that oral exposure to saliva could be a risk factor for HHV-8 in men who have sex with men.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the number of HIV infections in the former Soviet Union will soar 60 percent this year. The WHO noted that there will be approximately 250,000 new infections -- mostly among injection drug users -- in Eastern Europe and central Asia in 2000, bringing the total number in the region up to 700,000. The WHO and UNAIDS estimated there will be some 5.3 million new HIV infections worldwide this year along with 3 million deaths from the disease. According to the report, more than 70 percent of the new infections worldwide and 80 percent of the deaths in the past year have occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. The agencies estimated that the region would have 25.3 million HIV and AIDS patients by year end, meaning that an estimated 8.8 percent of all adults in the area would have HIV. The WHO noted that the number of new HIV cases in the region appears to have stabilized, although it said "the positive sign of a decrease in new infections in sub-Saharan Africa is offset by the increase in AIDS morbidity and mortality." The WHO also reported that by the end of 2000, approximately 1.5 million people will be living with HIV in the industrialized countries of North America, Western Europe, and the Pacific. There are an estimated 920,000 people with HIV or AIDS in Canada and the United States, including about 45,000 new infections this year, the WHO said.
Ultraviolet Light Studied as Weapon in Tuberculosis War
New York Times (www.nytimes.com)
11/27/00; P. A23; Kelley, Tina
Researchers at St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center of New York and the Harvard School of Public Health are investigating whether ultraviolet (UV) light can help stem the spread of tuberculosis (TB) among the homeless, immigrants, prisoners, and other at-risk groups. According to Dr. Philip W. Brickner of St. Vincent's, a study is currently being conducted in New York, Birmingham, Ala., and New Orleans to determine whether the UV rays can control the spread of the disease. Research in laboratories and test sites has shown that bacteria and viruses rise to the ceiling of a room, meet the UV bulbs' energy field, and then are altered genetically so they cannot replicate. At the Antonio Olivieri Center for Homeless Women on West 30th Street in New York and three other area drop-in centers for the homeless, some of the light fixtures are turned off for as long as 12 months, in order to determine if there is a change in the rate of transmission. The patients and workers at the shelters are all asked to sign releases regarding their participation, and they are tested for TB every three months. The researchers hope to find fewer incidents of healthy people becoming infected with TB when the ceiling fixtures are turned on. Dr. Brickner also notes that there have been no side effects reported thus far.
A World Health Organization (WHO) official asserted Monday that tuberculosis (TB) and malaria are running rampant in Southeast Asia. Speaking at a health conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dr. Uton Muchtar Rafei, the WHO regional director in Southeast Asia, said that approximately 40 percent of the population in the region is infected with TB and there were over 1.5 million TB deaths in 1999. Rafei also estimated there were 25 million cases of malaria, with more than 1.25 billion people at risk of contracting the disease in the region.
Experts gathered at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently to discuss the value and ethics of placebos in drug research. Last month, the Declaration of Helsinki was revised to declare the use of placebos unethical if the disease being researched already has an effective therapy. The document said that experimental drugs should be tested against "best current" treatments and that placebos are only acceptable when no treatment is available. The changes follow controversial studies in Asia and Africa regarding the use of placebos in studies designed to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission. While an effective treatment was already available in industrialized nations, it was not yet in use in the nations where the research occurred, and some study participants received placebos. The three-day NIH meeting was set to discuss the science of the "placebo effect," which sometimes occurs when the health of people given a dummy drug improves, the conference focused primarily on the ethics of placebos in research and the changes in the Declaration of Helsinki.
New research, recently published in the journal Science, suggests that regular holidays from HIV drugs could help the immune system control HIV. Researchers from the Washington Research Institute for Genetic and Human Therapy studied monkeys and found that there may be a less expensive and simpler way to treat HIV than the current drug regimen. "Our results suggest that patients might be able to take fewer drugs, which is an attractive possibility in itself," said lead researcher Franco Lori.
New research from Belgian investigators suggests that a virus similar to HIV may have existed in humans during the 17th century. The researchers, from the Catholic University in Leuven, Belgium, used computerized dating methods based on virus genetic data to trace links between HIV and a similar virus in chimpanzees. The scientists reported, "Using this method, the group found that HIV-1 group M and its closest related simian virus, SIVcpz, isolated from chimpanzees, shared a common ancestor about 300 years ago, around 1675."
A new United Nations report indicates that sub-Saharan Africa will require $2 billion to $10 billion in assistance annually to cope with over 23 million cases of HIV. The report said the level of official aid is "woefully inadequate," especially as the disease is taking an estimated 2 percent a year off the area's gross domestic product.
A report from the official IRNA news agency indicates that Iran's health ministry has prohibited all tattooing in an effort to stem the spread of HIV. Health Minister Mohammad Farhadi, speaking at a conference in advance of World AIDS Day on December 1, explained, "There is a time bomb ticking in Iran, and we have to take it seriously." Official statistics show that there are 1,420 HIV cases in Iran, although experts estimate the actual number is much higher.
Thirty-one cases of tuberculosis (TB) were confirmed among HIV-infected male inmates and parolees who were segregated within South Carolina's only prison for men with HIV. The outbreak originated with an inmate who had infectious TB that was undiagnosed for at least two months. A medical student, who examined him, also developed infectious active TB. Because HIV weakens the immune system, people co-infected with HIV and TB have up to 800 times greater risk of developing active TB than the general public. This outbreak demonstrates that the rapid spread of TB among incarcerated individuals and their health-care providers can be a consequence of segregated housing for HIV-infected inmates. Systems must be in place to stop TB outbreaks in prisons and other congregate settings, such as hospital wards and homeless shelters.
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.