HIV/AIDS Newsroom: December 14, 2000
Risk Factors for the Rising Rates of Primary Liver Cancer in the United States
Archives of Internal Medicine Online (archinte.ama-assn.org)
11/27/00; Vol. 160, No. 21,; El-Serag, Hashem B.; Mason, Andrew C.
Researchers investigated the risk factors behind the United States' growing rate of primary liver cancer associated with hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), and alcoholic cirrhosis. Between 1993 and 1998, more than 1,600 patients in the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center's Patient Treatment File were diagnosed with primary liver cancer. The researchers note that the age-adjusted proportional hospitalization rate for primary liver cancer rose from 36.4 per 100,000 between 1993 and 1995 to 47.5 per 100,000 between 1996 and 1998. During these periods, there was also a significant increase in the age-adjusted rates for primary liver cancer associated with HCV. The age-adjusted rates for HCV-associated primary liver cancer also shifted toward younger patients during this time. Meanwhile, the age-adjusted rates of primary liver cancer associated with HBV or alcoholic cirrhosis remained stable during the study period, as did the rates of primary liver cancer without risk factors.
In a letter to the editor, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy responds to a December 5 Wall Street Journal article about the organization's position on breastfeeding and using baby formula to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission in Africa. Bellamy notes that World Health Organization statistics show that exclusive breastfeeding can save over a million lives every year. Furthermore, formula-fed babies are much more likely to die from disease than breast-fed babies, because the water used to mix the formula may be contaminated and also because breast milk is better at building the immune system than formula. Bellamy explains that in pilot programs in 11 nations -- projects involving HIV testing and counseling, supporting mothers in their feeding decisions, and even procuring a free supply of formula to women who decide not to breastfeed -- "UNICEF is implementing a sophisticated approach to a difficult and paradoxical set of challenges." Bellamy writes that formula is not what is in question -- it is improper marketing of formula that is at issue and is the reason why UNICEF does not accept donations from businesses that have violated the International Code on the Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, which was adopted by the World Health Assembly and implemented by numerous governments.
One in Four Heroin Injectors Infected With Hepatitis C
Reuters Health Information Services (www.reutershealth.com)
A new report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (2000;182:1588-1594) indicates that approximately 25 percent of Chicago-area injection drug users are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Researchers found that the risk of contracting the disease is greater the longer and more frequent a person uses injection drugs. The study of 700 drug users, primarily heroin addicts, between the ages of 18 and 30 revealed that individuals who had been using drugs for one to four years had three times the likelihood of being infected as people who had used for under 12 months; the risk of infection was even higher for drug users of more than four years. The researchers determined that 27 percent of the subjects had HCV, and most of the users were not familiar with the risks of the virus.
A respiratory physician from the Royal Brompton Hospital in London cautioned Wednesday that the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) could be hit by a wave of lung diseases this winter. Professor Duncan Geddes, who will speak at the British Thoracic Society's annual conference this week, called for more specialists and long-term plans to solve the problem. Approximately 8 million people in the United Kingdom have lung disease, including 3.4 million with asthma and 35,000 with lung cancer. Furthermore, England and Wales record about 7,000 new cases of tuberculosis annually, and more than 200 babies are diagnosed with cystic fibrosis each year.
In Brussels, a plan proposing new restrictions to prevent transfusions of contaminated blood was presented this week by the European Commission, the European Union's (EU's) executive body. Details of the plan announced on Wednesday, would cover the collection, testing, processing, storage and distribution of blood and blood components within the EU. Other sections of the plan include new restrictions regarding eligibility for blood and plasma donors and the tracking and monitoring from blood donors to patients.
The Pan American Health Organization announced this week that the foundation established by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is donating $4.9 million over three years to boost blood safety programs in the Americas. The grant will be used to increase the efficiency of blood-screening labs, develop national quality assurance programs, and encourage blood donation via educational efforts.
The World Bank announced on Thursday that it has approved a $40 million line of credit for an AIDS project in Bangladesh. Britain has dedicated $10 million dollars to the $53 million cause, and the balance of the funding is to come from Bangladesh. In announcing the credit, the bank noted that while the number of HIV and AIDS cases in Bangladesh is still fairly low, there are a number of behaviors -- such as needle sharing and low condom use -- that could spread the virus quickly. According to Brad Herbert, the bank-appointed team leader for the project, the primary objective of the program is to encourage safe behavior among groups at high risk for HIV infection.
Although conditions have slightly improved during the last 10 years, Romania's children still face many problems, including anemia, malnutrition, and AIDS. With over 8,000 children with HIV or AIDS, Romania has the highest rate of AIDS among children in Europe. The country has been able to reduce the number of pediatric infections by improving the safety of blood transfusions and injections. UNICEF regional representative Karin Hulshof noted, however, that mother-to-child HIV transmission is a source of concern, as is heterosexual HIV transmission among young people and adults.
A Namibian official, Marlene Mungunda, has expressed concern over the social impact that HIV is having on the education and welfare of children in her state. "Namibia, like many other countries in Africa, is facing an epidemic [of] HIV/AIDS, and that has a direct impact on meeting our goals, such as education and reduction in infant mortality," Mungunda said at the release of the World's Children's Report in Windhoek. The AIDS epidemic, she said, is orphaning more children, undermining their health, and increasing poverty and unemployment levels. Namibia took a first step toward its objective of healthy development for children during the 1990 United Nations World Summit for Children in New York, when it adopted the Declaration for Survival, Protection and Development of Children.
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.