HIV/AIDS Newsroom: December 15, 2000
Indian Human Rights Body Supports Anti-Discrimination Law for HIV Patients
12/09/00; Vol. 356, No. 9246, P. 1992; Sharma, Dinesh C.
Private sector companies in India are facing new legislation that would prevent them from discriminating against people with HIV. Under a 1997 ruling from the Mumbai High Court, qualified applicants to state-owned companies cannot be rejected on the basis of their HIV status; however, the legislation offers no protection against discrimination at private companies. But at a recent conference on HIV and human rights in New Delhi, the National Human Rights Commission agreed to back such legislation. Other recommendations made at the meeting include having the state guarantee a safe working environment for all employees and also providing medical insurance for all HIV-infected workers.
President Clinton said Wednesday that it is the responsibility of industrialized nations to help other less developed nations to survive and compete in the global economy. Clinton, who was speaking at the University of Warwick in England, asserted that wealthy nations should help supply resources for countries in the developing world to battle AIDS, bridge the digital divide, and educate their young people. The president's speech came at the end of a three-day trip to Ireland and Britain during which he hoped to encourage more peace talks in Northern Ireland.
UNICEF: 1.3 Million Children Live With HIV/AIDS
Reuters Health Information Services (www.reutershealth.com)
UNICEF reported Wednesday that included among the 34.3 million people living with HIV or AIDS in the world are 1.3 million children under the age of 15. The organization's annual report noted that most of the children contracted HIV from their mothers during birth or via breastfeeding, and most will die from AIDS before they become teenagers. HIV and AIDS are taking a toll on sub-Saharan Africa, the report found, with 70 percent of the world's HIV cases, 80 percent of AIDS deaths, and 90 percent of AIDS orphans. The epidemic is also affecting the economies of countries in the region, and UNICEF estimated that the expense of treatment and care for HIV and AIDS will likely make up 33 percent of all government health spending in Ethiopia within five years and almost 66 percent in Zimbabwe.
Health officials in West Virginia report that of the 250 people screened for tuberculosis (TB) at St. Francis Hospital, six people have tested positive. "We've screened over half the number of those who may have had the highest risk of exposure," said Jeanne Reeves, chief nursing officer. "We're continuing to schedule testing for the others." Earlier this month, the hospital informed 400 former patients that they may have been exposed to someone infected with TB while they were at the hospital. Officials would not reveal whether it was a patient or employee who was affected, nor would they say what part of the hospital was involved. The individuals who tested positive for TB will receive further tests to determine whether the person has just been exposed or if the disease is active.
New research presented at the recent meeting of the American Public Health Association indicates that frequent discussions between parents and children about sex-related issues could keep African-American female teenagers from participating in dangerous sexual activities. Researchers, led by Dr. Richard Crosby of Emory University, surveyed 522 sexually active African-American adolescent females and found that subjects who did not talk about sex with their parents very often were more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior than those who regularly discussed sex with their parents. The girls who discussed sex issues less often were nearly two times as likely as the others to report that they did not use a condom the last time they had sex. Furthermore, the girls who did discuss sex with their parents were much more likely to bring up pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease/HIV prevention with their current sex partner.
New statistics show that the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases in the United Kingdom is the highest it has been in a decade. According to the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS), cases of genital chlamydia skyrocketed 76 percent between 1995 and 1999, while cases of gonorrhea increased by 55 percent, cases of syphilis rose 54 percent, and cases of genital warts increased 20 percent. Health officials noted that complacency about safe sex has resulted in high rates of infection among young women and homosexual and bisexual men. Calling the trend "worrying," Dr. Kevin Fenton of the PHLS said the data "suggests that changes in sexual behavior thought to be related to the extensive safer sex messages in the wake of the HIV epidemic have not been sustained."
The British Thoracic Society (BTS) said this week that tuberculosis (TB) screening programs need to be energized through extra funding and personnel. Research presented at the group's winter conference indicates that the TB rate among asylum seekers in the United Kingdom is 22 percent higher than the U.K. average. Investigators from Northwick Park Hospital in Middlesex reviewed checks on 50,000 asylum seekers who arrived at Heathrow Airport between 1995 and 1999. In all, 100 people of the 41,470 screened had active TB, while 256 were referred to area hospitals. Northwick Park's Dr. Robert Davidson noted, "Over half of TB cases in the U.K. occur in people born overseas, and it is encouraging that some screening is in place -- but there is no room for complacency." The BTS recommended that screening at ports of entry also include asking for a history of TB infection and treatment. According to the group, at least 8 million pounds should be invested in doctors and nurses, especially in regions with large numbers of people seeking asylum.
Casal Ventoso, a drug-ridden slum in Portugal's capital of Lisbon, is slowly being cleaned up. Already, the government is destroying the shacks and tents where people lived, replacing them with new houses. One physician who works at a shelter for homeless addicts from Casal Ventoso has described the slum as the most powerful drug haven in all of Europe, with as many as 5,000 people going there every day to buy drugs at one point. On the streets of Casal Ventoso, police make frequent raids on the slum, addicts sell drug paraphernalia, and health workers exchange used syringes for new ones as part of an effort to stem the spread of HIV. While there are no official statistics for the number of drug users in the country, the doctor estimates that approximately 100,000 people are hooked on heroin.
Russia's lower house of parliament adopted this week a draft measure for tuberculosis (TB) prevention. The draft law includes regular checkups for people, keeping sick people out of work so they do not infect others there, and regular medical control by special health centers. One study of Russia's TB rate indicated there are currently 2.2 million people registered in the country's TB centers.
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.