Category Archives: HIV

Sep 13 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: September 13

Latinos May Be More Vulnerable to Type 2 Diabetes
A new study in Diabetes Care shows Latinos are more susceptible to type 2 diabetes than other groups due to how they store fat in the pancreas and release insulin into the body. The study was conducted by Cedars-Sinai’s Heart Institute, Biomedical Imaging Research Institute and Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute. “Prevention of diabetes is our goal,” said Richard Bergman, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute. “Not all people who are overweight or obese and who have insulin resistance go on to develop diabetes. If we can determine who is most likely to develop diabetes and why, then we can make strides toward preventing it in those individuals. Read more on diabetes.

NIH Expands Safe Infant Sleep Campaign
The National Institutes of Health is expanding its “Back to Sleep Campaign” into the “Safe to Sleep Campaign.” Where before the campaign focused on reducing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), it will now cover all sleep-related deaths for infants in the United States. The original campaign, founded in 1994, educated parents, caregivers and health care providers on how to prevent SIDS. “In recent years, we’ve learned that many of the risk factors for SIDS are similar to those for other sleep-related causes of infant death,” said Alan E. Guttmacher, MD, Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). “Placing infants on their backs to sleep and providing them with a safe sleep environment for every sleep time reduces the risk for SIDS as well as death from other causes, such as suffocation.” Read more on infant health.

HHS Releases Common Application for AIDS Drugs to Help Streamline Access for Many Patients
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has started its program to help uninsured HIV patients apply for multiple assistance programs with a single application. The Common Patient Assistance Program Application (CPAPA) is a product of HHS and seven major pharmaceutical companies and foundations. Patient Assistance Programs help approximately 30,000 people in the United States each year. “The last thing someone living with HIV wants to think about is filling out another form,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “This application streamlines and simplifies the process, reduces barriers to medication access, and speeds access to lifesaving drugs.” Read more on HIV.

USC Study Finds Marijuana May Increase the Risk of Testicular Cancer
Recreational marijuana use may increase the risk of certain types of more serious testicular cancer, according to a new study from the University of Southern California published online in CANCER. The study looked at results of recreational drug use in 163 men with the testicular cancer—the most common type of cancer in men ages 15-45—and found they were twice as likely to suffer from non-seminoma and mixed germ cell tumors. The findings support previous studies showing a link between marijuana use and testicular cancer. Read more on cancer.

Sep 6 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: September 6

NFL Gives $30 Million to NIH for Brain Injury Research
A $30-million unrestricted gift to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health from the National Football League (NFL) will go toward research to help both athletes and the general population. While the exact nature of the research has not yet been decided, it could include studies on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, concussions and the causes of late-life neurodegenerative disorders—all areas of importance to NFL players, coaches and owners. This is the founding donation to a new Sports and Health Research Program, a program of the National Institutes of Health. “We hope this grant will help accelerate the medical community’s pursuit of pioneering research to enhance the health of athletes past, present and future,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “This research will extend beyond the NFL playing field and benefit athletes at all levels and others, including members of our military.” Read more on injury prevention.

New Million Hearts Campaign to Improve High Blood Pressure
The new “Team Up. Pressure Down” initiative from the Million Hearts Campaign health education program will help Americans improve their blood pressure by arming pharmacists with educational videos, a blood pressure control journal and wallet card to track medication use. The public health collaboration includes U.S. pharmacists and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “This valuable Million Hearts initiative will prevent heart attacks and strokes by bringing pharmacists into the care team to help patients control their blood pressure,” said Surgeon General, Regina M. Benjamin, MD. “Pharmacists are able to talk to patients and families about using medication to manage, high blood pressure, and they can also help patients address barriers to taking their medication.” Read more on heart health. Read more on heart health.

Use of Effective HIV Treatment Up in the U.S.
Use of the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) treatment for HIV was up across the United States from 2000 through 2008, according to a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health appearing in the September 4 edition of Annals of Internal Medicine. The study of more than 45,000 HIV-infected participants also found them to be less infectious and have healthier immune systems. “This is good news for the HIV epidemic in the U.S., but there is room for improvement,” said Keri N. Althoff, PhD, MPH, the study’s author and an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Epidemiology. “We need to continue to focus on linking HIV-infected adults into care and effective treatment, not only for the individual’s health, but to reduce the likelihood of transmission to others.” Read more on HIV.

Jul 26 2012
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Girls, with Cameras and Computers, on the Road to a Better Life

>>EDITOR'S NOTE: On 9/13/2012 CeaseFire changed its name to Cure Violence.

Mandisa Madikane, a 20-year old, HIV-positive, newly minted journalist from Soweto, South Africa, was the star at a high-wattage Washington D.C. event Wednesday night hosted by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief in conjunction with the 2012 AIDS International Conference meeting this week. Her co-panelists, who spoke about empowering women to protect them from rape, poverty, discrimination and humiliation included Tom Frieden, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control; Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development; and Melanne Verveer, U.S. Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues. Discussion was helped by a video, “Mandisa’s Story,” aired at the event. Directed by the young journalist, it tells the story of her rape by a neighbor at age six, which is how Mandisa contracted HIV.

Mandisa is one of three HIV-positive young women from South Africa covering the AIDS conference who received their journalism training through GlobalGirl Media (GGM), a non-profit that teaches teenage girls from disadvantaged communities around the world, including the U.S., to become citizen-journalists. Launched in 2010 by a group of women broadcasters and journalists, GGM teaches girls to use print, video and electronic media to tell their stories in order to build their self-esteem and champion the role of girls throughout the world. The project currently has bureaus in South Africa, Morocco, Los Angeles and one opened just this month in Chicago. “The girls who train with GGM are a family, and we all have important stories to tell,” said Evelyn Mokele, one of the South Africa journalists in Washington this week. “When I found out I was HIV positive, I almost gave up on everything. But instead of letting my status be a death-sentence, I used it as a tool to find my voice.”

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Jul 25 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: July 25

NIH Will Test Vaginal Ring for HIV Prevention in Women
U.S. researchers announced at the 2012 International AIDS Conference yesterday that they will begin a multinational clinical trial this month to test the effectiveness and extended safety of a vaginal ring containing an experimental antiretroviral drug to prevent HIV infection in women. Results are expected in early 2015.

“Developing scientifically proven forms of HIV prevention that women can control is essential,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Because the vaginal ring is a long-acting intervention, it has a potential added benefit in that women may find it relatively easy to use.”

Most women who acquire HIV do so through unprotected sex, according to the National Institutes of Health. Because many women cannot negotiate male condom use with their sexual partners, women need forms of HIV prevention that they can use independently and regularly. The clinical trial will be conducted in Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Read more on AIDS.

Ground Beef, Strollers Recalled
Cargill Meat Solutions is recalling 29,339 pounds of fresh ground beef products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis, according to the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Although the “use by date” has passed, the USDA is concerned that consumers may have packages of the meat, which is stamped EST. 9400, in their freezers. So far, 33 people in seven states have become ill. The states are Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia and Vermont.

Baby stroller firm Peg-Perego is recalling more than 200,000 strollers sold between 2004 and 2007 because of a baby death caused by a Peg-Perego stroller eight years ago. A baby’s head and neck can become trapped between the stroller tray and the seat bottom. Read more on food safety.

Study: Tanning Beds Vastly Increase Skin Cancer Risk in Young People
Using a tanning bed increases the risk of skin cancer by 20 percent, according to a new study in the British Medical Journal. However, starting to use tanning beds before age 35 can raise that risk by 87 percent, according to the study. The results are based on an analysis of 27 studies published between 1981 and 2012 that looked at 11,000 cases of skin cancer. Read more on cancer.

Jul 25 2012
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HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C.

The choice of Washington, D.C. as the site of the 2012 International AIDS Conference is an important one – about 3 percent of the adult and teen residents of the city are HIV positive. That exceeds the definition of an AIDS epidemic by UNAIDS – 1 percent of a population.

new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation says that, “In many ways, the D.C. epidemic is a microcosm for what is happening nationally”: D.C. is a small, densely populated community with overlapping sexual networks that can fuel transmission, and also faces significant health care access challenges, poverty, drug use, high rates of other sexually transmitted infections, stigma and lack of knowledge about HIV status.

Blacks in D.C. have the highest HIV prevalence rates per 100,000 adults and adolescents (4,264.6)—more than twice the rate among Latinos (1,836.4) and three times the rate among whites (1,226.3). One difference is that in D.C., there is a higher prevalence of HIV among Black women (2.6%) compared with white men (2.4%).

Importantly, though, the report finds gains in HIV awareness and testing in the city. Over 100,000 HIV tests were done in DC last year, triple the number in 2007. And, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, D.C. was the first jurisdiction to adopt CDC recommendations for routine HIV testing in health care settings and actively works with providers to expand testing. More than four in 10 D.C. residents, ages 18-64, report being tested for HIV within the past year, the highest share of any state.

>>Bonus Link: The Washington Post has been live blogging the AIDS conference this week and the site also has some notable features including an important story on the stigma of AIDS in the South and obstacles in the U.S. to successful treatment for HIV/AIDS.

Jul 24 2012
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Test Your HIV/AIDS Knowledge

The International AIDS Conference is taking place in Washington, D.C., this week, and the Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a quiz to test your knowledge of the disease. Some answers may surprise you, and quiz creators hope that increasing awareness will help reduce the burden of the disease in the United States and around the world. Stats revealed include:

  • Nearly 1 in 5 people with HIV don’t know they’re infected.
  • Blacks account for the greatest number of new HIV infections in the U.S. (And although Blacks make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for 44 percent of new HIV infections in 2009.)
  • Since 2006, the CDC has recommended voluntary, routine HIV testing in health care settings for all people ages 13 to 64. In addition, CDC recommends more frequent testing for certain groups at higher risk for HIV infection or transmission.

>>Bonus Link: The AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display in Washington, D.C., during the conference, but online viewers can see the quilt, and learn its history online.

Jul 24 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: July 24

Study Finds Alarming HIV Rates Among Many Young Black Men
A key study conducted in six cities and released yesterday at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. by the HIV Prevention Trials Network  finds alarming rates of new HIV infections occurring among gay and bisexual black men in the United States (who are also known as men who have sex with men, or MSM), especially among young black MSM. The rate of new HIV infections among U.S. black MSM in the study was 2.8 percent per year, nearly fifty percent higher than white MSM. And the infection rate of young black MSM age 30 years and younger was 5.9 percent, which is three times the rate among U.S. white MSM. According to the researchers, the overall infection rate among black MSM in the study is comparable to the rate seen in the general populations of countries in sub-Saharan Africa hardest hit by the HIV epidemic. Read more on AIDS.

Coordinated Campus Strategies to Address Student Drinking to Reduce Self Harm and Injuries to Others
Strategies that address alcohol availability, alcohol policy enforcement and drinking norms can help colleges and their communities protect students from the harms of high-risk drinking, according to a new study funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. The study was published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. The researchers compared five campuses with coordinated approaches to five campuses without the program, finding that on campuses with dedicated efforts to control student drinking the percentage of students reporting severe consequences fell from 18 percent to 16 percent, but stayed the same on the campuses that had not initiated drinking controls. Reports of injuring another person while drinking decreased from 4 percent to 2 percent on dedicated campuses, with only a tiny change at the control colleges. The researchers estimate that on a campus with 11,000 students, drinking control efforts would result in 228 fewer students experiencing at least one severe consequence of drinking over the course of a month and 107 fewer students injuring others due to alcohol use during the year.

“This is the basic principle of public health — small changes at the population level can translate into significant improvements in the health of a population,” says Mark Wolfson, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and the lead author of the study. Read more on alcohol.

DOT Announces Nearly $800M in Grants Help Fix the Aging U.S. Transit Infrastructure
The Department of Transportation has announced grants of almost $800 million to modernize and replace aging transit facilities and vehicles in 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Projects include:

  • New Jersey Transit: $76 million to upgrade the bus fleet, which will help improve commuting times and air quality for state residents.
  • Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority: $15 million to replace aging buses with new buses that use compressed natural gas. The new buses are expected to improve reliability for riders, leave a smaller environmental footprint and reduce fuel costs.
  • Capital Area Transportation Authority in East Lansing, Michigan: $6.3 million to redevelop a former Amtrak station near Michigan State University, which will improve bicycle and pedestrian access and connections to local bus and rail service.

Read more on transportation.

Jul 23 2012
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AIDS International Conference 2012: A Q&A with Diane Havlir

Diane Havlir Diane Havlir, MD, University of California, San Francisco and San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center

The XIX International AIDS Conference is taking place in Washington, D.C., this week at a pivotal point in the prevention and treatment of the disease. The World Health Organization on Friday recommended using antiretroviral medicines to try to prevent the infection in people who do not have HIV but are at high risk of transmission. The recommendation is based on recent research that found the drugs effective for many people. And, the International Antiviral Society has recommended treating all patients diagnosed with HIV with antiretroviral drugs, rather than waiting for levels of the virus to reach a certain point. Earlier treatment may help prevent certain diseases associated with HIV, including cancer, heart and kidney disease.

In advance of the meeting, Conference Co-Chair Diane Havlir, MD, chief of the HIV/AIDS division at San Francisco General Hospital and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, sat down with UCSF science writer Jason Bardi to talk about the pivotal research and global commitments being discussed in meeting sessions and hallway conversations in Washington, D.C., this week. Here are some key excerpts from that conversation, which originally ran on the UCSF News Center website.

Jason Bardi: What can we expect at the AIDS 2012 conference?

Dr. Havlir: Over the last couple of years, we’ve had breakthroughs in AIDS, mostly in the prevention area which include treatment as prevention, adult male circumcision having sustained benefits, pre-exposure prophylaxis, and data showing that early treatment benefits the individual. So, the big theme at AIDS 2012 is about how we begin to end the AIDS epidemic. The conference theme is “Turning the Tide Together,” and there is going to be emphasis on the how: how are we going to start to begin the end the AIDS epidemic? And there’s going to be emphasis on the together: who’s going to finance this, and what partners do we need to bring to the table? The way I like to explain it is that we need to think about the short- and medium-term strategies and the long-term strategies.

Jason Bardi: Your research group at UCSF is presenting quite a lot of research at the conference. Can you talk about some of the highlights?

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Jul 3 2012
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Afternoon Update: FDA Approves First Over-the-Counter Home Use HIV Test Kit

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first in-home HIV Test. The test, called OraQuick, does not require a prescription and can detect the presence of antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and type 2 (HIV-2). HIV is the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Consumers use the test by swabbing the upper and lower gums inside of their mouths, then placing the fluid sample collected in a vial that comes with the kit. Results are available within 20 to 40 minutes. The FDA says a positive result does not mean that an individual is definitely infected with HIV, but that additional testing should be done in a medical setting. And a negative test result does not mean that an individual is definitely not infected with HIV, especially if exposure to the virus was within the past three months.

Clinical studies have found that one false negative result would be expected out of every 12 test results in HIV-infected individuals and one false positive would be expected out of every 5,000 test results in uninfected individuals.

OraSure Technologies, which makes the test, will have a consumer support center open 24/7 to help consumers conduct the test and to make referrals for information on prevention and treatment once the test is completed.

“Knowing your status is an important factor in the effort to prevent the spread of HIV,” said Karen Midthun, MD, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “The availability of a home-use HIV test kit provides another option for individuals to get tested so that they can seek medical care, if appropriate.” According to the FDA, the test will be targeted to people who would not otherwise be tested. “There’s a large group of people who are infected, and don’t know it,” says Midthun. “And even if they are engaged in behaviors that would put them at risk of getting HIV, they may be reluctant to visit their doctor or a health care facility to be tested.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection. About one in five are not aware they are infected. There are about 50,000 new HIV infections every year. Many of these new infections are transmitted from people who are unaware of their HIV status.

Jun 27 2012
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CDC Pilot Trains Pharmacists and Retail Clinic Staff to Provide Testing for HIV/AIDS

In observance of National HIV Testing Day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced a pilot project to train pharmacists and retail store clinic staff at 24 rural and urban sites to deliver confidential rapid HIV testing. The goal of the pilot, according to CDC, is to extend HIV testing and counseling into the everyday services offered by pharmacies and retail clinics. The project is part of CDC’s efforts to support its 2006 testing recommendations, which call for all adults and adolescents to be tested for HIV at least once in their lives.

“We know that getting people tested, diagnosed and linked to care are critical steps in reducing new HIV infections,” said Kevin Fenton, MD, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “By bringing HIV testing into pharmacies, we believe we can reach more people by making testing more accessible…”

CDC estimates that 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States, yet nearly one in five remains unaware of the infection. In addition, one-third of those with HIV are diagnosed so late in the course of their infection that they develop AIDS within one year. That can delay treatment and increase potential transmission of the virus to partners.

Why community pharmacies? According to the CDC, millions of Americans shop at pharmacies every week and about 30 percent of Americans live within a 10-minute drive of a retail clinic. The pilot will last for two years, and the training will focus on rapid HIV testing and counseling and linking people diagnosed with the virus to treatment and support. Based on lessons learned, CDC plans to develop a comprehensive toolkit for that pharmacists and retail clinic staff.

Bonus Link: The Alliance for Health Reform recently held a briefing for Congressional staffers about retail clinics. Access the briefing webcast here.

More on HIV/AIDS testing:

  • Today, HHS revamped and relaunched AIDS.gov to make it more user-friendly and accessible on any kind of device, from cell phones to tablets.
  • Testing Makes Us Stronger encourages African-American gay and bisexual men to get tested for HIV.
  • Take Charge. Take the Test. Encourages African-American women to get tested for HIV.
  • HIV Screening. Standard Care. Gives primary care providers new tools to help ensure all patients are tested for HIV at least once in their life.
  • Prevention IS Care encourages providers who treat patients with HIV to screen them for risky transmission behaviors, and remind them about the importance of protecting themselves and others by reducing risky behaviors.
  • One Test. Two Lives. gives health care providers information and resources to encourage testing of pregnant women for HIV/AIDS.
  • To find a test location goes to www.hivtest.org, call 1-800-CDC-INFO or text your zip code to “KNOW IT” (566948).
  • AIDS.gov lists numerous resources to support National HIV Testing Day.

>>Weigh In: What other initiatives do you think might be good opportunities for collaboration between public health and retail clinics?

>>Follow the National HIV Testing Day conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #NHTD.