Archive for the 'Alabama' Category

21
Feb
10

HIV Poses a Community Risk for Blacks

WE MUST DO BETTER!!!!

Experts Say HIV Rates Are So High That Simply Curbing Risky Behavior Won’t Help

By CRYSTAL PHEND
MedPage TodayStaff Writer

Feb. 19, 2010— 

SAN FRANCISCO — HIV prevalence is so great among African Americans that even those who avoid risky behaviors are at high risk, according to findings reported at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. 

Dr. Kimberly Smith, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, warned that focusing on drug use, homosexual behavior and multiple partners actually undermines efforts to counteract the dramatic disparities faced by blacks in regards to HIV prevalence and mortality. 

This is particularly true for heterosexuals, she told attendees of the conference. 

“The prevalence has come to a point now where&there’s basically no room for error,” she said at a press conference. This requires a shift in perspective for policy and prevention efforts, Smith said. 

“If we start to focus on this as a community challenge rather than focusing on individual risks, then that may move us in the right direction,” she said at a press conference. 

Black people account for only 12 percent of the U.S. population, but make up half of HIV cases in the country. 

Whereas the overall rate of HIV prevalence in America is under 1 percent, Smith called attention to a New England Journal of Medicine article published earlier this week that documented the rate in several U.S. cities with large black populations as comparable to and sometimes worse than the rate reported in sub-Saharan Africa. 

For example, the HIV rate is 3 percent in the largely black Washington D.C. population (over 6 percent among black men there) and reaches nearly 14 percent in men who have sex with men in New York City compared with a general-population prevalence of 7.8 percent in Kenya and 16.9 percent in South Africa. 

Stigmatizing groups with risky behaviors leaves the majority unaware of their risk, Smith noted. 

“Part of our challenge is that a lot of the black community has not perceived itself to be at risk based upon the evolution of how we understood risk of HIV in the United States,” she said at the press conference. 

The narrow initial perception as a “gay, white disease” persisted into the mid-90s, she said. 

By the time high-profile black HIV cases like that of Earvin “Magic” Johnson stirred awareness about risk, Smith said at the plenary session, “the horse was out of the barn, the cat was out of the bag, and HIV was running rampant in black community.” 

HIV mortality for African Americans shows the same dramatic gap as HIV rates compared with other race and ethnic groups in the U.S., with an eight-fold excess mortality risk for black men and 20-fold increased risk for black women. 

Many factors contribute to this, including late diagnosis, the fact that up to 20 percent of black HIV-infected persons never see an HIV provider for at least five years after diagnosis, poorer access to care and poorer response and adherence to treatment once initiated, Smith noted. 

Dr. Kevin Fenton agreed that social contexts drive these disparities. Fenton spoke about barriers to HIV prevention at a separate session at the conference. 

Only 16 percent of people living with HIV have private insurance and 62 percent are unemployed explained Fenton, who is director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis prevention at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. 

“While we’ve made great strides in developing prevention interventions and targeting individual risk behavior, the bottom line is that behavioral change programs are not enough to get ahead of the curve,” Fenton said at a press conference. 

Without confronting the root causes, little will change, he cautioned. 

21
Feb
10

Would you wear this? Bertini’s Condom Couture

What do dresses, condoms, AIDS and charity have in common? A talented 35-year-old Brazilian artist (once Greenpeace activist) named Adriana Bertini. In an attempt to raise AIDS awareness and inspired by HIV-positive children she met while volunteering at an AIDS prevention group (GAPA), she has designed -over the span of ten years- dresses, skirts and suits made entirely of quality test rejected condoms.

What’s her message? “Condoms must be basic like a pair of jeans and so necessary like a great love”.
How is this environmentally friendly? Well, other than raising AIDS awareness, which is a pretty big thing, the condoms that are used to make the clothing are rejected condoms, which would otherwise be thrown into the trash or incinerated. Incineration would produce a huge amount of sulfur and trash obviously ends up in the landfills. But thanks to her partnership with preservative companies and her love for life, Bertini is able to express her talent and make a healthy and much needed ecological impact, all at the same time.

 

Cool Details


The maximum amount of condoms Adriana Bertini has used on a gown thus far are around 80 thousand. That’s a lot of condoms! What was the gown she made? It was a wedding dress. Can you picture the bride wearing this? Bertini has also made around 200 sculptures, 80 pictures and 160 figurines.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your fashion point of view, these bright colorful dresses and clothing items are not meant to be worn (except by the models), but to be seen. If you are interested, her artwork can be seen at the exhibition, “Dress Up Against AIDS: Condom Couture,” now until March 11, 2007 at UCLA’s Fowler Museum in LA. For more information visit the Fowler Museum website.

What Does The Future Hold?

Bertini doesn’t plan to stop at clothing. She has 3 big ideas in the works. For starters she plans to begin a male collection of clothing, called “Medieval Art- Garments as body protection”. She has already created a male bust series, sculptured with condoms.

She also wants to create a house, called “Venus’ House” which, not surprisingly, would have furniture and people made out of condoms, but would also contain an educational archive on sex, its history and the data/statistics on sexually transmitted diseases. Her purpose: to endorses easier and more comfortable communication about sex within families and people as a whole.

Her third project, “Fashion Show Stars” is, in a way, a form of celebrity endorsement where she hopes to some day have famous people wear her artwork and say “I use it, don’t you?” If you’re famous and interested let her know. I’m sure she’d love it.

To see more of her creative green work, go to her website.

With that said and done, remember: when you protect the earth don’t forget about yourself. You are, after all, a part of it.

Gloria Campos-Hensley
Featured Blogger
http://inventorspot.com/gloriacampos

27
Jan
10

HIV cases soar among Filipino yuppies, call center workers

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine General Hospital on Wednesday said the number of Filipinos infected with HIV rose dramatically in the past 10 months and now includes young urban professionals such as call center agents.

Doctors at the PGH Infectious Disease Treatment Complex said the number of human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) cases in the hospital rose to 100 in the past 10 months.

Records from the Department of Health showed that the number of HIV cases rose to 709 last year, compared to 528 in 2008.

Dr. Edsel Savana of the PGH Infectious Disease Treatment Complex said 80 HIV cases were recorded for November alone.

“The spread of AIDS in the country is already an epidemic. We should be on the lookout because AIDS spreads fast,” he said.

Savana said most of those who contract HIV are sex workers, gays and drug addicts.

Dr. Katerina Leyritana, however, said hospitals have also recorded HIV cases among young urban professionals such as call center agents.

She said majority of the recent HIV cases tend to be younger, mostly from ages 15-29, who are well educated.

Some of those infected said they got the illness after engaging in casual or group sex, which they discovered through social networking sites on the Internet.

“There are a lot of sites right now that can organize orgies quickly. A lot of young people believe in casual sex,” she said.

If current trends hold, the health department said HIV patients in the country could balloon to 20,000 cases by 2020.

The PGH said it will conduct a massive information drive to warn people about the possible dangers of unsafe sex. With a report from Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News.

27
Jan
10

Study: HIV may lead to decreased cognitive function

by Alex Schoenfeld

HIV may lead to premature agingA recent study has found that individuals who test positive for HIV may suffer from premature aging of the brain, either due to the infection itself or the treatment used to control it.

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine used magnetic resonance imaging scanners to study the brain of 26 patients with HIV and 25 uninfected subjects. They found that brain blood flow values were considerably reduced in HIV patients compared to control respondents.

The cognitive function of subjects infected with the virus was equivalent to readings seen in uninfected individuals who were 15 to 20 years older.

“Brain blood flow levels decline naturally as we age, but HIV, the medications we use to control it or some combination of the two appear to be accelerating this process independent of aging,” said lead author Beau Ances.

Researchers discovered that declining brain function was perceptible in young, newly infected patients as well as older individuals who have been dealing with the virus for some time. Previous studies related to the long-term health of HIV patients have indicated that the virus adversely affects the liver, heart, kidneys and endocrine system.

27
Jan
10

Herpes Medication Does Not Reduce Risk of HIV Transmission, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Jan. 25, 2010) — A five-year international multi-center clinical trial has found that acyclovir, a drug widely used as a safe and effective treatment taken twice daily to suppress herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2), which is the most common cause of genital herpes, does not reduce the risk of HIV transmission when taken by people infected with both HIV and HSV-2.

The results of the study are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Up to 90% of people with HIV infection also have HSV-2 infection. Most people who are infected with HSV-2 do not know they have the virus because symptoms can be mild or absent. HSV-2 infection can cause recurrent sores and breaks in the skin of the genital region, which can be mild and often go unnoticed. HSV-2 infection also attracts immune cells called CD4 T-cells to the genital region, which HIV uses to establish or pass infection.

Multiple studies have shown that frequent genital herpes recurrences increase the amount of HIV in the blood and genital tract. The HIV virus is also shed from genital herpes ulcers and persons with such ulcers transmit HIV to others more efficiently. Five preliminary studies showed that it is possible to decrease the amount of HIV in the blood and genital tract through treatment to suppress HSV-2, but these studies did not measure whether this translated into a reduction in HIV transmission. Researchers had hoped that acyclovir’s ability to suppress the herpes virus, which causes symptomatic genital sores and breaks in the skin but also frequently is active without symptoms, could reduce the likelihood of sexual transmission of HIV from a person with HIV and HSV-2. The study is the first to determine whether twice daily use of acyclovir by individuals who are infected with both HSV-2 and HIV reduced the transmission of HIV to their sexual partners. The authors conclude that daily acyclovir therapy did not reduce the risk of transmission of HIV, in spite of the fact that acyclovir reduced plasma HIV RNA by a ¼ log and the occurrence of genital ulcers due to HSV-2 by 73%.

Led by the University of Washington in Seattle and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Partners in Prevention HSV/HIV Transmission Study was conducted among 3,408 African HIV serodiscordant couples, in which one partner had HIV and the other did not. In all the couples, the partner who had HIV also had HSV-2 infection. The study took place at 14 sites in seven countries in eastern and southern Africa (Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia). In sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of new HIV infections occur among heterosexual HIV discordant couples, many of whom are in stable partnerships and unaware that one partner has HIV and the other does not. Genital herpes is thought to be a factor in a substantial proportion of new HIV infections in Africa.

The study began recruitment in Nov. 2004 and ended follow-up of participants in Oct. 2008. Results were first announced in May 2009 and were presented at the International AIDS Society (IAS) meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, on July 22, 2009.

In the primary analysis of HIV transmissions determined by laboratory testing to have occurred within the couple and not acquired from an outside partner, there were 41 infections in the acyclovir arm and 43 in the placebo arm — not a significant difference. Of the partners who were infected with HIV, 68 % were women. Acyclovir suppressive treatment did show significant reductions in the frequency of genital ulcers (by 73%) and the average amount of HIV in the blood (by 0.25 log10 copies/milliliter, a reduction of 40%), compared to the placebo arm.

“As is often the case with large efficacy trials, you learn to expect surprises,” said Dr. Connie Celum, the leader of the study and a UW professor of Global Health and Medicine in the Division of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “We found that, in spite of a significant reduction in plasma HIV levels and genital ulcer disease with acyclovir suppressive therapy, there was no reduction in HIV transmission. This was a disappointing finding, but a critical outcome of this study is the understanding that interventions must achieve a bigger reduction in HIV levels in order to reduce HIV transmission, especially among persons with high HIV levels. This will be important in informing future interventions to reduce HIV infectiousness.”

Celum said the study is a direct assessment of the impact of herpes suppression on HIV transmission and is the most direct way to see if it’s possible to make a person less infectious and less likely to transmit HIV to their partner. Although the primary outcome of reducing HIV transmission was not observed, Celum said the study achieved many significant mile¬stones that will help to inform HIV prevention research in a number of ways. Among these were HIV testing of approximately 55,000 couples of unknown HIV serostatus, screening of more than 6,500 HIV serodiscordant couples, and enroll¬ment of 3,408 couples in which the HIV- infected partner was dually infected with HSV-2 and not eligible for antiretroviral therapy, based on national guidelines. Adherence to twice daily acyclovir was high, with 88% of doses dispensed (the drug was not dispensed during pregnancy or if visits were missed), and 96% of dispensed doses taken, as measured by pill counts. Retention of study participants at 24 months of follow-up was 92% for HIV infected partners and 84% for HIV uninfected partners.

The Partners in Prevention HSV/HIV Transmission Study is the first clinical trial to directly test whether suppressing HSV-2 infection in HIV-infected persons could reduce rates of HIV transmission and HIV disease progression. The study was randomized, placebo-controlled and double-blinded, meaning that both participants and the care providers did not know which treatment the participants were receiving. Both the placebo and treatment groups received standard HIV prevention services, which included being supplied with condoms, treated for other sexually transmitted infections, and provided care for HIV infection. All participants received extensive counseling, both individually and as a couple, throughout the study period, on how to reduce the risk of HIV infection.

“This was an ambitious study, and I applaud our collaborators at the University of Washington, the investigators and study teams in Africa, the study participants, and the communities where the study was done, for their dedication over the past five years,” Celum said. “We will continue to learn from this study about risk factors for HIV transmission, which will bear fruit for both the HIV prevention and the vaccine fields for years to come.”

07
Jan
10

HIV-Infected Postmenopausal Women at High Risk for Bone Fractures

“As HIV-infected individuals live longer with potent antiretroviral therapy (ART), metabolic complications such as low bone density and osteoporosis are increasingly recognized,” said Michael Yin, MD of Columbia University Medical Center in New York and lead author of the study. “Although numbers of HIV-infected postmenopausal women are increasing and postmenopausal women are at highest risk for osteoporotic fractures, few studies have evaluated skeletal status in this group. We hypothesized that postmenopausal women might be particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of HIV infection or ART on the skeleton and our results indicate that this may indeed be the case.”

To test their hypothesis, Yin and his colleagues initiated a longitudinal study to assess bone health in 92 HIV-positive and 95 HIV-negative postmenopausal women. Bone mineral density of the lumbar spine, femoral neck and hip as well as body composition were measured by dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Researchers found that HIV-positive postmenopausal women had lower bone mineral density at both the spine and hip than HIV-negative postmenopausal women.

“HIV infection was independently associated with lower bone mineral density after adjusting for body mass index (BMI) and traditional osteoporosis risk factors,” said Yin. “While the reason for HIV-associated bone loss remains unclear, it may be related to increased levels of cytokines (proteins produced by cells that aid communication between cells), direct effects of antiretrovirals on bone cells or hormonal/nutritional deficiencies that are common in HIV.”

“Estrogen protects against the effect of cytokines on bone resorption,” said Yin. “Therefore, as HIV-positive women become estrogen deficient during menopause, they may be at higher risk for accelerated bone loss and fracture.”

Other researchers working on the study include Don McMahon, Chiyuan Zhang, Aimee Shu, Ronald Staron, Ivelisse Colon, Jay Dobkin, Scott Hammer and Elizabeth Shane of Columbia University Medical Center in New York, N.Y.; David Ferris of Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center in N.Y.; and Jeffrey Laurence of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, N.Y.

The article, “Low bone mass and high bone turnover in postmenopausal HIV-infected women,” will appear in the February 2010 issue of JCEM.

29
Dec
09

NJ Activist Lobbies Religious Leaders on HIV Prevention

AIDS activist Deloris Dockery is having some success lobbying religious leaders in Newark, New Jersey, to discuss HIV prevention with their congregations, NJ.com reports.

According to the article, Dockery was diagnosed with HIV in 1994. She has since earned a master’s degree in public health and now heads the One Conversation program at the New Jersey–based Hyacinth AIDS Foundation.

As part of her outreach work, Dockery travels to churches throughout the Newark area giving presentations and organizing testing centers. She urges religious leaders to talk about safer sex, needle exchange programs and early detection.

One in 47 people in Newark is living with HIV/AIDS. And one in 62 African Americans in New Jersey is living with HIV/AIDS compared with one in 705 whites, according to the city’s Department of Health and Senior Services.




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