InsightNews recently reported that Minnesota teens are using condoms on a less consistent basis, while state STD rates could hit another record high this year. The most recent data showed that only 61 percent of Minnesota high school seniors used a condom during their last sexual encounter, which is a 2.5-percent drop in the past three years.
Today’s youth no longer consider HIV to be a “death sentence,” which may contribute to their apathy to use condoms on a regular basis, according to Jill Farris, from Teenwise Minnesota, an advocacy group for teenage sexual health. "That kind of has gone away, and so a lot of young people maybe don't really see the problem or the big deal with [sexually transmitted infections.] They think it's something that can be easily treated or managed," she said. "In some ways that's true—but we also know there are some pretty devastating health consequences for young people if they don't get treated." She added that long-lasting birth control may be another reason for the decline in condom use.
STDs hit a record high of more than 21,000 reported cases in Minnesota in 2012. Farris said that many teens may assume they do not have an STD because they have no symptoms. She added that better education is needed to clarify that STDs can still be present and transmittable even in the absence of symptoms. Although condom use has declined and STDs have increased, the Minnesota teen pregnancy rate has decreased.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the Hepatology Society of the Philippines (HSP) convened a multisectoral coalition of stakeholders to form the National Viral Hepatitis Task Force (NVHTF). The task force included the Department of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, the Philippine College of Physicians, Philhealth, the Philippine Pediatric Society, the Philippine Society of Gastroenterology, the Yellow Warriors Society of the Philippines, and the Department of Labor and Employment. At present, the Philippines did not have a comprehensive plan for hepatitis B and C prevention; NVHTF’s goal was to “develop and maintain a national strategy to eliminate or significantly decrease” hepatitis B and C prevalence in the Philippines.
NVHTF already has outlined a strategic plan, “Prevention and Control of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C in the Philippines: A Call to Action,” to guide the development of a comprehensive plan. The NVHTF plan aligned with WHO Global Hepatitis Program recommendations for addressing hepatitis along four axes: raising awareness, promoting partnerships, and mobilizing resources; centering action on evidence-based policy and data; preventing transmission; and providing screening, care, and treatment. In 2010, WHO passed a resolution urging all member nations to adopt a comprehensive approach to hepatitis control and prevention.
Studies have estimated that 16.7 percent (7.3 million) of Filipinos had chronic hepatitis B and approximately 1 percent of Filipinos could have hepatitis C. Hepatitis prevalence was twice as high in the Philippines as in other Western Pacific countries. Long-term consequences of chronic hepatitis infection could include liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. According to HSP President Dr. Diana Payawal, liver cancer was the third leading cancer cause and the second leading cause of cancer death in the Philippines.
An article in Medical Daily reported on a new microchip that can test for HIV/AIDS. Researchers, led by Dr. Rashid Bashir, professor of bioengineering and electrical and computer engineering, and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, developed a microchip that can diagnose HIV accurately and efficiently. The microchip uses a drop of blood, which travels through a network of passages; at the end of the passages, an electrical pulse passes through the cells to measure their dimensions. The device recognizes and counts CD4 T-cells—the immune cells destroyed by HIV—and counts CD8 T-cells. CD8 T-cells are elevated in HIV-infected babies and are used to diagnose HIV in infants. The measurement takes seconds.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately one in four of the world’s 33 million HIV-infected people are unaware that they are infected, are not in treatment, and unknowingly continue to transmit the disease. A portable convenient method of testing would be a boon to healthcare workers in low- to middle-income countries where people have limited access to medical care as well as in developed countries where there are pockets of disease.
The researchers concluded that the discovery has potential to become part of a handheld, battery-powered device that would diagnose HIV in individuals anywhere in the world regardless of geography or socioeconomics. Dr. Nicholas Watkins, the nanotech engineer who developed the biochip, estimated that it would take approximately two years to develop a handheld unit for use with the microchip, and to test it in clinical trials.
The full report, “Microfluidic CD4+ and CD8+ T Lymphocyte Counters for Point-of-Care HIV Diagnostics Using Whole Blood,” was published online in the journal Science Translational Medicine (2013; doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3006870).
The Oracle reported that the University of South Florida (USF) Morsani College of Medicine staff and students were operating the Ybor Youth Clinic to provide free medical services to underserved, at-risk populations, including homeless youth and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. The clinic, funded entirely by private donations from the community and medical networks, provided family planning services, including birth control, pregnancy tests, gynecological exams, and cervical cancer screening. Services in highest demand were STD prevention, treatment, and management.
Founders established Ybor Youth Clinic in October to keep HIV patients in treatment after they left the USF Children’s Medical Center, according to Terri Burger, nurse practitioner at Ybor Youth Clinic and USF Health Pediatric Infectious Diseases Division.
Burger noted that the community welcomed the clinic because it was distinctly qualified to provide services other healthcare entities were unable to supply. Jeremiah Kerr, outreach community coordinator and USF medical researcher, described the clinic’s hands-on approach, which included networking with Hillsborough County Schools and medical agencies, coordinating fundraisers with USF student organizations like PRIDE Alliance, and conducting outreach activities with Ybor nightlife.
USF medical residents and professors staffed the Ybor Youth Clinic. Patrick Blackburn, third-year USF medical student and clinic volunteer, stated clinic staff openly discussed sexual health and preventive measures with patients. Providing confidential counseling for any sexual health issue, clinic staff were able to educate clients and help them plan families. Burger explained that planning families was “the best way to end poverty.”
ABC 33|40 reported that Equal Access Birmingham (EAB) will host a free health screening, which will include HIV testing provided by the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s 1917 Clinic, for Birmingham, Ala., community members on December 7 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Firehouse Shelter will host the event at 1501 Third Avenue. The screening event is part of EAB’s goal to provide healthcare education and assist with serving the needs of locally underserved individuals. To learn more about EAB, e-mail email@example.com.
An article in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin reported that Umatilla County, Ore., public health officials noted a significant increase in gonorrhea cases in the county recently. According to Public Health Director Sarah Williams, the county has recorded 15 cases within the past eight weeks. She noted that the county recorded only four cases for all of 2012. Overall, she added, cases in the Northwest have risen throughout the past three months and that county officials are encouraging safe-sex practices and routine screenings for all individuals who are sexually active. Umatilla County Public Health staff offer screenings and treatment for minimal fees at their Pendleton and Hermiston offices. For more information, call (541) 278–5432.
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