The Augusta Free Press reported that the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Greater than AIDS would partner to launch a three-part HIV awareness campaign targeting women. VDH estimated that 48 percent of the 6,600 HIV-positive Virginia women progressed to AIDS diagnoses last year. Interim State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH, stated that the Virginia Greater than AIDS campaign (Virginia>AIDS) aimed to “empower women with knowledge and support for healthy living,” which would improve the lives of all families in the commonwealth. The campaign would focus on personal stories and conversations intended to combat the stigma surrounding HIV.
Elaine Martin, director of HIV Prevention Services, noted that the Virginia>AIDS launch commenced with the “Empowered” campaign, because HIV had a disproportionate effect on African-American women and girls. “Empowered” features Alicia Keys in conversation with five HIV-positive women from around the country and makes its debut on March 10, National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Another segment of the campaign included a “Deciding Moments” feature on the Virginia>AIDS Web site, where visitors could post their personal deciding moments to inspire hope in others. The third campaign segment would be “I Got Tested,” which would connect people via hotlines or Web resources to free testing resources in their communities. This campaign phase would precede National HIV Testing Day on June 27, when VDH would partner with select Walgreens stores to provide free, confidential HIV testing.
Levine emphasized that early diagnosis and treatment are effective in preventing HIV/AIDS, and that women could help ensure a longer and healthier life for themselves and their families through HIV testing.
Call the Disease Prevention Hotline toll-free at 1–800–533–4148 or visit http://greaterthan.org/states/virginia/ for information about testing services locations.
UPI.com reported that 1.5 million girls in three countries will receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to help curtail cervical cancer. The GAVI Alliance, an organization that includes the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, donor governments, the vaccine industry, and private philanthropists, will provide funding to vaccinate girls in Rwanda, Uganda, and Uzbekistan.
An HPV immunization program already is in place in Rwanda thanks to a previous donation from a supplier, but the country will switch to the GAVI program to secure sustainability. Vaccinations will begin in Uganda and Uzbekistan in 2015. The program is based on a co-financing policy, which requires each country to contribute toward every HPV dose. Each country has detailed plans to vaccinate girls between 10–12 years old in schools or through community outreach workers.
"Cervical cancer is a scourge on women and their families in the world's poorest countries," said Dr. Seth Berkley, chief executive officer of the GAVI Alliance. Because cervical cancer claims more than 250,000 lives each year, it is important to get the vaccine to those with limited access, he added.
Medical Xpress reported on a study in which researchers proposed an effective formula for reducing HIV transmission among drug users in New York City throughout the next 25 years. Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Brown University developed the model on which the formula is based. The model recommends combined use of four methods: “increased HIV testing, improved access to substance abuse treatment, increased use of needle and syringe exchange programs, and broad implementation of antiretroviral treatment as prevention.”
The researchers modeled HIV transmission in a group of sexually active individuals ages 15 to 64 in New York City, including injecting and non- injecting drug users as well as non-drug users. They determined the effectiveness of different prevention methods and compared projected HIV incidence in 2020 and 2040 using present methods if one or more of the four interventions were used.
Each individual hypothetical method improved the reduction in HIV transmission. The combination of all four prevention methods prevented the greatest proportion of new cases, and increasing the use of all four simultaneously resulted in a 62.4-percent decrease in new infections by 2040. When researchers combined two strategies––needle-exchange programs and HIV treatment––new cases decreased almost as much as with the four combined prevention methods. No intervention completely prevented HIV transmission.
According to Brandon Marshall, PhD, assistant professor of public health at Brown University and a former postdoctoral scholar at the Mailman School, the research supports New York’s Enhanced Comprehensive Prevention Plan’s goals, and emphasizes the need to increase the prevention programs to meet these goals and reach zero incidence.
The full report, “Prevention and Treatment Produced Large Decreases in HIV Incidence in a Model of People Who Inject Drugs,” was published in the journal Health Affairs (2014; 33 (3):401–409).
CBS7 Kosa-TV reported that health officials in the West Texas Permian Basin recorded a “huge spike” in the number of STD cases in the last decade. The number of Ector County STD infections increased from 445 in 1991 to 1,097 in 2012. Ector County Health Department Public Health Emergency Preparedness Manager and Epidemiologist Amanda Robison-Chadwell noted that gonorrhea and chlamydia incidence had doubled in the last eight years alone. Teens and young adults are the population groups most likely to have STDs, according to Midland County health officials.
Some parents believed that pop culture, which emphasized sex but ignored STD risks, contributed to increased STD rates. Health officials also attributed “skyrocketing” rates to rapid population growth in the Permian Basin. Parents also expressed concern that teens were having sex younger and were unaware of STD risks. Robison-Chadwell stated that although many people were complacent about STD infections, some gonorrhea strains are resistant to antibiotics. She emphasized the need for education, since STDs are preventable.
Call (432) 498–4141 or visit the Web site at http://www.co.ector.tx.us/default.aspx?Ector_County/HealthSTD for information about low-cost STD testing in Ector County. Call (432) 681–7613 for information about STD testing in Midland County. Find a full list of Texas HIV/STD service providers at https://www.dshs.state.tx.us/hivstd/services/service_m.shtm.
The Baltimore Sun reported that Maryland’s House of Delegates voted on March 7 to expand Baltimore City’s needle-exchange program after members debated whether giving addicts greater access to clean syringes could contribute to growing heroin use within the state. Passing 84-51, the measure will lift the “one-for-one” restriction on swapping clean for used needles that has been in place under the exchange program that the city’s Health Department has operated for the past 20 years. The city estimates that approximately 2,500 individuals have obtained 500,000 new syringes through the program, reducing the risk of transmitting HIV and other blood-borne infections through sharing needles.
NorthcentralPA.com reported that Pennsylvania Rep. Matt Baker (R-Bradford/Tioga), chairperson of the House Health Committee, is holding a meeting to vote on his House Bill 2003, which would offer hepatitis C screening to individuals born between 1945 and 1965 when they receive inpatient services at a hospital or primary care service in a hospital outpatient department, healthcare facility, or physician’s office. If an individual consents to a hepatitis C screening and it is positive, he/she would be offered follow-up care, including a hepatitis C diagnostic test.
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