CNS News reported that approximately 20 million Americans are infected with an STD annually and a record-breaking nearly 1.5 million new cases of chlamydia were reported in 2012, which according to a CDC spokesperson, is “the largest number of reported cases for any notifiable disease in the [United States]." CDC provides the list of National Notifiable Infectious Conditions, which includes statistics by 57 state and territorial jurisdictions, on its Web site.
According to CDC, young adults between the ages of 15 and 24 account for half of new STD infections, while representing only 25 percent of the sexually active US population. “STDs are hidden epidemics of enormous health and economic consequence in the United States,” CDC stated in its Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2012 annual report, released in January. The annual cost of healthcare for STDs is approximately $16 billion.
The spokesperson also said that the surveillance report is only a snapshot of the entire STD burden since it includes all reportable diseases, which include HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, but human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes, and trichomoniasis are other common STDs that are not reported routinely.
Females have a higher chlamydia infection rate than men, at 3,695.5 versus 1,350.4 per 100,000, but for the first time the rates in women did not increase in 2012, while the rate for men increased by 3.2 percent.
Hampstead and Highgate Express reported that a new £1million TB treatment center will open at Whittington Hospital in Archway, London, United Kingdom. London had more than 3,400 TB cases in 2012, at a rate of 42 infections per 100,000 residents, which is much higher than the national rate of 14 per 100,000. Other cities, including Camden, Haringey, and Barnet, had rates lower than that of London, but higher than the national rate.
Dr. Richard Jennings, infectious disease consultant at the Whittington Hospital, noted that the number of TB cases in London is neither increasing nor decreasing; rather, it has plateaued. He commented that people should not get too concerned about the recent reports of cats transmitting TB to humans, as the rate of TB in cats is extremely small, but the biggest problem is people transmitting the disease to other people. Jennings explained that many infections begin outside of the United Kingdom, from places like the Indian subcontinent and Africa, and that treatment programs in London are not prepared for those conditions.
Jennings predicts that a new coordinated program in North London will help transform London from the “TB capital of Europe.” The new Whittington hub will be one of the largest TB centers in London, able to diagnose a minimum of 200 new cases a year. Its state-of-the-art TB center will provide free walk-in service with a new team of specialists to diagnose and treat TB patients quickly. Staff will coordinate with another center at the North Middlesex University Hospital in Edmonton. The focus will be on contact tracing and testing to prevent TB transmission. However, Jennings noted that healthcare officials need to make the public aware that individuals also should take the initiative to get tested if they have TB symptoms.
Infectious Disease Special Edition reported on a study showing that education and counseling services can control risky behaviors such as needle sharing in injection drug users (IDUs) and thus prevent HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission in this high-risk community. Researchers at New York University’s Center for Drug Use and HIV Research evaluated the efficacy of their Staying Safe Intervention, which was based on findings of a previous study in which they observed behaviors of IDUs.
The researchers enrolled 68 IDUs in a five-session Staying Safe education program. The program included safe injecting strategies, HIV and HCV risk in injection drug use, and ways of managing the risks. Of the 68 IDUs, 46 percent attended all sessions and 87 percent attended at least one session.
Participants reported increases in plans to avoid injection risks, self-efficacy, avoidance of sharing equipment, and stigma management strategies. At three-month follow-up, participants reported decreases in average weekly injections and daily drug expenses, and reduced sharing of syringe and nonsyringe injecting equipment, cotton filters, water, and water containers.
Pedro Mateu-Gelabert, PhD, the study’s principal investigator, concluded that based on the reduction in risky behaviors among the participants, the Staying Safe Intervention may have the potential to help reduce rates of HCV transmission among IDUs.
The full report, “The Staying Safe Intervention: Training People Who Inject Drugs in Strategies to Avoid Injection-Related HCV and HIV Infection,” was published in the journal AIDS Education and Prevention (2014; 26(2):144–157).
The Montgomery Advertiser reported that Medical AIDS Outreach of Alabama, Inc., (MAO) is reaching more rural HIV patients by using a telemedicine program. Initiated two years ago, the program links doctors at an HIV-specific clinic to patients in rural and distant clinics so that no patient needs to travel more than 30 minutes for regular care.
"The problem we were facing was access to care," said Dr. Prashanth Bhat, a physician with MAO. "We cover a large area in Alabama.... We used to go to Selma every week. But in an eight-hour work day, about half the time was spent traveling. Now the same access through telemedicine doubles the number of patients served," he added. Many patients cannot afford frequent, long-distance trips to see a doctor. Approximately 25 percent of MAO’s patients, or 300 individuals, use the telemedicine program for services, including behavioral health and clinical pharmacy consultations as well as medical care.
A grant from AIDS United provided funds for this Access to Care initiative program. Doctors can provide medical care and counseling to their HIV patients by communicating through a web-based video connection. The White House’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy acknowledged MAO’s telemedicine program in December.
The Northwest Herald reported that Illinois’s McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) is offering free and confidential rapid HIV testing by appointment for individuals at high risk for infection in observance of April’s National Public Health Week. The department also will assess individuals for risk factors and provide them with educational materials during their visit. To schedule an appointment, call MCDH at (815) 334–4500. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, McHenry County had 124 reported HIV cases as of June 2013, with 69 of those having advanced to AIDS. The county stresses the importance of those diagnosed with HIV being aware of their status and being linked to ongoing care and prevention services to live longer, healthier lives and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others.
SFGate reported that the University of Florida opened a state-of-the-art laboratory in a compound west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on April 23 that will train researchers to better understand and battle TB. According to Dr. Michael Lauzardo, division chief of infectious diseases and global medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville, the 1,500-square-foot facility, built for less than $150,000, will use graduate students from outside Haiti to train Haitian technicians, who will then go on to work at the national laboratory. Haiti has three other TB laboratories but it needs more—according to CDC, Haiti has the highest TB rate in the hemisphere and nearly 40 percent of individuals with TB go undiagnosed. The World Health Organization states that 296 of every 100,000 individuals in the country have the disease.
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