STDs, STIs, HIV - Archive

HIV / AIDS Archive

AIDS IN AFRICA – Another study claims that "dominant organizations such as UNAIDS have grossly inflated the role of sexual activity in the spread of AIDS in Africa, consistently claiming that 90% of new cases are caused by sexual transmission. The new studies put the figure at 30%, and find that reusing unsterilized needles in vaccination and other medical programs is the main culprit in the spread of AIDS. Nearly 30 million Africans are infected with HIV, accounting for 70% of HIV/AIDS worldwide. [International Journal of STD and AIDS, 3/03; NCR, 4/20/03; HLA Action News, Spring 03]

  • HOUSE PASSES GLOBAL AIDS BILL – $15 billion HIV/AIDS relief package 1May. An amendment by Rep. Pitts (R-PA) will give abstinence priority above condom distribution and Rep. Chris Smith's (R-NJ) amendment will protect faith-based organizations from participating in the condom aspects of the law. [http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0025483.html; Abstinence Clearinghouse, 9Apr03]

 

  • USAID GIVES $50 MILLION TO PRO-PROSTITUTION, PRO-ABORTION GROUPS – Members of Congress have charged that, as part of a new HIV/AIDS program, the US Agency for Int’l Dev’t (USAID) has awarded a $50 million grant to groups that call for the promotion of abortion, the legalization of needle-exchange programs and the legalization of prostitution. The grant is part of USAID's new CORE program, which is supposed to bring faith-based organizations into the fight against AIDS. The five grantees are CARE, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Communication Programs (CCP), the Int’l HIV/AIDS Alliance, the Int’l Center for Research on Women (ICRW), and the World Council of Churches (WCC). The Int’l HIV/AIDS Alliance calls for the repeal of laws prohibiting prostitution and needle-exchange programs for drug users. The Int’l Center for Research on Women (ICRW) has performed research in an effort to promote access to abortion in India. USAID Administrator Natsios [13March press release] seemed to signal USAID's willingness to use the CORE program to fund religious groups that focus on abstinence training, not solely on condom distribution. CORE would then reflect the Administration's "ABC policy," announced by Natsios in Dec 02, which states the order of priorities in AIDS prevention as "abstinence, be faithful to one partner, and then use condoms" as a last resort. Members of both houses of Congress doubt that these five groups will adhere to the Administration's new emphasis on abstinence and fidelity. Congressman Joseph Pitts (R, PA) said "A look at the records of these 'partners' hardly reveals group[s] committed to the stated policy of the United States. Instead, they buy into the 'safe sex' myth of battling AIDS that to this point has failed miserably." [26March Washington Times; C-FAM FRIDAY FAX, 28Mar03,Volume 6, Number 14 www.c-fam.org]

 

  • AIDS BOMBSHELL: BRITISH MEDICAL JOURNAL ASSERTS COVERUP IN AFRICAN AIDS PANDEMIC Claims AIDS Crisis Caused By Bad Medicine, Not Sex – the AIDS crisis in Africa was not caused by heterosexual sex but by the repetitious use of dirty needles by medical personnel. The assumption has been that the African AIDS crisis was caused largely by unprotected sex among heterosexuals. Thus, massive distribution of condoms over the past 20 years, the keystone of the int’l community's response to the African AIDS epidemic which continues today, may be misguided and even counter-productive. The 2002 World Health Report states that more than 99% of HIV infections in Africa are attributed to unprotected heterosexual sex. However, the authors of the British study were unable to find any research "from the 1980s or later", studies or documentation for this assertion. Instead, the available data indicates that the majority – up to 70% of HIV infections -occur through health care transmission (poor medical procedures), most notably through the reuse of contaminated needles. In the articles' most stunning passages, the authors question the motives of researchers who disregard this data, claiming that the AIDS establishment misinterprets the facts because of a homosexual and population control mindset. "Why was evidence ignored?…First, it was in the interests of AIDS researchers in developed countries – where HIV seemed stubbornly confined to MSM [men who have sex with men]…to present AIDS in Africa as a heterosexual epidemic…Second there may have been an inclination to emphasize sexual transmission as an argument for condom promotion, coinciding with pre-existing programmes and efforts to curb Africa's rapid population growth…" The authors conclude that their studies should "…have major ramifications for current and future HIV control programmes in Africa," and that "Africans deserve scientifically sound information on the epidemiological determinants of their calamitous AIDS epidemic." The Int’l Planned Parenthood Fdn (IPPF) and WHO quickly discounted these findings. The Bush administration is discussing how to allocate $15 billion for a new AIDS initiative in Africa and the Caribbean. Many agencies and NGOs involved in condom distribution and the "safe sex" campaign, such as IPPF, hope to receive a significant portion of these funds. However, this study indicates that the new AIDS funding should go to improve health care in Africa, not to sex counseling and safe-sex programs. The AIDS crisis in Africa is a public health problem and should be treated as such. [Royal Society of Medicine, International Journal of STD and AIDS; www.roysocmed.ac.uk/new/pr126.htm. C-FAM, Friday Fax, 28Feb03(v6,n10) www.c-fam.org; www.frc.org/e]

 

  • HIV CAPTURED ON FILM IN EARLIEST STAGES – [Univ of Chicago] researchers have captured for the first time the earliest stages of HIV infection in living cells. Using protein dyes from jellyfish and time-elapsed microscopy, they saw color images of individual HIV particles traveling to the nucleus of a human cell and beginning the takeover of its genetic machinery. The researchers say the virus can be seen traveling along a part of the host cell’s own skeletal framework of microtubules as it makes its way from the outer membrane to the nucleus. The virus hitches a ride aboard the multi-unit protein dyenein, comm

    only referred to as a molecular motor. "They don’t make a beeline for the nucleus," said David McDonald, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology. "Their progress is somewhat halting. They appear to jump from one microtubule to another, moving in a jagged path, even sometimes moving backward. But they eventually reach their destination. [United Press International, 12/12/2002; Abstinence E-mail Update, 8Jan03]

 

  • AIDS TO CRIPPLE RUSSIA, CHINA AND INDIA, DEMOGRAPHER SAYS – demographer Nicholas Eberstadt argues that within the next few decades Russia, China and India will have the world's largest number of HIV/AIDS victims, an event that "threatens to derail the economic prospects of billions and alter the global military balance." Eberstadt is not optimistic about the prospects of averting this outcome, concluding that "although the devastating costs of HIV/AIDS are clear, it is unclear that much will be done to head off the looming disaster." At the present time, 28 of the world's estimated 40 million HIV carriers live in sub-Saharan Africa. According to Eberstadt, "Africa's AIDS catastrophe is a humanitarian disaster of world historic proportions, yet the economic and political reverberations from this crisis have been remarkably muted outside the continent itself." Eberstadt believes that the impact of Africa's AIDS tragedy has not been deeply felt elsewhere because of the region's "marginal status in global economics and politics." However, the upcoming shift of the center of the HIV/AIDS epidemic to the largest nations of Eurasia, Russia, China and India, "will have major worldwide repercussions." Eberstadt develops a statistical model to predict the potential size and effects of the upcoming epidemic. One "intermediate-range hypothetical death toll" for these countries envisions 105 million people dying from AIDS, more than four times the total worldwide number of fatalities experienced so far. Such a death toll will result in significant population decline, as well as a decline in life expectancy. For instance, it is possible that Russia's average life expectancy may fall by as much as a decade within the next generation. Eberstadt: "First, by curtailing adult life spans, a widespread HIV epidemic seriously alters the calculus of investment in higher education and technical skills – thereby undermining the local process of investment in human capital. Second, widespread HIV prevalence could affect international decisions about direct investment, technology transfer, and personnel allocation in places perceived to be of high health risk." According to Eberstadt, it is not too late for these nations to act. "There are still things states can do to at least contain the risk of contagion within their populations. Governments can competently monitor the spread of the disease and warn their citizens accordingly. They can engage in public education campaigns to apprise their people of the deadly risks they face with HIV, urging them to alter specific behaviors. They can attend to the explosion of curable STDs. And they can intervene with groups at high risk of HIV to encourage lifestyles that will court fewer dangers." But, Eberstadt concludes that "governments in Eurasia are not yet doing enough of these things…When they come to their senses, the tempest will be even nearer than it is now – and they may discover that their ability to navigate out of harm's way is more limited than they would have supposed." [Foreign Affairs magazine, 12/02; FRIDAY FAX, 20Dec02, www.c-fam.org]

 

  • PRELIMINARY DATA FROM THE CDC shows that U.S. AIDS cases rose by 8% in 2001, after 7 years of "steady decline". According to figures released in Jan02, 42,008 new AIDS cases were reported last year, compared to 38,864 new cases in 2000. The VP of Virologic, a biotech company, said that when a virus "starts to look like less of a formidable disease, it tends to be transmitted much more than it did when people were much more afraid of it." "Compounding the problem" are reports that the retroviral drugs used to treat HIV are no longer as effective as they once were in people who have been taking them for years, and new strains of HIV which do not appear to respond to the present drugs. [Knight-Ridder, Albany Times Union, 4Jan02; Abst Ntwrk, Spring 02]

 

  • CONDOM LOBBY DRIVES AIDS DEBATE IN SPITE OF ABSTINENCE SUCCESS IN AFRICA – As AIDS sweeps across Africa, Uganda remains a lone success story, as millions of Ugandans have embraced traditional sexual morality, including sexual abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage. But the international AIDS community has been reluctant to promote this strategy elsewhere, continuing, instead, to place its faith in condoms. According to a USAID study of Uganda, "HIV prevalence peaked at around 15 percent in 1991, and had fallen to 5 percent as of 2001. This dramatic decline in prevalence is unique worldwide." USAID believes "The most important determinant of the reduction in HIV incidence in Uganda appears to be a decrease in multiple sexual partnerships and networks." In comparison to other African nations: "Ugandan males in 1995 were less likely to have ever had sex, more likely to be married and keep sex within the marriage, and less likely to have multiple partners…the effect of HIV prevention in Uganda (particularly partner reduction) during the past decade appears to have had a similar impact as a potential medical vaccine of 80 percent efficacy. A comprehensive behavior change-based strategy may be the most effective prevention approach."

    "The HIV vaccine that no one wants – World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) came and went with barely any notice of the fact that a "vaccine" against HIV has been researched, tested and is available to save countless lives in Africa. It was first developed during the late 1980s in Uganda, where it has created the biggest drop in HIV prevalence in the world. It hasn't yet been patented or advertised, but it has a name: abstinence and marital fidelity.

    "In the mid-1980s, when it became clear that AIDS was on the rise in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni essentially led a crusade against sex outside of marriage. According to a study of one Ugandan district, almost 60% of youths age 13-16 reported engaging in sexual activity in 1994, but by 2001, the number had plummeted to under 5%. Researcher Rand Stoneburner estimates that Uganda's approach has been almost as effective as an HIV vaccine. Yet, the silence about Uganda has to do with the fact that the condom, that sacred totem of the AIDS establishment, didn't initially play much of a role in Uganda. As late as 1995 — by which time HIV was already firmly on the decline — only 16% of Ugandan males reported ever using a condom. AIDS activists are not picketing int’l organizations, demanding that they spread the Uganda model, because they have a blind spot. For them, urging people not to have sex almost constitutes a human-rights violation.

    The researchers who have simply followed the Uganda data to its logical conclusion find themselves isolated in

    the AIDS world. ‘A lot of my colleagues get very wary at the sound of language urging behavioral changes,’ says one lonely expert, Harvard researcher Edward C Green. ‘It sounds judgmental, moralistic. But it's hard to argue with success.’ Given the devastation in Botswana, where life expectancy is down from age 65 to less than 40, it is understandable to want to ‘try anything’. But it's unforgivable
    not to try what has been proven to work."

    However, the Ugandan experience is not being promoted elsewhere. In fact, as news of the Ugandan success has spread, the defense of condoms has grown more insistent. Specifically, international AIDS activists have increased their attacks on the Bush administration, which now seeks to incorporate abstinence training into the US international AIDS program. Promotion of condoms continues, despite the mounting evidence that they have failed to stem the spread of the disease. For instance, led by Nelson Mandela, South Africa has firmly embraced the "safe sex" strategy, and condom use has increased. But South Africa remains the world leader in AIDS infection, with 11.4% of its population currently infected. The international AIDS community appears determined to find a technological solution to the epidemic, rather than to suggest the types of behavior-change that have succeeded in Uganda. Mercury News of Miami reported that the Bill & Melinda Gates Fdn will spend $28 million to study the potential of birth control diaphragms to combat AIDS in Africa. Mercury News cautions, however, that "the scientific basis for diaphragms preventing AIDS is more theoretical than clinically proven." To contact the Ugandan Ambassador to the UN and thank him for his country's promotion of abstinence: Ambassador Semakula Kiwanuka, [email protected]. [FRIDAY FAX, C-Fam, 13Dec02; www.c-fam.org; http://www.townhall.com/columnists/richlowry/printrl20021206.shtml Rich Lowry, ed. National Review, 6Dec02 ]

  • EXTRA-MARITAL SEX is the primary mode of AIDS infection (80%) in India. Blood transfusions and blood products account for 5% (Dr. Sinha, MLN Medical College). Women compose 25% of all HIV infections in India. [HIV Update Int’l, 24Jan02; The Times of India 21Jan02; Abstinence Network, Spring02]

 

  • UN REPORT SUGGESTS CONDOMS ARE NOT THE ANSWER TO AIDS EPIDEMIC According to a United Nations report released on June 23, the UN's massive effort to supply the world with condoms in a bid to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS is failing. After analysis of survey data from countries around the world, the Population Division of the UN's Dept of Economic and Social Affairs has concluded that the ready availability of condoms has not significantly altered individuals' sexual behavior. The Population Division report bluntly asserts that "Much effort has been spent on promoting the prophylactic use of condoms as part of AIDS prevention. However, over the years, the condom has not become more popular among couples… Fewer than 8 per cent of women in all countries surveyed reported that they had changed their behaviour by using condoms. Among married women, the percentages were particularly low." The report claims that most women desire children, and are thus unwilling to use prophylactics that also act as contraceptives. In what may come as a surprise to "safe sex" advocates such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the report contends that the only significant behavioral change has been towards more monogamous relationships. The report states that, "Among those respondents, whether male or female, who did change their behaviour, the most frequently cited change had entailed confining sexual activity to one partner." The study also concludes that, "In several countries, a significant number of men reported that they had discontinued sexual contacts with prostitutes to avoid getting infected." During the recent UN Child Summit, the US delegation's efforts to further encourage sexual abstinence and monogamy were defeated, mainly at the behest of the European Union. It is possible that, in light of the findings of the Population Division, the US position will gain prominence
    in future UN debates on AIDS prevention. However, on May 24, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed former UNFPA head Nafis Sadik as his special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia. Under Sadik's direction, UNFPA was the world's largest supplier of condoms, and UNFPA's AIDS-prevention program focused overwhelmingly on the promotion of condom use. ["HIV/AIDS, Awareness and Behaviour," UN Pop Div, 23Jun02; FRIDAY FAX, 28 June 02,,Vol 5, No 27; C-FAM; (212) 754-5948;
    www.c-fam.org]

 

  • New AIDS Numbers Released — The CDC estimates the number of people living with AIDS in 2000 at nearly 339,000. Though 79% of adults living with AIDS are men, women are a growing segment, at 21 percent. Women were 16 percent of the adult total in 1993, and 19 percent in 1996. Nevertheless, the largest single category of exposure remained men having sex with men, accounting for 44 percent of the 784,032 total of all AIDS cases, living or deceased, through June 2001. Injection drug-use followed at 20 percent of HIV exposure routes, & heterosexual contact accounted for 11 percent. Single modes of exposure accounted for 76% of HIV/AIDS cases and multiple modes of exposure for 14 percent. Ten percent were classified as "risk not reported or identified." (AIDS Policy and Law, 3/15/02, HIV Update, 3/21/02)

 

  • AIDS IN CHINA – latest figures show 850,000 cases of HIV and AIDS in China. About 100,000 may have already died from AIDS; but 68% of these are attributed to contaminated IV drug use. [PRI, 10Apr02]

 

  • STUDY FINDINGS SHOW WIDESPREAD DRUG-RESISTANT HIV — "It's a wake-up call that we've created a lot of resistance with the use of our drugs, and that it's happened in a short period of time," said Dr. Douglas Richman, who is with the VA San Diego Healthcare System, who presented the findings (American Society for Microbiology's annual meeting on infectious diseases). According to the study, 64 percent of the 2,000 study participants receiving anti-retroviral therapy experienced a rise in viral levels over time, indicating that they are receiving "less benefit" from their highly active anti-retroviral ther

    apy regimens than they were two or three years ago. Researchers found that 78 percent of the patients who exhibited rising viral levels also developed drug-resistant strains of HIV, most likely because of "[w]idespread misuse" of the medicines. In addition, the study found that 20% of people who were newly infected with HIV and had not yet taken anti-retrovirals were already carrying drug-resistant strains of the virus that they contracted from a sexual or intravenous drug use partner. With the current drugs proving less effective and new strains of HIV emerging, "[w]e could be right back where we were in 1984, when the virus was unstoppable," Larry Kessler, executive director of the Boston-based AIDS Action Committee, said, adding that a rise in drug resistance has been something that activists "really have been worrying about, dreading." [Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/19/01; Abstinence Clearinghouse]

 

  • Does Herpes Accelerate HIV Infection? — Nearly 20% of the U.S. population over age 11 is infected with the virus that causes genital herpes. While antiviral drugs can offer them relief from the periodic outbreaks of painful sores, which characterize the sexually transmitted disease, there is no cure for herpes, or even a national effort to contain its spread. As a result, in the United States the prevalence of genital herpes (HSV-2) has jumped 30% since the late 1970s, according to the CDC. Currently, an estimated 45 million Americans are thought to be infected. This epidemic concerns researchers investigating a possible synergy between HSV-2 and HIV/AIDS, a link first identified by the CDC in 1988 and supported throughout the 1990s by studies in the USA & abroad. Says Dr. Timothy Schacker, assoc dir of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Univ of MN, who has been studying the herpes-HIV link for more than a decade, "Early in the epidemic, persistent herpes was one of the first signs of HIV infection. Today it's the most common STD among people with HIV and symptom outbreaks are two to four times more frequent (in this population)." In addition, says Schacker, a person with herpes is more likely than someone without it to acquire HIV from unprotected sex with an infected partner. "There are accumulating data to suggest a significant biological interaction between (herpes & HIV) that results in more efficient sexual transmission of HIV and an increased rate of HIV replication," [2001 issue of the journal Herpes] Researchers theorize that the herpes lesions provide an easy port of entry for the virus. While a report by the Institute of Medicine in the mid-1990s pointed out that STDs that cause genital ulcers, such as syphilis, may also increase vulnerability to HIV, public health experts say herpes is the most serious threat because of the exceptionally large number of people infected and because of its suspected ability to interact with HIV at the cellular level. Studies by Schacker et al at the Univ of WA in Seattle (early 1990s) showed that the presence of herpes seems to accelerate development of AIDS. "If you were HIV-infected and had herpes, your herpes would recur (far) more often than if you were not HIV-infected," explains Schacker. "So you have an opportunistic infection that reactivates more frequently than almost any other (AIDS-related) infection, and the insidious thing is that it doesn't cause major disease. But when your herpes reactivates, your HIV replicates with greater efficiency and you have a faster progression of your HIV."
    Researchers have yet to prove their underlying thesis that HIV and HSV-2 are intrinsically linked in some way other than both being linked to unprotected sexual contact. Yet, if their suspicions are correct that HSV-2 is highly implicated in both the transmission and progression of HIV/AIDS, the effect is potentially catastrophic. The CDC estimates that barely 20% of herpes cases are currently identified. Unlike gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia, which are legally required to be reported to the CDC and to have efforts made to find and treat patients and their infected partners, there is no national outreach on herpes, not even routine screening at public health clinics. Without symptoms, patients are unlikely to seek screening on their own, and recent studies suggest that some 80% of infections are transmitted via cells shed during asymptomatic periods. It is unknown whether treatment with antiviral drugs (i.e. Valtrex, Famvir, Zovirax) helps limit the rate of transmission. Schacker:"We haven't done the groundwork to show that suppress(ing) herpes prevents the acquisition and transmission of HIV but I think, frankly, we don't have the time to do that kind of study. At the moment, the only preventive method, other than abstinence, is condoms. Consistent and correct condom use can reduce the risk of transmission of genital herpes, but only when the infected areas are covered and protected by the condom. [KAISER DAILY REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH REPORT (not pro-life or pro-abstinence), 8/16/01; kaisernetwork.org] [ED. How "consistent and correct" do we really think teenagers would be in the heat of the moment? What difference will condoms make when possibly 80% of herpes infections can be transmitted "via cells shed during asymptomatic periods" – that is, when the herpes lesions are not even present?? Why do these national "health" groups, including the federal CDC fail to admit that ABSTINENCE IS THE ONLY 100% CERTAIN WAY TO AVOID THESE DANGEROUS DISEASES?]

     

CDC HIV Data Collection Methodology

It is important to recognize what the CDC mentions in its technical notes 1 (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/stats/hasr1302/technote.htm), that HIV data should be interpreted with caution. Why? Contrary to the mandated AIDS data collected by the CDC, not all infected persons with HIV have been reported. "Many HIV-reporting states offer anonymous HIV testing, and home collection HIV test kits are widely used in the United States. Anonymous test results are not reported to state and local health departments' confidential name-based HIV registries."

The following states/areas do not even have their HIV cases included in the CDC's statistics: California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington (http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/stats/hasr1302/table3.htm).

1 Technical Notes: Surveillance of AIDS

Surv. Report, volume 13, Number 2

"…This report includes HIV case reports from 39 areas that had laws or regulations requiring confidential reporting by name of adults/adolescents, and children with confirmed HIV infection, in addition to reporting of persons with AIDS, through December 31, 2001…HIV infection data should be interpreted with caution. HIV surveillance report

s may not be representative of all persons infected with HIV since not all infected persons have been tested…These data provide a minimum estimate of the number of persons known to be HIV infected in states with confidential HIV reporting.

"As of December 31, 2001, 9 areas (DC, HI, IL, KY, MD, MA, PR, RI, and VT) had implemented a code-based system to conduct case surveillance for HIV infection. Some other areas (DE, ME, MT, OR, and WA) had implemented a name-to-code system to conduct HIV infection surveillance: initially, names are collected and, after any necessary public health follow-up, names are converted to codes. Data on cases of HIV infection from these areas are not included in the HIV data tables pending evaluations demonstrating acceptable performance under CDC guidelines and the development of methods to report such data to CDC." [emphasis added]