STDs, STIs, HIV - Archive

July 2005: STDs/STIs

Chlamydia Common in USA

New HPV Vaccines

Study: Oral Contraceptives Almost Double the Shedding of Herpes II

US Backs Off Stipulation on AIDS Funds

How to Tackle the AIDS/HIV Scourge

HIV Infections Have Increased in the Philippines; Coincides with Increased “Safe Sex” Promotion

CHLAMYDIA COMMON IN THE USA As many as 1 in 20 teenage girls and women and more than 2 percent of the general population in America are infected with chlamydia, a sexually transmitted disease, US researchers reported on 12 July.

Pregnant women attending publicly funded clinics and economically disadvantaged youth are especially at risk of the bacterial infection, which can cause serious problems including infertility if untreated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] survey found.

“STDs often have no symptoms and therefore frequently go unrecognized and undiagnosed,” said Dr. John Douglas, director of the CDC’s STD prevention programs. “Stepping up screening and prevention efforts is critical to ensuring that young people do not suffer the long-term effects of untreated chlamydia, including infertility,” Douglas said in a statement. [Well informed sexual decision-making would help most young people to eliminate the risk by avoiding sexual activity outside marriage.]

CDC researchers found 2.2 percent of U.S. adults aged 14 to 39 had chlamydia. Nearly 1 in 20 women between the ages of 14 and 19 — 4.6 percent — were infected.

Chlamydia is easily cured with antibiotics, but is often undiagnosed because of its causes few symptoms. Besides infertility, the infection can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain. [Reuters Health, 07/13/05; Abstinence Clearinghouse E-Mail Update, 06/20/05]

 

NEW HPV VACCINES must be administered to preteens who are not [“yet”] sexually active, and various groups oppose that. Two major pharmaceutical companies are racing to market the world’s first cervical cancer vaccines. But at least a year before the drugs become available, groups are fighting over the propriety of giving vaccines against a STD to children as young as 9 or 10.

Merck’s Gardasil & Cervarix [GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)] prevent infection by 2 strains of the STD human papillomavirus (HPV), which cause most cervical cancer. At stake are not only billions in sales but also the lives of tens of thousands of women claimed by the disease worldwide each year.

To work, the vaccines must be administered before young people become sexually active – which means that preteen girls, and boys as well, could soon be widely vaccinated.

[FRC, 2/05] “A study in the 2/05 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that parents are receptive to hypothetical vaccines against STDs. Based on interviews with 278 parents of adolescents age 12-17, the study revealed that parents were more willing to vaccinate their adolescents if the vaccines were 90 percent effective and if the STDs were fatal and no methods of behavioral prevention were available.

“But there is always a behavioral prevention available for sexually transmitted diseases: abstinence until marriage and fidelity within marriage. Although we support research on vaccines and medicines against diseases, including sexually transmitted ones, we see potential harm in giving young people vaccines against STDs.

“First, young people are risk-takers; they may think a vaccination is a license to engage in premarital sex. Second, vaccinations may help to reduce the risk of one disease, but young people may be exposed to new and unknown risks. Third, there is no vaccination for ailments of the heart. What will protect young people from the loneliness and regret they are likely to experience after premarital sex? Abstinence is the best medicine available for STDs; no one has ever needed a vaccine or antibiotic to treat a case of abstinence.” [FRC, 9Feb05]

Pia de Solenni [dir, life & women’s issues, Family Research Council]: “If a 10- or 12-year-old is given a vaccine to protect against [STD], then it’s implied they’d be engaging in risky sexual behavior.”

The controversy could pose challenges for drug makers. Merck officials hope to apply for FDA approval this year; if approved, introduce it to the USA next year. GSK officials will seek approval in Europe and other countries first, with a U.S. application and launch date less certain.

A tough call for both companies, says HPV/cervical cancer vaccine expert Sue J. Goldie [Harvard School of Public Health] will be how they couch their drugs – as vaccines against an STD or against cancer.

Marketing will be a sensitive issue overseas as well, particularly in poor nations that carry the burden of cervical cancer’s devastation.

Although wide use of Pap smear screenings has dramatically cut cervical cancer deaths in Western nations, the disease still kills 270,000 women/year – 4,000 in the USA & 85% of the total diagnosed in developing nations.

It is estimated that 50%-80% of people have been infected with the HPV virus, with a 30% chance of contracting the disease the first time they have sex.

There are more than 100 strains of the virus. Some strains cause persistent infections which can lead to cervical cancer and a few other rarer cancers. Two of the strains [16 & 18], are blamed for 70% of cervical cancer cases worldwide. The new vaccines target those strains, and clinical trials have shown both to be highly effective.

Ultimately, states could decide that HPV vaccines should become mandatory for school girls and boys – an alarming possibility. “It enters into the area of parental rights and individual freedom,” says Robert Knight [dir, culture & family institute, Concerned Women for America].
[4July05 http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/entertainment/12049788.htm Vrazo Inquirer; E-NEWS National Vaccine Information Ctr http://www.nvic.org; UNITED WAY/COMBINED FEDERAL CAMPAIGN  #8122 “Protecting the health and informed consent rights of children since 1982”]

 

REUTERS SENDS WORD AROUND THE WORLD THAT OCs ALMOST DOUBLE THE LIKELIHOOD OF PASSING ON INFECTION FOR WOMEN WITH GENITAL HERPES – In the current study [published in Clinical Infectious Diseases], researchers followed 330 women with HSV-2 for a year, taking vaginal swabs and smears every 4 months.

Bacterial vaginosis increased the likelihood of viral shedding 2.3 times, while women with group B strep colonization were 2.2 times likelier to shed HSV-2. Women on oral contraceptives had 1.8 times higher odds of shedding the virus. [Shedding refers to the virus transferred to another person during sexual activity.]

“Even if they are modest associations, they are important because of the widespread use of contraceptives and also because bacterial vaginosis and group B strep are very common vaginal conditions,” said Dr. Thomas L. Cherpes [Magee-Womens Research Inst, Univ of Pittsburgh, lead author].

The study is the largest to date to look at factors involved in shedding of genital herpes virus, HSV-2, in women free of HIV infection. If the findings are confirmed, “treatment of STDs & other vaginal co-infections may represent a method of decreasing transmission of HSV-2.”

Cherpes said he and his colleagues had originally theorized that bacterial vaginosis would increase HSV-2 shedd
ing. ”
We were quite surprised to find the association between group B strep colonization & HSV-2 shedding,” he said, because group B strep vaginal infection is often considered a mild condition that does not cause ill effects in women who are not pregnant. [Clinical Infectious Diseases, 15May05; Reuters Health, 05/13/05, “Oral Contraceptives Boost Herpes Shedding”; Abstinence Clearinghouse, 13May05]

 

US BACKS OFF STIPULATION ON AIDS FUNDS  In 5/05, the Bush admin pulled back from a plan that would have required grassroots AIDS organizations overseas partly funded with US money to declare their opposition to prostitution and sex trafficking. AIDS organizations that are directly funded by the US government or a federally funded charity are currently required to make the declaration. [Washington Post, 05/18/05; Abstinence Clearinghouse Email Update]

 

HOW TO TACKLE AIDS/HIV SCOURGE – “If we really believe that abstinence till marriage and fidelity to your marital partner is the true solution to the plague, it is to this that we [should] be committing the lion’s share of the funds deployed to combat HIV.” This commentary, written by Damola Awoyokun of Lagos, Nigeria to its president, points out the dangers of the ABC strategy for HIV/AIDS prevention. [This Day, 05/13/05; Abstinence Clearinghouse Email Update]

 

HIV INFECTIONS PICK UP ALARMINGLY IN THE PHILIPPINES: OFFICIAL – On 12May, Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit reported that new HIV/AIDS infections in the Philippines have risen to twice the rate of the 1990s.

Since 2000, on average, 20 people have contracted HIV each month, up from roughly 10 cases per month in the 1990s, the minister announced. The world’s 12th most populous state, the Philippines has more than 84 million people. This year through March, the health department documented 2,250 HIV infections, about 30 percent of which are AIDS cases.

Sixty-nine percent of newly infected patients are ages 20-39; 63 percent are males. Of the total, 33 percent had worked abroad, as roughly 10 percent of the country’s people do through temporary job contracts. [ed. PP & “safe sex” organizations have been “making headway” in the Philippines in the last 5 years. This seems to be what happens when they succeed…Agence France Presse, 05/12/05; Abstinence Clearinghouse Email Update]