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AIDS News Archives 1998

(The following news updates are from the CDC Daily summary http://aidsinfobbs.org (Copyright 1998, Information Inc., Bethesda, MD.) unless otherwise noted.)

- Popular Drama Prompts Interest in HIV in Japan (Lancet) 12/05/98

- Health: Women Gamble With Holiday Sex (BBC News Online) 11/20/98

- Japan's Health ministry Announces AIDS Campaign (Kyodo News Service) 9/29/98

- Number of New TB Cases Rises for 1st Time Since 1960 (Kyodo News Service) 9/22/98

- Japanese Officials Were Aware of HIV in Blood Products (Nature Medicine) 09/98

- HIV Study Should Focus on Women--U.S. AIDS Chief (Reuters) 08/03/98

- Progress of HIV Found to Be Faster in Women (Washington Post--Health) 08/04/98

- Ministry Panel Feared HIV Patients in '83 (Kyodo News Service) 07/31/98

-12 Die of TB Outbreak at Elderly Care Home in 1995-1997 (Kyodo News Service) 07/27/98

- Heterosexual Transmission High During Early HIV Infection (Reuters Health Information Services) 07/08/98

- Are Japanese Researchers Exploiting Thai HIV Patients? (Nature Medicine) 05/98

- Warning Issued on Use of Viagra with Poppers (Philadelphia Gay News) 5/12/98

- Report: Five Young People Infected With HIV Every Minute (Boston Globe Online) 04/22/98

- HIV-Positive Patients at Particular Risk of TB in Japan (Reuters Health Information Services) 04/13/98

- Health Ministry reports 6.1 HIV/AIDS increase in 1997 (Nikkei Weekly) 03/16/98

- New Green Cross AIDS Case Found (Daily Yomiuri Online) 03/17/98

- Oldest Case of HIV Infection Confirmed (Washington Post) 02/04/98

- Record number of AIDS patients in Japan (Daily Yomiuri) 01/28/98

- Brazil Turns to Women to Stop Dramatic Rise in AIDS Cases (Christian Science Monitor) 01/09/98

- Saliva Component Blocks AIDS Virus (Reuters) 01/08/98

Popular Drama Prompts Interest in HIV in Japan (Lancet) 12/05/98

The number of HIV-1 tests performed at public health centers in Japan more than doubled between July and September of this year, because of the popularity of a television show featuring a high-school girl infected with HIV through prostitution. The 12-week miniseries, broadcast by Fuji TV, had the second highest summer audience ratings. HIV awareness in Japan ranks among the lowest of any developed nations; Kazuko Ishida of the Health and Welfare Ministry's AIDS surveillance department notes that "until [the mini-series] aired, public awareness about the disease had declined for five straight years because the media hadn't touched the subject." Health centers conducted 18,561 HIV-1 tests from July to September, compared to 9,444 tests during the previous three months.- A posting from SEA AIDS listserve (South East Asia AIDS) - Browse postings at: http://www.hivnet.ch:8000/sea-aids/tdm (to top of page)

Health: Women Gamble With Holiday Sex (BBC News Online) 11/20/98

According to researchers at the University of Cardiff, men are more likely than women to have sex with a new partner when on holiday, but women on holiday are more likely to have unprotected sex with a new partner. The scientists examined sexual habits of 400 people aged 18 years to 34 years who had traveled in the previous two years without a sexual partner. The average number of new partners during the two-year period was two, with more men than women having new sexual encounters. However, 18 percent of women had unprotected sex four or more times with their last partner while abroad, compared to 10 percent of men. Women were also more likely to have unprotected sex with a man from the host country than with another traveler. A total of 75 percent of those surveyed who had new sexual partners while abroad reported using condoms. The researchers said the high rate of condom use was encouraging, but Professor Michael Bloor noted that "HIV seems to be more readily transmitted from men to women than women to men, so women are at increased risk of heterosexual HIV transmission and are also more likely to report multiple exposure to infection. (to top of page)

Japan's Health Ministry Announce AIDS Campaign (Kyodo News Service) 9/29/98

Japan's Health Ministry will launch in October a six-month AIDS education campaign aimed at the nation's youths. The effort will feature presentations and educational materials that will be distributed at high schools and universities throughout Japan. AIDS education kits will also be available to help teach younger students about the disease. Ministry officials hope the effort will make people review their own behavior, as well as participate in the campaign's activities. Statistics show that 268 Japanese contracted HIV last year, one-third of whom were in their 20s. (to top of page)

Number of New TB Cases Rises for 1st Time Since 1960 (Kyodo News Service) 09/22/98

The Japanese Health and Welfare Ministry reports that the number of newly registered tuberculosis patients topped 42,700 last year, indicating an increase in cases for the first time since 1960. The incidence of the disease also increased for the first time since 1954, reaching 33.9 per 100,000 people. Some experts linked the increase to the aging of the Japanese society; over 70 percent of infected patients are over 50-years-old. However, there was a decrease in the total number of TB patients at the end of the year compared to 1996, excluding those who died or recovered, and TB-related deaths also declined from the previous year. The government aims to reduce infection rates to 10 per 100,000 people by the year 2000 and to eradicate TB in the country by the 2030s. (to top of page)

Japanese Officials Were Aware of HIV in Blood Products (Nature Medicine) 09/98 Vol. 4, No. 9, P. 991; Saegusa, Asako

Tapes played at the trial of Akihito Matsumura, a former official of Japan's Ministry of Health and Welfare, indicate that the ministry's AIDS study panel was aware of possible HIV contamination in non-heat-treated blood products in 1983. The panel continued to suggest the use of the products, resulting in a possible 1,800 additional HIV infections. Matsumura is the only ministry official on trial, although four other individuals--including Takeshi Abe, a member of the panel and a hemophilia expert--are also on trial. Abe is also suspected of receiving large "donations" from Green Cross Corp., a drug maker that had the greatest market share of untreated blood products in Japan. One of Abe's hemophiliac patients died from AIDS in 1983; however, the panel did not reveal the case. Japan announced in 1985 that its first case of AIDS was found in a Japanese homosexual living in the United States. (to top of page)

HIV Study Should Focus on Women--U.S. AIDS Chief (Reuters) 08/03/98

Neil Nathanson, head of the U.S. Office of AIDS Research, is calling on new AIDS research to focus on women, new drugs, and mother-to-child transmission. He notes the large increases in HIV transmission to women over the last few years in calling for "further basic biomedical research related to the etiology and pathogenesis of HIV disease in women." A microbicide that women could use, with or without a man's knowledge, needs to become available on the market, Nathanson said. (to top of page)

Progress of HIV Found to Be Faster in Women (Washington Post--Health) 08/04/98 P. 5; Boodman, Sandra G.

HIV-infected women develop AIDS quicker then men, according to a study of 650 intravenous drug users by researchers at Johns Hopkins University. The study also reports that HIV-infected women with the same viral load as men will generally be much further along in the progression toward AIDS. Homayoon Farzadegan, lead author of the study, says that the results will affect what recommendations doctors are given as to when they should begin drug treatment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded the study. (to top of page)

Ministry Panel Feared HIV Patients in '83

Kyodo News Service (07/31/98) The Japanese government's Health and Welfare Ministry's AIDS research panel expressed concern as early as 1983 that hospitalized patients could contract HIV through untreated blood products, a recording has revealed. The audio tape was played at the Tokyo District Court on Friday at a hearing over Akhito Matsumura, former head of the ministry's division in charge of blood products, who is charged with professional negligence resulting in the deaths of hemophiliacs from AIDS. Despite the fears demonstrated on the recording, the panel decided in 1984 to allow the continued use of untreated blood products. Japan has approximately 5,000 hemophiliacs, out of which about 1,800 contracted HIV in the 1980s. (to top of page)

12 Die of TB Outbreak at Elderly Care Home in 1995-1997

Kyodo News Service (07/27/98) The first reported outbreak of tuberculosis in an elderly care home in Japan appears to have occurred in Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast between 1995 and 1997. Of the 27 residents and employees diagnosed with TB there, 12 people died, according to prefectural officials. (to top of page)

Heterosexual Transmission High During Early HIV Infection

Reuters Health Information Services (07/08/98) According to research from the European Study Group on Heterosexual Transmission of HIV, people with primary HIV infection appear to be more infectious than those in later asymptomatic stages of infection. The researchers, who report their findings in the July issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, studied 359 men and 140 women with HIV infection and their heterosexual partners between 1987 and 1992, estimating per-sexual-contact HIV transmission in early asymptomatic, late asymptomatic, and AIDS-stage infection. The scientists note that the findings highlight the necessity of prevention measures, yet these measures may be difficult to implement for early stage HIV-infected individuals, since many are unaware of their HIV status. (to top of page)

"Are Japanese Researchers Exploiting Thai HIV Patients?"

Nature Medicine (05/98) Vol. 4, No. 5, P. 540; Saegusa, Asako - In March, the Japanese Science and Technology Corp. and Thailand's Ministry of Public Health agreed to a five-year joint research project to develop a vaccine against HIV subtype E. The Japanese researchers say that the shift in their vaccine research from a focus on subtype B to subtype E resulted from their belief that a subtype E vaccine would be more cross-reactive with other subtypes. Moreover, they assert that a vaccine against subtype E is necessary because its increasing prevalence worldwide. However, some contend that the shift in focus by the Japanese is to exploit Thailand as a testing ground. John Moore of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York said there is no reason to believe that subtype E vaccines would be more cross-reactive, and he said that the fastest spreading subtype is C, in Southern Africa and India. Moore believes the proposed method of vaccine production--developing a recombinant BCG vector-based vaccine by genetically engineering a BCG bacillus to express a chimeric surface protein from subtype E--to be "unimpressive," noting that it would not produce "relevant humoral immunity." One Japanese researcher who agreed with Moore told Nature Medicine that the Japanese government is "beguiling Thai researchers with money, which is totally unethical." He claims that vaccine trials could not be held in Japan due to safety and efficacy concerns. Mitsuo Honda of the AIDS Research Center at Japan's National Institute of Infectious Diseases argues that these claims are false and that 50 percent of new HIV cases in Japan are a result of subtype E transmission during heterosexual intercourse. Ten percent of subtype E cases are reported in Japan, with the other 90 percent reported in Thailand. HIV subtype E accounts for 20 to 30 percent of worldwide HIV infections. (to top of page)

Warning Issued on Use of Viagra with Poppers
(This article was taken from the Datalounge News, http://www.datalounge.com)

PHILADELPHIA (Tuesday, May 12, 1998)-- The Philadelphia Gay News reports the manufacturers of Viagra, a new drug prescribed to treat impotence, are warning people not to take it if they are also using poppers to enhance sex.
"Absolutely, Viagra should not be used in conjunction with poppers," said Mariann Caprion, a spokeswoman for Pfizer Inc., which manufactures the new drug. "If poppers and Viagra are taken together, a precipitous drop in blood pressure could occur. We don't want that to happen. We want people to know about this."
Poppers -- amyl nitrate or butyl nitrite -- are inhaled by some people during sex to enhance the experience. They can be purchased in many commercial-sex establishments without a prescription, but their use as a recreational drug is illegal in the United States.
Caprino told PGN she has contacted AIDS and gay activists around the country to warn them about the potential risk. A formal warning in Viagra's packaging insert was not included because of poppers' illegal status, she said.
Next week, she said, Pfizer Inc. plans to mail warnings to 8,000 doctors across the country. "We're doing what we can to get the word out," Caprino said.
AIDS activist Kiyoshi Kuromiya, executive director of Critical Path AIDS Project, also said Viagra should be avoided by PWAs taking protease inhibitors.
"That combination also could hurt people's health, or possibly kill them," Kuroyima said. "Viagra and protease inhibitors use the same metabolic pathways in the liver. If used together, that would cause an overdose, or underdose, of one drug or the other."
Caprino said Pfizer Inc. does not believe Viagra is dangerous when combined with protease inhibitors. "We're aware of that theory," she said. "But our position is that an adverse event from the combination of Viagra and protease inhibitors would be highly unlikely. That's what our biochemist researchers tell us." (to top of page)

"Report: Five Young People Infected With HIV Every Minute"

Boston Globe Online (04/22/98) -UNAIDS reported on Wednesday that 7,000 young people worldwide contract HIV every day, averaging five infections among people 10- to 24-years-old every minute. According to the report, of the 30 million HIV-infected individuals in the world at least one-third are under age 24, and 2.6 million more become infected every year. UNAIDS also noted that Eastern Europe may become the next AIDS epicenter, with HIV infections increasing at least six-fold since 1994. The agency said that the high prevalence of injection drug users in the region is helping drive up the infection rate, which has reached 190,000. The report also warned on the increase of sexually transmitted diseases in the area. In some regions, syphilis cases have increased from 10 per 100,000 to hundreds per 100,000. The agency plans to launch a campaign, called "Force for Change: World AIDS Campaign with Young People," in an effort to stem the spread of HIV. (to top of page)

"HIV-Positive Patients at Particular Risk of TB in Japan"

Reuters Health Information Services (04/13/98) - Dr. Toru Mori of the Research Institute of Tuberculosis in Tokyo and colleagues report that many HIV-positive individuals are at high risk for reactivated tuberculosis. The researchers noted that 71 cases of TB--59 of which were true TB and 12 of which were non-tuberculosis mycobacteria cases--had been reported in HIV patients by the end of 1996. The scientists fear that Japanese doctors may be unaware of the association and that TB may go undiagnosed in HIV-infected patients. Dr. Mori also suggested that public health systems are not open enough concerning HIV infection, making surveillance of the virus--and co-infection with TB--difficult. (to top of page)

"Weekly Window: AIDS and HIV"

Nikkei Weekly (03/16/98) Vol. 36, No. 1816, P. 16 - AIDS and HIV incidence continues to rise in Japan, with a 6.1 percent increase in HIV/AIDS cases reported by the Ministry of Health and Welfare's AIDS Surveillance Committee. In 1997, there were 250 new cases of AIDS--the highest ever in Japan--and 397 new HIV infections reported. Japan now has more than 1,000 AIDS patients and almost 2,500 HIV-positive persons--excluding those who received HIV from tainted blood transfusions. There are 628 additional AIDS patients and 1,495 HIV cases due to blood transfusions. More than 1,000 people have died of AIDS in Japan thus far. Heterosexual intercourse has accounted for the largest percentage of HIV transmittal, 43.3 percent, with homosexual intercourse accounting for 25 percent of infections. (to top of page)

"New Green Cross AIDS Case Found"

Daily Yomiuri Online (03/17/98) - The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that a 30-year-old man who was diagnosed with AIDS in January contracted HIV at a Kansai, Japan, hospital 15 years ago through the administration of an unheated blood product produced by the Green Cross Corp. The man will reportedly file a 115 million yen suit against the pharmaceutical company and the national government. Approximately 2,600 individuals received the unheated blood product; 11 were found to have contracted the virus through the administration of the product. While most were tested for HIV in 1996 during a Health and Welfare Ministry investigation, the infected man apparently was not tested due to an administrative error. The hospital recently confirmed that the man was given Christmassin in 1983 to treat a blood clot. (to top of page)

AIDS Virus Identified in Blood Sample Taken From African Man in 1959

Washington Post (02/04/98) P. A5; Brown, David - On Tuesday, researchers announced the discovery of HIV in a blood sample taken from a man in the Belgian Congo in 1959, making it the oldest confirmed case of human infection by the virus. David D. Ho and Tuofu Zhu of the Aaron Diamond Research Center in New York and Andre J. Nahmias of Emory University reported the results at the Fifth Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections as well as in this week's issue of the journal Nature. Molecular analysis of the sample, taken in a study on malaria resistance by Arno Motulsky at the University of Washington, shows that the infected man probably contracted the disease approximately a decade after the virus moved from non-human primates to human hosts. Ho and Zhu note that comparisons between the newly discovered sample and current human immunodeficiency viruses show a "common ancestor" virus from the late 1940s or early 1950s, placing the origin of the virus at an earlier date than many scientists had believed. Nahmias began testing for HIV in 1,213 of Motulsky's samples shortly after antibody tests became available in 1985. After he narrowed down the samples to one--which tested positive for HIV through every available test at the time--Ho and Zhu assessed a portion of the sample using polymerase chain reaction to amplify DNA from the serum sample and test conclusively for the presence of HIV. Zhu and Ho, along with collaborators at Los Alamos National Laboratory, used mutation rates to date the "common ancestor" virus. Although Ho said "this [finding] is clearly not going to impact on how we take care of our patients today," he noted the data may give researchers a better idea of HIV and other "emerging infections" function over time. (to top of page)

Japan had a record number of 250 new AIDS patients

Daily Yomiuri, Wednesday 1/28/98 - Japan had a record number of 250 new AIDS patients last year, the Health and Welfare Ministry's AIDS Surveillance Committee said Tuesday. The number of people reported infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, during the year was 397, the second largest number after the 442 reported in 1992, the committee said. They included 162 people who contracted HIV sexually, a record for one year with most cases reported by Japanese men contracting the virus in Japan, it said.
The findings, based on reports from medical institutions nationwide, brought the cumulative total of AIDS patients to 1,684 and that of HIV carriers to 3,357 as of Dec. 31, 1997 the committee said. A committee member stressed the need to educate Japanese men to prevent them from contracting HIV sexually.
"The number of new HIV carriers in Japan has shown a tendency to rise, while some nations in the West have seen a decline in new HIV carriers. It's important to promote preventive education that focuses on the sexual behavior of men." he said. (to top of page)

"Brazil Turns to Women to Stop Dramatic Rise in AIDS Cases"

Christian Science Monitor (01/09/98) P. 7; McDaniels, Andrea - According to a report released in November by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, Brazil has the second-highest number of reported HIV infections behind the United States. Meanwhile, a report released at the Pan-American Conference on AIDS last month showed that many of Brazil's new cases occur among married women with children. In part, the increase of infections among this demographic group is attributed to the fact that most Brazilians simply do not like condoms, which are also opposed by the Roman Catholic Church and are more expensive than they are in the United States. Another problem is Brazil's machistic society. As Guido Carlos Levi of Emilio Ribas Hospital's health department explains: "Women are afraid of asking their men to have safe sex, afraid of getting beaten, afraid of losing their economic support." To compound the issue, many Latin men in supposedly monogamous relationships have affairs. Public health officials are now supporting a campaign that calls upon Brazilian women to protect themselves by using female condoms. Priced at $2.50 each, though, the condoms may not be popular. Many women with AIDS say they would have been no more likely to have used a female condom than a traditional one. (to top of page)

"Saliva Component Blocks AIDS Virus"

Reuters (01/08/98) Research published in the January 5 issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine suggests that thrombospondin (TSP)--a natural sugar-protein found in human saliva--can block the growth of laboratory strains of HIV. Drs. Ralph Nachman, Roy Silverstein, and Jeffrey Laurence of the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center explained that they initially began exploring why there are relatively small amounts of HIV in saliva, and why human saliva is effective at inhibiting HIV growth in the test tube. The finding could lead to the creation of natural inhibitors of HIV transmission. In addition, Nachman noted that TSP derivatives could possibly also be used in condoms, foams, suppositories, toothpastes, and mouthwashes to block HIV transmission. (to top of page)

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