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  Friday, February 16, 2001

The CDC National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention provides the following information as a public service only. Providing synopses of key scientific articles and lay media reports on HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis does not constitute CDC endorsement. This daily update also includes information from CDC and other government agencies, such as background on Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) articles, fact sheets, press releases, and announcements. Reproduction of this text is encouraged; however, copies may not be sold, and the CDC HIV/STD/TB Prevention News Update should be cited as the source of the information. Contact the sources of the articles abstracted below for full texts of the articles.

  General Media
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"Companies Weigh Offer of Royalties for AIDS Drugs Aimed at Africa "
Wall Street Journal (02/16/01) P. B1; Pearl, Daniel

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     Cipla has offered Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Boehringer Ingelheim a proposal in which it would gain the rights to sell generic versions of their patented AIDS drugs in Africa in exchange for a 5 percent royalty fee. If the pharmaceutical companies decline Cipla's offer, the generic maker could turn to compulsory licensing provisions to sell its product in Africa without paying royalties. Foreign aid and revenues could drop if countries grant compulsory licensing rights, reducing the likelihood that such action would be taken. Cipla has also offered to sell an array of AIDS drugs to the group Doctors Without Borders at a considerably lower price than what large pharmaceutical companies are willing to charge to underdeveloped countries.

"Drug Makers Are Prodded on Cut-Rate AIDS Medications"
Wall Street Journal (02/16/01) P. B4; Zimmerman, Rachel

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     Dr. Peter Piot, who leads the United Nations AIDS program, has responded to criticism about the lack of progress in increasing access of affordable AIDS drugs to people in impoverished nations by goading drug companies to take action. Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Roche Holding agreed nine months ago to provide lower costs treatments to poor AIDS patients, but so far deals have only been completed in three nations. The prices at which sources say that Merck is willing to sell its treatments are still too expensive for most African nations. Locating new sources of paying for treatment, drumming drug company competition, permitting regional pooling of resources, and encouraging deals between patented drug manufacturers and generic companies are among the initiatives that Piot said he would like to pursue.

"TB Patient Appeals for Release: Judge Richard Boylston Put Other Action on Hold Until the Appeal Court Rules"
Orlando Sentinel (02/15/01) P. 1; Colarossi, Anthony

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     In Florida, Lake County Judge Richard Boylston recently turned down a request by the State Department of Health to have prisoner Melvin Sherrod, who has multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), kept incarcerated indefinitely in order to undergo treatment for the contagious disease. During his incarceration, Sherrod willingly complied with treatments, but violated three previous court orders to stay in the state hospital while continuing treatments. So health officials fear he is a risk to society if released now without undergoing full treatment. Boylston found that Sherrod was not a criminal defendant and therefore there was no supporting evidence to indicate the need for continued incarceration at the Lake County Jail. The judge did note, however, that the patient should be held at the jail until health officials determine whether or not they will pursue the issue of criminal contempt. If they do not choose to do so, Boylston said Sherrod should be sent back to the state hospital to complete his treatment.

"Tuberculosis Rise in Britain Linked to Immigration"
Agence France Presse (02/15/01)

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     A survey of the United Kingdom's population found that more than 6,000 cases of tuberculosis (TB) were diagnosed in 1998, an increase of 11 percent since 1993. London holds the highest rate of infection, reporting an increase in cases of 71 percent over 10 years. Over 50 percent of all the patients were immigrants who had come to the United Kingdom in the past five years, many from sub-Saharan Africa. The report suggested more effective efforts and methods of diagnosis and treatment of TB among immigrants is needed. The report, published in the journal Thorax, was conducted by the British Thoracic Society with the Public Health Laboratory Service and the Department of Health.

"Hep-C Plagues Cons: 75 percent of Females Infected at Edmonton Institution for Women"
Edmonton Sun (02/16/01) P. 5; Cowan, Paul

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     Prisoner advocacy groups are alarmed at the high rate of hepatitis C infection being reported among the female prisoner population at the Edmonton Institution for Women in Canada. According to reports, 75 percent of the inmates at the facility have tested positive for the virus. Prison spokesperson Audrey Hatto said that 12 of the 67 women have tested HIV-positive and 50 have tested positive for hepatitis C. Hatto said the facility is working with prisoners to help handle their disease and avoid further transmission as many will eventually re-enter society. One significant breakthrough for the prison and its efforts has been an upward turn in the number of prisoners volunteering to undergo testing; previously, about half of the women refused to undergo testing.

"Many HIV Patients Report Use of Alternative Meds"
Reuters Health Information Services (02/15/01); Huggins, Charnicia E.

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     A new study into the insight of patients' perception of their illness and medication regimen found that many HIV-positive individuals take alternative therapies in addition to their prescribed HIV medications. Alternative therapies included micronutrients, vitamins, herbal supplements, teas, massage, protein supplements, and anabolic steroids. According to the study, almost 60 percent of the patients who said they used alternative medicines said they had informed their doctors about the therapies, although the data was not generally recorded in the patient's chart; the patients were more likely to tell their physicians only about their use of anabolic steroids or protein supplements. Because of the possible toxicity or negative interactions, the researchers advise patients to inform their physicians of all alternative medicines they are using.

"World Bank Warns of AIDS Increase in Cameroon"
Reuters (02/15/01)

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     The World Bank, which last month approved a $50 million fund for Cameroon's anti-AIDS efforts, announced Thursday that the HIV/AIDS infection rate in the country soared more than 20-fold in the past 10 years. According to the bank's Robert Calderisi, the current HIV infection rate in Cameroon is 11 percent, up from 0.5 percent among the sexually active population in 1987. An estimated 937,000 people are living with HIV in the country; however, the actual number is thought to be much higher because of under-reporting and undiagnosed cases. Calderisi called on Cameroon's government to direct the new funds to local communities and also for education programs in schools.

"Nigeria Orders Tests on Local Cure for HIV Virus"
Reuters (02/15/01)

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     The legal battle between Nigerian scientist Jeremiah Abalaka and the Health Ministry over the ban on using his HIV vaccine is continuing with a directive from the Nigerian parliament ordering clinical trials of the drug. The tests are set to begin within the next few months. Abalaka had sued the government after it banned the vaccine he developed last year.

"Study: HAART Less Costly Than Treatment for AIDS"
AIDS Alert (02/01) Vol. 16, No. 2, P. 26

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     Caro Research, a health care consulting firm in Concord, Massachusetts, has studied and compared the costs of health care for persons with HIV/AIDS and found that it is significantly less expensive to maintain a program of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for a person with HIV, than it is to care for a person with AIDS. Judith O'Brien, senior researcher with Caro, says the important point is that HAART will always remain expensive, but the cost must be looked at from the larger context of treating HIV persons in order to prevent them from progressing to AIDS. The study found that of 13,100 hospital discharges of HIV patients and 49,000 AIDS patients, the average annual cost per HIV patient without AIDS was $17,600, compared to $24,900 for individuals with AIDS. Between 1995 and 1998, the number of reported AIDS cases in Massachusetts increased 78 percent, while the rate of hospitalization dropped from 85 percent to 31 percent.

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Blank ImageNOTICE: The CDC HIV/STD/TB Prevention News Update will not be published on Monday, February 19, 2001, in observance of the Presidents' Day holiday. Publication will resume on Tuesday, February 20.

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