More than one in five middle-aged U.S. adults, and nearly half of adults over age 65, have more than one chronic health condition, such as hypertension and diabetes, according to a new government report.
The report said that in 2010, 21.3 percent of women and 20.1 percent of men between ages 45 and 64 had at least two chronic health conditions. In 2000, the rate among men was 15.2 percent, and among women it was 16.9 percent.
Increases were also seen in adults older than 65, with 49 percent of men and 42.5 percent of women reporting in 2010 that they had at least two chronic health conditions. In 2000, the rates were 39.2 percent of men and 35.8 percent of women.
Treatment for people with multiple chronic conditions is complex, the researchers said. By looking at trends in the rates of people with more than one condition, researchers are better able to make decisions about managing and preventing these diseases, and they can make better predictions about future health-care needs, they said.
The increases were due mainly to rises in three conditions: hypertension, diabetes and cancer, according to the report. These increases may be due to more new cases, or due to people living longer with the conditions because of advances in medical treatments.
The report also said that middle-aged adults with at least two chronic conditions had increasing difficulty, between 2000 and 2010, in getting the care and prescription drugs they needed because of cost. In 2010, 23 percent reported not receiving or delaying the medical care they needed, and 22 percent said they didn't get the prescriptions they needed. In 2000, these rates were 17 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
The CDC does not consider obesity itself to be a health condition; rather, it is a risk factor for other conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The obesity rate in the U.S. increased in the United States over the past 30 years, but has leveled off in recent years, the report said.
The report is based on data gathered during the National Health Interview Survey, in which participants complete a detailed questionnaire about their health status and health-related behaviors. Participants reported whether a physician has diagnosed them with any of nine chronic health conditions: hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, current asthma and kidney disease.
How easy is it to avoid getting your kid exempt from school shots? Too easy -- if the epidemic of preventable diseases sweeping through many states are any indication.
It's nearly August and that means the start of school and important vaccine shots for kids entering kindergarten, elementary school or day care. Free, back-to-school immunization clinics are opening up nationwide to provide shots, depending on the state, against a whole range of diseases, including mumps, measles, rubella (German measles), diphtheria, Hepatitis A, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, flu and polio.
What you may not know is that a scary number of these diseases are at epidemic levels in the United States. Whooping cough, an illness that many Americans over 30 thought had disappeared, is at the highest rate among children in the US in fifty years. At least 18,000 cases have been reported in 2012, more than twice as many cases as there were at this time last year. Nine infants have died from whooping cough this year. In addition, an estimated 214 children contracted measles last year in the US, the largest outbreak of a nasty infectious disease in 15 years.
Part of the problem is, too many parents are refusing to get their kids vaccinated against whooping cough and the other horrible diseases that have returned, sickening, disabling and killing children.
There are school requirements for vaccination and, undoubtedly, vaccine rates for most children are still very high. But all states permit exceptions. Two states, Mississippi and West Virginia allow parents to opt-out only on medical grounds -- if the child has an immune disease or is violently allergic to eggs. That seems reasonable.
Other states allow vaccine exceptions for parents who claim religious reasons. While there are few religions that are specifically against vaccines, some states, including Maine, Colorado, Washington, Texas, Vermont, Arkansas and Minnesota, allow parents to say “no” to vaccines for any reason, using a so-called "philosophical" exemption. That is a problem.
California, which has had its own miserable experience the last few years with disease outbreaks and deaths in babies, has one of the easiest vaccine opt-outs in the nation, allowing parents to refuse vaccinations for their children because of personal beliefs. Recently, Democratic state representative, Dr. Richard Pan, proposed a law that requires any parent who wants to send a child to school without the required vaccines to document that they have had a face-to-face conversation with a health care provider about vaccine risks and benefits.
That's a pretty simple law that raises the bar a bit on what can be deadly vaccine exceptions. The bill is in committee, but anti-vaccine groups are buzzing like hornets, looking to get it defeated, as they did with similar efforts in Vermont earlier this year.
In fact, in the name of personal freedom, anti-vaccinators have been pushing to make it easier for parents to opt-out of vaccines in a number of states.
The United States is paying the price in death, disability and misery of allowing anyone who wants to, for no reason supported by medical science, deny vaccines for their children. Vaccine refusers put every other kid, baby and immune-suppressed adult at greater risk of getting infected. Freedom of choice is a great thing -- except when that choice leads to a possibly fatal outcome for your child.
Arthur Caplan is the head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Dennis Macdonald / Getty Images
The American Red Cross said it fell 50,000 units short of its blood donation goals in June. Supplies are at their lowest level in 15 years.
A perfect storm of events has driven blood donations to the lowest in 15 years, a shortfall so extreme that some patients may have to cancel elective surgery, medical officials say.
The American Red Cross fell 50,000 units short of its needs in June and will likely fall short again in July, it said.
If there's not enough available blood, some elective surgeries will have to be cancelled, said Danny Cervantes, a donor recruitment director for United Blood Services in Las Vegas.
"People will put off having knee replacements, hip replacements and other elective surgery," he said.
Summer is typically a bad time for the Red Cross anyway, said Kim Talkington, regional director of donor recruitment for Red Cross operations in Wichita, Kan.
"The need goes up because there are more people traveling and there's more accidents," Talkington said. At the same time, donations fall because families are out of town on vacation, she said.
And because high school- and college-age donors make up almost 20 percent of Red Cross donations, their contributions drop by more than 50 percent when school is out for the summer, said Beth Forbes, a donor recruitment representative for the agency in Quincy, Ill.
That's expected, but this year, there are additional factors.
Damaging storms created extra demand in the East and the Midwest at the same time that they dried up the supply, said Rodney Wilson, communications manager for the American Red Cross of Central Ohio.
"The power outages and storms we experienced earlier in the month caused dozens of blood drives to be canceled," he said.
Meanwhile, unusually hot weather has kept potential donors from venturing out.
"We normally try to keep a three-day supply on hand locally, and we are down to a one-day supply," Wilson said.
"We need people to think about the need for blood, because the need never goes away. The need never, ever goes away," said Diane O'Donnell, a Red Cross representative in Oneonta, N.Y.
Ellen Russell, director of Red Cross blood services in Maine, said that even if people find it hard to get to a blood center, it's vital that they make the effort.
"A lot of people are on vacations and people are taking a lot of time off, but patients never get a vacation from needing blood," she said.
More health news from NBCNews.com:
An outbreak of Ebola in western Uganda has killed 14 people, according to news reports. Here are five things you should know about this virulent and often deadly infection:
What is Ebola?
Ebola, officially known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe disease caused by the Ebola virus that was first recognized in Africa in 1976.
Early symptoms can include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat and weakness, followed by diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In some cases, the disease causes rashes, red eyes, hiccups and internal and external bleeding, the CDC says.
Up to 90 percent of people who are infected with Ebola die from it, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Outbreaks have occurred in African countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Sudan, the Ivory Coast, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo, the CDC says.
How is it transmitted?
Humans are not the natural hosts of the Ebola virus, and it's believed that the first person in any outbreak became infected through contact with an infected animal, the CDC says. Animals that are reported to have spread disease to humans include chimpanzees, gorillas, forest antelopes and cynomolgus monkeys, according to the World Health Organization. Once one person has become infected, the disease can spread from person to person through contact with the blood, saliva, mucus or other secretions. In the countries where Ebola has occurred, the disease is frequently spread in health care settings to workers who have had contact with patients and do not wear protective clothing or masks, the CDC says. Re-use of contaminated needles can also spread the disease.
Researchers still do not know where Ebola naturally resides. Studies have shown bats can be infected with the virus and survive without symptoms of disease, according to the WHO. Some have speculated bats play a role in maintaining the virus in nature, the WHO says.
How many people have been infected?
Since Ebola was discovered, about 1,850 cases and more than 1,200 deaths have been reported, according to the WHO.
Has there ever been an outbreak in the United States?
Ebola has not caused disease in the United States. In 1990, several researchers in Virginia and Texas became infected with a type of Ebola virus from contact with imported monkeys, the CDC says. However, the type of Ebola in these cases, now called Ebola-Reston, did not cause symptoms in humans, although it was fatal in monkeys.
Is there a cure?
No. Patients with Ebola are treated with supportive therapy, which includes balancing their fluids, maintaining their oxygen levels and blood pressure, and treating them for any complicating infections, the CDC says.
(Updated, July 31. Clarification: The researchers reviewed every product and thoroughly tested three devices)
Special seats and other devices designed to help prevent parents from accidentally leaving babies and toddlers behind in cars don’t work well, a team of experts said on Monday. They said parents shouldn’t rely on them to keep children safe.
Their review of 18 commercial devices, including systems integrated into a car, shows none works well enough to rely on.
“While these devices are very well-intended, none of them are a full or complete solution for making sure a parent never leaves a baby behind in a hot car,” David Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), told reporters in a conference call.
Instead, parents need to “layer” in other behaviors, such as leaving a purse or briefcase in the back seat, to make sure they don’t leave a child to die in a hot car, they advised.
It’s a nightmare scenario – a parent returns to his or her car after a day at work or even a short time running errands to find an unconscious child strapped into the car seat. Most times, the parent thought he or she dropped the child off with a caregiver, or left the child with someone else. Even on a relatively cool day, the temperatures in a car can soar, and babies have died in as little as an hour.
NHTSA says 527 children have died of heat stroke after being left in cars since 1998, or about 38 every year. “In 2011, 33 such cases were reported,” NHTSA said in a statement, citing Jan Null of San Francisco State University, who tracks the reports.
“We aren’t only talking about the 98 degree day when you leave your child for eight hours while you are at work,” said Dr. Kristy Arbogast of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who led the research. “This can happen very quickly.”
Parents have been alerted by news reports of some of the cases, and want some help in protecting their children. “There has been a recent rise in demand for technologies to prevent these deaths by reminding the caregiver that the child is in the car, as about half of these children have inadvertently been forgotten,” the report reads.
Arbogast and colleagues reviewed every product they could find: pads that sense if a child is in his or her carseat; devices that detect whether the seatbelt is buckled; chest clips that attach to the restraint; sensors that can tell if the back door was opened; and alarms that remind parents to check. They thoroughly tested three of the devices.
“The devices were inconsistent and unreliable in their performance,” they wrote in their report, commissioned by NHTSA and released on Monday.
“They often required adjusting of the position of the child within the child restraint, the distance to activation varied across trials and scenarios and they experienced continual synching/unsynching during use,” they added.
Sometimes a cellphone interfered with the device, and spilled juice or milk could knock some out completely. “In sum, the devices require considerable effort from the parent/caregiver to ensure smooth operation and often that operation is not consistent,” Arbogast’s team concluded. “None directly address the root cause of the hot environment that led to the potential for heat stroke.”
Many relied on an alarm that was on the car’s key fob and that worried Arbogast. “What if my husband was taking the child and I forget to give him the key fob?” she asked.
“Most important, it should be noted that these devices which integrate into a child restraint would not be applicable in scenarios where the child is playing and gets locked in the vehicle (30 percent of fatalities) or in a scenario where the parent/caregiver intentionally leaves the child in the vehicle (17 percent of fatalities),” the report notes.
“If a parent thinks they might want to purchase these devices, that’s fine,” Strickland said. But in that case, parents need to do other things, too, to keep their children safe.
A Sugarland, Texas, family mourns the loss of a 7-month-old boy, after the father left the child in the car. KPRC's Nefertiti Jaquez reports.
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Adding extra patients to nurses' already heavy loads, or logging more nurses with high levels of burnout was tied to an increase in two kinds of hospital-acquired infections.
Heavy patient loads and chronic burnout have long been among the top complaints of nurses at the nation’s hospital bedsides. But a new study shows that those problems affect not only the nurses themselves, but also the number of infections in the people they care for.
For every extra patient added to a nurse’s workload, there was roughly one additional hospital-acquired infection logged per 1,000 patients, according to researchers from the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.
For each 10 percent jump in the proportion of nurses who logged high levels of burnout, there was roughly one additional catheter-associated urinary tract infection per 1,000 patients and almost extra two surgical site infections per 1,000 patients, according to a study published today in the American Journal of Infection Control.
“One infection is too many,” said Jeannie P. Cimiotti, the study’s lead author, who directs the Collaborating Center for Nursing at Rutgers University. “If you’re really serious about infection control and providing the best care for patients, you have to address these issues.”
Cimiotti and her colleagues surveyed more than 7,000 registered nurses working in 161 hospitals in Pennsylvania, and then merged that with data on hospital infections from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, or PHC4, and with national data on the characteristics of the nation’s hospitals.
What they found was alarming, Cimiotti said. More than a third of the nurses reported high levels of job-related burnout. That was measured by the Maslach Burnout Inventory, a recognized scale that tracks factors like emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and whether the nurses feel a sense of personal accomplishment.
“Nurses deal with life and death every day,” Cimiotti said, explaining why burnout occurs. “How many people go to their job and say, ‘This one died and this one died and this one died?’ Often they see as much failure as they see good.”
The nurses cared for an average of 5.7 patients apiece, and when even one extra patient was added to that load, the result was an additional 1,351 infections within the hospital population studied.
That could mean additional risk of serious illness or death for patients who catch those infections while in the hospital, Cimiotti said. For people with cancer or other conditions that compromise immune system function, even a low-level bladder infection or a common infection in a surgical wound can tip them into far more serious illness.
“They’re associated with morbidity and mortality, no doubt about it,” Cimiotti said. “A bloodstream infection can kill someone.”
This study is important because it is among scant research to factor in the impact of burnout, she added. When nurses are chronically stressed and feel unsupported by the work environment, it can lead to lapses in infection control practices.
“If a patient is moaning for help over here and you’re changing the dressing over there, maybe you touch something in the sterile field,” Cimiotti said.
At the same time, the study found that reducing burnout cuts infections – and saves money.
Reducing reports of burnout by 30 percent cut urinary tract infections by more than 4,000 and surgical site infections by more than 2,200, saving between $28 million and $69 million per year in estimated costs to treat those infections.
This certainly isn’t the first time that UPenn nursing researchers have found that staffing levels have had direct effects on patient health. A 2002 study found that adding a single patient to a nurse’s caseload increased the risk of dying within a week by 7 percent. Boosting the load from six patients to eight increased the risk by 31 percent over a nurse caring for four patients.
And a 2010 study found that patient deaths would drop by 14 percent in New Jersey and 14 percent in Pennsylvania if those states adopted California’s hard-won mandated nurse-to-patient ratios of 1 to 5 in surgical units. That study was led by Linda Aiken, director of the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, who also collaborated on the current study.
Though it may appear very sympathetic to the nursing profession, the controlled study was conducted by experts known for the reliability of their work, said Cheryl Peterson, director of nursing practice and policy for the American Nurses Association.
“This study does confirm what most of us have been saying within nursing,” Peterson said. “There is a direct link between staffing, the number of nurses providing patient care, and patient outcomes. What we would add is the work environment … that can have an impact on burnout.”
The issue of nurse-to-patient ratios is hotly debated in the U.S., where no one appears to track nationwide staffing averages. Neither the ANA nor the American Hospital Association keep such statistics, staff members say. Nursing patient loads can vary from as low as one nurse for every one or two patients in intensive care units to far higher than the 1:5 ratio mandated in surgical units in California.
“I don’t have the evidence, but I would believe, yes, some workloads are definitely higher than that,” Cimiotti said.
Some hospitals in the U.S. have worked hard to address those issues. Nearly 400 of the nation’s 5,754 registered hospitals have achieved so-called “Magnet” status, which recognizes health care organizations that achieve structural and clinical practices that empower nurses and lead to good patient results.
But it will take more, the experts agree.
“Now that we see that burnout is playing a role in this relationship, we have to look at more than just the staffing,” said Cimiotti. “We have to look at the system, the organizational structure where the nurses provide care.”
Lay the blame for your chocolate habit wherever you want, but a new study suggests that women's cocoa cravings do not increase before menstruation.
In the study, college women were no more likely to say they had an intense desire for chocolate during the days leading up to their period compared with other days.
In addition, the stage of the women's menstrual cycle did not affect their cravings for high-fat foods, or the amount of chocolate they ate, the researchers said.
The new findings contradict earlier studies, which found an increase in reports of chocolate cravings in the days before menstruation. However, these studies may have included women with eating disorders, such as bulimia, which could affect the results, the researchers said. The new study included only women without eating disorders.
In addition, past studies often asked women to think back in time, instead of asking about current cravings, as the new study did.
However, the new study was small — just 35 women — and so further research is needed to confirm the results, the researchers said.
Women came into the laboratory at two stages of their menstrual cycle: the late luteal phase, or seven days before menstruation at the most, and the late follicular phase, the time about midway through the cycle, before an egg is released. Participants were included in the study only if they had regular periods, and if they said they had craved chocolate at least once in the past six months.
The researchers validated the women's stage within their cycles by measuring their levels of luteinizing hormone, a hormone that triggers ovulation.
The researchers asked the women about food cravings before and after presenting them with a bowl of chocolate. They noted that showing people food is known to increase cravings, and that the study did not examine whether changes in mood experienced outside the laboratory could trigger such cravings.
"Further research is needed to determine the role of food cravings in response to emotions across the menstrual cycle," the researchers said.
The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Appetite. It was conducted by Megan Apperson McVay of Louisiana State University and colleagues.
From an early age, boys tend to take a more impulsive approach to math problems in the classroom, which might help them get ahead of girls in the long-run, suggests the latest study to touch on the gender gap in math.
The research claims girls may tend to favor a slow and accurate approach — often computing an answer by counting — while boys may take a faster, but more error-prone tack, calling out an answer from memory. The difference in strategies seems to benefit girls early in elementary school but swings in favor of boys by middle school.
"In our study, we found that boys were more likely to call out answers than girls, even though they were less accurate early in school," Drew Bailey, who led the study, said in a statement. "Over time, though, this practice at remembering answers may have allowed boys to surpass girls in accuracy." [ Cool Math Games ]
The University of Missouri study followed 300 students from first grade to sixth grade. During those first two years, the boys called out more answers in class than the girls but also had more wrong answers. Girls were more often right, but answered fewer questions and responded more slowly, according to the university. By sixth grade, the boys were still answering more problems than the girls and were also getting more correct.
Several recent studies have argued that gender differences in math performance have more to do with culture than aptitude. Research published last year found that certain countries — generally ones with more gender equality, better teachers and fewer students living in poverty — showed a smaller gap between males and females in math and some had no gap at all.
Other research has pointed to inherent gender biases in the classroom. One such study found that high school math teachers tended to rate girls' math abilities lower than those of male students, even when the girls' grades and test scores were comparable to boys.
Gender issues aside, the researchers of the Missouri study — which was published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology — had some advice for parents based on the findings. "Parents can give their children an advantage by making them comfortable with numbers and basic math before they start grade school, so that the children will have fewer trepidations about calling out answers," David Geary, a co-author of the study, said in a statement.
One of the nation's leading manufacturers of pet treats has issued a voluntary recall of chicken breast treats because of the potential to cause health problems in cats. The recall follows reports of more than 1,800 dogs in the U.S. sickened or killed after eating chicken jerky treats from China.
Arthur Dogswell LLC issued a recall late Friday for its Catswell Brand VitaKitty Chicken Breast with Flaxseed and Vitamins treats because of potential contamination with high levels of propylene gylcol. High levels of propylene glycol in the treats could result in serious in serious injury to cats, according to the notice posted by the federal Food and Drug Administration.
The Los Angeles-based firm is voluntarily recalling 1,051 cartons of the treats packed as either 10 or 50 packages per case of the Catswell Brand VitaKitty with Chicken Breast with Flaxseed and Vitamins, the company said in a press release.
Health effects could include inducing anemia and making cells more susceptible to oxidative damage. The company said no illnesses have been reported to date.
Arthur Dogswell LLC also produces chicken jerky dog treats made in China. The FDA has warned about treats made in China, which have been cited in more than 1,800 reports of illnesses and deaths in the United States. Friday's recall is the first associated with chicken jerky pet treats since the FDA issued a third warning about the products last November.
A Dogswell spokesman, Brad Armistead, sent an email statement to NBCNews.com late Friday that said the company hopes to return the products to the marketplace in the near future.
"We have voluntarily withdrawn a small number of chicken products for cats. This is an isolated situation and does not affect any other products for cats or dogs," Armistead said. "We are committed to providing safe and healthy products to our customers and their pet companions."
The FDA has repeatedly said it has tested pet treats in the U.S. for the presence of many toxins, including propylene gylcol, but agency representatives said they found no levels high enough to urge a product recall.
The VitaKitty treats were distributed nationwide via retail stores and mail order from April 13th through June 14th, 2012.
This product is packaged in a re-sealable 2 ounce orange plastic bag with a clear window. The VitaKitty Chicken Breast with Flaxseed and Vitamins lot codes affected are as follows: SEW12CH032701/03c and SEW12CH032702/03c with a best before date of 09/10/13 and 09/11/13, respectively (UPC code 8 84244 00057 2). Lot codes can be found on the bottom right backside of the package.
“We are taking this voluntary action because it is in the best interests of our customers and their feline companions,” said Marco Giannini, CEO and Founder. “We will be working with the FDA in our continued commitment to ensure that we meet FDA guidelines.”
The recall resulted from a routine surveillance sample collected by Dogswell and the FDA. The firm has ceased manufacture of the affected item, though it's not clear if that action extends to other products.
Consumers who purchased the VitaKitty products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. If the product was purchased online, consumers should contact the Internet retailer to pursue a specific return and refund.
FDA officials did not immediately return NBCNews.com calls for more information about how the recall may relate to the ongoing issue of contaminated chicken jerky treats made in China.
On the company website, www.dogswell.com, officials said that many of their products are made in the U.S., but some are made in China. It was not immediately clear where the recalled treats were manufactured. Dogswell brand chicken breast treats for dogs were among those tested by the FDA in 2007, when the agency first became concerned about reports of illness in pets linked to Chinese-made products. Those treats, tested in an FDA southwestern regional lab in August 2007, were found to be in compliance.
Only a quarter of Americans infected with the AIDS virus are getting effective treatment, according to a U.S. government report released Friday -- and the youngest patients are the worst off. The numbers could worsen if states don’t broaden health care as called for under the 2010 health reform law, scientists worry.
It’s the first comprehensive look by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at who is getting effective care, and it doesn’t paint a promising picture. The findings raise even more alarm bells as study after study presented at the International AIDS Conference in Washington this week show that treatment can help stop the spread of HIV.
“The majority of people living with HIV in the United States are not on antiretroviral treatment, not in stable care,” Dr. Kenneth Mayer of The Fenway Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston told a news conference. “They need to be in care first and then able to get treatment.”
The study finds that just over a third of HIV patients have steady care -- 34 percent of African-Americans, 37 percent of Latinos and 38 percent of whites.
Younger patients are the least likely to be getting the cocktails of drugs that can keep them healthy and help keep them from infecting others. Just 15 percent of those aged 25-34 had the virus suppressed to desired levels, compared to 36 percent of those aged 55-64. Only 22 percent of young adults were even getting HIV drugs to treat their infection, the CDC found.
There’s no cure for the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS and no vaccine. HIV has killed 25 million since it first started spreading globally in the early 1980s, and more than 33 million people are infected worldwide. About 1.1 million people in the United States have HIV, and the CDC estimates that 20 percent of them don’t even know it.
“We have to continue to raise the alarm,” CDC’s top AIDS official, Dr. Kevin Fenton, said in an interview. “We have to find that sense of outrage.”
The same factors are driving high transmission and poor treatment rates among some U.S. groups: poverty, a lack of access to medical care, and a lack of education about what causes HIV and what people can do about it. Policymakers need to understand that treating people with HIV saves money, Fenton said.
“What we now know is that treating HIV is cost-effective. For every dollar spent, you save $2,” Fenton said.
Fenton said the U.S. should pull out the stops on providing condoms, counseling, testing and treatment.
“We need to ensure that states have policies that support routine HIV testing,” Fenton said. “Clearly, this is going to be more challenging in some states than in others.”
Top AIDS experts in the U.S. say no matter what people may think about the moral implications of some of the behavior that leads to HIV infection, it will benefit everyone to get people tested, treated and counseled about controlling their infection.
“Every state really must enact the Affordable Care Act,” said Dr. Judith Aberg, president of the HIV Medicine Association and an AIDS expert at New York University. “States need to fund HIV treatment and prevention. We need to continue this fight.”
Governors of several states have said they will not expand Medicaid, required by the health care law, because they cannot afford it. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that states can decide whether to abide by that provision. States refusing expansion now include Texas, Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana. Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance plan for the poor, currently does not cover most low-income adults with HIV. AIDS activists say it’s essential to controlling the epidemic to get coverage for young adults with HIV, and at risk for HIV.
Opening this week's International AIDS Conference was Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the most influential, leading scientists in the decades-long search for a cure. Fauci discusses how far we've come and how far we have to go in the battle against HIV/AIDS.
Pate Marovich for NBC News
Sthokozo Mabaso (maroon top) and Mandisa Madikane (blue top), with GlobalGirl Media at the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.
Mandisa Madikane was just six years old when her neighbor grabbed her outside her mother’s home.
“All I saw was black coming out of my legs, his big body on top of my small body,” says Madikane, now 21. “I had no power to fight back. I kicked, screamed, cried but nobody heard. He had all the power to do what he wanted to do.”
That assault in Soweto, South Africa, the sprawling, crowded township where much of Johannesburg’s blacks live, left her more than traumatized. Her attacker gave her HIV.
Now 21, Madikane sees the chance for some power for herself. As she covers AIDS2012 in Washington, D.C, the giant international AIDS conference that brings together policymakers, advocates, protesters and scientists, Madikane is throwing questions at leaders.
“I want answers from people in government,” Madikane told NBC News in an interview. “I had a chance to ask the minister of health for South Africa about discrimination.”
The answer she got from Health Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi might have come across as a bit patronizing to some, but not to Madikane.
“He said if I got discriminated against, to put it on Facebook and people would let me know,” she said. “It was the most beautiful experience,” she said. “I love the feeling of being a journalist.”
Madikane was chosen to work with a non-profit called GlobalGirl Media, which trains high school girls from underprivileged backgrounds in digital media. Madikane and Sthokozo Mabaso, a 22-year-old who is also from Soweto and who is also HIV-positive, take turns interviewing conference delegates, operating their small digital camera and doing stand-ups. (Pronounced sto-KO-zo)
Pate Marovich for NBC News
Sthokozo Mabaso (maroon top) and Mandisa Madikane (blue top), with GlobalGirl Media at the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.
They both looked a little dazed as they negotiated the hordes of conference attendees at the Washington Convention Center, some in outrageous costumes. Madikane’s head turned as she heard some African rhythms in the Global Village, part of the conference open to the public that features noisy demonstrations, plays about HIV, violence and discrimination and booths offering everything from free condoms to crafts made by sex workers. Soon she was dancing to pop music while Mabaso interviewed passers-by.
Mabaso was attending the University of Johannesburg on a scholarship, studying management, when she applied to join GlobalGirl Media a year ago. Her reports about domestic abuse caught some eyes and she is not only covering the conference, but presenting at it.
“Everyone likes to be in front of a camera,” she said. “Without this, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be on a panel talking about abused women.”
Tumi Mosadi, a filmmaker who works with Global Girl Media in Johannesburg, said the girls and young women get opportunities and training that can change their lives -- and perhaps change the lives of the people they report about.
“We give them a platform to talk about what is happening in their community,” Mosadi said as she watched Mabaso and Madikane interview AIDS workers. “It’s stuff that affects them.”
Neither young woman had been out of South Africa before. “It was wonderful, watching them get on a flight for the first time, watching them step off in the United States,” Mosadi said.
After the conference ends Friday, they head to New York for some intensive training in digital editing. Then it’s back home to Johannesburg.
Mabaso is not entirely happy with the conference coverage.
“I wanted to hear scientists say they actually have a cure for AIDS,” she said.
Scientists told those attending the conference this week that they have some tantalizing clues, but predicted a cure would be at least a decade away, if not more.
Madikane hopes to get in some shopping on her first trip abroad. She isn’t sure what career opportunities might come from her year with Global Girl Media. She’s a high school graduate but her family doesn’t have money for college.
“I don’t know if my life will change,” she said softly. “What I know is my voice is out there.”
More AIDS conference coverage:
A moving video of Mandisa, a GlobalGirl reporter from Soweto who shares with us the reality of living as a young woman with HIV in South Africa. She very bravely talks about when she was raped by a neighbor at six years old.
Kent Phillips / wdwnews.com
Several dozen people apparently were sickened after visiting Walt Disney World's 'Wild Africa Trek' attraction at the Florida theme park. Health officials are investigating the outbreak.
Several dozen people have been sickened by a mystery illness linked to visits to the “Wild Africa Trek” tour offered by Walt Disney World in Buena Vista, Fla., local health officials said Thursday.
“Hundreds” of people have been questioned so far in connection with the cluster of flu-like illnesses detected in early June, said Dain Weister, a spokesman for the Orange County, Fla., Health Department.
Visitors who took the three-hour boutique tour -- which includes nature hikes, crossing a rickety foot bridge, sightings of giraffes, hippos and other animals and a catered snack on a manmade savannah -- came down with symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue and nausea, Weister said.
“The thing we’re trying to get everyone to understand is this is some kind of stomach bug,” said Weister, noting that no specific pathogen has been identified.
Though the symptoms may resemble those associated with infections such as norovirus, that bug usually causes more vomiting than victims reported, Weister said.
Most of the illnesses occurred during two days in early June, he said, adding that he didn't know the exact dates. No one has been hospitalized. Victims ranged from children to adults, including entire families.
Health department officials learned of the outbreak on June 11. Inspectors immediately reviewed Disney's food service operations -- and found no concerns, Weister said. Disney officials have conducted a thorough environmental cleaning, added more hand sanitizers and reiterated hand hygiene instructions for employees.
“We are working closely with the Orange County Health Department to review the situation,” said Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger.
The Wild Africa Trek is offered several times each day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, part of the Florida theme park. Groups of no more than 12 “trekkers” travel through areas of the Harambe Wildlife Reserve that aren’t available to usual visitors. Guests pay $139 to $249 a person for the tour, on top of regular admission, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper.
The Animal Kingdom theme park attracts some 9.8 million visitors each year.
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David Mcnew / Getty Images file
Television news crews gather in front of the home of Robert and Arlene Holmes, parents of James Eagan Holmes, 24, who is accused of killing 12 and injuring 58 people in a Colorado movie theater shooting.
As news crews swarmed outside the tile-roofed house of accused shooter James Eagan Holmes’ parents in an upscale suburb of San Diego, a stranger 1,300 miles away in Texas grieved for those inside.
“I’ve been worried about the family,” said Lois Robison, 78. “I know what it’s like to find out your son has killed several people.”
Last Friday, when Holmes allegedly opened fire in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., his parents, Robert and Arlene Holmes, were instantly thrust into a club that no one wants to join: family members of notorious killers.
Like the parents of Tucson shooter Jared Loughner, Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and Columbine High School killers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, they’re quickly becoming pariahs, publicly reviled for raising a monster.
But a group organized on behalf of murder victims’ families urges compassion and understanding for the families of murderers, too.
They suffer in a different way than those who lose loved ones to violence, said Renny Cushing, founder and executive director of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights, or MVFHR, which has organized support sessions for killers' families.
“I became really painfully aware of the ostracism that takes place,” said Cushing, whose father was murdered in 1988. “Immediately, there’s this thought that families must have done something to cause this, that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
That’s all too familiar to Robison, a retired third-grade teacher. Her son, Larry Keith Robison, was executed in 2000 in Texas for the grisly murders of five people, including an 11-year-old boy. He had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at age 21, three years before the 1982 murders.
Though it’s been nearly 30 years since the crime, Robison still clearly recalls the shock and horror of the early days -- and the reaction of some in the community of Burleson, Texas. Reporters surrounded her home; in ensuing months, some parents asked to have their children removed from her class.
No longer were they Ken and Lois Robison, the local schoolteachers.
“We became the parents of a mass murderer,” said Robison.
It’s a shift that happens quickly as a restless public searches for someone or something to blame for senseless acts of murder, said Cushing.
Indeed, Arlene Holmes, 58, a registered nurse, and Robert Holmes, 61, a scientist, are being publicly reviled. Some Internet commenters have called them “abusive” and suggested that they are responsible for their son's alleged acts.
Theater shooting suspect James Eagan Holmes appeared in court for the first time Monday where a judge explained why he was being held on no bond. NBC's Mike Taibbi reports.
“Where were YOU Mother why didn’t you take care of him,” read one NBCNews.com comment. “To me it sounds like a bad mother.”
Another expressed “pity” for the family -- but with a twist:
“I know that if it had been one of my sons who did this I would be absolutely shattered (not that it could ever be one of them as there must have been signs.)”
The Holmes family has expressed sorrow for the 12 people killed and 58 injured in the attacks, and, through their lawyer, asked for privacy as they grapple with the situation.
They indicated they would stand by their son through the ordeal.
“I think anyone can imagine how they’re feeling, anyone who’s ever been a parent,” said lawyer and family spokeswoman Lisa Damiani at a press conference Monday.
Ted S. Warren / AP
As many as 12 people were killed and 50 injured at a shooting at the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colo. early Friday during the showing of the latest Batman movie.
Families of murderers are grief-stricken after such a tragedy, but, unlike the families of the victims, they may feel they have no right to their feelings, said Bud Welch, whose 23-year-old daughter, Julie, was killed in the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995.
Welch met with Bill McVeigh, the father of Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for the crime.
“It’s really difficult for them, it really is,” said Welch, a member of MVFHR, which opposes the death penalty for murderers. “Bill McVeigh can never say anything publicly about anything Tim did that was nice.”
Instead, the family members of the killers struggle for the rest of their lives with shame and guilt over their loved one’s acts.
“I said, 'Bill, you have nothing to apologize for. You did not do it. You did not contribute to it,' " Welch recalled.
That message has provided some solace to other families of murderers. Welch met with the parents of Eric Harris, one of the two killers who led, and died in, the 1999 Columbine High School shootings.
Public sentiment vilified Wayne and Kathy Harris, Eric’s parents, and also Tom and Sue Klebold, the parents of Dylan Klebold, the other Columbine shooter.
“People were so angry. They said, ‘How were those boys raised?’” Welch said. “They weren’t raised any damn different than any of the kids in Littleton.”
Lois Robison said she and her husband, Ken, now 81, have found comfort and empowerment in speaking out about their son's crime, and about the need for adequate care for mental illness. They had great support from family members and those in the community who knew them, she added.
"When this happened, my husband said 'We can do one of two things,'" Lois Robison recalls. "We can crawl into a cave and pull a rock in there behind us. Or we can tell the truth and try to keep it from happening to someone else.'"
Bud Welch said he’s tempted now to reach out to victims of Aurora, both the families of those who were killed -- and the family of the alleged killer.
“These family members in Aurora, they’re going through so much grief. They need so much help,” he said. “The family of shooter? God only knows they’re going through hell, too.”
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In the Colorado city where one of the worst mass shootings in American history took place, the massacre prompted many to seek firearms for self-defense. NBC's Mike Taibbi reports.
“Treatment is Prevention.” It is a simple slogan that has dominated this year’s International AIDS Conference, springing from a 2011 study that showed when HIV patients receive proper drug treatment, they not only remain healthy, but are also virtually incapable of infecting others.
The solution to AIDS -- the terrible plague that has killed 64,000 Americans and 35 million people worldwide over the past 31 years -- does not require waiting for a vaccine, which remains at least a decade away, or exploring research avenues towards a “cure,” something achieved in one man with a dangerous, terribly expensive and complex bone marrow transplant. All that needs to be done is to find all who are infected, get them treatment and the virus will die out. That would lead us to a future “generation without AIDS,” another refrain heard often at the conference.
Jacquelyn Martin / AP
The world's largest AIDS conference returns to the United States for the first time since 1990.
As America’s leading AIDS physician, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases puts it: “Now we have the tools that we know work and that if we implement them, we know they will ultimately be effective."
But Fauci and most other experts are well aware that it is not so simple.
In the United States there are 1.2 million people living with HIV infection, the virus that causes AIDS. About 20 percent of them don't know they are infected.
“Between 60-70 percent of all new infections come from an individual who's infected, does not know that he or she is infected and infects someone else,” Fauci says. “So if you just imagine if you can get into the community, penetrate the community to the higher risk people, get them voluntarily tested and linked to this continuum of care, you would have a major impact that would be almost immediate.”
But there are massive problems facing this strategy, according to numerous sessions at the AIDS conferences. There are reports of people losing their homes, their friends, their jobs and their family connections when others learn they are HIV positive. The stigma of AIDS may be less than it once was, but it is far from gone.
No wonder many people do not volunteer for the test, even though screening now only involves a cheek swab and a wait of 20 minutes. All too often men have sex with men and yet do not want to admit it to themselves it has happened, let alone to the community in which they live.
And just testing is hardly enough. People have to get medical treatment and then stick with it. For example, physicians have long known that many well-off heart patients with access to good health care fail to properly take their medicines after they have had a heart attack, putting themselves at greater risk for another. Take that general problem and put it into heavily AIDS-infected populations that have long lacked access to adequate medical care, such as African-Americans and Hispanic men and women, and one can see that “a continuum of care” is often difficult to achieve. Efforts to cut expenditures on medical care for poor people will make the challenges even greater.
But success stories can also be heard at the conference sessions. Washington, D.C. has brought down its huge HIV rate by offering testing in many places, including the Department of Motor Vehicles, drug stores and mobile vans. The nation’s capital has also made great efforts to reduce the stigma and get people into proper treatment. Rwanda, the east African country that was the scene of one of the most brutal massacres of modern times, has managed to bring down its huge infection rate through testing and treatment.
However, those positive stories do remain rare, existing only when there is a huge commitment from the top levels of society, a source of funds and a political will to support the programs. Sadly, in many parts of the United States and much of the world, both are still lacking.
More than one-third of U.S. births between 2006 and 2010 were the result of unintended pregnancies, a new government report says. That means the overall rate of unintended births has not changed much since 1982.
The findings showed that in total, 37.1 percent of pregnancies in 2006 to 2010 were unintended; the rate in 1982 was 36.5 percent. The rate rose to 39.1 in 1988, before falling to 30.6 in 1995.
Reducing the rate of unintended births is important because these births bring social, economic and health consequences for the mother and child, the researchers said. Women who become pregnant unintentionally have higher rates of delaying prenatal care, smoking during pregnancy and not breast-feeding. Studies show these births are also associated with poorer health during childhood, and poorer outcomes for the mother and the mother-child relationship, according to the report.
Among married women, 23.4 percent of births were unintended, the data from 2006-2010 showed. Half of births to unmarried women living with a partner were unintended.
Among women who were unmarried and not living with a partner, 66.9 percent of births were unintended, a rise from the 2002 rate of 59.5. The highest rate of unintended births was seen in young women in this group — 78.9 percent of births to unmarried women ages 15 to 24 were unintended, the report said.
Unintended pregnancies include both pregnancies that are unwanted, and those are mistimed, meaning the woman said she wanted to become pregnant at some point, but not at the time she did.
Women's education levels also made a difference. About 83 percent of births to college-educated women were intended, while 59 percent of births to women with less than a high school diploma were intended.
Researchers asked women who were not using contraception at the time they conceived about their reasons. They found that 35.9 percent said they did not think they could get pregnant. Additionally, 23.1 percent said they would not mind if they became pregnant, 17.3 percent said they had not expected to have sex, 14.3 percent said they were worried about the side effects of using birth control.
Eight percent said their male partner did not want to use birth control himself, and 5.3 percent said their male partner did not want them to use birth control.
The report is based on data gathered during the National Survey of Family Growth, which was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers conducted in-person, 80-minute interviews with a nationally representative sample of 12,279 women ages 15 to 44, to get information about the factors affecting birth and pregnancy rates. They also analyzed data gathered during previous surveys conducted in 1982, 1988, 1995 and 2002.
The data are based on pregnancies that ended in live births; those that ended in miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion were excluded.
Constant exposure to light at night can cause depression, a new study in animals suggests.
In the study, hamsters exposed to dim light at night for four weeks showed signs of depression, such as less interest in drinking sugar water they usually enjoy, compared with animals not exposed to light at night, the study found.
The findings suggest exposure to artificial light at night may have contributed to the rising rates of depression over the last 50 years, said study researcher Tracy Bedrosian, a doctoral student in neuroscience at Ohio State University.
"The advent of electrical lighting permitted humans to stray from natural day-night cycles," potentially disturbing our biological rhythms and leading to changes in behavior, Bedrosian said.
But the study also suggests good news: the negative effects of light at night were reversed in the animals after just two weeks of normal lighting conditions, the researchers said.
"People who stay up late, in front of the television and computer, may be able to undo some of the harmful effects just by going back to a regular light-dark cycle and minimizing their exposure to artificial light at night," Bedrosian said.
The findings add to a growing body of research that light at night is bad for health. Earlier studies have found exposure to light at night may increase the risk of weight gain and certain types of cancer.
In the new study, Bedrosian and colleagues placed a group of hamsters in an environment that provided 16 hours of normal daylight, and eight hours of dim light, equivalent to that of a television playing in a dark room. Their behavior was compared to that of a group of hamsters that spent 16 hours in daylight and eight hours in total darkness.
Hamsters exposed to dim light at night were less active each day, and were less mobile when placed in water compared to those that spent their nights in total darkness.
Studies of the hamsters' brains revealed that a protein may play a key role in how exposure to light at night leads to depression, the researchers said.
Hamsters exposed to light at night showed increased expression of the gene that produces the protein, called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Blocking TNF prevented the development of depression-like symptoms in hamsters, even when they were exposed to light at night, the researchers said.
TNF is part of the body's immune response to infection, and causes inflammation. While this inflammation is necessary to fight off infection, it can be damaging if constant, the researchers said.
Chris Vanek paid attention in middle school sex education classes. When he first had sex at the age of 16, both he and his partner used condoms, even though both were virgins. Vanek, now 26, credits an open attitude about sex and frank talk about protection.
Vanek is a living example of one success story being reported at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington -- an improvement in the number of U.S. high school students who are having risky sex.
CDC data presented on Tuesday show just 47 percent of high school students have ever had sex, down from 54 percent in 1991 and holding steady since about 2001. Much progress has been seen among black students: in 1991, 82 percent of black high school students had started having sex but this plummeted to 60 percent by 2011. Just 15 percent of all students have had more four or more sex partners, down from 19 percent in 1991.
And 60 percent of those who are sexually active used a condom, which can protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases including the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS.
“I knew from a very young age that I was gay. I knew gay men were more at risk from HIV and AIDS than maybe the heterosexual population,” Vanek told NBC News in a telephone interview. “I guess I always just knew that I had to protect myself and the risks of being sexually active.”
Those risks later caught up with Vanek, a road manager and make-up artist for the singer Macy Gray. He learned he was infected with the AIDS virus in 2011 and is now a spokesman for a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention campaign against HIV stigma.
“I think I took sex education two or three times,” says Vanek, who grew up in Los Angeles. “It was definitely a topic in school. I even went to a Catholic high school. We would talk about it in religion class. We would talk about it in PE and health. While the schools in California are not the best schools, I definitely think they did a good job of educating me about sex and sexual health and puberty.”
Even Vanek’s conservative blue-collar parents took on the uncomfortable subject, he said. He remembers when he was 13 and learned an older teenaged cousin was pregnant. “They said, ‘Obviously, we would rather you not have sex but we know you are at an age where you are curious. We want you to protect yourself’. And they gave me a package of condoms. It was a really awkward conversation with them.”
The CDC’s Dr. Kevin Fenton says it’s the frank talk about sex that works. “The more comprehensive an education you provide, the better,” Fenton said in an interview. But he noted there is variation across the country, with some school districts choosing abstinence-only education while others offer a full curriculum that includes discussion of lesbian gay and transgender themes as well as how to respect one another in a relationship.
Budget cuts aren’t helping. “Data show that fewer schools provide the comprehensive HIV education needed to ensure that this trajectory continues,” Fenton said. Another barrier: socially conservative movements that reject sex education. Fenton is diplomatic when he is asked about school districts and parents who fear that sex education teaches poor morals.
“Part of what we are committed to doing is to provide evidence,” he said. “We try to make our recommendations on the best available evidence.” Studies show that a comprehensive sex education program can influence sexual behavior more than a limited approach.
It worries Fenton that the numbers of high school students having sex, having unprotected sex, and having multiple partners have leveled off. “The challenge that these data highlight is the need for us to sustain our efforts,” he said.
And CDC and other public health agencies are now looking for better ways to reach young adults after they leave high school. Young, gay men like Vanek are a particular target. Men in his demographic are by far the most likely Americans to become infected with HIV and CDC is acutely aware of the need to keep the momentum going after they leave those middle school sex education classes.
Vanek says he made just one mistake. “I met a guy and we hit it off and we did have sex without a condom,” he said. “We had talked about it. He said he had just been tested, and I had just been tested and we thought we were safe.”
Shawn Thew / EPA
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared on a large video screen at the 19th International AIDS Conference this week. Many presentations target women, who make up more than a quarter of new HIV infections in the U.S.
Del’Rosa Winston thought she’d done everything right. She kept herself in steady employment, and waited until she was married to start having children. When her marriage ended, she started having regular HIV tests, just in case. So when she settled into a new, steady relationship, she never dreamed she’d end up infected with the AIDS virus.
“I had a job. I had been in the military. I was educated," said Winston, a soft-spoken, well-groomed woman with fashionably cropped red hair. "I just got it from a straight man in a monogamous relationship."
More than a quarter of new infections in the United States every year are in women, and of the 1.1 million Americans with the AIDS virus, 280,000 are women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Black women are especially vulnerable – their infection rate is 15 times the infection rate for white American women.
Winston’s smooth skin and easy smile represent the hidden face of the AIDS epidemic in the United States – the people who don’t look like “typical” HIV patients. The 50-year-old mother of three hopes that speaking out at the 19th International AIDS Conference, being held in Washington, D.C., will help reduce the stigma and ignorance that fuel the spread of the virus.
“There are so many people who are getting it because they loved someone,” Winton told NBC News in an interview. Winston couldn’t wait to be in a steady, safe relationship so she could stop using condoms, which she found uncomfortable to use. Her boyfriend, who has since died, told her he had no idea he was infected. But he was, and so was Winston. “We didn’t fit the parameters of what an HIV-positive person looked like,” she said.
She can remember the moment in 1990 when she was told her test came back positive. “The room was gray,” she said. “Like stainless steel. I know there were objects in it but I couldn’t see them. I just flowed like water to the floor.”
Health experts at the conference say they are trying to find new and better ways to reach not only the people at the highest risk – young gay and bisexual men – but others, like Winston, who may not intuitively know how easily and insidiously the virus can move during a moment of passion. “Everyone’s at risk, whether you have the greatest trust relationship or not,” Winston, who now works as an HIV counselor in Atlanta, said.
Health experts are also trying to figure out some of the factors that make women vulnerable and keep them from protecting themselves even if they do understand the risks. Winston has some ideas – women are often too busy looking after others. “We put everyone else first – kids, school, even the PTA. We get into the mind frame that we don’t have to care for ourselves,” she said.
Another factor may be domestic abuse. A team at the University of California San Francisco published a study on Monday showing that physical and sexual abuse and trauma are major factors affecting which women become infected.
“For a long time we have been looking for clues as to why so many women are becoming infected with HIV and why so many are doing poorly despite the availability of effective treatment,” said Dr. Edward Machtinger, who led the study. “Women who report experiencing trauma often do not have the power or self-confidence to protect themselves from acquiring HIV.”
Their team did a study called a meta-analysis, looking at data from other studies involving 5,900 women. They found 30 percent of women infected with HIV had post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, compared to 5 percent of the general population. Twice as many women with HIV reported they had been victims of partner violence as women without the virus, they found.
Kat Griffith thinks she knows why. The slender redhead from Peoria, Illinois has been HIV positive for 21 years and she blames a violent boyfriend from high school. “I had a jealous and controlling partner who called me names, demeaned me,” she said. “I had no self-esteem.”
But Griffith went away to college and, she thought, started a fresh new life. “I knew that HIV could affect me and I thought I asked all the right questions,” she said. “But my abuse made me feel I was not worthy of protection." Her college boyfriend infected her.
Women may often put others first but they also lack a good way to protect themselves, Griffith noted.
For years, researchers have been looking for ways to protect women against the virus. There’s been hit-and-miss progress with microbicides – gels or creams that women can use quietly to reduce the chance they’ll become infected during sex. On Tuesday, researchers will announce the start of an advanced, Phase 3 trial of a device called a vaginal ring impregnated with dapivirine, a drug used to treat people with HIV. Researchers will enroll 3,500 women in the two-year study to be conducted in Africa, where half of all HIV patients are women.
Studies have shown that microbicide gels or creams can work - at the last AIDS conference in Vienna in 2010, researchers reported on one that reduced a woman’s risk of infection by 39 percent. But other studies haven’t done so well and experts fear inconsistent use may be one problem.
A flexible, silicone ring may be easier to use and less intrusive than a gel that must be applied before and after sex, the researchers hope. So does Griffith. “After 30 years, we still do not have a completely female controlled prevention technique,” she said.
Speaking at the International AIDS Conference, Elton John says that because he did not take precautions, he should have contracted HIV in the 1980s. Watch his entire speech.
At least 33 people are sick, including 11 hospitalized, from salmonella-tainted ground beef linked to nearly 30,000 pounds of recalled hamburger on Sunday.
People in seven states have been infected with salmonella Enteritidis linked to beef produced by Cargill Meat Solutions of Wyalusing, Pa., officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.
The 85-percent lean ground beef was produced on May 25.
Ill people include 14 in New York, 10 in Vermont, three in Massachusetts, two in Virginia and New Hampshire and one in Maine, the CDC said.
Illnesses began in early June. Those that occurred after June 29 might not yet be reported because of the lag in time between when illness occurs and when it’s documented.
Cargill officials recalled 29,339 pounds of meat, packaged in 14-pound chubs, after the outbreak was detected. Federal officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service linked the beef to five infected patients.
Consumers should check their freezers for recalled products and discard them. The recalled meat bears the establishment number “EST.9400” inside the USDA mark of inspection.
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