THIS WEEK, the cumulative number of diagnosed AIDS cases in
California is expected to hit 100,000.
The estimate is based on the current rate of diagnoses kept by
the California Department of Health Services' Office of AIDS.
The exact total won't be known until the end of the week, when
counties send their figures to the state.
The total number of state AIDS cases would have filled
Candlestick Park about 1 1/4 times.
Help for minorities
Data released this month from the federal Centers for Disease
Control was good news for white AIDS patients, whose death rate
has declined by 21 percent in the past year. But the results
are less promising for African Americans and Latinos, whose
death rates have declined only 2 percent and 10 percent,
In response, the National Minority AIDS Council, with others,
has launched "Be Smart About HIV," an educational campaign to
encourage minorities to learn more about the disease and the
treatment advances that have transformed its management.
In an interview this week with The Examiner, former Surgeon
General Dr. Jocelyn Elders discussed the importance of the
"A large segment of the population is on the outside, looking
in," said Elders, now professor of pediatric endocrinology at
the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. "We are dying
from lack of knowledge . . . in how to navigate the entire
health care system, as well as handling the wide range of
physical and emotional and social issues that come to bear once
this diagnosis is made."
African Americans represent 12 percent of the U.S. population,
but 41 percent of diagnosed AIDS cases. Latinos are 9 percent
of the population, but 19 percent of AIDS cases, she said.
"Our silence is acceptance," said Elders. "We must encourage
people to get all the information they can about HIV, to be
tested and go to a doctor - to tell them there is now hope."
To get treatment information in English, call the toll free
number 1-888-TREATHIV. For information in Spanish, call
1-888-CUIDESE. Prevention bill
U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has introduced the
Comprehensive HIV Prevention Act of 1997 with the bi-partisan
support of 104 of her colleagues. The goal of the legislation
is to promote targeted prevention programs to reduce the number
of new HIV infections. It also tries to respond to the growing
challenge of HIV infection among women by authorizing
prevention services through family planning clinics, community
health centers, substance abuse treatment programs and other
primary care settings.
Earlier this month, a different bill, entitled the "HIV
Prevention Act of 1997," was introduced by Rep. Tom Coburn,
R-Okla. Although endorsed by the American Medical Association,
it is opposed by AIDS advocacy groups because it establishes a
national HIV reporting system, mandates states to establish
partner notification programs and mandates HIV testing for sex
offenders, among other things.
Donations to Mexico dry up
The Tijuana-based Clinica ACOSIDA (Alliance Against AIDS) used
to provide dozens of bottles of AIDS medicines to Mexican
patients, donated by friends and families of dead Americans.
But now, because more U.S. patients are surviving, supply has
Experts say it is too early to link the drop-off to the
effectiveness of protease inhibitors because the drugs were
introduced only a year ago. But clinic volunteer Fred Scholl
and Mexican health-care providers say whatever the reasons, the
good news north of the border may mean increasing tragedy to
In the United States, federal assistance or health insurance
picks up the pharmaceutical tab of most AIDS treatments. But
treatment in Mexico is out of reach for nearly everyone.
"We've even been able to get some protease inhibitors, but
we're very uncomfortable with it because we can never guarantee
they will continue coming down," said Skip Rosenthal, who works
for the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Association in El Paso,
Medicines for volunteers?
Companies that test AIDS drugs on patients in poor countries
should offer them free treatment even after the trials are
over, researchers wrote in the most recent issue of the British
A series of commentaries in the journal argue that developing
countries should not be seen as a source of human guinea pigs.
Peter Cleaton-Jones of South Africa's Committee for Research on
Human Subjects said he understood that large multinational
companies were attracted to do research in countries like his,
where an average of 7.5 percent of women attending postnatal
clinics were infected.
But what happens when a trial ends?
"If a patient infected with HIV responds to the test drugs, may
one ethically withhold the drugs at the end of the trial?" he
asked. "My committee's opinion up to the present has been that
it is not ethical to do so - and that such trial subjects must
continue to receive the anti-retroviral treatment after the
ACT UP protest
Members of ACT UP / Golden Gate joined AIDS activists from
across the country at a demonstration on Wall Street to demand
increased access to anti-viral treatments. The protest, which
marked the 10th anniversary of the founding of ACT UP, was
designed to remind the nation that the AIDS crisis is not over.
Seventy-two demonstrators were arrested and charged with
Leland Scott Davis, 33, former case service manager for Judge
Claudia Wilken of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Oakland . . .
Steven G. Henry, 46, a computer analyst for PG&E and an active
patron and supporter of the opera, symphony and ballet . . .
Fernando Cuevas Vega, 41, who loved the gym, Europe, garage
sales and decorating his apartment.
reported / Cases / Deaths
S.F. 3/1 23,841 16,604
Calif. 3/1 99,429 63,842
U.S. 3/1 548,102 343,000
WHO(rprtd) 3/1 8,400,000 6,400,000
Figures are cumulative since June 1981.
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