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AIDSWEEK: California cases to pass 100,000 mark




 

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, respectively.

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 campaign.

"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 dwindled.

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 its south.

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, Texas.

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 Medical Journal.

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 trial ends."

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 disorderly conduct.

The toll

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.

Date

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.

To contribute to AIDSweek, call (415) 777-7867. AIDSweek columns are available on the Internet at http://www.examiner.com/aidsweek/aidsweek.html



 


Copyright © 1997 -The Bangkok Pos, Publisher. All rights reserved to San Francisco Examiner. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission. Reproduction of this article (other than one copy for personal reference) must be cleared through the San Francisco Examiner, Permissions Desk, 110 Fifth Street, P.O. Box 7260, San Franciso, CA 94120.San Francisco Examiner

Information in this article was accurate in March 26, 1997. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.