- Created on 29 November 2012
Young gay and bisexual Black males are hit hardest by new HIV-infection rates and that's not the worst news: Most of them do not even know it, according to survey results released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Young people between the ages of 13 and 24 represent more than a quarter of new HIV infections each year (26 percent), and most of the youth living with HIV (60 percent) are unaware they are infected, according to a Vital Signs report from the CDC.
Young gay and bisexual men and African-Americans represent the group of young people who are most-affected, the report says. In 2010, 72 percent of estimated new HIV infections in young people occurred in young men who have sex with men (MSM). By race/ethnicity, 57 percent of estimated new infections in this age group were in African Americans, the report shows.
The sad news is that most never get tested because of social and economic factors, such as poverty, lack of access to health care, the stigma of being gay or bisexual, and discrimination, the report says.
The data reveals the latest information on HIV infections, testing, and risk behaviors among young people and was published in advance of World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, with the hopes of reaching and educating people about the importance of safe sex and getting tested.
"Given everything we know about HIV and how to prevent it after more than 30 years of fighting the disease, it is just unacceptable that young people are becoming infected at such high rates," Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., CDC director, said during a conference call about the report. "Reducing HIV among young people is a top priority for the CDC. This is about the health of a new generation and protecting them from an entirely preventable disease."
Dr. Frieden lamented that despite treatment advances, the virus remains incurable, which is a tremendous burden on the health care system. He said the cost of care for a single patient is approximately $400,000 over his lifetime and added that because of the infection rate in young people, the nation is accruing about $400 million in health care costs every month and about $5 billion annually in preventable infections.
Overall, an estimated 12,200 new HIV infections occurred in 2010 among young people aged 13-24, with young gay and bisexual men and African Americans hit harder by HIV than their peers, the report shows.
Kevin Fenton, M.D., director, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC., said education is the key to reducing the numbers in the African-American community.
"Homophobia, addressing risk behavior, and access to treatment all have an impact on the infection rate," Fenton told NewsOne in a separate interview. "There are lots of complexities around the epidemic, but that will not prevent us from doing a good job. We are ensuring that all Americans have information. It's critical to reach all young people to inform them about HIV, how to practice safe sex, and how to get tested. The CDC has been doing a lot of work in this space."
Despite recommendations from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics that call for routine HIV testing of youth in medical settings, the report shows that few young people have been tested for HIV. Only 13 percent of high school students have ever been tested for HIV, which is 22 percent of sexually experienced students.
As a result of lower testing levels, HIV-infected people under the age of 25 are significantly less likely than those who are older to get and stay in care and to have their virus controlled at a level that helps them stay healthy and reduce their risk of transmitting HIV to partners.
The CDC also examined risk behaviors among high school students in 12 states and nine large urban school districts and found that young men who sleep with men (MSM) reported engaging in substantially higher levels of risk behavior than their heterosexual male peers:
Young MSM were more likely to report having had sex with four or more partners or injecting illegal drugs.
Among students who were currently sexually active, young MSM were more likely to have used alcohol or drugs before their last sexual experience and were less likely to have used a condom.
Young MSM were also less likely to report having been taught about HIV or AIDS in school.
Only 35 percent of people aged 18 to 24 years have been tested.
"The new data included in today's release helps us to better understand why HIV is taking such a heavy toll on young men who have sex with men and highlights the importance of addressing risk behaviors and improving our education and efforts to address the epidemic in young people," Frieden said. "As we work to drive down new HIV infections in all populations, we have to give particular attention to the next generation, especially African-American and gay and bisexual young men. Every young person should know how to protect themselves from HIV and should be empowered to do so. Protecting our next generation from HIV is key to achieving a vision of an AIDS-free generation in the U.S."
- Created on 28 November 2012
David Robertson was 23-years-old and entering his senior year of college when he learned he was HIV positive. Instead of avoiding attention he chose to stand in the spotlight and share his story with others because he wants to help save lives.
Research shows young gay black males are disproportionately at risk for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, better known as HIV, compared to other races and ethnicities. Not enough attention is placed on this crisis says Robertson, an ambassador for the the American Foundation for AIDS Research and an advocate with the Making AIDS History Campaign.
Young gay black males and black men who have sex with males, commonly known by researchers as MSM, encompass a large percentage of new HIV infections. Data gathered by the American Foundation for AIDS Research, or amfAR found 64 percent of new HIV infections affected black MSM and gay men, who also represent nearly half of all persons living with HIV. Even more importantly to note, the increase of new HIV diagnosis for this group is more than 44 times that of other men and more than 40 times that of women
Recent data shows between 2006 and 2009, there was a 48 percent increase among young African American MSM, while other races and ethnicities remained stable or declined. The 48 percent increase pushed the HIV incidence 21 percent among all youth between 13 and 29-years-old and 34 percent for all young MSM.
Robertson grew up with his two sisters, brother and mother in Naperville. He went off to college and that is when tragedy seemed to follow his family. In 2004 he said he learned, while at school, his aunt was being hospitalized for cancer related to her AIDs diagnosis. A year later his mother called again because his brother was in the hospital for pneumonia and wanted him to come home. The day after, the family learned Robertson's brother had been diagnosed with AIDS.
Two years later, the summer of 2007, Robertson learned he tested positive for HIV. He said he was infected after participating in a threesome with a male and female, people he considered friends.
"The day of my diagnosis was, I would say the death of the David Robertson pre-HIV. My pride definitely died in that moment. My invincibility died in that moment. My ignorance died in that moment," he said.
"My sense of urgency and being a servant definitely cracked open. I had no idea how severe this disease was to my community."
According to amfAR there is a disproportion in black communities because of lack of resources and lack of prevention education.
"The National HIV/AIDS Strategy seeks to address those disparities, which are reflected in the staggering number of black Americans, especially black MSM, who are living with HIV. Data show that this community is disproportionately affected by the virus, and our resources and prevention efforts need to follow the data," amfAR said in an email statement.
"When I was diagnosed I didn't know HIV stood for human," Robertson said.
"I trusted the people I was having sex with. They were my friends. I contracted it through a threesome. It was me experimenting. They were my friends, I was trusting them. In my mind that wasn't even a factor of what could they give me other than great times and laughter."
The initial realization of his diagnosis led Robertson to attempt suicide. All three attempts failed before he accepted his life was still important and he had a job to do.
The first day he tried to jump in front of a moving taxi cab, but the driver stopped just in time. Another time he wanted to get alcohol poisoning, but it did not work. His biggest and final attempt to end his life and the pain he experienced then was to take cocaine and jump off of his balcony.
"My goal was to jump off the balcony and be the first black man to have his death on Michigan Avenue. I go on the balcony to jump off, a bird flies by and I fall back [away from the edge]. I was passed out for about nine to 14 hours," he said.
After he gained consciousness again he had what he described as a "revelatory dream" where he was standing in front of a crowd holding a microphone.
"It hit me that if I stand on that stage and tell those people my story, I'm cleaning the blood off of my hands. I'm not a murderer, I'm doing my job, I'm making sure that they're not murderers by killing themselves, [or] by putting themselves in situations that can affect or infect not only their lives, but their lives and the individuals connected to them," he said.
"In that moment, I said, 'okay, I know I have to do something. I can not forever be quiet about this.'"
Robertson is now 28-years-old and has been an ambassador with amfAR for a year and a half. He took the role and responsibility he said, because he wants to help educate youth in African-American communities and let them know anyone can get HIV.
"I am here to talk about hope and there needs to be a cure for this generation in this lifetime...I know it is a part of my purpose to help empower and invigorate, gird up and serve youth to let them know that I'm serving you my story so that you can be the catalyst of hope and not a catastrophe for our communities," he said.
World AIDS Day is Dec. 1.
- Created on 26 November 2012
(AP) — They may be a big hit at kids' birthday parties, but inflatable bounce houses can be dangerous, with the number of injuries soaring in recent years, a nationwide study found.
Kids often crowd into bounce houses, and jumping up and down can send other children flying into the air, too.
The numbers suggest 30 U.S. children a day are treated in emergency rooms for broken bones, sprains, cuts and concussions from bounce house accidents. Most involve children falling inside or out of the inflated playthings, and many children get hurt when they collide with other bouncing kids.
The number of children aged 17 and younger who got emergency-room treatment for bounce house injuries has climbed along with the popularity of bounce houses — from fewer than 1,000 in 1995 to nearly 11,000 in 2010. That's a 15-fold increase, and a doubling just since 2008.
"I was surprised by the number, especially by the rapid increase in the number of injuries," said lead author Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Amusement parks and fairs have bounce houses, and the playthings can also be rented or purchased for home use.
Smith and colleagues analyzed national surveillance data on ER treatment for nonfatal injuries linked with bounce houses, maintained by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Their study was published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Only about 3 percent of children were hospitalized, mostly for broken bones.
More than one-third of the injuries were in children aged 5 and younger. The safety commission recommends against letting children younger than 6 use full-size trampolines, and Smith said barring kids that young from even smaller, home-use bounce houses would make sense.
"There is no evidence that the size or location of an inflatable bouncer affects the injury risk," he said.
Other recommendations, often listed in manufacturers' instruction pamphlets, include not overloading bounce houses with too many kids and not allowing young children to bounce with much older, heavier kids or adults, said Laura Woodburn, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials.
The study didn't include deaths, but some accidents are fatal. Separate data from the product safety commission show four bounce house deaths from 2003 to 2007, all involving children striking their heads on a hard surface.
Several nonfatal accidents occurred last year when bounce houses collapsed or were lifted by high winds.
A group that issues voluntary industry standards says bounce houses should be supervised by trained operators and recommends that bouncers be prohibited from doing flips and purposefully colliding with others, the study authors noted.
Bounce house injuries are similar to those linked with trampolines, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended against using trampolines at home. Policymakers should consider whether bounce houses warrant similar precautions, the authors said.
- Created on 28 November 2012
Pork bought from grocery stores and supermarkets in the U.S. is highly contaminated, a new Consumer Reports study showed.
The study found that pork samples contained high levels of bacteria that caused food poisoning and many which were resistant to antibiotics.
Researchers looked at 148 samples of pork chops and 50 samples of ground pork from a number of stores in six cities, said the Los Angeles Times.
The bacterium Yersinia enterocolitica was found in 69 percent of the samples.
The bacteria affects more than 100,000 Americans per year, a figure that is likely much higher given the number of unreported cases.
Salmonella and listeria were found in between three and four percent of samples.
The study also found that ground pork was much more prone to deadly bacteria than pork chops, said ABC News.
The report said that a majority of the samples found bacteria that were resistant to antibiotics, likely due to the amount of antibiotics given to the animals while they are raised.
Meat that is properly cooked will kill most of the bacteria and buying antibiotic-free meat may also help to ensure that the resistant kind is not consumed.
The report also dispelled claims on pork packaging that says "hormone-free," as pork production does not allow for hormone use anyway.
- Created on 23 November 2012
(AP) -- Unemployment hurts more than your wallet - it may damage your heart. That's according to a study linking joblessness with heart attacks in older workers.
The increased odds weren't huge, although multiple job losses posed as big a threat as smoking, high blood pressure and other conditions that are bad for the heart.
The researchers analyzed data on more than 13,000 men and women aged 51 to 75 taking part in an ongoing health and retirement survey partly sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. Since 1992, participants have been interviewed every two years about their employment and health.
The new analysis has several limitations. The data show periods of unemployment but don't indicate whether people were fired, laid off, out of work while switching jobs, or had voluntarily left a job. The researchers considered all of these situations "job losses," but it's likely the greatest risks for heart attacks were from being fired or laid off, said researcher Matthew Dupre, an assistant professor at Duke University and the lead author. Retirement was not considered unemployment
Sarah Burgard, a University of Michigan researcher who has studied the relationship between job loss and health, called the research solid but said it would be important to know the reason for the unemployment.
"There probably are differences in consequences of job loss when it's voluntary or more or less expected" and when it comes as a sudden shock, said Burgard, who was not involved in the study.
The analysis appears in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine. An editorial in the journal says the study adds to decades of research linking job loss with health effects and that research should now turn to examining how and why that happens.
Theories include that the stress of losing a job may trigger a heart attack in people with clogged arteries or heart disease; and that the unemployed lose health insurance and access to medical care that can help keep them healthy, Burgard said.
The analysis covers 1992-2010. Participants were mostly in their 50s at the study's beginning and were asked about their job history, and about employment status and recent heart attacks at subsequent interviews. People who'd had heart attacks before the study began were excluded.
Nearly 70 percent had at least one job loss, or period of unemployment after working at a job, and at least 10 percent had four or more before and/or during the study period.
There were 1,061 heart attacks during the study. Those with at least one job loss were 22 percent more likely to have a heart attack than those who never lost a job. Those with at least four job losses had a 60 percent higher risk than those with none. Men and women faced equal risks.
Even though the odds linked with job loss weren't huge, many participants already faced increased other risks for a heart attack because of obesity, high blood pressure or lack of exercise.
"Any significant additional risk is important," Dupre said.