- Created on 13 September 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois health officials say it's time for people to start getting their annual flu shots.
The Public Health Department says virtually everyone should get a vaccination every year to guard against new strains of the flu. The exceptions are babies under 6 months old and people who are allergic to the vaccine.
Health Director LaMar Hasbrouck says vaccinations protect the people getting them and also vulnerable people who might suffer from a flu outbreak, such as the elderly or pregnant women.
Annual flu deaths range from 3,000 up to 49,000.
Hasbrouck also said Wednesday that it's a myth that people can get the flu from a vaccination.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
- Created on 12 September 2012
HIV targets African Americans at a huge disproportion causing them to lag behind other ethnicities.
As of June 2012, 21,348 Chicagoans were living with HIV and 978 were new cases, said Yaa Simpson, an epidemiologist for the Chicago Department of Public Health and delegate to the recent International World AIDS conference.
Help is on the way. The only roadblock is the discussion on whether or not early prevention treatment is necessary.
The Black AIDS Institute recently hosted a two-day post conference at Mercy Hospital's Family Health Center to discuss the latest information some of its members learned at the World AIDS conference.
Attendees were able to network, attend workshops and hear presentations on current HIV/AIDS scientific and biomedical research. The latest HIV-prevention solution requires patients to take a pill each day to reduce their chances of becoming infected with the virus.
Previous research has demonstrated the early prevention pill is effective, however, despite scientific evidence that shows when people begin treatment early, their life span increases, PrEP is still being debated. CDC officials said there needs to be more research to determine the side effects.
Keynote speaker Darrell Wheeler, dean and a professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work, discussed his recent study by going through a slide show.
The study focused on the impact community-level intervention strategies can have on Black men who have sex with other men in order to decrease the HIV infection rates.
African Americans are much more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than others, Wheeler said. He added that African Americans usually fall into one of two categories. They either never learn their status or they get tested, but don't get treatment.
Current intervention methods for African Americans are not working the way they should, he said, adding Black people are more than the color of their skin, but they vary from one another.
He said researchers need to look closely at behavior patterns in communities and even examine culture and U.S. history before implementing intervention strategies. He calls it Culturally Tailored Intervention.
"You can't make an intervention for every person. You have to recognize that every person who fits into a group doesn't neatly fit inside the box 100 percent, and so you have to develop interventions that may work for an Austin community versus a Bronzeville community," said Wheeler.
Intervention must happen in the community, but it can not interfere with its culture, he said.
"If we know in a particular community everyone hangs out on the basketball court on Saturday and they don't go to the library, well then we need to take the intervention to the basketball court," he said.
Born HIV-positive, 19-year-old Dominique Wilson of the West Side understands first hand the importance of knowing one's status.
He's the youngest member in the Chicago's Black Treatment Advocacy Network, aimed at decreasing the spread of HIV in Black communities. He shared his personal journey and looked everyone in the face when he told his status.
"I want to make a difference in the world," the freshman business major at the University of Illinois Springfield said.
Wilson's message seemed to have affected everyone in attendance that night.
Austin resident Patricia Massey sat through the four-hour event that went two hours over and said she was impacted by Wilson's speech.
"Hearing that young man speak and to see him want to get involved and help out was very inspiring," Massey said.
She had a conversation with her daughter who is away at school about the event. What Massey wants to see more of in her neighborhood is public awareness.
"I don't have a solution, what I have is energy. We're going to keep doing events, even if it's just for the choir in the room. We're going to keep teaching truths and realities," said Simpson.
- Created on 04 September 2012
CHICAGO (AP) — The trauma unit at the Cook County Hospital is featured in a National Geographic special called "Chicago Trauma."
The one-hour show, which airs Tuesday night at 9 p.m. CDT, follows a team of young doctors working in one of the nation's busiest trauma centers.
The Chicago hospital's trauma unit sees more than 5,000 patients a year.
The National Geographic program documents the work of trauma and burn surgeons Andrew Dennis and Fred Starr, who lead a team treating victims of gunshot wounds, stabbings and car crashes.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
- Created on 10 September 2012
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — An AIDS awareness campaigner and his lawyers said Friday they are taking a groundbreaking test case to Zimbabwe's highest court to force police and prison authorities ensure HIV sufferers get their life prolonging medication.
Douglas Muzanenhamo said in papers filed at the Supreme Court that he was denied appropriate antiretroviral treatment in jail for three weeks last year and his condition veered toward death.
Muzanenhamo, who has been HIV-infected for 18 years, was freed without charge in March 2011 after police arrested bystanders at a lecture in Harare on the Arab Spring they claimed was in preparation for a revolt in Zimbabwe.
In court documents released Friday, he said he was kept in filthy cells making prisoners with HIV susceptible to fatal infections. He said he was held in solitary confinement for demanding his drugs.
Sudden changes in drug treatment over 48 hours are known to lead to a sharp deterioration in the body's immune system, even if the drug is resume patients are at risk that the treatment will not be effective, leading to their death.
In the first lawsuit of its kind, citing as respondents Zimbabwe's police and prison commanders, government ministers and the nation's attorney general, the chief law officer, Muzanenhamo said on the day of his arrest officers at the main Harare police station didn't allow him to call his family to bring medication he took twice daily to a precise timetable.
After lawyers intervened, his family brought medication two days later but they were kept by police and not given to him at the prescribed times. Then he was given a single prison issue tablet once a day that he was unfamiliar with.
In the court deposition, he said he was "totally dependent" on the drugs, along with a healthy diet, to stay alive.
He suffered hypertension and depression, fearing he was in "mortal danger" on an insufficient diet of black tea, corn gruel and beans in harsh prison conditions.
Since his HIV infection, Muzanenhamo has campaigned among fellow sufferers on hygiene and medical and dietary ways to be able to live a "happy and fulfilling life," he said.
Upon his arrest, the police ordered him to take off his jacket, socks and shoes and remain only with "one layer of clothing." He was put into a tiny cell for five days with no running water with 15 other inmates, sleeping on the floor without blankets.
He said was made to walk barefoot through "human excreta and dried blood all over the place."
"Walking barefoot significantly increases the likelihood of me contracting a life-threatening infection," he said in his Supreme Court deposition.
No official figures are available on deaths in the nation's police cells and prisons.
Lawyers acting for Muzanenhamo said Friday his plight and that of thousands of other prisoners suffering from illness who do not get treatment was a cruel and inhuman denial of basic constitutional rights to life for many inmates, like Muzanenhamo, who had not been convicted of any crime.
Zimbabwe has one of the world's highest rates of HIV infections and AIDS.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
- Created on 04 July 2012
WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans will soon be able to test themselves in the privacy of their own homes for the virus that causes AIDS, now that the Food and Drug Administration has approved the first rapid, over-the-counter HIV test.