Friday, November 30, 2007

Women With AIDS Face Cervical Cancer Threat

Women With AIDS Face Cervical Cancer Threat

According to a recent report by UNAIDS, access to antiretroviral therapy is beginning to reduce AIDS mortality worldwide. But Dr. Groesbeck Parham, gynecologic oncologist and Director of the Cervical Cancer Prevention Program at the Center for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) warns that women being treated for AIDS could end up dying of cervical cancer unless they have access to screening and treatment.

"We are saving women's lives by treating them with antiretroviral therapy, but we could lose a high percentage of them to cervical cancer," said Parham.

Parham and his team have tested more than 10,000 Zambian women in the largest cervical cancer screening program targeting HIV-infected women in the developing world. In a study published last year in the journal Gynecologic Oncology, he reported that 90 percent of HIV-infected women presenting for antiretroviral therapy also harbor cervical cell abnormalities, conditions that left untreated can develop into cervical cancer.

"Before having access to antiretroviral medications, women living in developing nations who had AIDS typically succumbed to it before they could develop cervical cancer," said Parham.

Currently, 80 percent of new cases of cervical cancer and 80 percent of the annual deaths occur in women who live in developing countries. Few women in poor countries have access to cervical cancer screening or treatment.

"As funds are allocated for HIV/AIDS care and treatment, we need to make sure that women's other health issues are not swept under the carpet," said Dr. Mulindi Mwanahamuntu, Co-Director of the CIDRZ Cervical Cancer Prevention Program.

In sub-Saharan Africa, cervical cancer is the most common female cancer and the most common cause of cancer-related death. When cervical lesions are discovered in pre-cancer stage the cure rates are high.

In the CIDRZ program, women are examined by nurses trained in a low-tech, low-cost screening protocol that allows them to identify precancerous or suspected cancer within minutes instead of waiting for results from a pap test. The women can then be treated immediately.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Alcoholism & Conduct Disorder Contribute To Having A High Number Of Sex Partners

Alcoholism & Conduct Disorder Contribute To Having A High Number Of Sex Partners

Previous studies have linked heavy drinking and conduct disorder to high-risk sexual behaviors that can, in turn, lead to unintended pregnancies, infection, and damage to reproductive health. A new study has linked the clinical diagnoses of alcohol dependence and conduct disorder among 18-to-25-year-olds to the risk of having a high number of sexual partners.

"Our study is the first of its kind to link problematic drinking and alcohol dependence with a high number of sex partners," said Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, research instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine and corresponding author for the study. "We have moved beyond self-reports of heavy and/or frequent drinking to utilizing a clinical diagnosis of alcohol dependence in order to improve understanding of how alcohol use influences risky sexual behaviors."

"The relationship between risky sexual behavior and conduct disorder has been well documented, especially among young women," added Denise Hallfors, senior research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. "What was not known was whether alcohol dependence and conduct disorder independently contribute to the number of sexual partners. Previous studies tended to look at either alcohol dependence and conduct disorder, or conduct disorder and sexual risk, or heavy drinking and sexual risk, but not at all three behaviors together."

Friday, November 23, 2007

IHT Examines Efforts Aimed at Providing Prison Inmates With Condoms to Reduce of HIV

IHT Examines Efforts Aimed at Providing Prison Inmates With Condoms to Reduce of HIV

The AP/International Herald Tribune on Monday examined nationwide efforts to provide prison inmates with condoms in an attempt to reduce the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. According to the AP/Herald Tribune, efforts by HIV/AIDS and prisoners' rights advocates to distribute condoms in prisons have gone "almost nowhere" because some prison officials and politicians argue that they encourage sexual activity among inmates and can be used to hide drugs.

Vermont and five other cities in the U.S. allow inmates regular access to condoms, the AP/Herald Tribune reports. Vermont's Department of Corrections has provided condom access in prisons since 1992 even though prison regulations ban sexual activity. The program provides inmates one condom at a time if they request it from a health worker. "It's a courageous position that Vermont took then and continues to have now," the corrections department's health services director, Dolores Burroughs-Biron, said, adding that there have been no reports of security problems as a result of the program.