AIDS Daily Summary, May 26, 1993

National AIDS Info Clearinghouse
Copyright 1993, Information, Inc., Bethesda, MD

AIDS Daily Summary
May 26, 1993

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National AIDS
Clearinghouse makes available the following information as a public
service only. Providing this information does not constitute endorsement
by the CDC, the CDC Clearinghouse, or any other organization. Reproduction
of this text is encouraged; however, copies may not be sold.
Copyright 1993, Information, Inc., Bethesda, MD

“FDA Issues Warning About AIDS Drugs From ‘Buyers Clubs'”
Washington Post (05/26/93), P. A3 (Schwartz, John)
Some AIDS drugs not approved by the Food and Drug Administration
and sold through “buyers’ clubs” may be unsafe, the FDA wrote in
a letter sent yesterday to about a dozen of the clubs. The
agency has long permitted HIV-positive persons to import
unapproved treatments under a “personal use” policy.
Consequently, the underground buyers clubs have emerged to
satisfy that demand and to act as information clearinghouses for
treatment alternatives. Drugs available in the buyers clubs are
usually obtained from foreign countries. These drugs include
DDC, Immunex, and hard-to-find herbal medicines such as Chinese
bitter melon. The FDA’s letter did not specify drugs or
treatments that the agency believes are hazardous, but outlined
three areas of concern: the lack of physician’s involvement in
some of the groups; “the sale of injectable products of unknown
purity, sterility, and strength”; and the promotion and
commercialization of “unproven and potentially dangerous
products.” The letter did not impose regulatory action on the
clubs but noted that “illegal importations are subject to
enforcement action under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic
Act. FDA will continue to evaluate closely the activities of
‘buyers’ clubs’ and others who import drug products.” Since the
buyers’ clubs first started selling imported treatments from
Israel more than 10 years ago, the FDA and the underground
operations have maintained a civil relationship. But last year
the federal agency began investigating the clubs as a result of
concerns about unfounded product claims, promotion, and drug
bootlegging.
Related Stories: New York Times (05/26) P. A18; Los Angeles Times–Washington Edition
(05/26) P. A5.

“U.S. Blacks, Africans Cite Grim AIDS Data”
Philadelphia Inquirer (05/26/93), P. A10 (Fritz, Mark)
A summit of black Americans and Africans was held yesterday in
Libreville, Gabon, where stories of AIDS ravaging through
communities were told. At the summit, AIDS was cited as the
leading killer of New York women between the ages of 14 and 55,
and Africa was identified as the world’s leader in the number of
HIV-positive people. Debra Fraser-Howze, director of New York’s
Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, said, “Multiple generations
are being simultaneously wiped out by AIDS on two continents. We
have a lot in common with our brothers and sisters here on the
continent.” Fraser-Howze said she had to fight to get a special
workshop to be conducted at the conference, even though she told
of the alarming statistic of AIDS among New York women.
According to Betty Adams, a member of the commission, many black
men still consider AIDS a disease of homosexuals. But even
American AIDS activists were surprised at the poor health profile
in Africa, which has an estimated 8 million of the world’s 13
million people with HIV. Experts at the summit said that the
Uganda railroad has a 15 percent annual turnover in employees
because of death and sickness caused by AIDS. AIDS patients
account for 70 percent of the hospital beds in the Tanzanian city
of Bujumbura, and some villages have a 90 percent infection rate.
The focus on the devastation by AIDS in Africa has largely
overshadowed the extensive spread of tuberculosis, to which AIDS
patients are especially susceptible.

“House Passes Research Bill That Bans Immigrants With HIV”
Philadelphia Inquirer (05/26/93), P. A11 (Ball, Karen)
The House of Representatives yesterday approved a medical
research bill that bans HIV-positive foreigners and permits fetal
tissue research. With a 290-130 vote, the House returned to the
Senate a bill that authorizes $6 billion for the National
Institutes of Health and directs new research money for breast
and ovarian cancer, contraception, and fertility. Some of the
legislators who opposed the AIDS ban ended up voting for the
bill, claiming women’s health research was too important to be
neglected any longer. Although President Clinton promised to
lift the ban on HIV-infected foreigners in his campaign, he is
likely to sign the measure. The Senate is expected to send it to
him later this week. The original bill was sidetracked in the
Senate in February, when legislators upset with Clinton’s plans
to lift the immigration ban tacked the ban onto the fetal tissue
research bill. The House overwhelmingly voted to accept the
Senate language when the bill went to conference before the
House-Senate team that works out differences between the two
chambers. The vote yesterday was on the negotiated version of
the bill. The HIV-positive ban was the only significant
difference. Legislators who supported the ban on HIV-positive
immigrants noted that it could cost $100,000 a year to care for
an AIDS patient, and that America’s health care system is already
overwhelmed.
Related Story: Washington Post (05/26) P. A3; Baltimore Sun (05/26) P. 16A.

“Peace Corps Workers Are Infected With AIDS Virus Abroad”
New York Times (05/26/93), P. A13 (Holmes, Steven A.)
An increasing number of Peace Corps volunteers have been found to
have contracted HIV during their tours of duty even though they
received thorough AIDS education, according to a study released
at a Paris conference sponsored by the Society for International
Travel Medicine. The study, conducted for the Peace Corps by Dr.
Thomas Eng, an epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease
Control, indicated that 29 volunteers had been found to be
infected with HIV since 1987, when the Corps began testing
applicants for the virus and turning away applicants who were
HIV-positive. The report said that among the 29, eight had
definitely become infected while volunteering in the Corps, and
four of them within the last year. A total of seven of the eight
had been assigned to Africa, which has the highest rate of HIV
infection in the world–estimated at 14 million HIV-positive
people. Six of the eight infected volunteers were in their
mid-20s, the study said. It also said the volunteers “indicated
that they were most likely infected as a result of having
unprotected sex with host-country nationals and did not perceive
themselves to be at risk.” Although the number of people who
became infected is a small percentage of the nearly 6,000 current
volunteers and the more than 18,000 people who have entered the
Corps since 1987, some Peace Corps officials say they were
surprised that four volunteers were found to have become infected
last year. What was most alarming to Peace Corps officials was
the low rate of condom use among volunteers even in countries
where the prevalence of AIDS is high.

“AIDS Quilt Ceremony to Recall, Honor 3”
Boston Globe (05/25/93), P. 22 (Kong, Dolores)
Three employees of the Massachusetts Department of Health who
died of AIDS were expected to be honored this week at an AIDS
quilt ceremony. The three employees are Sidney W. Borum Jr., an
AIDS educator who died last year of the disease; Duane Draper,
director of the state’s AIDS bureau, who died in 1991; and Phil
Carrozza, who worked with the state bureau of substance abuse
services. Because of the three employees’ commitment to AIDS
when they were living, scores of co-workers, Lt. Gov. Paul
Cellucci, Secretary of Health and Human Services Charles Baker,
friends, and family members are expected to attend a ceremony at
the department to remember the contributions of the three men.
Two AIDS quilts in memory of Borum and Draper will be revealed
and displayed alongside a quilt that already stands in the lobby
of the department in memory of Carroza. The quilts will serve as
a reminder of the men’s dedication to AIDS issues and the work
that remains to be done, according to organizers of the ceremony.

“Canada Recommends Inquiry Into Blood System”
Reuters (05/25/93)

Ottawa, Canada–The Canadian government requested Tuesday that
its provinces examine their blood supply procedures, after
discovering that more than 1,000 Canadians contracted HIV through
tainted blood transfusions. A parliamentary subcommittee
previously issued a report calling for an investigation into the
country’s blood supply system after finding that more than 1,000
people contracted HIV in the 1980s after receiving blood
transfusions and blood products. In 1990, the federal government
began compensating each of the 1,000 infected Canadians with
about $95,000, said Janice Hopkins of Health and Welfare Canada.
However, hemophiliacs and others are pressing for an inquiry into
the extent of infection among recipients of blood and blood
products, and for additional compensation from the provinces,
which share with Ottawa the responsibility of ensuring a safe
blood supply. Health Minister Benoit Bouchard said provincial
health ministers must be consulted before a public inquiry is
implemented, but once specifics are determined it should take
about six to nine months. The country’s blood distribution
system is funded by the provinces, regulated by the federal
government, and managed by the Canadian Red Cross Society.

“Va. Student Hands Out 300 Condoms: Safe-Sex Crusade Draws a
Suspension”
Washington Post (05/25/93), P. C5 (Brown, DeNeen L.)
A student from a Fairfax County, Va., high school who distributed
more than 300 condoms to fellow students was suspended last week
as a result. Nathan Hurto, a junior at Edison High School, said
he handed out the condoms during school last Thursday “to let
people know if they are going to do something that puts them at
risk, they need to minimize that risk.” Hurto said he was not a
member of any AIDS service organization. He said that at the end
of the day on Thursday he was told that he was suspended for five
days for “disrupting the educational process.” Under school
regulations, no student is permitted to distribute anything that
is not first approved by the principal. Hurto said he believed
he would be punished for deviating from school norms, but could
not understand why he was suspended for five days. “Five days is
what you get for having drugs at school. Whether you agree with
me or not for handing them out, they are equating something
potentially lifesaving, in the instance of HIV, to something that
could destroy your life, like alcohol or another drug.” The only
school systems throughout the Washington, D.C., area that allow
the distribution of condoms are those within the city limits. In
Fairfax County, condoms are addressed in sex education classes in
grades seven through 12. Hurto said he did not force anyone to
take the condoms, “I just said, ‘Here’s a condom; do you want
it?” He added, “Most people just said thanks and just took them
and put them in their pocket.”

“CDC Chokes on AIDS Treatment Proposal”
Science (05/14/93) Vol. 260, No. 5110, P. 883 (Stone, Richard)
Although celebrated physician Henry Heimlich claims that malaria
may be a potential treatment for AIDS, the Centers for Disease
Control strongly disagrees. Dr. Heimlich, inventor of the
lifesaving Heimlich maneuver, has been giving malaria therapy to
sufferers of cancer and Lyme disease for years. Patients are
injected with the malaria parasite which is intended to stimulate
an immune reaction that kills other foreign organisms. However,
Heimlich’s findings on the malaria treatment remain unpublished.
On April 29, the CDC responded to several inquiries from the
scientific community and the media regarding Heimlich’s work.
The agency criticized Heimlich’s proposal to inject malaria
parasites into 10 HIV-positive volunteers. The CDC said that
“the use of induced malaria infection in HIV-1 infected
individuals cannot be justified.” Heimlich said that his
proposal was an “inhouse draft” that “by no means was to be
circulated.” Heimlich also said that the CDC reneged on an
agreement to assist his work. Heimlich mentioned a September
1986 letter from Robert Kaiser, head of CDC’s parasitic diseases
division, who wrote that CDC “would make available certain
strains” of malaria parasite for use in Heimlich’s malaria
therapy for cancer. But Kieser referred inquiries to Carlos
Campbell, head of the CDC’s malaria branch, who rejected
Heimlich’s claims. “We weren’t prepared to offer him parasites
until we saw some evidence that there was an approved protocol,”
said Campbell. Heimlich says he has no established timetable for
proceeding with the research.

“WHO: Combined Forces Against AIDS”
Lancet (05/22/93) Vol. 341, No. 8856, P. 1336 (McGregor, Alan)
United Nations agencies will coordinate efforts in a more
aggressive global fight against AIDS to be headed by the World
Health Organization. The move stems from a resolution sponsored
by some 40 countries and adopted unanimously by the World Health
Assembly at the end of its two-week session in Geneva. Under the
auspices of the Inter-Agency Advisory Group on AIDS and the Task
Force on AIDS Coordination–whose leaders are based within
WHO–the first goal is to have a study ready for the January
meeting of WHO’s executive board. It will concentrate on
expected growth and consequences of the epidemic over the next
two decades. The study will highlight the potential level of
available resources in the next 10 years, and how the new program
will be organized and managed. Moreover, it will focus on “the
need to have global leadership for a coordinated international
response to the pandemic.” At a recent newsconference, Dr.
Michael Merson, director of the WHO AIDS division, dispelled the
published contentions that the spread of HIV in Africa was to
some extent a myth. “This is a terrible epidemic, no myth. No
one country is spared,” Merson said. He added that about $2.9
billion a year will be needed for all possible preventive
measures proposed. However, WHO’s budget for 1994-95 is only
$1.8 billion.

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