Florida Proposal Modeled After Maryland ‘Wal-Mart Law’ Introduced

Florida state Sen. Skip Campbell (D) on Tuesday proposed a bill modeled on Maryland’s law that requires large employers to spend a certain amount of payroll on health care, the Miami Herald reports. Under the Florida proposal, which is backed by the state chapter of the AFL-CIO, businesses with more than 10,000 employees would be required to spend at least 9% of payroll on health benefits or pay the difference to a Fair Share Health Care Fund (Dorschner, Miami Herald, 2/15). Whereas the Maryland law is expected to only affect Wal-Mart in that state, the Florida legislation would impact Wal-Mart, Publix, McDonald’s, Winn-Dixie and Wendy’s. State Rep. Susan Bucher (D) said that more than 22,000 employees for Florida’s 10 largest employers receive Medicaid benefits, according to state figures. Florida AFL-CIO President Cindy Hall said, “I know the [Florida] Chamber of Commerce and everyone else will come out with guns blazing against this legislation. But they cannot shirk their responsibility” (Bousquet, St. Petersburg Times, 2/15). Associated Industries of Florida said the proposal “could become one of the costliest taxes ever levied on Florida employers and one that would cause untold damage to the state’s efforts to recruit and retain high-paying jobs” (Miami Herald, 2/15).

“Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved. Continue reading

CDC Releases Updated Estimates On New HIV Infections

CDC on Saturday ahead of the XVII International AIDS Conference, which opened Sunday in Mexico City, released updated national estimates of the annual number of new HIV infections that occur in the U.S., the Washington Post reports (Brown, Washington Post, 8/3). The new data were published Sunday in a special HIV/AIDS issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, which was released at the AIDS conference (CDC release, 8/3).

The new analysis found there were about 56,300 new HIV infections in 2006, the most recent year for which data are available, about 40% higher than CDC’s long-standing estimate of 40,000 for each of the last several years (Washington Post, 8/3). According to CDC, the number of new infections likely was never as low as the previous estimate of 40,000 and has been relatively stable overall since the late 1990s (CDC release, 8/3). According to the Post, the estimate is based on data from a new advanced testing method, which enabled researchers to detect recent HIV infections (Washington Post, 8/3). The study did not calculate the total number of U.S. residents living with HIV/AIDS, although such estimates are expected soon. Earlier projections estimated that about 1.2 million people in the U.S. are HIV-positive, and CDC is updating that number, the Boston Globe reports (Smith, Boston Globe, 8/3).

Among sub-groups, the report found that:
Men who have sex with men accounted for 53% of all new infections;

Non-Hispanic blacks accounted for 45% of new infections (Sternberg, USA Today, 8/2);

People in their 30s had the highest number of new HIV infections, while people younger than age 30 accounted for 34% of all new infections;

73% of new infections were recorded among men (Washington Post, 8/3);

Injection drug users accounted for 12% of infections; and

Heterosexuals made up 31% of new infections.

Although the report indicates general stability in new infections nationally, as well as reductions in new infections among both IDUs and heterosexuals over time, it also shows increases among MSM (CDC release, 8/3).

HIV incidence in 2006 among blacks was 83.7 infections per 100,000 people, seven times as high as the rate of 11.5 per 100,000 among whites and three times as high as the 29.3 infections per 100,000 people among Hispanics (Altman, New York Times, 8/3). According to the data, although new infections among blacks are higher than among any other racial or ethnic group, the number has been relatively stable since the early 1990s (CDC release, 8/3).

Historical Analysis
According to the analysis, new HIV infections peaked at about 130,000 annually in the mid-1980s and decreased to a low of about 50,000 annually in the early 1990s. The number of new infections increased in the late 1990s and has been relatively stable since then, with estimates of between 55,000 and 58,500 new infections annually in the three most recent time periods that were analyzed, according to the study (New York Times, 8/3).

Prevention, Funding
According to the Post, CDC spends about $750 million each year on prevention efforts. About half of CDC’s HIV prevention budget targets blacks, Kevin Fenton — director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention — said. However, he added that the increasing incidence in MSM — particularly in young black MSM — is evidence that prevention campaigns have “not reached all those who need it” (Washington Post, 8/3).

According to Fenton, the recent relative stability in incidence is somewhat good news because the overall number of people living with HIV who could potentially pass the virus on to others is increasing as HIV-positive people are able to live longer due to antiretroviral drugs. That suggests those people are taking steps to prevent spreading the virus, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Stannard, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/3). “Over 95% of people living with HIV are not transmitting to someone else in a given year,” David Holtgrave of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University said, adding, “What that says is the transmission rate has been kept very low by prevention efforts” (Washington Post, 8/3).

An analysis last year by Holtgrave and Jennifer Kates, a Kaiser Family Foundation vice president and director of HIV policy at the foundation, showed a correlation between the amount of funds spent on prevention and HIV incidence. “You get what you pay for,” Holtgrave said, adding, “I think the new statistics are the most important AIDS story in the U.S. since the advent of the new treatments” (USA Today, 8/3).

According to the Globe, the fact that more people than previously thought might have contracted HIV since the late 1990s will have “profound consequences” for physicians, policymakers and HIV/AIDS advocacy groups (Boston Globe, 8/3).

CDC Director Julie Gerberding said that the new data likely will influence decisions about efforts to control the epidemic. She added that although HIV incidence is “certainly too high,” it is “stable.” According to Gerberding, a “stable number of new infections in a world that has got more and more people with HIV and people with AIDS living in it suggests that we are keeping up with that pressure for transmission” (New York Times, 8/3).

Several HIV advocates expressed anger at CDC’s delay in releasing the data, which were available in October 2007 when the agency completed the study, the Wall Street Journal reports. UNAIDS Director Peter Piot said that “timely information is important for prevention.” Kate Krauss, a spokesperson for Physicians for Human Rights, said, “Science-based AIDS prevention means having access to accurate data about how many people are becoming infected,” adding, “Without it we are shooting in the dark” (Chase, Wall Street Journal, 8/4).

The agency’s delay in releasing the data also has fueled criticism that the Bush administration has not done enough to fight HIV/AIDS in the U.S., according to the Times. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said HIV prevention efforts have been “underfunded and too often hindered by politics and ideology,” adding that, when adjusted for inflation, the administration’s domestic spending on HIV/AIDS has decreased by 19% since 2002. Waxman also said he plans to hold congressional hearings on why CDC has had “less and less money to actually get [HIV prevention] programs to the communities that need them.”

Gerberding responded to the criticism, saying that the data have “been scrutinized by some of the best statisticians in the country and is much better now than when we started this process” (New York Times, 8/3). Gerberding added that the new data represent the “most reliable estimate” since the “beginning of the epidemic” (Stobbe, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/3).

Fenton said, “It’s important to note that the new estimate does not represent an actual increase in the number of new infections but reflects [CDC's] ability to more precisely measure HIV incidence and secure a better understanding of the epidemic” (CDC release, 8/3). However, Fenton added that the “fact remains that there are far too many people becoming infected in the United States every year. Therefore, these findings should be a wake-up call … that the epidemic in the United States is far from over” (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/3).

Comments From Presidential Candidates
Presumptive presidential candidates Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Sunday in response to the new estimates pledged to increase the fight against HIV in the U.S., AFP/Google reports. Obama said that if elected president, he would develop a national strategy to reduce new infections, expand testing and education, and eliminate stigma. McCain vowed to reduce drug costs, as well as to target testing and prevention in highly affected communities.

“These new figures should bring new focus to our efforts to address AIDS and HIV here at home,” Obama said in a statement, adding that the focus should be on “expanding access to testing and comprehensive education programs.” The fight against HIV/AIDS also “demands closing the gaps in opportunity that exist in our society so that we can strengthen our public health,” Obama said, adding, “We must also overcome the stigma that surrounds HIV/AIDS — a stigma that is too often tied to homophobia.”

McCain in a statement said that if elected, he would “work closely with non-profit, government and private-sector stakeholders to continue the fight against HIV/AIDS.” He added, “By focusing efforts on reducing drug costs through greater market competition, promoting prevention efforts, encouraging testing, targeting communities with high infection rates, strengthening research and reducing disparities through effective public outreach, we as a nation can make great progress in fighting HIV/AIDS” (AFP/Google, 8/3).

More Comments
Kates said the new data “corroborate what many” HIV/AIDS researchers “suspected — that the epidemic is worse than we thought” but that it “doesn’t seem to be getting worse” (Washington Post, 8/3).

Mark McLaurin of the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project said the new estimate “means little if it does not serve as the spark to inflame our collective anger about the deadly neglect of an acute emergency” (Fox, Reuters, 8/2).

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said, “There is absolutely no good news here. Without an accurate picture of the epidemic, vastly underestimated for the last 10 years, we have missed countless opportunities to intervene with effective public health strategies.”

Phill Wilson, founder and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, added that the new figures “confirm that AIDS in America is a black disease and has been neglected for far too long” (Maugh, Los Angeles Times, 8/3).

An abstract of the study is available online. More information on the new estimates are available online from the CDC.

A kaisernetwork interview with Fenton is available online. Kaisernetwork is the official webcaster of the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. Click here to sign up for your Daily Update e-mail during the conference.

Multimedia Coverage
CBS’ “Evening News”: The program on Saturday reported on the study and included comments from Fenton and Sean Barry of the New York AIDS Housing Network (David, “Evening News,” CBS, 8/2).

CNN’s “House Call with Dr. Sanjay Gupta”: The program on Saturday reported on the study. The segment includes comments from Bambi Gaddist, executive director of the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council (Gupta, “House Call with Dr. Sanjay Gupta,” CNN, 8/2). A transcript of the segment is available online.

NBC’s “Nightly News”: The program on Saturday reported on the study (Bazell, “Nightly News,” NBC, 8/2).

NPR’s “All Things Considered”: The program on Saturday reported on the study and the beginning of the conference (Knox, “All Things Considered,” NPR, 8/2).

Reprinted with kind permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

© 2008 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved. Continue reading

Fatal Bacterial Infections Associated with Platelet Transfusions, USA, 2004

Each year, approximately 9 million platelet-unit concentrates are transfused in the United States (1); an estimated one
in 1,000–3,000 platelet units are contaminated with bacteria, resulting in transfusion-associated sepsis in many recipients
(2). To reduce this risk, AABB (formerly the American Association of Blood Banks) adopted a new standard on March 1, 2004,
that requires member blood banks and transfusion services to implement measures to detect and limit bacterial contamination
in all platelet components (3). This report summarizes two fatal cases of transfusion-associated sepsis in platelet
recipients in 2004 and describes results of a 2004 survey of infectious-disease consultants regarding their knowledge of
transfusion-associated bacterial infections and the new AABB standard. Health-care providers should be aware of the new
standard and the need for bacterial testing of platelets to improve transfusion safety. However, health-care providers also
should be able to diagnose transfusion-associated infections, because even when testing complies with the new standard, false
negatives can occur and fatal bacterial sepsis can result.

Case Reports

Patient A. In October 2004, a man aged 74 years in Ohio with leukemia received a transfusion consisting of a pool of five
platelet unit concentrates. Before transfusion, the pooled platelet unit had been tested for bacterial contamination with a
reagent strip test (Multistix®, Bayer Diagnostics, Tarrytown, New York) to determine the pH level, a means for detecting the
presence of bacteria. Because the pH test result was within the accepted range for quality control (i.e., pH > 6.4) of the
clinic’s blood bank, the pooled unit was approved for transfusion. After transfusion, the patient had hypotension the same
day and was admitted to a local hospital. The patient’s blood cultures grew Staphylococcus aureus, and the patient died 21
days after hospital admission. S. aureus also was cultured from the leftover platelet unit bag; isolates from the patient’s
blood and the platelet bag were indistinguishable by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).

Patient B. In December 2004, a man aged 79 years in Utah received a transfusion of pheresis platelets for thromobocytopenia
after coronary artery bypass surgery. Before transfusion, platelets from the unit bag were tested for bacterial contamination
with liquid culture media (BacT/Alert®, BioMerieux Inc., Durham, North Carolina) by using 4 mL in a standard aerobic blood
culture bottle and were found to be negative after 5 days’ incubation. Approximately 1 hour after transfusion, the patient
had shortness of breath, chills, and a temperature of 102.9?F (39.4?C) and became hypotensive. Subsequently, the patient had
multiple thrombotic events and died 27 hours later. S. lugdunensis was cultured from the patient’s blood and the leftover
platelet bag; these isolates were indistinguishable by PFGE.

Survey of Infectious-Disease Consultants

To assess clinician experience with transfusion-associated bacterial infections and knowledge of the new AABB standard, the
Infectious Diseases Society of America (ISDA) conducted a survey of infectious-disease consultants in the United States. The
survey was distributed via e-mail and fax during July 27–August 24, 2004, to all 870 infectious-disease consultant members
of the Emerging Infections Network, a sentinel provider network of ISDA (4).

Completed surveys were received from 399 (46%) of the 870 members. Forty-eight (12%) respondents recalled consulting on 85
reactions to blood transfusions (i.e., of all types) potentially caused by bacterial contamination; 10 reactions were fatal.
In 26 (31%) cases, contamination was confirmed by positive cultures of the recipient’s blood and transfused unit. The most
common pathogens recovered were Staphylococcus and Serratia spp.

A total of 143 (36%) respondents reported they were aware that bacterial contamination of platelets is one of the most common
infectious risks of transfusion therapy. Seventy-eight (20%) indicated they had been familiar with the new AABB standard for
bacterial detection in platelets before the survey; 359 (90%) believed health-care providers need to be aware of the
CONTINUES…. cdc/mmwr/preview/mmwr Continue reading

Washington, D.C., Officials Focusing More Attention On HIV/AIDS Epidemic, Progress Uneven, Report Card Says

Washington, D.C., officials have amplified their attention to the district’s HIV/AIDS epidemic but progress on promised reforms has been mixed, with poor performances on condom distribution and substance-use treatment, according to a report card released on Thursday by the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, the Washington Post reports (Levine [1], Washington Post, 3/23). The center in August 2005 released a report saying that the city’s response to the epidemic has been inadequate and poorly coordinated. The report says that city officials were not systematically collecting and analyzing data about the epidemic and were not properly coordinating and supervising organizations that provide services for people living with HIV/AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/5/05). The 2006 report card — the first in a series — graded the city on 12 areas the center had recommended for improvement in the August 2005 report. The report says Mayor Anthony Williams has been more outspoken about fighting HIV/AIDS; applauds Council of the District of Columbia member David Catania for calling for expanded HIV testing at city-run clinics and timely payments to not-for-profit groups; and gives credit to district HIV/AIDS Administration Director Marsha Martin, who has advocated for expanded condom distribution and needle-exchange programs, according to the Post. However, the report notes that an executive-level task force on HIV/AIDS reforms recommended in August 2005 has not been developed and District of Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Clifford Janey has not fulfilled the district Board of Education’s request to fortify the HIV/AIDS education program. The report also finds a failure to meet the city’s goals on condom distribution. The city distributed about 125,000 condoms in 2005 — compared with 290,000 in 2004 — about one-quarter of its goal (Washington Post [1], 3/23). The center also says that funding for the district Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration has “virtually flat-lined” since 1998.

The Appleseed Center gave the district the following grades on progress since the center’s 2005 report.
Leadership: B-
HIV Data: Incomplete
Surveillance Staffing: Incomplete
Grants Management: B
Rapid Testing: B
Routine Testing: C
Condoms: D
District Public Schools: B-
Syringe-Exchange Services: B-
Substance Abuse Treatment: D+ (DC Appleseed Center, “HIV/AIDS in the Nation’s Capitol: Report Card”, 3/23).

Williams before the report was released said the district’s HIV/AIDS-related programs are improving, citing new programs in prison and the pending launch of the task force (Associated Press, 3/23). Appleseed Center Executive Director Walter Smith said the district has seen “forward movement.” However, the report says that curbing the epidemic “requires determination and commitment from our public officials” that has not been completely realized. District Health Director Gregg Pane said while he “embrace[s] the report,” he believes Appleseed Center “graded low,” adding that he thinks the HIV/AIDS administration should receive a “solid A for effort and a solid B for performance.” Martin said the city would cooperate with George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services to improve HIV/AIDS surveillance (Washington Post [1], 2/23).

Whitman-Walker Clinic Names Blanchon New Executive Director
In related news, Whitman-Walker Clinic, the D.C. region’s largest provider of HIV/AIDS-related services, on Wednesday announced it has hired Donald Blanchon, a former managed care executive, as its new executive director and CEO, the Post reports. Blanchon most recently was the vice president for Medicare and Medicaid programs at the medical management company Schaller Anderson (Levine [2], Washington Post, 3/23). “Donald Blanchon comes to us with remarkable health care credentials that will bring new and essential skills to lead the Clinic into the future,” Jannette Williams, chair of WWC’s board of directors, said, adding, “He is well-prepared to continue implementing Whitman-Walker Clinic’s new business model, which is focused on increasing the number of insured clients and expanding into primary care services.” Blanchon said, “Whitman-Walker Clinic is a remarkable institution, and I am excited to be given the opportunity to lead it through this critical period and beyond” (WWC release, 3/22). Interim Executive Director Roberta Geidner-Antoniotti will resume her job as the clinic’s chief operating officer when Blanchon starts on May 1 (Washington Post [2], 3/23).

“Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved. Continue reading

GeoVax Labs, Inc.’s Promising HIV/AIDS Vaccine Trial Data Presented At Retrovirus Conference

Dr. Harriet Robinson, lead
scientist and co-founder of GeoVax Labs, Inc., (OTC Bulletin Board: GOVX)
an Atlanta-based biotechnology company developing HIV/AIDS vaccines,
co-presented successful Phase I trial results at the 15th Conference on
Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), February 5 in Boston.

Dr. Robinson, a co-founder of the GeoVax HIV-1 AIDS vaccine technology,
jointly presented the findings, entitled “GeoVax Clade B DNA/MVA HIV/AIDS
Vaccine is Well Tolerated and Immunogenic when Administered to Healthy
Seronegative Adults,” with Dr. Bernard Moss of the U.S. National Institutes
of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and co-founder of the GeoVax vaccine.

In the presentation, Robinson reported that a dose escalation study
showed that a 1/10th dose and an anticipated normal dose of the GeoVax
vaccine both elicit anti-viral CD4 and anti-viral CD8 T cells. However, the
fuller dose elicited a higher number of antibody responders.

For the normal dose, 77 percent of the participants had responding CD4
T cells; 42 percent had responding CD8 T cells, and 88 percent experienced
an anti-Env antibody response. The vaccine was also found to be safe.

Based on the excellent immune response rates and the GeoVax HIV/AIDS
vaccine’s ability to protect non human primates against AIDS development in
pre-clinical challenge models, planning of a large Phase 2 trial is
underway and tentatively scheduled for a mid-2008 start.

As recently announced, due to the significant advances by GeoVax’s
HIV/AIDS vaccine development program, Dr. Robinson is joining the GeoVax
management full time on February 15, 2008, as Vice President of Research
and Development. By focusing her efforts exclusively at GeoVax, Dr.
Robinson intends to speed up the vaccine development and human trial
evaluation program required to meet FDA regulatory requirements and future
vaccine commercialization efforts.

Dr. Robinson stated, “Our AIDS vaccine efforts are rapidly moving
forward to a new and exciting level and include plans for initiating Phase
2 human trials in 2008. It’s important to me to be able to work full time
with the GeoVax team to learn absolutely everything we can from our phase 2
trials so that we appropriately set the stage for phase 3 efficacy trials.
I believe in the GeoVax vaccine and want to carry it forward as rapidly and
as effectively as possible for worldwide use for the prevention of AIDS.”

The HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) in Seattle is testing GeoVax’s
HIV/AIDS vaccines. HVTN funded and supported by the National Institutes of
Health (NIH), is the largest worldwide clinical trials program dedicated to
the development and testing of HIV/AIDS vaccines. The National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the U.S. National Institute of Health
funded pre-clinical work enabling the development of the clinical
evaluation of GeoVax’s DNA and MVA vaccines.

The NIH recently provided additional support to GeoVax’s vaccine
development program in the form of a $15 million IPCAVD grant awarded in
October 2007.

GeoVax Labs, Inc.

GeoVax Labs, Inc. (geovax) is a biotechnology company
established to develop, manufacture, license and commercialize human
vaccines for diseases caused by HIV-1 (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and
other infectious agents. GeoVax’s vaccine technology is covered by 20
issued or filed patent applications. GeoVax HIV/AIDS vaccines are designed
to prevent Acquired Immunodeficiency Disease (AIDS), caused by the virus
known as HIV-1. GeoVax HIV/AIDS vaccines may be effective as therapeutics
(treatment of people infected with AIDS virus). Studies evaluating these
vaccines in HIV/AIDS infected individuals are in the planning stage.

GeoVax’s core HIV/AIDS vaccine technologies were developed through a
collaboration of colleagues at Emory University’s Vaccine Center, the
National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) and the GeoVax team.

GeoVax HIV/AIDS vaccines are moving forward in human clinical trials
administered by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN-Division of the
National Institutes of Health). Two (2) human trials have been successfully
completed and three (3) human trials involving over 105 individuals are
currently ongoing with excellent safety and positive anti-HIV-1 immune
responses in the majority of vaccine recipients. GeoVax and the HVTN are
currently preparing for very important Phase 2 human trials which are being
planned for mid 2008.

About GeoVax DNA & MVA Genetically Engineered HIV/AIDS vaccines:

– Our DNA vaccine “primes” immune responses & MVA vaccine “boosts”
immune responses against the AIDS virus in vaccine recipients

– DNA and MVA vaccines are both genetically engineered vaccines
expressing over 50% of the AIDS virus components in the vaccine
recipient and can not cause AIDS

– Protected 22 of 23 (96%) non-human primates against AIDS for over
31/2 years

– Are manufactured & tested under GMP/GLP — EMEA (EU) and FDA

– Satisfactorily completed 2 earlier HIV/AIDS vaccine Phase 1 human

– Currently have 3 ongoing Human Trials — 1 was initiated in 2006, 2 in
Summer 2007

– GeoVax HIV/AIDS vaccines have been demonstrated safe to date in human

– Demonstrate positive anti-HIV immune responses in majority of human
vaccine recipients

– Are in planning stage for large Phase 2 human trial scheduled for mid

Safe Harbor Statement: All statements in this news release, not
statements of historical fact, are forward-looking statements. These
statements are based on expectations and assumptions on the date of this
press release and are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties which
could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the
forward-looking statements. Risks and uncertainties include, but are not
limited to, whether: GeoVax can develop and manufacture these vaccines with
the desired characteristics in a timely manner, GeoVax’s vaccines will be
safe for human use, GeoVax’s vaccines will effectively prevent AIDS in
humans, vaccines will receive regulatory approvals necessary to be licensed
and marketed, GeoVax raises required capital to complete vaccine
development, there is development of competitive products that may be more
effective or easier to use than GeoVax’s products, and other factors over
which GeoVax has no control. GeoVax assumes no obligation to update these
forward-looking statements, and does not intend to do so. Certain matters
discussed in this news release are forward-looking statements involving
certain risks and uncertainties including, without limitations, risks
detailed in the Company’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings and

GeoVax Labs, Inc.
geovax Continue reading

New York Times Profiles Support Group For HIV-Positive Women Over Age 50

The New York Times on Sunday profiled the Divas, a support group for black and Hispanic HIV-positive women over age 50 in Harlem, N.Y. The Divas is organized through Iris House, an HIV/AIDS service center that opened 15 years ago in Harlem.

According to the Times, Divas members — who range in age from 50 to 70 — “represent the changing face of HIV/AIDS” in the U.S. CDC data from 2005 showed that 27% of people with HIV/AIDS were women, compared with less than 5% two decades ago, and that black women were 23 times more likely than white women to contract HIV. Black and Hispanic women make up 24% of the nation’s female population but 82% of new AIDS diagnoses among women, CDC said.

In addition, the communities around Iris House have some of the highest HIV rates in the country, the Times reports. In Harlem, 116 per 100,000 people are HIV-positive, compared with 46 per 100,000 people in New York City and 18.5 nationwide.

“We like to call Central Harlem, East Harlem and the South Bronx ground zero,” of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Ingrid Floyd, executive director of Iris House, said. Floyd said that many of her clients are “not as empowered, not as educated as their [white] counterparts, and, hence, they are being hit most” with HIV. “A lot of times we have clients who have gone into depression, and they isolate themselves,” she said, adding, “So, they stay in their apartments and they don’t come out, because they think they are going to die.”

The Divas is one of about six specialty groups that meet at Iris House each week to discuss health, medication and other topics. Divas members also take exercise classes and attend training courses on managing their finances. According to the Times, many members of the Divas said that the group has helped them talk “openly and honestly” about sex, as well as reflect on how they contracted HIV and their expectations for future relationships.

Frances Melendez, a psychologist who runs the group, said that the goal of the group is to equip the women with new life-management skills, as well as the strength and confidence to move past the initial shock of their HIV diagnosis. “It is a very difficult decision to decide to live positively,” Melendez said, adding, “It’s much easier to say ‘forget it’ and let the disease take its course” (Sara, New York Times, 5/18).

Reprinted with kind permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

© 2008 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved. Continue reading

New Wound Dressing May Lead To Maggot Therapy Without The Maggots

Scientists in the United Kingdom have developed a new wound dressing that could bring the benefits of maggot therapy to patients without putting live Greenbottle fly (blowfly) larvae into non-healing wounds. The joint research project of Stephen Britland from Bradford University and David Pritchard of Nottingham University included colleagues from the Bradford-based biotechnology company AGT Sciences Ltd. It describes development and preliminary testing in laboratory cell cultures of the new hydrogel dressing in a report for publication in the Oct. 6 issue of the ACS bimonthly journal Biotechnology Progress.

The researchers note resurgence in medical use of larval biotherapy — intentionally introducing blowfly maggots into non-healing wounds to clean away dead tissue. Medical use of the technique led to observations suggesting that maggots’ excretions and secretions (ESs) also may encourage regeneration of tissue and wound healing. Realizing that the ESs would have to be delivered in a controlled fashion, Britland’s group developed the hydrogel dressing, which slowly releases maggot ESs.

“The present prototype hydrogel wound dressing could potentially be deployed as a device to deliver insect-derived active products to skin wounds in vivo to encourage tissue regeneration.”


“Greenbottle (Lucilia sericata) Larval Secretions Delivered From a Prototype Hydrogel Wound Dressing Accelerate the Closure of Model Wounds”


Stephen T. Britland, Ph.D.

University of Bradford

West Yorkshire, UK


ACS News Service Weekly PressPac — Oct. 4, 2006

Visit the ACS News Service’s newest weblog (acsnewsservice.typepad/sf_meeting/) for reports from scientific sessions and other events at the ACS National Meeting in San Francisco.

The American Chemical Society — the world’s largest scientific society — is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) News Service PressPac is your access point for discoveries in fields ranging from astronomy to zoology, which are reported in the 35 peer-reviewed journals of the American Chemical Society. With more than 158,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society. Chemistry is the science that transforms lives, and these news alerts are from the leading edge of that science at ACS headquarters.

Contact: Michael Woods

American Chemical Society Continue reading

Researchers Decode Structure Of An Entire HIV Genome

The structure of an entire HIV genome has been decoded for the first time by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The results have widespread implications for understanding the strategies that viruses, like the one that causes AIDS, use to infect humans.

The study, the cover story in the Aug. 6, 2009, issue of the journal Nature, also opens the door for further research which could accelerate the development of antiviral drugs.

HIV, like the viruses that cause influenza, hepatitis C and polio, carries its genetic information as single-stranded RNA rather than double-stranded DNA. The information encoded in DNA is almost entirely in the sequence of its building blocks, which are called nucleotides. But the information encoded in RNA is more complex; RNA is able to fold into intricate patterns and structures. These structures are created when the ribbon-like RNA genome folds back on itself to make three-dimensional objects.

Kevin Weeks, Ph.D., a professor of chemistry in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences who led the study, said prior to this new work researchers had modeled only small regions of the HIV RNA genome. The HIV RNA genome is very large, composed of two strands of nearly 10,000 nucleotides each.

Weeks, who is also a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Joseph M. Watts, a chemistry postdoctoral fellow supported by the Lineberger Center, used technology developed by Weeks’ lab to analyze the architecture of HIV genomes isolated from infectious cultures containing trillions of viral particles that were grown by Robert Gorelick, Ph.D., and Julian Bess of the National Cancer Institute.

They then teamed up with UNC researchers in the College and the School of Medicine for further analysis: Christopher Leonard in the department of chemistry; Kristen Dang, Ph.D., from biomedical engineering; Ron Swanstrom, Ph.D., a professor of microbiology and immunology at UNC Lineberger; and Christina Burch, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology. They found that the RNA structures influence multiple steps in the HIV infectivity cycle.

“There is so much structure in the HIV RNA genome that it almost certainly plays a previously unappreciated role in the expression of the genetic code,” Weeks said.

Swanstrom and Weeks note that the study is the key to unlocking additional roles of RNA genomes that are important to the lifecycle of these viruses in future investigations.

“One approach is to change the RNA sequence and see if the virus notices,” Swanstrom said. “If it doesn’t grow as well when you disrupt the virus with mutations, then you know you’ve mutated or affected something that was important to the virus.”

Weeks added: “We are also beginning to understand tricks the genome uses to help the virus escape detection by the human host.”

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute.

Source: University of North Carolina Continue reading

Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership Launches HIV/AIDS Education Campaign In Conjunction With Cricket World Cup

The Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS on Thursday in advance of the Cricket World Cup opening launched LIVE UP — the first pan-Caribbean campaign led by broadcasters to encourage and empower youth to learn about HIV and take action to fight the spread of the virus in the region — the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation reports (Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, 3/8). CBMP includes more than 50 radio and television companies from 23 Caribbean nations and aims to broaden access to effective HIV/AIDS messages. It was formed in May 2006 at the Caribbean Broadcast Media Leadership Summit on HIV/AIDS, which was organized by the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, the Caribbean Broadcasting Union and the Kaiser Family Foundation. The campaign — called LIVE UP: Love. Protect. Respect. — will promote positive messages through local television and radio public service announcements; entertainment and public affairs programming; complementary local programming developed by national and regional broadcasters; regular news packages; and rights-free programming adapted for the campaign from partners, including Black Entertainment Television and MTV. The campaign’s programs will be broadcast in 23 countries by CBMP members. The International Cricket Council also is supporting the campaign. ICC has made HIV/AIDS the official health focus of this year’s Cricket World Cup, and LIVE UP PSAs will air at the opening of the tournament on March 11 in Jamaica and be shown throughout the games. “LIVE UP represents a new and innovative model of collaboration by media companies — working together and in partnership with local and international organizations — to help fight HIV/AIDS across companies and country boundaries,” Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said. According to CBMP Steering Committee Chair Allyson Leacock, LIVE UP is “not a campaign of one broadcaster, one country or even one year.” She added, “As the first media-led AIDS education effort to span the entire Caribbean region, LIVE UP will involve major broadcasters on every island working together, across different media but with unified messages and a shared approach, to help turn back this disease and protect the health of our young people.” LIVE UP is about “hope, empowerment and possibility,” Scott Campbell — executive director of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which provides financial support for the campaign — said. Ford Foundation Deputy Vice President Jacob Gayle said, “Through LIVE UP and the larger CBMP effort, Caribbean broadcasters are using their tremendous influence in society to encourage all of their audiences, especially young people, to live healthy lives, free from the threat of HIV/AIDS” (CBMP release, 3/8).

Cricket Players Featured in PSAs as Part of ICC, UNAIDS, UNICEF Campaign
Cricket players from countries participating in the Cricket World Cup, which begins March 11, are being featured in PSAs as part of a collaboration between ICC, UNAIDS and UNICEF to address the HIV/AIDS among children, Guyana’s Stabroek News reports (Stabroek News, 3/7). The PSAs — which are part of the “Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS” campaign — each last 30 seconds and feature cricket players talking about HIV/AIDS prevention, Barbados’ Nation News reports. Players and officials from each team also will wear the red and blue ribbon of the “Unite for Children, Unite Against AIDS” campaign during the tournament’s first and final games (Nation News, 3/7). “The spirit of cricket is a special part of our game and is a concept that stretches beyond the boundaries of the outfield,” ICC President Percy Sonn said, adding, “We hope the range of activities delivered at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 will make a difference to raising awareness and reducing stigma around HIV in the Caribbean and across the ever-growing cricket world. By encouraging high-profile players to support this campaign, we hope to be able to engage those who may otherwise be difficult to reach” (UNICEF release, 3/6).

“Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation . © 2005 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved. Continue reading

Increased HIV Diagnoses In New York City Among Young Men Who Have Sex With Men

HIV infection is on the rise among young men who have sex with men (MSM) in New York City, according to preliminary data from the Health Department. New HIV diagnoses among MSM under age 30 have increased by 33% during the past six years, the agency reported today, from 374 in 2001 to almost 500 in 2006. New diagnoses have doubled among MSM ages 13 to19, while declining by 22% among older MSM. The under-30 group now accounts for 44% of all new diagnoses among MSM in New York City, up from 31% in 2001.

“We are very concerned about the increase in HIV among young men who have sex with men,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, Health Commissioner for New York City. “We’re headed in the wrong direction. Unless young men reduce the number of partners they have, and protect themselves and their partners by using condoms more consistently, we will face another wave of suffering and death from HIV and AIDS.”

Other local leaders in the fight against AIDS voiced similar concern.

* Debra Frasier-Howe, president of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS: “These numbers are devastating. After 26 years of AIDS, we cannot drift backward. We must ask all New Yorkers to accept some responsibility for helping our young people protect themselves. Their lives are not dispensable.”

* Tokes Osubu, executive director of Gay Men of African Descent (GMAD): “Reversing this trend will require a new commitment to protecting this most underserved population. GMAD will continue to work with other stakeholders to save the lives of our young men. We need an integrated approach across city agencies, social justice organizations and AIDS organizations, and a less judgmental approach by faith institutions.”

* Wendy Stark, interim executive director of the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center: “Health care in a supportive and affirming setting can foster healthy choices. We encourage all New Yorkers to identify a primary care provider with whom they feel comfortable discussing sexual behavior and substance use.”

Blacks and Hispanics still bear a disproportionate share of New York City’s HIV burden. Among all MSM, blacks received twice as many HIV diagnoses as whites in 2006 (232 versus 101), and Hispanics received 55% more than whites (157 versus 101). The disparity is even more striking among adolescents; more than 90% of the MSM under age 20 diagnosed with HIV in 2006 were black or Hispanic (81 out of 87).

Every borough except Staten Island has seen HIV increase among MSM under 30 since 2001. The largest increases occurred in Queens (49%) and Manhattan (57%). The increase in Manhattan was concentrated in East and Central Harlem (up 115%, from 26 to 56), and in the Chelsea and Clinton areas (up 56%, from 25 to 39).

To focus on more recent trends in HIV infection, this analysis excluded MSM who were diagnosed with HIV and AIDS at the same time, generally indicating that the infection has progressed for many years. In 2006, 20% of MSM diagnosed with HIV received a concurrent diagnosis of AIDS (285 men), meaning that they had missed opportunities for care to stay healthy and may have unknowingly spread HIV to others.

The new HIV data parallel a recent Health Department report (nyc/html/doh/html/pr2007/pr054-07.shtmll) showing a sharp increase in the number of syphilis cases among MSM in New York City during the first quarter of 2007. The syphilis increase has affected both younger and older MSM, and half of those newly diagnosed with syphilis in New York City also report being infected with HIV. Syphilis and HIV are a dangerous combination, because syphilis causes genital sores (making HIV easier to spread) and HIV lowers immunity (which can make syphilis harder to treat).

What Are the Health Department and Community Organizations Doing to Combat HIV in New York City?

The Health Department funds an array of programs to educate New Yorkers about how to protect themselves from HIV and other STDs. Efforts to prevent infection, and support those who become infected, are under way in all five boroughs.

* The Department is working with community groups, medical providers, and others to promote risk reduction through reducing the number of partners and increasing the use of condoms. The Department distributes more than 3 million free condoms each month. The distinctive NYC Condom is available not only through Health Department clinics and community organizations but through retail establishments and entertainment venues, including bars, clubs and restaurants. For information on where to find them, visit nyccondom/.

* Anyone age 12 or older can get can get free, confidential, anonymous HIV testing and STD treatment at the Health Department’s 10 STD clinics. Services are available without parental notification and without regard to insurance or immigration status. The clinics provide rapid HIV testing on a walk-in basis; results are typically available within 30 minutes. They also offer free testing for syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia, as well as hepatitis immunization. For clinic locations and hours, visit home2.nyc/html/doh/html/std/std2.shtml.

* HIV tests are also available through New York City’s public hospitals and through community organizations such as Gay Men of African Descent, the African Services Committee, the Latino Commission on AIDS, the Harlem United Community AIDS Center, the Hispanic AIDS Forum, the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, and Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

* The Health Department offers confidential partner notification to people who think they may have exposed others to HIV or another STD. Anyone can reach the Contact Notification Assistance Program (CNAP) by dialing 311 in the US.


Protect Yourself from HIV

Not having sex is the only failsafe way to avoid an STD. If you are sexually active, you can reduce your risk of STDs, including HIV, by having sex only with one person you are sure is not infected, and by using condoms. If you are having sex outside of such a relationship, other measures can reduce your risk:

* Reduce the number of people you have sex with. More partners means more risk.

* Use a latex condom whenever you have sex, whether vaginal, anal or oral.

* Avoid alcohol and drugs when you have sex. Drinking or getting high makes it much harder to avoid risky sex and to remember to use condoms.

* Know your sex partners. Get yourself tested, and get your partner tested for HIV and other STDs before you have sex.

* Know your HIV status. Free, confidential testing is available at Health Department clinics in all five boroughs, regardless of age, immigration status or ability to pay. For a list of clinics and hours, visit nyc/health.

Data Source

The HIV data reflect preliminary information from provider and laboratory reports of new HIV diagnoses, which are reportable under New York State law. The 2006 data presented here based on the first six months of 2006, extrapolated to the full year. Final counts will be released at the end of 2007.

Source: Sara Markt

New York City Health Department Continue reading