The Illinois State Senate voted 37 to 21 in favor of HB2675, which will require Illinois public schools that teach sex education to add instruction about contraception and STDs to the current abstinence-only curriculum. Gov. Pat Quinn supports the bill. HB2675 will allow districts to opt out of including sex education in the curriculum; parents also may examine their district’s sex education curriculum and opt out for their children if they wish.
Proponents of the bill believe that abstinence-only education is not effective and children benefit from having as much information as possible. According to Illinois Planned Parenthood President and Chief Executive Officer Carole Brite, students who receive sex education that includes contraception and disease prevention information are more likely to delay having sex and to use protection when they do have sex. Opponents counter that abstinence-only curricula impart “valuable principles” and fear that HB2675 will affect local control of sex education.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health data, teens age 15–19 comprised 35 percent of all chlamydia cases and 33 percent of all gonorrhea incidence in 2011.
Researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York have discovered that Vitamin C kills the TB bacteria. They report that they made the discovery accidentally while investigating how the bacteria develop resistance to the anti-TB drug isoniazid.
The researchers added isoniazid and the reducing agent cysteine to the TB bacteria in a test tube with the expectation that the bacteria would develop resistance. Instead, the researchers killed the TB culture. Next, the researchers replaced the cysteine with another reducing agent, Vitamin C, and it killed the bacteria also. When the researchers omitted the TB drug isoniazid and used Vitamin C alone, the outcome was the same—it killed the bacteria. They tested Vitamin C with drug-resistant TB strains and had the same result. Also, the TB bacteria never developed resistance to Vitamin C in the laboratory tests.
William Jacobs, the study’s senior author, emphasized that so far, researchers have demonstrated these results only in a test tube. The researchers did not know if it would work with humans and, if so, at what dosage. The authors urged additional research into potential uses of Vitamin C in TB treatment, noting that it was “inexpensive, widely available, and very safe to use.”
The full report, “Mycobacterium tuberculosis is Extraordinarily Sensitive to Killing by a Vitamin C-Induced Fenton Reaction,” was published in the journal Nature Communications (2013; doi:10.1038/ncomms2898).
California’s Butte County Public Health Department has seen an increase in the number of syphilis cases so far for 2013. In the first quarter, the department investigated four syphilis cases, which is normally the average total for a year, according to Dr. Mark Lundberg, a Butte County health officer. In investigating the four cases, the department identified 19 sexual contacts or possible exposures. All the cases were young men in their late teens to early 20s, who have sex with men; contacts included both males and females, and some were anonymous. The health department advises individuals who believe they may be at risk to get tested. Testing requires a visit to a doctor’s office or clinic for a blood test; the disease can be treated with antibiotics. Testing is available at Butte County Public Health Department clinics in Chico and Oroville. For more information or to make an appointment, call (530) 891–2731 in Chico or (530) 538–7341 in Oroville. The county health department also offers information on its Web site, www.buttecounty.net/publichealth, and its STD information line, 1–877–STD–INFO.
In the first four months of 2013, Franklin County, Kans., has already reported 63 percent of the number of hepatitis C cases identified in 2012, considerably more than in previous years. Franklin County Health Department Director Midge Ransom declared, “I can’t tell you how many cases of [hepatitis] C that we have found positive in Franklin County, but I can tell you we are seeing more cases now than in previous years.” Ransom added that they have been identifying these cases on a weekly basis.
The CDC Web site noted that baby boomers—those born between 1945 and 1965—comprise 75 percent of hepatitis C cases. The high baby boomer case numbers may be due to the fact that prior to 1992, blood transfusions were not screened for hepatitis C. Ransom also noted the large number of persons who injected drugs and shared needles. Franklin Health Department has been urging baby boomers to get tested for the disease, since often the symptoms associated with the virus are not visible and can remain in a person’s body for years without causing symptoms or problems. Hepatitis C is a precursor to liver cancer. Ransom emphasized the importance of getting tested and getting treatment if necessary, to reduce the risk of other complications. She stated that eight out of 10 people who contract hepatitis C would have the active disease at some point in time. If a person knew early enough that they had hepatitis C, they could seek treatment and manage the disease.
According to the CDC Web site, the following people have an increased risk of having hepatitis C and should be tested for the virus: past and current injection drug users; people who received a blood clotting agent made before 1987; recipients of donated blood, blood products, and organs; people who received body piercing or tattoos done with nonsterile instruments; hemodialysis patients or persons who spent many years on dialysis for kidney failure; children born to mothers infected with the hepatitis C virus; and HIV-infected persons.
The Franklin County Health Department offers hepatitis C testing; however, Ransom advised speaking first with a physician provider on testing and treatment options. She stressed that Franklin County residents can accomplish prevention by talking about hepatitis C and encouraging everyone to be tested.
A recent study conducted at Dublin’s Rotunda Maternity Hospital found that 78 of 8,976 women tested were positive for hepatitis C due to risk factors that included drug abuse and tattooing. The tattoo industry currently is unregulated. Before individuals receive a tattoo, they should check that the artist sterilizes needles and equipment that may come into contact with blood; keeps separate ink pots; uses safety gloves; cleans and disinfects surfaces; safely disposes of any materials that may come into contact with blood; and covers fresh tattoos with a dressing to prevent infection or disease transmission. After being tattooed, an individual should check their tattoo regularly to make sure that it has not become infected.
Dr. Julien Reboud of the University of Glasgow, Scotland’s Division of Biomedical Engineering has won a £20,000 award as a joint recipient of this year’s Royal Academy of Engineering ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs Award. The prize is for his work on SAW Dx technology, which uses ultrasound waves in small devices to identify infections in blood samples. Reboud believes the technology could be used to reduce the time it takes to diagnose some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to 30 minutes. The technology behind SAW Dx potentially could meet a growing demand for in-home STI test kits. According to CDC, the United States diagnoses an estimated 19.7 million new STIs each year.
The New Mexico Department of Health is advising any individuals who received dental services in their homes or other nonclinic settings, especially any dental services offered by “El Dentista,” to get free counseling and blood tests. The person “El Dentista” also may have been known as Eliver Lopez or Eliver Kestler. The health department will conduct a short, confidential interview and then offer free confidential blood tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. They will determine if persons need to be tested more than once, and if they need any additional services. If persons have received any dental services from “El Dentista,” they should call the New Mexico Department of Health at (505) 827–0006 to learn where to go for counseling and testing.
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