HEALTH

New grassroots prevention, education program to emphasize female contraception

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON The MAC AIDS Fund, the Female Health Company, CVS/pharmacy, Washington AIDS Partnership and the DC Department of Health on Wednesday announced a partnership to provide increased access to, availability of and information about the new female condom, FC2, to D.C. residents.

Backed by a $500,000 grant from the MAC AIDS Fund, five local nonprofit organizations will distribute 500,000 female condoms through a grassroots prevention and education program in the neighborhoods of the city with the greatest number of HIV/AIDS cases. Additionally, female condoms will be available exclusively for purchase at 56 CVS/pharmacy stores in the District. The 3-pack FC2 Female Condom retails for $6.49.

Sales of female contraception through food, drug and mass (minus Walmart) outlets is on the rise, realizing 24.8% growth to $145.8 million in sales for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 24, according to Information Resources Inc.

Said Gordon Howard, CVS/pharmacy area VP, “CVS/pharmacy is dedicated to providing our customers with convenient access to affordable products and services that enhance their health and well-being. Ensuring access to the Female Condom at all of our stores in the District is critical to expanding awareness and use to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases. We are proud to participate in this initiative.”

“Women have become disadvantaged in prevention and treatment and we need a game-changer,” stated Nancy Mahon, the executive director of the MAC AIDS Fund. “A recent survey we published found that women are putting themselves at risk in part because they feel they can’t negotiate safe sex. Our hope is that the FC2 female condom will get us one step closer to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS.”

“We are thrilled to help bring new tools to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Washington,” added Mary Ann Leeper, FHC’s senior strategic adviser. “We developed the FC2 Female Condom to give women affordable access to woman-initiated HIV prevention, and we are committed to working with the DC HIV/AIDS Administration and other public sector partners to put the power of HIV prevention in women’s hands.”

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HEALTH

Missouri selects NPLEx e-tracking program to block PSE sales

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Missouri has selected the National Precursor Log Exchange to serve as its statewide, real-time electronic blocking system to stop illegal sales of medications containing pseudoephedrine, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association announced Monday.

“We are delighted that Missouri has joined Kentucky, Illinois and Louisiana as the fourth state in the nation to adopt NPLEx as its e-tracking program,” stated Linda Suydam, CHPA president. “This system offers an effective solution to reducing meth labs and is the only solution that works across state lines to stop meth cooks from crossing borders to make illegal purchases.”

NPLEx is a real time, electronic tracking system that blocks illegal purchases of PSE store by store, city by city, and state by state to prevent meth cooks from illegal purchases, the Association stated. Sheriffs in Kentucky report that e-tracking leads to up to 70% of its meth lab busts. In a Florida pilot project, e-tracking reduced illegal sales by more than 90%.

The state action comes as some of its local municipalities are considering making PSE-containing medicines available only with a doctor’s prescription. A recent survey, conducted by David Binder Research, showed that more than half of Missouri voters surveyed oppose making common cold and allergy medications containing PSE available by prescription only, and 78% agree that an Rx-only requirement would create an “unnecessary burden” for law-abiding citizens.

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New CDC study shows herpes remains prevalent in United States

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA Approximately 1-in-6 Americans (16.2%) between the ages of 14 and 49 years is infected with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), according to a national health survey released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HSV-2 is a lifelong and incurable infection that can cause recurrent and painful genital sores.

The findings, presented at the 2010 National STD Prevention Conference, indicated that herpes remains one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the United States.

The findings suggested relatively stable HSV-2 prevalence since CDC’s last national estimate (17% for 1999-2004), because the slight decline in prevalence between the two time periods is not statistically significant.

The study found that women and blacks were most likely to be infected. HSV-2 prevalence was nearly twice as high among women (20.9%) than men (11.5%), and was more than three times higher among blacks (39.2%) than whites (12.3%). The most affected group was black women, with a prevalence rate of 48%.

“This study serves as a stark reminder that herpes remains a common and serious health threat in the United States,” stated Kevin Fenton, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “We are particularly concerned about persistent high rates of herpes among African-Americans, which is likely contributing to disproportionate rates of HIV in the black community.”

Research shows that people with herpes are two to three times more likely to acquire HIV, and that herpes can also make HIV-infected individuals more likely to transmit HIV to others. CDC estimates that more than 80% of those with HSV-2 are unaware of their infection. Symptoms may be absent, mild, or mistaken for another condition. And people with HSV-2 can transmit the virus even when they have no visible sores or other symptoms.

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