March 1, 2013
NIH Podcast Episode #0184
Balintfy: Welcome to episode 184 of the new NIH Research Radio. The new NIH Research Radio is your source for weekly news and information about the ongoing medical research at the National Institutes of Health – NIH . . . Turning Discovery Into Health®. I'm your host Joe Balintfy, and coming up in this episode our news summary at the end of the program includes items on the importance of getting basic math skills in first grade, and how scientists are learning how heavy drinking damages the liver.
But first, our feature story...
The importance of youth knowing their HIV status
Balintfy: According to an NIH study roughly 20 percent of youth who have had HIV since birth did not know that they had the disease when being sexually active for the first time. Also the youth involved in the study who were aware of their HIV status did not tell their first partner of their HIV status. Wally Akinso shares the details of this study.
Akinso: An NIH-funded study of 330 HIV-positive 10- to 18-year-olds has researchers emphasizing the importance of practicing safe sex, taking medication regularly, and disclosing HIV status to potential partners.
Hazra: Youth who were infected with HIV since birth were having sexual activity actually at very similar to children and youth that are not infected.
Akinso: Dr. Rohan Hazra works in a Pediatric, Adolescent and Maternal AIDS Branch at the NIH.
Hazra: The big issues is dealing with their HIV and having HIV. And what we found is that approximately two thirds did not disclose that they had HIV to their partners. In some ways that is understandable because it’s a very difficult bit of news to share with the people. But we would also say for the health of the partner of course it’s very important that one knows that one’s having sexual activity with someone who’s HIV infected.
Akinso: The study also shows that roughly 20 percent of youth who have had HIV since birth did not know their HIV status when they first became sexually active. The study is the first to comprehensively examine factors associated with initiation of sexual activity among the youth who have been HIV-positive since birth. Dr. Hazra explains how researchers got their data.
Hazra: In this study, what we have is something called the ACASI, which is the audio computer assisted self interview. It’s basically a computer, a laptop, and the youth sits in a quiet confidential area of the clinic where they are. And the questions come up on the laptop, but the questions that the youth sees depends upon their initial answers. So if they say no they’ve never had sexual activity then they don’t get anymore questions about sexual activity. But if they say yes they have had sexual activity then there’s a series further questions to get more detail.
Akinso: The teens completed the questionnaire twice a year and all answers were confidential. Dr. Hazra says the findings suggest that these young people are acting as if they are HIV-negative.
Hazra: They acted very much like their HIV uninfected peers in that, they started having sex or at least some of them did during their teenage years as we know HIV uninfected youth do as well. But we also expect that they’re going to graduate from high school, that they’re going to go to college, that they’re going to get jobs, and they’re going to be productive citizens in society. So we have expectations for them that are similar to their HIV uninfected peers.
Akinso: The researchers recommend that families and caregivers inform children about their HIV status before they reach adolescence and become sexually active.
Hazra: What we want these youth to know is once again we are expecting that they’re going to live full and productive lives. And so they have to do all of the things that their HIV uninfected peers are doing, back to education, taking care of themselves. It just happens that as part of taking care of themselves, they have this added issue that they have HIV and that they then have to take medicine.
Akinso: The young people participated at clinical sites nationwide as part of the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study, which is funded by the NIH. For more information on this study, visit www.nichd.nih.gov. For NIH Radio, this is Wally Akinso.
Balintfy: Coming up, those news items on the importance of getting basic math skills in first grade, and how scientists are learning how heavy drinking damages the liver. That’s next
(BREAK FOR PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT)
Balintfy: Now for those recent news headlines from NIH, here’s Craig Fritz.
Fritz: Researchers supported by NIH have found that children who failed to acquire a basic math skill in first grade scored far behind their peers by seventh grade on a test of general mathematical abilities. The basic math skill, number system knowledge, is the ability to relate a quantity to the numerical symbol that represents it, and to manipulate quantities and make calculations. This skill is the basis for all other mathematics abilities, including those necessary for functioning as an adult member of society. The researchers reported that early efforts to help children overcome difficulty in acquiring number system knowledge could have significant long-term benefits. They noted that more than 20 percent of U.S. adults do not have the eighth grade math skills needed to function in the workplace.
Scientists may be better able to study how heavy drinking damages the liver using a new mouse model of alcohol drinking and disease developed by researchers at NIH. The model incorporates chronic and binge drinking patterns to more closely approximate alcoholic liver disease in humans than any existing method. Researchers say the new model represents a significant advance in understanding the progression of alcoholic liver disease. By replicating both chronic and binge drinking, they are able to simulate the natural drinking patterns of many alcoholic patients and the resulting liver injury.
For this NIH news update, I’m Craig Fritz.
Balintfy: You can get more information on these news items at www.nih.gov/news.
Balintfy: And that’s it for this episode of the new NIH Research Radio. Please join us again next Friday, March 8 when our next edition will be available. Coming up in that episode…
We actually find that patients welcome the opportunity not just in our trials but this is a well-known and well-established component, the patients welcome an opportunity to contribute their perspective. In fact, many times patients are really aching to communicate what their experience is.
Balintfy: If you have any questions or comments about this program, or have a story suggestion for a future episode, please let me know. Send an email to NIHRadio@mail.nih.gov. Also, please consider following NIH Radio via Twitter @NIHRadio, or on Facebook. Until next week, I'm your host, Joe Balintfy. Thanks for listening.
Announcer: NIH Research Radio is a presentation of the NIH Radio News Service, part of the News Media Branch, Office of Communications and Public Liaison in the Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
About This Podcast
Spokesperson: Dr. Rohan Hazra
Topic: youth, teens, adolescence, HIV, infected, sex, safe sex, counselingiversity, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, gestational diabetes mellitus