HIV Prevention Pill Now Available

HIV Infected H9 T-Cell, photo by niiaid

HIV Infected H9 T-Cell, photo by niiaid

ATLANTA, Georgia -- An HIV prevention pill is recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) for those at risk for contracting HIV.  The pill, called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP, brand name Truvada), works by lowering the amount of the virus circulating in a person's bloodstream.  It has already been used as part of some HIV/AIDS treatment plans, but recently has been approved as a prevention method as well.

Each year in the United States, there are 50,000 new cases of HIV. Currently there are about 1.1 million people in the US who are living with HIV.  PrEP trials have shown that users of the pill can reduce their chance of contracting HIV by up to 92%.

Naysayers of the pill claim that with increased availability of Truvada, at-risk individuals will be less careful with other methods. Dissenters also say that it will be hard for people to remember to take the one-a-day pill.

However, supporters say that there is no evidence that the availability of the pill will lead people to neglect other methods of HIV prevention. The CDC says that for various reasons, there are many at-risk people who have not been using condoms or who do not use condoms correctly. PrEP will provide another option for these people.

A three-city initial trial of the pill showed that 98% of subjects involved had some amount of the drug in their system at the end of the trial period -- disproving fears that people will forget to consistently take the daily dosage.

PrEP, which currently costs about $13,000 a year and is covered by most insurance companies, is not recommended for everyone. Its target group is people who are at a substantial risk for HIV, such as someone with a partner who has tested positive for an HIV, people not engaged in mutually monogamous relationships, people who practice anal sex without regular condom use and people who inject drugs under potentially unsanitary conditions.

Currently a vaccine version of PrEP is being tested in monkeys.  This injectable version would have the convenience of giving several months worth of protection.

Fowl Play? China to Serve as Middleman in Chicken Processing for American Consumers


WASHINGTON, DC - In case you were looking for another reason to try a vegetarian diet, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will likely allow the exportation of U.S. grown chickens to China for processing and packaging.

China's limited food regulations have tarnished the nation's reputation in terms of food safety. While seafood sold throughout the world is commonly prepared in Chinese butcheries, many Americans are alarmed that the USDA would oversee the outsourcing of even more raw foodstuffs.

While American butchers and processors earn around $11 an hour for their work, their Chinese counterparts earn $2 at best. Beyond the apparent human rights implications, Americans should also question the final product.

Unless the USDA reverses their decision, the poultry that ordinary Americans will soon consume will have made a round trip of over 14,000 miles. All the while, it will be exposed to undocumented risks and unknown contaminants.

Health and capitalism are often at odds throughout the United States. The shortcomings of the fast food industry have been the subject of nationwide media attention in recent years. ABC News educated the American people about the use of "pink slime" in beef products in 2012, alerting the public that ammonia was commonly used to sanitize the bacteria-ridden ingredient. Since then, many corporations have pledged to discontinue the unsafe practice. By informing consumers about the dangers of the USDA's plans to cut chicken costs, activists hope that people will vote against the measure with their purchasing dollar.

A major problem with the USDA's plans is that Americans would be unable to discern meat processed domestically from meat sent abroad. The Chinese government's lax oversight into food production is a continued problem. In 2008, hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians became sick from milk that included dangerous adulterants. The same agents found their way into baby formula, forcing over 50,000 children to seek medical treatment. Six would later die from the contaminants.

A similar story reached international headlines in 2012. The Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, a Chinese top-producer in the dairy industry, was forced to recall thousands of baby formula units after testing showed signs of mercury contamination. While the incident is disturbing in its own right, the response of the Chinese government exacerbated the issue.

The Republic censured reports of the Yili mercury scare to ease concerns and protect the name of the corporation. This approach is reckless, and prioritized money interests over the awareness about the serious and ongoing health risk. While government's lack of foresight in terms of health standards is regrettable, their ongoing censorship is far worse than the original indiscretion.

The inclusion of Chinese processed chicken in the American diet would be a seeming step backwards in a country vying to source higher quality meat into school cafeterias, drive-through establishments and high-scale chains alike. The benefits are far outweighed by the potential dangers, as quick-fix business dealings will do little to help our consumers or domestic meat processors. While our capitalist economy is naturally concerned with the bottom-line, the unscrupulous actions of the Chinese government could return mainstream American cuisine to the former trajectory of "pink-slime," or worse.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Senior Correspondent: @MAndrewRansom

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