Drugs Help HIV Babies

Reach Childbearing Age

The emergence of advanced AIDS drugs is allowing an increasing number of babies born with HIV to survive long enough to become sexually active and pregnant, according to a federal study released yesterday.

The study, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, highlights a need to tailor reproductive health programs for a group that until recently had not been expected to live past childhood, the agency said.

"It's a landmark in the HIV epidemic, at least in the U.S.," said Michelle McConnell, an epidemiologist in the CDC's HIV/AIDS division and the author of the study.

The conclusion was based on data from eight females in Puerto Rico who were infected at birth with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and who later became pregnant.

None of the babies born to the mothers, all of whom were teenagers when they conceived, was infected with the virus, according to the study. All the mothers had received antiretroviral AIDS drugs consistently during pregnancy.

Particles in Donor Blood

Are Clumped Platelets

Mysterious white particles discovered in donated blood last month probably are clumps of platelets that may be linked to the way some blood is prepared, U.S. health officials said yesterday.

That is the leading theory from the Food and Drug Administration, which continues to investigate the matter. Officials stressed that no harm has been linked to the particles.

Findings so far indicate the particles are clumps primarily of platelets, a normal blood component, said Jesse Goodman, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

Officials said blood banks can use blood in which the particles are found if they use special filters.

U.S. Costs for Diabetes

Doubled Since 1997

The nation's medical bills for diabetes have more than doubled since 1997, rising to almost $92 billion last year, researchers reported yesterday.

Add lost productivity, and diabetes cost the nation a total of $132 billion last year, the American Diabetes Association reported. That was up from $44 billion in medical bills and $98 billion in total costs in 1997.

More than 16 million Americans have diabetes, although experts estimate that 6 million do not know it. Some people are born with the disease, but the vast majority have the Type 2 form, which is increasing at epidemic proportions as Americans get older, fatter and less active.

-- From News Services