Trending News Today: California Lawmakers Seek to Decriminalize HIV Laws

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

The recent yellow fever outbreak in Brazil has raised concern among United States health experts, who question if it will become the next epidemic. Yellow fever can kill as many as 10% of individuals who are infected, and 2 physicians from the National Institutes of Health warn that there has been an unusual spike in cases over the last few weeks in several rural areas of Brazil. Although the outbreaks are limited to small populated areas with little virus-spreading mosquitos to fuel transmission, the areas are on the edge of densely packed major urban areas, with large proportion of unvaccinated residents. An efficacious vaccine against yellow fever has been available since 1937, but worldwide, the stockpiles are all but depleted, according to the Los Angeles Times. Essay co-author Dr Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said only a few companies worldwide manufacture the vaccine, and it takes a long time to make additional doses.

Several lawmakers have promoted a bill by Sen Scott Wiener (D-CA) that would reduce intentionally exposing an individual to HIV from a felony to a misdemeanor, according to ABC News. Under the currently law, an HIV-positive individual who is aware of their status and has unprotected sex without telling their partner they have the virus, can be convicted of a felony and face years of jail time. If passed, the SB239 bill would also repeal California laws that require individuals convicted of prostitution for the first time to be tested for AIDS and increase penalties for prostitution if the sex worker tested positive for AIDS in connection with a previous conviction, ABC News reported. “These laws were passed at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic when there was enormous fear and ignorance and misinformation around HIV,” Wiener said. “It’s time for California to lead and to repeal these laws to send a clear signal that we are going to take a science-based approach to HIV not a fear-based approach.”

The FDA warns patients and physicians to avoid a risky, experimental procedure used to treat several nervous system disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, ABC News reported. The transvascular autonomic modulation (TVAM) procedure involves inflating a tiny balloon in narrowed veins—––typically in the neck––to widen the veins and improve blood flow. In the safety communication, the FDA said it has not seen any evidence regarding the procedures safety and efficacy. Thus far, the agency said they have received 1 report of a balloon rupturing in a patient’s jugular vein and lodging in their lung, and others reported complications, including at least 1 death, abdominal bleeding, blood clots, and nerve damage in the brain. The FDA first warned against the procedure in 2012, according to ABC News.