Your tax dollars may be paying for unauthorized drugs. Tax dollars paid for $200 million in drugs that were never reviewed by the government for safety and effectiveness, an Associated Press investigation has found. The drugs give people a false sense of security, but they are also responsible for dozens of deaths, health officials say. Even so, millions of private patients who qualify for the low-income health care program are taking such drugs, and the government is picking up the tab, according to AP’s analysis of government data. The medications date back decades, before the Food and Drug Administration tightened its review process for drugs in the early 1960s, AP says. The FDA says it is trying to squeeze them from the market, but conflicting federal laws allow the drugs to the Medicaid health program to pay for them. Medicaid officials acknowledge the problem, but say they need Congress to fix loopholes in the laws that allow the unauthorized drugs to continue to qualify for payment.
Teen HIV rate jumps 45 percent in Central Ohio. The number of Central Ohio teenagers and young adults infected with HIV has mushroomed by 45 percent in three years, according to local figures. Of all the Franklin County women living with HIV, nearly three-quarters are African American. As dozens of countries commemorate World AIDS Day on December 1, Central Ohioans need to be reminded that the epidemic continues right here at home. The Ohio Department of Health reports that HIV infections in Central Ohio match the dramatic increases nationwide, especially in African Americans, youth, and women, local officials say. Between 2003 and 2006, the highest new infection rates in Central Ohio were among youth (ages 13-25), up nearly 45 percent. Infections among individuals ages 25-34 were up about 10 percent, and individuals ages 45-64 were up 13 percent. The number of new HIV infection diagnoses in the African American population jumped 22 percent. African American women are disproportionately affected, making up close to 75 percent of all women diagnosed in Franklin County. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than one million Americans are living with HIV. More than a quarter of them don’t even know they are infected. For more on HIV, what causes it, and whether your perceptions about the disease and people who have it are spot on or a little off, see the BET.com/Body & Soul feature “Are You Positive?”
Young Black women have higher breast cancer rates. The incidence of breast cancer among African-American women under 40 is higher than for White women of the same age, according to the results of an analysis published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on Friday. The researchers studied more than 300,000 cases of breast cancer based on age at diagnosis, year of diagnosis, racial and ethnic categories, and pathologic features of the cancer. They found that although White women had higher incidence rates than Black women after age 40, the reverse was true for younger women. In women under 40, the incidence rate per 100,000 woman-years was approximately 17 for Black women, compared with approximately 15 for white women. The discrepancy was even higher for women under age 30. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women in the United States, with about 180,000 cases diagnosed each year. Problems with early screening, which lead to later diagnoses, and access to care have negatively affected Black women’s survival rates, experts say. While mammogram breast screenings are generally advised for women age 40 and old, if the incidence of breast cancer in younger women continues to trend upward, health officials may have to identify either preventive or better screening approaches, including the identification of early risk factors, in younger women. Experts are also studying whether genetics play a role in the higher rates of breast cancer for younger Black women. For more info on breast cancer go to BET.com/lifestye/Body & Soul.