Scielo RSS <![CDATA[MEDICC Review]]> vol. 17 num. 4 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[Facts & Figures]]> <![CDATA[Migration: Wall to Wall?]]> <![CDATA[About the Contributors]]> <![CDATA[Letters]]> <![CDATA[Reflections on Cuban Migration: Interview with Antonio Aja PhD Director, University of Havana’s Center for Demographic Studies]]> Dr Aja (pronounced á-ha) himself, is a product of the ebbs and flows of Cuban migration. His father, son of Lebanese merchant immigrants to Cuba, later studied medicine and emigrated to New York. There he met Antonio’s mother, a garment worker and daughter in a poor family of Cuban émigrés. The young couple moved to Tampa, Florida— following a pattern of settlement for Cubans in the USA at the time—where Antonio was born in 1953. The whole family later returned to Cuba, amidst the 1950s rebellion against Batista. They stayed, but relatives are still sprinkled abroad…as they are today for many Cuban families. Dr Aja, says his own history is part of what prompted him to explore the relation of families, demography and migration, the complex subject he has studied for a quarter century. Under the broader scope of health and society, MEDICC Review editors asked Dr. Aja to share insights from his years of research and experience. <![CDATA[Outcomes among Asylum Seekers in Atlanta, Georgia, 2003-2012]]> INTRODUCTION Asylum seekers face a wide array of challenges, including the need for a fair and just adjudication process. In the state of Georgia, the Atlanta Asylum Network addresses the needs of such individuals by providing them physical, psychological and gynecological assessments, the results of which are presented to the courts in the asylum appeal process. OBJECTIVES As a component of the Network’s program evaluation, assess outcomes among asylum seekers using its services, as well as relation of outcomes to type of service provided, the individual’s geographic origin and English language proficiency. METHODS A retrospective examination was conducted of program data gathered by the Network between 2003 and 2012. Subjects included asylum seekers who received assessments by the Network during this period. The primary variable of interest was the final case outcome, defined as determination of asylum status: granted, withholding of removal, administrative closure and prosecutorial discretion, denied or voluntary departure. Outcomes were subsequently collapsed into a single positive or negative outcome variable. Positive outcomes included asylum granted, removal withheld, administrative closure and prosecutorial discretion. Negative outcomes included asylum denied and voluntary departure. We conducted bivariate and multivariate analyses, relating final case outcomes to Network services, geographic origin and English language proficiency, among the key variables. RESULTS A total of 69 of 120 asylum seekers in the study had a known final case outcome, and of those, 63.8% (44) had a positive outcome; or 37% of the total number of asylum seekers (n = 120). Among the 20 who received 2 of the 3 types of assessment (physical, psychological, gynecological), 16 (80%) received a positive case outcome. Most persons with a known final outcome came from Africa (41), where 78% (32) of cases resulted positive. Asylum seekers not proficient in English were 2.4 times more likely to have a negative case outcome. CONCLUSIONS Network assessment appears to result in higher rates of positive case outcomes compared to the average for asylum seekers seen in the Atlanta circuit court. Areas for programmatic improvement include systematic followup and increased community awareness of Network services, since the Network may directly impact future case outcomes by offering assessment to more asylum seekers. Access to English language instruction and legal representation for asylum claimants may also contribute to more cases with positive outcomes. <![CDATA[Environmental, Nutrition and Health Issues in a US Refugee Resettlement Community]]> INTRODUCTION In 2012, North Carolina ranked in the top ten states in refugee resettlement, with central Guilford County one of the most diverse in the southeast. OBJECTIVE Examine the local resettlement environmental, nutrition and health barriers and needs of refugees in Guilford County, as perceived by individuals providing services to them. METHODS Participants (n = 40) included: medical and social service providers, educators, faith-based volunteers, resettlement agency caseworkers and liaisons to a variety of refugee communities. Guided semistructured interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Themes were identified using deductive content analysis and categorized by frequency of reporting by participants. RESULTS Perceptions were consistent across participants regarding a diverse local refugee population. Resettlement housing was observed to be in poor condition, located in areas of poverty with transportation barriers. However, refugees rarely relocated, due to strong community relationships and support. Perceived dietary risks included: difficulties budgeting and maintaining food assistance, hoarding food, high consumption of sodas and sweets, misperceptions regarding US products (e.g., perceived need for infant formula), and limited health knowledge. Respondents observed that most refugees preferred “fresh” foods, and had strong agricultural skills but lacked green space. Major barriers to health care reported were: poverty, short duration of initial Medicaid coverage, and language (both lack of interpretation services and translated materials). Providers consistently observed type 2 diabetes, weight gain and dental problems across refugee groups. CONCLUSIONS Direct service providers’ experiences and observations working with a diverse resettlement population provide unique insight into consistent barriers to achieving good health that confront refugees. While refugees face many barriers, groups often have impressive strengths, such as agricultural skills, on which to focus. <![CDATA[HIV-1 Genetic Variability in Cuba and Implications for Transmission and Clinical Progression]]> INTRODUCTION Serological and molecular HIV-1 studies in Cuba have shown very low prevalence of seropositivity, but an increasing genetic diversity attributable to introduction of many HIV-1 variants from different areas, exchange of such variants among HIV-positive people with several coinciding routes of infection and other epidemiologic risk factors in the seropositive population. The high HIV-1 genetic variability observed in Cuba has possible implications for transmission and clinical progression. OBJECTIVES Study genetic variability for the HIV-1 env, gag and pol structural genes in Cuba; determine the prevalence of B and non-B subtypes according to epidemiologic and behavioral variables and determine whether a relationship exists between genetic variability and transmissibility, and between genetic variability and clinical disease progression in people living with HIV/AIDS. METHODS Using two molecular assays (heteroduplex mobility assay and nucleic acid sequencing), structural genes were characterized in 590 people with HIV-1 (480 men and 110 women), accounting for 3.4% of seropositive individuals in Cuba as of December 31, 2013. Nonrandom sampling, proportional to HIV prevalence by province, was conducted. Relationships between molecular results and viral factors, host characteristics, and patients’ clinical, epidemiologic and behavioral variables were studied for molecular epidemiology, transmission, and progression analyses. RESULTS Molecular analysis of the three HIV-1 structural genes classified 297 samples as subtype B (50.3%), 269 as non-B subtypes (45.6%) and 24 were not typeable. Subtype B prevailed overall and in men, mainly in those who have sex with men. Non-B subtypes were prevalent in women and heterosexual men, showing multiple circulating variants and recombinant forms. Sexual transmission was the predominant form of infection for all. B and non-B subtypes were encountered throughout Cuba. No association was found between subtypes and transmission or clinical progression, although the proportion of deaths was higher for subtype B. Among those who died during the study period, there were no differences between subtypes in the mean time from HIV or AIDS diagnosis to death. CONCLUSIONS Our results suggest that B and non-B HIV-1 subtypes found in Cuba do not differ in transmissibility and in clinical disease progression. <![CDATA[Safety and Immunogenicity of Cuban Antipneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine PCV7-TT in Healthy Adults]]> INTRODUCTION Pneumococcal infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality and are associated with considerable economic burden on health systems. To prevent pneumococcal infections, 7-valent conjugate vaccines have been available for over a decade; more recently, 10- and 13-valent conjugate vaccines have been formulated, which are more immunogenic than vaccines with capsular polysaccharides only. In Cuba, a new vaccine candidate has been developed, PCV7-TT, a conjugate of tetanus toxoid with antigens of seven of the serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae with highest circulation in Cuba and in the world: 1, 5, 6B, 14, 18C, 19F and 23F. OBJECTIVE Assess the safety of the vaccine candidate PCV7-TT in healthy adults and conduct a preliminary assessment of its immunogenicity. METHODS A phase I, double-blind clinical trial was performed at the National Toxicology Center in Havana, Cuba. Healthy male volunteers aged 18–35 years were randomly assigned to two groups: 20 received the vaccine candidate PCV7-TT and 20 the polyvalent antipneumococcal vaccine PNEUMO-23 used as control, each in a single intramuscular dose. To assess safety, the occurrence of adverse events was monitored for 30 days following inoculation. To explore immunogenicity, concentrations of serotype-specific antibodies was quantified before and 30 days after inoculation, as well titers of opsonophagocytic antibodies. (National Clinical Trial Registry RPCEC00000133) RESULTS Local adverse events were pain, redness, induration, increased sensitivity to touch, and warmth in the injection area. Pain was registered in 70% of individuals who received PCV7-TT and in 75% of those vaccinated with PNEUMO-23. Reported systemic adverse events were general malaise, headache and drowsiness. All adverse events appeared in the first 72 hours post inoculation and lasted no longer than 3 days. One event was reported that was classified as severe in intensity and serious in consequences, but it was unrelated to vaccination—acute appendicitis in one individual inoculated with the control vaccine. Before vaccination, all participants but one had antibody concentrations ≥0.20 μg/ml against the vaccine strains; after vaccination 100% of individuals were positive and the concentrations of antibodies increased in previously positive volunteers. Some individuals had opsonophagocytic antibodies against serotypes 1, 14, 19F and 23F before vaccination, with highest concentrations against serotypes 14 and 19F. After vaccination, the percent of individuals with opsonophagocytic titers ≥1:8 for all serotypes in the vaccine was &gt;50% in both groups. CONCLUSIONS A single dose of candidate vaccine PCV7-TT was safe when used in healthy adults. Preliminary results showed that it was able to activate an immune response against the serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae used. <![CDATA[Early Signs of Atherogenesis in Adolescents in a Havana Family Medicine Catchment Area]]> INTRODUCTION Atherosclerosis is the common underlying cause of cardiovascular diseases; the leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally. It is a major contributor to disability and poorer quality of life and is costly to health systems, individuals, families and society. Early signs of atherogenesis are manifestations of atherosclerosis and known atherogenic risk factors occurring at young ages and detectable by health professionals. Early detection of such signs in children and adolescents enables actions to prevent short- and longterm complications. OBJECTIVES Detect early signs of atherogenesis in adolescents in Family Doctor-and-Nurse Office No. 13 of the Raúl Gómez García Polyclinic in Havana’s 10 de Octubre Municipality. METHODS An observational, cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted: the universe consisted of 110 adolescents and, once exclusion criteria were applied, the sample was made up of 96 adolescents in the office’s geographical catchment area. Variables included sociodemographic data; measurements from physical and anthropometric examinations (weight, height, body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, presence of acanthosis nigricans); maternal history of diabetes mellitus and hypertension, smoking during pregnancy; birth weight and duration of exclusive breastfeeding; lifestyle (physical activity, dietary habits by frequency of consumption of fruits and vegetables, salt intake, and smoking); and a history of atherogenic risk factors and atherosclerotic diseases (hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral arterial disease and chronic kidney disease) in adolescents and their families. The number of early signs of atherogenesis was determined. Descriptive statistics and a chi-square test, with significance threshold set at p = 0.05, were used to examine differences by sex and age. RESULTS A total of 62.5% of participating adolescents were female and the same percent of the total were in early adolescence. Prevalent risk factors were poor dietary habits (81.3%), passive smoking (54.2%) and sedentary lifestyle (45.8%). The latter was more frequent among female and adolescents aged 10–14 years. Prehypertension and active smoking were prevalent during late adolescence. Hypertension was the disease most often found in family history (91.7%). All adolescents had at least one early sign of atherogenesis, and 72.9% had ≥3 signs, noted especially in female participants. CONCLUSIONS The high prevalence of ≥3 early signs of atherogenesis in this study suggests the need to initiate primary prevention before onset of adolescence, and even prior to birth, using a gender perspective, to conduct educational interventions designed to change the risk factors highlighted in the study and reduce cardiovascular risk in adolescents. <![CDATA[A Woman-centered Educational Program for Primary Prevention of Lung Cancer in a Cuban Municipality, 2012-2013]]> Lung cancer educational programs seek the involvement of different groups in efforts to promote healthier habits and lifestyles. Women are primary agents for targeting prevention actions because of their ability to foster healthy lifestyles within their families. The purpose of this study was to develop a woman-centered educational program to strengthen knowledge and promote responsible behavior aimed at primary prevention of lung cancer. Based on identified learning needs in 133 female participants concerning lung cancer self care, healthy habits and communication skills about self care, a ten-workshop series was designed and validated by specialists and users. Before intervention, 82% of participants were highly aware of smoking-related harm, but only 26% were highly aware of healthy environmental management practices at home and 14% were knowledgeable about self care. Differences in both awareness and practice of health-promoting behaviors were observed by the end of the training: those highly aware of smoking-related harm rose to 86.5%, and those highly aware of environmental management and self care increased to 66.2% and 83.5%, respectively. The proportions reporting acceptable levels of environmental management and self-care practices increased to 86.5% (from 0%) and 91% (from 3.8%), respectively. One year later, a positive impact on families was confirmed, predominantly on children. We conclude that such a woman-centered educational program can increase awareness and promote healthy behaviors aimed at lung cancer prevention. Women’s ability to communicate and share lessons learned within their families should be considered in designing community health education programs. <![CDATA[The Debate in Cuba’s Scientific Community on Sudden Cardiac Death]]> Sudden cardiac death poses a challenge to modern medicine because of its high incidence, the unexpected and dramatic nature of the event, and years of potential life lost. What’s more, despite modest decreases in global mortality attributed to cardiovascular diseases, incidence of sudden cardiac death has not declined. Cuba, like most of the Americas, suffers from knowledge gaps that hamper adequate strategies to address sudden cardiac death as a population health problem. We suggest that a generally accepted operational definition of sudden cardiac death be agreed upon, and a national registry developed that recognizes this cause of death on death certificates. These two actions will enable Cuba’s public health authorities to assess the extent of the problem and to design intervention strategies for the population with intermediate and lower cardiovascular risk, the group in which most cases occur. <![CDATA[Immigration and Population in Canada: A Dependent Relationship Case Study of Cuban Immigration]]> The article examines the effects of immigration on the population dynamics of a traditional immigrant-recipient country, Canada. Data from the 2011 Canadian census suggest that Canadian population growth, as well as the stability of the economically active and reproductive-age population, largely depends on the steady arrival of new immigrants. Management of immigration flows to suit [domestic] development needs is therefore an essential component of Canadian policy regulating entry of new permanent residents. The Cuban immigration case study illustrates how Canadian migration regulations influence the sociodemographic features of a specific group of immigrants and the impact that such movements may have on the development of traditional countries of emigration, such as Cuba, because of the loss of human potential. <![CDATA[When Politics Trumps Health: Undocumented Latino Immigrants and US Health Care]]> <![CDATA[Under the Cover of Night: Abortion Across Borders]]>