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Children living in urban areas are at greater risk for lead poisoning than are their rural and suburban counterparts, according to a study published last month in the Therapeutic Drug Monitoring Journal.

The report describes a study by researchers in Washington and Charlottesville, Va., who examined blood samples taken from 4,528 children during routine physical examinations. The children ranged in age from 9 months to 3 years.

The researchers found that urban children were most likely to have high blood-lead concentrations. Of the 4,196 samples from inner-city children, 780 (18.6 percent) had lead concentrations of at least 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood--the established level for lead toxicity. Only five of the 212 suburban children (2.4 percent) and seven of the 120 rural children studied (5.8 percent) had concentrations in that range.

Moreover, the average lead level of 1,000 randomly chosen urban children was fully 60 percent higher than that of the rural or suburban children studied.

Studies have found that exposure to lead during infancy can retard intellectual development.

The researchers said that although lead poisoning has been documented in all racial and ethnic populations, socioeconomic groups, and geographical areas, government should target its limited resources at those areas where children are at greatest risk.

Despite efforts to inform them about the dangers of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS, young homosexual men continue to engage in unprotected anal intercourse, according to a survey released last month by the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

The report, "Youth and H.I.V. Disease in San Francisco,'' contains the results of a survey conducted in the Bay Area in 1992 and 1993. The researchers found that 9.4 percent of the men surveyed were infected with H.I.V. The rate among San Francisco residents surveyed was 12.1 percent.

Only 30 percent of the H.I.V.-infected men were aware they were infected, the survey found.

In addition, 33 percent of those infected with H.I.V. said they had had unprotected anal intercourse in the previous six months.

The city's health department, which gathered the data from surveys distributed at local dance clubs, bars, and parks, reported that 11.8 percent of those who have had sex with men, reported that they had recently injected drugs.

The city' health department has been funding community-based outreach efforts to youths for nearly a decade. The city's health commissioner said he would intensify H.I.V.-prevention efforts targeted to high-risk populations.--J.P.

Vol. 12, Issue 37

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