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Bacterial Vaginosis Associated With Increased Risk Of HIV Transmission From Women To Men, Study Shows

Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a condition characterized by a disruption in normal vaginal bacteria, is associated with a more than three-fold increased risk of HIV transmission from an infected woman with the condition to her uninfected male partner, according to a study published June 26 in PLoS Medicine, VOA News reports. Craig Cohen, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California at San Francisco and lead author of the study, said additional research into the causes of and treatments for BV, as well as exactly how the condition increases the risk of HIV transmission, needs to be conducted, according to the news service. In some areas of Africa, up to half of the female population has BV but many are unaware of their condition, VOA reports, noting the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded the research (De Capua, 6/29).

WEBCAST: Kaiser Family Foundation Interviews Science's Jon Cohen Regarding New Research On HIV Treatment In East Africa

“Science Magazine’s Jon Cohen speaks with the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Jackie Judd about preliminary science that may show why East Africans could be at a disadvantage when being treated for HIV infection,” in a “Washington Notebook” interview on the foundation’s webpage, PBS NewsHour reports. Cohen discusses two studies presented at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C., this week (7/25).

Washington Post Examines Circumcision As HIV Prevention Strategy

“Although circumcision’s effect on protection against HIV is clear — three studies have shown a 60 percent reduction in risk to men — as a public health strategy, it is fraught with caveats,” the Washington Post reports. Though uncertainty exists about the degree of protection the procedure provides, especially for specific groups such as men who have sex with men, and “[m]any ethnic groups have strong cultural traditions against the procedure,” “many AIDS researchers and advocates view it as a strategy that needs far more promotion since it provides some protection to men having sex with infected women,” according to the newspaper. The article includes a summary of data and studies on circumcision (Brown, 7/25).

Laura Bush Discusses Foreign Aid, Work On AIDS, Cervical Cancer In ABC Interview

ABC News’ “OTUS” blog features an interview with former first lady Laura Bush, who discusses the importance of foreign aid and how she and her husband, former President George W. Bush, “will be building off the success of [PEPFAR] and continuing to work to fight AIDS in Africa and worldwide,” including “help[ing] women in developing countries screen for cervical cancer” (Karl/Wolf, 7/25). Laura Bush is scheduled to speak at the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) on Thursday, and a webcast of the session, “Leadership in the AIDS Response for Women,” will be available online from the Kaiser Family Foundation (7/26).

IRIN Reports On Cholera Outbreaks In Sierra Leone, DRC

“Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, is now the center of a cholera epidemic after the first confirmed case surfaced in the north of the country in February,” IRIN reports, noting, “Since January, Sierra Leone has seen 4,249 cases of cholera and 76 people have died from the waterborne disease” (7/25). In related news, “[c]onflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where M23 rebels and other armed groups are fighting government forces, is dangerously undermining efforts to combat a cholera outbreak” in the country, IRIN writes in a separate article. According to the news service, “There has been ‘a sharp increase in the number of cholera cases in the armed conflict area of North Kivu’ Province, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement” (7/25).

Trust, Invest In African Ministries Of Health To Create Sustainable Health Care Solutions

“During the 1990s it had taken a while for the rest of the world to wake up to the tragedy of AIDS in Africa, but belatedly the alarm call had come,” John Wright, a consultant in clinical epidemiology at Bradford Royal Infirmary in England, writes in a BMJ opinion piece. “Global funding and international action achieved something quite miraculous, bringing the most expensive and innovative drugs in the world to the poorest people on the planet; a triumph of science and health policy that made the discovery of penicillin look quaint,” he says. “The new health colonialists have come from across the globe with admirable intentions and boundless energy in a new scramble for Africa. Dozens of well meaning health providers are falling over each other to help — but crucially also to justify their efforts to their sponsors back home,” he writes.

Without Scale-Up Of Aid, Africa’s Sahel Region Facing Humanitarian Crisis, U.N. Warns

“Senior United Nations officials [on Tuesday] made impassioned appeals to the international community to make more resources available to assist millions of people affected by the severe food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa, cautioning that global inaction could lead to a humanitarian disaster,” the U.N. News Centre reports (4/10). “UNICEF’s Executive Director Anthony Lake said at least one million — and possibly up to 1.5 million — children in the region face acute, severe malnutrition, putting them at risk of death from starvation or disease,” the Associated Press/Washington Post writes, adding, “Unless donor countries provide more funds, ‘the result will be many children will die and many families will suffer,’ he said” (4/10).

Malawi’s Mutharika Left ‘Positive Legacy’ By Showing How Africa ‘Can Feed Itself’

Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika, who died April 5, may be remembered for corruption and mismanagement, but his “positive legacy” is his creation of “an agriculture-led boom in Malawi, one that pointed a way for Africa to overcome its chronic hunger, food insecurity, and periodic extreme famines,” Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. Despite “resistance” from the donor community, under Mutharika, “Malawi used its own paltry budget revenues to introduce a tiny [agricultural] subsidy program for the world’s poorest people, and lo and behold, production doubled within one harvest season. Malawi began to produce enough grain for itself year after year, and even became a food donor when famine struck the region. Life expectancy began to rise, and is estimated to be around 55 years for the period 2010-15,” he says.

USAID, Israel Sign MOU To Provide Agricultural Assistance To Four African Countries

“USAID and MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have signed a memorandum of understanding [MOU] to increase cooperation on the topic of food security in Africa,” Globes reports. “The agreement is part of USAID’s ‘Feed the Future’ initiative” and will allow “for closer cooperation on the issue of food security in four countries: Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda,” the news service writes (Dagoni, 4/19). The MOU is “the first of its kind, according to MASHAV head Daniel Carmon, though he stressed that ‘this MOU is not the start of the relationship; it’s the continuing and the strengthening of the relationship,'” according to the Jerusalem Post. “The assistance will include help with food production and crop cycles, as well as addressing environmental issues that go beyond the agricultural sector, Carmon said,” the newspaper notes (Krieger, 4/19).

PBS NewsHour Interviews Developer Of ‘Solar Suitcase’

In this PBS NewsHour report, NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels interviews obstetrician Laura Stachel about the “solar suitcase,” a “a suitcase containing elements to produce and store solar energy,” devised by Stachel with the aim of reducing maternal mortality rates in the developing world after “witnessing the consequences of power outages in Nigeria’s health facilities.” “We estimate that 300,000 health facilities do not have reliable electricity around the world. So this is a huge problem,” Stachel said in the interview, according to the transcript. Stachel discusses her experiences in Nigeria’s health facilities, the development of the suitcase, and efforts to ramp up production to meet global demand. The news service contains a link to a related slideshow (4/4).