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CD4 Quick Test Helps Increase Number Of Patients Who Return For HIV Test Results

A new quick test to determine the CD4 levels of individuals who test positive for HIV “resulted in a substantial increase” in the percentage of people returning to a clinic get those results, according to a study conducted in Mozambique and published last week in the Lancet, the New York Times reports. “Before quick testing was available, 42 percent of infected patients returned to learn their CD4 count at a subsequent visit. After point-of-care testing began, 78 percent of infected patients were evaluated — that is, almost twice as many infected people took this important first step toward drug treatment,” the newspaper writes (Bakalar, 10/3).

Use Of Injectable Hormone Contraceptive May Double Risk Of Contracting, Transmitting HIV, Study Shows

“The most popular contraceptive for women in eastern and southern Africa, a hormone shot given every three months, appears to double the risk the women will become infected with HIV,” according to a study involving 3,800 sero-discordant couples in Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, the New York Times reports. The study, led by researchers at the University of Washington and published Monday in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, also found that when the contraceptive was “used by HIV-positive women, their male partners are twice as likely to become infected than if the women had used no contraception,” the newspaper writes. In addition, the study “found that oral contraceptives appeared to increase risk of HIV infection and transmission, but the number of pill users in the study was too small to be considered statistically significant, the authors said,” according to the New York Times.

Abortions In Africa Increased During 'Global Gag Rule,' Stanford University Study Shows

“In the first study to examine” the effects of a U.S. policy prohibiting foreign aid from going to any organization that performs abortions or provides information about or referral for the procedure as a method of family planning (often called the “Global Gag Rule” or “Mexico City Policy”), Stanford researchers Eran Bendavid and Grant Miller found that “the number of abortions increased in African countries where U.S. support for NGOs was cut the most,” according to a Stanford University news release (Gorlick, 9/28).

Strides Being Made Against Trypanosomiasis

Rachel ter Horst, medical advocacy adviser at Medecins Sans Frontieres, describes findings presented at the recent 31st biennial International Scientific Council for Trypanosomiasis Research and Control in Bamako, Mali, in this “BMJ Group Blogs” post. Noting that the annual reported incidence of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) is decreasing but still…

Microbicide Trials Network Stops Tenofovir Arm Of Study After Findings Show Drug Less Effective Than Anticipated

“The Microbicide Trials Network (MTN), which is funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, [on Wednesday] announced that it decided to stop one arm of a study involving more than 5,000 women in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Uganda” after “an interim review of the ongoing trial by an independent monitoring board … found that the drug tenofovir when used as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) had less effect in protecting women than anticipated,” Science Magazine’s “Science Insider” blog reports. “Although the board did not offer any specifics on how many women became infected on the drug versus placebo, they said continuing with the tenofovir arm was ‘futile’ as it would not yield meaningful results,” the blog writes.

African Leaders Showing 'Clear Commitment' To Fighting Malaria

“The focused attention that malaria has received by African governments and international organizations has had a major impact, with the rates of mortality coming down dramatically in the continent,” and the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) has helped lead this campaign, an IPP Media editorial states. However, “[a]s long as malaria continues to be Africa’s leading killer, little progress can be recorded in other endeavors, because of its insidious effect,” the editorial writes, noting that two percent of Africa’s GDP is lost annually because of the disease.

With ALMA Scorecard, African Leaders Are Taking Responsibility In Malaria Fight

The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) is “spearheading the fight against malaria” in Africa, bringing together 40 heads of state and “offer[ing] a compelling example of what is possible through co-operation, leadership, commitment, and sound management of national and international funds,” Tanzania President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete writes in a post on the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” With the launch of the “groundbreaking” ALMA scorecard for accountability and action last week, leaders are now able “to measure our own performance against a set of key malaria metrics including national policies, financial controls, delivery of prevention and treatment commodities, and, most importantly, lives saved,” Kikwete writes.

USAID, NGO Partners Testing Nutritional Impact Assessment Tool

USAID is working with non-governmental organization partners to test a “nutritional impact assessment tool” that “‘would be a way for organizations designing or reviewing agricultural programs to mitigate any risks or potential negative effects on nutrition — in other words a “do no harm” approach,’ said Michael Zeilinger, head of the nutrition division with USAID’s office of health, infectious disease and nutrition,” IRIN reports. “‘As we start to design major agriculture programs around value chains and increasing production (such as Feed the Future and Global Agriculture and Food Security Program), we should really remember that there are some practices in agriculture that may have potential negative effects on nutrition, and this is just to make sure that they’re thought through,’ Zeilinger told IRIN.”

GAVI To Purchase $1 Billion In Childhood Vaccines For Distribution In 37 Of The Poorest Nations

The Geneva-based GAVI Alliance, a fund backed by governments, the World Bank, the WHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday that it will purchase more than $1 billion in vaccines against rotavirus, pneumococcal and other diseases through deals made with GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co. to immunize children in 37 of the poorest nations, Bloomberg reports. “Wealthy nations donated $4.3 billion to purchase the vaccines as part of a plan to immunize 250 million children by 2015,” the news service notes (Bennett, 9/27).