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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).

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).

Malaria Conference Addresses RTS,S Vaccine, Tools, Treatment

On Tuesday at the 5th Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Pan-African Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, scientists and global health experts focused on malaria eradication, Agence France-Presse reports. “Key among the strategies … is the development of an effective anti-malaria vaccine, a project scientists have been researching since the late 80s. … RTS,S is the most clinically advanced malaria vaccine so far, according to the Malaria Vaccine Initiative,” the news service writes (11/3).

Reuters Examines How Much Of G8 Agriculture Investment Is New

Three billion of the $20 billion that G8 leaders promised to invest in agriculture in developing countries “appears to be new money, diplomats and sources close to the matter said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. “Most of that new money, up to $2 billion, is coming from the United States, according to two sources, one on the donor side and one on the recipient side,” the news service writes.

WHO Investigates Cases Of H1N1 Drug Resistance In U.S., Britain

The WHO is looking into reports that patients with “severely suppressed immune systems” in Britain and the U.S. developed resistance Tamiflu, which is used to treat the symptoms of H1N1 (swine flu), a spokesman for the organization said Tuesday, Reuters reports.

Despite Gains, HIV/AIDS Remains Public-Health Priority, UNAIDS, WHO Say

News outlets continued to examine the 2009 AIDS epidemic update released Tuesday by the WHO and UNAIDS: “The U.N. report said ‘AIDS continues to be a major public-health priority’ and called for more funds to support efforts to curb the epidemic and to distribute lifesaving drugs,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The U.N. report also suggested that health authorities need to focus resources on those most at risk” (Fairclough, 11/25).

Food Prices ‘Stubbornly High’ In Developing Countries, Report Says

Food prices in developing nations continue to be “stubbornly high … despite a strong cereal harvest this year, and 31 countries need emergency aid,” the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its “Crop Prospects and Food Situation” report released Tuesday ahead of next week’s Rome World Summit on Food Security, Agence France-Presse reports.

Updated WHO Data Finds Deaths Caused By Tainted Food Are Underestimated

New WHO data finds that unsafe food kills an estimated 1.2 million people over the age of five in Southeast Asia and Africa each year, including three times more adults than previously thought, Reuters reports. “It is a picture that we have never had before,” WHO Food Safety Director Jorgen Schlundt said. “We now have documentation of a significant burden outside the less than five group, that is major new information.”