When the only community health care center providing medical and psychosocial care for people living with HIV/AIDS in India’s northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir “closed down [six months ago] for lack of patients, it was a sure sign that the north Indian state had beaten back dire forecasts,” Inter Press Service reports.
Two opinion pieces published on Monday examine the real-life health risks of an outbreak portrayed in “Contagion,” a movie that opened this weekend in which a mysterious airborne virus kills thousands of people.
After a landmark study published in May “showed major reductions in HIV transmission among discordant couples due to early treatment,” Rwanda has decided to begin treating people in discordant relationships with antiretroviral therapy as soon as they test HIV-positive “as part of a plan to boost national HIV prevention and treatment efforts,” PlusNews reports. “According to the government, an estimated 7.1 percent of cohabiting couples seeking voluntary counseling and testing services in the capital, Kigali, are HIV discordant,” and “[i]nfections within stable relationships have been identified as one of the main sources of new cases in Rwanda,” according to the news agency.
In this New York Times opinion piece, W. Ian Lipkin, a professor of epidemiology and a professor of neurology and pathology at Columbia University and a paid technical consultant on the film “Contagion,” which opened this weekend, writes about the risks of an infectious disease outbreak as portrayed in the film, stating, “Those risks are very real — and are increasing drastically.”
George W. Bush Institute Forms Public-Private Partnership To Combat Cervical, Breast Cancers In Developing World
The George W. Bush Institute is forming a public-private partnership to use PEPFAR’s existing infrastructure of doctors, nurses and clinics to expand screening and treatment of women for cervical cancer and perform breast cancer education in the developing world, the Wall Street Journal reports. The goal of the partnership, which also includes the State Department, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and UNAIDS, “is to reduce the number of cervical cancer deaths by 25 percent in five years in countries where it scales up screening and treatment,” WSJ writes, adding, “Its initial investment will be $75 million.”
The U.N.’s Pan-American Health Organization, the United States and the international community “should be working with the Haitian Health Ministry to wage a more aggressive and effective effort” against the cholera epidemic that hit the country last year, and those efforts “should include not only clean water and sanitation systems but more antibiotics and cholera vaccinations,” a New York Times editorial says. “Ramping up manufacturing” of the cholera vaccine — of which there are less than 400,000 doses worldwide — “could be readily done and would have global benefits,” the editorial states.
The Wall Street Journal examines the use of the African giant pouched rat to detect tuberculosis (TB) in lab samples. A study published online in the Pan African Medical Journal last month found the rats are “better than human lab techs at identifying TB bacteria in a dollop of mucus,” a finding that “holds promise for diagnosing tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa,” according to the newspaper. While “[t]he rats turn up many false-positive findings of TB, so the results need to be confirmed by conventional lab methods, … [a] rat takes seven minutes to work through the same number of samples as a lab technician would assess in a full day,” according to the researchers, the newspaper reports. The rats are being trained in Tanzania by the non-governmental organization Apopo, which “primarily trains African giant pouched rats to sniff land mines for de-mining activities in Mozambique, Thailand and other countries,” the Wall Street Journal notes (Robinson (9/6).
Integrating Rapid Syphilis And HIV Testing For Pregnant Women Could Reduce Maternal, Child Morbidity And Mortality
“A study conducted in Uganda and Zambia by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) found high rates of syphilis and HIV co-infection among pregnant women in both countries,” but showed that “integrating rapid syphilis screening and HIV testing for pregnant women was feasible, cost-effective, and helped to prevent transmission of syphilis and HIV from mother-to-child,” PlusNews reports.
When a cholera outbreak began months after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, health workers used cell phones to help track the movements of people leaving the epicenter, allowing them “to alert medics to go where infected people might carry the disease,” according to a report published on Tuesday in PLoS Medicine, NPR’s health blog “Shots” reports. “The second wave of cases did appear exactly in the areas where most of the population was moving to … out of the cholera zone,” public health specialist Richard Garfield of Columbia University said, the blog notes. Health officials also used the phones to send health advice to Haitians over voice mail or text messaging, according to the blog (Joyce, 8/31).
“A potentially cheaper and faster method for diagnosing tuberculosis (TB) has been developed by researchers” at the University of Basel, Switzerland, “who hope to test it in Tanzania,” according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology last week, SciDev.Net reports. “The lack of a cheap, quick and accurate test makes it hard to control the TB epidemic, which claims millions of lives every year in developing countries,” according to the news service.