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Also In Global Health News: HIV Study; Health Access, Hunger In Sudan; HIV/AIDS In Guyana; Malaria Deaths In Malawi; North-South Korea Health Program

HIV Hides Outs In Bone Marrow, Study Finds

HIV “can hide in the bone marrow, avoiding drugs and later awakening to cause illness, according to new research that could point the way toward better treatments for the disease,” the Associated Press reports (Schmid, 3/7). The findings, published Monday in the journal Nature, offer “a new target for scientists, but it also presents new challenges because killing off bone marrow cells is a dicey proposition,” HealthDay/BusinessWeek reports (Dotinga, 3/8). ABC News’ “The World Today” features an interview with the lead author of the study, Kathleen Collins from the University of Michigan, where she describes the findings (Hall, 3/8).

PBS’ NewsHour Examines Situation In Sudan

PBS’ “NewsHour” looks at the “growing violence and hunger in southern Sudan. … The U.N. says half of south Sudan’s population is desperately short of food. That’s a fourfold increase in hunger this year, due to drought and growing violence, violence stemming from age-old local conflicts and, some fear, echoes of the north-south civil war.” The story includes information on the country’s upcoming elections and how “Doctors Without Borders says it is preparing for the worst. Even under the most optimistic scenario, this region will remain largely without access to basic health services for a long time, says Akko Eleveld, one of the group’s country leaders” (de Sam Lazaro, 3/5).

AIDS Could Become Smaller Health Issue In Guyana, Health Minister Says

HIV/AIDS could be downgraded from a major public health threat in Guyana in the next 10 years if efficient strategies are pursued and additional focus is placed on prevention programs, Leslie Ramsammy, the country’s health minister, said at the launch of a new partnership framework between the government and PEPFAR, Stabroek News reports. “The framework provides a five-year joint strategic plan for cooperation between the U.S. administration and Guyana and ends in 2015,” according to Stabroek News. “U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires, Karen Williams noted during her brief remarks that the next phase of PEPFAR represents an opportunity for the U.S. government to support shared responsibility with partner countries. Williams expressed hope that the consultations which were held yesterday would be successful and she noted that her government is keen on strengthening the partnership with Guyana,” the article states (3/5).

Death Rates From Malaria Don’t Budge, Despite Insecticide-Treated Net Distribution

Despite recent efforts in Malawi to fight malaria by providing free or low-cost insecticide-treated mosquito nets, “up to 7,000 Malawians died of malaria in 2009, with 4.5 million cases recorded,” Malawi’s Deputy Health Minister Gloria Mwale announced Friday, Agence France-Presse reports. These death rates, said Mwale, are nearly the same as those seen in 2007, out of four million reported infections. “Health experts say the government spends about seven million dollars (more than five million euros) annually to treat malaria cases,” according to the news service, which adds, “Malawi had hoped to fight the disease by giving one million insecticide-treated nets to young children and pregnant women, using money from the Global Fund and U.S. aid” (3/5).

North-South Korea Project Leading To Health Gains

The WHO on Thursday reported on the health gains achieved by a four-year old project between North Korea and South Korea, the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. The program, which is funded by South Korea, has totaled $30.2 million thus far. In addition to reducing rates of maternal mortality in North Korea by over 20 percent since 2005, the program “has trained more than 6,000 doctors and nurses in emergency obstetric care, newborn care and child illnesses, said [Eric] Laroche [of the WHO], who assessed its progress in a four-day visit to North Korea” (Engeler, 3/4). Reuters reports, “Four provincial hospitals – two pediatric and two maternity – have been renovated and supplied with medicines and laboratory equipment, a WHO statement said. Hospitals in 80 of the 220 counties and rural clinics have also been upgraded” (Nebehay, 3/4).