Fear, Stigma, Ignorance Keep AIDS Epidemic Going

There’s been a lot of progress in the fight against AIDS over the past 30 years, but as the 30th World AIDS Day is observed on Dec. 1 — people still die from the disease. And others are newly infected every day even though the tools are available to end the epidemic. Fear, stigma and ignorance. The World Health Organization says these are the reasons the AIDS epidemic is not over because doctors can treat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.  With treatment, no one needs to die from AIDS, and those with the virus can’t give it to someone else. In addition, with prevention therapy, no one needs to get infected.   Dr. Jared Baeten, an HIV specialist at the University of Washington, spoke to us via Skype and says even with these tools we’re not there yet. “… because the ability to deliver those at the scale and with the coverage needed to be able to get HIV to go away is not nearly where it should be,” said Baeten.  Nearly a million people still die every year from AIDS. Professor Steffani Strathdee at the University of California San Diego says one of the biggest challenges is that HIV often affects people on the fringes of some societies around the world.   “There are populations all over the world that are underserved and these include injection drug users and sex workers, in particular,” Strathdee said. It also includes men who have sex with men, transgender people, prisoners and …

500 млн євро від ЄС мають надійти в середині грудня – Мінфін

500 мільйонів євро від Європейського союзу мають надійти в середині грудня, повідомило Міністерство фінансів України. У відомстві підкреслили, що ЄС надає макрофінансову допомогу у вигляді позик. Точна відсоткова ставка траншу буде відома під час виходу Європейської комісії на зовнішній ринок запозичень, але не перевищуватиме 2%. Кошти надійдуть у державний бюджет. 30 листопада Європейський союз схвалив виплату 500 мільйонів євро макрофінансової допомоги для України. Україна та ЄС підписали кредитну угоду про залучення 1 мільярда євро у вересні. 8 листопада її схвалив парламент. …

UN Official: Polio Remains Global Threat

Tremendous progress has been made in efforts to wipe out polio around the world. Before a global eradication program began 30 years ago, about 350,000 children became paralyzed from polio each year. The figure dropped to 28 in 2018.  Nevertheless, Helen Rees, chair of the World Health Organization’s emergency committee, said Friday that polio remained an international threat. She said every available health strategy must be used to prevent the wild polio virus from spreading across borders.  “The fear is that we might well see a resurgence, that we could see exportation again and a reversal of all of the work and all of the country global efforts that have gone into trying to eradicate polio,” Rees said. “And we certainly cannot allow that to happen.”  Polio remains endemic in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. Rees said that over the last few months, there has been a worrying exportation of the wild polio virus to and from Pakistan and Afghanistan.  “We have got widespread, positive environmental sampling in Pakistan,” she said. “And in Afghanistan, because of the more difficult situation there in terms of security, we are unable to access probably as many as a million children for vaccination.”   Separately, there is good news from the African region. The director of WHO’s polio eradication program, Michel Zaffran, noted that the wild polio virus has not been seen in Nigeria since it was last detected more than two years ago.  If this keeps up, he said, the regional certification commission could be able to declare the wild polio …

Uganda Testing Injectable HIV Prevention Drug

Ahead of World AIDS Day, Uganda is recruiting women to participate in a trial of an injectable antiretroviral drug to replace Truvada, a daily pill that has low adherence by users. The trial will assess if the new drug – Cabotegravir – can further reduce the risk of acquiring HIV. Halima Athumani has more from Kampala. …

Bloomberg Announces $50 Million Donation to Fight Opioid Epidemic

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s charity has announced a $50 million donation to help fight the nation’s opioid epidemic. Bloomberg Philanthropies said over the next three years it will help up to 10 states address the causes of opioid addiction and strengthen prevention and treatment programs. Its initiative involves a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Johns Hopkins University and Vital Strategies. Bloomberg, who has been considering a 2020 Democratic presidential bid, was expected to discuss the funding Friday during his keynote address at The Bloomberg American Health Summit in Washington. A spokeswoman said there was “no stated link” between his political aspirations and the $50 million investment to fight opioids. Bloomberg’s charity said CDC data shows there were more than 70,000 U.S. drug overdose deaths last year, including more than 47,000 from opioids, the highest numbers on record. It said those numbers are a leading factor in the decline of U.S. life expectancy over the past three years. Bloomberg called the sobering numbers part of “a national crisis.” “For the first time since World War I, life expectancy in the U.S. has declined over the past three years — and opioids are a big reason why,” he said. “We cannot sit by and allow this alarming trend to continue — not when so many Americans are being killed in what should be the prime of their lives.” He said in a statement he hoped his charity’s work in Pennsylvania, one of …

Markets Sweat on Lopez Obrador’s ‘True Colors’ on Eve of New Mexican Presidency

During Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s successful campaign for the Mexican presidency, his advisers met representatives of dozens of investment funds to allay fears about the leftist’s plans, saying he prized economic stability and wanted to attract foreign capital. Initially, it worked. When Lopez Obrador won office by a landslide on July 1, the peso and the stock market rose, buoyed by his conciliatory tone. The rally continued when Mexico and the United States reached a deal to rework the NAFTA trade pact in late August. But the mood has since changed. Lopez Obrador, who takes office Saturday, began saying in September that Mexico was “bankrupt.” When he canceled a new $13 billion Mexico City airport on Oct. 29 on the basis of a widely-derided referendum, investors took flight. “[Lopez Obrador] behaved quite well from the election in early July until the referendum on the airport. That was really an indication of his true colors,” said Penny Foley, portfolio manager for emerging markets and international equities groups at TCW Group Inc, which manages $198 billion in total. Foley said the referendum prompted TCW to cut its exposure to bonds issued by state oil firm Pemex, on the grounds that under a Lopez Obrador administration the company would be driven more by politics than by profit. “We are now slightly underweight Mexico in the dollar fund and neutral in the local currency fund,” she added. Lopez Obrador wants to attract investment from home and abroad to fuel economic growth and drive an …

Indian Politicians Spar Over Dodgy Economic Data as Election Nears

It may be the world’s sixth largest, but most other things about India’s economy are up for debate. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is under fire for the release of new historical GDP figures that significantly downgraded growth during the years the opposition Congress party was in power, replacing old government estimates and those prepared by an independent committee. The figures, released by the government’s Central Statistics Office (CSO), showed growth in the 10 years of Congress rule to 2014 averaged 6.7 percent, below an average of 7.4 percent under the current government. A previous government estimate had growth under Congress at 7.8 percent. P. Chidambaram, a former Congress finance minister, called the release “a joke”. In response India’s current finance minister, the BJP’s Arun Jaitley, said the CSO was a credible organization. The fallout comes at a critical time for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India’s economy grew a weaker-than-expected 7.1 percent in the July-September quarter, from a more than two-year high of 8.2 percent in the previous quarter, government data showed on Friday. Modi faces a general election next year, when the performance of the economy under his pro-business administration compared with the Congress era is likely to dominate campaigning. The spat has also alarmed India’s top statisticians, who have long faced the difficult task of estimating growth and unemployment in an economy with hundreds of millions of informal workers, and dominated its financial press and political cartoons in recent days. “The entire episode threatens to bring disrepute …

Fear That Uproar Over Gene-edited Babies Could Block Science

Scientists working on the frontiers of medicine fear the uproar over the reported births of gene-edited babies in China could jeopardize promising research into how to alter heredity to fend off a variety of disorders. Researchers are rapidly learning how to edit DNA to fight such conditions as Huntington’s, Tay-Sachs and hereditary heart disease, conducting legally permissible experiments in lab animals and petri dishes without taking the ultimate step of actually creating babies. Now they worry about a backlash against their work, too. “The alarmists who claimed that scientists won’t behave responsibly in the development of the next generation of gene editing now have ammunition,” said a dismayed Kyle Orwig, a reproductive specialist at the University of Pittsburgh who hopes to eventually alter sperm production to treat infertility. He said there is a clear public demand for the kind of research he is doing: “Families contact me all the time,” men who can’t produce sperm and aren’t helped by today’s reproductive care. A Chinese researcher sent a shock wave through the scientific community this week when he claimed to have altered the DNA of embryos in hopes of making them resistant to the AIDS virus. He reported the birth of twin girls and said there may be another pregnancy resulting from his work. International guidelines for years have said gene editing that can change human heredity — through altered eggs, sperm or embryos — should not be tested in human pregnancies until scientists learn if the practice is safe. One …