Also In Global Health News: HIV-Positive Students In Taiwan; U. K. Commitment To Zimbabwe; Scientists Discover Faster, Cheaper HIV Test, How Schistosomiasis Drug Works; Africa’s Male Circumcision Programs

Marks Increased Numbers Of HIV-Positive Students

The Taiwan AIDS Foundation said that according to Department of Health’s Centers for Disease Control statistics, the average age of HIV positive people in the country is getting younger, the China Post reports. Lin Chiung-chao, the foundation’s secretary-general, said that the number of HIV-positive students rose to 156 in 2008, up from 110 in 2007. “The figures mark an alarming 42 percent year-on-year surge,” he said, adding, “This is a general world trend, as the AIDS prevention publicity campaign has failed to catch up with the tendency that the average age of youngsters having sex for the first time has dropped to 16” (China Post, 6/25).

To Give Zimbabwe Total of $100M Aid

In a meeting with Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the U.K. would give the country a total of $100 million in humanitarian support for 2009 and 2010, SW Radio Africa reports. Brown made the announcement after he pledged an additional $8 million for food security and educational textbooks (Gonda, SW Radio Africa, 6/24).

‘Fast, Inexpensive’ HIV Test Could Be Used To Test Babies During Their First Year

An HIV test that uses dried blood samples is “fast, inexpensive, and could aid the testing and treatment of HIV-positive babies in the first year of life, scientists say,” SciDev.Net reports. Researchers tested the technique, which extracts and amplifies the virus’ genetic material from a sample of blood that is blotted onto filter paper. Scientists found the test was “accurate as well as twice as fast and 40-fold cheaper than commercial viral tests. It was also just as accurate after samples were stored at 37 degrees Celsius for seven days.” The study is published in PLoS One (Makoni, SciDev.Net, 6/24).

Scientists Identify How Schistosomiasis Drug Works

University of Minnesota Medical School researchers say they understand how the drug praziquantel works to treat the parasitic disease schistosomiasis, UPI reports. Although the “drug has been used as the main treatment for several decades… scientists have never understood” how it works to kill the parasitic worms, writes the news agency. The results are published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (UPI, 6/24). According to a release, “[d]eciphering how this drug works is important because scientists could design new drugs that work in similar ways should the parasites develop resistance to praziquantel” (University of Minnesota release/EurekAlert, 6/23).

IRIN Examines Efforts To Increase Access To Male Circumcision Procedures In Southern Africa

After more than two years since the WHO recommended that male circumcision be used as one method to prevent the spread of HIV, PlusNews/IRIN examines what several countries in Southern Africa have done to increase access to the procedure. The article details the diverse responses to the WHO’s recommendations (PlusNews/IRIN, 6/23).

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