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Also In Global Health News: Potential Roundworm Treatment; Opposition To Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill; Low-Cost Toilets; ARV Treatment During Emergencies

Bacterial Protein Kills Intestinal Roundworms In Mice, Could Lead To Human Treatment

Researchers have discovered that a “bacterial protein used in a common pesticide kills intestinal parasitic roundworms in mice,” which may pave a way for treatment in humans, Nature News reports (Fang, 3/2). “These parasites, which include hookworms and whipworms, infect about two billion people in underdeveloped tropical regions and are cumulatively one of the leading causes of debilitation worldwide,” according to a University of California San Diego press release (3/1). In a study published Tuesday in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the researchers describe how mice treated with the crystal protein from the soil bacterium thuringiensis (Bt) had “98% fewer parasite eggs … and 70% fewer adult parasites… compared to untreated mice,” Nature News writes. Study author Raffi Aroian, of UCSD, estimates the cost to treat one child with Bt would be roughly 28 cents (3/2).

450K Sign Petition Urging Uganda To Drop Anti-Gay Bill, Speaker Says Parliament Won’t Withdraw It

More than 450,000 people from around the world have signed an online petition urging Uganda’s parliament to drop the country’s anti-homosexuality bill, BBC reports (3/1). AIDS advocates, who delivered the petition to Edward Ssekandi, the speaker of Uganda’s parliament, on Monday, “said if the bill was passed, it would roll back the gains made in fighting HIV in Uganda,” IRIN/PlusNews reports (3/2). Ssekandi responded to the petition, assuring advocates the parliament would consider their views, but would not withdraw the bill, New Vision/allAfrica.com reports (Among, 3/1).

New York Times Examines Low-Cost Single-Use Toilets

The New York Times examines how a low-cost, biodegradable plastic bag, called the Peepoo, that can be used as “a single-use toilet for urban slums in the developing world” may help mitigate the unsanitary conditions faced by an “estimated 2.6 billion people, or about 40 percent of the earth’s population, [that the U.N. estimates] do not have access to a toilet.” According to the newspaper, “Once used, the bag can be knotted and buried, and a layer of urea crystals breaks down the waste into fertilizer, killing off disease-producing pathogens found in feces.” The New York Times continues, “‘Not only is it sanitary,’ said [Swedish entrepreneur Anders] Wilhelmson, who has patented the bag, ‘they can reuse this to grow crops.'” The article also examines other efforts to produce low-cost toilets (Bhanoo, 3/1).

Report Suggests Preparing For ‘Emergencies’ To Prevent Disrupted ARV Treatment

A report (.pdf) from the Health Economies and HIV/AIDS Research Division at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa recommends strategies that can be used to keep HIV patients on antiretroviral drugs during an emergency when treatment is often disrupted, IRIN/PlusNews reports. The report looked at “three recent crises that caused treatment disruption – Mozambique’s 2008 floods, Zimbabwe’s ongoing public healthcare crisis, and South Africa’s 2007 public sector strike – to identify potential strategies for keeping patients on treatment during emergencies.” It found that “poor planning” was the “biggest weakness in responding to gaps in treatment access, and suggested that doctors and patients receive better training on what to do during disruptions,” the news service writes. The article also looks at how funding can impact treatment disruption (3/1).

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