10-Fold Surge In S.Africa Teens Treated For HIV

 

The number of young people in South Africa receiving treatment for HIV has increased 10-fold within a decade, a major new study has found.

South Africa has the largest number of HIV-positive people in the world, with around 7.2 million carrying the virus, which causes AIDS.

Researchers studied more than 700,000 young people receiving treatment for the infection and found 10 times the number of adolescents aged between 15-19 being treated compared with 2010.

Authors of the study, published in The Lancet HIV journal attributed the rise partly due to the success of AIDS prevention programmes that result in better detection and treatment rates.

READ ALSO: Lagos Govt Commences Investigation Into Reported Disease Outbreak In Queens College

However, they found that fewer than 50 percent of young South Africans who present for HIV care go on to initiate antiretroviral therapy, which can prevent transmission and stops a patient from developing AIDS.

“Despite the upswing in numbers initiating therapy, barriers persist that prevent many adolescents from starting treatment,” said Mhairi Maskew from the University of Witwatersrand and the report’s lead author.

These include concerns about stigma, a pervasive sense that clinics cannot guarantee patient confidentiality and increased domestic responsibilities for young people, especially in families where children have lost parents to HIV and AIDS.

The study found that while those diagnosed with HIV were roughly split by gender, nine in 10 people actively receiving treatment were girls.

The authors said this was consistent with far higher rates of sexually-transmitted HIV infection in young women compared to young men.

AIDS deaths have declined globally since the peak of the epidemic in the early 2000s, but an international AIDS commission warned last year of a resurgence if the world’s booming adolescent population weren’t protected.

Lagos Govt Commences Investigation Into Reported Disease Outbreak In Queens College

File Photo; Queens College

 

The Lagos State government says it has commenced an investigation into the purported outbreak of an air-borne flu in Queens College and other schools in the state.

In a statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs of the state, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, the Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, was said to have disclosed this on Tuesday.

According to Abayomi, the investigative team comprises officials of State Epidemiology team, Primary Health Care Services and Environmental Health Department of Lagos Mainland Local Government.

While reviewing preliminary reports of the investigations conducted by the team, Abayomi explained that they identified what appears to be a sporadic increase in upper respiratory tract infections characterized by cough, cattarh, fever and weakness across some schools.

“The team has since visited Queens College and investigations are ongoing. Findings according to the review of health records in the school sick bay revealed that 89 students presented to the clinic with Influenza-like illnesses”, he said.

He added that a walk-through inspection to other facilities in the school revealed that although environmental sanitation and water supply were optimal, they could be improved.

The Commissioner, therefore, stated that nasal swab samples will be collected from pupils for confirmation of the cause of the illness.

He, however, appealed to stakeholders of Queens College, other affected schools and residents of Lagos State to remain calm and ensure strict adherence to personal and environmental hygiene at all times even as they await the comprehensive report of the investigation.

“I assure you that the situation is under control and seems to be subsiding. We will give necessary updates as the assessment and investigation progresses”, Abayomi said.

Speaking further, he advised all schools in Lagos State, either day or boarding to adopt basic precautionary measures against diseases and illnesses by teaching and ensuring good hand washing practices, promoting personal hygiene and providing adequate hand washing points within the school premises.

“They must also commence and continue to raise awareness about respiratory etiquette such as covering of mouth with clean hands or handkerchiefs when coughing or sneezing, and washing hands immediately after.

“School management must also hold food handlers and vendors to the highest health and hygiene check protocols as stipulated in the law, and practiced world over”, the Commissioner posited.

He also advised parents not to send their children to school if they have features of an upper respiratory tract infection such as a cold, or flu-like symptoms but rather have a doctor review them

He appealed to School authorities as well as citizens to report suspected case(s) of any strange illnesses and diseases to the nearest Public Health Facility or the Medical Officer of Health (MOH) their local government area or to the Directorate of Disease Control in the Ministry of Health through the following lines: 08023169485, 08023377487.

First Vaping Hospitalisation Reported In Canada

A man exhales smoke from an electronic cigarette. EVA HAMBACH / AFP

 

Canada reported its first hospitalisation for severe respiratory illness linked to vaping on Wednesday, following an outbreak in the US that has killed seven people and sickened hundreds.

The Middlesex-London Health Unit said in a statement that “a youth has been diagnosed with severe respiratory illness that has been linked to the individual’s use of vaping products.”

Medic Christopher Mackie told a news conference that the London, Ontario high school student, who vaped daily, was admitted to a local hospital intensive care unit, but has since recovered.

“As far as we’re aware, this is the first case of vaping related illness that’s been reported in Canada,” he said.

E-cigarettes have been available in the US and Canada since 2006, and are sometimes used to aid in quitting smoking traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes.

Despite a ban in Canada on selling vaping products to youths, their use among adolescents has skyrocketed in recent years.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas-Taylor said the Canadian government was looking at further banning vaping advertising and certain flavors that may be appealing to young people.

“At the end of the day, my number one priority is protecting our youth,” she said. “We want to make sure that the regulations in place will be protecting our youth and making sure these products are not appealing to youth in any way.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said recently that there were more than 450 possible cases of pulmonary illness associated with vaping in the US.

The CDC and Health Canada have cautioned against vaping as officials investigate the precise cause of the deaths. No single substance has been found to be present in all the laboratory samples being examined.

AFP

Nigeria Gradually Winning War Against AIDS – NACA

 

The National Agency for the Control of AIDS says Nigeria is gradually winning the war against HIV/AIDS.

At the ongoing Nigeria Implementation Science Alliance Conference in Abuja, the agency noted that the infection rate in the country has dropped by four per cent.

The conference is aimed at discussing how to achieve impact in addressing the burden of infectious diseases through research implementation.

More to follow…

Brazil’s Bolsonaro Leaves Hospital After 4th Operation

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro

 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro left hospital Monday eight days after another operation on his stomach following his stabbing at an campaign rally last year.

Bolsonaro, 64, is still scheduled to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 24, where Brazil traditionally delivers the first address.

“The President will continue his recovery at home and should follow medical guidelines related to diet and physical activity,” said a statement from the Vila Nova Star Hospital in Sao Paulo.

READ ALSO: Trump Says Almost Sure Iran Behind Saudi Attacks

The presidential convoy left the hospital early in the afternoon to fly back to Brasilia, the capital.

Bolsonaro had undergone a five-hour operation on his stomach — the fourth such procedure. He was forced to delay his original date for returning to work from September 13 until September 18.

His prolonged stay in hospital did not stop him delivering his regular Thursday night live broadcast on Facebook, with a feeding tube still in his nose.

Bolsonaro, a right-wing politician who is a close ally of US President Donald Trump, was stabbed in September last year during his victorious presidential campaign.

He is expected to give his UN speech focused on the huge fires in the Amazon rain forest. He has rejected international criticism of his handling of the crisis.

“The president understands that he must not expose himself to exhausting journeys… while recognizing the importance of this trip,” his spokesman said.

Four Things To Know About Vaping

 

 

The Trump administration has announced it will soon ban flavored e-cigarette products to deter an ever growing number of young users.

It comes amid an outbreak of vaping-linked severe pulmonary disease that has killed six people and sickened hundreds.

Here are four things to know about vaping.

Is it safer than smoking?

The truth is, we don’t know.

Unlike tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes don’t “burn.” The devices, available in the United States since 2006, work instead by heating a liquid that turns into vapor and is inhaled.

Therefore e-cigarette smokers are not exposed to the estimated 7,000 chemical compounds in regular cigarettes, and there is no known link between vaping and cancer.

The liquids however contain highly addictive nicotine.

There are also a variety other compounds classed as “potentially harmful” according to a 2018 study compiled by the US National Academy of Sciences.

And there is “substantial evidence” that the vapor contains traces of metals, either from the coil used to heat the liquid or from other parts of the device. Some flavorings also contain diacetyl, a chemical linked to a serious but relatively rare lung disease.

While most of existing scientific literature holds that vaping is less toxic than smoking, “the implications for long-term effects on morbidity and mortality are not yet clear,” and would require decades of more data and studies to know for certain, said the NAS report.

But the bulk of this research was carried out before the current outbreak of severe lung disease in the United States, with more than 450 cases currently under investigation.

The US investigation

The patients’ initial symptoms included breathing difficulty and chest pain before some were hospitalized and placed on ventilators.

Several teens were placed in medically-induced comas, including one who may need a lung transplant if he recovers, according to his doctors.

New York’s health department is focusing its probe on counterfeit cannabis cartridges containing vitamin E oil, which is harmful when inhaled. Federal authorities however have yet to identify a single substance common to all cases.

Some medics have reported seeing patients developed acute lipoid pneumonia, a non-infectious form of respiratory ailment that occurs when oils or fat-containing substances enter the lungs, a potential clue for what is driving the illness.

That said, it’s unclear why these cases have only been reported in the United States, and whether they are even new, or only being recognized after earlier misdiagnoses.

Local authorities acting

In June, San Francisco became the first US city to ban the sale and manufacture of electronic cigarettes, and has since been followed by Richmond, Virginia.

Market leading maker JUUL’s response to the San Francisco ban was that it would “drive former adult smokers who successfully switched to vapor products back to deadly cigarettes.”

That claim is true, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine on 886 patients in Britain’s National Health Service published in February.

The one-year abstinence rate among e-cigarette users was 18 percent, compared to 9.9 percent among a group who used other nicotine replacement products like gum or patches.

But the conversions are not all in one direction.

Recent studies have found that, among adolescents, e-cigarettes provide a gateway toward full-fledged smoking.

Regulation or prohibition?

The vaping industry is adamant that it doesn’t want underage people using its products, and says that more must be done to prevent their sale. E-cigarettes are already illegal to sell in the US to people under 18 or 21, depending on the state.

But bans also deprive adults addicted to smoking of a valuable tool to quit, the industry says.

“To deprive those smokers from access to e-cigarettes, which we know are substantially less harmful, I think is a terrible decision,” Neil McKeganey, of the UK-based Center for Substance Use Research — which is partly funded by the industry — told AFP.

‘Latex Gloves Serve As Urine Bags’, Zimbabwean Hospitals Struggle With Mugabe’s Legacy

 

For Zimbabwe’s doctors, few institutions reflect their country’s decay under Robert Mugabe than their public hospitals, once vaunted but now under-equipped and crumbling.

Latex gloves serve as urine bags, operating rooms lack light bulbs and patients are often required to refuel their own ambulances, medics say.

Mugabe, who died last week in Singapore at age 95, may have swept to power as a liberation hero, but his rule was marked by economic collapse that left his people scrambling to survive.

Zimbabwean doctors note the symbolism of Mugabe seeking treatment 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) from home in Singapore’s gleaming Gleneagles clinic, where the cheapest suite costs around US$850 (770 euros) a day.

“It is very symbolic that the former president who presided over all the system for three decades can’t trust the health system,” said Edgar Munatsi, a doctor at Chitungwiza, 30 kms (18 miles) from the capital Harare.

“It says a lot about the current state of our health system.”

Mugabe’s death has left many debating the legacy of a man who ended white minority rule and was initially lauded for advances in public health and education.

In his nearly four-decade rule, Mugabe later brutally repressed opponents and oversaw a catastrophic mismanagement of economy that led to hyper-inflation, food shortages and misery.

Mugabe was not alone in seeking overseas care. Current Vice President Constantino Chiwenga is away for several weeks of treatment in China.

It is not hard to see why.

In Chitungwiza hospital, a glowing sign promising “Quality Health” welcomes patients, but conditions inside say otherwise: Operations are often cancelled for lack of anaesthetic, Munatsi says.

The hospital recently issued an internal memo warning its poorly-paid staff against “eating food made for patients.”

Two-decade Crisis

The situation is equally dramatic in paediatrics at Harare Central Hospital, one of Zimbabwe’s top clinics. Cleaning is done only twice a week, for lack of staff and detergents, doctors told AFP.

The operations are often postponed for lack of running water and nursing staff, in a country mired for two decades in economic crisis.

“In theatre, we have linen full of blood and faeces and you can’t do the laundry,” said one doctor.

He requested anonymity, like many of his colleagues, for fear of reprisals from President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Only one of three paediatric operating rooms at the central hospital is working.

“We have a four-year waiting list for inguinal hernias, the most common condition in children,” says one of the specialists.

Without treatment, this hernia can cause male infertility.

Drug shortages, obsolete equipment and lack of staff: the mix is sometimes deadly.

“It is heart-breaking when you lose patients who are not supposed to die under normal circumstances,” Munatsi said.

‘Pathetic’

Since the early 1990s, the public health system has steadily deteriorated, whereas before, people came from overseas to be treated in Zimbabwe, recalls one senior doctor.

That is a legacy of the Mugabe years as the country was tipped into endless economic crisis — three-digit inflation, currency devaluations, and shortages of commodities.

In hospitals, patients and loved ones who experience the situation daily, are resigned.

“It’s pathetic,” says Saratiel Marandani, a 49-year-old street vendor who had to buy a dressing for his mother.

Given her age, she should receive free health care. But the reality is starkly different.

“Only the consultations are free (…) if you need paracetamol, you need to buy it yourself.”

His mother will have to do without the ultrasound she needs. At 1,000 Zimbabwean dollars or 100 euros, it’s beyond his reach.

Doctors say they sometimes have to pay out of their own pocket for patients’ medication, or even just their bus ticket home.

At Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, Lindiwe Banda lays prostrate on her bed. A diabetic, she was given the green light to go home. But on condition, she paid her bill.

“But I do not even have five Zimbabwean dollars (less than one euro) to pay for the transport,” she said in tears.

“I can’t reach my relatives. I think they have dumped me. They don’t have money, but they should show some love”.

If hospitals and patients are penniless, doctors too cannot escape Zimbabwe’s ruin.

Medics have just begun their latest protest to demand a pay rise after salaries lost 15 times their value in a few months and consumer prices spiralled out of control.

“We are incapacitated,” says Peter Magombeyi, a doctor whose salary is the equivalent of 115 euros a month – a pittance that requires him to do odd jobs to get by.

“We are very aware” of the problems, says Prosper Chonzi, the director of health services in Harare.

“The health system reflects the economy of the country.”

Japan Ex-Empress Undergoes Breast Cancer Surgery

Japan’s former empress Michiko (R) enters Tokyo University hospital on September 7, 2019. JAPAN POOL VIA JIJI PRESS / JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

Japan’s former empress Michiko “safely” underwent surgery on Sunday after the 84-year-old was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, the Imperial Household Agency said.

Michiko’s husband Akihito formally stepped down as emperor in April, the first abdication for 200 years in the world’s oldest monarchy.

Her operation began Sunday morning “as scheduled” at the University of Tokyo Hospital, the agency official said.

“It ended safely and (she) went back to her room,” the official told AFP, adding that further details would be announced later.

READ ALSO: Brazilian President Bolsonaro To Undergo Hernia Surgery

Akihito and daughter Sayako Kuroda, a former princess who left the royal household to marry a commoner, visited the hospital to see Michiko before the operation.

Akihito and Michiko are known for dramatically modernising the tradition-bound monarchy, bringing themselves closer to the public and boosting popular support for the household.

The first commoner to marry an imperial heir, Michiko was born in 1934 in Tokyo and attended the exclusive all-girls Christian Sacred Heart School before studying English literature at its university.

She gave birth to now-Emperor Naruhito in 1960 and her second son, Prince Akishino, was born in 1965.

Michiko and her husband also came to be known for their presence at the side of survivors of disasters, especially after the 2011 tsunami that wrecked large parts of eastern Japan.

Brazilian President Bolsonaro To Undergo Hernia Surgery

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. EVARISTO SA / AFP

 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will undergo surgery for an incisional hernia in Sao Paulo on Sunday, his surgeon said.

He arrived at Vila Nova Star Hospital Saturday night accompanied by his wife Michelle and his son Carlos.

It is his fourth operation since he was stabbed a year ago during the presidential campaign, with the latest surgery to correct a problem resulting from the previous procedures.

“The president has already gone through three large surgeries, including the last one, for abdominal reconstruction, and the region was quite weakened by invasive actions,” his surgeon Antonio Luiz Macedo told the G1 news portal.

READ ALSO: Hundreds Flee Flood-Ravaged Bahamas

“It is a simple to moderate level surgery,” he said. “No complications are expected.”

The surgery forced the right-wing president to miss a summit of leaders from seven Amazon nations in Colombia to agree measures to protect the world’s biggest rainforest.

He has been widely criticized over policies that favor deforestation and a delayed reaction to the wildfires that have devastated swathes of the Amazon.

Bolsonaro was stabbed in September, 2018 during a campaign rally in the state of Minas Gerais.

Attacker Adelio Bispo de Oliveira, 41, was arrested at the scene and said he acted alone.

De Oliveira, who medical authorities said suffers from mental problems, was ordered detained indefinitely in the psychiatric unit of a maximum security prison.

Google Bans Ads For ‘Unproven’ Medical Treatments

LOIC VENANCE / AFP

 

Google said Friday it was banning online ads for unproven medical treatments including most stem cell and gene therapy.

“This new policy will prohibit ads selling treatments that have no established biomedical or scientific basis,” Google policy adviser Adrienne Biddings said in a blog post.

Biddings said Google will “prohibit advertising for unproven or experimental medical techniques such as most stem cell therapy, cellular (non-stem) therapy and gene therapy.”

Google will also ban “treatments that are rooted in basic scientific findings and preliminary clinical experience, but currently have insufficient formal clinical testing to justify widespread clinical use,” she added.

The online giant said it made the decision due to “a rise in bad actors attempting to take advantage of individuals by offering untested, deceptive treatments.”

The company said this was not an effort to diminish the importance of medical discoveries but maintained that “monitored, regulated clinical trials are the most reliable way to test and prove important medical advances.”

Google said it took the action after consulting experts in the field and that its move was endorsed by the president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, Deepak Srivastava.

In Google’s statement, Srivastava was quoted as saying, “The premature marketing and commercialization of unproven stem cell products threatens public health, their confidence in biomedical research, and undermines the development of legitimate new therapies.”

Online services have struggled to filter out misleading and deceptive content, including medical hoaxes, while remaining open platforms.

Earlier this year Facebook and Google-owned YouTube moved to reduce the spread of misleading health care claims after a media report showed the proliferation of bogus cancer cures on social media.

Facebook said it made changes as part of efforts to reduce the spread of misleading medical claims including from groups opposing the use of recommended vaccines.

A Wall Street Journal report, based on interviews with doctors, lawyers, privacy experts and others, found numerous false or misleading claims about cancer therapies online.

These included videos advocating the use of potentially dangerous cell-killing ointments, unverified dietary regimes, or unapproved screening techniques.

Red Wine Could Be Good For Digestive System

 

Scientists at King’s College London have found that red wine drinkers have a greater diversity of bacteria in their digestive tracts, a marker of gastrointestinal wellbeing, than those who drink other alcohol.

Their paper, published in the journal Gastroenterology on Wednesday, explored the effects of beer, cider, wine and spirits on the population of microorganisms in the gut — the “microbiome” — and other health indicators in 916 female twins in the UK.

Red wine was linked to the greatest positive impact on gut health — and it was also associated with lower levels of obesity and “bad” cholesterol. There were no such associations for beer, cider or spirits, but a minor effect linked to white wine.

Lead author Caroline Le Roy told AFP that while there had been some previous research on animals and in lab experiments that showed red wine expanded gut microbiota, there had never been a large human study.

“The more diversity there is, the better it is for us in some ways. You will be more able to fight disease and produce more metabolites from food,” she told AFP.

An imbalance between “good” and “bad” microbes can lead to adverse outcomes like reduced immunity, weight gain and high cholesterol.

The team even noted a slight reduction in the hormone insulin, too much of which can lead to diabetes, but suspect that effect is not mediated by the gut microbia and something else may be at play.

‘Alcohol still bad’

One of the major drawbacks of so-called “association” studies based on observations about populations is that they do not demonstrate causation, and a one-off finding that appears to show a positive correlation can be the result of luck.

The higher standard randomized clinical trials, in which researchers closely control the inputs given to subjects, are generally used to test new medicine but rarely applied to studies related to human diet, partly because of ethical concerns.

The researchers therefore tested and replicated their findings in two more groups — in the US and in the Netherlands — each of about 1,000 people, and a final set of twins in Britain.

Recruiting twins had the benefit of removing potential outside factors (known as “confounders”) such as genetic predisposition and early socioeconomic background.

The team suspect polyphenols, micronutrients found in grape skin, were responsible for the greater GM diversity.

That conclusion is seemingly supported by the fact that white wine was also linked to a positive association with GM diversity, although to a far lesser extent.

White wine has similar alcohol content to red, but with six to seven times less concentration in polyphenols.

Nik Sharma, a neuroscientist at the University College London, who was not involved with the work, cautioned that more research is still required, “perhaps using mouse models to establish the nature of the relationship and to further explore the underlying mechanisms.”

But he added that “the work is robust” and the use of twins added weight to its conclusions, as did the replication of its findings across other groups.

While that might seem positive, Le Roy urged people to avoid hitting the bottle, especially if they are non-drinkers.

Alcohol is responsible for more than 200 medical conditions, according to the World Health Organization, from mental and behavioral disorders to liver cirrhosis, some cancers and heart disease.

“Potentially drinking one glass of red wine every two weeks is enough to have a beneficial effect, which is quite a good message because obviously alcohol is still bad for us,” said Le Roy, adding that several fruits, vegetables, nuts and even chocolate are also rich in polyphenols.

Blueberries and red onions are among these healthier alternatives.

“You don’t have to drink red wine and you don’t have to start drinking red wine if you don’t drink it,” she concluded.

Health And Education, ‘Best Asset To Give’ The People – Buhari

Minimum Wage: Buhari Meets With Implementation Committee, To Receive Report
(FILE) President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during a meeting at the State House in Abuja.

 

 

The President has highlighted the importance of health and education to the well-being of the people and the development of the nation.

He said his administration would maintain focus on them but would require the support of well-to-do individuals in Nigeria to achieve success in these areas.

President Muhammadu Buhari lauded the attainment of three years without a recorded polio incident in the country.

He noted that the feat was achieved by his administration with local and international support, saying it was something not only to cherish but one that also requires sustained vigilance.

“The best asset to give to the people is health and education,” the President was quoted as saying on Friday in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.

“You free them from the tendencies of under-development, especially religious and ethnic manipulations which are challenges facing us at this stage of our development,” said President Buhari who received former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr Andrew Young, and board members of Emeka Offor Foundation in Nigeria.

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He, however, expressed optimism that the challenges would wither away with time, saying, “We have to march gradually.”

“It is impossible to be in a hurry. We are seeking inclusive development without leaving a majority of our people behind,” the President added.

He commended the social and humanitarian activities of Sir Emeka Offor, especially in the areas of education and health.

President Buhari said, “You are translating the success you achieved into social service. This is what the government is doing, so you are helping us in many ways.

“I commend your activities in the area of health and education to other successful Nigerians.”

In his address, Ambassador Young expressed happiness with the Buhari administration’s effort toward polio eradication.

He also commended the President’s leadership of the country, saying, “At a time when nations of the world are pulling apart, we are happy that Nigeria is stable and secure under you.

“We will continue working with Nigeria because we consider ourselves as part of the family.”