Also In Global Health News: TB Study; Reducing HIV In MSM; WHO Standards For Traditional Medicine; HIV/AIDS In China; Pakistan Flood Aid
Stem Cells Help TB Bacteria Evade Immune System, Study Says
"Certain stem cells [known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSC)] protect tuberculosis (TB) bacteria from being destroyed, which explains why TB can lie dormant for years or even decades in the human body," a study published online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests, Reuters reports. To examine how TB bacteria evade the immune system, researchers "infected mice with TB" and "extracted lymph node tissues from human TB patients." They found "MSC at all the sites where they also found TB," Reuters writes (12/6). "The findings 'reveal a key role of mesenchymal stem cells' in TB's ability to evade the immune system, and 'identify these cells as unique targets for therapeutic intervention in tuberculosis,' wrote the researchers," Bloomberg reports (Lopatto, 12/6). According to Livemint, the authors of the study "are already in preliminary stages of designing drugs that target these stem cells" (Koshy, 12/7).
Experts Gather In Asia To Discuss How To Reduce HIV/AIDS In MSM
HIV/AIDS experts from Asia met Tuesday for the launch of a three-day meeting focusing on driving down the transmission of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Hong Kong, Xinhua/Crienglish.com reports (Yu, 12/7). The event, which has attracted participants from "six Asian cities including Bangkok, Thailand, Jakarta, Indonesia, Manila, the Philippines and Yangon, Myanmar ... was jointly organized by Hong Kong's Department of Health" and USAID, as well as other U.N. and regional partners, according to the news service. The meeting marks "the first time an action meeting of this kind has gathered in the Asian region to review the current HIV epidemic trends, examine municipal response and identify innovative initiatives to step up efforts in HIV prevention, treatment, care and support amongst MSM and transgender populations in the six cities," according to a Hong Kong government press release (12/7).
WHO Group To Define Standards For Traditional Medicine
The WHO on Tuesday will begin an International Classification of Traditional Medicine (ICTM) project in an effort to offer "a unified, global set of statistical standards across diverse traditional approaches to health care," Science's "ScienceInsider" blog reports (Normile, 12/6). "We recognize that the use of traditional medicine is widespread. For many people especially in the Western Pacific, South-East Asia, Africa and Latin America traditional medicine is the primary source of health care," Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director-general of innovation, information, evidence and research at WHO, said, according to a WHO press release. "Throughout the rest of the world, particularly Europe and North America, use of herbal medicines, acupuncture, and other traditional medicine practices is increasing. Global classification and terminology tools, for traditional medicine, however, have been lacking," Kieny said (12/7). The classification will "include data on herbal remedies, acupuncture, moxibustion, manual therapies and exercises, among others. ICTM will join the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and other WHO standards used to compare health care practices across disciplines and borders," according to "ScienceInsider" (12/6).
Report Estimates Numbers of People Living With HIV/AIDS In China Will Grow To 1.2M In 2011
"China will have about 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS by the end of 2015, according to a report scheduled for formal release in the first half of" 2011, China's state-run news source China Daily reports. According to the newspaper, China's Action Plan to Prevent and Control HIV/AIDS (2011-2015) highlights the need to target high-risk groups "like gay men and sex workers" to control the spread of HIV/AIDS. "About 70,000 of the 130,000 full-blown AIDS patients are receiving antiretroviral treatment provided free by the government, according to the Ministry of Health. By 2015, more than 80 percent of those in need will be receiving the treatment, said the action plan," according to the newspaper (12/4).
More Than 1M Pakistanis Still Need Flood Relief Help, U.N. Official Says
Valerie Amos, the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, "said Friday that more than one million displaced people still need emergency aid in southern Pakistan, around four months after catastrophic floods," Agence France-Presse reports. "Initially more than seven million people were affected by the floods in southern Sindh province and still one million of them need emergency response," Amos said of the province worst affected by the floods (12/3). "Out of an estimated 18 million people affected by the floods, close to 7.2 million are in Sindh," the U.N. News Centre writes (12/3). "It could take about six to seven months until the water recedes and homeless people go to their native areas to rebuild their homes and plant their crops," Amos said, AFP reports. "What we have is sufficient for the immediate future but we need to do more," she said. The news service notes that the U.N.'s $2 billion appeal from September is 49 percent full (12/3).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.