Wednesday October 18, 2017

About 2.5 Million People Infected with HIV Each Year: Study

During the past decade, the rate of new infections has "stayed relatively constant" since its peak in 1997 of 3.3 million new infections per year

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An early clinical trial shows that passive immunization with an HIV-1 neutralizing antibody can help lower the amount of virus in the blood of an HIV-1-infected subject. Image source: Science Translated Medicine
    • About 2.5 million people are infected with HIV every year, according to a recent analysis of a global AIDS study
    • According to the GBD 2015 study, 75 percent of the new HIV infections occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, while south Asia accounted for 8.5 percent and south-east Asia for 4.7 percent
    • Between 2005 and 2015 the use of antiretrovirals has increased from 6.4 percent to 38.6 percent for men and from 3.3 percent to 42.4 percent for women

About 2.5 million people are infected with HIV every year, according to a recent analysis of a global AIDS study.

During the past decade, the rate of new infections has “stayed relatively constant” since its peak in 1997 of 3.3 million new infections per year.  While the rate of annual death from HIV/AIDS has been in a steady decline from a peak of 1.8 million in 2005 to 1.2 million in 2015.

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“Although scale-up of antiretroviral therapy and measures to prevent mother-to-child transmission have had a huge impact on saving lives, our new findings present a worrying picture of slow progress in reducing new HIV infections over the past 10 years,” said lead author Haidong Wang.

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The report, which analyses findings of the Global Burden of Disease 2015 study, was published in the Lancet HIV Journal to coincide with the launch of the International AIDS meeting in Durban, South Africa.

According to the GBD 2015 study, 75 percent of the new HIV infections occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, while south Asia accounted for 8.5 percent and south-east Asia for 4.7 percent.

Hai Dong Wang Image Source: globalhealth.washington.edu
Hai Dong Wang. Image Source: globalhealth.washington.edu

It says that in southern Africa, more than one percent of the populations of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland were becoming infected with HIV. In Europe, Russia and Ukraine had the highest rates, while Cambodia had the highest rates in Asia.

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Between 2005 and 2015 the use of antiretrovirals has increased from 6.4 percent to 38.6 percent for men and from 3.3 percent to 42.4 percent for women.

Despite those increases, the study says most countries fall short of the UNAIDS target calling for countries to ensure that 81 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS are receiving ART by 2020.  Although according to report, no country has met that goal, Sweden, the United States, Netherlands and Argentina are all close at about 70 percent

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HIV Infected Smokers More likely to die of lung cancer than AIDS, Reveals Indian-origin Researcher

Smoking kills! A recent research reveals a vicious reality about the people infected with HIV, who loves to smoke, are more likely to die from lung cancer than from AIDS.

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Cigarette smoking is injurious to health. Pixabay

New York, September 20, 2017: People living with HIV who adhere to antiretroviral therapy, but smoke tobacco cigarettes are more likely to die from lung cancer than from AIDS, a study led by an Indian-origin researcher has revealed.

The findings showed that overall people with HIV who take antiviral medicines, but who also smoke are six to 13 times more likely to die from lung cancer than from HIV/AIDS, depending on the intensity of smoking and their sex.

“Smoking and HIV are a particularly bad combination when it comes to lung cancer,” said lead author Krishna Reddy, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

“Lung cancer is now one of the leading killers of people with HIV, but most of these deaths can be prevented,” added Rochelle Walensky, Professor at Harvard Medical School.

Among men who continued to be heavy smokers, an estimated 29 percent would die of lung cancer by age 80, as would 23 per cent of moderate smokers and 19 per cent of light smokers.

For women who continued to be heavy smokers, an estimated 29 percent would die of lung cancer by age 80, as would 21 per cent of moderate smokers and 17 per cent of light smokers.

“The data tell us that now is the time for action: smoking cessation programmes should be integrated into HIV care just like antiviral therapy,” Reddy said in the paper published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

However, among those who managed to quit smoking at age 40, only about six per cent die of lung cancer.

“Quitting smoking is one of the most important things that people with HIV can do to improve their health and live longer,” suggested Travis Baggett, Assistant Professor at the Harvard Medical School.

ALSO READ: Cases of Glaucoma show a rising trend in India, can be caused by Smoking: Doctors

Besides reducing the risk of lung cancer, quitting will also decrease their risk of other diseases such as heart attack, stroke and emphysema, the researchers said. (IANS)

 

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Women Living in Countries with Gender Equality have better Cognitive Test Scores: Study

A research on how gender equality affects women's cognitive functioning?

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Countries with gender equality have women with better cognitive functioning
Countries with gender equality have women with better cognitive functioning. Pixabay
  • The findings indicate women’s cognitive functioning past middle age can get affected with the degree of gender equality in the country in which they are living
  • This research is a first attempt to shed light on important, but understudied, adverse consequences of gender inequality on women’s health in later life
  • Sweden came out as a country with the highest female advantage in cognitive performance and Ghana as the country with the highest male advantage

Washington D.C. (USA), August 2, 2017: The results of one of its kind study highlighted the ill effects of gender inequality on women’s health in later life.

The findings indicate women’s cognitive functioning (cerebral activities that lead to knowledge, including all means and mechanisms of acquiring information like reasoning, memory, attention, and language that can lead directly to the attainment of information and, thus, knowledge) past middle age can get affected with the degree of gender equality in the country in which they are living.

According to the ANI Report, researcher, and lead author on the study, Eric Bonsang, explains,  “This research is a first attempt to shed light on important, but understudied, adverse consequences of gender inequality on women’s health in later life.” He holds a Ph.D., of University Paris-Dauphine and Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Bonsang said that it shows that women living in countries with gender equality have better cognitive test scores later in life when compared to women living in gender-unequal societies. Moreover, in countries that became more sensitive to gender equality over time, women’s cognitive performance improved relative to male counterparts.

ALSO READ: Gender Equality Charter Soon to be Launched in India


The researchers analyzed the cognitive performance data of participants aged between 50 and 93, drawn from multiple nationally representative surveys such as the US Health and Retirement Study, Europe’s Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement, the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, and the World Health Organization Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health. When all the above-mentioned surveys were taken together, they provided data for a total of 27 countries.

Bonsang and his colleagues Vegard Skirbekk of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and Ursula Staudinger, director of the Columbia Aging Center noted that the difference in men’s and women’s scores on cognitive tests had wide variation across countries.

In Northern European countries, women tend to perform better than men on memory tests, while it’s the opposite case with several Southern European countries. “This observation triggered our curiosity to try to understand what could cause such variations across countries,” said Ursula Staudinger, Ph.D., who is also Robert N. Butler Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Also Read: Gender Equality: When will women be treated on par with men?

 

Though economic and socioeconomic factors are likely to play a crucial role, Bonsang, Skirbekk, and Staudinger also studied about sociocultural factors such as attitudes about gender roles and if that might also contribute to the variation seen in gender differences in cognitive performance around the world.

The hypothesis was that the women who live in a society with Orthodox attitudes about gender roles would likely to be having lesser access to opportunities for education and employment and would, thus, show lower cognitive performance later in life compared with men of the same age.

All of the surveys included an episodic memory task to measure cognitive performance. Participants were asked to respond to a list of 10 words and were asked to recall as many words as they could immediately; in some surveys, participants were asked to recall the words after a delay also. In addition, some surveys included a task given in order to assess executive function in which participants were asked to name as many animals as they could within one minute.

To examine gender-role attitudes, the researchers focused on participants’ self-reported agreement with the statement- “When jobs are scarce, men should have more right to a job than women.”

Overall, the data showed considerable variation in gender differences and resulting cognitive performance based on it, across different countries. In some countries, women outperformed men; Sweden came out as a country with the highest female advantage in cognitive performance. But in other countries, men outperformed women; In Ghana, the male advantage was the highest.

The researchers hypothesized was proven true that women in countries with less traditional attitudes were likely to have better cognitive performance later in life compared to women in more traditional countries.

Bonsang and his colleagues also noted a good point that changes in gender-role attitudes within a country over time were associated with changes in women’s cognitive performance relative to men.

“Although the data have a correlation, several more detailed examination point towards a causal relationship. The analysis also suggests that gender-role attitudes may play a notable role in important outcomes for women across different countries,” according to the researchers.

Bonsang said, “These findings strengthened the need for policies aiming at reducing gender inequalities as we show that consequences go beyond the labor market and income inequalities.” He also said that it also shows how important it is to take in notice that seemingly intangible influences, such as cultural attitudes and values, when trying to understand cognitive aging.”

The finding of the above research is published online in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


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From Moeen Ali to Ranji: Hindu-Muslim in Cricketing Diaspora

West Indian cricket, uninhibited by the class stratifications of South Africa, gave full vent to a mixture of slavery and indenture to produce the world's most scintillating cricketers

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Moeen Ali
Moeen Ali during a match against Sri Lanka at the R.Premadasa. Wikimedia
  • An overwhelming majority of Indians in South Africa are children of indentured laborers
  • Brahmins never accepted indenture
  • Ranji, the very “English” cricketer, had a very Indian sister he was fond of

Aug 06, 2017: When he completed his hat-trick by trapping South Africa’s Morne Morkel leg before wicket in the third Test match at the Oval with his orthodox off-spin, Moeen Ali entered the record books on three counts.

This was the first hat-trick in history at Surrey’s famous cricket ground. The hat-trick also gave England victory, a record-breaking coincidence. Also, Moeen is the first cricketer of South Asia origin to have posted such a record — at least since the princely order faded out. Not since Ranji, Duleep Singh ji and the Nawab of Pataudi has a subcontinental cricketer inserted himself in British history books.

Asked if he would ever play cricket in India, Ranji is reported to have grandly asserted: “Duleep and I are English cricketers.” For that classy disdain, Ranji Trophy cricket was instituted in India in 1934. The year Ranji died, 1933, was, by a coincidence, historic for Indian cricket in another way: The first Test match was played at the Bombay Gymkhana. C.K. Nayudu captained India. The English captain happened to be D.R. Jardine, notorious for his bodyline series against Bradman’s Australia.

I find it difficult to resist a non-cricketing story about Ranji which I picked up during my travels across Ireland. After his cricketing days, Ranji took to hunting as a sport. A grouse shooting accident injured him in one eye.

Scouts scoured the British Isles for the finest spot for angling, which was to be Ranji’s next hobby. He was informed that there was no better spot for river salmon than the bend in the river facing Ballynahinch Castle on Ireland’s Connemara coast.

Other than being a magnificent castle facing a hillock on one side and a river on the other, Ballynahinch suited Ranji for another little-known reason.

Ranji, the very “English” cricketer, had a very Indian sister he was fond of. In the male dominated feudal world, she had to be accommodated within hailing distance. Negotiations were started with a convent in the vicinity. The convent would receive endowments. Ranji’s sister would live with the nuns with two non-negotiable conditions: She would not be converted and she would wear a sari, not a habit. To this day Ballynahinch has a photograph of Ranji’s sister in the convent, wearing a white sari, rather like Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity.

Also Read: EXCLUSIVE: Cricket- A Fair Game or Farce!

Had I not strayed into the Ranji saga, the narrative after the Moeen Ali performance would have been the obvious one: A few months ago there were as many as four Muslims in the English cricket team — Moeen, Adil Rashid, Haseeb Hameed and Zafar Ansari. Why is there no Hindu in the list? Lest I be misunderstood, my curiosity is mostly sociological. My guess is that Hindus overseas involve themselves in matters more serious than cricket.

The phenomenon continues in other cricket playing countries — Usman Khawaja in Australia; Hashim Amla and Imran Tahir in South Africa; Sikandar Raza who helped Zimbabwe beat Sri Lanka.

Most of these players do not lend themselves to significant sociological analysis. They are immigrants from Pakistan. Hashim Amla is the only one who reflects South Africa’s social hierarchies going back to Mahatma Gandhi’s 21 years in that country.

An overwhelming majority of Indians in South Africa, mostly around Durban, are children of indentured labourers, a device colonialism invented to circumvent the abolition of slavery. This class, along with the blacks, was too depressed to be playing a “gentleman’s” game. But a wave of Muslim Gujarati Merchants, who turned up to cater to the British and Indian clients, were financially sound. One of them was Baba Abdullah, who invited Gandhi to be his barrister.

Since apartheid South Africa barred non-white students from the better schools, this elite group helped set up English-style public schools in neighbouring countries like Malawi under the supervision of such arch British toadies as President Hastings Banda.

It is the progeny of these Muslim merchants from Gujarat who developed a taste for Marxism, as well as cricket, later in British universities. Yusuf Dadoo, Ahmed Kathrada, Essop Pahad, Kamal Asmal, Dullah Omar, Ahmed and Yusuf Cachalia, Fatima Meer — they formed the backbone of the ANC resistance against apartheid.

Once apartheid was lifted, their children joined the all-white Rand club in Johannesburg and sundry cricket clubs. That is the kind of background Hashim Amla would come from.

How does one explain the fine off-spinner, Keshav Maharaj, to my knowledge the first Hindu in the South African team currently touring England? Maharaj is actually a contrived title among Indians with a background in indenture.

Brahmins never accepted indenture. For them, to cross the black waters (Kala pani) was a sin because useless action was a sin. But the Brahmin was sorely missed for religious rituals during birth, death, marriage. To make up for this shortfall, the community conferred the title of “Maharaj” on the most educated and one of “Light skin”. The most famous of this genre was one of Nelson Mandela’s closest friends, Mac Maharaj. It was he who smuggled out the manuscript of the Long March to Freedom from the Robben Island across a stretch of the ocean from Cape Town. Keshav Maharaj is presumably from this stock.

West Indian cricket, uninhibited by the class stratifications of South Africa, gave full vent to a mixture of slavery and indenture to produce the world’s most scintillating cricketers.

Of Indian origin were brilliant batsmen like Rohan Kanhai, Shivnaraine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan — all from Guyana.

It has remained something of a puzzle why Fiji, most loyal to be British crown, never took to cricket in a big way. An average native Fijian is taller than a professional basketball player in America. He is also stronger of built. This oversized human machine hurtling the ball from palm tree height would have led to bloodshed in days when helmets were not known. Is this why the Anglo Saxon never encouraged cricket in Fiji?

(Saeed Naqvi is a commentator on political and diplomatic affairs. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached on saeednaqvi@hotmail.com)

–IANS