Supporting female condoms, drug-resistant TB in Russia, and more

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The following is a compilation of recent articles and news pieces making headlines in HIV/TB and global health.

The new profile of Drug-Resistant TB in Russia: The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently released a report on the threat of drug-resistant TB and ways to combat it, this time a perspective from Russia. The report is based on a workshop held by the IOM Forum on Drug Discovery, Development and Translation in conjunction with the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences in May of 2010 in Moscow. “Representatives from the Russian public health community shared their experiences in fighting drug-resistant TB, and participants discussed lessons learned, best practices, and new approaches that can be used worldwide to treat and prevent TB,” according to the report summary.

Improved Growth and Anemia in HIV-Infected African Children Taking Cotrimoxazole Prophylaxis: New findings from an observational analysis of the double-blinded, randomised and placebo-controlled Children with Antibiotic Prophylaxis (CHAP) trial were published in the April 1 issue if the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.  The impact of daily cotrimoxazole (CTX) therapy on growth and/or anemia was investigated in 541 HIV-infected treatment naïve Zambian children enrolled in the CHAP trial from 2001 to 2003. Researchers found that compared with the children randomized to receive placebo, those who received CTX experienced slower decreases in weight- and height-for-age and improvements in anemia, supporting the argument for expanded early CTX use.

Female Condoms and U.S. Foreign Assistance: An Unfinished Imperative for Women’s Health: In a new publication, the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) delves into global female condom access barriers including cost, stigma and a lack of political will and what can be done to increase widespread access. The report argues that while the U.S. is a leader among donors in supporting female condoms, just 3.2 percent of total U.S. condom shipments in 2009 were female condoms. The report “examines recent developments in U.S. government financial and policy support for international female condom procurement, distribution, and programming” and “offers in-depth country case studies and concrete recommendations for the U.S. government to remove barriers that have denied access to female condoms, and to ensure stronger U.S. support in the future.” 

Why Congress shouldn’t slash foreign aid: In an opinion piece published in the Daily Caller, former long-standing GOP Representatives Jim Kolbe and Connie Morella discuss the importance of a strong international affairs budget and broader foreign assistance reform. “Slashing the 1% of the federal budget allocated to international affairs will do little or nothing to tame the deficit, but it will seriously hamper our ability to conduct an effective foreign policy,” according to the piece.

Triple ARV Prophylaxis for PMTCT through Breastfeeding: A new trial discussed in PLOS Medicine entitled, “Triple-Antiretroviral Prophylaxis to Prevent Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission through Breastfeeding—The Kisumu Breastfeeding Study, Kenya: A Clinical Trial,” shows that in a resource limited setting, a maternal triple-antiretroviral regimen from late pregnancy through six months of breastfeeding for PMTCT is safe and feasible. “These findings are consistent with those from other trials using maternal triple-antiretroviral regimens during breastfeeding in comparable settings,” according to the article.

The real-world effects of budget cuts: In an editorial in the Washington Post, opinion writer and former George W. Bush speech writer Michael Gerson called pro-life members of Congress to account in his latest column, “It should give any pro-life member pause to support minuscule budget savings that risk the death of children from malaria,” he wrote. Gerson also commented on USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s highly criticized assertion that H.R. 1 would lead to 70,000 children dying due to a lack of various health-related interventions, including immunizations, stating “It is not realistic to take credit for cuts while forbidding a discussion of their consequences.”

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