Self-testing for HIV is getting high marks in Zimbabwe

Self-testing for HIV is getting high marks in Zimbabwe: With the support of UNITAID and Population Services International (PSI), Zimbabwe has implemented self-testing through the STAR initiative, which has distributed more than 645,000 kits to date in the country. Zimbabwe has seen large increases in testing among three key groups as a result of self-testing: men, adolescents and those who had never previously tested for HIV. Among the population of 16-to-24-year-olds, for example, uptake of testing increased from 35 to 74 percent. Getrude Ncube, the National HIV Prevention Coordinator for the Ministry of Health, said, “HIV self-testing…can be a game-changer as we are able to reach men and adolescents that have poor health-seeking behaviours.”

In addition to Zimbabwe, the STAR initiative includes eSwatini, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia and is the world’s largest evaluation of self-testing. As of November 2018, 2.3 million self-test kits had been distributed and it is estimated that 73 percent of people living with HIV the African region know their status… (WHO Africa)

‘What We’re Eating Is Killing Us’, says the Global Nutrition Report 2018. Poor diets are among the top causes of ill health globally, accounting for nearly one in five deaths, according to a study published on Thursday that called on governments and businesses to do more to improve eating habits. Eating unhealthy food, or not having enough food – including children unable to breastfeed – contribute to widespread malnutrition. The report is an independently produced annual analysis of the state of the world’s nutrition. “Diets are one of the top risk factors of morbidity and mortality in the world – more than air pollution, more than smoking,” said Jessica Fanzo, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and a lead author… (Medscape)

Polio remains an international threat to children: The WHO has warned that polio remains a worldwide public health emergency after cases nearly doubled in Afghanistan over the past year. Latest WHO figures show there have been 27 cases of wild polio so far in 2018, with all of them in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The number of polio cases in Afghanistan have almost doubled over the past year, with 19 cases reported so far compared to 10 at the same time in 2017. In Pakistan, the polio situation is thought to have stalled, with eight cases reported in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Although there has been a 99% reduction in polio cases worldwide since The Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, eradicating the last 1% has proved to be far more difficult. WHO states that if a single child remains infected, children in all countries remain at risk of contracting polio … (Euronews)

EMS response slower in poor neighborhoods: A US national study of the association between income and ambulance response time in out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, emergency medical services (EMS) times remained 10% longer in the poorest areas and were more likely to meet 8-minute and 15-minute cut-offs in high-income areas leading to increased disparities in the delivery of prehospital care over time. Compared with the highest-income areas, the response time was 4% longer (0.3 minutes), on-scene time was 15% longer (2.8 minutes) and transport time was 6% longer (0.6 minutes) … (JAMA Network Open, Nov. 30, 2018)

First test to aid in detecting cytomegalovirus in newborns: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has permitted marketing of a new diagnostic test to aid in detecting a type of herpes virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV) in newborns less than 21 days of age. The Alethia CMV Assay Test System is used as an aid in the diagnosis of congenital CMV infection by detecting CMV deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) from a saliva swab. Test results should be used only in conjunction with the results of other diagnostic tests and clinical information.

Patients often do not disclose medically relevant information to their healthcare providers. In 2 national, nonprobability online surveys of 4510 US adults, most participants reported withholding at least 1 of 7 types of medically relevant information, especially when they disagreed with the clinician’s recommendations or misunderstood the clinician’s instructions. The most commonly reported reasons for not disclosing information included not wanting to be judged or hear how harmful their behavior is or they were embarrassed … (JAMA Network Open, Nov. 30, 2018)

PAHO and Ministers of Health from the Americas identified a series of actions that seek to improve the health of migrants in the Region: Ministers of Health from the Americas and the Secretariat of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) have identified a series of actions that seek to improve the response of health systems to the mass migration that is occurring in the Region. In a meeting convened at PAHO’s headquarters, short and medium-term actions were discussed on a range of topics, including epidemiological surveillance, preparation and prevention of outbreaks and ensuring access to health systems and services, among others. Priority actions that were identified in this meeting include improving health surveillance and monitoring, improving access to health services and systems for both migrants and the population of host countries, as well as ensuring communication and exchange of information to avoid stigma and discrimination, and adapting policies and programs to promote and protect the health of migrants, explained Jarbas Barbosa, Deputy Director of PAHO, when presenting the conclusions of the meeting… (PAHO, Nov. 30, 2018)

Video to watch: TEDx Video: Doctor-patient relationship watch?v=i9ml1vKK2DQ

Dr KK Aggarwal