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EPIDEMICS
Fear of infection drove AIDS decline in Zimbabwe

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 8, 2011
Fear of infection helped drive a 50 percent decline in new cases of HIV in Zimbabwe from 1997 to 2007, said an international study published Tuesday in the United States.

The analysis of social factors that helped to halve what was once one of the worst AIDS epidemics in the world could offer lessons for other nations struggling with HIV rates, the study authors suggested.

"Today's findings strongly show that people in Zimbabwe have primarily been motivated to change their sexual behaviour because of improved public awareness of AIDS deaths and a subsequent fear of contracting the virus," said the study in PloS medicine.

Attitude changes were rooted in mass media campaigns that infiltrated church settings, workplaces and other activities, the researchers said.

Other factors that may have set Zimbabwe apart from "included its well-educated population and strong traditions of marriage," said the study.

Lead researchers were Simon Gregson and Timothy Hallett from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.

earlier related report
Cambodian girl dies from bird flu: WHO
Phnom Penh (AFP) Feb 9, 2011 - A five-year-old Cambodian girl has died from bird flu, the World Health Organisation said Wednesday, in the first reported fatality from the virus since early last year.

The girl fell ill in the capital Phnom Penh on January 30 and was taken to hospital with symptoms of coughing and shortness of breath, a joint statement from Cambodia and the UN's public health arm said. She died on February 4.

"Despite intensive medical care, the girl died 12 hours after admission from complications," it said.

The child is the 11th person in the country to become infected with the H5N1 virus and ninth to die since 2003.

Cambodia said it was working to identify her close contacts and "to initiate preventive treatment as required".

Health Minister Mam Bun Heng urged people with respiratory infections who had been in "contact with dead or sick poultry to promptly seek medical attention".

According to the statement, the H5N1 avian influenza strain has killed more than 300 people worldwide since 2003.



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EPIDEMICS
Universal flu vaccine successfully tested: report
London (AFP) Feb 6, 2011
Scientists in Britain have successfully tested a vaccine which could work against all known flu strains, the Guardian newspaper reported Monday. The new vaccine, developed by scientists at Oxford University, differs from traditional treatments by targeting proteins inside the flu virus rather than proteins on the flu's external coat. The two proteins within the virus are similar across s ... read more







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