Archive by category | Public health

US to lift ban on blood donations from gay men

The US Food and Drug Administration has announced plans to end a lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men that has been in place since 1983. The current ban covered all men who have had sex with men at any time since 1977, and was intended to prevent the spread of the HIV virus but was seen by gay-rights activists as discriminatory.  Read more

UN Security Council says Ebola is security threat

UN Security Council says Ebola is security threat

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is “a threat to international peace and security,” the UN Security Council said on 18 September, in a resolution calling for a massive increase in the resources devoted to stemming the virus’s spread.  Read more

Australian gene-patent case dismissed

An Australian federal court has thrown out an lawsuit challenging a patent on the cancer-associated gene BRCA1. The decision, issued 5 September, is the latest setback for patient advocates who argue that the patent limits genetic-testing options for Australian cancer patients.  Read more

US government labs plan biohazard-safety sweep

The unexpected discovery of smallpox in a refrigerator at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, on 9 July has apparently sparked some soul searching in the US government. On 27 August, the NIH designated September as “National Biosafety Stewardship Month,” encouraging researchers to inventory their freezers for potentially dangerous agents such as pathogens and toxins, and review their biosafety protocols. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) did the same in a memo released on 28 August, suggesting “a government-wide ‘safety stand‐down,’” and “strongly urging” both federal agencies and independent labs to complete these steps within the month.  Read more

Three HIV insights from sombre global meeting

Three HIV insights from sombre global meeting

The run-up to the 20th International AIDS Meeting, scheduled to wrap up on 25 July in Melbourne, was overshadowed by news that a three-year-old child once thought to be cured of HIV still harbors the virus — and by the horrific crash of Malaysian Airlines flight 17, which claimed the lives of six conference delegates.  Read more

Mosquitoes transmit chikungunya in continental US

Two people have acquired the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus within the continental United States, the state of Florida’s Department of Health announced today. The cases, one in Miami-Dade County and another in Palm Beach County, confirm that the virus has infected US mosquitoes.  Read more