HEALTH -- December 23, 2010 at 2:30 PM EDT
Top 5 Global Health Headlines: Vatican Clarifies on Condoms, Cholera Vaccine
Vatican Clarifies Condom Statement
The Vatican's Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith issued a statement Tuesday reaffirming that the church does not condone the use of condoms to prevent pregnancy, in an effort to clarify controversial statements made by Pope Benedict XVI. The pope said in a book published last month that preventing HIV transmission through condom use could be considered more moral than spreading the disease, giving the example of a male prostitute.
"The idea that anyone could deduce from the words of Benedict XVI that it is somehow legitimate, in certain situations, to use condoms to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is completely arbitrary and is in no way justified either by his words or in his thought," the statement said.
But the statement also said Benedict's logic on the issue of preventing HIV in specific circumstances was "in full conformity with the moral theological tradition of the church."
Cholera Vaccine for Haiti
The Pan American Health Organization recommended launching a cholera vaccine campaign in Haiti for the first time Friday, after opposing the option because of cost and implementation concerns.
The organization has a stockpile of 1 million doses of a newly developed cholera vaccine but will need the World Health Organization to grant the vaccine an expedited prequalification in order to ramp up production and hit a roll-out goal of April. More than 2,5000 Haitians have died in the ongoing outbreak.
Promising HIV Drug Could Halt Infections
An experimental HIV medicine, called VIR-576, could stall HIV infection in its earliest stages by preventing the virus from being able to attach to immune system cells, according to a group of researchers at the University Hospital of Ulm in Germany. The drug is still in the early stages of development, but could open the door to a new class of HIV drugs.
Poor Sanitation Costing India Billions
Inadequate sewage and poor hygiene cost India $54 billion in 2006, according to a new study by the World Bank. The economic impact was calculated using data on premature death, lost productivity and illness from waterborne and hygiene-related illnesses, which are particularly devastating to young children.
Probable Carcinogen Found in U.S. City Water
Hexavalent chromium, a probable carcinogen, was found in the tap water of 31 cities in the United States, according to a new analysis by the Environmental Working Group. The chemical was found in varying levels of concentration, but there is no current federal government limit for hexavalent chromium in drinking water. In higher concentrations, the chemical has been found to cause cancer in laboratory animals by the National Toxicology Program.