Top 5 Global Health Headlines: Stem Cell Treatment for HIV, Haiti Cholera

BY Talea Miller  December 16, 2010 at 11:19 AM EDT

HIV Patient ‘Cured’

A patient with HIV and leukemia has been declared cured of both diseases through stem cell treatment, a team of Berlin doctors wrote this week in a peer-reviewed study in the journal Blood. The results suggest the first time an HIV patient has been cured, but health experts warned this would likely not be a procedure that could be applied to the wider population.

The subject of the study is an American patient who received a small stem cell transplant in 2007 from donor with a rare gene mutation that provides immunity from HIV. The patient now appears to be HIV free.

U.N. Calls for Haiti Cholera Investigation

Sick victims and families wait at St. Nicolas Hospital in St. Marc, Haiti; THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty ImagesU.N. officials are asking for an independent commission to investigate whether U.N. peacekeeping troops are the source of the cholera outbreak that has killed more than 2,400 Haitians. The cholera outbreak originated near a U.N. base in rural Haiti where Nepalese peacekeepers were working, and the strain of cholera circulating has been linked to south Asia.

U.S. Pushes for Haiti Resolution

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a resolution to Haiti’s election dispute this week, warming that there is growing frustration in the United States that “as we’re approaching the one-year anniversary of the Haitian earthquake that there hasn’t been the kind of coordinated, coherent response from the government of Haiti that is called for.”

She noted U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy’s suggestion that U.S. foreign aid be halted to Haiti until a fair election result is reached, calling it a “strong signal” but conceding that halting aid would only punish the Haitian people.

South Africa Double HIV Treatment

Price reductions negotiated between pharmaceutical companies and the South African government have slashed the cost of treatment to the country by 50 percent, according to the country’s Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. The new deal will allow thousands more HIV positive people to access treatment.

Hospital Infections in Poor Countries

Bloomberg via Getty ImagesAs many as one in three patients having surgery in poor countries will get an infection related to the operation, says the World Health Organization. Health care related infections are also a problem in rich countries, but poor sanitation, inadequate equipment and the overcrowding seen in many hospitals with limited resources increases those chances and need to be addressed, the organization said in a new study in the Lancet.

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