World No Tobacco Day - a critical point in the Year of the Lung

31 May is World No Tobacco Day
The World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2010, is a critical point in the 2010: Year of the Lung campaign, according to the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). Studies show that 50% of all deaths from lung disease are linked to tobacco use. "Strengthening tobacco control is the single most important action we can take to improve global lung health," said Dr Nils E Billo, Executive Director of The Union and chair of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), which is sponsoring the Year of the Lung. "Tobacco is a leading cause of preventable death and kills 5 million men, women and children each year." Read more

Lubricants' use may put individuals at higher risk of HIV

To listen to the audio podcast of this interaction, click here
"Use of lubricants may put individuals at higher risk" said Professor (Dr) Ian McGowan, co-chair of the International Microbicides Conference (M2010) in Pittsburgh, USA at a press conference. "One of the M2010 themes is the growing realization that there is a significant issue of HIV acquisition through rectal sex not only for men who have sex with men (MSM) who are clearly very visible HIV high risk group but increasingly for women who may be exposed to the virus rectally which is relatively new observation although may be going on for quite some time" added Prof Ian McGowan. Read more

We Need A Lifetime Of No Tobacco, And Not Merely A Day

The World No Tobacco day is once again upon us to remind us politely that health is a concern of everyone. From personal physical fitness to the threats posed by growing global pandemics, all people share an interest in improving the well-being of themselves and others. Real, sincere and ongoing action is needed to achieve this, instead of mere rhetoric. The war against tobacco needs to be won, and not just fought, with renewed pledges; stricter legislation; innovative awareness programmes; and the will to succeed in curbing the menace of tobacco. Read more

Say Yes To Life: Say No To Tobacco

World No Tobacco Day is on 31 May 2010
The theme of this year's World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is "Gender and tobacco with an emphasis on marketing to women." It is designed to draw particular attention to the harmful effects of tobacco marketing towards women and girls. Controlling the epidemic of tobacco among women is an important part of any comprehensive tobacco control strategy. Professor Judith Longstaff Mackay, Senior Adviser, World Lung Foundation, spoke to CNS in Hong Kong. She lamented that for decades women and adolescents have been a major target of opportunity for the tobacco industry, and more so now, when this industry needs to recruit new users to replace the nearly half of current users who will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases. So it is an ongoing battle – longer than the 100 years war. Prof Judith Mackay has been conferred the prestigious BMJ Lifetime Achievement award for her contribution to the fight against tobacco across the world, and is also a recipient of the American Cancer Society's Luther Terry award for Outstanding Individual Leadership. As a leader in the battle to control tobacco, she was once described by the tobacco industry as "one of the three most dangerous people in the world" (Time magazine). Read more

Omololu Falobi Award to Charles Shagi from Tanzania

To listen to the audio podcast of 2010 Omololu Falobi Award ceremony (at the M2010 closing ceremony) click here
"Omololu Falobi lived life only for 35 years. Yes he was in a hurry. He was a visionary. For those who knew him they would realize that this conference was part of his vision. M2010 is a turning point where it has become glaringly obvious that developing and rolling out new HIV prevention technologies is as much about community voices, politics, media, culture as it is about science. That's what Omololu thought of, that's what he dreamed of" said Manju Chatani Gada, at the closing ceremony of the International Microbicides Conference (M2010) in Pittsburgh, USA. Manju represents AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention, African Microbicides Advocacy Coalition (AMAG) and has demonstrated a rich experience of community-centric responses to AIDS globally. Read more

Not just a handmaiden: Critical role of social science in HIV Prevention Research

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It is well understood that both the efficacy and effectiveness of HIV Prevention research trial products (such as microbicides) depends upon their actual use by the clinical trial participants. "Use is a function of human behaviour and action that is affected by an individual, interpersonal, social, and cultural factors that operate interactively in complex, dynamic and varied ways across settings" said Dr Judith D Auerbach, Vice President for Science and Public Policy at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, USA. Read more

Using ARVs to Prevent HIV Could Result in Drug Resistance

Their scientific methods may have been quite different, but their conclusions were not. In asking whether drug resistance could be a problem if antiretroviral (ARV) drugs become a mainstay for HIV prevention, the two studies - one involving a mathematical model and the other assays of cells and tissue - arrived at the same answer. Resistance could happen if people who are unknowingly already infected use the approach. The results of these studies, which were reported today at the International Microbicides Conference (M2010) in Pittsburgh, USA, underscore the importance of incorporating routine HIV testing and ongoing monitoring of infection status in any prevention program that involves the use of ARVs. Read more

Microbicides that do more than gel

A flexible ring containing two anti-HIV drugs showed in laboratory tests that it can deliver therapeutic levels of both drugs for up to 30 days, researchers reported at the International Microbicides Conference (M2010) in Pittsburgh, USA, adding that they consider the ring near ready for testing of its safety in women. Read more

Pregnancy Doubles HIV Risk in Men; First Trial of a Microbicide in Pregnant Women

Young women of reproductive-age are among those at greatest risk of acquiring HIV, and several studies have suggested that during pregnancy women are even more susceptible to infection. Now, a new study finds that pregnancy is a time when men also are at greater risk. In fact, their risk doubles if their partner is both HIV-infected and pregnant. Read more

State of the ART of microbicides

To listen to the audio podcast of Prof Robin Shattock click here
The microbicides field has undoubtedly moved and shifted a lot in the past decade. Now, with first generation microbicides candidate products up and gone, antiretroviral treatment (ART)-drug based microbicides in spotlight, and only three major microbicides efficacy studies remaining, the need to lobby for increased funding of microbicides research and development, was never so compelling.

The need to bolster HIV prevention has certainly not dimmed - and so has the need to up HIV treatment, care and support which is becoming acute on daily basis. The International Microbicides Conference (M2010) opened with the plenary that cited UNAIDS data, from New York Times news (At Front Lines, AIDS War Is Falling Apart), "For every 100 people put on antiretroviral treatment (ART), 250 people are getting newly infected with HIV." Read more

Prerna Sabha in memory of Ashishbhai at Badwani on May 26th

As we all still try to come to terms with the devastating news of the untimely and unfortunate demise of our dear friend and fellow-activist Ashishbhai, people of the valley resolved today afternoon that his mortal remains shall be immersed in every village in the hills and plains of submergence area where Ashish lived and worked and was deeply attached to; Bhadal, Manibeli, Palya, Rajghat, Chikalda, Kasravad, Piplud, Maheshwar, Semlada and other villages and the tributaries of Narmada; Maan, Hathini, Goi, Veda etc, instead of submerging his ashes at one place. Read more

Jabalpur High Court acts on complaint of Justice Jha Commission on non-provision of funds by MP Govt

A Division Bench of Justice Shri K K Lahoti and Justice Shri Ajit Singh, issued notices to the Principal Secretary, General Administration Department and Principal Secretary, Department of Finance of the Government of Madhya Pradesh to show cause and reply to a letter from Justice S S Jha Commission of Inquiry regarding the lack of adequate funds and support being provided to the Commission to carry out its investigative work into the massive corruption of hundreds of crores in the rehabilitation of the Sardar Sarovar project affected families. Read more

Shabana Azmi joins Sathenagar slum-dwellers' demand for justice

As the indefatigable Satyagraha of thousands of Mumbai’s slum-dwellers, including dalits, labourers and urban poor women & men entered its eighth day, their Andolan for justice received immense support from acclaimed Parliamentarian, social activist and actress Shabana Azmi. Read more

Homophobia Is A Human Rights Issue

"In order to prevent and control HIV we must protect and promote the human rights of the homosexuals - the most vulnerable and typically marginalized sections of society" said Dr Mandeep Dhaliwal of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Dame Carol Kidu, the only woman amongst a 108 member strong parliament of Papua New Guinea (PNG), also feels the same. According to her any type of phobia is difficult to address, as phobias are based on unreasonable and illogical thinking. This is more so in the case of homophobia as deep rooted stigmas fuelled by conservative attitudes are hard to dispel. Read more

Speak The Unspeakable and Do The Unthinkable

The age old issue dealing with the problems of people with alternate sexuality was discussed threadbare, on the occasion of International Day against Homophobia, on 17th May, in the precincts of the almost hundred years old University of Hong Kong. This High Level Dialogue was organized jointly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Asia Pacific Coalition on Male sexual health (APCOM), and the Centre for Comparative and Public Law (CCPL) at the Law Faculty, University of Hong Kong. The event marked the release of the key findings and recommendations of the UNDP-APCOM study titled "Punitive Laws, Human Rights and HIV Prevention among Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) and Transgender People In Asia and the Pacific Region: An Agenda For Action." Read more

An AIDS Vaccine is Possible: HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (18th May)

HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, 18th May
Approximately 7500 people newly infected with HIV every day. In this scenario, the development of an AIDS vaccine is one of the greatest challenges currently in medical research and no viral disease has ever been controlled without a vaccine. "On occasion of HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, 18th May, my good wishes are for the researchers and scientists who are working hard for developing HIV vaccine but unfortunately we haven't got it till now" says Naresh Yadav, founder of UP Network of People living with HIV (UPNP+) and Chairperson of International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC) India. Read more

Punitive and Discriminatory Laws limit access to HIV prevention and care services for MSM

More than 90 percent of men having sex with men in the Asia Pacific region do not have access to HIV prevention and care services. HIV prevalence has reached alarming levels among men who have sex with men and transgender populations in many countries of Asia and the Pacific.

If countries fail to address the legal context of the epidemic, this already critical situation is likely to become worse. The implementation of effective, human rights-based national HIV responses requires governments to consider the effect of laws and law enforcement practices on the health of men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender persons. Read more

Mumbai's slum-dwellers embark on Visthapan Virodhi Yatra

The agitation for Right to housing and land for the poor, continues with increased support from various organisations, at Anna Bhau Sathe Nagar, Mankhurd. Here thousands of people – men, women, children and aged are camping, with slogans asserting their Right to shelter, as a part of Right to Life. Read more

Climate of state-sponsored homophobia ups HIV rates: amfAR announces grants

The International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) on 17th of May, provides yet another opportunity to talk about the wave of discrimination and violence against men who have sex with men (MSM) that is driving the spread of HIV/AIDS in developing countries. Gross violations of human rights in Uganda, Jamaica, Uzbekistan and elsewhere have created a climate of fear, forcing MSM underground and undermining HIV/AIDS services. Today, MSM are 19 times more likely to be infected with HIV than the general population and their disproportionate vulnerability is threatening to stagnate the progress we have made in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Read more

Sexuality-related stigma impedes access to existing services

Globally, men who have sex with men (MSMs) and transgenders have a higher rate of HIV incidence, due to appalling attention towards their health needs. In the words of Shivananda Khan, who was conferred upon the prestigious Order of The British Empire (OBE) by the British Queen, for his services to HIV/AIDS prevention and among marginalized communities in South Asia, and leader of Naz Foundation International (NFI), "unless we create an atmosphere in which the transgenders and MSMs can access appropriate health services, to reduce their vulnerability to HIV, they will constitute more than 50% of the people living with HIV, by the year 2020.This is bound to have a tremendous economic impact on governments and societies by way of increased expenditures on treatment and care." Read more

International Day Against Homophobia: Protect the right to life with dignity of LGBT community

17th of May is International Day Against Homophobia
Well, why do we need to celebrate such a day? "Homophobia is expressed in ways which does not treat MSMs, lesbians and transgenders with respect, and prevents their access to basic human rights, particularly the right to live with dignity. So, it is imperative to draw the attention of various countries, particularly of the South Asian region, to this fact. The main challenge before all of us is to create a conducive atmosphere for making appropriate health and other services accessible to persons with different /alternate sexuality" said Shivananda Khan, who has been honored with Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the British Queen, for his services to HIV/AIDS prevention and among marginalized communities in South Asia. Shivananda Khan is one of the keynote speakers at the High Level Dialogue to discuss punitive laws, human rights and HIV prevention among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Asia Pacific, in Hong Kong on 17th May to mark the International Day Against Homophobia. Read more

Leading NGOs applaud decision to tackle non-communicable diseases

For the first time ever, the United Nations General Assembly will hold a Non-communicable Disease (NCD) Summit involving Heads of State, in September 2011, to address the threat posed by NCDs to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The UN General Assembly [unanimous] decision was congratulated by the World Heart Federation, International Diabetes Federation (IDF), International Union Against Cancer (UICC) and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). Read more

Media Nest focusses on tobacco control

"Both the use and acceptance of tobacco usage is on the increase. This is indeed a very alarming sign for society. The Indian anti-tobacco law is strong but in reality its implementation is very weak," said Bobby Ramakant, an activist journalist, at the monthly 'Media for Children' session organized at the UP Press Club, by Media Nest (MN), with the support of UNICEF. MN is a Lucknow based pan-global forum of media professionals that works for the welfare of media persons and their families. Read more

Tobacco Laws And Their Implementation – The Horror of Reality

[To see CNS photo gallery of this event, click here]

Are the tobacco control laws, as envisaged in the COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003) and the Ban on Smoking in Public Places being enforced and followed in the city of Lucknow? And are the citizens any wiser about the hazards of smoking and tobacco consumption? Read more

Weak implementation of tobacco control laws in Lucknow: Loreto College Students

[To see CNS photo gallery of this event, click here]
Are the tobacco control laws, as envisaged in the COTPA (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act 2003), like the Ban on Smoking in Public Places, being enforced and followed in the city of Lucknow? Are the Lucknow-citizens any wiser about the hazards of smoking and tobacco consumption? To find the ground reality, some students of Class XII of Loreto Convent College, Lucknow, recently did a random survey of the city, as part of their Environmental Education Project. They surveyed 200 persons (150 males and 50 females) of various age groups, and coming from different strata of society - from rickshaw pullers to executives. Read more

Governments in South-East Asia detain thousands in abusive drug detention centres

A new report "Detention as Treatment: Detention of Methamphetamine Users in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand" released last week documents the arbitrary detention of thousands of drug users, mostly young people, in controversial detention centers in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. While the detention is supposedly for treatment, children and adults are held in boot camp-like centers where they do not receive adequate medical care and are subjected to routine physical and sexual abuse. Read more

Deconstruct stereotypes: Let men and women be good human beings

Give me a handful of energetic youth and I will transform India, had said Vivekanand, who recognised the potential of youth power and had said this long back. Today, from government to voluntary sector, everyone is talking about youth to tackle a plethora of problems by involving them. When bringing the change is mentioned, women automatically get referred to along with youth as both are considered to be the crusaders in changing the world into a better place. Read more

Victory for access to medicines as Valaganciclovir patent is overturned

International medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) welcomes the decision by the Indian Patent Office to set aside the product patent it had previously granted to pharmaceutical company Roche for the drug valganciclovir. Valganciclovir is primarily used as treatment and prevention of an infection caused by cytomegalovirus (CMV) in organ transplant patients, a highly lucrative market which Roche has sought to defend by patenting the medicine. But CMV also affects people living with HIV, and if left untreated, can cause blindness and death. Read more

Too little attention given to AIDS Orphans and vulnerable children

World AIDS Orphans Day: May 7
More than 15 million children worldwide have lost one or both parents to AIDS – equivalent to the number of people living in New York, Paris and Rome combined. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 12 million children have been orphaned by the pandemic. Experts believe that millions more orphans remain unaccounted for in India, China and Russia. By 2010, the number of AIDS orphans worldwide is expected to climb to an estimated 20 - 25 million children. Read more

Involve men to check violence against women

The need to involve men to check violence against women has recently emerged as a strong tool for effective handling of the issue. Understanding the need and to share their views and experiences on the issue, activists from six North Indian states will gather at Lucknow – the capital of the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh - on May 7 and 8. Read more

Supreme Court accepts right to rehabilitation of Narmada canal affected

In an interim order passed today in the Special Leave Petition in appeal against the judgement of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh High Court in the case of Narmada Bachao Andolan, the Hon’ble Supreme Court today rejected the claim of the Government of Madhya Pradesh that the canal-affecetd families of Indira Sagar (ISP) and Omkareshwar (OSP) canals, being the ‘beneficiaries’, have no right to rehabilitation, while NBA asserted their rights for land as per the Rehabilitation Policy for Narmada Project affected families. Read more

Modi's SSP Politics misleading: No final permission to raise dam height yet

MODI's SARDAR SAROVAR POLITICS shall neither benefit Gujarat nor Narmada Valley
The politics around Narmada only continues to get worse by the day and has reached a level beyond the dam itself! It is obvious by now that Mr. Modi wants to raise the height of the dam beyond 122 mts in order to celebrate ‘Swarnim Gujarat’, rather than ensuring that the water crisis of Gujarat is resolved. There is no doubt that Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are trying to obtain permission from the Central authorities to raise the dam to its final height by hook or crook and even influencing political opinion and authorities at the highest level, with alleged false information and fraudulent claims of compliance with all the stipulations on the basis of which the Project has been granted clearance. Read more

Environmental Expert Committee submits its report indicting government of Madhya Pradesh

Devendra Pandey Committee has submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) its 3rd interim report, especially on the Command Area Development (CAD) Planning and canals of Indira Sagar, Omkareshwar (Narmada Dams), which brings out unbelievable non-compliance by Govt of MP and Narmada Valley Development Authority (NVDA) on CAD planning. The report says only draft report on CAD plan in Indira Sagar Project (ISP) & a brief interim report on Omkareshwar Project (OSP) are submitted and not even the final plans. Read more

26/11 Verdict brings solace to Indian Muslims

The Recent verdict pronounced by a Mumbai court in 26/11 terrorist attack case has brought a solace to the Indians Muslims. Whereas the verdict has convicted Kasab and his operatives in Pakistan, it has acquitted Faheem Ansari and Shaikh Sabahunddin Ahmed who were falsely implicated by Bombay police as Indian co-conspirators to prove their theory of connivance of home grown players. Bombay police had charged the Duo with offences of conspiracy and involvement in terrorist attack. Read more

Affordable quality-assured asthma medicines bring hope to low-income countries

World Asthma Day, 4th May 2010
This World Asthma Day, people suffering from asthma in low- and middle-income countries can find new hope in its theme “You Can Control Your Asthma”, thanks to the Asthma Drug Facility created by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). The cost of treating asthma with essential medicines has dropped by nearly half for countries working with the Asthma Drug Facility (ADF), a procurement mechanism that makes it possible for low- and middle-income countries to obtain quality-assured essential asthma medicines at affordable prices. Read more

Whom are the houses for under the Kanshiram Urban Poor Housing Scheme?

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In the list of those who were alloted houses under the Kanshiram Urban Poor Housing Scheme last month, not a single urban poor figures from the two slum dwellings that were bulldozed last year in state capital Lucknow of Uttar Pradesh (UP). Read more

This year 2010, is The Year of the Lung

The 4th of May 2010 is the World Asthma Day. Incidentally this year is also declared as The Year of the Lung to recognize that hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer each year from treatable and preventable chronic respiratory diseases. This initiative acknowledges that lung health has long been neglected in public discourses, and understands the need to unify different health advocates behind one purpose of lung health, informed Dr Nils Billo, Chair of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS). Read more