The following summarizes selected women's health-related blog entries. ~ " President Obama's Budget Request From Fiscal Year 2011 Receives Mixed Reactions form Global Health Community, " Jennifer Redner, International Women's Health Coalition's "Akimbo": President Obama's fiscal year 2011 budget proposal is "the largest-ever requested" at $3.8 trillion, of which $8.5 billion is intended for Obama's Global Health Initiative, Redner writes. The request for global health funding is a 9% increase overall from 2010, with funding for some program areas remaininly relatively flat, such as HIV/AIDS, "while others grew, including maternal and child health (by $150 million) and family planning (though the increase is not yet clearly known) in an effort to make up for some of the past years of severe shortages, " according to Redner. Although "[t]hese are laudable steps forward to be sure, " if the U.S. "is going to meet its fair share of global health programs, more needs to be done, " as "it certainly won't get less expensive by waiting, " she writes.
Senate Judiciary Committee Defers Vote On DOJ Nominee Johnsen; Full Senate Approves 27 Other Nominees
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved several judiciary nominees Thursday but again delayed consideration of Dawn Johnsen, President Obama's nominee for assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, CQ Today reports. The delay will allow absent Republicans on the committee an opportunity to comment on her nomination, according to CQ Today. Obama re-nominated Johnsen to the post on Jan. 20, after the Senate failed to confirm her before the nomination expired last year. The committee has delayed consideration of Johnsen three times (Scholtes, CQ Today, 2/11). Johnsen's nomination has drawn fire from some Republicans because of her past work for NARAL Pro-Choice America and her opposition to terrorism policies put in place under President George W. Bush. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said that he has not spoken with Obama about a possible President's Day recess appointment for Johnsen. When asked if the administration should consider a recess appointment in Johnsen's case, Leahy said, "It should probably be one they would.
President Obama on Wednesday criticized Republican senators for using legislative tactics to delay confirmation votes on several nominees for reasons unrelated to their qualifications, the Washington Post reports. During a Senate Democratic Conference question-and-answer session, Obama said there is "a huge backlog of folks who are unanimously viewed as well qualified -- nobody has a specific objection to them -- but end up having a hold on them because of some completely unrelated piece of business." According to the Post, Senate rules allow members to place a hold on nominees at any time for any reason, effectively blocking the chamber's consideration of the nominee. The holds are often placed privately, which makes it difficult to track their use. The president's remarks came a day before the Senate is scheduled to vote on some nominees, including Patricia Smith, nominated as the Labor Department's head lawyer, and Martha Johnson, nominated to head the General Services Administration.
Helix BioPharma Announces Positive Interim Results From Its Ongoing Phase II Pharmacokinetic Clinical Study Of Topical Interferon Alpha-2b
Helix BioPharma Corp. (TSX, FSE: HBP; Pink Sheets: HXBPF) announced that the first ten patients that have been enrolled in its Phase II pharmacokinetic study of Topical Interferon Alpha-2b in patients with low-grade cervical lesions have completed the pharmacokinetic primary endpoint analyses with positive findings. All ten of these patients, at all sampling time points, were found to have systemic interferon alpha-2b levels below the lower limit of detection (6.25 pg/mL) of the validated bioassay used in the study. These findings are consistent with the primary purpose of the study: to verify that Topical Interferon Alpha-2b causes no significant systemic interferon alpha-2b exposure in patients following cervical application. "Given the uniformity of the primary endpoint findings to-date, we intend to conclude patient recruitment for this study once a total of twelve patients complete the pharmacokinetic analyses, " said John Docherty, president of Helix BioPharma. "We look forward to concluding enrollment and analyzing the complete data set from this important study.
Three years after the U.S. blood banking industry issued recommendations that discourage transfusing plasma from female donors because of a potential antibody reaction, Duke University Medical Center researchers discovered that female plasma actually may have advantages. The Duke team conducted a retrospective study of Red Cross donor and hospital data from a period when female plasma wasn't restricted. They examined heart surgery outcomes for lung problems, and prolonged length of hospital stay or death. Cardiac surgery patients use about one-fifth of all transfused blood products. They found that patients receiving female-donor plasma did significantly better than similar patients receiving male-donor plasma. "Our findings raise the possibility of unanticipated effects of restricting female donor plasma use, " said Mark Stafford-Smith, M.D., a Duke professor of anesthesiology and senior author of a study appearing in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery on Feb. 11. Blood products, such as red cells and plasma, are manufactured from blood collected from volunteer donors, and both male and female donors are still encouraged to donate whole blood, which is then separated into different components.
Despite big changes over recent decades, workplace gender inequalities endure in the United States and other industrialized nations around the world. These inequalities are created by facets of national social policy that either ease or concentrate the demands of care giving within households and shape expectations in the workplace, according to University of Washington sociologists. In a new book, "Gendered Tradeoffs: Family, Social Policy and Economic Inequality in Twenty-One Countries, " Becky Pettit and Jennifer Hook contend workplace equality for women boils down to not only whether women are included in the work force but on how they are included. Pettit is an associate professor of sociology and Hook is research scientist in the School of Social Work. The book, which looks at levels of women's employment, number of hours worked, occupational integration, and wage equality, draws on the ongoing Luxembourg Income Study. The study is a repository of data collected in a number of countries, and for the book, the UW authors look at Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Canada, Australia, Austria, Russian Federation, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, Slovenia, Hungary, Belgium, Poland, Italy, Spain and the United States.
Treating herpes in HIV-positive patients does not lower the risk that they will transmit HIV to their partners, despite the fact that herpes treatment has been shown to lower the level of HIV in the blood, according to a study published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, the New York Times reports. Scientists are unsure why the herpes drug acyclovir lowers the level of HIV in the blood. Lead author Connie Celum, a professor of global health at the University of Washington, said although this effect was known, "no one knew whether that would be enough to reduce HIV transmission." For the study, researchers screened 50, 000 couples at 14 sites across Africa, selecting 3, 400 couples in which one partner had both HIV and herpes. Both partners agreed to participate in the study for two years, and all participants were given condoms. Half of the participants received acyclovir and the other half received a placebo. Participants who took acyclovir had 50% fewer genital sores and had lower levels of HIV in their blood.
NPR's " Tell Me More " recently featured a discussion about a new study that found that more young teens in an experimental abstinence-only sex education program delayed sexual activity for two years than teens in a comprehensive program or teens who did not participate in a program. In the segment, host Michel Martin discussed the findings with Loretta Jemmott, a co-author of the study and professor at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Nursing. Jemmott said that the message of the study's abstinence-only program was "different" than abstinence-until-marriage programs. She added, "Our program didn't focus on the moralistic issue of waiting until marriage. It focused on waiting until you're responsible to be able to handle the consequences of sex." The study was designed around the concept of "elicitation, " which involved "a lot of focus groups, hanging out with the young people, trying to hear their voices, trying to understand their attitudes and their beliefs around abstinence, " Jemmott said.
With Osteoporosis an increasing concern among women of all ages, a recent report in the medical journal Osteoporosis International found that women taking the AAACa (AdvaCAL® ) calcium supplements had the highest bone density increase among 32 different calcium studies conducted between 1977 and 2008. The 32 studies involved 3, 169 postmenopausal women, 79 skeletal measures and 7 different types of calcium, including dairy. The report entitled "The Effect of Calcium Supplementation on Bone Loss in 32 Controlled Trials in Postmenopausal Women" was authored by calcium researcher Christopher Nordin, M.D. of Australia. Nordin concluded that calcium intake prevented bone loss in postmenopausal women for at least four years. Results from the 32 studies showed a wide range of bone density changes from taking different types of calcium. Most changes were negative, meaning many women taking calcium still lost bone mass each year. However, AdvaCAL calcium users averaged a 1.5% bone density increase per year, the highest increase among all 79 skeletal measures.
An ovarian cyst is an accumulation of fluid within an ovary that is surrounded by a very thin wall. Any ovarian follicle that is larger than approximately two centimeters is an ovarian cyst. Ovarian cysts can range widely in size; from being as small as a pea to larger than an orange - in rare cases ovarian cysts can become so large that the woman looks pregnant. The majority of ovarian cysts are benign (harmless). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA, most premenopausal women and up to 14.8% of postmenopausal women are found to have ovarian cysts. Ovarian cysts typically occur most frequently during a female's reproductive years (childbearing years). However, ovarian cysts may affect a woman of any age. In some cases, ovarian cysts cause pain and bleeding. If the cyst is over 5 centimeters in diameter it may need to be surgically removed. There are two main types of ovarian cysts: Functional ovarian cysts - the most common type. These harmless cysts form part of the female's normal menstrual cycle and are short-lived.