Finding a balance between equality and safety in blood donation: the 12 month ban for MSM donors

World Blood Donor Day 2016 uses the theme “Blood connects us all” to motivate new blood donors to come forward and encourage regulars to continue to give blood. Donors must meet certain rules in order to provide safe blood. Gay and bisexual men (LGBTQ) used to face a lifetime ban, but now can donate blood if they have not had sex with another man for at least 12 months. Now, the 12 month rule is under fire in the wake of the Orlando shooting. Is this discrimination due to association with HIV/AIDS, or is the policy based on sound evidence?
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Malaria control, disasters and conflict

WHO European Region announced last week that Europe is now malaria free. This is great news to coincide with World Malaria Day this year. The challenge is to make sure Europe remains free of malaria into the future. Europe has been declared malaria free before, back in 1975. What happened to allow it to return?
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Malaria incidence and invasive plants – is there a link?

25 April is World Malaria Day – a time to reflect on the steps we can take to tackle this terrible disease. Much progress has been made in the fight against malaria over the past 15 years, like the use of bed nets impregnated with pesticides, but 3.2 billion people are still at risk. If…
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Can the air we breathe be increasing our risk of diabetes?

World Health Day this year focuses on diabetes prevention and treatment with emphasis on what lifestyle changes people can make to stop themselves getting diabetes. There is some intriguing evidence that although lifestyle factors are influential we should also be considering some other environmental factors that could be influencing the risk of disease. One of…
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Traffic congestion causes hotspots of air pollution and road traffic accidents

Traffic congestion in Oxford is a public health issue. It increases air pollution, lowering air quality breathed, which is a known cause of asthma, lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases. It increases the risk of traffic accidents through poor driver behaviour and judgement. Stuck in a traffic jam last week in Oxford, brought about through traffic control system failures, this driver experienced first-hand both air pollution and road safety issues. Globally, road traffic accidents cause 1.25 million deaths per year, with the highest road traffic fatality rates in low-income countries.
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Air pollution, can we reduce the impact of cars on urban air quality?

Air quality in Delhi, India, is so poor due to vehicular pollution that it caused the city to run a 2-week experiment in January 2016: private cars were allowed on the streets only on alternate days, depending on license plate numbers. Delhi's PM10 particle levels are nearly twice that of Beijing, and its PM 2.5 the worst of 1600 cities in the world (including Iran and Bangladesh). Similar experiments have been tried in major cities in France, Italy, UK, China, all suffering public health problems (cancer, heart attacks, asthma, premature death) due to their love affair with the motor car.
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Sustainable future depends on women

Today, on International Women’s Day, we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while calling action for gender parity. The United Nations campaigns for “Planet 50-50 by 2030” referring to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) that are to be achieved in the next 15 years. The goals urge us to, for example,…
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Why is Aedes so good at being a vector?

Seeing the Zika virus epidemic in South America it is hard to believe that just 50 years ago the Aedes mosquitoes that spread it  and several other tropical diseases were nearly eliminated in that region. Ever since then it seems we have been going backwards in mosquito control. Aedes aegypti seems to be adapted to…
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Five more bird species that can spread Lyme disease identified in USA

By Miroslav Djuric, DVM, CAB International, Wallingford, UK. Lyme disease or Lyme borreliosis is the most prevalent arthropod-borne disease of animals and humans in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere1. Risk of infection in humans is primarily associated with occupation (e.g. forestry work) or outdoor recreational activities. Recent surveys show that the overall prevalence…
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What is a sustainable diet? – a vision from the FENS conference

Climate change may be on everyone’s lips, but we are only just beginning to see how our diets might need to change to help prevent it and deal with the challenges of a growing population. I heard more about the question of sustainable diets at a series of sessions at the FENS conference on nutrition…
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