‘People are scared’: the fight against a deadly virus no one has heard of

Guardian Australia, Tue 24 Apr 2018 

An Aboriginal woman – we’ll call her B – is sitting in a dry creek bed outside her community and telling the world “this is a very bad disease. But we have to talk in a way not to shame people. Not telling them straight out. Telling them gently and quietly.”

B is talking about a sickness that has killed her family member and is a potential tragedy facing Aboriginal communities in central Australia, who have the world’s highest rates of a fatal, human immune virus for which there is no current cure, no treatment and no coordinated public health response.

Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is transmitted through sexual contact, blood transfusion and from mother to child by breastfeeding. It can cause a rapidly fatal form of leukaemia. Some people die within weeks of diagnosis. HTLV-1 also causes inflammation of the spinal cord leading to paralysis, severe lung disease known as bronchiectasis and other inflammatory disease.

In five communities around Alice Springs, more than 45% of adults tested have the virus, a rate thousands of times higher than for non-Indigenous Australians.

How HIV Possibly Jumped From Monkey To Man

Asian Scientist, April 12, 2018

Scientists in Japan have discovered a protein that may have enabled the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) to be transmitted to humans. Their findings are published in Cell Host & Microbe. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is believed to have evolved from a SIV that originated in chimpanzees.

Sex education worldwide is not relevant to students’ lives, says report

Guardian, 13 September 2016

Sex education in schools worldwide is so “out of touch” with pupils’ experiences that they find it irrelevant and switch off, research of young people in 10 countries (including Australia) shows.

Many students find lessons about sex and relationships negative, moralistic and too scientific to help them deal with the feelings and situations they are encountering, according to an analysis of young people’s views published in the journal BMJ Open.