26 de mayo de 2011

Hepatitis B

Today we continue with our health reports in English. And the target of our entry this week is the infection caused by the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV).
You can listen to the report from this link. Additionally, at the end of the transcription you will find an informative video clip.

Hepatitis is the name for a group of viral infections that attack the liver. These are called A, B, C and so on.

An estimated two billion people are infected with hepatitis B. The rates are highest in China and other parts of Asia. The World Health Organization says most of these infections happen during childhood.

Hepatitis B is spread through contact with infected blood or other body fluids. Mothers can infect babies at birth. Unsafe injections and sexual contact can also spread the virus. Experts say it can survive outside the body for at least a week.

There are two forms of hepatitis B -- acute and chronic. Acute cases last for several weeks, although recovery can take months. Chronic cases can lead to death from cirrhosis or scarring of the liver and liver cancer.

Yet people with long-term liver infections can live for years and not even know they are infected. The ones most likely to develop chronic hepatitis B are young children.

In the United States, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge medical providers to test Asian-American patients.

DR. JOHN WARD: "The bottom line -- since most people of Asian heritage came to the US from endemic countries or were born to parents from these countries, they should be screened for chronic hepatitis B."

For acute hepatitis B, patients may receive care to replace lost fluids, but there are no treatments. Doctors can treat chronic cases with interferon and antiviral drugs. But these medicines cost too much for most of the world's poor.

A vaccine to prevent hepatitis B has been available for thirty years. The researcher who discovered this vaccine -- and hepatitis B itself -- was an American named Baruch Blumberg. Dr. Blumberg also showed that the virus could cause liver cancer.

He and another researcher at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Irving Millman, invented the vaccine in nineteen sixty-nine. But Dr. Blumberg said it took some time to find a drug company willing to produce it.

He first became interested in studying infectious disease when he volunteered in Surinam during his medical training.

His discoveries with hepatitis B saved many lives and earned him a Nobel Prize in medicine. But he also had other interests -- including the search for life in outer space.

In the late nineties, he helped launch the Astrobiology Institute at NASA. He was at a space agency conference in California in April when he died, apparently of a heart attack. Baruch Blumberg was eighty-five years old.

19 de mayo de 2011

How Early Treatment Can Limit the Spread of HIV

How Early Treatment Can Limit the Spread of HIV

Today, we bring you a report from VOA about the HIV pandemic. Additionally, you can also listen to the report.


This is the VOA Health Report.

For people infected with HIV, the earlier they start treatment, the better -- and better not just for them. A new study shows that early treatment greatly reduces the risk that the partner of an infected person will also get infected. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is with the United States National Institutes of Health which paid for the study.

ANTHONY FAUCI: "Many studies have been showing that the earlier you start, the better it is for the person who is infected. This study shows that not only is it better for the person who is infected, but it helps that person from transmitting to the person that's their sexual partner, heterosexual partner."

Researchers cannot say if the results would be the same in men who have sex with men. Most of the couples in the study were heterosexual.

The study took place in Botswana, Brazil, India, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand, the United States and Zimbabwe. It involved almost two thousand couples divided into two groups.

In one group, the infected man or woman began to take a combination of three antiretroviral drugs immediately after being found to have HIV. In the other group, the infected partners began drug treatment only when they started to show signs of getting AIDS.

The researchers say both groups received equal amounts of HIV-related care and counseling. That included information about safe sex practices, free condoms and regular HIV testing.

The study began in two thousand five. It was supposed to last until twenty-fifteen. But researchers stopped it early because the results were so clear. Only one case of infection was reported in couples where the infected partner began immediate treatment.

Dr. Fauci says earlier treatment led to a ninety-six percent reduction in the spread of HIV to uninfected partners.

ANTHONY FAUCI: "This is a powerful bit of evidence that will go into the thinking and formulation of guidelines and of global policy, policy by WHO, by UNAIDS, by the international organizations that help to provide drugs in the developing world."

The study shows the value in testing and treating HIV before a person even feels sick enough to see a doctor. But in many countries, public health budgets are already stretched thin. In sub-Saharan Africa, the area hardest hit by AIDS, for every person who gets treated, two others go untreated.

Antiretroviral drugs suppress the virus. Once people start treatment, they have to continue it daily for the rest of their life.

And that's the VOA's Health Report.

And now a video clip on HIV.

18 de mayo de 2011

A School That Teaches Children to Eat Better

Dear all,

This is the story of a school in the USA that teaches children how to eat healthily. Listen as you read (or just practise your listening comprehension skills without reading!). At the end of the report you will find two attractive videos for even further practice!


This is the VOA's Education Report.

About one-fifth of Americans age six to nineteen are considered overweight. To reduce those numbers, some schools are teaching children to make better food choices.

TEACHER AND STUDENT: "So I can have spinach and what, who can give me one combination. Spinach and -- Diego?" "Eggplant?" "Eggplant. Spinach and eggplant. So here is my first combination."

Hannah Chen is teaching the eight and nine year olds in this math class in Washington how to make sets.

HANNAH CHEN: "We just incorporated food into different types of combinations, like with the pizza we had two types of toppings that the kids can provide, and figuring out the different combinations using those toppings."

The EW Stokes Public Charter School has started to include food topics in its third-grade math and English teaching. The school formed a partnership with Seedling Projects, an environmental group in San Francisco, California.

Peter Nalli is a curriculum director for the program called Farm to Desk. He says they are doing this in part to address the issue of childhood obesity.

PETER NALLI: "One of the main components of our program is our belief that if kids are exposed to positive and healthy messaging about food throughout the instructional day, that has the most potential to impact long-term change."

School chef Makeisha Daye says the school buys most of its food from local farms, but the students grow some themselves.

MAKEISHA DAYE: "They are replanting everything now so that we will be using fresh herbs, fresh vegetables straight from our garden. So, the children, they love it."

Teacher Hannah Chen agrees.

HANNAH CHEN: "We have a salad bar at the school, and now the kids love the salad bar. They love the fruits and vegetables. So I think it is making a big difference in their lives."

She says the third graders have also learned to read the sugar and fat content listed on food packages. She says the EW Stokes Public Charter School in Washington plans to expand the Farm to Desk program to other grades next year.

Charter schools get public money but do not have to follow the same rules as traditional public schools.

Many charter schools have specialized areas of study -- like Environmental Charter High School near Los Angeles. Students learn the importance of protecting the environment. Rigo Estrada says he used to be the kind of person who threw trash on the street.

RIGO ESTRADA: "But now that I have seen firsthand videos, I have done beach cleanups, I have helped develop like water-catchment systems, I have taught elementary schools like the importance of water conservation, I know the importance of green and that it actually is a really serious topic."

Students also learn how to prepare a business plan that they can use to help pay for college. They learn from teachers and outside experts like Nancy Gale. She owns an environmentally friendly business that makes handbags.

NANCY GALE: "The idea behind the program is that if these kids see what they can do together and what they can accomplish, that they recognize that their skills extend into the same real world as kids that go to successful private schools."