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NIH Awards $2.3 Million Grant to Nigerian Researcher for HIV Self-Tests

Nigerian researcher Juliet Iwelunmor, Ph.D. given $2.3 million NIH grant



NIH Awards $2.3 Million Grant for I-TEST project
Juliet Iwelunmor, Ph.D. Photo Credit: Ellen Hutti/Saint Louis University

The National Institutes for Health (NIH) has given a $2.3 million grant to develop and implement HIV self-testing in Nigeria. The grant is awarded to Juliet Iwelunmor, Ph.D., an associate professor of global health and behavioral science and health education at the St. Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice.

Iwelunmor and her team are tasked with creating the Innovative Tools to Expand HIV Self-Testing (I-TEST) to make self-testing for HIV possible.

I-TEST will be deployed in Nigeria where many of the youths die annually of HIV and AIDS-related deaths. The country ranks second in the world in new HIV-infections among youths. With early HIV testing, everyone will be able to access preventive HIV education, care and treatment. Unfortunately, less than one in five Nigerian youths has been tested for HIV.

NIH Awards $2.3 Million Grant for I-TEST  project

                                                                            Juliet Iwelunmor, Ph.D

I-TEST Will Draw On the Resourcesfulness and Resilience of Nigerian Youths for Effectiveness

With the research grant offered to Iwelunmor, several other international institutions will be partnering on the I-TEST project. These include the –

  • Nigerian Institute for Medical Research
  • University of North Carolina
  • New York University School of Medicine

“HIV self-testing decentralizes HIV testing by allowing an individual to collect their own test specimen, perform a test and interpret the result, often in a private setting, either alone or with someone he or she trusts,” Iwelunmor said.

With I-TEST, the Nigerian government’s objectives of ensuring that up to 90% of youths access HIV testing will be realized. Those who test positive to HIV infection can easily be linked to relevant treatment sources and services.

To ensure that every youth accesses I-TEST opportunity in Nigeria, open challenges and entreprenuership trainings targeted at driving youths engagement, participation and innovations will be explored. According to Iwelunmor, innovative solutions that leverage the resourcefulness and resilience of young people are required to reduce HIV transmission.

Three Main Objectives Must Be Achieved With Project Trials in Randomized Clusters

As soon as the effectiveness and readiness of a trial is ascertained, a project strategy will be trialed in a randomized cluster trial in 24 different areas of Nigeria. The following three goals are to be achieved with project trials –

  • Use open challenges and apprenticeship to create self-testing HIV services
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of two semi-finalist interventions on HIV testing
  • To determine the effectiveness of one finalist participatory intervention and prevention outcomes on HIV testing

Iwelunmor disclosed that I-TEST will reconfigure HIV prevention services based on the resourcefulness and power of Nigerian youths aged 14 to 24. This will in turn help the youths to take part in HIV self-testing service design, implementation and evaluation.

“Open challenges and entrepreneurship training can leverage the strengths of young people to generate demand for HIV self-tests and uptake of essential HIV prevention services,” she noted.

Nike Omedo is a dedicated news researcher. She has a degree in Mass Communication with 9 years news reporting experience. She loves to cover global health issues and personal health challenges.

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General Health

Cyclists in London Exposed To High Levels of Black Carbon Emissions on Busy Roads

London and São Paulo cyclists face risk of exposure to black carbon emissions



black carbon emission risks to London cyclists
London cyclists face risk of exposure to black carbon emissions: Photo Credit: DariuszSankowski/Pixabay

Cyclists using busy London roads are found to be exposed to harmful black carbon emissions from vehicles. Cyclists are mostly at risk of inhaling dangerous gases in the evenings when vehicular movement is at its highest. They are therefore advised to use alternative roads to reach their destinations rather than highly trafficked roads where black carbon emissions are highest in the evenings.

This is the conclusion of a study carried out by researchers from the University of Surrey’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE), the University of São Paulo (Brazil) and University of Twente (Netherlands). Their finding was published in the Journal of Transport Geography.

Black Carbon Exposure Is Higher On Busy Roads and During the Evening Commute

The Department of Transport stated that a little over three million vehicles are licensed in London. Out of these, 2.7 million are cars. In Greater London, car transportation takes up 35% of all trips and 730,000 cycling trips are made every day. This puts cyclists at the mercy gaseous emissions released by thousands of vehicles along busy roads.

The air pollution study examined the levels of black carbon emissions that cyclists are exposed to on three major routes: the London to Liverpool Street route, Rotterdam to Rotterdam Station, and São Paulo to Paulista Avenue. The result of black carbon exposure on these routes was compared to the same exposure on alternative routes with parks, waterways and natural green facilities.

The researchers were able to conclude cyclists using busy roads in London and São Paulo were at health risks of inhaling higher concentrations of black carbon than those using alternative routes. Levels of black carbon exposure in main and alternative routes in Rotterdam remain the same.

Urban Planners Should Plant Trees, Set Up Natural Parks and Invest In Green Infrastructure

Interestingly, cyclists in São Paulo are twice likely to be exposed to black carbon than those in London and Rotterdam. Meanwhile, London cyclists are exposed to black carbon on main routes in the evening than those who use the same routes in the morning; and they are twice at risk of the emission than those who use alternative routes.

“These findings should be considered when urban planners establish new cycle networks by increasing, as much as possible, the distance between the road and the cycle ways,” said Professor Prashant Kumar, Director of GCARE at the University of Surrey.

Kumar further advised city planners to invest in green infrastructure in major cities since these seem to neutralize the environmental air pollution caused by black carbon vehicles on major roads.

Professor Maria de Fatima of the University of São Paulo said it is necessary to evaluate the impact biofuel-blended diesel-fuelled vehicles have on the peoples and environments of São Paulo, as well as on our planet in general.

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All You Need To Know To Effectively Manage Arthritis

There is no absolute cure for arthritis, but its symptoms can be managed



An old person suffering from arthritis. Photo Credit: Sabinevanerp/Pixabay

When arthritis occurs in your bones, your cartilages are broken down. The cartilage is that tissue in your body responsible for protecting your joints to enable them move without restrictions. When the joints experience any kind of pressures, such as when you take a walk, it is the cartilage that absorbs the shocks.

When cartilages break down or get reduced, it is difficult for you to walk around without your bones rubbing together. This rubbing together of the bones lead to severe pains, swellings, stiffness, and painful inflammation known as arthritis.

Arthritis is most common in older women than in men or younger persons, and it is believed that this could be due to menopause and reduced estrogen levels.

Major Causes of Arthritis

Other main known causes of arthritis include:

  • Autoimmune disease: This occurs when the body’s immune system attacks other body tissues, mistaking them for diseases.
  • Fractures: Broken bones can lead to cases of arthritis.
  • General wear and tear: Several factors can lead to wear and tear in the bones and the tissues holding them to their sockets, leading to arthritis.
  • Infections: Certain bone and tissue infections from bacteria and viruses can lead to arthritis.

Major Symptoms of Arthritis

The most common symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Joint inflammation: Most types of arthritis lead to painful inflammation and swelling of the joints.
  • Joint pains: One symptom that is common to all cases of arthritis in men, women, children, young and the aged is the presence of chronic pains in the joints.
  • Inability to move the joints: People with arthritis always find it hard to move their legs easily.
  • Redness: Redness often occurs on the skin surrounding the joints affected by arthritis.
  • Warmth: People suffering from arthritis often experience very warm sensations around the joints where they feel the arthritis pains.
  • Stiffness: It is a common thing for arthritis patients to experience pains, especially when they wake up in the morning.

How to Diagnose Arthritis

When you visit a medical practitioner to diagnose any arthritic case, you will be required to provide your medical history before a physical exam will be performed on you. Most times, these physical examinations show fluids surrounding your joints, and this can cause redness, tenderness, and limited range of joint motion.

Blood tests and joint x-rays can also be required to check for infections and other possible causes. Samples of the fluid around your joints may be extracted and sent to the lab for medical analysis.

Treatment Options for Arthritis

Most underlying causes of arthritis cannot be cured. Treatments are however necessary to prevent further damage to the joint, reduce pains, and to improve joint function. Some treatment techniques employed in caring for arthritis patients include;

  • Adequate physical exercise: Most arthritis cases can be easily taken care of by engaging in regular physical exercises. These exercises will help you reduce joint stiffness, reduce fatigues and pains, and improve bone and muscle strength, etc.
  • Change of lifestyle: Changing your lifestyle is very important in the treatment of arthritis. Exercise more, get more sleep, get some physical therapies like heat or ice/water therapy, get some physical massage, lose weight if you are overweight, and eat healthy foods that contain all necessary vitamins and minerals needed by your bones, joints and tissues to stay healthy.
  • Medication: It helps to combine some medicines with your lifestyle changes for best results. Some medicines that can help out arthritis include aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc.
  • Surgery: Some surgery techniques are effective for treating arthritis cases. These techniques include arthroplasty and joint replacement.
  • Home remedies: Alternative home remedies like acupuncture and other herbal therapies can also work great to alleviate arthritic pains.

While there is no absolute cure for arthritis, its symptoms can be managed with a combination of therapies such as medications, exercise, herbal remedies and improved nutrition among others.


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General Health

Digestive Disorders: Types, Causes and Treatments

Digestive disorders and all there is to know for recovery



digestive disorders
Digestive disorders and all there is to know for recovery. Photo Credit: OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay

People who suffer from digestive disorders find it difficult to discuss it with others. Most people with digestive disorders would rather suffer in silence than talk about their health challenges. The truth about digestive disorders is that they can actually be taken care of with simple lifestyle changes, especially in terms of diet or through simple over-the-counter remedies.

There are different known digestive disorders today. Below are some of the major ones, the symptoms that identify them as well as treatment techniques:

Types of Digestive Disorders

  • Reflux

This common digestive disorder is often associated with heart-burn as its most prevalent symptom. Heartburn is a burning hot sensation that begins at the center of the abdomen and spreads towards the chest area under the breastbone. Reflux can be quite painful and discomforting. It can also harm the esophagus or result in esophageal cancer.

  • Peptic ulcers

According to statistics, 25 million Americans will develop peptic ulcer at some points in their lives. Whenever you experience an inexplicable stomach ache, don’t reach out for a painkiller without considering the negative effects of taking painkillers like aspirin for ulcer cases.

All non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will only make the pains worse. Contrary to beliefs, stress can only make the ulcer symptoms worse, but cannot cause ulcer. If left untreated, peptic ulcer causes internal bleeding and serious infections in the walls of the small intestine.

  • Gallstones

Millions of Americans get diagnosed with gallstones every year. Removing gallstones requires the removal of the gallbladder, which is one of the easiest surgeries carried out in the United States. Gallstones can be easily diagnosed with ultrasound tests. These gallstones when left for long can cause the inflammation of the liver, pancreas and gallbladder.

  • Lactose intolerance

About 50 million Americans have been found to be lactose intolerant, which means they do not have the enzyme required for the digestion of the sugar contained in milk. Some common symptoms include nausea, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and cramping.

  • Constipation

This is one common digestive disorder experienced by almost every American once in a while. You can get remedy for constipation by taking milk of magnesia.

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

This digestive disorder can be as a result of Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Some of its major symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain, occasional anemia, and rectal bleeding, etc.

  • Celiac disease

This digestive disorder can be found in about 1% of Americans. It is a digestive disease that prevents its victims from eating foods rich in gluten such as barley, rye, wheat, etc.

Causes of Digestive Disorders

Digestive disorders are caused by a number of factors, some of which include:

  • High acid levels

The presence of a high concentration of acid in your stomach will always result in some digestive problems such as reflux conditions.

  • Bacteria

The activities of bacteria in your stomach, eating up the top layer of your intestine can go a long way to give you stomach problems like ulcer.

  • Lifestyle

Certain lifestyles such as excessive smoking and drinking of alcohol have been linked to a number of digestive disorders. These habits have the ability to increase the level of acids in your stomach.

  • Diet

Eating the wrong foods over time can lead to a large number of digestive disorders such as constipation and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Treatment of Digestive Disorders

The method employed in the treatment of any digestive disorders depends on the specific type of disorder in question.

  • Acid-neutralizing drugs

For reflux problems, the best treatment technique is by administering drugs that reduce the level of acid found in the body.

  • Antibiotics

Using antibiotics for about two weeks can go a long way to kill bacteria like H. Pylori and all other bacteria that eat up the walls of the intestines and that make way for infections.

  • Surgery

Certain digestive disorders involving the formation of gallstones can be removed through surgery. Ulcerative colitis can equally be used for the removal of the colon, which means the patient must have to wear a pouch for his waste products.



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