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[ In Sub-Saharan Africa, School-In-A-Bag Reduces Drop-Out Rates ]

In Sub-Saharan Africa, School-In-A-Bag Reduces Drop-Out Rates

A more flexible approach to teaching methods and better community support could reduce school drop-out in high HIV-prevalence areas in sub-Saharan Africa. Findings from a project led by London's Institute of Education and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department for International Development (DFID) show that using new ways of encouraging young children to stay in regular schooling cut drop-out rates by 42 per cent in just a year. Researchers used a package of measures to help vulnerable children, such as orphans and the very poor, who were at higher risk of abandoning school. Drop-out rates are higher at the end of grade one but to use these measures successfully, intervention starts in grade six. These included helping the children do more of their schoolwork from home, getting local people involved in their education, and helping schools become more inclusive.

HIV Vaginal Gel Dropped From Study - Not Effective, Trial Review Found

A tenofovir-containing microbicide vaginal gel aimed at preventing sexual transmission of HIV in females has been dropped from the VOICE trial after a routine study data review concluded that it was not effective, researchers from the Microbicide Trials Network, which is based at the University of Pittsburgh medical school, announced. The VOICE (Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic) HIV prevention trial has been testing two HIV medications: The daily administration of two different ARV (antiretroviral) tablets A vaginal gel containing ARV tenofovir A routine review of data carried out by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)'s independent Prevention Trials Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB), surprisingly, found that the gel was ineffective.

Tenofovir Vaginal Gel In 'VOICE' HIV Prevention Study Discontinued: Product Safe But No More Effective Than Placebo

A large-scale clinical trial evaluating whether daily use of an antiretroviral-containing oral tablet or vaginal gel can prevent HIV infection in women is being modified because an interim review found that the gel, an investigational microbicide, was not effective among study participants. On Nov. 17, an independent data and safety monitoring board (DSMB) recommended that the Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic (VOICE) study evaluating daily use 1 percent tenofovir vaginal gel be discontinued because there was no difference in effect demonstrated between the drug-containing gel and a placebo gel. The DSMB found a 6 percent HIV incidence rate among participants in the tenofovir gel group and the placebo gel group. The study is being conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Microbicide Trials Network (MTN).

Enzymes Cast In New Light By Fundamental Discovery

Just as a breeze causes leaves, branches and ultimately the tree to move, enzymes moving at the molecular level perform hundreds of chemical processes that have a ripple effect necessary for life. Protein complexes are often viewed as static entities with their biological functions understood in terms of direct interactions, but that isn't the case, as emphasized in a paper published November 8 in the online, open-access journal PLoS Biology. The work shows that the amount of flexibility in a protein may itself be an important feature of enzyme function. "Our discovery is allowing us to perhaps find the knobs that we can use to improve the catalytic rate of enzymes and perform a host of functions more efficiently, " said author Pratul Agarwal, from Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Making this discovery possible was ORNL's supercomputer, Jaguar, which allowed Agarwal and co-author Arvind Ramanathan to investigate a large number of enzymes at the atomic scale.

In High School Health Classes, Focus On Testing Not Helpful

High school health classes fail to help students refuse sexual advances or endorse safe sex habits when teachers focus primarily on testing knowledge, a new study reveals. But when teachers emphasized learning the material for its own sake, and to improve health, students had much better responses. In these kinds of classrooms, students had lower intentions of having sex and felt better able to navigate sexual situations. "A focus on tests doesn't help students in health classes make healthier choices, " said Eric M. Anderman, lead author of the study and professor of educational psychology at Ohio State University. "In health education, knowledge is not the most important outcome. What we really want to do is change behaviors, and testing is not the way to achieve that." The study appears online in the Journal of Research on Adolescence and will be published in a future print edition.

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