Scientists Discover New Cure for the Deadliest Strain of Tuberculosis

Published by the New York Times on August 14, 2019

By Donald G. McNeil Jr.

Once, a diagnosis of extensively drug-resistant TB meant quick death. A three-drug regimen cures most patients in just months.

TSAKANE, South Africa — When she joined a trial of new tuberculosis drugs, the dying young woman weighed just 57 pounds.

Stricken with a deadly strain of the disease, she was mortally terrified. Local nurses told her the Johannesburg hospital to which she must be transferred was very far away — and infested with vervet monkeys.

“I cried the whole way in the ambulance,” Tsholofelo Msimango recalled recently. “They said I would live with monkeys and the sisters there were not nice and the food was bad and there was no way I would come back. They told my parents to fix the insurance because I would die.”

Five years later, Ms. Msimango, 25, is now tuberculosis-free. She is healthy at 103 pounds, and has a young son.

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Eamonn Vitt
The Refugee and the Thief

Published by The New Yorker March 25, 2019

Manu fled Egypt a little bit at a time. First, he flew to Cyprus, because he knew a travel agent who helped him get a visa. Manu spent a few days in Larnaca, and he got a tattoo in Nicosia, and then he returned to Cairo. The next stop was Saudi Arabia. Visas were easy to get for Egyptians performing the ‘umrah pilgrimage, and Manu had a relative in the country. It may have been the first time in history that a gay man was going to Mecca as part of a plan to escape a Muslim country, but Manu wanted his passport stamped.

At the Great Mosque of Mecca, he sat alone in the courtyard from midnight until dawn, because he liked the way it looked at night. His given name was Mohamed, and he had been raised Muslim, although he had abandoned the faith long before. Still, he figured that he might as well have the experience of performing the traditional tawaf pilgrimage walk, so he circled the Kaaba counterclockwise seven times, as was customary, and then, for good measure, he made another seven circuits. That was typical: Manu never did anything halfway.

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Eamonn Vitt
Tom Brokaw: You Can Find the Entire World Inside Your Hospital

Published by the New York Times December 31, 2017

By Tom Brokaw

President Trump is vowing to return to two of his favorite goals in 2018: a crackdown on immigration and the dissolution of the Affordable Care Act.

When congressional Republicans passed the sweeping tax bill in December, they eliminated the A.C.A.’s health care mandate. But President Trump wants to knock out the entire program.

As I have learned in the past four years, immigration and health care in America have an organic relationship that may escape the president and his supporters if they experience health care only from the outside looking in.

I’ve been an active pilgrim in our medical culture, as a cancer patient, a kidney stone carrier, a victim of a mysterious vertigo condition and the owner of a battered elbow resulting from a hard fall on a New York City street.

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Eamonn Vitt
Brazil Fights H.I.V. Spike in Youths With Free Preventive Drug

Published by the New York Times December 12, 2017

By Shasta Darlington

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Seeking to stem a sharp rise in H.I.V. cases among young people, Brazil began offering a drug this month that can prevent infection to those deemed at high risk.

Brazil is the first country in Latin America, and among the first in the developing world, to adopt the pill Truvada, under a program known as PrEP, short for pre-exposure prophylaxis, as an integral part of its preventive health care policy.

The blue pill — which drastically reduces the risk of contracting the virus when taken daily — will be made available at no cost to eligible Brazilians at 35 public health clinics in 22 cities during an inaugural phase of the program.

The Brazilian Health Ministry is paying Gilead Sciences, the American manufacturer of the drug, about 75 cents a dose, a fraction of the price users pay in the United States, where the pill sells for upward of $1,600 for a month’s supply.

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Eamonn Vitt
Indonesian Police Arrest More Than 140 Men at Alleged Gay Sauna Party

Published by the Guardian May 22, 2017

By Kate Lamb

Indonesian police have arrested more than 100 men in a weekend raid on a gay sauna in the capital Jakarta, a day before two men are to be publicly flogged for having same sex relations.

Authorities raided what they said was a sex party promoted as ‘The Wild One,’ held at a sauna and gym venue in Jakarta’s north on Sunday evening.

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Eamonn Vitt
Chechnya’s Crackdown on Gays

Published by the New York Times April 24, 2017


The first reports about the arbitrary detention and possible extrajudicial killings of men suspected of being gay in Chechnya were bloodcurdling. The authorities began rounding up men after activists had sought permission to hold gay pride parades in other parts of the North Caucasus region, which is predominantly Muslim, according to a newspaper report and activists. At least three turned up dead. Some people reported being tortured.

Then came the baffling denial. “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return,” Alvi Karimov, a spokesman for the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, told the Russian news agency Interfax.

This abominable crime by a Russian republic and its reprehensible cover-up warrant a strong response from Moscow and the international community. That would be a stretch for the Russian government, which is denying that there is evidence of any crimes and has sought to keep its own gay population invisible. In 2013, it enacted a so-called anti-propaganda law that criminalizes promoting or celebrating non-straight conduct and identity — while government officials claimed that all Russians were entitled to protection from discrimination and violence.

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Eamonn Vitt
Hepatitis A Outbreak in Mexico

What is the current situation?

As of May 1, 2015, a total of 27 cases of hepatitis A have been reported in US travelers who went to Tulum, Mexico. All of the people traveled between the dates of February 15, 2015, and March 20, 2015.

CDC recommends that travelers to Mexico get vaccinated against hepatitis A and follow all food and water precautions.

What can travelers do to prevent hepatitis A?

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Eamonn Vitt
Los Frikis

How a group of 80’s Cuban misfits found rock-and-roll and created a revolution within a revolution, going into exile without ever leaving home. In a collaboration with Radio Ambulante, reporter Luis Trelles bring us the story of punk rock’s arrival in Cuba and a small band of outsiders who sentenced themselves to death and set themselves free.

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Eamonn Vitt