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Research Breakthrough
Researchers at Tulane National Primate Research Center say they believe that some vaginal gels could prevent HIV infection in women.

In a study published Oct. 30 in the online version of the journal Nature, a study by Tulane researchers revealed that three different anti-viral agents in a vaginal gel protected female monkeys from contracting an HIV-like virus.

The study, led by Ronald Veazey, chair of the Division of Comparative Pathology at Tulane's primate center, was funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He conducted the research using simian-human immunodeficiency virus, a hybrid virus made in the laboratory from HIV, which causes AIDS in humans, and SIV, which infects only monkeys.

Pharmaceutical companies Merck & Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb have signed agreements to try and develop two of the compounds evaluated in the study as potential vaginal gels to protect women from HIV.



Healthy Game Plan

A group of more than 100 people from an array of health-related disciplines has developed a framework for the future of post-Katrina health care in New Orleans that identifies priorities and suggests goals for everything from access to services to redevelopment of neighborhoods to make them healthier places to live.

The Greater New Orleans Health Planning Group has published its "Framework for a Healthier Greater New Orleans" on its Web site, www.stayhealthyla.org, to provide information to people returning to New Orleans as well as for those involved in rebuilding neighborhoods and the health-care infrastructure of the city. The group that developed the framework includes people from local, state and federal health agencies, private health providers, nonprofit organizations, community groups, environmentalists, consumer advocates, the Centers for Disease Control, public health institutes, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and others. Organizers include Dr. Fred Cerise, secretary of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals; Dr. Kevin Stephens, director of New Orleans Health Department; Adm. Craig Vanderwagen, commander of an Emergency Response Team of Louisiana for DHHS; and Leslie Norwalk of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"Our [goal was] to try to get this framework on the table of decision-makers as they decide how money (for rebuilding) will be spent," says Adam Becker, a member of the GNO Health Planning Group, which began meeting in Baton Rouge on Oct. 6. "The three main areas were , No. 1, that everybody needs access to primary care that's near them. That would keep a lot of people who use the emergency room as a first point of health care (from doing that). It would provide them with a physician who knows them.

"Another element we put forth in the framework is that because New Orleans is a city that is based neighborhoods, we need to work with that, and (rebuild) a neighborhood that's safe, where people feel safe, where people can be physically active, where they have access to healthy food and less access to alcohol, drugs and things that make them unhealthy. Another thing was ... that we have an infusion of media and public images that promote health instead of promote bad health. With those three things, you can actually change the health of a population by promoting better health and a community where people can grow and thrive."

Changing zoning laws to promote grocery stores that provide healthy foods and disallow shops that sell liquor is among the framework proposals. The recommendations also cover things such as establishing neighborhood health clinics, building sidewalks, bike lanes, parks and playgrounds to make physical fitness and healthy lifestyles more accessible.

The framework also covers environmental health, surveillance systems for physical and mental health, education programs and more. The group hopes the framework will serve as a national model for other neighborhoods.



Help is Here

Tulane University has opened a walk-in primary care clinic on the corner of LaSalle Street and Tulane Avenue to treat non-emergency health problems and injuries. No appointments are needed at the clinic, which is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and is staffed by two doctors, seven nurses and two respiratory therapists, all of whom worked at the hospital's emergency room before the hurricane. The staff is expected to expand as the number of patients who seek care there increases.

Tulane officials say the opening of the clinic, which takes most insurance plans and worker's compensation insurance, is the first step toward reopening Tulane University Hospital and Clinic, which was inundated with 10 inches of water after Hurricane Katrina.

For more information, call (800) 588-5800.



A Boost for Cancer Research

The Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge recently dedicated a new cancer-prevention research laboratory funded by gifts from Edward and Loretta Downey of Maryland and Dr. William Hansel. The new William Hansel Laboratory of Cancer Prevention is named in honor of Hansel's research into cancer treatments.

The lab is devoted to development and delivery of drugs for cancer treatment, says the center's executive director Claude Bouchard. Hansel has developed several drugs for cancer treatment, including one now being studied by the National Cancer Institute. In addition to teaching and research at Pennington, Hansel also works with the LSU Ag Center. Pennington is part of the Louisiana State University System and conducts basic and clinical research. It is best known as the largest academically based nutrition research center in the world. Get a Job St. Tammany Parish Hospital will host a job fair from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5, to match workers with jobs in St. Tammany Parish, both inside and outside the health-care arena.

The job fair will be held at the hospital (1200 S. Tyler St., Covington, 985-898-4000). Anyone interested can apply online at www.stph.org. The event is free.

click to enlarge The Greater New Orleans Health Planning Group's - framework for building a healthier city calls for more - playgrounds, sidewalks and bike paths in neighborhoods.
  • The Greater New Orleans Health Planning Group's framework for building a healthier city calls for more playgrounds, sidewalks and bike paths in neighborhoods.
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