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PLOS BLOGS Speaking of Medicine

This Week in PLOS Medicine: Iron Supplements during Pregnancy; Male-Male Consensual Sex, Sexual Violence, & HIV in South Africa; & Malaria Surveillance

This week PLOS Medicine publishes the following new articles:

Image Credit: Flickr Jon Rawlinson
Image Credit: Flickr Jon Rawlinson

Compared to twice weekly iron supplements, daily iron supplements for pregnant women do not provide any benefits in birth weight or improved infant growth, according to a community-based cluster randomized trial in rural Viet Nam by Beverley-Anne Biggs and colleagues. Furthermore, twice weekly supplements are linked to improved adherence rates in pregnant women and may also be linked to improved cognitive development in infants at six months. These findings are important as anemia, a condition in which the blood does not supply the body with enough oxygen because of low levels of hemoglobin, is a widespread global health problem with over 2 billion people thought to be affected, yet the side effects and costs of daily iron supplementation are challenges to treatment.

Rachel Jewkes and colleagues report on a survey, which offered complete privacy to participants, among South African men about their life-time same-sex experiences. While overlapping sexual relationships with women appear to be common, roughly one in 20 men reported consensual sex with a man, about one in ten reported being sexually assaulted by another man, and around 3% reported perpetrating such an assault. These findings highlight the need for HIV prevention messages for men who have sex with men to be mainstreamed with general prevention messages in South Africa, and also that sexual health interventions and HIV prevention for South African men should explicitly address male-on-male sexual violence. In an accompanying Perspective, Jerome Singh examines the cultural and legal barriers hindering access for African men who have sex with men to HIV-related health services.

Hugh Sturrock and colleagues discuss the challenges and opportunities of active case detection (ACD) for targeting asymptomatic malaria infections. They argue that, while ACD is a recommended intervention in low malaria transmission settings, the evidence for its effectiveness is sparse. In light of the current sensitivity of field diagnostics, targeted mass drug administration should be evaluated as an alternative or addition to ACD in low transmission settings.

 

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