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Health

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Each year, the United States gives $5 billion to $6 billion to fight HIV/AIDS around the world, with particular emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for two-thirds of the nearly 2 million new infections each year.

For World AIDS Day, we sat down with the U.S. Global AIDS coordinator, Deborah Birx, to talk about the state of the epidemic and the work of PEPFAR, set up by President George W. Bush in 2003 with the intention of saving the lives of people suffering from AIDS around the world.

It started with a poster he made at Kinko's and displayed at his wedding in May 2007: Would guests donate to help start a new kind of health care program in Liberia?

He got $6,000.

Now he's won a million dollar prize for his efforts.

While the HIV/AIDS epidemic no longer looks as menacing as it did in the 1980s and '90s, efforts to stop the spread of the disease have hit a brick wall.

The other contestants in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant wore revealing swimsuits.

She came out in a burkini — head-to-toe swimwear — and a hijab, the traditional Muslim head covering.

Halima Aden, a 19-year-old Muslim from St. Cloud, Minn., wanted to compete on her terms. She wasn't sure how the pageant would react to her request to wear a burkini. "I prepared myself to hear 'no,' " she says. "But I was hoping they'd say 'yes.' So when they did allow me to wear a burkini, I was so thrilled."

It's the fifth annual #Giving Tuesday — a holiday marketing tradition inspired by Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, but with a twist. Today thousands of charities are asking us to open our wallets. But how can we be sure the group we donate to is effective — that we're getting the most bang for our charity buck?

When the last remaining hospital in besieged eastern Aleppo crumbled under a wave of artillery strikes on Nov. 18, one of the casualties was 25-year-old nurse Kefah.

"The last time he called me was one night before he was killed," says Dr. A.M. — an intensive care specialist based in Detroit who, for the past four years, has been providing training and support via Skype and WhatsApp to medical staff in Aleppo. He asked that we only use his initials because the Syrian government has persecuted doctors — and their families — for treating rebels.

On Nov. 18, Dambara Upadhyay slept in a hut outside her house.

It's a common practice in some villages in western Nepal — women who are menstruating sleep in a small hut or shed out of a fear they will contaminate the home or anger the Hindu gods if they remain indoors. Many people in this part of the country believe family members or livestock will get sick, or even die, if a menstruating woman doesn't stick to the rules.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

PHOTOS: Your Bedroom Says A Lot About You

Nov 27, 2016

Your posters. The color of your walls. The size of your bed. Where you sleep says a lot about who you are.

That's the idea behind photographer and filmmaker John Thackwray's photo series My Room Project.

In 11th grade, some students in India read a story that's not your typical textbook fare.

It's about a girl whose marriage was arranged when she was just one year old.

When she turned 18, her parents ordered her to leave home and join her husband.

Only she went to court to protest.

A man who was paid to have sex with more than 100 young girls and women in Malawi is receiving two years of hard labor as punishment.

Working as what Malawians call a "hyena man," Eric Aniva had sex with children and widows as part of a custom believed to offer ritual cleansing after a first period or widowhood. Though he is HIV-positive, Aniva did not wear condoms during sex. Now some women's organizations in Malawi are calling his sentence inadequate.

I celebrated my first Thanksgiving in 2002. I'd arrived in the United States in August of that year to start graduate school at the University of Missouri, Columbia. A few months later, I was invited to my first Thanksgiving dinner at a house shared by two Indians, one American, two New Zealanders and their sweet black Labrador, named Willow.

Do you know any global health stories that should be getting coverage — but are overlooked by the media?

The sweet potato has a secret identity.

It's not just the food upon which marshmallows are heaped and maple syrup is poured to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving.

It is also a staple of the African diet. And Africans who eat it feel passionately about it. For some, it kindles warm memories. For some, it's a neglected food that deserves a higher profile because of its nutritional value.

And some people can't stand it!

Have bed nets lost their power to protect people from malaria-carrying mosquitoes?

That's the subject of debate among researchers looking for ways to cut down on malaria cases and deaths.

Over the past two decades, the insecticide-treated bed net has been one of the most powerful tools against malaria.

Japan has the dubious title of the oldest society in the world, with one in four of its citizens past the age of 65. And while the image of the elderly is typically of sweet grandparents, in Japan, senior citizens are committing petty crimes like shoplifting in bigger numbers than teenagers.

Inside the office of a private security firm in Tokyo are video monitors that take up the entire wall, bisected into 16 boxes showing various camera angles on a nearby business.

Editor's note: Updated Nov. 21 at 11:15 a.m. with a comment from Nissan.

A video shows two cars crashing head-on at 35 miles per hour. (Don't worry, the drivers are crash test dummies.) One car is red, one is silver.

She has a skin color that you don't often see in films, fashion or magazines.

Khoudia Diop, a 19-year-old student and model from Senegal, has a hard time coming up with words to describe it. It's so dark, she says, it almost seems blue.

It's what shot her to the social media stratosphere recently. In August, she posed in a photo campaign with black women of all shades for The Colored Girl, a group that challenges society's beauty standards.

Saturday is World Toilet Day. Its mission is to call attention to the fact that 2.4 billion people do not have access to a clean, safe toilet.

An international consciousness-raising event will take place in Mumbai: a Global Citizen concert headlined by Coldplay and with Jay Z and Demi Lovato among the performers.

And what better place to hold this concert, because Mumbai runs the gamut of toilet options, from the most luxurious to non-existent.

The World Health Organization announced Friday that it no longer considers the Zika epidemic a public health emergency of international concern.

But Zika's threat to pregnant women and babies is not going away anytime soon, the agency says. Instead, the virus is now a chronic problem, says the WHO's Dr. Pete Salama.

Diarrhea isn't something we usually discuss in public. But as the second leading cause of death for children younger than 5, it's a topic global health advocates want more people to talk openly about.

How do you get people to discuss diarrhea? Ask them to write poetry about it.

That's the idea behind Poo Haiku, a competition created by Defeat DD, a campaign dedicated to the eradication of diarrheal disease.

Optimism. That's what we could all use right now.

So here at Goats and Soda, we're going to give you a whole heaping tablespoon of it. And we'll do it by answering a question from a reader named Ian Matthews that seems to bring the opposite reaction: "How can we stop the spread of antimicrobial resistance?"

As it turns out, the answer has a surprisingly positive message.

In Western and Central Africa a new technique to combat malaria is rapidly gaining traction across the Sahel. Health officials in 11 countries are now giving children antimalarial drugs during the rainy season in this semi-arid region and seeing a dramatic drop in the number of malaria cases.

Donald Trump will take office at a pivotal time for the world's neediest.

The world's wealthy countries have, since 2000, been part of a historic partnership with poor countries to eliminate poverty and roll back diseases.

The Ebola virus doesn't always make people incredibly sick, and some people who are infected don't even know they have it, according to research published Tuesday in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The devastation in floods, earthquakes or droughts is generally measured by how much stuff or assets people lose — say the number of wrecked houses and the dollar amount it would take to rebuild them. In the course of a year, that adds up to a lot of money: $300 billion by some accounts.

An experimental vaginal ring that continuously releases the anti-HIV drug dapivirine has the potential to save lives.

But what's it going to do to sex lives?

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