This Week in PLOS Medicine: Maternal Health Collection, Pharmaceutical Industry, Burden of the 2009 Influenza Pandemic, & Poverty and HIV Stigma

This week PLOS Medicine publishes the following new articles:

Image credit: Jack Zalium, Flickr

The Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) and PLOS Medicine issue the call for papers for Year 3 of the MHTF-PLOS Collection: Integrating Health Care to Meet the Needs of the Mother–Infant Pair. The MHTF-PLOS collaboration is looking for research and commentary papers that fit the theme. All papers should be submitted to PLOS Medicine, with a clear statement in the cover letter that they are intending to submit to the MHTF-PLOS Collection.

In a systematic review of 15 studies of interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry, Quinn Grundy and colleagues found that many of the issues identified for physicians’ industry interactions exist for non-physician clinicians (Registered Nurses, advanced practice nurses with prescriptive authority, physicians’ assistants, pharmacists, dieticians, and physical or occupational therapists). Most non-physician clinicians across disciplines held favorable views of interactions with sales representatives and industry interactions in general. A minority perceived that industry marketing influenced their own practice, but more felt their colleagues would be influenced. Preparation for industry interactions generally was not a part of professional training.  In a related Perspective, James Yeh and Aaron Kesselheim discuss the steps needed to address the conflicts of interest posed by contact between non-physician providers and the medical products industry. They suggest that because current programs intended to provide transparency about the prevalence of pharmaceutical industry marketing may not reach the non-physician clinician population, institutional policies should be constructed to apply to all providers of patient care.

Lone Simonsen and colleagues use a two-stage statistical modeling approach to estimate the global mortality burden of the 2009 influenza pandemic using mortality data obtained from more than 20 countries that cover 35% of the world’s population. The findings from this study suggest that respiratory mortality from the 2009 influenza pandemic was about 10-fold higher than laboratory-confirmed deaths. The authors found that most of the influenza deaths (62%–85%) occurred in people younger than 65, with the greatest mortality burden in Central and South American countries and lowest burden in European countries, Australia, and New Zealand.

Alexander Tsai and colleagues highlight the complex relationship between poverty and HIV stigma in sub-Saharan Africa and discuss possible ways to break the cycle. While HIV treatment can improve the economic, mental, and social health of HIV-infected persons, it may not be sufficient to reduce the stigma of HIV. The authors argue that  livelihood interventions could reduce the stigma of HIV by directly targeting poverty.


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