Lancet 4 Nov 2006

The Lancet rarely condescends to publish qualitative research, but this paper slips in because it calls itself a systematic review and deals with factors which shape young people’s sexual behaviour. Understanding these is critical to limiting the HIV epidemic, since half of new infections are acquired between the ages of 15 and 24. So this study tries to draw out common themes across different cultures, with no startling new insights. In all societies, boys are expected to be sexually active and girls to be chaste. Nobody much likes condoms.

The problem goes beyond HIV/AIDS, of course: other sexually transmitted diseases, and unsafe abortion, can also be a matter of life and death. This global survey of sexual health finds that unsafe sex is the biggest health threat in the poorest countries, after malnutrition. The burden of unsafe abortion, illustrated in Figure 2, is particularly appalling in the whole of South America and East Africa.

Alzheimer first presented a case of his disease on Nov 3rd 1906, and this nice little article looks at changes in management since. Basically, there have been none, despite the borderline effects of a few drugs: humane care is still what’s needed most.