How to save an Amazonian tribe

August 11, 2014

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 8/8/2014

Wading across an Amazonian river, naked save for loin straps and face paint, the tribesmen who recently emerged from isolation in Brazil have stirred up the world’s imagination and concern. It is the most dramatic contact with such a remote group in more than a decade, and the video of their encounter with government officials near the border with Peru went viral after it was released last week.

But after initial amazement, the focus has now turned to the difficult task of keeping the group safe and free from disease, as well as trying to understand why they were driven to cross the threshold into modern society – a step that has often proved fatal in the past.

Largely unheard of until last month and still unidentified, this community of about 50 hunter-gatherers who roam the Upper Envira river region of Acre state has now attracted global attention. The Brazilian government’s indigenous people’s authority, known as Funai, has dispatched a team of ethnologists, linguists and doctors to receive them and prepare for a possible vaccination campaign against the “white-man’s flu” that has wiped out other tribes.

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Despite Brazil’s AIDS Efforts, HIV Infections Rise

August 11, 2014

Fox News Latino, 8/9/2014

The devastating news didn’t make sense to Brazilian Pierre Freitaz. How was it possible that, at age 17, he was infected with HIV if his only boyfriend seemed fit and healthy?

Freitaz confesses he knew little about the virus when he was diagnosed in 2004. He didn’t understand the difference between the infection and the disease it caused: AIDS. He was confused by the lack of obvious symptoms.

“It’s like I was living in a different part of the world, and I felt immune.”

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Fury at Brazil job seeker pap smears, virginity tests

August 11, 2014

AP – The Sydney Morning Herald, 8/9/2014

Women seeking education jobs in Brazil’s most populous state should not be required to submit to gynaecological exams or prove their virginity, according to women’s rights advocates.

The education department of Sao Paulo state requires female prospective teachers to undergo a pap smear to prove they are free of a variety of cancers, or to present a doctor’s statement verifying they have not been sexually active.

Until recently, it also required women to have a colposcopy, a type of visual examination used to detect disease.

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Brazil’s water crisis amid drought could lead to rationing

August 7, 2014

Vincent Bevins – Los Angeles Times, 8/7/2014

A drought in Brazil has led to a water crisis and the country’s largest population center is facing the prospect of rationing.

Brazil’s Public Ministry, a federal regulatory agency, has recommended that Sao Paulo state immediately commence water rationing to avoid a “collapse of reservoirs,” but the state government missed an initial deadline on Wednesday to take action.

Because of scarce rain in 2014, water levels are low, especially at Sao Paulo’s Sistema Cantareira watershed. The Public Ministry says the watershed could soon run dry.

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DS Healthcare Expands Distribution Channels in Brazil Through Leading Rio de Janeiro Pharmacy Chain

August 6, 2014

Market Watch, 8/6/2014

DS Healthcare Group, Inc. DSKX -3.91% , a leading developer of personal care products and specialty pharmaceuticals, announced today it has signed a distribution agreement with Drogaria Venancio , a leading Rio de Janerio-based pharmacy chain. Drogaria Venancio will sell DS Healthcare’s clinically proven personal care products including its Revita and Spectral hair re-growth and hair care products. DS Laboratories, its flagship line can already be found on retail shelves throughout Rio de Janeiro. Drogaria Venancio operates wholesale distribution centers and premium retail pharmacy locations. Founded in 1979, the pharmacy chain employs 1600 people.

This marks DS Healthcare’s third distribution agreement in Brazil and it’s second in Rio de Janeiro. DS Healthcare’s have already been selling through CSB Drogaria which has two retail pharmacy chains with 85 stores in Rio de Janeiro, as well as in Sao Paulo through the Drogaria Iguatemi pharmacy chain. Retail sales are also growing through DS Healthcare’ Brazilian ecommerce site . According to market research firm Euromonitor, the Brazilian beauty industry generated $42 billion in sales in 2012.

“We are experiencing extremely robust sales growth in Brazil while building strong brand recognition and loyalty for our products. While we are successfully achieving market penetration into two of Brazil’s largest cities, we also intend to expand distribution beyond these metropolitan areas into other regions of the country. In addition, we’ve seen our e-commerce platform that services customers in regions where we have yet to be present, do extremely well, further endorsing our belief that Brazil will be one of our key markets worldwide” stated DS Healthcare President and CEO Daniel Khesin.”

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Brazilian researchers identify RNA that regulates cell death

August 6, 2014

Karina Toledo – Agência FAPESP, 7/30/2014

Researchers from the University of São Paulo (USP) have identified an RNA known as INXS that, although containing no instructions for the production of a protein, modulates the action of an important gene in the process of apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

According to Sergio Verjovski-Almeida, professor at the USP Chemistry Institute and coordinator of a research funded by FAPESP, INXS expression is generally diminished in cancer cells, and methods that are capable of stimulating the production of this non-coding RNA can be used to treat tumors.

In experiments on mice, the USP scientists were able to effect a 10-fold reduction in the volume of subcutaneous malignant tumors by administering local injections of a plasmid – a circular DNA molecule – containing INXS. The findings were published in the most recent issue of the journal Nucleic Acids Research.

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El Nino Rains Won’t Refill Brazil’s Key Hydropower Dams

August 1, 2014

Vanessa Dezem – Bloomberg Businessweek, 8/1/2014

The drenching El Nino rains that may replenish Brazil’s hydropower reservoirs will probably miss the nation’s most important dams, now at historic lows as the country endures its worst drought in eight decades.

The weather phenomena that’s causing floods in Brazil’s south won’t travel far enough north to help refill reservoirs in Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo states, where 70 percent of Brazil’s hydropower capacity is located, said weather forecasters Climatempo and Somar Meteorologia.

“There is no hope that El Nino will fill the southeastern water reservoirs,” said Thaize Baroni, a meteorologist at Sao Paulo-based Somar. “It won’t change conditions for this year and it can make it worse, as the region may have even dryer weather in the next few months.”

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Charity fights for the rights of street children in Brazil

July 30, 2014

Natricia Duncan – The Guardian, 7/30/2014

Claudia Cabral, founder of Terra dos Homens, on the social workers and psychologists trying to help 24,000 children in appalling conditions.

Why did you start Terra dos Homens in 1996?
While studying for my degree in psychology, I spent some time at my grandmother’s shelter and I saw children facing some incredibly difficult situations. I decided then that I would try to do something to help.

After starting my career in a large government shelter, I worked for the Swiss-based Terre des Hommes in international adoption. I convinced the organisation to develop a national adoption programme and to invest in the prevention of family separation. After 15 years, they asked me to create a local, independent non-governmental organisation. Because Terre des Hommes [literally "land of people"] was already well established in Rio de Janeiro, I kept the name and translated it to the Brazilian.

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Brazil’s Newly Contacted Tribe Already Has the Flu, and It Could Wipe Them Out

July 25, 2014

Jason Koebler – Motherboard, 7/22/2014

It has happened many times before, and it’s happening again: Members of apreviously uncontacted tribe that recently made contact with the outside world have gotten sick. Now, they’ve retreated back into the Amazon Rainforest, which is very bad news, as it puts the entire tribe at risk of infection—and possibly death.

Last month, seven members of an unnamed, uncontacted tribe in northwestern Brazil became the first of its kind to interact with the Brazilian government in nearly 20 years after reportedly being driven out of the forest by a traumatic event—perhaps the invasion of their land by illegal loggers in Peru. The tribe had been living in the forest completely uninterrupted and without communication with the world outside of the Amazon Rainforest, which is one of the reasons they’re often referred to as “isolated” tribes.

In any case, each of the seven tribe members got the flu, according to FUNAI, the Brazilian agency that deals with indigenous populations. That’s what happens when uncontacted tribes are contacted, because its members haven’t spent hundreds of years being exposed to the diseases that most people’s bodies have become accustomed to.

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Japan to help Brazil accelerate drug safety assessment

July 24, 2014

The Japan Times, 7/24/2014

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to tell Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil on Aug. 1 that Japan will provide expertise to speed up its ability to assess the safety of new drugs, a government source said Wednesday.

Japan plans to offer data accumulated by its drug examination agency and send experts on pharmaceutical administration to Brazil, the source said.

It will be the first time Japan has provide such know-how to any other country, and Tokyo hopes shorter screening periods will help it boost sales of pharmaceuticals there.

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