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The US Senate has announced plans to create an online database of all legal products sold on the market today that still contain asbestos. It has been known for years the substance is capable of causing a dangerous and aggressive form of cancer. However, there are hundreds of thousands of items that have not yet replaced the material with something more suitable. Almost 10,000 people die every single year in the US from conditions brought about by exposure to asbestos, and so the new move is welcomed by campaigners and the public alike.

The people behind the bill are Edward J. Markey and Dick Durbin. Both of them are current US Senators, and they recently sponsored the Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database Act. Their input has helped to amend the original bill to include a public database of products that contain asbestos which can be accessed for free online. Campaigners for the removal of asbestos from all products are happy to see things are moving in the right direction.

Unlike Ebola and other conditions that are currently in the public spotlight, the cancer caused by asbestos can take a long time to manifest. So, it is more difficult for people affected to make a claim against companies that produce containing products. However, it is thought the new bill will help to make that a thing of the past. If people can look online to find out which products they use have asbestos in them, they will have an easier time identifying the causes for their illness.

Certain manufacturers that choose to include the substance in their products are less than enthusiastic about the senate’s new act. They claim that asbestos levels in the items they produce are far too low to have any adverse effects. They say that everything they sell meets standard industry guidelines, and they are more than conscious of their customer’s health worries. Mesothelioma (the type of cancer caused by asbestos) requires the patient to have been in contact with much higher levels.

Since the news hit the press, the amount of people getting in touch with a mesothelioma lawyer has increased significantly. That suggests the problem might be more serious than anyone thought. Unless those people are simply trying to cash, it appears more people are affected by the condition than first thought.

The toxic chemical is still used in many different products sold in the US. Lots of building materials and car parts still contain traces. While asbestos is currently banned in many different countries around the world, it is still perfectly legal in the US. The World Health Organisation says that it accounts for more than 107,000 deaths across the world every single year. Campaigners hope improved public education will force the government to follow the UK in banning the substance altogether.

The bill is still waiting for approval from the Senate, but all evidence points towards it being implemented very soon. Could this be an essential step on the ladder to becoming an asbestos-free nation? That remains to be seen.

At least 10 Zimbabwean MP have been circumcised as part of a campaign to reduce HIV and AIDS cases.

A small makeshift clinic for carrying out the procedures was erected in Parliament House in the capital Harare.

Blessing Chebundo, chairman of Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against AIDS, said his main objective was to inspire other citizens to follow suit.

Research by the UN has suggested male circumcision can reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS.

A report by UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the risk of HIV infection among men could be reduced by 60%.

More than a million people in Zimbabwe are believed to be HIV-positive, with about 500,000 receiving anti-retroviral treatment.

The country was one of 13 African states identified in 2007 as a priority for the development of male circumcision programmes by the WHO and UNAIDS.

At least 10 Zimbabwean MP have been circumcised as part of a campaign to reduce HIV and AIDS cases

At least 10 Zimbabwean MP have been circumcised as part of a campaign to reduce HIV and AIDS cases

Blessing Chebundo said more than 120 MPs and parliamentary staff had shown an interest in the circumcision programme.

At least 10 MPs and 13 other people had the procedure performed.

Blessing Chebundo was the first to undergo the 10-minute operation.

He said there was a possibility that some members of the executive may also attend, including President Robert Mugabe.

The circumcision programme had attracted a lot of attention in Zimbabwe, and had divided opinion.

The issue was raised in parliament in September 2011, when Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe made a plea to her fellow politicians.

At the time, many MPs shunned the idea.

As well as a clinic in parliament, the initiative has seen a tent set up across the road from parliament, where counselling sessions will be held.

Dr. Owen Mugurungi, Director for AIDS and TB unit with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, applauded those involved, the Zimbabwe Mail reported.

“We are happy with this initiative and we are happy more leaders will come on board,” he was quoted as saying.

How circumcision may protect against HIV infection?

Specific cells in the foreskin are thought to be potential targets for HIV infection. Following circumcision, the skin under the foreskin becomes less sensitive and is less likely to bleed, reducing the risk of infection.

When AIDS first began to emerge in Africa, researchers noted that men who were circumcised seemed to be less at risk of infection, but the reasons were unclear.

Trials suggest that male circumcision could reduce the risk of HIV infection, acquired through heterosexual intercourse, by up to 60%.

The WHO says the practice is particularly effective in countries with high HIV rates.

But it is not the whole solution. Promoting safe sex, providing people with HIV testing services and encouraging the use of male and female condoms are all seen as equally important.

Some experts also say there is a danger in sending out a message that circumcision can protect against HIV because it could lead to an increase in unprotected sex.