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U.N. Agency Urges China to Drop HIV Spa Ban

China plans to ban HIV-positive people from spas, hot springs and public bathhouses, provoking condemnation Monday from the United Nations' AIDS agency and outrage from campaign groups.

The proposed Ministry of Commerce rule is the latest instance of enduring discrimination against HIV carriers in the world's most populous country.

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Study: Cancer Costs EU $170 bln Annually

Cancer cost the then 27 countries of the European Union 126 billion euros ($170.1 billion) in 2009, according to a study published on Monday.

The bill mainly comprised 51 billion euros in costs for health-scare systems, including drugs; 23 billion euros in unpaid care provided by friends and relatives of people with cancer; and 52 billion euros in lost productivity due to premature deaths and illness.

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Plans for Paris Drug Injection Site Dropped

Plans for a Paris illegal drug injection site that raised the ire of local residents have been put off after a state body ruled it would be illegal.

The State Council, France's top administrative court, ruled this week that the project -- known in French as a "salle de shoot" -- could not go ahead without changes to the law.

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EU Drug Agency Rejects French Request on Birth-Control Pills

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Friday rejected a French request to tighten prescription guidelines on types of birth-control pills linked with a relatively higher risk of blood clots.

A panel reviewed the evidence and concluded that the "benefits of all combined hormonal contraceptives (CHCs) continue to outweigh risks," the EU watchdog said, using the medical term for contraceptive pills.

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U.N. Alarmed at Polio Threat in Sudan Border Region

The U.N. Security Council is expressing alarm at the imminent threat of the spread of polio through Sudan's violence-wracked South Kordofan and Blue Nile states and the continuing outbreak of polio in the Horn of Africa.

The U.N. humanitarian office has reported that the threat affects more than 165,000 children in the two Sudanese states "due to a lack of immunization in the border area in more than two years," the Security Council said in a statement Friday.

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Herbal Products Omit Ingredients, Canadian Study Warns

Genetic tests on dozens of herbal products sold in Canada found most contained contaminants or fillers and cheaper substitutions not listed on labels, a study said Friday.

Out of a dozen companies studied for testing on 44 herbal products, only two provided entirely authentic products, the researchers found.

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4 Detained in Costa Rica Kidney-Trafficking Ring

Three Costa Rican doctors and a Greek citizen have been detained under suspicion they are part of ring that trafficked kidneys to foreigners, authorities said Thursday.

Attorney General Carlos Jimenez said the doctors worked at the public Calderon Guardia Hospital in the capital, San Jose, but performed transplants of illegally purchased kidneys at two private clinics in other parts of the country.

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U.N. Reduces Haiti Force amid Cholera Controversy

The U.N. Security Council on Thursday voted to reduce the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti which is battling a mounting controversy over a cholera epidemic.

One day after a lawsuit against the United Nations was filed in a New York court on behalf of victims, the Security Council urged the U.N. to support government efforts to battle the epidemic.

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WHO Launches Drive against Mercury Thermometers

The World Health Organization and campaigners launched a drive Friday to try to wipe out mercury in medical thermometers, a day after nations signed a U.N. treaty to control the toxic liquid metal.

"Mercury is one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern and is a substance which disperses into and remains in ecosystems for generations, causing severe ill health and intellectual impairment to exposed populations," WHO head Margaret Chan said in a statement.

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Minister: Saudi MERS-Free ahead of Hajj

Saudi authorities have not yet recorded any cases of the deadly MERS virus ahead of the annual hajj that starts Sunday, with the kingdom hosting some two million Muslim pilgrims.

"So far, no case for any epidemic has been recorded among the pilgrims, especially the coronavirus," local media on Thursday quoted Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabia as saying.

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