Health Highlights, Nov. 19, 2020

Below are newsworthy items compiled by HealthDay staff:

U.S. HIV Death Rate Falls By Nearly Half

The rate of HIV-related deaths among people aged 13 and older in the United States fell by nearly half from 2010 to 2017, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During that time, the age-adjusted HIV-related death rate -- the number of HIV-related deaths per 1,000 people with HIV -- also fell from 9.1 to 4.7, a decline of 48%.

Reductions occurred among men and women, across all ages, and among all racial and ethnic groups.

The study was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Despite the decrease in deaths, there were still more than 5,500 HIV-related deaths in 2017. That number is still too high -- particularly among Blacks and people of multiple races – and highlights the need for additional efforts to combat HIV, according to the CDC.

"The decline in HIV-related deaths proves that investments in HIV testing, care, and treatment are paying off, but we should also protect people from getting HIV in the first place," Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in an agency news release.

"Through the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, we are working to accelerate progress and ultimately make this epidemic a thing of the past."

U.S. Economy's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Lower Due to Pandemic

The U.S. economy will produce 9.2% fewer greenhouse gas emissions this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study.

The 5.9 million tons of emissions expected to be produced by the economy is about the same amount as in 1983, according to the private research organization, BloombergNEF, the Washington Post reported.

However, the nation's net emissions are expected to increase 6.4% due to the forest fires that raged across the West Coast and Rocky Mountains earlier this year.

The carbon dioxide and other pollution released into the air by those fires will offset much of the decrease in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the Post reported.

Ebola Outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo Declared Over

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is over, health officials say.

Wednesday marks 42 days, or two incubation periods, since the last survivor tested negative for the virus, so the DRC Ministry of Health and World Health Organization officially announced the end of the outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This is a tremendous accomplishment, particularly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic," CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an agency news release. "CDC congratulates the DRC Ministry of Health and partners who have worked tirelessly to overcome challenges and bring this Ebola outbreak to an end."

While this is a significant achievement, efforts to quickly detect new cases of Ebola must continue for at least six months, the CDC noted.

Two Major Airlines Offer Voluntary COVID-19 Testing for Passengers

British Airways and American Airlines are teaming up to offer voluntary COVID-19 testing for passengers flying to London's Heathrow Airport from New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.

The pilot program, which will start Nov. 25, is meant to convince the British government to repeal rules requiring most international travelers to quarantine for 14 days, the Associated Press reported.

Passenger tests will be done 72 hours before departure, on arrival at Heathrow and three days after arrival.

The objective is to prove that a single test 72 hours before takeoff is enough to ensure travelers aren't carrying COVID-19, according to British Airways, the AP reported.

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