The Daily Dose: HIV/AIDS policy at risk of falling behind; Scientist in Iran faces imminent execution.

Today is World AIDS Day. No doubt, we’ve made unbelievable strides since the darkest days in the 1980s and early 1990s. Still, there’s more work to do and nothing is guaranteed. “In a pandemic, when policy falls short, people die. Amid the growing Covid-19 pandemic and the continuing HIV pandemic, this is clearer today than ever before. From rules on access to testing to the distribution of new medical technologies or the use of criminal law in public health, policymaking is fraught. This World Aids Day, the global Aids response stands on a precipice. Actions in the next few years will either tip us towards halting HIV, making deaths and new infections rare, or towards a resurgent virus thriving on social fault lines.” The article argues that the world is currently poorly positioned to continue making progress but still has a chance.

It’s been a bad few days for scientists in Iran. First one of the country’s leading nuclear experts was assassinated by Israeli forces. Now, another scientist who has been accused of espionage faces the death penalty. “Ahmadreza Djalali, a scholar in disaster medicine who has dual Iranian–Swedish nationality, is nearing the end of a week of solitary confinement at Evin prison in Tehran, where he has been held since 2016. He is expected to be transferred to Rajai Shahr prison, west of Tehran, on 1 December, where the execution could be carried out. This information is contained in a letter dated 24 November that carries the name of Mohammad Barae, understood to be a judge in Iran’s legal system.” Things don’t look good for Djalali.

COVID-19 lockdowns have battered everything from economies to our waistlines. One serious effect COVID-19 non-pharmaceutical interventions has had is on people’s minds. Per the Associated Press, “The costs to mental health have been considerable. With numbers now falling for French COVID-19 patients in intensive care, psychiatrists are facing a follow-up wave of psychological distress. Health authorities’ surveying points to a surge of depression most acute among people without work, those in financial hardship and young adults.” The world will be dealing with the lasting mental health damage for years to come.

Lithium batteries are practically powering our every day lives. Unfortunately, acquiring the necessary raw material is not the most environmentally-friendly process. A BBC Future article takes a look at the possibility of mining lithium while still keeping climate costs down. “The demand for lithium with a lower environmental footprint appears to be gaining ground. There are signs car manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen are starting to think about the environmental and social impact of their electric vehicle supply chain, says Alex Keynes, clean vehicles manager at Brussels-based campaign organisation Transport and Environment.”

Astronomers have made a fascinating observation – the collision of two stars and the formation of a magnetar. “That dazzling flash of light was made when two neutron stars collided and merged into one massive object, astronomers report in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal. Though the especially bright light could mean that a magnetar was produced, other explanations are possible, the researchers say.”

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