Survey studies teen pregnancy rate

ATLANTA -- A growing number of teen girls say they use the rhythm method for birth control, and more teens also think it's OK for an unmarried female to have a baby, according to a government survey released last week.

The report may help explain why the teen pregnancy rate is no longer dropping like it was.

Overall, teenage use of birth control and teen attitudes toward pregnancy have remained about the same since a similar survey was done in 2002.

But there were some notable exceptions in the new survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 17 percent of sexually experienced teen girls say they had used the rhythm method -- timing their sex to avoid fertile days to prevent getting pregnant. That's up from 11 percent in 2002.

The increase is considered worrisome because the rhythm method doesn't work about 25 percent of the time, said Joyce Abma, the report's lead author and a social scientist at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

The survey found that about 42 percent of never-married teens had had sex at least once in their life. Of those teens, 98 percent said they'd used birth control at least once, with condoms being the most common choice.

Lennox U.N. envoy for HIV/AIDS

GENEVA -- Scottish rock singer Annie Lennox has become a spokeswoman for the U.N. agency fighting HIV/AIDS.

She was appointed the UNAIDS goodwill ambassador last week, and she pledged to address the "daily brutality faced by millions of women and girls" suffering from the disease.

The 55-year-old musician achieved fame with The Eurythmics, whose "Sweet Dreams" reached No. 1 in the United States in 1983.

She since has performed as a solo artist and spoken out on political issues. Her "SING" campaign raises awareness for AIDS-infected women in southern Africa.

"If we are to end the cycle of human devastation triggered by the AIDS epidemic, we must address the rights of women and girls and challenge their second class citizen status, which puts them at greater risk of HIV," Lennox said.

T-shirts illustrate breast cancer fight

WASHINGTON -- "Yes they're fake," declared one T-shirt, referring to the breasts of the wearer. "My real ones tried to kill me."

"Operation Support 2nd Base," said another.

"Stop the War in Myraq," read a third.

Funny, inspiring, heartbreaking and sometimes bawdy, the T-shirts on display over the weekend at the annual Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure again served to illustrate how many people cope with breast cancer.

The shirts are becoming a core element of the race, now in its 21st year, which has raised more than $25 million since its inception. About 40,000 people ran or walked June 5.

For some, the bolder their slogans the better because they want to spur others to get a checkup and help take the secrecy out of the disease.

"It's an expression of their personalities," said race spokesman Sean Tuffnell, "and how they're positioning themselves in their fight."

Drug shown to delay ovarian cancer

Avastin, the world's best-selling anti-tumor drug, slowed the advance of cancer in women whose disease had spread from their ovaries when the medicine was combined with standard chemotherapy.

In a study of 1,873 women with a deadly form of ovarian cancer, those who took Avastin in addition to chemotherapy, then continued with Avastin alone, kept their cancer at bay for four months longer than those treated just with chemotherapy. The findings were released this week at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

Roche Holdings' Avastin had 2009 sales of $5.7 billion as a treatment for cancer of the colon, lungs, breast, brain and kidneys. While it doesn't have U.S. regulators' approval to treat any type of gynecological cancer, many doctors use it for ovarian cancer based on previous studies, said Robert Burger, director of the women's cancer center at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

Gates to spend $1.5B on health

WASHINGTON -- Philanthropist Melinda Gates announced this week that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will spend $1.5 billion over five years to support maternal and child health projects abroad.

Gates, whose husband Bill is co-founder of Microsoft Corp. and one of the world's richest people, made her announcement at an international conference on women's health attended by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The event was billed as the largest-ever conference on women's health.

Gates said the world is not lacking in know-how to reduce the number of deaths in childbirth.

"It's that we haven't tried hard enough," she said.

Ban said he senses a new momentum among governments, foundations, businesses and humanitarian groups for forging a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to improving women's and children's health.