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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > AIDS/HIVInfections


Republicans plan rival U.S. healthcare plan

Public HealthJun 17 09

Pushing back against Democratic plans to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system, Republicans on Tuesday readied a less costly alternative they say will make insurance more affordable.

Representative David Camp, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, said the plan offered significant reforms, including incentives for healthy living, protection for doctors against malpractice lawsuits and tax breaks to encourage small businesses to offer insurance to their workers.

“We obviously think it’s important to make healthcare more affordable and to drive down costs,” Camp said in an interview before a planned news briefing on the plan on Wednesday.

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“Virtual colonoscopy” may be an option, study shows

Cancer • • Colorectal cancer • • Emergencies / First AidJun 17 09

So-called virtual colonoscopies—done using souped-up x-rays—detect tumors and precancerous lesions almost as well as standard colonoscopies using a camera threaded through the colon, Italian researchers reported on Tuesday.

The virtual procedure, done using computed tomography scans, might offer an alternative for people who are embarrassed or afraid to have a standard colonoscopy and encourage them to be examined, Dr Daniele Regge of the Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment in Turin, Italy, and colleagues said.

Their study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, adds to a growing body of evidence showing the CT procedures are safe and almost as good as standard colonoscopies.

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Predicting Fatal Fungal Infections

InfectionsJun 16 09

In a study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have identified cells in blood that predict which HIV-positive individuals are most likely to develop deadly fungal meningitis, a major cause of HIV-related death. This form of meningitis affects more than 900,000 HIV-infected people globally—most of them in sub-Saharan Africa and other areas of the world where antiretroviral therapy for HIV is not available.

A major cause of fungal meningitis is Cryptococcus neoformans, a yeast-like fungus commonly found in soil and in bird droppings. Virtually everyone has been infected with Cryptococcus neoformans, but a healthy immune system keeps the infection from ever causing disease.

The risk of developing fungal meningitis from Cryptococcus neoformans rises dramatically when people have weakened immunity, due to HIV infection or other reasons including the use of immunosuppressive drugs after organ transplantation, or for treating autoimmune diseases or cancer. Knowing which patients are most likely to develop fungal meningitis would allow costly drugs for preventing fungal disease to be targeted to those most in need. (In the U.S., the widespread use of antiretroviral therapy by HIV-infected people, and their preventive use of anti-fungal drugs, has dramatically reduced their rate of fungal meningitis from Cryptococcus neoformans to about 2%.)

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Protecting Kidney Function During Heart Failure

Heart • • Urine ProblemsJun 16 09

Mayo Clinic cardiology researchers have found a peptide that helps preserve and improve kidney function during heart failure, without affecting blood pressure. Earlier variations of this peptide caused blood pressure to drop limiting the potential benefits to the kidneys. The findings appear in the current Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Heart failure itself and some of the approaches used to treat it can have detrimental effects on the kidneys,” says Mayo cardiologist and lead researcher Robert Simari, M.D. “Our hope is that this compound will help protect kidney function while you’re being treated, and possibly shorten your hospital stay and keep you out of the hospital.”

This new peptide (a unique link of amino acids) has been tested in the laboratory and in animal models and is expected to move into clinical trials next year.

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Cupping Therapy Alleviates Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Pain

Neurology • • PainJun 16 09

A German study published in The Journal of Pain showed that an external suction technique mainly used outside the U.S., called cupping, is effective for providing temporary relief of pain from carpal tunnel syndrome (CPS).

Researchers from Immanuel Hospital Berlin randomly divided fifty-two CPS patients into treatment and control groups. The treatment group was given wet cupping therapy in which cupping glasses are applied to skin overlaying the trapezius muscle following 5 to 10 skin punctures with a sterile lancet. A partial vacuum is created by electromechanical or manual suction within the cupping glass after it is applied to the skin.

The technique is used as a healing method in China, India, Arabia, Central Europe and parts of Africa. Cupping is applied to defined zones of the shoulder triangle which are connective tissue zones at the shoulder-neck region. The technique is believed to increase microcirculation to help relieve CPS symptoms.

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Fibromyalgia Patients Show Decreases in Gray Matter Intensity

PainJun 16 09

Previous studies have shown that fibromyalgia is associated with reductions in gray matter in parts of the brain, but the exact cause is not known. Using sophisticated brain imaging techniques, researchers from Louisiana State University, writing in The Journal of Pain, found that alterations in levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine might be responsible for gray matter reductions.

For the study, magnetic imaging resonance data from 30 female fibromyalgia patients were compared with 20 healthy women of the same age. The primary objective of the study was to confirm original findings about reduced gray matter density in a larger sample of fibromyalgia patients. They explored whether there is a correlation between dopamine metabolic activity and variations in the density of gray matter in specific brain regions.

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WHO probes report of bubonic plague in Libyan town

Public HealthJun 16 09

Libyan authorities have reported an outbreak of bubonic plague in the Mediterranean coastal town of Tubruq, and the World Health Organisation was sending a team to investigate, a WHO official said on Tuesday.

The cases - approximately 16 to 18 have been reported - would be the first in more than two decades in Libya of the disease known in medieval times as the Black Death, according to John Jabbour, a Cairo-based emerging diseases specialist at WHO. “It is reported as bubonic plague,” Jabbour said, adding WHO still didn’t have “a full picture” of the situation.

“It is officially reported by Libya… Tomorrow, WHO is deploying a mission to Libya to investigate the whole situation, to see how many of the cases are confirmed, or not confirmed.”

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China city kills 36,000 dogs after rabies deaths

Public HealthJun 16 09

A Chinese city has killed 36,000 stray and pet dogs in a bid to wipe out rabies, state media said on Tuesday, as the country considers a draft law recognising animal rights and making such a cull illegal.

Rabies has killed 12 people in Hanzhong, in the northern province of Shaanxi, where more than 6,000 people had been bitten or scratched since late May, the China Daily said.

“The monitoring data showed that the danger caused by the dogs which carried rabies virus has increased and epidemic prevention and control is urgent,” Xing Tianhu, deputy mayor of the city, was quoted as saying.

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Hebrew University research leads to advanced trials of new cancer treatment

CancerJun 15 09

Research by a Hebrew University of Jerusalem professor has led to the development of a product that has been shown in clinical trials to be successful in halting the growth of various types of cancer cells.

The research, conducted by Prof. Avraham Hochberg of the Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the university, has won for him first prize among faculty members for this year’s Kaye Innovations Awards, which was presented on June 9 during the annual Hebrew University Board of Governors meeting.

Prof. Hochberg was successful in isolating the H19 gene in humans and determining that it is significantly expressed in over 33 different forms of cancer, including superficial bladder carcinoma and pancreatic, ovarian and metastatic liver cancer, while laying dormant and non-expressed in non-cancerous cells.

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Companies urged to plan for H1N1 flu

Flu • • Public HealthJun 15 09

Many multinational companies do not have workable plans in place for when a pandemic hits, including the possibility that H1N1 flu may change into a much more dangerous virus, health experts warned on Friday.

Dr. Myles Druckman, disease outbreak expert at International SOS, also said working out how to respond to potential outbreaks that may hit offices of a multinational company in some locations but not others was something firms needed to contend with.

“A gap for many is how can companies develop a more proportional response,” said Druckman, whose organisation has helped more than 100 Fortune 500 companies develop pandemic plans.

“For the most part outbreaks are going to be a local phenomenon. That is going to be the challenge going forward.”

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Program offers free eye care to America’s elderly

Eye / Vision Problems • • Public HealthJun 12 09

Between June 1 and August 31, EyeCare America, a non-profit public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is offering no-cost medical eye care to qualified seniors.

By the age of 65, one in three Americans has some form of vision-impairing eye disease. The downturn in the U.S. economy has many seniors on fixed incomes struggling with health care costs, including eye care.

Last Updated: 2009-06-11 15:04:35 -0400 (Reuters Health)

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Nations must remain on guard against H1N1 flu-WHO

Flu • • Public HealthJun 12 09

Countries where the H1N1 virus appears to have peaked need to remain vigilant and prepare for a second wave of infections because the flu is so unpredictable, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said on Thursday.

“When you are over with the first wave, start preparing for the future,” Chan told reporters after the World Health Organisation raised its pandemic alert to phase 6 to indicate a flu pandemic is underway.

Officials said the move reflected the geographic spread of the virus but did not indicate the severity of the influenza (A) H1N1 pandemic. She said the WHO’s global assessment was that the pandemic was moderate.

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Obama presses healthcare overhaul in US heartland

Public HealthJun 12 09

President Barack Obama took his push for healthcare overhaul to the U.S. heartland on Thursday, calling the current system unsustainable and vowing not to tolerate “endless delay” before acting to fix it.

Hosting a Town Hall-style meeting, Obama stuck to his view that a government-sponsored insurance plan must be part of a healthcare revamp, despite opposition to the idea from Republicans, private insurers and even the influential American Medical Association doctors’ group.

“We have reached a point where doing nothing about the cost of health care is no longer an option. The status quo is unsustainable,” the Democratic president said. He insisted, however, he was not seeking a “government takeover” of the troubled system.

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Breast-Feeding Moms Who Consume Too Much Fructose Sweetener More Likely to Have Obese Kids

Diabetes • • Obesity • • PregnancyJun 12 09

Mothers who drink an excessive amount of fructose-sweetened beverages during pregnancy or breast-feeding may be likelier to have children—at least sons—who are more prone to becoming overweight and developing type 2 diabetes, authors of a new study reported. The results will be presented Thursday at The Endocrine Society’s 91st Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

The study, conducted in rats, found that the first male offspring had signs of metabolic endocrine disorders in adulthood, even though the sons ate a normal diet with no extra fructose, said co-author Eduardo Spinedi, PhD. He is head of the Neuroendocrinology Research Unit at the Multidisciplinary Institute of Cell Biology in La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Fructose, as in high-fructose corn syrup, is widely found in regular soda pop, fruit juices and other drinks. Many researchers believe that high fructose intake plays a role in the development of prediabetes and the metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

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Cardiologist Urges People to Get Informed about Angioplasty

HeartJun 12 09

A report broadcast during the CBS Evening News on June 8 noted that one in 200 patients die during elective coronary angioplasty procedures and suggested that patients may be safest at institutions where surgical backup is readily available when complications occur. The report also noted that as many as 40 percent of the angioplasties performed may be unnecessary because patients could experience the same benefits from drug therapies.

Coronary angioplasty is widely practiced and is also known as percutaneous coronary intervention, or PCI. The procedure is minimally-invasive and performed both in emergency situations and on an elective basis. During PCI, interventional cardiologists thread a catheter up through a small incision in a patient’s groin or wrist into the coronary artery. There, they inflate a surgical balloon to clear away plaque blockages and insert stents to keep arteries open.

Michael Ragosta, M.D., Director of Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories and Director of Interventional Cardiology at the University of Virginia Health System, recommends that patients considering elective angioplasty do their homework before deciding to proceed. “Make sure you know if medications or other therapies would work just as well for you, and find out about your hospital’s PCI mortality rates, PCI experience levels and surgical back-up capabilities,” he says. “Do your best to learn about the risks and benefits of this procedure. Make the most informed decision possible.”

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