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Health Highlights: April 3, 2008

Two Million Children Were Living With HIV in 2007 No Health Benefit From Drinking Eight Glasses of Water a Day: Study Children's Sunglasses Recalled Due to Lead Hazard Icelandic Men Have Longest Male Life Expectancy Warning About Psychiatric Side Effects Added to Relenza Information House Panel Votes to Give FDA Powers to Regulate Tobacco U.S. Lawmakers Look to Expand Humanitarian Funding Sex Therapists: 3 to 13 Minutes Just Right

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

Two Million Children Were Living With HIV in 2007

In 2007, more than 2 million children worldwide were living with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS), about 290,000 children under age 15 died of AIDS, and 12.1 million children in sub-Saharan Africa lost one or both parents to AIDS, says a joint study released Thursday by the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNAIDS.

"Today's children and young people have never known a world free of AIDS," said UNICEF executive director Ann Veneman, who added that children "must be at the heart of the global AIDS agenda," Agence France-Presse reported.

The authors of the "Children and AIDS" study said children listed four major areas that need to be addressed to combat the epidemic: prevention of HIV transmission from mothers to children; prevention of infection among adolescents and young people; providing pediatric treatment; and protecting and supporting children affected by AIDS.

While there are significant challenges, progress is being made in some areas, the study said. For example, 21 countries are now on track to reach 80 percent coverage to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2010, compared to only 11 countries in 2005, AFP reported.

From 2005 to 2006, the number of HIV-positive children in low- and middle-income nations receiving retroviral drugs climbed from 75,000 to 127,000 -- a 70 percent increase.


No Health Benefit From Drinking Eight Glasses of Water a Day: Study

A new study pours cold water on the popular belief that drinking eight glasses of water a day provides a range of health benefits ranging from improving skin tone to keeping organs healthy and preventing weight gain.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia reviewed published clinical studies and found no evidence that average, healthy people need to drink that much water, United Press International reported.

The review authors did find evidence that increased water intake improves kidney function, but there was no indication of any sort of clinical benefit.

Studies on water and weight control were inconclusive and no studies have shown a link between increased water intake and clinical benefit to skin tone, UPI reported.

The findings appear in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.


Children's Sunglasses Recalled Due to Lead Hazard

About 144,000 "Main Street Drag" children's sunglasses distributed by StyleMark Inc. of Ormond Beach, Fla. are being recalled due to excessive levels of lead paint in lettering on the sunglasses' frames.

The Chinese-made sunglasses have dark blue or dark metallic red fronts and gray checkered sides. Main Street Drag characters are printed on the bottom of one lens and "Main Street Drag" is printed in orange at the temples. Style number DI25K711 is printed on the left temple, United Press International reported.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Association said the sunglasses were sold at Walgreen's, Academy Sports, and CVS stores across the United States from October 2007 through March 2008 for between $6 and $9.

Consumers can call StyleMark at 866-928-1913 to find out how to return the sunglasses and receive a free replacement pair.


Icelandic Men Have Longest Male Life Expectancy

Men in Iceland have a longer life expectancy (79.4 years in 2007) than males anywhere else in the world, according to Statistics Iceland.

An agency spokeswoman could offer no explanation for the finding, Agence France-Presse reported.

Iceland, one of the richest countries in the world, has a population of 313,400. Women in Iceland have a life expectancy of 82.9 years, which isn't as long as Japanese women, with an average nearly 86 years. Life expectancy for Japanese men is 78.6 years.

According to United Nations statistics, the combined life expectancy for women and men in Japan in 2007 was 82 years, followed by Iceland at more than 81 years, and France at almost 81 years, AFP reported.


Warning About Psychiatric Side Effects Added to Relenza Information

A warning of possible psychiatric problems have been added to the list of side effects accompanying the GlaxoSmithKline flu drug Relenza. The company made the move under pressure from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Associated Press reported.

The new information cites delirium and hallucinations as among the side effects experienced by some people taking Relenza, according to information posted Wednesday on the FDA Web site. Glaxo alerted doctors to the changes in a letter last month.

Most of the psychiatric side effects have occurred among children in Japan, which is the largest market in the world for flu drugs, the AP reported.

Last month, Swiss drug maker Roche made similar labeling changes for its drug Tamilfu.


House Panel Votes to Give FDA Powers to Regulate Tobacco

The U.S. House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill Wednesday that increases the likelihood that the Food and Drug Administration will be given broad new powers to regulate tobacco products.

The bill, passed by a vote of 38-12, would give the FDA authority to reduce nicotine levels and require larger and more informative health warnings on cigarette packs. A similar bill has been approved by a Senate committee, the Associated Press reported.

The proposed legislation also would ban candy-flavored cigarettes, which attract younger smokers, and would prohibit the use of terms such as "light" or "mild" on cigarette packs.

Some opponents argue that the FDA already has enough trouble ensuring the safety of the nation's food supply and medicines, and can't take on this extra oversight. To address the issue of lack of FDA resources, the House committee bill proposes user fees on tobacco companies that could collect $90 million this year and as much as $755 million by 2018, the AP reported.


U.S. Lawmakers Look to Expand Humanitarian Funding

In a 308-116 vote Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved tripling to more than $10 billion a year U.S. humanitarian funding to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in poorer nations.

Of the $50 billion to be spent over five years, about $41 billion would be directed to the fight against HIV/AIDS, the Associated Press reported. The White House backs the House bill.

A similar $50 billion bill has been approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The bills seek to extend and broaden the $15 billion President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief that was enacted in 2003. The program is credited with saving more than one million lives in Africa alone, the AP reported.

According to the United Nations, more than 33 million people worldwide were living with HIV and AIDS in 2007.


Sex Therapists: 3 to 13 Minutes Just Right

The optimal length of time for sexual intercourse is three to 13 minutes, according to a survey of dozens of American and Canadian sex therapists. However, that time doesn't include foreplay.

The findings appear to challenge the widely held belief that endurance is essential for a great sex life. Researcher Eric Corty said he hoped the survey results would ease the minds of people who believe that "more of something good is better, and if you really want to satisfy your partner, you should last forever," the Associated Press reported.

While three to 13 minutes was deemed optimal, some of the sex therapists noted that optimal time depended on the couple. All the therapists did agree that one to two minutes of sexual intercourse is "too short."

The findings are published in the May issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

"There are so many myths in our culture of what other people are doing sexually. Most people's sex lives are not as exciting as other people think they are," Marianne Brandon, a clinical psychologist and director of Wellminds Wellbodies in Annapolis, Md., told the AP.

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