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Health Highlights: Aug. 6, 2009

Ground Beef Recalled Over Salmonella Concerns Seasonal Flu Vaccines Shipped Early Clinton-Brokered Deal to Bring Low-Cost HIV Meds to Poorer Nations Contraceptive Use Common Among New Mothers: Study Can't Force Gays to Become Straight: APA

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

Ground Beef Recalled Over Salmonella Concerns

A California-based beef packing plant has recalled 825,769 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with an antibiotic-resistant form of Salmonella and may be linked to an outbreak of illness in Colorado, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday.

The ground beef recalled by Fresno-based Beef Packers, Inc., was sent to Colorado, Arizona and Utah, and sold in California, Dow Jones News reported.

The USDA said the Newport strain of Salmonella that may be in the ground beef "is resistant to many commonly prescribed drugs, which can increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals."

The agency also noted that the "most common manifestations of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours," Dow Jones reported.


Seasonal Flu Vaccines Shipped Early

Concerns about the swine flu pandemic have led vaccine makers to start shipping seasonal flu vaccines to the U.S. market much earlier than normal.

GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Novartis AG both started shipping seasonal flu vaccines Wednesday, while Sanofi Pasteur started on July 27, the Associated Press reported.

Novartis is "weeks ahead of schedule," Sanofi is about two weeks early, and Glaxo is slightly ahead of its usual mid-August start.

The companies said they expect concerns about swine flu will lead to increased demand of seasonal flu vaccines this year. They also want to complete production of seasonal vaccines to ensure capacity to make swine flu vaccine, the AP reported.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said Thursday that vaccine manufacturers are on track to start delivering the first batches of swine flu vaccine in September.

According to AP, WHO vaccine director Marie-Paule Kieny said several drugmakers have started testing the vaccine in humans and early safety results should be available next month. Those will clear the way for the vaccine's use.


Clinton-Brokered Deal to Bring Low-Cost HIV Meds to Poorer Nations

Former President Bill Clinton has helped forge a deal whereby two drug companies will allow poor countries to gain cheaper access to HIV medications, the Associated Press reported.

The agreement, which involves powerful antiretroviral medications made by Pfizer Inc., and Mylan Inc., should lower the cost of key drug regimens to less than $500 per year, Clinton said in New York City on Thursday.

The drugs involved in the deal will be used by people who may have already developed resistance to other medications.

Since 2002, the nonprofit Clinton Foundation has brokered a number of cost-cutting deals aimed at getting HIV-suppressing medicines to people in the developing world, the AP said.


Contraceptive Use Common Among New Mothers: Study

About 88 percent of American women who've recently had a baby use at least one contraceptive method, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released Thursday.

The analysis of 2004-06 data from 12 states and New York City also found that 62 percent of women use highly effective birth control methods, 20 percent use moderately effective methods, and 6 percent use less effective methods.

The study is the first to examine postpartum contraceptive use by method effectiveness, said the researchers. The findings appear in the latest issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the CDC.

The researchers said use of highly effective birth control methods after a recent pregnancy are an important way of preventing unwanted pregnancies, ensuring adequate time between births, and reducing negative mother and infant outcomes.


Can't Force Gays to Become Straight: APA

Mental health professionals shouldn't tell gay and lesbian patients they can become heterosexual through therapy or other treatments, the American Psychological Association stated Wednesday.

The group said there's no evidence that so-called reparative therapy is effective and some research suggests that it could cause harm by bringing on depression and suicidal tendencies, the Associated Press reported. Reparative therapy is advocated by a small number of therapists, often allied with religious conservatives.

Instead of trying to force gays and lesbians to become straight, mental health professionals should consider other options, such as celibacy and changing churches, for gay and lesbian patients whose sexual orientation conflicts with their religious faith, the APA advised.

This approach on counseling gays and lesbians was outlined in a report that was endorsed by the APA's governing council, the AP reported.

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