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

Governors Target Health Care Costs in Balancing Budgets

As governors from 30 states meet in Boise, Idaho, this weekend to try to bring their state budgets under control, the high cost of health care is among the key problems being targeted.

With more than 40 states suffering budget shortfalls of $40 billion to $50 billion, the leaders are considering a proposal to ask Congress to pick up a bigger share of Medicaid costs that are shared by states and the federal government, reports the Associated Press.

Spending on the health insurance program for the poor increased by 13 percent in the last fiscal year and reportedly makes up 20 percent of state budgets.

Under a Senate measure, an additional $8.9 billion would be provided to states over the next 18 months for Medicaid.

The governors are also working to better support measures to make prescription drugs more affordable to the elderly under Medicare, the federal government's health insurance program for the elderly.


Infected Cadaver Transplant Tissue Sparks Lawsuits

The family of a 23-year-old man who died after receiving knee graft surgery is suing the company that provided the tissue, claiming the tissue came from a cadaver infected with a deadly bacterium.

The Minnesota patient, Brian Lykins, died in November four days after receiving the cartilage implantation in his knee. The infection in his body was linked by health investigators to bacteria in the cadaver from which the cartilage was taken.

According to the lawsuit, the tissue provider, CryoLife Inc., of Kennesaw, Minn., erred in leaving the cadaver unrefrigerated for 19 hours and then failing to test the tissue for the bacterium, reports the Associated Press.

At least 14 other people have contracted infections after receiving tissue transplants from the same company, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CryoLife is facing five other lawsuits stemming from the infections.


Clinton, Mandela Call for Stronger Leadership on AIDS

This week's 14th International AIDS Conference closed yesterday with calls from two former presidents for stronger leadership in battling the epidemic, and cynical comments from a top conference organizer on whether the event was worthwhile.

Addressing the closing ceremonies in Barcelona, former South Africa leader Nelson Mandela said strong leadership is the key to fighting the war on AIDS.

Noting his own criticism of governments over AIDS policies, Mandela said "we must correct our own mistakes" and "develop proper strategies to get money out of those we criticize," reports the Associated Press.

Former President Clinton questioned how the world let a preventable disease infect 40 million people and threaten to spread to 100 million in a few years. In an interview earlier in the week, Clinton had expressed regret about not having done more about AIDS when he was president.

But Shaun Mellors of South Africa, vice president of the conference and representative of people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, said that in drawing 17,000 participants from 124 countries, the conferences had become too large. He questioned whether the $14 million cost of the event was worthwhile.

Other conference officials disagreed.


Vegas Trauma Center Reopens

The only top-level trauma center available to residents in the Las Vegas region reopened today after an exodus of doctors concerned about the skyrocketing rates of malpractice insurance forced the center's closure 10 days ago.

Officials at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas say about 10 to 15 orthopedic surgeons in private practice had agreed to become employees of Clark County (which runs the hospital) for 45 days, during which time they'll be covered by the hospital's $50,000 liability limit.

Meanwhile, Nevada's governor, Kenny Guinn, says the 45 days should give him enough time to call a special legislative session to consider a law that would put a cap on awards juries can give in malpractice lawsuits.

The American Medical Association last month identified Nevada as one of 12 states facing a medical liability insurance crisis.


New Muppet to Have HIV, Say 'Sesame Street' Producers

The Muppets on "Sesame Street" may be wildly imaginary, but creators of the children's show are about to give one of the characters a very real problem -- an HIV infection.

The Washington Post reports that Sesame Workshop, which produces the show, will introduce an HIV-positive Muppet to its cast in South Africa, and a similar character may appear on shows in the United States as well.

Producers of the show say that by introducing the character, they hope to help "de-stigmatize" AIDS, promote discussion about it and provide a model of acceptable behavior toward those who have HIV, the virus that causes the disease.

A story line on the character's profile has yet to be developed, but the producers say it will probably involve the virus having been transmitted through a blood transfusion or childbirth. There will not be discussion of intravenous drug use or unsafe sex. The average age of the show's viewers is between 3 and 7.


High Tax on Cigs Drives Many to Quit

The taxation of cigarettes to higher and higher levels appears to be having the intended impact of prompting many smokers to try to quit, reports the Associated Press.

Anti-smoking advocates say cessation groups around the country are reporting steep increases in enrollment, coinciding with increases in taxes. Programs at major health-care centers in New York City have seen memberships more than double since city and state taxes drove the price of a pack of cigarettes up to more than $7.


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