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Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of The HealthDay Service:
Promising AIDS Drug May Defy Resistances
Amid grim reports on the global spread of AIDS coming out of the 14th International AIDS Conference in Barcelona came news today of a promising new drug that may offer hope to those who've become resistant to conventional drugs.
Researchers say that when combined with standard medications, the new drug T-20, or Enfuvirtide, has been found to reduce high levels of HIV in the blood of patients with resistant forms of the virus at levels twice the percentage of those who just were given standard drugs.
The T-20 combination also increased the number of CD-4 white blood cells that HIV destroys, reports The New York Times.
The Food and Drug Administration has given T-20 a so-called fast-track designation, meaning data will be expedited to help speed up applications to market the drug.
Smallpox Quarantine Plans Underway Behind Scenes
While much attention is focused on who will be vaccinated in preparation for a smallpox biological attack, federal officials have been quietly working to come up with a system for quarantining Americans who have been exposed to the deadly disease.
An official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a tentative plan that considers touchy issues, such as where people would be quarantined while waiting for officials to arrive to confirm their exposure, is due to be circulated among top federal officials, the Associated Press reports.
The plan, still in draft form, reportedly considers the scenario of a smallpox-infected person arriving in the United States on an international flight, and suggests urging all of the passengers to stay in quarantine, where the vaccine and appropriate medications would be available.
Once officials are able to develop a plan for that scenario, they will reportedly look at other possibilities, such as a smallpox exposure at a sports stadium or an infected person wandering through an airport.
IVF Results in Black Twins for White Couple: Report
A London newspaper reports today that the case of a white couple who gave birth to a set of black twins after receiving in vitro fertilization is heading to court.
While a court order prevents the release of many details about the case, the Sun newspaper reports that a black couple who were also trying to have a child through IVF are involved in the case.
The error may have occurred when sperm from a black person was mistakenly used to fertilize the white woman's eggs, or the embryo was simply implanted in the wrong women.
The BBC reports that the white couple is believed to want to keep the twins. The court case to determine who should be considered the babies' parents is set for October.
There have been two other reported cases of IVF resulting in the birth of offspring that were not the same race as the parents.
In a 1999 case, a white couple in New York gave birth to a black baby due to an embryo mix-up. In that case, the child was ordered to be turned over to the biological parents. And in 1993, a white woman in Holland gave birth to black twins when her husband's sperm was mixed up with that of a black man in IVF treatment. She was allowed to keep the children.
CDC: Most Gay Men With HIV Don't Know It
More than three-quarters of gay and bisexual men infected with the AIDS-causing HIV virus don't know it, according to a new survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The findings, presented today at the 14th International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, indicate that the rate of ignorance among HIV-positive gay and bisexual men is twice that of previous estimates, reports the Associated Press.
Researchers polled 5,719 men aged 15 to 29 at popular hangouts in Baltimore, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Seattle from 1994 to 2000. Of the 573 who tested HIV positive, 77 percent hadn't known they were infected. The number soared to 91 percent of black HIV-positive men who were unaware.
Since 1998, rates of new U.S. HIV infections have stayed relatively stable, at approximately 10,000 cases every three months. Today's presenters said their figures are a troubling sign that the AIDS epidemic could be on the verge of accelerating.
Complacency, Drug Resistance Among AIDS Concerns
The opening of the 14th Annual International AIDS Conference in Barcelona sparked a flurry of reports about disturbing AIDS trends in the United States.
Dr. Ron Valdiserri, deputy director of HIV, STD and TB at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned that just as the decline in numbers of Americans with AIDS appears to be leveling off, apathy about the disease in this country appears to be growing.
Other findings that are particularly troubling, he said, are figures showing that blacks account for a hugely disproportionate number of new infections, with no fewer than three-quarters of new heterosexual HIV infections between 1994 and 2000 being among blacks, reports MSNBC.
And in other findings, a study in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that one in four new cases of HIV infection in San Francisco is resistant to some classes of anti-retroviral drugs, reports the BBC.
The study's authors, with the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology, say the findings underscore the need for the development of new classes of AIDS drugs.
Prostate Cancer Being Overtreated: Study
Many men over age 60 are being overtreated for prostate cancer, according to a new study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Some 29 percent to 44 percent of men ages 60-84 who were studied over a 10-year period were overtreated, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle conclude. The scientists say the patients may have received surgery or radiation treatment for prostate cancer, when in fact they probably would have died of other causes before the slow-moving cancer had a chance to spread and become life threatening.
Surgery or radiation treatments for prostate cancer cause impotence in about 80 percent of cases, often permanently, according to study author Ruth Etzioni, who is quoted by the Associated Press. In about 10 percent of cases, the treatments can also cause incontinence.
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