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Health Highlights: Nov. 23, 2010

Childen's Benadryl, Motrin Recalled by Company HIV Infections, AIDS Deaths Declining: UNAIDS Insurers Ordered to Spend More on Health Care Staging of Localized Prostate Cancer Often Incorrect: Study Bladder Cancer Survivor Humiliated by Airport Pat-Down

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

Childen's Benadryl, Motrin Recalled by Company

About four million packages of grape- and cherry-flavored Children's Benadryl allergy Fastmelt tablets and about 800,000 bottles of junior-strength Motrin caplets, 24-count, have been recalled by Johnson & Johnson.

The recalls at the wholesale and retail level are due to "insufficiencies in the development of the manufacturing process," company spokeswoman Bonnie Jacobs told Bloomberg news.

She said the recalls are not associated with adverse events or safety issues.

"Consumers can continue to use the product(s), they don't have to take any action," Jacobs told Bloomberg.


HIV Infections, AIDS Deaths Declining: UNAIDS

The worldwide number of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are falling, show new data released by UNAIDS.

The number of new HIV infections in 2009 was 2.6 million, a nearly 20 percent decrease from the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1999. There were 1.8 million AIDS-related deaths in 2009, down from 2.1 million in 2004, BBC News reported.

Among the other findings:

  • The number of people using antiretroviral drugs increased from 700,000 in 2004 to more than five million in 2009.
  • While infection rates are falling in places such as Ethiopia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, there have been sharp rises in new infections and AIDS-related deaths in eastern Europe and central Asia.
  • Currently, an estimated 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV.

"We are breaking the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic with bold actions and smart choices," said Michel Sidibe, UNAIDS executive director, BBC News reported. "Investments in the AIDS response are paying off, but gains are fragile -- the challenge now is how we can all work to accelerate progress."


Insurers Ordered to Spend More on Health Care

New federal rules released this week will require many health insurance companies to spend more on medical care and less on profits, marketing, overhead expenses and executive compensation.

The consumer-friendly regulations greatly increase federal authority to stipulate the use of premiums. Some states already have such laws, but this is the first such mandate by the federal government, The New York Times reported.

The rules will protect nearly 75 million people, including 40 million covered by large employers, 24.2 million with small-group coverage, and 10.6 million with individual policies, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Insurers who don't meet the standards will have to pay rebates to customers, The Times reported.


Staging of Localized Prostate Cancer Often Incorrect: Study

Many cases of localized prostate cancer are incorrectly staged but this type of error doesn't seem to matter, according to a new study.

Localized prostate cancer means the disease has not spread beyond the site of the original cancer. The stage, which refers to the size of the tumor and other characteristics that influence the risk of cancer recurrence, is often used to make decisions about treatment following surgery.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco analyzed the medical records of 3,875 men who had surgery for localized prostate cancer and found that the stage was incorrectly assessed in 35.4 percent of cases, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The stage was too low in 55.1 percent of those cases and too high in 44.9 percent.

However, the researchers found that incorrect staging had no impact on predictions of disease recurrence. They said their findings question the value of the current staging system for localized prostate cancer, the Times reported.

The study appears online in the journal Cancer.


Bladder Cancer Survivor Humiliated by Airport Pat-Down

A Michigan bladder cancer survivor ended up covered in urine after an aggressive pat-down by a security agent at a Detroit airport.

Tom Sawyer, 61, wears a bag that collects his urine. The pat-down on Nov. 7 was so rough that it caused the bag to leak onto Sawyer's clothing. He didn't have time to changes his clothes before he boarded his flight, the Associated Press reported.

"I was embarrassed to death," Sawyer told the Detroit Free Press.

"TSA agents need to be trained to listen when someone tells them they have a health issue, because the one thing that Tom in his account talked about was he tried to explain and they just weren't even interested in listening," Claire Saxton, executive director of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, told the AP.


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