One Of The Trickiest Parts Of HIV Is That It Can Hide In The Body. New Research May Let Doctors Find It.
The virus has a frustratingly effective way at hiding from our immune systems, but a new discovery may give scientists the upper hand on it for once. In other public health news: medical errors, the microbiome field, health monitoring apps, heart health and marathons, cholesterol and more.
Study Reveals HIV Vulnerabilities, Path To Possible Therapies
One of the many mysteries that scientists working with HIV have been trying to solve is how the virus keeps its identity hidden in the body. The virus can be detected in blood, but once it gains entry into our cells, it remains obscure and out of reach of the immune system. And this inability to detect the virus in our cells has hindered efforts to properly eliminate the disease. But a new study’s findings suggest that we may have found a way to reveal the virus’s presence in human cells. In the study published Wednesday in Cell & Host Microbe, scientists were able to identify a new shape of an essential HIV protein that allows the virus to gain entry into our cells. (Chakradhar, 4/10)
Should A Nurse's Fatal Medical Error Be Prosecuted?
A former nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., was arrested and charged with reckless homicide and abuse in February for making a medical mistake that resulted in an elderly patient's death. Criminal charges for a medical error are unusual, patient safety experts say. Some are voicing concern that the move sets a precedent that may actually make hospitals less safe by making people hesitant to report errors. The nurse, RaDonda Vaught, pleaded not guilty. Her next hearing is scheduled for April 11. She told NPR in an emailed statement from her lawyer that Vanderbilt terminated her employment after the incident. (Gordon, 4/10)
In The Microbiome Field, It’s Academics Who Are Doing The Heavy Lifting
To figure out what microbiome therapeutics companies will do next, the best move may be to step away from the press releases and open a scientific journal. Academic science has been the foundation of almost every treatment, from insulin to gene therapy. But eventually, as a field matures, scientists in industry will start to show up as authors on more and more papers and as presenters at more and more conferences. (Sheridan, 4/11)
Menstrual Monitoring App Raises Questions About Privacy
Most women don’t tell their bosses when they’re trying to conceive. But what if an app did it for them? Questions about such menstrual monitoring arose this week in relation to Ovia Health, a Boston-based maker of fertility, pregnancy, and parenting-tracking apps, and the data that it has been offering employers through partnerships with health insurance providers. (Nanos, 4/11)
The Associated Press:
How Safe Is Running A Marathon? Heart Doctors Say It Depends
It was the death heard ‘round the running world. In July 1984, acclaimed author and running guru Jim Fixx died of a heart attack while trotting along a country road in Vermont. Overnight, a nascent global movement of asphalt athletes got a gut check: Just because you run marathons doesn’t mean you’re safe from heart problems. Fast-forward 35 years, and Boston Marathon race director Dave McGillivray is amplifying that message for marathoners, especially those who have coronary artery disease or a family history of it. (Kole, 4/11)
Kaiser Health News:
Making Smarter Decisions About Where To Recover After Hospitalization
Every year, nearly 2 million people on Medicare — most of them older adults — go to a skilled nursing facility to recover after a hospitalization. But choosing the facility can be daunting, according to an emerging body of research. Typically, a nurse or a social worker hands out a list of facilities a day or two — sometimes hours — before a patient is due to leave. The list generally lacks such essential information as the services offered or how the facilities perform on various measures of care quality. (Graham, 4/11)
The New York Times:
Very Low Cholesterol May Increase Stroke Risk
Having extremely low cholesterol may increase the risk for stroke, a new study suggests. Researchers found that very low LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and very low triglycerides are associated with an increased risk for hemorrhagic stroke, the type caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain. For the report, in Neurology, researchers reviewed data on total cholesterol, LDL, HDL (“good” cholesterol) and triglycerides for 27,937 women. During an average follow-up of 19 years, there were 137 hemorrhagic strokes. (Bakalar, 4/10)
The Wall Street Journal:
Drug Tests Show Marijuana Use At 14-Year High Among Workers
More American workers are testing positive for marijuana, a new report finds, as lawmakers in New Jersey and Illinois push to join nearly a dozen more states where recreational use of the drug is now legal. The number of workers and job applicants who tested positive for marijuana climbed 10% last year to 2.3%, according to an analysis of 10 million urine, saliva and hair samples by Quest Diagnostics Inc., one the nation’s largest drug-testing laboratories. (Gee, 4/11)