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Publication: Health Tips Weekly
U.S. Rule Is Hurting HIV Fight

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       HEALTH TIPS WEEKLY - Thursday, July 26, 2007 
             "News That Keeps You Healthy"   
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          Shock therapy remains controversial

WASHINGTON, -- An estimated 100,000 U.S.residents a year 
undergo electroconvulsive therapy to treat depression, it 
was reported Tuesday. So-called "shock therapy" has been 
shown to save lives but has remained controversial during 
its 70-year history, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Shock therapy, often used only after other treatments fail, 
was seared into collective consciousness as the involuntary 
procedure depicted in the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's 
Nest." Shock therapy's use appears to be steady or increas-
ing, The Post reported. The number of treatments in Califor-
nia, one of the few states with mandatory reporting, increa-
sed from about 13,000 to more than 20,000 between 1994 and 
2004. No one fully understands how shock therapy works, but
many psychiatrists claim the electric current used to pro-
duce a "grand mal," or generalized seizure, "reboots" the 
brain when medications and psychotherapy fail, The Post re-
ported.


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           U.S. rule is hurting HIV fight

BALTIMORE, -- A new study suggests the United States is hur-
ting the fight against the human immunodeficiency virus with
its anti-prostitution rule. In order to receive U.S. funding
for HIV prevention or control projects, recipient organizat-
ions must take a pledge that explicitly condemns prostitut-
ion. However, researchers have determined such condemnation 
is not effective at helping to control the global HIV epid-
emic. Nicole Franck Masenior and Chris Beyrer of Johns Hop-
kins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health reviewed
scientific evidence on strategies that effectively reduce 
rates of HIV among sex workers. The researchers found subs-
tantial evidence suggesting the empowerment, organization, 
and unionization of sex workers can be an effective HIV 
prevention strategy. "While sex work may be exploitative," 
they wrote, "and is illegal in many jurisdictions, sex wor-
ker advocates and HIV prevention program leaders generally 
concur that sex workers themselves need services, protect-
ion, peer outreach, and support from health professionals 
to reduce their risk of HIV infection."
  
  
          Study looks at blood vessel clotting

SYDNEY,-- Australian scientists have found a naturally occ-
urring mechanism in the body by which "bad" cells that cause
blood vessel blockages are kept under control. The discovery
by Professor Levon Khachigian of the University of New South
Wales' Center for Vascular Research is expected to benefit 
people undergoing coronary bypass surgery, angioplasty or 
hemodialysis. Khachigian describes the mechanism he discov-
ered as "a molecular dictatorship with a conscience." "The 
dictator is a specific gene suppressor called YY1, which has
the therapeutically appealing capacity to differentiate bet-
ween certain cell types when it goes about its activity," 
Khachigian said. He said the finding could provide new meth-
ods of preventing coronary bypass graft failure, and resten-
osis -- the closing or narrowing of an artery that was prev-
iously opened by a procedure such as angioplasty. Khachigian
is seeking commercial partnerships that can apply the tech-
nology in the clinic. The study appears in the journal Cir-
culation Research.
 

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         Free day care planned at autism event

STATE COLLEGE, Pa., -- Some of the more than 2,000 people 
expected at Penn State University next week for the U.S. 
National Autism Conference will receive free daycare. The 
conference -- one of the largest of its kind in the world 
-- started in 1998 with 300 attendees. Last year nearly 
2,300 people attended the event from across the United Sta-
tes and even from Sweden. This year's July 30-Aug. 3 con-
ference is expected to again draw more than 2,000 people to 
the Penn State campus. Autism affects about one in 150 U.S. 
children, making the condition more common than childhood 
cancer, cystic fibrosis and multiple sclerosis combined. 
Called Autism Spectrum Disorders, the neurobiological cond-
ition causes impairment in thinking, feeling, language and 
the ability to relate to others. 


          Scientists speed antidepressant action

BETHESDA, Md., -- U.S. scientists have moved closer to 
producing faster acting antidepressants than exist
today by using the experimental medication ketamine. The re-
search, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Hea-
lth, focused on how ketamine, when used experimentally for 
depression, relieves symptoms in hours instead of the weeks 
or months it takes for current antidepressants to work. 
While ketamine itself probably won't be used as an antidepr-
essant because of its side effects, researchers said the new
finding moves scientists considerably closer to understand-
ing how to develop faster-acting antidepressant medications.
"In any other illness of depression's magnitude, patients 
aren't expected to just accept that their treatments won't 
start helping them for weeks or months," said Dr. Thomas 
Insel, NIMH director. "The value of our research on comp-
ounds like ketamine is that it tells us where to look for 
more precise targets for new kinds of medications that can 
close the gap." The study is reported online in the journal 
Biological Psychiatry.
 

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        Crustaceans may help heal space injuries

HONOLULU,-- U.S. scientists say they suspect an ingredient 
found in shrimp and lobster shells might make future miss-
ions to Mars safer for space crews. Scientists from Harvey 
Mudd College in California and the University of Louisville
are collaborating with the bioengineering and biomaterials
company BioSTAR West to better understand how to treat inj-
uries aboard long space flights. The research is led by in-
vestigators at Hawaii Chitopure Inc., a Honolulu biomater-
ials company specializing in the manufacture of ultra-pure 
chitosan -- a polymer developed from the shells of crustac-
eans such as lobsters, crabs, and shrimp. The team has dev-
eloped a series of space experiments using chitosan, which 
has been approved for use in the United States in bandages 
and other hemostatic agents. The experiments focusing on the
effect of microgravity on human monocytes-- typically one 
of the first responses to infection and trauma -- will be 
launched aboard space shuttle Endeavour, scheduled for an 
Aug. 7 lift off on an 11-day mission to the International 
Space Station. An identical experiment will be simultaneous-
ly conducted on Earth and, after the mission, the space-
based and ground-based cellular expressions will be com-
pared.


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