A summary of important health news of the past week.
On November 5, the FDA approved a new treatment for HIV that is shown to be safer than current drugs, such as tenofovir. The new one-pill treatment is more efficient than treatments that need multiple pills and minimizes drug levels in the body (up to a 91% decrease) that can lead to negative side effects. The side effects of HIV treatment often accumulate in later age after years of treatment; this often means decreased bone density and possible kidney damage.
People celebrated on November 7th in Sierra Leon after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the nation Ebola free after 42 days with no reported disease cases. Almost 4,000 people have died of Ebola in the country over the past 18 months. Neighboring Liberia, which saw about 4,800 Ebola deaths, was declared Ebola-free in September.
According to researchers at the CDC, a 41 year old man in Colombia died of a tumor due to cancer cells from tapeworms. The biopsy revealed cancer-like cells lumped together, but they did not look human. Pathologists believed the since the patient had a weak-immune system, the tapeworm was able to take root in the patient's body.
Over the years, death rates have decreased for every race group - except white American males. Over the past 15 years, studies show that death rates among white males aged 45-54 in the U.S. have risen about .5% per year, while in other races such as Hispanic and Black males, have declined steadily about 2% each year. Researchers say that this is due to deaths related to drugs, suicide, alcohol, and liver disease.
While some smoking-related cancers are decreasing, HPV related cancers are increasing. A 40-50 year old man today has a higher risk of developing HPV-related head and neck cancers than similarly aged men from a few decades ago. Experts are saying this increased risk is due to a higher number of sexual partners today than in previous generations. The HPV vaccine is an effective line of defense, and new studies are showing that it prevents more HPV-related cancers than previously thought.
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