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Posted - Mar. 8, 2004 at 7:20 a.m.



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Mar 08, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- ALCOHOL ABUSE HURTS HIV PATIENTS' MINDS

Research indicates HIV patients who have abused alcohol face a higher risk of developing cognitive problems than do their non-drinking counterparts. Thus, the study authors advise healthcare providers to counsel HIV-positive patients and those at highest risk for HIV infection about the possible neuropsychological effects of alcohol dependence. Study participants who abused alcohol but were HIV-negative showed no significant loss of cognitive function, suggesting alcohol abuse either adds to the problems HIV infection can cause or interacts with the virus to affect the brain, said Dr. Robert Bornstein, senior author of the study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

EXPERIMENTAL TREATMENT MAY SPARE VISION

Preliminary results suggest the drug daclizumab produces fewer side effects than current treatments for a blinding disease called uveitis. The disease, which causes eye inflammation, accounts for some 10 percent to 15 percent of blindness in the United States, the National Eye Institute researchers say. Current treatments include steroids or other drugs that suppress the immune system to control the inflammation. These can produce such side effects as kidney dysfunction, glaucoma, osteoporosis, increased blood sugar, elevated blood pressure and weight gain. Because their immune systems are compromised, patients must limit contact with other people to avoid contagious illnesses, doctors say. The new results, reported in the Journal of Autoimmunity, indicate intravenous infusions of the new immune therapy once a month controlled uveitis and was well tolerated in seven of 10 patients over a four-year period. The researchers also found similar effects resulted when the drug was injected under the skin, meaning the patients might be able to administer the therapy at home, scientists say.

COLON CANCER GETS BLUE STAR

A blue star will signify colon cancer, America's No. 2 cancer killer and the most preventable form of cancer. "We are so pleased there is finally a symbol for colorectal cancer, the nation's second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and women," said National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable Chairman Dr. Bernard Levin of The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "This disease affects hundreds of thousands of people each year, and this symbol is a sign of our common commitment to prevention, treatment and finding a cure." The star, adopted by NCCRT members and their groups, represents the eternal memory of people who have lost their lives to the disease and the hope for a future free of colon cancer, he said. The symbol will start appear on Web sites, brochures, pins, T-shirts, hats and in other venues. Dr. Robert Smith, NCCRT co-chairman and director of screening for the American Cancer Society, says colorectal cancer is preventable through early screening.

HIGH DEFINITION FOR HEARING IMPAIRED

High-definition technology is being used to help the hearing impaired. The technology is used in a new hearing aid, called Senso Diva, which automatically adjusts to the environment, be it a noisy restaurant or a symphonic concert hall, without remote controls. The new technology combines dual microphones with digital signal processing techniques. The features enable the hearing aid to locate noise sources and automatically adjust the microphone to minimize the noise source for better hearing. Using an enhanced speech intensification system, the Diva elevates the sound of speech, while reducing the sound of noise, its developers say. The Senso Diva is made by Widex USA.

(EDITORS: For more information about HIV, contact Emily Caldwell at (614) 293-3737 or caldwell.151@osu.edu. For EYE, Tom Hoglund at (301) 496-4308 or hoglundt@nei.nih.gov. For STAR, Wendi Klevan at (404) 327-6549 or wklevan@cancer.org. For HEARING, Audrey Peeters at (800) 999-4859, ext. 257 or apeeters@mediarelations.com)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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