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Health Tips: Kids and Violence

Posted - Jan. 1, 2004 at 10:40 a.m.



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Jan 01, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- BACK PAIN EXTRACTS BIG ECONOMIC COST

Patients suffering from back pain consume more that $90 billion annually in health-care expenses. In one of the largest analyses of its kind, a team of Duke University Medical Center researchers found approximately $26 billion of that amount directly attributable to treating the back pain. The researchers said the results not only demonstrate the enormous economic impact of back pain, but also provide concrete evidence that policymakers and researchers can use in determining how health-care resources should be allocated. The Duke team mined data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a national survey conducted by the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Center for Health Statistics. The team found 25.9 million adults reported back pain in 1998, with 172.7 million reporting no back pain. "To put these expenses in perspective, the total $90 billion spent in 1998 represented 1 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product and the $26 billion in direct back pain costs accounted for 2.5 percent of all health care expenditures for that year."

ANTIVIRAL DRUG FIGHTS HERPES

Taking a single daily dose of an approved antiviral drug known as valacyclovir can reduce transmission of genital herpes by 50 percent. An international team of researchers studied nearly 1,500 heterosexual monogamous couples in which one partner had genital herpes and the other did not. Infected partners who received a standard daily oral dose of valacyclovir were half as likely to transmit herpes simplex type 2 than infected partners given a placebo. The strategy also could be applied to combat the spread of other sexually transmitted diseases that are caused by viruses, the researchers said. "This is the first demonstration that an antiviral drug can prevent a viral sexually transmitted disease," they said, including HIV. Genital herpes is caused by HSV-2 and infects about 50-million Americans over age 20. The virus is transmitted through sexual contact and is often silent, which contributes to its spread. Those who develop symptoms experience genital ulcers that are often painful. Infected individuals can transmit the virus even when they are not aware they are infected, or when no symptoms are present, and the infection can remain in the body indefinitely. Almost 80 percent of people with HSV-2 are not diagnosed because accurate blood tests have only recently been developed and are not widely used.

PROXIMITY TO VIOLENCE AFFECTS KIDS

Children who observe violence or are victims of it show more behavior problems than other children, a new study concludes. The study, of 175 children ages 9 to 12, showed "there is a relationship between the physical proximity of exposure to violence and psychosocial maladjustment among urban school-aged children," said researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York City. At the same time, the researchers found children's personal closeness or distance to victims of violence had only a small effect on their behavior. Among those who had seen or heard reports of violence from other people or in the media, the authors found little connection between the children's psychological problems and their relationship to victims. "In the backdrop of high rates of exposure to violence," they said, "pediatricians should be vigilant in recognizing maladaptive patterns of behaviors in children exposed to violence."

(Editors: For more information on BACK PAIN, contact Richard Merritt at (919) 684-4148 or merri006@mc.duke.edu. For VALACYCLOVIR, Susan Edmonds at (206) 667-2896 or sedmonds@fhcrc.orgFor KIDS AND VIOLENCE, Karen Gardner at (718) 430-3101 or kgardner@aecom.yu.edu)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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