Lyme disease can be caused by the single bite of a tiny tick, but that in no way means it's a small problem. This disease can result in symptoms that stick around long after a person has been bitten, and they can seriously impact his or her daily life. This is why it's important for anyone who discovers a tick on their body to receive Lyme disease blood testing to get treatment as soon as possible.
While many people have probably heard of Lyme disease, they may not understand just how much of an impact it can make on a person's life. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, if left untreated Lyme disease can spread to the brain, heart and joints.
Far-reaching consequences... Full Story
When it comes to preventing sexually transmitted diseases, the only effective form of contraceptive is the condom. Because of this, some would assume that most parents would be most comfortable with their daughters having access to condoms rather than other types of contraception, which may protect against unplanned pregnancy, but not STDs. However, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, that is not the case.
Researchers found that parents are most accepting of their daughters using birth control pills than other forms of contraception, including condoms, implants and the intrauterine device. This is a problem for health officials, considering that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that teens between the ages of 15 and 19 fall within the age group of individuals most likely to contract an STD. This is one of the reasons why sexually active individuals in this population need access to STD testing services.
A matter of prevention ... Full Story
People who suspect that they have Lyme disease shouldn't hesitate to get blood tests to confirm it, since properly diagnosing this condition has provided many individuals with the answers they've been waiting for regarding their health problems. Many people spend years experiencing a number of strange and debilitating health problems before they realize that they are the signs of Lyme disease and finally receive proper treatment.
For example, the Union Leader, a New Hampshire news source, recently published an article profiling one young woman who had experienced many serious diseases and medical crises through elementary, middle and high school. For years, the cause of these health problems eluded her - until doctors finally discovered that Lyme disease was the culprit.
Difficult to tell... Full Story
A team of scientists from the University of Toronto have found that northern regions of the U.S. are seeing higher rates of Lyme disease than southern states, suggesting that people living in cooler locales may want to get blood tests if they spot the telltale target-like rash on their skin.
My Health News Daily published an article on the findings, which showed that between 1992 and 2007, 21 states experienced increases in Lyme disease prevalence , while 14 states showed a significant decrease, and 15 saw no change. In particular, most of New England as well as Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and most parts of the northern Midwest have been experiencing this increase in Lyme disease rates.
Temperature may be blame ... Full Story
Lab tests were the theme of a recent report released by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Society for Microbiology. The IDSA and ASM identified lab tests as the key to identifying and treating infectious diseases.
The study examined the effect that the appropriate lab test has on patient outcome, and underscored the importance of lab testing in the diagnosis of infectious diseases. It also provided guidelines on the collection of specimens and how to obtain the most accurate results. The report was recently published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, and it provides guidelines for the use of labs in diagnostics.
"Getting the right diagnosis is contingent upon laboratory results that are accurate and clinically relevant," said Ellen Baron, coauthor of the study. "Physicians, their staff and microbiologists must communicate and work together to ensure the best outcome for patients, and this guide aims to help facilitate this collaboration."
The guide focused on 10 areas of specimen management and was geared toward laboratory scientists. It recommended that, to avoid inaccurate results, poor quality specimens should not be used and that specific diseases should be targeted rather than attempting to make a blanket diagnosis. The researchers also stressed the importance of ensuring that specimens are not contaminated and that swabs may not provide enough material to detect an infection. Lab scientists should not rely on samples that have been taken after the administration of antibiotics, and solid technical policies ought to be put in place in order to guarantee accurate results across the board.
The report noted that it should not take the place of lab scientists' judgment, but can act as a guide to look to when in the decision-making process.
Why a private lab test?... Full Story
Androscoggin County, Maine, had nearly half of the state's 456 reported cases of gonorrhea in 2012. Though there has been a sharp decline in cases this year likely due in part to efforts from the state's health department, the county still has a much higher number of cases than most others.
Androscoggin County... Full Story
A new study has shown that delaying treatment for HIV could lead to neurocognitive issues. These problems affect motor and processing skills in the brain that treatments can help reduce. The five-year study was published by the National AIDS Research Institute based in Pune, India, along with the HIV Neurobehavioral Research Program at the University of California, San Diego.
Brain function... Full Story
Lyme disease, an infection that comes from deer tick bites, causes a wide array of symptoms and can be difficult to treat. While it can be diagnosed through lab tests, knowing where it is most prevalent can allow for steps to be taken to avoid exposure.
Delaware and Vermont... Full Story
The first phase of a trial for a vaccine against human immunodeficiency virus has proven successful, according to an announcement from Sumagen Canada Inc. and Western University of Ontario earlier this week. The group now plans to move on to Phase 2 and Phase 3 of testing.
Vaccine... Full Story
For partners of people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, antiretroviral drugs may provide a shield against infections. A study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation showed that taking the drugs, which are normally used to treat people who are HIV positive, can reduce infection rates.
Protection from HIV infections... Full Story
Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles have found that using social media can be a strong tool to encourage people at risk for sexually transmitted diseases to get STD tests. While the study only involved those diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus, similar programs may also be effective for other STDs.
Using social media to combat STDs... Full Story
New research has shown the possibility of creating an HIV vaccine for humans. The research found that a vaccine for simian immunodeficiency virus, a sexually transmitted disease that is essentially the primate version of HIV, worked on 9 out of 12 monkeys tested with the vaccine.
How the vaccine works... Full Story
Patients with HIV may be more likely to have neurological complications from syphilis infections, according to a new study. Of the patients studied, a large majority showed indications of having neurosyphilis, a condition that generally develops in patients with the long-untreated sexually transmitted disease syphilis.
Patients with HIV and syphilis... Full Story
New findings presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America showed a significant breakthrough in HIV research. A team of scientists from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine testing the efficacy of radioimmunotherapy on patients treated with antiretroviral therapy have successfully destroyed HIV-infected cells, giving new life to the hope of curing HIV infection.
Led by lead author Ekaterina Dadachova, Ph.D., the team was looking at the shortcomings of highly active antiretroviral therapy when it came to curing HIV. While HAART succeeded in suppressing the replication and spread of the virus, it failed to completely eradicate the cells. Scientists believe that leftover infected cells remained in the body after treatment, preventing a permanent cure.
"In an HIV patient on HAART, drugs suppress viral replication, which means they keep the number of viral particles in a patient's bloodstream very low. However, HAART cannot kill the HIV-infected cells," explained Dadachova, professor of radiology, microbiology and immunology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
During their study, the researchers carried out blood testing using RIT on samples from HIV patients who were previously treated with HAART. Previously used to treat cancer, RIT uses cloned cells to determine and counteract antigens that cause an immune response in the body. Once injected into the patient's bloodstream, the cloned cells travel to the targeted infected cells where the radiation therapy is applied.
"In RIT, the antibodies bind to the infected cells and kill them by radiation. When HAART and RIT are used together, they kill the virus and the infected cells, respectively," continued Dadachova.
Conducting their lab tests using collaborative therapy, the team discovered that RIT reduced the blood samples' levels of HIV infection to undetectable numbers.
"The elimination of HIV-infected cells with RIT was profound and specific," Dadachova affirmed.
Moving forward, their next step is clinical trials with HIV patients using the combination of RIT and HAART treatments.
Treatment of the brain and nervous system... Full Story
A report released this month noted that the number of sexually transmitted disease cases in South Dakota has risen from the median average of the last five years. Published by the state's Department of Health, the results detailed the increase in cases of gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV and chlamydia.
According to the findings, HIV and chlamydia rose the least, with instances for both in the neighborhood of 22 and 25 percent increases, respectively. However, it was gonorrhea and syphilis that saw the biggest spike in cases, as their numbers were up by 76 percent and 1,050 percent, respectively.
Many STDs can go untreated, as they do not display noticeable symptoms. For instance, those infected with HIV would display symptoms equivalent to that of a flu or common cold. Because of this, these diseases are not detected unless specifically tested for.
"Sometimes you'll never know. It's simply found by screening and that's the scary part," said Melissa Shefl, a physician's assistant at the Sanford Health Vermillion Clinic in South Dakota.
"The majority of the people we see are 15- to 24-year-olds, and that is your student as far as high school student to a college student," added registered nurse Joan Beach, a member of the Family Planning department at Vermillion.
In order to spread HIV awareness on college campuses, Planned Parenthood and the Sanford Health Clinic work together throughout the year, teaching the importance of practicing safe sex and getting tested regularly for STDs.
Facts about STDs in America... Full Story
Following a vaccine study to determine if monkeys could be protected against contracting simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV, the animal equivalent to HIV, researchers have uncovered fresh insight into HIV vaccine research. The mechanism that prompts protection from the disease may prove to be comparable in treatment for humans.
To identify the process of protection from SIV, the research team examined amino acid sequences that were viral and the monkeys' immune system responses. Their goal was to determine measures of immune responses in the animals that predict protection from SIV. The results showed that antibodies that attacked the virus were sufficient in prevention of the disease.
Utilizing the results of their study, team leaders Mario Roederer, Ph.D., and John Mascola, M.D., discovered that both HIV and SIV used similar methods to escape the immune system. The viral spikes that were resistant to neutralization in SIV tended to cause infection. To combat this resistance, the scientists administered new amino acid sequences that changed the resistant spikes to sensitive ones, thus altering their composition and neutralizing infectious cells. Lab tests conducted on viral HIV cells had a similar effect. According to Mascola and Roederer, the reasons for the success or failure of future vaccine trials in human HIV will be more apparent if scientists take their amino acid research into consideration and work to decrease neutralization resistance in infectious cells.
HIV vaccine research... Full Story
A county in Oregon is experiencing an increase in cases of sexually transmitted diseases, with both gonorrhea and syphilis leading all other cases by a significant margin. Public health officials in Lane County worry about the prevalence and are asking doctors and residents to be more vigilant in prevention and reporting.
According to Disease Surveillance Data from the state's Public Health Department, Oregon has seen a large increase in the number of reported syphilis cases over the last six years, while gonorrhea has remained at stable numbers in the same amount of time. However, by the end of November 2013, Lane County had more than 200 reported cases of gonorrhea, a 60 percent increase from 2012. While the number of syphilis cases is relatively small at 23, the previous pattern in the area was one or two cases per year.
"Occasionally, if you look over a 10-year period, we do have little outbreaks of sexually transmitted diseases. This one is lasting longer than we want, and it's significantly higher than we want, so it's concerning," said Paul Luedtke, Lane County Public Health Officer.
While Luedtke places blame on a few different trends, the economic recession can take a large portion of it. The unemployment rate in the area rose above 10 percent, leaving many of the county's citizens without access to affordable health care. This can have many negative implications when it comes to STD testing due to a lack of diagnoses and reporting. In order to curb this concern, Lane County restarted the practice of clinics open once a week to see patients with STDs.
Additionally, Luedtke would also like physicians to research deeper into diagnoses and treatments of various STDs, specifically gonorrhea and syphilis. The previously recommended dosage for treating gonorrhea was 125 milligrams of the antibiotic ceftriaxone, however, the number is now 250 mg, as the bacteria developed a stronger resistance to the drug.
The use of ceftriaxone... Full Story
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