Review Category : Health

Study: ‘Charlie Sheen Effect’ Seen in Online Search for HIV Symptoms, Testing

Jason Merritt/Getty Images(SAN DIEGO) — Last year’s announcement by actor Charlie Sheen that he had been diagnosed with HIV put renewed attention on the disease that causes AIDS and effects more than 1.2 million people in the U.S.

In a new study published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine, researchers and doctors found that his November 2015 announcement corresponded with the largest number of HIV-related searches on Google in the U.S.

John Ayers, of San Diego State University in California, and his co-authors found that there was a 540 percent increase in searches related to HIV symptoms and a 214 percent increase in searches related to HIV testing. The team looked at Internet searches through Google Trends and news trends through the Bloomberg Terminal in the week after Sheen made his announcement.

“The difference between this effect and the effect from other celebrities such as Magic Johnson announcing their HIV status is that now everyone has a smart phone is his or her pocket, there is instant access to information,” Ayers told ABC News. “I hope that this will lead us to look for ways to prolong this effect.”

Getting people who are HIV positive into treatment remains an issue for health care providers in the U.S. Approximately 1 out of every 8 people with HIV do not know they have it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can take years for people with HIV to be diagnosed since they do not develop symptoms immediately.

While the study focused on how people were looking for more information on HIV, a company that conducts at home testing, has seen an increase in HIV testing.

Ron Ticho, the senior vice president at OraSure Technologies, which makes an at home HIV test approved by the Food and Drug Administration, said sales more than doubled the week following Sheen’s announcement and that they were up 38 percent in the 2015 fourth quarter as compared to the year before.

Dr. Barron Lerner, an internist and historian of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, has studied how famous patients can have a far-reaching impact on disease.

“It always helps to get people to think about something anew when there’s a particular case,” he told ABC News. “Over and over when a celeb comes forward on a disease…it’s an opportunity again for people who are interested in it to revisit it.”

He said even though HIV and AIDS have been in the media for decades, after Sheen’s announcement he had patients come in surprised that the actor could be infected.

“I had patients come in and asked me questions,” said Lerner. “Some of them assume he must have used drugs or had unprotected sex with a man, I’m like you know that’s not necessarily the case at all.”

Lerner said the study shows how helpful celebrities can draw attention to medical conditions.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Your Body: How Fruit Can Help with Erectile Dysfunction

Creatas/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Did you know that certain fruit may help with erectile dysfunction?

Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found in a study of data from a large survey that men who ate more fruits overall reduced their risk of developing ED by 14 percent.

However, it’s worth noting that men who had a higher intake of flavonoids, also used less alcohol and tobacco, and exercised more — all factors which could have affected the results.

So what can you do if you or your partner suffers from ED?

Remember that what’s good for your overall health is also good for your sexual health. This means eating lots of berries, getting regular cardio exercise and drinking alcohol in moderation.

If you have problems with erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor. ED can be a sign of vascular disease.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Veteran’s Futile Call to VA Prompts Congress Members to Act

iStock/Thinkstock(BEDFORD, Mass.) — A video shows Army veteran Dennis Magnasco trying to schedule a doctor’s appointment at his local VA hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts. But a nearly five-minute phone call became a maddening stream of automated audio messages.

And just when it sounds like Magnasco will be transferred to a representative to help him schedule an appointment, he is looped back to the beginning of the original recording, again and again.

The problem of trying to get in the door of VA hospitals is one Magnasco said he’s heard from veterans many times.

Magnasco, who served as an Army infantry medic, works as a district representative and veteran’s liaison for Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA). Magnasco told ABC News he gets great care from the VA, but it’s difficult to gain access to the system.

The issue is one Moulton, a fellow veteran, has been working to solve. He introduced the Faster Care for Veterans Act last month with Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA). The bill is designed to improve the way veterans access health care by introducing self-scheduling technology that could be used on a smartphone or computer. The legislation is expected to receive a hearing in mid-March.

As for Magnasco, his congressional co-workers watched him try to get a VA hospital appointment for two days. That’s when they decided to pull out the video camera.

Since the video was posted on Moulton’s Facebook page on Feb. 10, it has been shared over 24,000 times and viewed almost 969,000 times.

It’s also gotten the attention of Moulton’s fellow members of Congress.

Fifteen have signed up to co-sponsor the bill since the video was posted, bringing the total number of co-sponsors to 20 (12 Republicans and eight Democrats).

“For far too long, our nation’s veterans have been underserved by inefficient and outdated systems,” Moulton said in a press release last month. “I get my care from the VA and I’ve waited hours for appointments and months for referrals. It doesn’t have to be this way. We owe it to our nation’s veterans to utilize the technology available to the private sector. Improving access to healthcare through a platform like this would ensure that our veterans will get the best care when they need it.”

Magnasco told ABC News that his VA hospital has since fixed the issue with the automated recording.

“But it’s really a systemic problem throughout the VA,” he said.

James Hutton, director of media relations at the Department of Veterans Affairs, told ABC News in a statement that “the technical issue that was described in the video posted February 10 was corrected and the Congressman’s district office was advised of the correction. We appreciate the notification of the issue.”

Earlier this month, the Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs found that a VA clinic in Colorado Springs was incorrectly reporting veteran appointments. The Inspector General reviewed 450 appointments over a one-year span and determined that there were 60 cases in which the VA said a veteran had scheduled an appointment within the government’s 30-day target, even though in actuality it took longer. Sixty-four percent of the appointments showed that veterans did not receive timely care.

ABC News has reached out to the Bedford VA for comment.

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Racial Divide in Cancer Narrowing, But Still Unequal

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Historically, African Americans have faced higher cancer death rates than their Caucasian counterparts. But is this still the case?

In a study published in A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, researchers at the American Cancer Society analyzed recent survey data collected by the National Cancer Institute to characterize these differences and see what has changed over the years.

The study broke down states, types of cancer, and gender for cancer incidence and mortality.

The good news is the gap in cancer death rates between African Americans and white people is getting smaller.

Some inequalities remain, however.

African American women with breast cancer die more often than white women with the same disease, and that gap is getting worse. Overall, the research team estimates that nearly 200,000 African Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in 2016.

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New Guidelines May Help Doctors Recognize Sepsis Faster

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Sepsis, a life-threatening inflammatory condition linked to infection, is a common and costly problem.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 million Americans were hospitalized with sepsis in 2008. And in 2011, hospitals spent $20 billion dollars caring for patients with life threatening infections.

In a new series of studies published in JAMA, an international panel of experts provides updated guidelines for doctors caring for very sick patients who are at risk of sepsis. The study is anticipated to be widely read by health providers and could change clinical practice.

Specifically, they offer healthcare providers a new clinical definition of sepsis, as well as easy-to-use tools to diagnose sepsis at the bedside. Together, these guidelines may help doctors recognize sepsis faster and could help reduce death due to sepsis therefore lowering associated hospital costs.

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Colorado Boy Turning Into ‘Stone’ Because of Rare Skin Condition

Natalie Rodgers/YouCaring(ALAMOSA, Colo.) — Relatives of a Colorado boy are searching for answers after they say he developed a rare skin condition that is “turning him to stone.”

Jaiden Rogers was first diagnosed with so-called stiff-skin syndrome at age 7. Three years later, the disease covers so much of his body in rock-like lesions that he is on oxygen and unable to go to school.

Rogers’ mother, Natalie Rogers, said they are searching and hoping for a doctor or treatment that can help Jaiden get better. She said doctors are even using chemotherapy medications in an effort to slow the growth of the lesions.

“It started as small little patch and it spread all over,” Rogers told ABC News. “They’re trying to slow it down as much as it can, until we can find something.”

Stiff-skin syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that leads to lesions with increased fibrotic tissue that can cause the hard or “rock-like” appearance. The disease can progress over time and cause mobility issues, especially over lower body joints, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Rogers, of Alamosa, Colorado, said the effect on Jaiden goes beyond dealing with the lesions across his body.

“He’s very outgoing,” she said. But “he’s on so many meds, most of the time he’s tired and strung out.”

The boy’s doctors did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment, but the NIH says there is no proven treatment. Regular exercise and physical therapy can help patients maintain movement, according to its website.

There have been a host of different medications tested by doctors on the condition, including steroids, immune-suppressant drugs and light therapy but none has been proven to work effectively, according to the NIH.

Rogers said the lesions first appeared under the skin and then became more visible. “It’s like little marbles and some of it is flat and hard,” she said.

She and her husband, Tim Rogers, are hoping that, by sharing Jaiden’s story, they can find help for the disease, which is so rare it has only been reported in medical literature case reports from researchers.

The family is trying to raise funds on the YouCaring website, but is mostly looking for help treating the disease and slowing its progression.

“Literally, it’s turning him to stone; he’ll be entombed in himself if we can’t find something,” Rogers said.

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Boy with Cerebral Palsy Creates His Own Triathlon

Courtesy of Castle Howard Triathlon(DERBY, England) — After successfully competing in a triathlon, a 9-year-old British boy with cerebral palsy decided to start his own for kids with disabilities.

Bailey Matthews, who was diagnosed at 18 months with the disease, crossed the finish line at the Castle Howard Triathlon last July with the crowd excitedly cheering him on. A video of Matthews ditching his walking frame, falling down twice and then completing the race by walking on his own went viral last year with more than 800,000 views on YouTube, even getting the attention of celebrities such as Simon Cowell.

So Matthews decided to create his own triathlon for kids with disabilities just like him called the Be More Bailey Triathlon.

“It isn’t a triathlon just for children with disabilities it is for every child,” Matthews told ABC News.

The Be More Bailey Triathlon, slated for July 17 in Derby, United Kingdom, will challenge kids to swim for 50 meters, bike for 2.5 kilometers and finish the race by running for 750 meters.

“The great thing about this event is that it’s purely based on participation, excitement and fun,” Dean Jackson, the triathlon’s organizer, told ABC News. “There’s no timing with this. You get in and finish at your own time.”

“Bailey wanted grannys and uncles and guardians doing the triathlon with the child,” Jackson, who is the founder of endurance sports company Huub added. “It’s all him and it’s fantastic to have such a vision.”

Matthews’ triathlon is one part of Jackson’s Jenson Button Trust Triathlon, where participants compete. The Be More Bailey Triathlon will happen in between qualifying rounds for kids who can’t wait to cross the finish line.

“It will give them the chance to join in and do the same as everybody else,” Matthews said.

Matthews’ father, Jonathan, said he’s proud that one of his son’s passions has turned into an event beneficial to their community.

“It’s quite overwhelming because originally when he did his triathlon, it was just a family day out,” the Doncaster, England man told ABC News. “Bailey’s outlook on life is very positive. If he gets down about being disabled, he keeps it to himself. I think that’s what he’s doing with this. He wants to help other children and help give them the confidence that he’s got.”

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Report: Mastectomies Increased 36 Percent from 2005 to 2013

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new report published Monday finds there has been a dramatic increase in the number of mastectomies over the past decade.

Although breast cancer rates remained the same, the rate of women getting mastectomies increased 36 percent from 2005 to 2013, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Overall, the rate of mastectomies increased from 66 in 100,000 women in 2005 to 90 in 100,000 women in 2013. Women getting double mastectomies more than tripled, going from nine out of 100,000 women in 2005 to 30 out of 100,000 women in 2013. As a result, one third of all mastectomies were double mastectomies in 2013.

Additionally, the rate of women without cancer getting preventative double mastectomies increased from two per 100,000 women to four per 100,000 women in 2005.

AHRQ Director Rick Kronick said in a statement that the report shows changing attitudes toward health and a new willingness to treat mastectomies as “preventative” measures to diminish the chance of developing cancer.

“This brief highlights changing patterns of care for breast cancer and the need for further evidence about the effects of choices women are making on their health, well-being and safety,” said AHRQ Director Rick Kronick. “More women are opting for mastectomies, particularly preventive double mastectomies, and more of those surgeries are being done as outpatient procedures.”

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CDC: Elevated Health Risk in Lumber Liquidators Flooring

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Certain types of flooring made by Lumber Liquidators may be riskier to your health than first thought, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC found exposure to formaldehyde and laminate flooring made by Lumber Liquidators was higher than originally estimated. This means the flooring poses three times the risk of cancer.

People with the flooring are also more susceptible to eye, nose, and throat irritation, according to the CDC.

Lumber Liquidators said all laminate flooring sold since May 2015 has been sourced form North America or Europe, and it does not pose the same danger as flooring from China.

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Celebrity Trainer Jeanette Jenkins Shares Workout Secrets

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s awards season, and stars are displaying their toned bodies on the red carpet.

Jeanette Jenkins, the Hollywood trainer who has worked with celebrities including Alicia Keyes, Kelly Rowland and Pink, appeared on Good Morning America on Monday to reveal just how she helps those star achieve their red carpet-ready bodies.

“We do cardio, sculpting and then we balance it with yoga and Pilates. These are people who have been working out already consistently and then they’re like ‘I’ve got to look amaze for this red carpet,’ and then we kind of take everything up a level,” she said.

In the three to six weeks leading up to the red carpet event, Jenkins’ clients work out daily for about two hours every day.

“Most of the time the women are in gowns and their arms are open so I make sure I really hit those arms and the upper body,” she said.

Another red carpet-ready star secret is nutrition – particularly lowering sugar intake, Jenkins said.

“So it’s like no more processed foods. No sugars. And no eating past 7:30, 8 o’clock,” she said.

Jenkins’ biggest advice beyond hitting the gym is self-confidence.

“My number one thing is never no self-hate,” she said. “So you can’t work out with me and be like, ‘I hate my legs, oh my God, I hate my abs.’ You have to love yourself.”

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