Friday, November 16, 2007


Merck Unblinds AIDS Study

Merck plans to tell thousands of people who volunteered to test an experimental AIDS vaccine whether they received the actual shot or a placebo. The vaccine may have actually raised the risk of HIV infection.
Two international trials of the vaccine were halted in September after it became clear that the vaccine did not prevent infection. In early November, researchers saw worrying indications that the vaccine could raised the risk of HIV infection, although they have asserted that the vaccine itself could not cause an infection.
In many tests of new drugs, neither the researchers nor the volunteers know who gets the actual drug and who gets a placebo, in order to avoid any bias in determining how well the treatment works.
Reuters November 13, 2007

Flying and Blood Clots: A Deadly Risk

Blood clots have been linked to air travel for more than 50 years, but a new study of business travelers confirms the risk. Those who fly four hours or more triple their risk of developing clots.
DVT, or Deep Vein Thrombosis, occurs when a blood clot forms within the large deep veins of the body. If untreated, part of the clot may break off and travel to the lungs, where it can cause a pulmonary embolism, which is potentially fatal.
The risk increases with factors such as the duration of a flight, the number of flights in a short period, obesity, oral contraceptive use, and hormone replacement therapy. A combination of these factors can increase risk twenty to fifty times.
Commercial compression stockings are only effective as a preventive measure if they are custom fit -- otherwise, they may actually cause more harm by blocking blood flow.
New York Times November 6, 2007

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