The Consumer Health Week in Review: First FDA-Approved Rapid HIV Test; Beating the Heat; Mammogram Update; Robotic Legs
After Decades of Controversy, First Rapid HIV Test Wins FDA Approval
The FDA’s approval earlier this week of a new HIV test marks the first time that Americans can learn in the privacy of their home whether they are infected. The OraQuick test, by OraSure Technologies, said to be as easy as a home-pregnancy test, uses a cheek swab and provides results in less than 40 minutes. Until now, other at home tests required users to send a drop of blood to a lab to get results. FDA officials said the test is designed for people who might not otherwise get tested. Antiviral drugs lower the chance of transmission to someone else by as much as 96 percent, so this test is seen as a tremendous step forward in helping bring the epidemic under control. The test should be in available in 30,000 pharmacies, grocery stores and online retailers by October.
Summer Heat Requires Extra Health Precautions
High temperatures are blanketing much the United States this week, and it is wise to keep a couple of tips in mind as you enjoy the dog days of summer. CNN reports that some of the basics – drinking plenty of water, avoiding the hotter parts of the day and wearing lightweight clothing – are key to staying healthy during the heat wave. Those who are suffering from chronic illnesses, such as endocrine patients, people taking heart medications, some cancer patients and the elderly may not be able to regulate temperature as well, and should take extra precautions to stay cool. Feeling a little hotheaded? MSNBC says that you can blame the heat for that as well.
(Photo courtesy of Flickr user JeffSchwartz)
Mixed Messaging on Mammograms for Younger Women
A year after an expert panel recommended that women delay regular screenings for breast cancer until age 50, a new study shows that the number of women in their 40s undergoing mammograms has only decreased slightly. According to The New York Times this may be due to conflicting guidelines urging more frequent examinations coming from other groups.
University of Arizona Produces Robot Legs that Mimic Human Movement
The University of Arizona has announced that researchers built a pair of robotic legs capable of “biologically accurate” movement. The machined uses motors to drive Kevlar “muscles” and a computerized version of a neural network known as the central pattern generator to power the machine’s movement. Though only capable of movement while tethered, the development could allow researchers to gain more insight into how babies learn how to walk and further research into treatments for patients suffering from traumatic spinal injuries. Check out the video to see the robot in action.
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