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Health: News In Brief

Tuesday, October 12, 1999 Published at 08:01 GMT 09:01 UK

Study to look at HIV gender gap

A US study is to look at why women with HIV are still 18% less likely to survive than men.

The research of 100 men and 100 women who have failed to respond to current drug treatments is being carried out for advocacy group Women Alive and is sponsored by drug companies Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co and Merck & Co.

Participants will be teamed up with peers to ensure they stick to the 48-week trial.

It will look at how much HIV is controlled, abnormal distribution of body fat, raised cholesterol levels and diabetes in 10 areas of the US.

It will also assess patients' response to a new combination of four anti-HIV drugs.

A Women Alive spokeswoman said there was little research on the gender gap - for example, whether women and men should be taking the same dosage of anti-HIV drugs.

Parents fail to turn up for HIV baby test

A London council is to return to the High Court after the parents of a four-month-old baby failed to appear for an appointment to have an HIV test.

A judge ruled in September that it was in the interests of the baby, whose mother is HIV positive, to have the test.

However, the parents, whose current whereabouts are unknown, are vehemently opposed to testing, believing they should be able to decide how their child is brought up.

They failed to turn up for the test at Great Ormond Street Hospital on 24 September and were given a second chance by Camden Council, which took the action against them in the belief a test could help save the child's life if she has HIV.

The parents have now failed to turn up for two further appointments and Camden says it is returning to the High Court to seek guidance on what should happen next.

Immune system feed aids recovery

Intensive care patients given feeds specifically designed to boost the immune system recover sooner than those treated with standard feeds, researchers have discovered.

The European Society for Intensive Care Medicine meeting in Berlin heard that use of the specially tailored feeds could reduce hospital costs by as much as 30%.

Impact, a feed supplemented with three specific immune-boosting nutrients, reduced the time spent in the intensive care unit, overall hospital stay and the need for mechanical ventilation in a series of more than 100 patients admitted to Guy's Hospital in London.

In addition, patients given Impact required fewer interventions during their hospital stay than those on standard feeds.

Scientists to develop pulse and blood monitor

A team from Loughborough University has won funding to develop a new type of medical instrument designed to measure the pulse rate and blood oxygen levels.

Professor Peter Smith and Dr Matthew Hayes, from the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering hope to develop a new version of the pulse oximeter, which is used by GPs and hospital doctors in all specialties.

Current models are restrictive because they must mechanically attached to an immobile part of the body, such as finger or toe.

The Loughborough team hope to develop an instrument that is both non-contact and can be used in mobile situations, for instance in an ambulance.

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