General 

Sperm count drop 'could make humans extinct'

Sperm count drop 'could make humans extinct' Humans could become extinct if sperm counts in men continue to fall at current rates, a doctor has warned. Researchers assessing the results of nearly 200 studies say sperm counts among men from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, seem to have halved in less than 40 years. Some experts are sceptical of the Human Reproduction Update findings. But lead researcher Dr Hagai Levine said he was “very worried” about what might happen in the future. The assessment, one of the largest…

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General 

Antibody helps keep man's HIV at bay for 10 months

Antibody helps keep man's HIV at bay for 10 months An experimental therapy has held back one man’s HIV infection for 10 months, doctors have reported. He was one of 18 people in a small trial testing injections of “broadly neutralising antibodies” – the natural weapons of the immune system. They delayed the resurgence of the virus in other participants by around two weeks. The findings are being presented at the ninth International Aids Society Conference on HIV Science in Paris. The human body is inefficient at making antibodies that…

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General 

HIV-prevention ring a hit with teen girls

HIV-prevention ring a hit with teen girls A vaginal ring to prevent HIV infection is popular with teenage girls, US scientists say. Women and girls aged 15-24 account for a fifth of all new HIV infections globally. Nearly 1,000 are infected every day in sub-Saharan Africa. Infused with microbicides, the ring, which sits on the cervix, has been shown to cut infections by 56%. Experts say it frees women from relying on men to wear condoms and allows them to protect themselves confidentially. Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the…

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General 

Charlie Gard: 'Last precious moments' for parents with their son

Charlie Gard: 'Last precious moments' for parents with their son Media playback is unsupported on your device Charlie Gard’s parents are spending their “last precious moments” with their terminally ill son after ending their legal fight to take him to the US for treatment. Lawyers said Chris Gard and Connie Yates want to spend the “maximum amount of time they have left with Charlie”. The couple ended the case after a US doctor told them it was now too late to treat Charlie’s rare genetic condition. Great Ormond Street Hospital…

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Acid Reflux 

Setting the record straight: Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) do not cause dementia

Setting the record straight: Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) do not cause dementia Several studies have reported associations between proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) use and dementia. New research published in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), puts these claims to rest. The study authors report that there is no convincing evidence to support the suggestion that PPI use increases dementia risk. These findings are based on an analysis of 13,864 participants from the Nurses’ Health Study II who completed testing on cognitive function, which is key predictor of the…

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General 

Women 'unsure how much to eat while pregnant' – survey

Women 'unsure how much to eat while pregnant' – survey Most women do not know how much they should be eating while pregnant, a survey has suggested. The National Charity Partnership found only a third of the expectant mothers questioned got the correct answer. Health watchdog NICE advises that in the first six months of pregnancy women do not need any extra calories. But in the last trimester they require 200 extra calories a day – equivalent to two pieces of wholegrain toast with olive oil spread. The National Charity…

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General 

South African child 'virtually cured' of HIV

South African child 'virtually cured' of HIV A nine-year-old infected with HIV at birth has spent most of their life without needing any treatment, say doctors in South Africa. The child, whose identity is being protected, was given a burst of treatment shortly after birth. They have since been off drugs for eight-and-a-half years without symptoms or signs of active virus. The family is said to be “really delighted”. Most people need treatment every day to prevent HIV destroying the immune system and causing Aids. Understanding how the child is…

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General 

Blood donation rules relaxed for gay men and sex workers

Blood donation rules relaxed for gay men and sex workers Blood donation rules for sex workers and gay men are being relaxed in England and Scotland after improvements in the accuracy of testing procedures. Men who have sex with men can now give blood three months after their last sexual activity instead of 12. And sex workers, who were previously barred from donating, now can, subject to the same three-month rule. Experts said the move would give more people the opportunity to donate blood without affecting blood supply safety. The…

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General 

Boots apologises for morning-after pill response

Boots apologises for morning-after pill response Boots has said it is “truly sorry” for its response to calls to cut the cost of one of its morning-after pills. The pharmaceutical company was criticised after telling the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) it was avoiding “incentivising inappropriate use”. It now says it is looking for cheaper alternatives to the Levonelle brand. The firm said it “sincerely” apologised for its “poor choice of words” over the emergency contraception pricing. The progestogen-based drug Levonelle costs £28.25 in Boots, with a non-branded equivalent priced…

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General 

NHS plans to scrap homeopathy treatments

NHS plans to scrap homeopathy treatments NHS England has announced plans to stop doctors prescribing homeopathy, herbal and other “low value” treatments. It hopes to save almost £200m a year by ending what the head of the service called a “misuse of scarce” NHS funds. Prescriptions for conditions including diarrhoea, thrush, acne and acute pain are among those up for review. But the plans to scrap prescriptions for common health problems have been criticised by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society for hitting poorer families. The RPS argues that low earners will…

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