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For HIV treatment, the earlier the better

Photo: Inquiry blog

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Inquiry.

New Doctors treating people with HIV have faced a tough decision. Should patients begin drug therapy before AIDS symptoms appear, and put up with the inconvenience and potential side effects? Or is it better to wait until their CD4+ T cell count – a key barometer of the immune system’s health –drops below a certain level, even though that means a greater risk of transmitting the virus to a partner?

This summer an answer finally emerged. The international START (Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment) study, the first large, randomized and controlled clinical trial of the issue, showed the benefits of early treatment so clearly that the trial was halted prematurely so the volunteers receiving deferred treatment could begin therapy.

“Early treatment was effective everywhere in the world,” says James Neaton, a University of Minnesota biostatistics professor and principal investigator for INSIGHT (International Network for Strategic Initiatives in Global HIV Trials), which designed and conducted the trial. “We had more than a thousand people enrolled from sub-Saharan Africa, and a total of 4,685 people from 35 countries.”

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Overweight girls with a positive body image gain less weight over time

Photo courtesy Flickr user Patrick Slaven

Body shaming has been a popular topic this year, sparking debates on whether it is detrimental or motivational. A new study from the University of Minnesota shows body shaming may be linked to weight gain in young girls.

The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, shows overweight girls with a positive body image gain less weight later in life as compared to girls with negative self-images

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Two U of M College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members appointed to National Presidential Advisory Council

Photo Credit: PublicDomainPictures

An increasing number of bacterial infections no longer respond to antibiotics, which threatens public health and the economy. As a result, the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria was formed. Out of just four U.S. veterinarians to be appointed to the committee, two are University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members Peter Robert Davies B.V.Sc., and Randall Singer, D.V.M.

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Research snapshot: Filtered sunlight a safe, effective jaundice treatment in developing countries

Photo courtesy Thrasher Research Foundation USA

New research could provide a safe, low-tech method for treating newborn jaundice. The project offers an effective and inexpensive solution for developing countries, where more than 150,000 babies each year suffer brain damage or death due to this serious health condition.

The study, published in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, was led by Tina Slusher, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota. Two other UMN researchers, Ann Brearley, Ph.D., and Troy Lund, M.D., Ph.D., helped with the study. In addition, researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine, University of California-San Diego, and Island Maternity Hospital, Massey Street Children’s Hospital and Hearing International Nigeria in Lagos all contributed to the project.

“There are so many areas in the world where jaundice is a big concern, but access to consistent electricity or advanced medical treatments aren’t always possible,” said Slusher. “The method we’ve outlined harnesses a natural resource in sunlight, but safely, giving parents and care providers an incredibly accessible, useful tool to treat this dangerous and common illness.”

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In the News: University of Minnesota Medical Center one of nine US hospitals prepared to treat Ebola

Photo Credit: Caroline Marin

After two nurses contracted Ebola when treating an infected patient, many nurses felt unprepared if a patient with the disease came through their hospital doors. One year later, the University of Minnesota Medical Center (UMMC) is prepared to face another outbreak since being named one of nine regional Ebola treatment centers in the U.S.

According to a recent Huffington Post article, not all U.S. hospitals can be ready to effectively and efficiently treat Ebola and other highly infectious diseases, so the U.S. appointed one hospital per region to specialize in treating highly infectious pathogens. They also designated other hospitals as assessment centers that could care for the patient until the disease is identified and then transport the patient to a regional center.

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How to help an injured raptor during migration this fall

Photo Credit: Amber Burnette

While we might not be thinking of winter quite yet, raptors are already preparing for the change in the season. In the darker, colder months, insects are sparse so smaller birds travel south in search for bugs to eat, and mammals need to adjust their diets to accommodate a smaller seed and plant supply. Frozen lakes pose a challenge for raptors like osprey and bald eagles relying on fish for nourishment.

The environmental changes lead raptors on an annual journey to find food sources, but the trip can be challenging.

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