News of the week: a new use for Pap?

As Cervical Health Month gets going in the United States, researchers at Johns Hopkins University reported early results that might one day mean the Pap test—which screens for cervical cancer—might be used to find other cancers. That’s among the varied stories that caught our eye this week.

Pap test could help find cancers of the uterus and ovaries

The New York Times, January 9, 2013

The Pap test, which has prevented countless deaths from cervical cancer, may eventually help to detect cancers of the uterus and ovaries as well, a new study suggests.

For the first time, researchers have found genetic material from uterine or ovarian cancers in Pap smears, meaning that it may become possible to detect three diseases with just one routine test.

Read the article.

Gray clouds mass over a long, straight road with a single truck in the distance.

Could weather forecasts help predict disease outbreaks? Photo: PATH/Mike Wang.

 Flu? Malaria? Disease forecasters look to the sky

The Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2013

Only a 10 percent chance of showers today, but a 70 percent chance of flu next month. That’s the kind of forecasting health scientists are trying to move toward, as they increasingly include weather data in their attempts to predict disease outbreaks.

In one recent study, two scientists reported they could predict—more than seven weeks in advance—when flu season was going to peak in New York City. Theirs was just the latest in a growing wave of computer models that factor in rainfall, temperature, or other weather conditions to forecast disease.

Read the article.

In China, grass-roots groups take on HIV/AIDS outreach work

The New York Times, January 3, 2013

As he waited to give blood for an HIV test one recent afternoon, Le, a 25-year-old marketing professional, explained why he was there. “I was aware of the consequences” of not using a condom, he said, “but somehow I didn’t know how to say no.”

Le, a gay man who would give only his first name, was being tested at the Lingnan Health Center, an organization run largely by gay volunteers, whose walls are adorned with red AIDS ribbons and a smiling condom mascot. In the past, Le went to hospitals to be tested, he said, but the stigma of being a gay man in China made the experience particularly harrowing.

“I’d always be concerned about what the doctors would think of me,” Le said. “Here we’re all in the same community, so there’s less to worry about.”

Read the article.

How the fiscal cliff deal affects foreign aid

Devex, January 4, 2013

Now that US President Barack Obama—correction, an automatic pen using his handwriting—has signed hard-fought legislation to avert the much-dreaded fiscal cliff, details are emerging on what its impact may be on foreign aid spending.

Read the article.

Posted in Cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS, Influenza | Permalink

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