In Brief


December 01, 2008

AIDS virus could be eliminated in a decade

The virus that causes AIDS could theoretically be eliminated in a decade, if all people living in countries with high infection rates are regularly tested and treated, according to a new mathematical model. It is an intriguing solution to end the AIDS epidemic. But it is based on assumptions rather than data and is riddled with logistical problems. The research was published online last week in the medical journal, The Lancet.

"It's quite a startling result," said Charlie Gilks, an AIDS treatment expert at the World Health Organization and one of the paper's authors. "In a relatively short amount of time, we could potentially knock the epidemic on its head." Gilks and colleagues used data from South Africa and Malawi. In their model, people were voluntarily tested each year and immediately given drugs if they tested positive for HIV, regardless of whether they were sick. Within 10 years, HIV infections dropped by 95 percent. Other initiatives like safe sex education and male circumcision were also used.

The strategy would cut the estimated number of AIDS deaths between 2008 and 2050 by about half, from about 8.7 million to 3.9 million, leaving only sporadic HIV cases. Experts think the strategy's cost would peak at about $3.4 billion a year, though expenses would fall after an initial investment.

Associated Press

Time spent on Internet not bad for teenagers

Good news for worried parents: All those hours teenagers spend socializing on the Internet are not a bad thing, according to a new study released last week by the MacArthur Foundation.

"It may look as though kids are wasting a lot of time hanging out with new media, whether it's on MySpace or sending instant messages," said Mizuko Ito, lead researcher on the study, "Living and Learning With New Media."

"But their participation is giving them the technological skills and literacy they need to succeed in the contemporary world. They're learning how to get along with others, how to manage a public identity, how to create a home page."

The study, conducted from 2005 to this summer, describes new-media usage but does not measure its effects.

"It certainly rings true that new media are inextricably woven into young people's lives," said Vicki Rideout, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation and director of its program for the study of media and health.

New York Times News Service

Presidential workout coming to Washington

The outdoor White House basketball court has nothing on Chicago's East Bank Club, where President-elect Barack Obama has been known to shoot hoops. It's cramped - just a half-court - and unusable in bad weather. But change is afoot in Washington.

"The bowling alley, I understand, offers us some potential for expansion," Obama told Men's Health for the magazine's November issue. An agile pickup player who can drive left but gets pushed around in the paint, Obama favors basketball as his form of exercise. But he'll get in a workout any way he can.

That typically involves hitting a fitness center six days a week. Obama alternates two days of cardio with four days of weight training, Moore said. Still, Obama is adaptable. He has reportedly used treadmills, stair machines and weights everywhere from Planet Fitness in West Palm Beach, Fla., to a Washington Sports Club branch in Washington's Dupont Circle, to the East Bank Club in Chicago. For his workouts, Obama usually wears a White Sox cap - sometimes a black Secret Service cap - long pants and white Asics sneakers. He listens to an iPod or reads a newspaper while he warms up on a treadmill, StairMaster or recumbent bicycle.

Chicago Tribune

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