Health Buzz: HIV in Men and Other Health News

Teens and alcohol, foiling sudden cardiac death, an intriguing weapon against migraines.


Sharp Rise in HIV Diagnoses Among Young, Gay Men

To coincide with the arrival of National HIV Testing Day today, here's some disturbing news about the illness: Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's June 26 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report suggests that a "second wave" AIDS epidemic may be in progress among gay Americans, the Washington Post reports. New HIV diagnoses are increasing 12 percent per year among young gay men; the steepest rise is occurring among young black men.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced this week that it is launching an effort to get all Bronx residents ages 18 to 64 tested for HIV in the next three years. It is the largest such initiative in the city's history. Earlier this week, U.S. News offered a caution about rapid HIV tests, after the CDC reported an increase in false positives on certain oral fluid tests.

Teens Report Getting Alcohol From Adults

More than 40 percent of teens who admit they've consumed alcohol say they sometimes get alcohol from an adult, according to a new survey entitled "Underage Alcohol Use: Findings From the 2002-2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health." The report, put together by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, estimates that there are about 10.8 million young people ages 12 to 20 who have drunk alcohol in the past 30 days. And 1 in 16 underage drinkers received alcohol from their parents in the past month, the report says.

In April, Sarah Baldauf offered six questions that adolescents have about alcohol and some answers from experts. She also explored questions that teens pose about peer pressure and drugs.

Testing to Foil Sudden Cardiac Death

A simple heart scan that measures calcium in the coronary arteries can make all the difference in detecting heart problems, Bernadine Healy reports. The scan has been around for 20 years and can detect coronary disease in those without symptoms—as was the case with Tim Russert, who recently died from a sudden heart attack—but the test is hotly debated in the medical community. It is fast, uses low-dose radiation similar to a mammogram, and is priced in the hundreds of dollars. However, in a turnoff to mainstream medicine, coronary calcium scanning has been marketed directly to consumers by for-profit imaging centers, starting early on, before its usefulness was evident. Government and private health insurers are resistant to paying for it, and it has not been recommended as part of standard care. Russert had a coronary calcium scan 10 years ago, but it was not repeated.

Last week, Katherine Hobson listed six ways to avoid dying of a surprise heart attack.

Hand-held Magnetic Device Eases Migraines

A new study suggests that there might be a drug-free alternative to treat some migraines: a hand-held transcranial magnetic stimulation device that, when held against the bottom of the back of the head, eased migraine symptoms in some study volunteers. The idea behind the device is that patients will use it when they enter the migraine's aura phase, a period of visual disturbance that can occur before the headache begins. The study showed it eliminated the headache within two hours for 39 percent of participants; 22 percent in the placebo group reported no pain two hours later.

U.S. News lists five types of drugs used to treat migraines. Previously, Ben Harder explored whether mending a hole in the heart might also put an end to migraines.

—January W. Payne