Health Buzz: Cheap, Rapid HPV Test and Other Health News

An artistic stunt with medical risks, conquering your fears, and robotic rehabilitation after stroke.

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Rapid, Inexpensive HPV Test Could Prove Useful in Rural Areas

A rapid, low-cost HPV test called careHPV, made by Qiagen, was found to be 90 percent accurate in identifying cervical cancers in women from China, according to a new study published today in Lancet Oncology. The test delivers results in 2½ hours—detecting 14 HPV types—and was made for use in rural parts of developing countries, the Washington Post reports. Because of the speed of getting test results, women can have the HPV test and receive treatment on the same day. The new test could prove useful in developing countries' rural areas, where, the Post reports, HPV detection commonly consists of an unreliable screening approach in which a patient's cervix is covered with vinegar and examined for abnormalities.

This past summer, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz explored whether the HPV vaccine is to blame for a teen's paralysis. Last year, she discussed what to do about HPV.

New David Blaine Stunt Carries Risk of Blindness

Magician David Blaine was suspended upside down six stories in the air in New York City's Central Park this morning, and he intends to stay that way for 60 hours. Blaine launched the stunt live on ABC's Good Morning America today. The experiment carries some medical risk, Blaine said on the show, so doctors will monitor him regularly. Blindness poses the most danger, according to the Associated Press, since being in an upside-down position for an extended period raises blood pressure in the head, particularly the eyes. The stunt also carries a risk of cramps and swelling in internal organs, the AP reports. Blaine plans to return to the ground at 11 p.m. on Wednesday, according to ABC News.

This month is Sports Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month, intended to raise awareness that sports-related eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children.

How to Conquer Your Fears

Phobias can cause people to persistently avoid certain situations, animals, objects, and activities. But is it sensible to face your fears head-on? In some cases, yes, Deborah Kotz reports. Overcoming a phobia by exposing yourself to it can be extremely effective—as long as you're not being coerced or cajoled into it, you're willing to let yourself be afraid during the experience, and you have the means to soothe yourself when you're going through it.

Earlier, Kotz explained how to overcome your fear of public speaking by giving a great speech.

Robots and Stroke Therapy

For the past 20 years, robots have been billed as the next big thing in stroke therapy, a way for stroke patients to get more intensive therapy and recover more function. Models work differently, but in general, therapeutic robots sense the user's intention to move and then follow along as if connected with springs. The robots "know" to help a severely impaired patient move a limb if he cannot or sense if he is falling and catch him, Nancy Shute reports. About 700,000 people suffer a stroke each year, and 90 percent have significant impairment afterward. But until very recently, therapeutic robots have offered little more than promise.

New research suggests that three-dimensional MRIs may be useful for those at high risk for strokes.

—January W. Payne