Health Buzz: HIV Prevention Studies Show Promise and Other Health News

Athletes turn to yoga; good news about breast cancer and pregnancy.

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Efforts to Prevent HIV Show Promise in Monkey, Human Studies

Antiretroviral drugs were highly effective in preventing HIV infection in two experiments in monkeys, and a third study in humans suggests that a vaginal gel might offer some protection for women, the Washington Post reports. The drugs are widely used to treat people already infected with HIV, to slow the progression of AIDS. The first monkey study tested the antiretroviral drugs tenofovir and emtricitabine; the second used vaginal gels containing both of those drugs or tenofovir alone. The human study involved 3,100 women in Africa and the United States; it tested a vaginal microbicide gel that prevents HIV from invading cells.

Before now, several other topical products have been tried to prevent HIV infection, but none worked, and two of them actually upped the risk. Many scientists now think that a substance that will block the HIV virus is the best shot at fighting HIV/AIDS, short of a vaccine. In the new study, which was presented at a conference in Montreal, women using the gel had lower HIV infection rates over a two-year period, but the reduction was not considered to be statistically significant, so more research will need to be done to see if this method actually reduces risk. The women involved in the study also reported using condoms for about three quarters of their sexual activity.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended HIV testing for most adult women last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated last year that about 56,300 new HIV infections occurred in the United States in 2006—a figure 40 percent higher than the former estimate of 40,000 infections each year. The revised estimate is the result of a new and improved calculation method. Black women are heavily affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Learn about one woman's battle with HIV.

Exploring the Benefits of Yoga for Athletes

Many people are trying yoga as a performance or injury-prevention aid for golf, running, swimming, basketball, football, and cycling, Katherine Hobson reports. While there's not yet a whole lot of scientific research to quantify or qualify the benefits of yoga for athletes, it's easy to find sport-specific yoga DVDs, books, and testimonials from star athletes like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Sasha Cohen. (More common is research examining how yoga can help the elderly or people with diseases or disabilities.) Learn what a handful of experts have to say about how yoga might spill over into the rest of your workout life.

Among other things, yoga helps improve core strength, which is also part of a program designed to reduce injuries in female soccer players. Also, consider the interplay of yoga, meditation, and money management.

What to Ask if You're Pregnant With Breast Cancer

As earth-shattering as a diagnosis of breast cancer can be, it's even worse for women who are pregnant at the time. A new study from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center provides reassuring news for those with what's commonly called pregnancy-associated breast cancer: It doesn't appear to be any more deadly—contrary to what was once thought—than breast cancer in women who aren't pregnant. There are, however, many complicating factors that women still need to consider if they detect a breast lump while pregnant, and young breast cancer patients who are not expecting a baby are advised to avoid pregnancy at least until after treatment. Look through these 5 questions to ask if you're pregnant and have breast cancer.

Earlier, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz listed 7 things to keep in mind if you have a family history of breast cancer. She also explained how to handle sex after breast cancer.

—January W. Payne

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