Health Buzz: AIDS in China and Other Health News

Figuring out if your child needs to take a statin; things pediatricians often get wrong.

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AIDS Now the Leading Killer Among Infectious Diseases in China

AIDS became the leading killer among infectious diseases in China last year, ranking above tuberculosis, rabies, hepatitis, and infant's tetanus, the Associated Press reports. It was the first time AIDS was the top infectious killer in China; it ranked third in 2005. In the nine months leading up to September last year, 6,897 people died from AIDS. Though an explanation wasn't provided for the increase in deaths, it may be due to improvements in reporting of HIV/AIDS statistics by the Chinese government. There were 264,302 confirmed HIV infections, compared with 135,630 in 2005. Still, many people don't get tested, and the Chinese government estimates that the true number of infections may actually be about 700,000. Chinese leaders have begun to acknowledge HIV/AIDS more openly in recent years, offering anonymous HIV testing and treatment options for poor people and prohibiting discrimination against people who have HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS has been in the news quite a bit lately, but the bottom line is that the onus is still on us to protect ourselves from becoming infected. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists last year recommended HIV testing for most U.S. adult women. Using new and improved calculating methods, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated last year that 56,300 new HIV infections occurred in the United States in 2006—a figure 40 percent higher than the previous estimate of 40,000 infections per year. Black women are heavily affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Learn about one woman's battle with HIV.

How to Know if Your Child Needs a Statin

The American Academy of Pediatrics caused a brouhaha last year when it said that kids as young as 8 should be put on statin drugs if diet and exercise don't work to lower high cholesterol levels, Deborah Kotz reports. Many of its own members wondered whether it was wise to put children on drugs that they'd have to stay on for several decades in the absence of pediatric studies showing that this approach is safe and effective for preventing future heart attacks. A new study, which may calm those worries, shows that lessfewer than 1 percent of American children ages 12 to 17 actually needs these drugs, anyway.

Study author Earl Ford, a medical officer with the U.S. Public Health Service, tells WebMD, "It is a matter of opinion whether one thinks 0.8 percent is a small or large percentage." With 25 million adolescents in the United States, 200,000 teens qualify for statins under the AAP guidelines—not an inconsequential number if it later turns out that statins pose long-term hazards for kids or don't actually make a difference in preventing heart attacks in adulthood when started at age 12.

Many doctors disagree with these guidelines, so here's what you need to know before deciding whether to give your child a statin. And if your child is overweight, here is how to wage the weight battle.address it

Babyfacts: Pediatrician Andrew Adesman on What Doctors Get Wrong

Doctors don't always know best, and Andy Adesman has faced up to that. He and his wife, both pediatricians, found themselves butting heads over basic child rearing, like whether their three kids would catch a cold if they went outside without a coat: "I'd say, 'Where did they teach you that? It's not true!' " So Adesman started looking into common beliefs about baby and child care and found that he and his fellow doctors get more than a few things wrong themselves, Nancy Shute reports. He did the research, and he tells what's true and what's not in his new book, Babyfacts .

Are you smarter than some pediatricians? Try the pediatrics myths quiz yourself. For more in parenting news, learn how to protect your child's mental health, and learn whether it's OK for your child to go without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medication.

—January W. Payne

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