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Health Headlines - July 24

Posted Oct 23 2008 2:22pm

Fresh Water, Medical Care Concern Hurricane Victims

About 34 percent of people affected by Hurricane Katrina say they'd be very prepared if a major hurricane struck their community in the next six months, according to a Harvard School of Public Health survey conducted May 27 to June 23.

The survey included 5,055 people in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas in high-risk counties located within 20 miles of the coast.

Among respondents who were threatened or hit by Katrina, major worries in the event of a future hurricane are that they wouldn't have enough fresh drinking water (42 percent) and that they wouldn't be able to get needed medical care (41 percent).

The top concern among respondents who weren't affected by Katrina was that they would have problems getting gasoline for their cars (39 percent). That concern was expressed by 36 percent of respondents affected by Katrina.

Respondents who weren't affected by Katrina were much less likely than those who were affected by the hurricane to be worried about fresh water and getting needed medical care.

"The top concerns of people in high-risk hurricane areas -- having enough fresh water, getting medical care, and obtaining gas to evacuate -- are all things that public officials can plan for before the major storms of this season hit," Robert J. Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis, said in a Harvard School of Public Health news release.


Gates, Bloomberg Donate Millions to Help Smokers Quit

Billionaire philanthropists Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg want smokers across the globe to quit.

So the Microsoft founder and New York City mayor are donating $375 million to worldwide anti-smoking campaigns that focus on developing nations with the highest smoking rates, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Bloomberg is contributing $250 million, and Gates $125 million to the smoking cessation efforts, most specifically in China, India, Indonesia, Russia and Bangladesh, the wire service said.

Bloomberg, who quit the habit some three decades ago, waged a successful campaign to ban smoking in most New York City bars and restaurants.


Dirt Devil Vacuum Attachments Recalled

About 987,000 power brush attachments for Dirt Devil vacuums are being recalled because plastic pieces inside the tools can break apart, posing a risk of cuts to users, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says.

The manufacturer, TTI Floor Care North America, has received 140 incident reports about the tools, which were made in China. Among them are 12 reports of injury, including wounds to the eye, skin, and thumb, the CPSC said.

recalled vacuum tools

Retailers nationwide sold affected vacuums from April 2007 through April 2008 for between $60 and $170. Only tool accessories with date codes J7060 through J7365 with a C-clip connector are included in this recall. The date code is found on the underside of the tool.

The following Dirt Devil models are affected:

ReactionPurpose for PetsUltra Swivel Glide
M110002Envision Wide GlideSwerve
M110008CAAction UprightRoyal Commercial

Consumers should stop using the tools immediately and call the manufacturer for information about obtaining a free repair kit. Contact TTI Floor Care at 800-245-2296.


Experts Worried Over Rising HIV Rates Among U.S. Hispanics

Increasing rates of HIV/AIDS among Hispanics in the United States point to a simmering public health crisis, experts tell the Washington Post.

Hispanics make up about 14 percent of the U.S. population, but they accounted for 22 percent of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in 2006. In major American cities, as many as one in four gay Hispanic men have HIV, a rate similar to that in sub-Saharan Africa, the Post reported.

Hispanics in Washington, D.C. have the highest rate of new AIDS cases in the United States, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

Language and cultural barriers are among the issues that pose a challenge to dealing with HIV/AIDS in the Hispanic community, the Post reported. Legal status is another issue. For illegal Hispanic immigrants, fear of arrest and deportation is a major obstacle to seeking diagnosis and treatment.


Millions Sought for AIDS Treatment in Africa

A campaign to raise $21 million to fund an AIDS treatment program in five African countries has been launched by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The money would be used for a three-year program in Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Nigeria. The program would reach 950,000 vulnerable people, including 49,000 people living with AIDS, 13,000 sex workers and 10,000 orphans, Agence France-Presse reported.

According to the IFRC, nearly 4.5 million people, including about 400,000 children younger than 14, are living with HIV in the five countries. In 2006, AIDS claimed the lives of 350,000 people in these countries, which form the Sahel region of west and central Africa.

"Even though the impact may vary from one country to another, HIV is a major obstacle to development as it affects all key sectors: the economy, health, education and even food security," said Abdourahmane Ndiaye, IFRC's HIV program officer for the region, AFP reported.


Study Examining High Cancer Incidence in U.S. South

Researchers plan to recruit 90,000 people in 12 Southern states in an effort to learn why the South has become the cancer belt of the United States and why blacks have higher rates of several kinds of cancer, United Press International reported.

Brain cancer and lung cancer are among those that disproportionately affect people living in the South.

"When you look at a map of brain cancer incidence in the United States the Southeast just lights up in red," Dr. Reid Thompson, of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville said in a news release.

The researchers will look at study participants' lifestyles, family medical histories and risk factors for cancer and other serious diseases, UPI reported.

"We're asking patients about their diets, possible job-related exposure to cancer causing chemicals, and we're collecting DNA samples," Thompson said.

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