Entries in Testing (10)


HIV Testing for Everyone? Experts Say Yes 

ABC News Radio(WASHINGTON) -- About 1.2 million people in the U.S. are HIV-positive. And about one in five of them doesn't know it.

In an effort to broaden the front in the war on AIDS, experts now says almost everyone should be tested for the AIDS virus -- probably including you.
Those who don't know they are infected are believed to transmit about 20,000 new cases of AIDS each year.
The U.S. Preventive Services task force now recommends that all people ages 15 to 65 get tested for AIDS. Those younger or older who have increased risk factors should also be screened, according to the task force's new recommendations.
Risk factors include:

  • unprotected sex with multiple partners
  • any partner with HIV
  • any injection drug use, and
  • exchanging sex for money

The task force also says that all pregnant women should be tested for the HIV virus.
Earlier diagnosis means earlier treatment, and that means sharp reductions in the spread of AIDS and in AIDS-related deaths.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Why Baby Boomers Need Hepatitis C, HIV Testing

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Researchers took aim at baby boomers on Wednesday, urging this group of Americans to get tested for hepatitis C and HIV -- or possibly face liver failure.

Scientists at the AIDS 2012 conference in Washington, D.C., revealed data showing that those infected with HIV and hepatitis C are at very high risk for liver failure.  But hepatitis C infection is often a silent illness, as it can often go undetected since some patients experience little to no symptoms.

Health officials believe hundreds of thousands of new hepatitis C infections occurred annually between the 1970s and 1980s, most of them in the younger adults of the era -- the generation born from 1945 through 1965, known as the baby boomers.  The hepatitis C virus was not identified until 1989.

The new data follows recommendations issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May urging that all baby boomers should be tested for hepatitis C.

As more effective treatments for hepatitis C have become available, it is important to identify patients with the virus so that complications such as liver failure and liver cancer can be prevented.  New medications on the market promise shorter treatment periods and fewer side effects for patients.

Dr. Victor Lo Re, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, presented data that revealed even HIV patients who are treated for HIV with anti-retrovirals are at higher risk than other patients for liver failure.

“Everyone who is at risk should be tested for both hepatitis C and HIV,” he said.

Testing of baby boomers for hepatitis C could lead to 800,000 more boomers getting treatment and could possibly save more than 120,000 lives.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Colorado Dental Patients Advised to Get HIV, Hepatitis Testing

A screen grab from Dr. Stephen Stein's former dental practice website. ( -- Patients of a former Colorado oral surgeon have been advised to get tested for HIV and hepatitis infections after a state health department investigation accused him of reusing syringes and needles on patients receiving intravenous medications for nearly 12 years.

Any patient who received an IV injection, including sedation, from licensed dentist Dr. Stephen Stein between September 1999 and June 2011 might have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in a statement July 12.

Denver police are also involved in the case.

"Right now [Stein's] case is an active ongoing investigation for prescription fraud," police spokeswoman Raquel Lopez said. "We received the information on April 3 of this year."

Stein sold his practice in September 2012 to Dr. Jeremey Miner, an oral surgeon, according to a woman who answered the phone at his former practice. They had not worked together previously.

Meanwhile, the state health department issued about 8,000 letters to some of Stein's former patients at both his Highlands Ranch and Denver, Colo., offices, urging them to get tested, department spokesman Mark Salley said.

Records were only available for Stein's patients from 2005 to 2011, so they will be the only ones receiving the notifications, Salley said. The patients he treated before then will not receive a notice to seek testing.

Without the records, Salley added, there's no way to know how many patients were at risk in the earlier years.

Salley said the state health department began its investigation in April after receiving a report of alleged unsafe injection practices from the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, which licenses dentists statewide.

The investigation determined that the "syringes and needles used to inject medications through patient's IV lines were saved and used again to inject medications through other patients' IV lines."

"This practice has been shown to transmit infections," according to the health department's statement.

But by the time the Department of Public Health was notified of Stein's allegedly unsafe practices, the dentist had already entered into an interim agreement with the Colorado Board of Dental Examiners to stop practicing in June 2011, Salley said.

Salley declined to provide details and Stein's lawyer, Victoria Lovato, has not returned telephone messages requesting comment.

Salley said that even if Stein's former patients test positive for any of the diseases, it does not mean they contracted it through Stein's injection practices.

The health department has asked health providers who test Stein's former patients to report any positive tests for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C to their county or state health departments, according to the statement.

"We don't have any results back and we're not likely to for a couple of weeks," Salley said. "It might be that there are no positive tests to come back."

The risk to Stein's former patients' health is likely to be low and a negative result should not require additional follow up, said Dr. Joseph Perz, a health care epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

"My understanding is that for the majority of patients affected, the exposure would have taken place a considerable while ago and so the issues around incubation shouldn't be a factor for the vast majority of patients," he said.

But Perz said special treatment must be given to blood- borne viruses because there is potential for chronic infection.

Perz said that while the CDC takes a firm stance that safe injection practices are every health provider's responsibility, there have been multiple incidents of doctors reusing syringes for significant time periods that led to mass patient notification.

"This is sort of the latest in a string of these events that really do leave us scratching our heads," he said.

Salley said individuals at risk who have health insurance should contact their health care providers for testing. Those who don't, he said, should contact the state health department's hotline for a list of information by county.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Fetus Testing Shows Promise, Raises Ethical Questions

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new breakthrough by genome scientists at the University of Washington could be a boon to parents of unborn babies in less than five years.

Ultimately, this would allow doctors to test the fetus for up to 3,500 genetic disorders and possibly replace the more invasive amniocentesis that tests for abnormalities in the unborn.

The researchers came upon the new method by mapping the entire genome of a fetus, which involved taking blood samples of a woman who was 18 weeks pregnant and saliva from her partner to map the fetus’s DNA.

After repeating the process with another couple, the University of Washington scientists were able to reconstruct the fetus' genetic code with 98 percent accuracy.

Jacob Kitzman, lead author of the study, said the new procedure can diagnose spina bifida and Down syndrome, the most common genetic disorders in the U.S. It's also believed to be safer than amniocentesis, which carries a certain degree of risk to the life of the unborn.

At the moment, the test is too expensive for widespread use and there are also ethical questions to be considered.

On this issue, Marcy Darnovsky with the public interest group Center for Genetics and Society says, "Researchers and doctors and genetics counselors have an important role to play in how these tests are used and then as a broader society it's really important that we start thinking about these questions."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


USDA Expands E.Coli Testing of Ground Beef

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Food inspectors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will start testing ground beef for six additional strains of the dangerous bacteria E. coli beginning on Monday. The new, quicker testing is designed to detect contaminated meat faster -- before it enters the food supply.

"These strains of E. coli are an emerging threat to human health and the steps we are taking today are entirely focused on preventing Americans from suffering foodborne illnesses," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "We cannot ignore the evidence that these pathogens are a threat in our nation's food supply."

Samples testing positive for a dangerous strain of E. coli will be taken out of stores and could be subject to a recall.

There are currently more than 700 different strains of the bacteria. Food scientists say most types are harmless, but some can attack your intestines and cause serious problems.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sperm Test to Hit Drugstore Shelves

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A home sperm test is set to join dozens of female fertility predictors on drug store shelves this spring.

Walgreen’s and CVS are already selling the sperm-counting kit, called SpermCheck Fertility, online. Now they’re banking on men -- and their mates -- favoring a quick pick-up at the drug store over a trip to the urologist.

“There is nothing like it on the shelf,” Maeve Egner of Fusion Marketing, the company hired to help market SpermCheck, told Bloomberg. “It’s plugging a gap.”

The $40 test is set to hit stores in April. To use it, a man mixes his semen with a solution in the kit and drops it onto a test strip. A reddish line means the sperm count is above 20 million per milliliter, which is considered normal. A negative test shows no color and means the man should, “should consult a physician about a complete fertility evaluation,” according to the kit’s instructions.

Studies have found that SpermCheck Fertility correctly counted sperm 96 percent of the time compared with laboratory sperm-counting methods. But some doctors say sperm count is only one aspect of male fertility.

“There are four major things we look for,” said Dr. James Goldfarb, a fertility specialist at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland: The number of sperm; their shape; their mobility; and the volume of the ejaculate. “This test only measures one thing.”

While a low sperm count may signal a problem, Goldfarb said a count of 15 million per milliliter -- considered “low normal” by the latest criteria -- can be more than enough if the other three fertility factors are in place.

“The biggest risk of this test is that a guy who gets a very low sperm count might panic and end up getting more intervention than he really needed,” said Goldfarb. “It might reassure some couples, but it might scare some couples, too.”

Sperm counts can vary widely from week to week, Goldfarb said. So a man who rings in at 15 million per milliliter one week could hit 40 million the next. If the sperm count stays low, however, there are options.

“First we would look for anatomical problems,” said Goldfarb, describing varicose veins in the scrotum or blockages to the penis that thwart sperm release. “Then we can look at hormonal things…If the problem can’t be found or corrected, the simplest solution is to concentrate sperm and do intrauterine insemination. That way, there are more sperm getting closer to the fallopian tubes.”

And if that doesn’t work, in vitro fertilization allows a single sperm to fertilize an egg.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


PSA Tests for Prostate Cancer: More Harm than Good?

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force publicized Friday its recommendation that healthy men should no longer receive PSA blood tests for prostate cancer as part of routine cancer screening. The government panel’s recommendation supports the growing notion that the blood tests often do more harm than good.

The blood test is designed to detect higher than normal levels of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, in the blood. A high level can signal prostate cancer, but it can also indicate more benign conditions. A positive PSA test can lead to invasive biopsies, which come along with their own raft of considerations, including impotence and incontinence.

Science appears to support the recommendation. The USPSTF outlined in a report published early in the Annals of Internal Medicine that an analysis of the five largest studies on PSA testing suggested that the benefits of such tests appear minimal, while the downsides are considerable.

Still, some doctors worry that the recommendation could add to public confusion over the true benefits of screening tests that, in the past, they may have been encouraged to seek out. And it’s an issue that is not limited to prostate cancer screening; the USPSTF in 2009 recommended against annual mammograms for women age 40 to 49 because, they said, the benefits of testing do not outweigh the harms.

“The public often feels frustrated with the seeming ‘mixed messages’ that come from the medical establishment,” Dr. Jehan El-Bayoumi, residency director at George Washington University, told ABC News. “One minute we’re telling people to get screened, the next minute we’re telling people that it doesn’t make a difference. And so, no wonder the public is confused.”

Indeed, there is currently no overarching consensus on PSA testing. Dr. Pat Walsh of Johns Hopkins University, a world-renowned urologist and pioneer in nerve-sparing prostate surgery, called the updated recommendation “a shame.”

“This decision ignores the fact that there has been a 40 percent reduction in prostate cancer deaths over the past 10 years since PSA testing has been in place,” Walsh said. “The USPSTF ignores this because it relies only on randomized trials, and there are a number that have too short a follow-up and other serious deficiencies.”

Dr. Leonard Gomella, chairman of urology at Thomas Jefferson University, called the decision an “appalling affront to all men who will die from prostate cancer.” Dr. William Catalona, director of the Clinical Prostate Cancer Program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said, “The extent to which PSA screening causes over diagnosis and overtreatment is exaggerated.”

“I have to wonder whether economics are playing a role in the decision of the Task Force,” said Dr. Jerome Richie, chief of urology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Several nonurologists, however, applauded the USPSTF’s move.

“I think this recommendation is long overdue,” said Dr. Thomas Schwenk, professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan.

“This advisory mirrors my advice to patients over the last 10 years,” said Dr. William Golden, director of general internal medicine at the University of Arkansas. “I have long believed that prostate cancer had a cure worse than the disease.”

“People have a need to believe, a need to feel that we have some power over this terrible disease,” said Dr. Lee Green of the University of Michigan. “Admitting the truth, that PSA screening doesn’t really save lives, is unacceptable because it takes that away. It’s scientifically correct, and will provoke a firestorm.”

Only time will tell whether the new USPSTF recommendation will be accepted by the medical community at large.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Down Syndrome Test Could Cut Healthy Baby Deaths

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HONG KONG) -- Pre-natal screening for Down syndrome, which affects one in every 800 pregnancies, is fraught with unclear test results, risks to the unborn baby and profound anxiety for expectant mothers and their partners.

But now, a new maternal blood test has the potential to reduce the number of women referred for invasive testing for Down syndrome by 98 percent.

A study, led by researchers at Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and published this week in the Journal of British Medicine looked at the new technology, which uses the latest tools in gene sequencing to detect abnormalities in the fetus.

The technology was developed in 2008, but this is the first large-scale study, including more than 750 blood samples from pregnant women in Hong Kong, Britain and the Netherlands -- 86 from those who were carrying a child with Down syndrome.

The most robust version of the new blood test tested on 314 pregnancies detected Down syndrome in 100 percent of the cases, with only a 2.1 percent false positive rate.

"Over the years, several versions of the test have been developed, but this test is one of the most promising in terms of diagnostic performance," said Dr. Rossa Chiu, first author of the study and a clinical chemist at CUHK.

"The availability of the safe DNA blood test could therefore greatly reduce the number of pregnant couples having to bear the emotional burden of going through a potentially risky and daunting procedure, like amniocentesis," Chiu added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Majority Willing to Put a Price On Medical Predictions, Survey Says  

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) – Researchers at Tufts Medical Center have found in a study that nearly 76 percent of people would be willing to pay to take a hypothetical predictive test to find out if they will develop Alzheimer’s disease, breast or prostate cancer, or arthritis later in life. Depending on the disease and the accuracy of the test, respondents said they would be willing to pay anywhere from $300 to $600 for information on their health.

The study, published in the online journal Health Economics, found that in most cases people would be willing to pay for the “value of knowing” even if the tests were not entirely accurate. The survey examined just fewer than 1,500 people.

"This study brings us a step closer to understanding people's preferences and motivations for wanting a diagnostic test, even if it has no bearing on subsequent medical treatment. While we have to proceed cautiously in this area, given that tests have costs and risks as well as benefits, our study suggests that many people value information — both for its own sake and because they will adjust lifestyle and behavior choices accordingly,” said lead author Peter J. Neumann, ScD, director of the Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health at the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts Medical Center.

Neumann’s assertions were validated by the results of the study. Just over half of the individuals surveyed said that if given positive test results, they would spend more time with their loved ones. Arranging finances was a priority for 48 percent of people and traveling was of prime importance for 31 percent of respondents.

The study informed participants that their costs for these tests would not be covered by medical insurance. As the income level of the respondents rose, so did the amount of money they were willing to pay for the evaluations.

"By taking into account all implications of these tests — including the risks, costs, potential cost offsets, and the value they have outside of medical outcomes — we can build better policies and make better decisions about coverage and reimbursement, so that we may more accurately reflect patient preferences and appropriate uses of societal resources," said Neumann.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Students Get Tested on World AIDS Day

Photo Courtesy - ABC News Radio (PHOENIX) -- College campuses around the country offered free HIV testing for students Wednesday in observation of World AIDS Day.

At Arizona State University’s Phoenix campus, different vendors gave out condoms and educated students on the importance of safe sex. And in just two hours, 27 students got tested for HIV.

Alicia Delavuga, the management intern for ASU wellness, helped organize the event at ASU. She commented that there isn’t enough education about AIDS.

“Unfortunately at a high school level there isn’t a lot of education being done about being safe or being safer,” Delavuga said. “ I think that is why there is an opportunity at a college age to really educate our students.”

Delavuga also touched on common misconceptions about how HIV/AIDS is contracted. “I hope that people still don’t think you can get it from kissing but there are a ton of misconceptions out there and that’s why we’re doing this. There is so much misinformation and we want to make sure our students are educated and they are being as safe as possible.”

Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a sexually transmitted infection that can be prevented by practicing safe sex. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS is a disease caused by HIV that weakens the immune system and can result in death.

At the University of Nebraska Multicultural Center they promoted HIV testing sponsored by the Students for Sexual Health, the University Health Center Student Advisory Board and the Afrikan People’s Union.

HIV testing is offered free throughout the entire year at UNL. The school's sexual health and clinic outreach coordinator Lee Heerten said World AIDS Day is a great way to emphasize the importance of getting tested.

Heerten said the university wanted to put an end to some of the common misconceptions of HIV/AIDS so they used a game centered around those myths.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio