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Briefs: HIV vaccine not as promising as first thought

HIV Vaccine less promising than first thought

An HIV vaccine clinical trial in Thailand, trumpeted by researchers last month as a milestone in the AIDS pandemic, is turning out to be less of a success than first thought. Full details of the study, released Tuesday at a scientific meeting in Paris and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, show that the vaccine provides little or no protection to people at the highest risk of HIV infection. In people at lower risk, the benefits may start to wane after a year. But many AIDS researchers say the findings are still important in the two-decade quest for an HIV vaccine. "This is a modest effect at best, but I believe it has relevance and is a real effect that needs to be built upon," said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which paid for much of the $105 million study.

Kids got ailment from sperm donor

A sperm donor who didn't know he carried a potentially deadly genetic heart condition passed it to nine of his 24 children, including one who died at age 2 from heart failure, according to a medical journal report. Two children, now teenagers, have developed symptoms and are at risk for sudden cardiac death, the report says. It's the second documented instance of genetic defects being passed on through sperm donation. The San Francisco sperm bank in question now gives all donors electrocardiogram tests to weed out men with genetic heart problems. The study authors in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association recommend that other sperm banks follow suit.

Ranks of uninsured growing in Florida

A new report by Families USA estimates that nearly 300,000 more working-age Floridians have joined the ranks of the uninsured this year. The report by the Washington nonprofit group indicates that because of rising unemployment, the number of uninsured working-age adults (19 to 64) in the United States in 2009 is about 40 million, up from the Census Bureau's 2008 estimate of about 36 million. Most Americans get their health coverage through employers to get lower premiums, cost-sharing between employer and employee, and protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The loss of a job usually means the loss of coverage because both COBRA and individual insurance options are usually unaffordable, the report says.

Tell us about buying insurance

If you are age 50 to 64 and have purchased an individual health insurance policy, we'd like to hear about your experience. If you're willing to share your story, please contact health reporter Richard Martin at (727) 893-8330 or at rmartin@sptimes.com.

Compiled from Times staff, wire reports

Briefs: HIV vaccine not as promising as first thought 10/21/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 5:29pm]
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