December 2014 Briefing - Infectious Disease

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Here are what the editors at HealthDay consider to be the most important developments in Infectious Disease for December 2014. This roundup includes the latest research news from journal articles, as well as the FDA approvals and regulatory changes that are the most likely to affect clinical practice.

AMA Identifies Top 10 Issues That Affected Docs in 2014

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 31, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The top 10 issues that affected physicians in 2014 include many regulatory issues relating to Medicare and data release, as well as health issues such as overprescribing of antibiotics and the Ebola crisis, according to a report published by the American Medical Association (AMA).

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Ebola, ACA, VA Scandal Top U.S. Health News for 2014

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 31, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- It started as a deadly but little-known outbreak in West Africa, but the lethal and unchecked spread of the Ebola virus dominated U.S. headlines for much of 2014, making it one of the year's top health news features.

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Vaccination Hesitancy in Israel's 2013 Polio Outbreak Explored

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 31, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Factors associated with understanding of vaccination and contextual factors can impact parents' willingness to vaccinate their children in cases of disease outbreak, according to a study published online Dec. 12 in the Journal of Risk Research.

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Vancomycin Linked to Kidney Damage in Children

TUESDAY, Dec. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Treating children who have drug-resistant bacterial infections with high doses of the antibiotic vancomycin may raise the risk of kidney damage, with greater risk at higher doses, according to research published in the December issue of the Annals of Pharmacotherapy.

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CDC: Influenza Has Hit Epidemic Status in U.S.

TUESDAY, Dec. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The flu has reached epidemic levels in the United States, with 15 child mortalities so far this season, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

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Ebola Epidemic Traced to Exposure to Bats

TUESDAY, Dec. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The Ebola epidemic in West Africa may have started with virus-infected bats, according to research published online Dec. 30 in EMBO Molecular Medicine.

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H. pylori May Not Be Risk Factor for Head and Neck Cancer

TUESDAY, Dec. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Helicobacter pylori may not be a risk factor for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, according to a study published online Dec. 18 in Head & Neck.

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Two Strategies Help Prevent CMV Disease in Transplant Patients

TUESDAY, Dec. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For liver transplant recipients, universal prophylaxis and preemptive strategies (using ganciclovir or valganciclovir) are similarly effective for preventing cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease (CMD), according to research published online Dec. 17 in the American Journal of Transplantation.

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Experts Discuss Ethical Considerations in Ebola Care

TUESDAY, Dec. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Guidance is provided for ethical considerations relating to Ebola care in an ideas and opinions piece published online Dec. 30 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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HIV Tied to Hearing Loss Across Frequency Spectrum

MONDAY, Dec. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Adults with HIV tend to have worse hearing than those not infected with the virus, according to a new study published online Dec. 26 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

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Hepatitis C Co-Infection in HIV Doesn't Worsen Mental Decline

MONDAY, Dec. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Hepatitis C infection does not contribute to neurocognitive impairment in people with HIV, according to a new study published online Dec. 10 in Neurology.

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FDA: Emergency Use Authorization for Rapid Ebola Test

MONDAY, Dec. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted Emergency Use Authorization for Roche's fast-acting Ebola test for emergency use.

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Surgery or Medical Tx for Cervical Epidural Abscesses?

MONDAY, Dec. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- At one medical center, early operative management of cervical spine epidural abscess (CSEA) appeared to offer the benefit of improved neurologic outcome, according to research published in the Jan. 1 issue of The Spine Journal.

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2015 Medicare Fee Schedule Offers Payment for Chronic Care

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The 2015 Medicare Fee Schedule includes a Current Procedural Terminology Code that pays for clinical staff time for developing and implementing a care plan for patients with two or more chronic conditions, according to an article published Dec. 18 in Medical Economics.

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FDA Addresses Blood Donations by Men Who Have Sex With Men

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday its intention to release a new draft guidance in early 2015 that would ultimately open the door to blood donations from men who have sex with men (MSM).

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Promising Results for Precursor of Ebola Vaccine in Small Study

TUESDAY, Dec. 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A precursor of the experimental Ebola vaccine that U.S. officials are preparing to test in West Africa has produced a safe and potent immune response in Africans. The findings have been published online Dec. 22 in The Lancet.

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Small Changes in eGFR With TDF Preexposure Prophylaxis

TUESDAY, Dec. 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For HIV-1-uninfected members of serodiscordant couples, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) used as preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is associated with a small decrease in estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), according to a study published online Dec. 22 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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FDA Approves Combination Antibiotic Zerbaxa

TUESDAY, Dec. 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The combination antibiotic Zerbaxa (ceftolozane/tazobactam) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat adults with complicated intra-abdominal infections and complicated urinary tract infections.

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FDA Approves Rapivab to Help Treat Influenza in Adults

MONDAY, Dec. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Rapivab (peramivir) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat influenza in adults.

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Hospitalization Risk Seen With Clarithromycin + Certain Statins

MONDAY, Dec. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Combining clarithromycin with certain statins increases the risk of adverse outcomes that can lead to hospitalization or even death, according to a new study published online Dec. 22 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

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FDA Approves Antiviral Combination for Hepatitis C

MONDAY, Dec. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Viekira Pak, a combination of four antiviral drugs (ombitasvir, paritaprevir, ritonavir, and dasabuvir), has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat chronic hepatitis C virus genotype 1 infection, including hepatitis C virus infection with cirrhosis of the liver.

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FDA OKs Pathogen Reduction System to Treat Platelets

FRIDAY, Dec. 19, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new system designed to remove viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens from donated blood platelets was approved Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Earlier in the week, the agency approved a similar system to remove pathogens from donated blood plasma.

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Tips Offered to Docs, Spouses for Maintaining Happy Marriage

FRIDAY, Dec. 19, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Simple tips can help physicians and their spouses maintain marital happiness, according to an article published in the American Medical Association (AMA) Alliance magazine Physician Family.

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CDC: Measles Cases at Airport Highlight Ease of Transmission

FRIDAY, Dec. 19, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Traveling through the same U.S. airport gate, one infected passenger transmitted the measles virus to three others within a four-hour time span, illustrating just how easily the virus can spread. These findings were reported in the Dec. 19 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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CDC: Not Too Late, or Too Futile, to Get Flu Vaccine

FRIDAY, Dec. 19, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The flu is starting to tighten its grip on much of the United States, particularly in the South and Midwest, according to a report published in the Dec. 19 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. And more than half of the flu infections examined so far have been caused by influenza A H3N2, which appears to have mutated from the H3N2 strain included in this year's flu vaccine.

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States Ill-Prepared for Ebola, Other Infectious Outbreaks

FRIDAY, Dec. 19, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Half of U.S. states are poorly prepared to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks. That was the main conclusion of a report issued jointly by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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High-Dose Flu Vaccine Beats Standard Dose for Frail Elderly

THURSDAY, Dec. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A high-dose influenza vaccine produces a stronger immune response than the standard vaccine in frail seniors under care in nursing homes, according to a new study published online Dec. 17 in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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FDA: New System Targets Pathogens in Donated Blood Plasma

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new system designed to reduce pathogens in donated blood plasma and reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted infections has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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Fatal Case of Legionnaires' in Infant Following Water Birth

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A Texas infant has died from Legionnaires' disease after being born in a whirlpool tub. The report of the infant's death appears in the January 2015 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Emerging Infectious Diseases.

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Over 50 FDA-Approved Meds Can Help Battle Ebola Infection

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A screening test has identified more than 50 U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medications that could be helpful in treating people with Ebola, researchers report. The study was published online Dec. 17 in Emerging Microbes and Infections.

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CDC: Syphilis Cases Rising Among Gay, Bisexual Men

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The number of cases of syphilis in the United States jumped 10 percent from 2012 to 2013, with gay and bisexual men accounting for 75 percent of the increase, U.S. health officials reported Tuesday.

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Digital Self-Scheduling Set to Increase Considerably by 2019

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Digital self-scheduling is set to increase considerably in the next five years, according to a report published by Accenture.

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Hospital Staff Say 'Crisis Mode' Obstructs Communication

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Staff members who perceive a work climate of crisis mode in their hospital units say that it leads to problems in exchanging patient information, according to research published online Dec. 10 in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

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Challenges ID'd in Development of the Physician Compare Website

TUESDAY, Dec. 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), information must be made available to allow the public to compare physicians, although there are considerable challenges surrounding the development of the physician performance website, Physician Compare. These challenges are addressed in a health policy brief published online Dec. 11 in Health Affairs.

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Entecavir Cuts Hep B Reactivation in Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma

TUESDAY, Dec. 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Entecavir is more efficacious than lamivudine for preventing hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation among patients who are seropositive for the hepatitis B surface antigen with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma receiving rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (R-CHOP) chemotherapy treatment. These findings have been published in the Dec. 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Public Disclosure of Antibiotic Harms Cuts Prescription Rates

TUESDAY, Dec. 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Public disclosure of the potential harms of antibiotic use is associated with a reduction in antibiotic prescription rates for upper respiratory tract infection (URTI), according to a research letter published online Dec. 15 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Physicians Reminded of Ethical Obligations Regarding Torture

TUESDAY, Dec. 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- With the issuing of the new U.S. Senate report on interrogations, the American Medical Association (AMA) is reminding physicians of their ethical obligations relating to torture and interrogation.

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Condom Use for ≥3 Months Urged for Male Ebola Survivors

TUESDAY, Dec. 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Men who survive Ebola should wear condoms during sex for at least three months after recovering from the disease, according to the authors of a new study published online Dec. 16 in Reproductive Sciences.

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Support for Electronic Health Information Varies With Use

TUESDAY, Dec. 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Consent and purpose are important for public support of secondary uses of electronic health information, according to a study published in the Dec. 16 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Consider False-Positives When Test Results Don't Add Up

TUESDAY, Dec. 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians should weigh patient history and include the possibility of false-positive test results when considering differential diagnoses, according to a perspective piece published online Dec. 15 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Physicians Should Scrutinize Job Offers Before Accepting

MONDAY, Dec. 15, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians should scrutinize job offers and pay attention to specific issues before accepting a job, according to an article published Dec. 3 in Medical Economics.

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Webcast Scheduled to Discuss Maintenance of Certification

MONDAY, Dec. 15, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- New data relating to Maintenance of Certification (MOC) will be discussed in a free webcast to be held Dec. 17 by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

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Tips Offered for Docs to Manage Their Online Reputation

FRIDAY, Dec. 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians can manage their online reputation, according to a report from the American Medical Association (AMA).

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Microbial Flora ID'd in Patients Undergoing Rhinoplasty

FRIDAY, Dec. 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For patients undergoing rhinoplasty, preoperative nasal culture can identify microbial flora that indicate risk of postoperative infection, according to research published online Dec. 11 in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

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CDC: Many Patients Still Need to Get 2014-2015 Flu Vaccine

THURSDAY, Dec. 11, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer than half of Americans have gotten a flu vaccine so far this flu season, which might be a bad sign for a season that could be potentially severe, according to a Dec. 11 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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FDA OKs Test for Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Virus Antibodies

THURSDAY, Dec. 11, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new screening test to detect human T-cell lymphotropic virus-I/II (HTLV-I/II) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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FDA Approves Gardasil for Additional Types of HPV

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The Gardasil 9 vaccine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat five additional types of human papillomavirus (HPV), the FDA said Wednesday.

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More Students Enrolling in U.S. Medical Schools

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- More students are enrolling in medical schools, and enrollees are more diverse than before, according to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) published by the American Medical Association (AMA).

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More Docs, Patients Not Speaking Same Language

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- People applying to become medical residents in the United States speak a wide range of non-English languages, but many aren't the languages spoken by patients with limited English skills, according to a research letter published in the Dec. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on medical education.

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Six-Week Antibiotic Tx Effective for Diabetic Foot Osteomyelitis

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with diabetic foot osteomyelitis (DFO), six weeks of antibiotic therapy seems as effective as 12 weeks of treatment, according to a study published online Nov. 20 in Diabetes Care.

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Work-Hour Restrictions Have Not Improved Outcomes

TUESDAY, Dec. 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Reducing medical residents' work hours hasn't improved mortality rates, hospital readmission rates, or outcomes of surgery, according to two new studies published in the Dec. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on medical education.

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Docs Trained in High-Cost Areas Practice More Costly Medicine

TUESDAY, Dec. 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors who were trained in high-cost areas of the United States may be more likely to practice expensive medicine, a new study suggests; however, that effect gradually decreases over time. The study was published in the Dec. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a theme issue on medical education.

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Higher Paid Docs Earn More Money From More Procedures

TUESDAY, Dec. 9, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- High-income doctors make more money by ordering more procedures for each patient rather than by seeing more patients, according to an analysis of 2012 Medicare data published in a research letter Dec. 8 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Antibiotic Stewardship Programs in Children's Hospitals Effective

MONDAY, Dec. 8, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Formalized antibiotic stewardship programs (ASPs) effectively reduce antibiotic prescribing in children's hospitals, according to research published online Dec. 8 in Pediatrics.

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Antifungal Prophylaxis Regimens in Liver Transplant Found Equal

MONDAY, Dec. 8, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Antifungal prophylaxis is associated with reductions in invasive fungal infections (IFIs) in liver transplant recipients, according to research published in the December issue of the American Journal of Transplantation.

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CDC: Flu Vaccine May Offer Less Protection This Winter

FRIDAY, Dec. 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The H3N2 strain of influenza appears to be circulating most widely this season, and in the past, death rates from H3N2 have been more than double that of other flu strains, according to officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, about half of the H3N2 viruses detected by CDC researchers so far appear to have mutated, and have genetically "drifted" away from the virus strain included in this year's flu vaccine.

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CDC: California Infants Hit Hard by Pertussis Epidemic

FRIDAY, Dec. 5, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- In what state health officials are calling the worst outbreak in 70 years, 9,935 cases of pertussis were diagnosed between Jan. 1 and Nov. 26. That translated into 26 cases per 100,000 people, according to research published in the Dec. 5 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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AMA: Social Determinants of Health to Be Taught in Med School

THURSDAY, Dec. 4, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new policy implemented by the American Medical Association (AMA) supports integrating more training on the social determinants of health into undergraduate medical education, according to a report published by the AMA.

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CDC: 35 Ebola Treatment Centers Designated

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 3, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Thirty-five hospitals across the United States have been designated as Ebola treatment centers, and more will be designated in the coming weeks, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

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Research Suggests HIV May Be Evolving Favorably

TUESDAY, Dec. 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- New research in Africa suggests that the AIDS virus is getting smarter about evading the immune system while evolving into a less contagious and less lethal infection overall. The study was published online Dec. 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Too Much Patient Care Tied to Faculty Members' Intent to Leave

TUESDAY, Dec. 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Spending "far too much/too much" time/effort on patient care is associated with increased intent to leave the institution, according to research published in Academic Medicine.

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Doctor Discusses Ways to Keep Morale in Medicine High

MONDAY, Dec. 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Despite the many frustrations for doctors in medical practice, there are ways to keep morale high, according to an article published Nov. 20 in Medical Economics.

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Many Physicians Report Their Incomes Have Plateaued

MONDAY, Dec. 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Many physicians report that their personal income has not changed since last year, according to the results of the Physicians Practice 2014 Physicians Compensation Survey.

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Hep B Screening Urged for Those Undergoing Chemo, Immune Tx

MONDAY, Dec. 1, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Hepatitis B virus (HBV) screening is recommended for patients undergoing chemotherapy, immunosuppressive therapy, or transplantation, according to research published online Nov. 21 in Hepatology.

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