Kenya is the first African country to start using a generic version of the latest AIDS drug that can improve and prolong the lives of tens of thousands of people who suffer severe side effects and resistance to other treatments.

    A generic of Dolutegravir (DTG), first approved in the United States in 2013, is being given to 20,000 patients in Kenya before being rolled out in Nigeria and Uganda later this year, with the backing of the health agency UNITAID.

    DTG is the drug of choice for people with HIV in high-income countries who have never taken antiretroviral therapy before and for those who have developed resistance to other treatment.

    “I had constant nightmares and no appetite,” said Nairobi resident Doughtiest Ogutu, who started taking the drug this year because of her resistance to other treatments.

    “My appetite has come back… My body is working well with it.”Ogutu, who has been living with HIV for 15 years, said her viral load – the amount of HIV in her blood – has fallen tenfold from 450,000 to 40,000 since she started on DTG.

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  • Bionic hand 'sees and grabs' objects automatically

    A bionic hand that "sees" objects and instantly decides what kind of grip to adopt has been developed by scientists.

    A computer uses a camera to assess an object's shape and size to then trigger the correct movement to pick it up.

    The technology was developed at Newcastle University and has been trialled by a small number of amputees.

    Dr Kianoush Nazarpour, a senior lecturer in biomedical engineering at the university, said the bionic hand can "respond automatically".

    'Intuitive hand'

    The device could spark a new generation of prosthetic limbs giving the wearer the ability to grip objects without the use of their brain, researchers say.

    Dr Nazarpour said: "Prosthetic limbs have changed very little in the past 100 years.

    "Responsiveness has been one of the main barriers to artificial limbs.

    Dr. Kianoush NazarpourImage copyrightPAImage captionDr. Kianoush Nazarpour has praised the "intuitive" hand that can seemingly react without thinking.

    "For many amputees the reference point is their healthy arm or leg so prosthetics seem slow and cumbersome in comparison.

    "Now, for the first time in a century, we have developed an 'intuitive' hand that can react without thinking."

    The team, whose work is reported in the Journal of Neural Engineering, programmed the hand to react within milliseconds and perform four different "grasps" suitable for picking up a cup, holding a TV controller, and gripping objects with a thumb and two fingers or a pinched thumb and first finger.

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  • How Uncontrolled Diabetes Damages Your Heart, Eyes, Kidneys, Nerves, Teeth and More

    Diabetes is a cluster of disorders characterized by high blood sugar levels that persist over a long period. It is one of the most common disorders of our time.

    According to the International Diabetes Federation, 387 million people worldwide were living with diabetes by the year 2014.

    In the U.S. alone, 29.1 million people have diabetes, out of which 8.1 million remain undiagnosed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


    Understanding How Your Body Works

    Glucose is a type of simple sugar found in food. It is a major source of energy and is used by every living organism.

    When you eat food, your digestive system breaks it down into glucose in the blood so your cells can extract energy from it and recharge themselves. At this point, the glucose is also called blood sugar.

    Every cell of every organ in your body, be it the muscles, kidneys or the brain, relies on energy from glucose to perform its functions.

    type 2 diabetes

    But how does this glucose reach the cells?

    Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that performs the crucial task of delivering glucose to the different cells.

    So, how does all this relate to diabetes?

    Understanding Diabetes

    There are two major types of diabetes.

    Type 1 Diabetes

    • In Type 1 diabetes, the cells of the pancreas responsible for making insulin either fail to do so or create very little.
    • This keeps the glucose unused in the blood, and can ultimately cause an overload of blood sugar.
    • It is mostly diagnosed in young adults and children.

    Type 2 Diabetes

    • This is the most common type of diabetes. Ninety percent of the adults suffering from diabetes have Type 2 diabetes.
    • Type 2 diabetes occurs when your pancreas produces the insulin, but your cells are unable to use it properly. In medical terminology, this is called insulin resistance.
    • Initially, the pancreas responds by making more insulin to try to get the cells to use it properly. However, over time, the pancreas fails to keep up. This may ultimately cause excess blood sugar.

    Excess blood sugar due to either type of diabetes is a major cause for concern. Uncontrolled diabetes can allow the sugar to remain in the blood for too long and damage other organs.

    how uncontrolled diabetes affects your health

    Here is how uncontrolled diabetes can damage your heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves, teeth and more.


    diabetes and heart disease

    Diabetes causes a 2- to 4-fold increase in a person’s risk of having a heart attack, heart failure, coronary artery disease (artery blockage) and death, according to a 2011 study published in Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine.

    People with diabetes are likely to have a heart attack or heart failure at a younger age, the study also notes.

    High blood sugar levels in the heart for a prolonged period can irritate and damage the insides of the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to heart.

    This triggers an accumulation of cholesterol and fat deposits in the arteries, eventually narrowing them and obstructing blood flow.

    This is called coronary artery disease (CAD). It can develop for multiple reasons other than diabetes. However, it develops much faster in diabetic patients.

    Over time, the arteries may become completely blocked and deprive the heart of oxygen, causing a heart attack.

    While diabetes itself is a risk factor for heart disease, other diabetes-associated symptoms could also cause heart disease:

    • High LDL cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the ‘bad’ cholesterol. Diabetes usually accompanies a case of heightened LDL cholesterol in the body that settles in the arteries and causes CAD.
    • Abdominal obesity: Fat accumulated around the abdomen also increases the production of bad cholesterol, causing CAD.
    • High blood pressure: Pressure in the blood vessels going through the heart causes a strain and damages the vessels, increasing the risk of CAD and a heart attack.


    diabetic kidney failure nephropathy

    Kidneys contain tiny filters that capture waste material from the blood and discharge it from the body through urine.

    The blood that comes for filtration also contains important substances like proteins and red blood cells. Since the kidneys’ filters are so minuscule in size, they do not filter these useful substances and they remain in the blood and benefit the body.

    However, diabetes damages the filters over time, causing a complete failure of the filtration process. This, in turn, allows the proteins in the blood to escape to the urine.

    Albumin is one such protein that passes through to the urine. A dangerous excess of the same is called microalbuminuria.

    Microalbuminuria could indicate an early stage of kidney failure. Diabetic nephropathy (diabetes-induced kidney disease) is the most prevalent cause of end stage kidney disease, according to a 2001 study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. This is when your kidneys fail completely and are no longer able to support you.

    It could take years for kidney damage to occur in diabetic patients. High blood pressure, another symptom of diabetes, contributes significantly to the progression of kidney failure.


    peripheral neuropathy

    Nerves transmit messages from the brain to the different organs in our bodies, allowing us to move, see, hear, breathe and feel.

    Almost half the people with diabetes are likely to suffer nerve damage at some point, and it is usually diagnosed late in Type 1 patients and early in Type 2 patients, according to a 2005 study published in American Family Physician.

    High blood sugar levels in diabetic patients interfere with the nerves’ ability to transmit signals to the different organs.

    Persistent high blood sugar also irritates the walls of the blood capillaries carrying blood to the different organs. Eventually, this starves the nerves of oxygen and nutrients, and damages them severely.

    Because nerves run throughout the body, nerve damage can have a variety of symptoms depending on the area of the body that has been affected. This may include your legs, hands, gastrointestinal tract as well as your reproductive organs.

    There are two common types of diabetic nerve damage.

    • Sensory-motor or peripheral: Symptoms include tingling, burning, excessive sensitivity to touch, numbness, cramps, shooting pain, muscle weakening, loss of coordination and balance.
    • Autonomic nerve damage: Symptoms include bladder problems, gastrointestinal problems (like constipation), erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, rapid heart rate, problems with the eyes adjusting from light to dark, dizziness and fainting.


      brain stroke

      The white matter is the area of the brain responsible for information processing and memory. A loss of white matter can severely undermine a person’s cognitive functions and cause mental decline.

      In a 2007 study published in Diabetologia, patients who had Type 1 diabetes underwent a neuropsychological check-up and their brain tissues were taken for examination.

      They showed reduced white matter in the brain and performed poorly on design/drawing tests, as well as processed information more slowly.


      Type 2 diabetes also affects the person’s mental abilities severely and may hamper their ability to perform cognitive functions. It may cause cerebrovascular disease and vascular cognitive impairment over time.

      Cerebrovascular disease obstructs blood flow to the brain. Persistent high blood pressure damages and narrows the blood vessels supplying blood to the brain over time, causing this disease.

      When high blood pressure narrows the vessels, it could also cause a mini-stroke or a major stroke. High blood pressure can also rupture the blood vessels, causing a brain hemorrhage.

      Vascular cognitive impairment is an Alzheimer’s-like condition that greatly undermines memory, problem solving, and information processing and retention abilities.


      development of periodontitis

      High blood sugar also takes a toll on your oral health. Diabetes reduces the person’s ability to fight infections, exposing them to a horde of mouth disorders.

      People with diabetes are at a high risk of the following:

      • Tooth decay and cavities: The mouth is a bacterial hub, which interacts with the high blood sugar to form plaque (a yellow coating on the teeth). Plaque erodes the enamel (protective layer) of the teeth, leading to decay and cavities.
      • Gingivitis (early gum disease): Diabetes undermines the body’s ability to ward off bacteria. This, combined with poor oral hygiene, allows the plaque to persist and eventually harden. This irritates the gingival (gum-area beneath the bottom of the teeth) and may lead to swelling and bleeding.
      • Periodontitis: This is the advanced form of gingivitis. It damages the bone and tissue that support the teeth, causing them to fall out.

      Diabetics may also develop burning mouth syndrome and oral thrush (white patches on the tongue).


      eye complication diabetes

      The eyes are one of the most sensitive organs of your body.

      People with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes face a high risk of contracting blindness, according to a 2015 study published in the British Medical Journal.


      Diabetes can cause several eye disorders that can have debilitating and irreversible repercussions.

      • Diabetic retinopathy: High blood sugar damages the blood vessels in the retina, a tissue that is located at the back of the eye. This can cause vision damage, vision loss and blindness.
      • Diabetic macular edema: This usually occurs after retinopathy and is the most common cause of vision loss. In macular edema, a fluid fills up in a part of the retina called the macula that enables straight-vision crucial to reading, writing, driving and identifying faces.
      • Cataracts: In this disorder, the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy. It is the most common cause of blindness, and usually occurs in people 40 years of age and above. People with diabetes are at a 2 to 4 times higher risk of developing cataracts than those without the underlying disorder.
      • Glaucoma: This disorder is characterized by a pressure buildup on the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain, which eventually damages it. It can destroy vision permanently.


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  • You Think That 120/80 Is A Normal Blood Pressure: You Are Completely Wrong!


    The numbers of heart attacks are increasing and thus the concern about heart disease as well. We all have some of our closest relatives, parents or friends who are popping pills to keep the blood pressure under control.

    There are many things which are linked to each other when it comes to the health of your heart.

    The level of cholesterol, blood pressure and the food that you eat are one of the important aspects linked with heart diseases.

    The high blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and thus we are all conscious of our blood pressure. A lot of us has a habit to check our blood pressure regularly which indeed is the best way to ensure the healthy heart.


    However, the information which we have about blood pressure is that 120/80 is the normal blood pressure. We have seen many people getting panic when the blood pressure comes little higher that this given level.

    What we are not aware of is that the ESC Association has added some new guidelines and the normal level of blood pressure is now changed. The new guidelines provide that normal blood pressure is 140/90. The limit is set lower for elderly and diabetics people.

    So, according to the new guidelines you don’t have to be worried when your blood pressure increases to 139/89. You can continue to take your medicine to keep the blood pressure under control.

    Sometimes it happens that our fear adds up more to increase the risk of heart attack. Don’t be afraid of little change in the level of blood pressure because it will be all right.

    Have a regular check up and concern your doctor to know about these changes in the guidelines. Also, your doctor will also be able to explain you in detail the level of blood pressure you should and should not be worried off.

    Keep the fear away, enjoy each moment of your life and try to remain happy. This will help you to keep your heart healthy.

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  • Why you shouldn't use cotton swabs to clean your ears

    The doctors' advice hasn't changed much, but it's still so unsatisfying: You should not use cotton swabs to clean your ears.

    Updated clinical guidelines published Tuesday in the journal Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery say they're not appropriate for earwax removal. In fact, information for patients in the guidelines say no to putting anything "smaller than your elbow in your ear."
    Regardless, most of us hoard a stash of the soft-tipped paper sticks; they seem so perfectly suited to that dirty job.
    So the authors of the guidelines -- an advisory panel of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery -- have injected a little bit of freshness into the usual advice, giving more explanation as to "Why not?" They even included a consumer representative on the panel.
    "We really have come to appreciate that clinicians are not the only users of (the guidelines), that patients are really interested in their own care and people are really taking ownership of their own care," said Dr. Seth Schwartz, chairman of the guideline update group for the academy.
    Here's why not: Cotton swabs, hair pins, house keys and toothpicks -- the many smaller-than-our-elbow-objects we love to put in our ears -- can cause cuts in our ear canals, perforate our eardrums and dislocate our hearing bones. And any of these things could lead to hearing loss, dizziness, ringing or other symptoms of ear injury.
    Instead, most people can just let nature do its job. Our bodies produce earwax to keep our ears lubricated, clean and protected: Dirt, dust and anything else that might enter our ears gets stuck to the wax, which keeps any such particles from moving farther into the ear canal. Our usual jaw motions from talking and chewing, along with skin growth within the canal, typically helps move old earwax from inside to the outside the ear, where it is washed off during bathing.
    The guidelines published in 2008 were overdue for an update. While new randomized trials have been included, "nothing very dramatic" has changed, other than an improvement in the methodology itself, said Schwartz: "The process has become a little more transparent in the way we actually write the guidelines now. We are more clear about why the decisions we made are made and what data there is to support it."
    Patient are apparently interested in the nitty-gritty of ear care: More than 50,000 people downloaded the old guideline, Schwartz said.
    "It's kind of amazing how many people were interested in reading that," he said.

    The do's and don'ts

    To be "a little bit more patient-friendly," the guidelines now include lists of "Do's and Don't's" for everyone and a list for people who have had problems with cerumen impaction, the official term for earwax buildup, a condition that is more common among the elderly, according to Dr. James Battey, director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
    Impaction can occur when the ear's self-cleaning process doesn't work very well. The resulting waxy buildup blocks the ear canal, causing difficulty hearing.
    "For those with impacted ear wax, the use of cotton-tipped swabs may push the earwax deeper into the ear canal and harm the eardrum," Battey said. He added that "about 2% of adults with impacted earwax may go the doctor with hearing loss as their symptom."
    "Impacted earwax is best addressed by a health care professional," he said.
    In the all-important "Don't" section, you'll find warnings against "overcleaning" your ears. Excessive cleaning may increase earwax impaction, according to the authors.
    "It's cultural" to want clear ears, Schwartz said, but "wiping away any excess wax when it comes to the outside of the ear is enough to keep it clean."
    Another warning in the new guidelines: Do not use ear candles. Not only can they cause "serious damage" to your eardrum, "there is no evidence that they remove impacted cerumen," wrote the authors.
    "Home therapies are fairly effective," Schwartz said, adding that the "whole host" of over-the-counter wax-softening drops as well as home-use irrigators are effective and safe. "Even drops of water in the ear can be effective to soften the wax," he added.
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    Still, among the items on the "Do" list is to ask your health care provider about how to treat earwax impaction at home, since "you may have certain medical or ear conditions that may make some options unsafe."
    "It's not a bad thing to have wax in your ears. Everybody does and should. It's more of an issue when it becomes too much," Schwartz said. The guideline definition of "too much" is an operational one: If you have symptoms -- such as pain, drainage, bleeding or hearing loss -- then you have a problem.
    "If it's causing symptoms, absolutely go to your doctor," Schwartz said, repeating what is likely the most important "Do" list recommendation. Still, some people attribute their symptoms to wax buildup when it's just not the case.
    Among older people, "hearing loss becomes very, very common," said Schwartz.
    In fact, aging, along with infections and exposure to loud noise, is one of the most common causes of acquired hearing loss, according to Battey.
    Yet many people cannot imagine that they've begun to lose their hearing, and as a result of this disbelief, Schwartz said, "a patient has wax cleared, and then their doctor needs to look deeper."
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  • French baby death linked to vitamin dose

    France has acted to suspend the sale of a vitamin D supplement after the death of a newborn baby who suffocated hours after being given it.

    The 10-day-old baby had been given a dose of Uvesterol D, widely given to French children under the age of five to prevent vitamin D deficiency.

    France's medical safety agency said there was a "probable link" to that particular supplement.

    But officials said there were many other products that could be used.

    Health Minister Marisol Touraine said children were not in danger by taking vitamin D supplements in general as "it's the specific way the product is administered that poses risks". She promised parents "transparent, objective and reliable information."

    In a statement (in French), the national medical safety agency (ANSM) said "only Uvesterol D administered with a pipette is involved". The product is not sold in the UK.

    The baby died at home on 21 December, apparently after being given a dose of the substance orally through a plastic pipette. It showed immediate signs of suffocation before dying two hours later of cardio-respiratory arrest.

    File pic of Marisol TouraineImage copyrightREUTERSImage captionHealth Minister Marisol Touraine assured parents there was no risk from giving their children vitamin D supplements

    News of the baby's death was not disclosed by France's health authorities immediately but emerged in French media on Monday.

    ANSM said that in 2006 it had imposed measures to reduce risks from taking Uvesterol D after adverse effects became known. However, until December there had been no deaths since it went on the market in 1990, it added.

    French daily Le Monde has revealed that Uvesterol D has for years been at the centre of fears over how it has been ingested, with several cases documented of serious illness. The paper cited the oily nature of the substance as being different from other types of liquid vitamin D.

    The supplement's producer Crinex changed the pipette in 2006 to prevent the liquid being administered too quickly.

    Then, in 2013, the medical safety agency urged parents to give the supplement drip-by-drip before feeding and ensure the baby was in a semi-sitting position. It also reduced the recommended dosage.

    In 2014, health journal Prescire called for an end to the use of Uvesterol vitamin supplements for newborn babies, complaining of half-measures and procrastination from both the company and the medical safety agency.


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  • Zika virus: Pope hints at relaxation of contraception ban

    Pope Francis has hinted that the use of contraception by women at risk of contracting the Zika virus may be permissible.

    The pontiff insisted that abortion remained a crime but said avoiding pregnancy was "not an absolute evil".

    His remarks came in response to a question about how best to tackle the Zika outbreak across Latin America.

    The virus has been linked to the microcephaly birth defects in babies, which can cause development problems.

    Roman Catholic teachings currently ban the use of contraception.

    "We must not confuse the evil consisting of avoiding a pregnancy with abortion," Pope Francis told reporters on a flight returning home from a visit to Mexico.

    "Abortion is not a theological problem. It is a human problem, medical. One person is killed to save another. It is evil in itself, it is not a religious evil, it is a human evil," he said.

    "Avoiding a pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it is clear," he went on.

    The 79-year-old was referring to a predecessor's decision to authorise nuns at risk of rape in Africa to use contraceptives.


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