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HIV-like virus 'eradicated in monkeys', high NHS death rates and throw away your child's expensive trainers

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Thursday 12 September.

With autumn approaching, let’s start off with some good news – and excellent news if you are a monkey.

The BBC reports that a vaccine for the monkey equivalent of HIV appears to eradicate the virus.

The research, published in Nature, has revealed that a vaccine was effective in nine of the 16 monkeys that were inoculated against Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) infection from their bodies.

The research team looked at an aggressive form of virus called SIVmac239, which is up to 100 times more deadly than HIV. Infected monkeys usually die within two years, but in some inoculated primates the virus did not take hold.

The vaccine is based on another virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV), which belongs to the herpes family.

Professor Louis Picker, from the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health and Science University, used warlike language to explain it

‘It maintains an armed force, that patrols all the tissues of the body, all the time, indefinitely,’ explained Professor Picker.

He added that once they are sure it is safe, they will look at a possible application to humans.

And if that put you in a good mood, let’s bring you crashing down again with news in the Daily Mail that, apparently, you are almost 50% more likely to die of neglect in the NHS than in the US health system.

Never knowingly missing a chance to bash the NHS, the Mail said that figures obtained by Professor Brian Jarman for Channel 4 News show that the death rates in English hospitals last year were 45% higher than in the US.

The figures, from 2004, showed that death rates for hospitals in England were 22.5% higher than in six others in the western world including Canada and France.

However, he did say that more up-to-date figures would probably reveal better care in the UK.

He said he would be holding urgent discussions with other officials about the data, saying he will use this data to improve the performance of the NHS.

And finally, the advice that parents have been waiting for – plimsolls are better for children running than expensive trainers.

Dr Mick Wilkinson, a sports scientist at Northumbria University, told an audience at the British Science Festival in Newcastle: ‘I would say [to parents] don’t go and buy expensive… big cushioned jobs, just get them a normal pair of flexible, flat shoes…there is a lot of evidence to suggest that the human foot is structured to be able to cope with the forces of running on the midfoot or barefoot.’

However, for adults, the feet are used to wearing trainers for running, so going back to basic footwear will be of no value.

Parents across the UK will hope that their children become avid Telegraph readers for the day.

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