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HIV rates failing to decrease, obesity linked to aneurysms and charity calls for HPV vaccines to be extended

A round-up of the health news headlines on Friday 1 February

HIV rates in gay and bisexual men are failing to go down despite huge improvements in treating and testing.

A study in Lancet Infectious Diseases shows that new infections remained static at around 2,300 a year between 2001 and 2010, the BBC reports.

Researchers at the Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit in Cambridge said that the number of gay or bisexual men being tested in clinics went from 16,000 in 2001 to 59,000 in 2010 and the time from infection to diagnosis fell from four years to just over three. There was also an increase in the numbers taking antiretroviral therapy from 69% to 80%.

However, the Health Protection Agency last week warned that HIV had reached an ‘all-time high’ for gay and bisexual men.

Dr Daniela De Angelis said: ‘Perhaps a resurgence of unsafe sexual practice might be fuelling the spread of HIV or perhaps testing is not very targeted.’

The Daily Mail meanwhile is warning that obesity increases the risk of suffering a burst aorta.

Swedish researchers claim that men with 39 inch waistlines and women with 34 inch waistlines and above were 30% more likely to suffer abdominal aortic aneurysms.

The study, published in the British Journal of Surgery, looked at more than 63,000 men and women aged from 46 to 84 who all took part in two long-term health studies.

It showed that every time someone’s waistline increased by two inches, their chances of developing an aneurysm increased by 5%. However, a person’s BMI had no effect.

The researchers said that the type of fat that gathers around the stomach may contain harmful compounds that damage the lining of the aorta, possibly by causing inflammation.

Finally, a charity has said that schoolboys in the UK should receive the HPV vaccine to protect against throat cancer, the BBC reports.

The vaccine is already given to girls to immunise them against the virus that causes cervical cancer.

However, the Throat Cancer Foundation says the vaccine protects against other cancers. It has called on the government to extend the programme to all 12-year-olds.

The charity said the vaccine would cost as little as £45 per person and could save hundreds of lives.

Prof Christopher Nutting, lead clinician of the head and neck unit at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, said evidence from Australia, where a national programme had led to a 90% drop in cases of genital warts in men and women, showed the vaccine is effective.

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