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Lansley TV, the AIDS-free generation and cancer ‘stealth attacks’

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Tuesday 22 November.

Big Brother is watching you. Or is that Andrew Lansley? The Independent reports this morning that the health secretary is popping up every three or four minutes on hospital TV, ‘extolling the virtues of doctors and nurses’.

What’s worse, patients who wish to avoid Mr Lansley’s message, which is now playing on half of the TVs in wards across NHS, have to pay to do so, the Indy claims. ‘Patients are charged more than £5 a day to access television, email and phone services. Until they switch the system on, patients are faced with a loop of promotional footage’, including Mr Lansley’s message.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, is looking forward to ‘an AIDS-free generation’, as reported in the Guardian, after a report by UNAIDS which shows more people than ever living through HIV and a steady drop in death and new infection rates. It’s not all good news though, AIDS funding levels are dropping this year for the first time since AIDS broke out. The UN estimates $22bn is needed to keep up progress but only $16bn has been made available this year.

The Daily Mail is uncharacteristically optimistic about a new cancer drug, which combats bowel tumours with ‘stealth’. The drug, which has so far only been tested on mice, ‘seeks out and destroys’ tumours by ‘sneaking into cancerous areas’ and ‘dramatically shrinking them’, avoiding the nasty side effects associated with chemotherapy. US researchers believe the new drug could soon be used to combat other cancers.

If you are a vaccine-wary American parent and you can’t make it to the pox party, someone can always send you a licked lollipop or a sodden tissue in the post. The Times (login required) reports today on this interesting alternative to the chicken pox vaccine which is part of the routine immunisation package for children in the US. With the virus generally being much less harmful when contracted in childhood, parents are keen to infect their children by any means necessary. In the Times, Dr Mark Porter described the technique, as opposed to the vaccine, as: ‘What carpet-bombing  is to a laser-guided bomb’.