- As World AIDS Day is marked globally, three Australians have reflected on living with HIV and the joys and challenges of life spans they once never dreamed of.
- Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or rTMS, a depression treatment often used as a last resort for people who do not respond well to drug therapy is gaining traction after proving successful on a number of patients.
- Whooping cough epidemics happen in Australia every three to four years, but the National Centre for Immunisation and Research of Vaccine Preventable Diseases has found cases are increasing in very young children.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 2nd December 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
As World AIDS Day is marked globally, three Australians have reflected on living with HIV and the joys and challenges of lifespans they once never dreamed of.
… two men and a woman from Adelaide now are trainers with Positive Life SA, teaching aged care workers the issues they can expect to face looking after older Australians with HIV.
The idea there could be people living long lives after an HIV diagnosis was considered unlikely 40 or so years ago, when contracting the virus almost certainly meant an early death from AIDS.
Adelaide man Steven Dewhirst recalled his doctor’s initial reaction when his HIV was diagnosed.
“The prognosis wasn’t good. When I was first diagnosed I asked the doctor how long I have and he looked at his watch, so it didn’t fill me with a great amount of confidence,” he said.
Another Adelaide man, Geoff Hood, said he too did not expect to live this long.
For Adelaide woman Katherine Leane her diagnosis and her pregnancy coincided.
“I don’t think I will ever forget that day … shock, numb, just couldn’t believe it because I found out that I was HIV and pregnant at the same time,” she said.
During the 90s, new treatments changed HIV from an almost-certain death sentence to a chronic manageable illness.
Former school teacher Geoff Hood said his HIV infection was diagnosed much closer to the advent of better treatments and was part of an early trial of the drug AZT.
Ms Leane said she felt it was harder for women than men to reveal their HIV status, because of fears their children would face discrimination.
Neither of her children has the virus, nor her grandchild, and she once had thought she would not live long enough to tell them all about her HIV status.
She said it was something she hid from them for a long time.
A depression treatment often used as a last resort for people who do not respond well to drug therapy is gaining traction after proving successful on a number of patients.
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, or rTMS, is currently used as a treatment of last resort.
For 19-year-old Perth student “Max”, who did not want his real name used, little else had worked to treat his depression.
His mother “Carly” said when depression affected her son, it would hit him hard.
Max was a little apprehensive about rTMS before the first session at Graylands Hospital.
“You sit down in a chair. It’s a bit like a dentist’s chair, and they put a wand up to your head, it makes a clicking noise,” he said.
It freaked him out “a little bit”.
“They put electrodes on your head before they do it. It was a little bit scary but I got used to it fairly quickly,” Max said.
There were daily sessions for a month and it took a little while before he noticed any difference.
“It took about two weeks to take effect,” Max said.
“After the treatment I can do all of those things [sleeping, eating, working, going to university] and I’m pretty much back to my normal self.”
Senior scientist in electro-physiology at the hospital’s department of neurophysiology, Dr Greg Price said rTMS clinical treatments started in Western Australia in 2011.
An increase in whooping cough cases in young children has led experts to conclude that the protection given by the current vaccine may be wearing off.
Whooping cough epidemics happen in Australia every three to four years, but the National Centre for Immunisation and Research of Vaccine Preventable Diseases has found cases are increasing in very young children.
Senior research fellow Dr Helen Quinn said that was a surprising finding about the most recent epidemics between 2009 and 2012.
“We saw a lot more cases in children than we had seen in the past 10 years,” she said.
“We had seen cases in children before, and then our vaccination rates got better and they seemed to go away, and we saw a lot more cases in adolescents and adults.”
Vaccination rates improved from around 15 years ago when Australia stopped using a whole cell vaccine which caused fevers and local reactions.
… Dr Quinn said.
… the 2003 decision to remove a scheduled booster shot at 18 months might also be to blame.
Dr Quinn said the research boosted the case for a return of the 18-month vaccine until the development of a better vaccine.
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