- Almost 400 people in a town in Victoria’s east, believed to be Bairnsdale, will be tested for HIV after coming into contact with a health worker who had been diagnosed with the virus.
- A national study into strokes has revealed the disease is costing the country billions in lost productivity and wages every year.
- People tend to choose friends that are genetically similar to themselves, so much so that a person’s social circle could be made up of their fourth cousins, scientists say.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 16th July 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.
Almost 400 people in a town in Victoria’s east, believed to be Bairnsdale, will be tested for HIV after coming into contact with a health worker who had been diagnosed with the virus.
Victorian Health Minister David Davis said the medical practitioner did not know they were HIV positive and concerns have been raised that they may have passed on the virus to their patients.
It is understood the practitioner stood down from work in Victoria’s Gippsland as soon as they were given the diagnosis.
So far, 248 of the affected patients have been contacted, 84 have been tested and all of them have been given the all-clear.
Victoria’s chief health officer Rosemary Lester said the tests were being carried out as a safety measure and the risk of contracting the virus was extremely low.
The department has refused to confirm that Bairnsdale was the town involved or which health service was at the centre of the diagnosis.
Dr Lester said that there were procedures in place and they had to be followed to maintain the public’s and health profession’s confidence in the system.
Dr Lester said the 399 patients came into contact with the practitioner over a number of months.
She said the health care worker has been very cooperative with the department.
A national study into strokes has revealed the disease is costing the country billions in lost productivity and wages every year.
South Australia and Tasmania were found to be the worst affected states in the study commissioned by the Stroke Foundation.
The Deloitte Access Economics study estimated that in 2014 there would be 256 strokes in South Australia for every 100,000 people, while in Tasmania there would be 246.
This compares with a national rate of 217.
The report found nationally that 51,000 strokes were suffered every year – which equated to almost 1,000 per week.
When the country was examined by federal electorate, Hindmarsh in South Australia had the highest number of stroke deaths, with 86 per 100,000 people.
Almost 440,000 Australians now live with the effects of stroke – a figure the report predicted would reach 700,000 by 2032.
The report also found that 11,418 people would die from a stroke in 2014 in Australia, and two-thirds of those who survived would be disabled.
People tend to choose friends that are genetically similar to themselves, so much so that a person’s social circle could be made up of their fourth cousins, scientists say.
The research is based on the Framingham Heart Study in the northeastern US state of Massachusetts, which contains both extensive genetic detail – 1.5 million markers – and information about friends and connections.
Scientists focused on 1,932 people and compared pairs of unrelated friends against pairs of unrelated strangers.
Those in the same social circles shared about one per cent of their genes, much higher than the amount they shared with nearby strangers.
Friends tended to be about as related as people who share great-great-great grandparents.
“The increase in similarity relative to strangers is at the level of fourth cousins,” researchers say, in a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Even though sharing one per cent of genes may not sound like a lot, co-author Dr Nicholas Christakis, professor of sociology, evolutionary biology and medicine at Yale University, says “to geneticists, it is a significant number.”
Researchers say they could tell from their analysis that the genetic ties among friends went above and beyond what would be expected among people of shared ancestry, or by people who tend to befriend those of the same ethnic group.
They could also tell that friends were most similar in genes affecting the sense of smell, and most different when it came to genes that affect immunity against various diseases.
Researchers do not fully understand how this happens.
But they say perhaps friends might be most easily made among those who enjoy the same smells, such as the aroma of a coffee shop.
On the other hand, the disparity in immune systems could foster survival in groups of friends by reducing the spread of dangerous pathogens.
Christakis says he is interested in finding out why people have friends in the first place.
“The making of friends is exceedingly rare in the animal kingdom,” he says.
“Certain other primates, elephants and whales are the only other mammals who do this, and this alone aroused our curiosity.”
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