The Health News Australia January 27 2018

  • Australian researchers from the Kirby Institute have collaborated with researchers at Papua New Guinea’s Institute of Medical Research and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide the country’s first representative survey of people most at risk for HIV in Port Moresby. The study found that in one in six sex workers in Port Moresby are HIV positive, and more than half of all sex workers have an STI other than HIV.
  • A study has found that vitamin D deficiency has been linked to impaired lung function and could worsen symptoms of asthma and other respiratory disease symptoms in adults. Researchers from the University of Western Australia and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital tested serum vitamin D levels, lung function and respiratory symptoms in more than 5,000 baby boomers. They also found that high levels of Vitamin D were associated with better lung function, suggesting it plays an important role in maintaining good respiratory health.
  • Health fund premiums will get average weighted increases of 3.95% from April, the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, has announced. The rise will mean the average family pays an extra $143 for private health insurance in one year. Premiums have increased by an average of 5.6% every year since 2010.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 27th of January 2018. Read by Tabetha Moreto.

https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/health/world-first-australia-papua-new-guinea-study-sets-roadmap-hiv-services

Australian researchers from the Kirby Institute have collaborated with researchers at Papua New Guinea’s Institute of Medical Research and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide the country’s first representative survey of people most at risk for HIV in Port Moresby. The survey results were released on Thursday in Port Moresby by PNG’s Minister for Health and HIV, Honorable Sir Puka Temu.

Clinical and behavioural information was collected from the populations considered most at risk for HIV and sexually transmitted infections in Port Moresby: female sex workers, and men who have sex with men and transgender. The study found that in one in six sex workers in Port Moresby are HIV positive, and more than half of all sex workers have an STI other than HIV. Among men who have sex with men and transgender, almost one in ten are HIV positive, and more than a third are positive for an STI. HIV and STI rates in Papua New Guinea are among the highest in the world but until now population-level estimates for these groups were unknown.

The clinical component of the study involved testing each participant for STIs and blood-borne viruses at the point-of-care.

This is the first time a study of this kind has been able to test for so many STIs at point-of-care, and represents an important breakthrough in HIV and STI monitoring, testing and treatment in low-resource settings. Support for practical research that involves affected populations means that programs for prevention and treatment have a good chance of achieving their goals of reducing the high levels of HIV and other STIs.

Scientia Professor John Kaldor, head of the Public Health Interventions Group at the University New South Wales Medicine’s Kirby Institute, believes that Australian researchers, with their in-country partners, are making important contributions to public health in PNG.

https://healthtimes.com.au/hub/respiratory/53/news/aap/low-levels-of-vitamin-d-have-been-found-to-impact-lung-function/3140/

A study has found that vitamin D deficiency has been linked to impaired lung function and could worsen symptoms of asthma and other respiratory disease symptoms in adults. Researchers from the University of Western Australia and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital tested serum vitamin D levels, lung function and respiratory symptoms in more than five thousand baby boomers.

The participants all came from West Australia’s South West region and are part of the Busselton Healthy Ageing Study. Scientists found those with low levels had a higher instance of respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis.

They also found that high levels of Vitamin D were associated with better lung function, suggesting it plays an important role in maintaining good respiratory health. And the effects of vitamin D on lung health remains the same even when seasonal fluctuation, obesity and the impact of chronic disease on vitamin levels were factored in.
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A recent study, published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal, found the use of the supplements lead to a fifty percent drop in the number of people being admitted to a hospital emergency department because of an asthma attack.
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BHAC director Michael Hunt says opinion is still divided as to whether vitamin D deficiency contributes to respiratory diseases or was a result of the existing disease or its treatment.
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jan/25/health-fund-premium-rise-of-395-lowest-since-2001-greg-hunt-says

Health fund premiums will get average weighted increases of three point ninety five percent from April, the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, has announced. The rise will mean the average family pays an extra one hundred forty three dollars for private health insurance in one year.

On Thursday Hunt said it was the lowest premium increase since two thousand one and that last year’s reforms to prostheses pricing had helped to keep premiums down. Prior to the reforms, health funds had been paying out benefits for medical devices and prostheses at a rate up to five times higher than prices charged for the same products in the public system.

Single people with private health insurance will pay an average of seventy three dollars more in one year following the premium increases. But the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, told reporters the government should not be “running around saying they’ve had some marvellous win because our health insurance premiums will go up just under four percent this year”.

Centre for Policy Development research fellow Ian McAuley, who has undertaken extensive research into the private health insurance industry, said he did not think the government had done enough to attract people to private health insurance or to discourage them from scrapping their policies.

Minister Hunt said private health insurance was an “essential part” of the health system.

Premiums have increased by an average of five point six percent every year since two thousand ten. In response to Hunt’s announcement insurers announced their premium increases. Medibank will raise premiums by an average three point eighty eight percent and NIB by three point ninety three percent. HCF announced an average premium increase of three point thirty nine percent.

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