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A clinical trial of a drug that showed promise in preventing HIV has been halted after researchers found women taking it were just as likely to contract the disease as women who weren’t.

A clinical trial of a drug that showed promise in preventing HIV has been halted after researchers found women taking it were just as likely to contract the disease as women who weren’t.

The study, launched two years ago, had 3,900 women enrolled throughout Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. The goal was to test Gilead’s drug Truvada, which had shown promising results in earlier studies in preventing HIV in men who had sex with men at risk of HIV.

The decision to halt the trial came after the newest results were announced Monday. A total of 56 in the trial were diagnosed with HIV, half of which were taking Truvada and half of which weren’t. Family Health International, a non-profit group involved in AIDS research, issued a statement saying all participants would be notified and those infected would be followed for another year and referred for treatment in their community.

The reason for the drug’s failure to prevent HIV infections in women after promising results in men is not known, but could be related to participants not following the study regimen, the fact the drug just might not work in women or other factors that have not yet been determined.

Two other studies testing preventative AIDS drugs are still under way in Africa — one studying heterosexual women and another looking at couples where one partner is HIV positive. Results are expected in two years.

The controversial InSite safe injection facility in Vancouver has recorded a 35 per cent decrease in intravenous drug overdoses in the two years after it opened its doors.

Despite attempts by the federal government to close the facility, it has continued to provide intravenous drug users with a controlled, supervised environment with nursing staff on hand. The facility has also pointed out that with users visiting InSite, they are not subsequently wandering the streets. The site also reduces behaviours that can lead to HIV and Hepatitis C infections, such as re-using needles.

The government is still fighting to close down the facility. The Supreme Court of Canada will hold a hearing on the case next month.

Young people who are gay, lesbian or bisexual are 20 per cent more likely to kill themselves if they live in communities that are less tolerant and supportive of homosexuality compared to youth who live in more supportive areas.

Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study examined survey results for 31,852 students in Grade 11 in Oregon, then created a measurement of the social environment of 34 different counties. In communities that were judged less supportive of homosexuality, the percentage of suicides amongst youth who were gay, lesbian or bisexual climbed 20 per cent compared to those that were in supportive areas. Markers of supportive communities included active anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies and the presence of gay-straight alliances. Communities and schools that adopted these measures had lower suicide rates for all youth, including heterosexual.

Overall, regardless of community, 21.5 per cent of young people who were gay, lesbian or bisexual attempted suicide within the 12 months preceding the survey, compared to 4.2 per cent of heterosexual young people.

Seniors who lose the ability to decipher lies, insincerity and sarcasm are likely exhibiting signs of dementia, according to the results of a new study presented at a recent convention.

While speaking at the 63rd annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Hawaii, presenter Tai Shay-Ur explained how the loss of these cognitive abilities might be an early warning sign of neurodegenerative disease.

In the study, researchers asked 175 seniors, some who had been diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease and some who had not, to watch videos of conversations where one person would sometimes lie or speak sarcastically. Most healthy individuals were able to pick up on the verbal and non-verbal cues, reflected in a closed questionnaire they completed after watching.

As the participants watched, scientists mapped their brains using an MRI. The scans showed subsequent links between deterioration in specific parts of the brain and a participant’s inability to detect insincerity. Patients with frontotemporal dementia had a tougher time distinguishing lies or sarcasm while patients with other forms of dementia fared slightly better but worse than the healthy individuals.

“These patients cannot detect lies. This fact can help them be diagnosed earlier,” said neuropsychologist Katherine Rankin.

The MRIs focused on the frontal lobes of the brain where the human ability to spot lies exists. Being unable to detect lies is just one sign of dementia, Shay-Ur said. Others could include “socially inappropriate behaviours, such as switching religions, or radically changing one’s political views,” behaviours all too often passed off as a midlife crisis or depression.

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