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Take 5

Take 5

Number 1:Is it? Or Isn't It? It's a nagging unanswered question: Can HIV be transmitted through oral sex? Because little scientific data exist, experts have staked a range of positions-from stating that oral sex is risk-free to warning that transmissions can occur. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is backing the side that urges caution. The agency's new fact sheet says that while transmission risks are very low, "oral sex is not risk-free." Number 2:Can Flossing Save Your Life? Quite possibly, say leading cardiac experts. A new report from the American Academy of Periodontology links gum disease with heart disease and has shown the more inflamed and infected the mouth, the more irritated the arteries of the heart become, making them more susceptible to plaque buildup and cardiac disease. Fortunately, there are two simple preventive steps-regular brushing and flossing. Number 3:If You Won't, We Will Despite pledging to permit the use of federal money to fund needle-exchange programs, President Barack Obama's 2010 budget proposal continues banning tax dollars for the services. Now, Democrats in Congress have accomplished what Obama was unwilling to do -- strip the ban from appropriations legislation. If approved, as expected, the bill will allow federal funding of needle-exchange programs for the first time in the nearly 30-year AIDS pandemic. Number 4:Hello, Chemo; Goodbye, HIV? Viiral eradication is a much-ballyhooed concept of late, and a new study is certain to add to the excitement level. Researchers have found that "targeted chemotherapy" can destroy latently infected immune system cells. For HIVers already able to control active virus through anti-HIV drugs, purging the viral reservoirs would allow them to "remain virus-free for a long period of time or forever," the researchers say. Number 5:Personal, Not Political AIDS advocates could get a powerful new ally in the Obama administration with a personal perspective on the HIV crisis-surgeon general nominee Regina M. Benjamin. The Alabama family physician has been a champion of HIV prevention, research, and treatment since her brother's death from the disease. Her parents also died of preventable diseases. "While I can't change my family's past," she said at her nomination press conference, "I can be a voice in the movement to improve...our nation's health for the future."
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