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Medical News Summary, 23 May 2016

Welcome to this week’s edition of the News Summary blog, covering from the 15th to the 22nd of May. In this blog post, we report the news of a potential resolution to the junior doctors strikes, an increase in the global life expectancy and new advances in the treatment of HIV.

Junior doctors contract: BMA & Jeremy Hunt reach an agreement!

Junior doctors strike agreement reached. Photo credit: Ms Jane Campbell / Shutterstock.com
Junior doctors strike agreement reached. Photo credit: Ms Jane Campbell / Shutterstock.com

After ten days of talks between the British Medical Association and Jeremy Hunt, the UK Health Secretary an agreement over the junior doctors contract has been reached. The new contract proposal was reached after days of talks hosted by ACAS, a conciliation service.

The contract will now be put forward to the 40,000 doctors who are members of the British Medical Association (BMA). Although, the new contract could still be rejected, the fact that both parties have agreed is a huge step forward.

Some of the changes to the contract include a reduction in the basic pay rise and extra pay for night shifts. However, weekends will be divided between normal and unsocial hours, and doctors will be paid according to how many weekends they have worked over the course of one year.

Additionally, there will be extra support put in place for junior doctors who want to take time out of work – such as women who are going on maternity leave. The support will allow them to catch up with training and qualify for pay rises. The vote on the new contract will take place in June 2016.

Increase in global life expectancy

Increase in global life expectancy: women still outlive men
Increase in global life expectancy: women still outlive men

New data published by the World Health Organisation has shown that global life expectancy has increased by five years since 2000, the fastest increase since the 1960s. The country with the highest life expectancy was Japan, where the average was 83.7 for both genders, closely followed by Switzerland and Singapore.

The countries with the lowest life expectancy were Sierra Leone and Angola. The life expectancy in Africa increased greatly which is thought to be due to improvements in child survival, antiretroviral drugs for HIV, and malaria control protocols.

Overall, women were found to live longer than men. The report also looked at the healthy life expectancy and found that the most common causes of loss of healthy years were musculoskeletal, neurological and cardiovascular diseases along with diabetes. The study reflects the progression of global health care and the reduction of premature deaths from preventable diseases.

HIV cure – on the horizon?

HIV Virus - potential cure could prevent virus from replicating
HIV Virus – potential cure could prevent virus from replicating

Scientists researching the HIV virus have managed to remove DNA of the virus from living tissue. It is thought that this new technology might eventually lead to a cure for the disease. The research, which is being led by Professor Kamel Khalili from Temple University, will be an advance on the currently used antiretroviral drugs used. The current drugs are unable to eliminate HIV from infected cells.

The new technology uses an adapted virus to deliver the gene-editing system into cells in the body. It means that it may in the future be possible to edit the genes of cells infected with HIV and prevent the virus from replicating. It is thought that a clinical trial using the technology could happen within the next few years. However, before this is possible the method needs to be tested in larger groups of animals to check that it is both safe and effective.

Uploaded by Joelle on 23 May, 2016

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