New research finds that treating HIV patients who have uninfected partners reduces transmission rates; study shows strong link between repeated head trauma and long-term brain damage; plus, fifth death reported from ‘coronavirus,’ a respiratory illness similar to SARS. Read these and more public health news stories for Dec. 3, 2012.

BBC– Partner treatment ‘cuts HIV transmission’
Treating people with HIV who have uninfected partners significantly reduces transmission rates, researchers in China have found. A clinical trial had shown benefits of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment before. But this trial, reported in the Lancet, is the first “real-life” public health programme of its kind. A UK HIV expert said there was a growing consensus that getting ARV drugs to as many people as need them would cut transmission rates.

WBUR– Study reinforces link between head trauma, brain damage
An extensive Boston University study of head trauma found strong evidence that repeated blows to the head can lead to long-term brain damage. The study, conducted by the BU Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, looked at the brains of 85 football players, boxers and military veterans. Sixty-eight of the subjects — or 80 percent — showed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a degenerative brain disorder linked to memory loss, depression and dementia.

BBC– Fifth coronavirus death reported
A fifth person has died from a new respiratory illness similar to the Sars virus, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO said the two latest deaths were in Jordan. The disease had previously been detected only in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, although one patient was transferred to the UK for treatment. It brings the total number of cases of the infection to nine. There may also be evidence of human to human spread of the virus. It causes pneumonia and sometimes kidney failure.

Reuters– Teens may buy less tobacco when displays are hidden
A new study conducted using a virtual reality game suggests teens may be less likely to try to buy cigarettes at convenience stories if they aren’t sold in plain sight behind the counter. Requiring stores to hide tobacco product displays is one option some states are considering to curb teen smoking after the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 was passed, according to the study’s lead author.

ABC– Pesticides in tap water linked to food allergies
As food allergies become increasingly common, a new study offers the first proof that they may be linked to pesticides found in tap water. Researchers at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology used existing government data to see whether people with more dichlorophenols in their urine were more likely to have food allergies. Dichlorophenols are a kind of chlorine in certain pesticides that are known to kill bacteria, and in theory, they could be killing the naturally occurring bacteria in humans’ digestive systems, causing food allergies.

Kaiser Health News– Parity for behavioral health coverage delayed by lack of federal rules
This story comes from our partner Stateline, the daily news service of the Pew Center on the States.

Danielle Moles is anorexic, which in her case played out not only in a near-starvation diet but also in obsessive running. She ran during tornados. She ran in temperatures that fell to 20 degrees below zero and froze her ponytail solid. She ran a marathon with a stress fracture in her foot. She ran when she was supposed to be at birthday parties and bridal showers and family vacations. She ran until she literally passed out.

NPR– Social media help diabetes patients (and drugmakers) connect
When Kerri Sparling was 7 years old, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Her family didn’t know anyone with the disease, so they sent her to diabetes camp — “where every single camper had Type 1 diabetes,” she says. “That was my first sense of not only other people who had diabetes, but a true community,” says Sparling. Things are very different today. About 26 million Americans have diabetes — mostly Type 2 — and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that as many as one-third of adults could have diabetes by 2050.

Washington Post– State lawmakers gird for battle over Medicaid expansion
As state legislatures prepare to meet in January, lawmakers across the country are girding for a battle over whether to sign on to the health-care law’s expansion of Medicaid. “This is the number one issue,” said state Sen. Michael Lamoureux (R), incoming president of the Arkansas Senate. “And in 10 years this is by far the most difficult one we’ve ever dealt with.”