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Computers Help Consumers Cope With Boom in AIDS Data

July 26, 1988|KATHLEEN DOHENY

Keeping up with new information about acquired immune deficiency syndrome isn't easy for patients and their families. More than 300 AIDS-related articles, some very technical, are published in major medical journals every month.

But 500 subscribers of the nonprofit Computerized AIDS Information Network may have an easier time deciphering developments, thanks to non-technical summaries now provided by the state-funded project.

In addition to the new summaries (on such topics as condom effectiveness and risks to health professionals), CAIN provides service resources (such as testing sites and hot line numbers), information about local AIDS projects and foundations and intra-user electronic mail, said systems operator James Holchin.

Founded in late 1984, the network can be accessed with any terminal or PC and modem. Subscribers pay a lifetime membership fee of $49.95 plus on-line fees.

Information: (213) 854-3006 or (800) 544-4005.

An Internal Thermometer

Look for an ingestible thermometer system to help women determine ovulation time as well as make life easier for veterinarians who must treat large unfriendly animals.

Developed by a Johns Hopkins research team, the Ingestible Thermal Monitoring System is expected to receive FDA approval in the next few weeks, said Helen D. Worth, a university spokeswoman.

To use the device, a patient swallows a three-fourths-inch capsule that emits magnetic signals as it passes through the body. The signals are detected by an external receiving coil, then transmitted to a computer and converted to temperature readings, said Russell Eberhart, manager of biomedical programs at Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Laboratory.

In clinical studies, the system has proved more accurate in measuring deep-body temperature than the traditional rectal probe method, he said.

Eberhart expects the system will also prove helpful in monitoring patients with dangerously low or high body temperatures. Weight-loss clinics plan to use the system to determine a dieter's metabolic response to reduced caloric intake and thus evaluate the best weight-loss plan.

Cookouts and Safety

Is barbecuing hazardous to your health? Even though recent research indicates charcoal-broiling may create cancer-producing carcinogens, an occasional cookout is probably OK, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Besides limiting consumption of charcoal-broiled foods to two or three times a week, cooks can minimize risks in a number of other ways, said John Lough, spokesman for the nonprofit, privately funded organization. Among them:

--Reduce grilling time by first boiling or microwaving poultry, ribs and vegetables.

--Cook meat until it's done, but don't char it.

--To reduce the number of flare-ups, keep a squirt bottle of water handy to douse flames. Burning juice or fat "can produce harmful smoke."

--Wrap fish and vegetables in foil before grilling to protect them from smoke and preserve more of their natural flavor.

For a free brochure on "Facts You Should Know About Outdoor Cooking," send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the American Institute for Cancer Research, Dept. OC9, Washington, D.C. 20069.

Child Pedestrian Deaths

Children younger than age 5 are more likely to be killed in their own driveways or in parking lots than by darting out into traffic, according to a study in this month's American Journal of Public Health. (In contrast, pedestrian accidents killing older children are more likely to be due to their darting out into traffic, other studies show.)

Driveway deaths are especially likely in families with a light truck or a van, the researchers reported, probably because the vehicle's size makes it more difficult to see a small youngster behind it. In a review of 71 fatal motor-vehicle/pedestrian accidents involving children under 5, the researchers found that 30 had occurred in driveways and 11 in store or apartment building parking lots.

Breast Cancer Research

A new political action committee formed by recovering breast cancer patient Rose Kushner of Bethesda, Md., is asking women who have had a breast lump to send $1 (or more) per lump to support candidates concerned about breast cancer research.

Kushner, a patient advocate since her own breast cancer was diagnosed in 1974, kicked off the new fund-raising organization, called BreastPac, earlier this month. Donations can be sent to BreastPac, P.O. Box 224, Kensington, Md., 20895.

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