OnCentral | Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

HIV infects black, Latino women up to 20 times more than white women

Coinciding with Women's History Month, health organizations including the CDC is encouraging all women to get tested for HIV.

Women and teens account for less than a quarter of new HIV infections, but within that group, the black and Latino female demographics are hit the hardest.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women age 13 or older made up 21 percent of the 49,273 new HIV diagnoses across the country in 2011. Of these more than 10,000 cases, blacks and Latinas are affected at a much higher rate than white women. 

The CDC adds that it's not race itself that's a contributing factor, but the "social factors" that can place them at a higher risk: "These factors may include higher rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in communities of color, limited access to high-quality health care, poverty, stigma, fear and discrimination."

In L.A. County, the rates of infection among women hover below the national numbers. According to data from 2008, only 11 percent of HIV infections occurred in women, but minorities still make up the largest proportion of all male and female cases. The highest rates of HIV diagnosis are reported in the county's Metro and South L.A. communities, including Compton, Hollywood and Central Los Angeles.


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Exercising may be key to better sleep, suggests poll

People who reported regular exercise also reported better sleep than their more sedentary counterparts.
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

A good workout may be the secret to better sleep – and people who are well-rested are more likely to work out because they have more energy.

See how that works?

That's according to a new poll from the National Sleep Foundation, which highlighted a "strong [relationship] between good sleep and exercise," although it stopped short of describing it as cause-and-effect.

"I think it's much more likely that exercising improves sleep," said Max Hirshkowitz, who chaired the poll, in a news release.

Among the findings:

  • Up to 67 percent of folks who say they exercise – whether it's vigorously, moderately or lightly – say they also have a "good night's sleep" most nights, if not every night, of the week. Only four in 10 of their counterparts who don't exercise say the same.
  • People with vigorous workout routines are the least likely to report sleep problems: 72 percent said they rarely grapple with waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep, and 69 percent said they almost never have trouble falling asleep.
  • On the other hand, one in two people who don't exercise said they woke up in the middle of the night at least once over the past two weeks, and about one in four said they had trouble falling asleep on most nights, if not every night.
  • Almost one in four people who don't exercise qualify as clinically sleepy; 14 percent say they have trouble staying awake while driving, eating or being social; 44 percent are at moderate risk of sleep apnea.
  • Sitting may also play a role in the quality of people's sleep: People who sit for less than eight hours a day are significantly more likely to report "very good sleep" (about 25 percent) compared to people who sit for eight hours a day or more (about 15 percent).
  • Contrary to longstanding advice against exercising close to bedtime, this poll suggests it may not matter when a person exercise – as long as it doesn't cost any sleep. (The National Sleep Foundation says it has revised its own sleep recommendations guidelines accordingly.)


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Baby girl with HIV 'functionally cured': In health news today

Truvada, pictured above, was recently found to prevent HIV in healthy people and approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012. Now, doctors are reporting that a baby girl born with the virus has been "functionally cured," meaning she only has trace amounts of the virus in her blood and can manage it without the help of medication.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In today's health news:

A Mississippi baby girl born with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has been "functionally cured," doctors announced over the weekend, meaning she only has trace amounts of HIV in her blood and can manage it without the help of medication. The Los Angeles Times says if the treatment can be replicated, it could help reverse the trajectory of the disease for the estimated 1,000 babies born with HIV every day, most of whom are from Africa.

A new poll suggests that people who exercise harder sleep better. U.S. News & World Report says "vigorous exercisers" were twice as likely as their more sedentary counterparts to have had a good night's sleep most nights or every night of the week. More than two-thirds of exercisers also reported having no trouble falling asleep, or going back to sleep if they woke up too early.


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Survey: 1 in 8 Americans have sensitive teeth; condition more common among young people, women

More than 12 percent of Americans may have sensitive teeth, says a new survey. In fact, researchers say that on average, they'll have about four of them.
John Vande Wege/KPCC

Ever take a sip of ice-cold water, only to recoil when it washes over your teeth?

That may because you've got sensitive teeth – "dentin hypersensitivity," in dental speak – and a new survey suggests that one in eight Americans lives with the condition.

The study, appearing in the Journal of the American Dental Association, looked at dental practices in the Northwest U.S. and found that more than 12 percent of patients had sensitive teeth. About four of them, on average – and it was more common among young people, women, people with receding gums and people who whitened their teeth at home.

The American Dental Association (ADA) explains that teeth are covered with enamel, the strongest substance in the human body. Underneath the gum line, the tooth root is protected by something called cementum, and under the enamel and the cementum is dentin:


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Study links clogged arteries to increased stroke risk

Eating too much fried chicken can easily increase your body's cholesterol levels, and too much cholesterol can result in clogged arteries, or atherosclerosis.
Robyn Lee/Flickr Creative Commons

Atherosclerosis is a lot easier to describe than it is to pronounce: It's what happens when a person's arteries become clogged with fat and cholesterol, making it more difficult for blood to flow through them.

Considering that the arteries are the vessels that carry blood away from the heart to the rest of the body, it's easy to see why their clogging up would be problematic.

Clogged arteries have long been associated with an elevated heart attack risk, but a new study has even more bad news: Atherosclerosis can do bad things to a person's risk of having a stroke, too.

That's according to researchers writing in the American Heart Association-backed journal Stroke.

Clogged arteries are "an independent predictor of future stroke events in the general population," they wrote. Out of nearly 4,200 study participants, 92 had a stroke over about eight years – and artery blockage was significantly higher in those 92 than it was in the rest of the cohort. 


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