Confusion as gays attempt to join military

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WASHINGTON | Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:50pm EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dan Choi, a former Iraq war veteran discharged in July for being openly gay, returned to a New York City recruiting station on Wednesday to complete his application to re-enlist in the Army.

But at the Pentagon, U.S. officials are warning that Choi and other gay veterans now applying for the armed forces may never be called to duty.

Confusion has reigned since a federal judge struck down the military's 17-year-old ban on openly serving homosexuals a week ago, forcing the Pentagon to order recruiting stations to treat gay and lesbian applicants like anyone else.

But while U.S. officials say they must accept such applications, they also warn that the entire process could unravel if the Obama administration successfully overturns the judge's decision in court.

The path for applicants like Choi is also bedeviled by bureaucratic confusion.

"Things that recruiters have been doing for years has now been turned on its head because there's this uncertainty," said Colonel Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman.

The Obama administration wants to lift "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." But it says Congress, not the courts, should repeal the 1993 policy, which allows homosexuals to serve in secret but discharges them if their sexual orientation is revealed.

It asked a federal appeals court on Wednesday to let the Pentagon reinstate its ban while it appeals a lower-court ruling declaring the policy unconstitutional. Observers say the case might go all the way to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has warned it normally takes weeks or months to process an application to enlist -- enough time for a legal reversal that would void chances for Choi and others appearing at U.S. recruiting stations.

Attempts by openly gay veterans to re-enlist are complicated by unanswered questions about whether special waivers might be needed. More than 13,000 service members have been discharged under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

It is unclear if all recruiting stations understand Pentagon guidance on gay applicants, which started trickling down through the system last week but was only publicly acknowledged on Tuesday.

For his part, Choi appeared triumphant. He said on his Twitter feed on Wednesday that he passed the skills test, although he missed three verbal and five math questions.

He also made a bold declaration on his written application, saying he would not lie again about his identity or that of his partner in order to serve in the United States military.

"I told the truth about my sexual orientation and refused to lie about my cherished lover and partner," he wrote.

"I do not intend to lie about my identity or family in any portion of my service."

(Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles and Jeremy Pelofsky in Washington; Editing by Deborah Charles and Doina Chiacu)

(Sinatra Perryman-No Comments)

Drug companies pay 17,000 U.S. doctors, report finds

WASHINGTON | Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:09pm EDT
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 17,000 doctors and other healthcare providers have taken money from seven major drug companies to talk to other doctors about their products, a joint investigation by news organizations and non-profit groups found.

More than 380 of the doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other professionals took in more than $100,000 in 2009 and 2010, according to the investigation released on Tuesday. The report said far more doctors are likely to have taken such payments, but it documented these based on information from seven drugmakers.

The payments are not illegal and usually not even considered improper. But the investigation by journalism group ProPublica, Consumer Reports magazine, NPR radio and several publications showed doctors were sometimes urged to recommend "off-label" prescriptions of drugs, meaning using them for conditions they are not approved for.

And the report points to several studies showing that even small gifts and payments to doctors can affect their attitudes, and many companies have stopped giving out once-common gifts such as pens, cups and other objects carrying drug brand names.

"Tens of thousands of U.S. physicians are paid to spread the word about pharma's favored pills and to advise the companies about research and marketing," the group says in its report, available here

The groups used information from seven drugmakers -- AstraZeneca, Cephalon, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Merck and Pfizer.

"Some of the companies were forced to disclose this information as a result of legal settlements; others released it voluntarily," Consumer Reports said.

It said more than 70 other pharmaceutical companies have not disclosed payments made to doctors, although the healthcare reform law passed in March will require them to do so by 2013.

"This investigation begins to pull back the shroud on these activities," Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, said in a statement.

"The amount of money involved is astounding, and the ProPublica report's account of the background of some of the physicians is disturbing."

Drug companies often say they pay expert physicians to educate their peers about drugs and conditions.

These sessions are often seminars held alongside major medical meetings but sometimes they involve briefings at vacation resorts.

ProPublica said a review of state medical board disciplinary records found more than 250 of the doctors paid to speak had been sanctioned for activities such as inappropriately prescribing drugs or having sex with patients.

It said 40 others had been warned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for research misconduct, had lost hospital privileges or were convicted of crimes.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Eric Beech)

(Sinatra Perryman Comments on this story)---> This has been going on since the drug companies have been making drugs and doctors starting writing prescriptions. They finally got caught, hmmm....I wonder how long will it stop this practice.

Drug companies influence prescribing, study finds

SINGAPORE | Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:45pm EDT
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Doctors tend to prescribe drugs that pharmaceutical companies promote to them and patients end up paying more but not always getting the most suitable medicines, researchers reported on Wednesday.

An analysis of 58 studies in several countries found that information from drug companies influenced the decisions doctors made, and not necessarily in a positive way.

"You couldn't say that information from pharmaceutical companies benefited doctor's prescribing, which is what pharmaceutical companies claim," said Geoffrey Spurling of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, who led the study.

"Many doctors claim they are not influenced and having done the review, that is not supported. You have to say that at least some of the time, doctors are influenced," he said in a telephone interview.

Several of the researchers in the study are members of Healthy Skepticism, an international nonprofit research, education, and advocacy association set up to "reduce harm from misleading health information."

The report found that doctors who accepted briefings or other information from drug companies were more likely to prescribe those products.

Thirty-eight studies showed that exposure to drug company information resulted in more frequent prescriptions, while 13 did not have such an association, Spurling and his colleagues wrote in their report published in the U.S.-based Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine, here%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000352.

None of the studies found that doctors prescribed a drug less often because of promotional or informational materials. More than half the studies were conducted in the United States. Other countries included the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, France, Estonia, Turkey and Australia.


"The companies don't spend this money with drug detail people if it doesn't work," said Dr. Sid Wolfe of the U.S. advocacy group Public Citizen, which has campaigned against such drug company activity.
"Most doctors get most of their information about drugs from the drug industry."

Such detailers often bring lunch to a doctor's office, or invite physicians to sporting events or other entertainment while they deliver their briefings.

Spurling singled out a study in Britain of more than 1,000 general practitioners that found that those who met drug salespeople more often tended to prescribe more costly drugs.

But that did not guarantee that patients got the most suitable drugs.

Spurling cited studies that found that doctors' prescriptions were of a lower quality when compared against standard guidelines and those recommended by expert panels.

For example, official U.S. guidelines in the United States advise doctors to use the oldest, cheapest generic drugs to treat high blood pressure and diabetes before turning to newer, patented and often more dangerous prescription drugs.

The researchers called for regulation on the amounts of money that pharmaceutical companies may spend on promoting their products. In 2004 alone, drug companies spent $57.5 billion on promotion in the United States, they said.

"We need more regulation on promotional information. We couldn't find any benefit," Spurling said.
Doctors also need more information from a variety of sources such as universities or accrediting organizations, he said.

"A good doctor keeps up with practicing medicine by reading the literature, peer-reviewed journals," Wolfe agreed.

"If they don't have time to do that, and rely on drug company detailers, they are not practicing good medicine."

On Tuesday, the investigative journalism group ProPublica, along with several news organizations, reported that seven big drug companies had paid more than 17,000 U.S. doctors many thousands of dollars to talk to other doctors about the companies' products [ID:nN19125956].

(Additional reporting by Maggie Fox in Washington; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

(Sinatra Perryman Comments on This Article)----> This happens everyday in free clinics all across America. Doctors forgetting the studies and side effects of medicines, but continue to treat patients with the next best thing. This form of treatment to the American people has to stop and doctors and drug makers need to be held accountable for the malice acts. 

1 in 5 gay, bisexual men in U.S. cities has HIV

An AIDS activist holds a sign while demonstrating near the site of
 the upcoming G20 Pittsburgh Summit against the policies of the world's 
wealthiest nations regarding AIDS research and treatment funding in 
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania September 22, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
CHICAGO | Thu Sep 23, 2010 5:16pm EDT
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Nearly one in five gay and bisexual men in 21 major U.S. cities are infected with HIV, and nearly half of them do not know it, U.S. health officials said on Thursday.

Young men, and especially young black men, are least likely to know if they are infected with HIV, according to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We need to reinvigorate our response to preventing HIV among gay and bisexual men," Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said in a telephone interview.

"We can't allow HIV to continue its devastating toll among gay and bisexual men, and in particular, among young black men."

Mermin's comments echoed an AIDS policy rolled out in July by the White House that asked states and federal agencies to find ways to cut new HIV infections by 25 percent.

Researchers at the CDC studied 8,153 men who have sex with men in 21 U.S. cities. The men were taking part in the 2008 National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System, which looked at prevalence and awareness of the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Overall, they found that 19 percent of gay men are infected with HIV.

The study found that 28 percent of gay black men infected with HIV, compared with 18 percent of Hispanic men and 16 percent of white men.

Black men in the study were also least likely to be aware of their infection, with 59 percent unaware of their infection compared with 46 percent of Hispanic men and 26 percent of white men.

Age also plays a role. Among 18 to 29-year-old men, 63 percent did not know they were infected with HIV, compared with 37 percent of men aged 30 and older, the team reported in the CDC's weekly report on death and disease.

The CDC recommends that gay and bisexual men of all ages get an HIV test each year, and men at highest risk -- those who have multiple sex partners or use drugs during sex -- get tested every three to six months.

"This alarming new data provides further evidence that prevention efforts for gay men have not been adequate to meet the growing epidemic and should be dramatically scaled up," said Carl Schmid of the nonprofit AIDS Institute.

"The severity of the impact of HIV in the gay community is nothing new. What has been missing is an appropriate response by our government, at the federal, state and local levels, and the gay community itself," he said in a statement.

Mermin said some studies had shown that there was less urgency and fear associated with HIV infections than in the past, which may be due to the effectiveness of AIDS treatment.

While not a cure, drug cocktails can keep patients healthy and can reduce the risk that they will infect other people. Companies that make HIV drugs include Gilead Sciences Inc, Bristol-Myers and Abbott Labs.

(Sinatra Perryman -Comments On Story)----> This is a story by far that many have taken out of context and used to persecute many suffering from this killer (HIV/AIDS). When are we going to stop putting labels on people and start taking responsibility for our own actions. Prevention is Key, Lies are only making the problem worst. 

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