Research is leading to new insights on two major public health challenges: preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and improving disease control for patients with type 2 diabetes. Expert updates on these critical topics appear in a special symposium section of the January issue of The American Journal of the Medical Sciences (The AJMS), official journal of the Southern Society for Clinical Investigation (SSCI). The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.
The papers summarize lectures delivered at two recent SSCI symposia: The President's Symposium for the 2011 Annual Meeting, titled "Sexually Transmitted Infections—Evolving Concepts," and The Joint Plenary Session of the 2011 Annual South Regional Meeting, on the topic of "Current Strategies and Evolving Paradigms of Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes."
New STI Studies Have Implications for Prevention—Especially in Women
In the STI symposium, experts present recent data on microbiological and social factors affecting STI risk in women. Dr. David Martin of Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center discusses new findings on the normal and abnormal bacteria (microbiota) in the vagina. Studies have linked certain types of bacterial vaginosis to increased health and reproductive risks—including higher rates of HIV and other STIs. Studies using advanced testing techniques are expected to provide a clearer picture of how the vaginal microbiota affect women's health and STI risks.
Dr. Edward W. Hook III of the University of Alabama at Birmingham reports on some key gender differences in STI risk. Studies suggest that some women acquire STIs not because of their own high-risk behaviors but because of their partner's. This has important implications for routine screening in women—and highlights the importance of identifying men whose behaviors put them at risk of acquiring and spreading STIs.
Evolving Treatments for Type 2 Diabetes
Paralleling the increase in obesity, type 2 diabetes is epidemic in the United States. Dr. Derek LeRoith of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, discusses the concept of metabolic syndrome: a pattern of coexisting risk factors (obesity, abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and high glucose) that are linked to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The major importance of the metabolic syndrome may be its educational value in making physicians more aware of the relationships between risk factors—each of which "needs to be addressed and treated aggressively," according to Dr. LeRoith.
Dr. Lawrence Blonde of Ochsner Clinic Foundation, New Orleans, discusses current approaches to diabetes management. Research suggests that newer, intensive approaches to diabetes control are suitable for some patients. Although lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise remain the "cornerstone of treatment" for type 2 diabetes, most patients will also need medications to keep their disease under control.
Dr. William T. Cefalu of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, discusses evolving approaches to the treatment of type 2 diabetes. New medications that improve diabetes control while avoiding side effects—especially weight gain—are available or under development. Approaches targeting hormones called incretins can help the body produce insulin more efficiently. Other treatments focus on promoting the kidneys' ability to eliminate glucose.
The American Journal of the Medical Sciences