Thursday Medical Report

The following is a review of Thursday's news in the world of medicine, reported by CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay for CBS This Morning.
AIDS Mutation
New studies suggest that the AIDS virus may be more evasive and difficult to treat than previously thought.

The study found that HIV can mutate into different strains within a patient's blood and semen.

The findings, to be published in the Oct. 22 issue of the journal AIDS, challenge the widely-held belief that an individual can carry only one strain of the deadly virus.

The study involved 11 HIV-infected men in North Carolina and Switzerland. Researchers concluded that male genitals and the bloodstream act as separate "compartments," which have to be dealt with independently when AIDS drugs are administered.

AIDS And Pregnancy
A panel of medical experts is recommending that all pregnant women undergo AIDS testing as part of routine prenatal care, in order to lower the number of babies born with the infection.

In a study requested by Congress, the Institute of Medicine said that too many pregnant women who should be tested are not. As a result, many women miss the opportunity to take the drug AZT, which significantly lowers the risk of spreading HIV to the baby.

Current federal guidelines urge doctors to counsel pregnant women about HIV, including risk factors for infection, and ask them to be tested.

But many doctors told the institute they don't discuss HIV because it is a burden, or they don't think their patients are at risk.

Under the new recommendation, doctors would tell women they will automatically be tested for HIV as part of a battery of regular prenatal tests unless they object. More extensive counseling would be offered if a woman asked questions, or once test results were in.

An Experimental Bandage
The Red Cross and the U.S. Army are developing a new kind of bandage that may be able to stop severe bleeding within seconds.

Although it's still in development, researchers say the bandage has the potential to save thousands of lives.

The bandage is made up of two proteins - fibrinogen and thrombin - that together cause blood to clot. Researchers have found a way to harness the clotting mechanism to create a natural "bandage," which is expected to work on both external and internal wounds.

The bandage contains the freeze-dried clotting agents in concentrations 50 to 100 times greater than in human blood, researchers say. The product has stopped arterial bleeding in animals within 15 to 60 seconds, reducing blood loss by 50 to 85 percent.

The Army has spent about $3 million subsidizing the research because bleeding is the most common cause of battlefield deaths.

Reported by Dr. Emily Senay