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Taking antiviral drug ‘on demand’ guards against HIV

HIV infecting an immune cell

POPPING PILLS  Taking antiviral drugs before and after sex can protect people from acquiring HIV, shown here as particles infecting a human immune cell.

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For preventing HIV infection, a daily pill may be overkill.

Instead, an antiretroviral drug taken before and after sex could get the job done, researchers report December 1 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The treatment plan might be easier for patients, too.

Scientists have previously suggested that a daily dose of antiretroviral drugs guards against HIV infection, but results have been mixed. That’s probably because study participants have a hard time sticking to the regimen, writes Jean-Michel Molina of Hôpital Saint-Louis in Paris and colleagues.

So they instructed 199 men at high risk of contracting HIV to take a drug called Truvada two to 24 hours before sex, and then again 24 and 48 hours afterwards. The men were 86 percent less likely to acquire HIV compared with 201 men who took a placebo, the researchers found. 

Animals,, Evolution,, Biophysics

Mystery deepens for what made tarantulas blue

By Susan Milius 2:00pm, November 27, 2015
Blue hair on tarantulas shows what evolution does with iridescence that females probably don’t care about.
Plants,, Molecular Evolution

Conifer ancestors had a double dose of DNA

By Tina Hesman Saey 6:30am, November 24, 2015
The genomes of conifers — pine, cypress and yew trees — doubled twice in the distant past.
Plants,, Technology

Roses rigged with electrical circuitry

By Helen Thompson 4:22pm, November 20, 2015
Bioelectric molecules can form wires and conduct electricity in cut roses, researchers find.
Science & Society,, Genetics,, Animals

Genetically modified salmon gets approval in U.S.

By Tina Hesman Saey 3:33pm, November 19, 2015
Fast-growing salmon become first genetically engineered animals approved for human consumption.

Adorable birds tap dance their way into the heart of a mate

By Helen Thompson 12:55pm, November 19, 2015
Blue-capped cordon-bleu songbirds not only sing, but also tap dance to woo mates, study reveals.
Fungi,, Pollution

Truffles aren’t laced with radioactive cesium

By Thomas Sumner 9:00am, November 18, 2015
Fallout from the Chernobyl disaster hasn’t made truffles dangerously radioactive, scientists find.

Study brews up more evidence for coffee’s health benefits

By Teresa Shipley Feldhausen 4:00pm, November 16, 2015
Drinking up to five cups of coffee a day reduced the risk of dying early from heart and brain diseases and suicide.
Anthropology,, Genetics

DNA puts Neandertal relatives in Siberia for 60,000 years

By Bruce Bower 3:00pm, November 16, 2015
Recovered DNA suggests Denisovans inhabited Siberia for around 60,000 years.
Plants,, Genetics

Ancient gardeners saved the gourd

By Chris Samoray 3:00pm, November 16, 2015
Domestication might have helped early vine plants like pumpkin survive after seed-dispersing megafauna went extinct.
Quantum Physics

More tests confirm quantum spookiness

By Andrew Grant 1:51pm, November 13, 2015
New experimental results confirm and strengthen evidence for the “spooky” reality of quantum physics.
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