Recent Coverage of UNC Health Care in the National Media

UNC's physician researchers are making a very real difference in our state, our nation and the world.

They're making headlines around the globe for their research, and serving as expert sources to some of the most prestigious media outlets in our country.

I want to share some of the most recent highlights.

These doctors are being called on by people like CNN and ABC News for their opinions because they are leaders in their research fields like HIV/AIDS, epidemiology and pharmacology, as well as teachers in the School of Medicine and caregivers in our clinics.

They personify our mission of leading, teaching, caring.

The first two stories I will mention are not about research actually done at UNC, but by other notable peer researchers in fields that UNC also excels in. Our doctors were called to comment as experts in their fields. This demonstrates the leadership our doctors hold and the esteem with which they are held by their colleagues and the media.

Peter Leone, Human Papillomavirus

HPV is an extremely common sexually transmitted disease. Approximately 20 million people are currently infected with HPV. At least 50 percent of sexually active men and women acquire a genital HPV infection at some point in their lives. By age 50, at least 80 percent of women will have acquired a genital HPV infection. About 6.2 million Americans get a new genital HPV infection each year.

There are over 100 types of HPV, but two of them are especially problematic because they are causally linked to 70% of cases of cervical cancer.

Until recently, common wisdom was that condoms did not provide good protection against HPV. However, in a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington and published in The New England Journal of Medicine, condoms prevented the spread of HPV infections 70 percent of the time, a substantial protection against the virus.

These study results are evidence that consistent condom use can prevent the spread of HPV in up to 70 percent of all cases.

Dr. Peter Leone, associate professor of Medicine and HIV Medical Director of the North Carolina Department of Health, was interviewed by ABC News regarding this study, and you can view a video clip of the story here.

Mike Cohen, HIV

When CDC officials announced last week that it would like to see more common HIV testing for adults and teenagers, ABC News called on Dr. Myron Cohen, chief of UNC's division of infectious disease, to comment.

This interview shows that the national media value our doctors for their academic qualifications, experience and opinions on the most pressing topics in health care today.

To read the story, click here. To watch the video of Dr. Cohen's interview, click on the VIDEO link under the Related Stories sidebar to the left.

Paul Watkins, Acetaminophen

This last story, however, is about research on the nation's most popular pain medication done by our very own Dr. Watkins, director of our General Clinic Research Center (GCRC).

Another engaging new study, by Paul Watkins, shows that taking more than the maximum dosage of acetaminophen, one of the nation's most popular pain relievers, could affect the liver more than previously thought.

According to a 2002 survey, one in five American adults takes acetaminophen for pain or fever each week. Given the painkiller's popularity, Dr. Watkins' study could have a profound impact.

As CNN points out in its coverage of the research, the study should not cause alarm as long as you take the right dosage and never exceed four grams a day.

In the study, 106 participants took four grams of acetaminophen every day for a period of two weeks. Some took acetaminophen by itself, while some took it with an opioid painkiller. Placebos phony pills were given to the 39 remaining participants, without their knowledge.

There were no alarming liver test results among the people who took the placebos. Nearly 40 percent of people in all the other groups, however, had abnormal test results that would signal liver damage, according to the study that appeared in the July 5, 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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