Journal: The Medical journal of Australia
Coeliac disease is an immune-mediated systemic disease triggered by exposure to gluten, and manifested by small intestinal enteropathy and gastrointestinal and extra-intestinal symptoms. Recent guidelines recommend a concerted use of clear definitions of the disease. In Australia, the most recent estimated prevalence is 1.2% in adult men (1:86) and 1.9% in adult women (1:52). Active case finding is appropriate to diagnose coeliac disease in high risk groups. Diagnosis of coeliac disease is important to prevent nutritional deficiency and long term risk of gastrointestinal malignancy. The diagnosis of coeliac disease depends on clinico-pathological correlation: history, presence of antitransglutaminase antibodies, and characteristic histological features on duodenal biopsy (when the patient is on a gluten-containing diet). Human leucocyte antigen class II haplotypes DQ2 or DQ8 are found in nearly all patients with coeliac disease, but are highly prevalent in the general population at large (56% in Australia) and testing can only exclude coeliac disease for individuals with non-permissive haplotypes. Adhering to a gluten free diet allows duodenal mucosal healing and alleviates symptoms. Patients should be followed up with a yearly review of dietary adherence and a health check. Non-coeliac gluten or wheat protein sensitivity is a syndrome characterised by both gastrointestinal and extra-intestinal symptoms related to the ingestion of gluten and possibly other wheat proteins in people who do not have coeliac disease or wheat allergy recognised by diagnostic tests.
Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) are infectious diseases whose incidence has increased in humans in the past 20 years or could increase in the near future. EID agents may represent a threat to blood safety if they infect humans, cause a clinically significant illness, include an asymptomatic blood phase in the course of infection, and are transmissible by transfusion. EID agents are typically not well characterised, but there is a consensus that we can expect ongoing outbreaks. Strategies to manage the risk to blood safety from EIDs include ongoing surveillance, regular risk assessments, modelling transfusion transmission risk, and deferral of donors with a recent travel history to outbreak areas. The 2015-16 Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak in the Americas is the largest reported ZIKV outbreak to date, and it highlights the unpredictable nature of EID outbreaks and how quickly they can become a major public health problem. This ZIKV outbreak has provided evidence of a causal link between the virus and microcephaly in newborns. In assessing the potential risk of ZIKV to blood safety in Australia, it should be noted that a relatively small number of imported ZIKV infections have been reported in Australia, there have been no reported cases of local ZIKV transmission, and the geographical distribution of the potential ZIKV mosquito vector in Australia (Aedes aegypti) is limited to northern Queensland. Moreover, reported transfusion-transmitted ZIKV cases worldwide are rare. At present, ZIKV represents a low risk to blood safety in Australia.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a fibrosing interstitial lung disease associated with debilitating symptoms of dyspnoea and cough, resulting in respiratory failure, impaired quality of life and ultimately death. Diagnosing IPF can be challenging, as it often shares many features with other interstitial lung diseases. In this article, we summarise recent joint position statements on the diagnosis and management of IPF from the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand and Lung Foundation Australia, specifically tailored for physicians across Australia and New Zealand. Main suggestions: A comprehensive multidisciplinary team meeting is suggested to establish a prompt and precise IPF diagnosis. Antifibrotic therapies should be considered to slow disease progression. However, enthusiasm should be tempered by the lack of evidence in many IPF subgroups, particularly the broader disease severity spectrum. Non-pharmacological interventions including pulmonary rehabilitation, supplemental oxygen, appropriate treatment of comorbidities and disease-related symptoms remain crucial to optimal management. Despite recent advances, IPF remains a fatal disease and suitable patients should be referred for lung transplantation assessment.
Abnormal uterine bleeding refers to any change in the regularity, frequency, heaviness or length of menstruation. There are several potential causes for bleeding disturbance, the two most common being primary endometrial dysfunction and fibroids. Management of abnormal uterine bleeding involves both medical and surgical options and will largely depend on a patient’s fertility plans. The use of levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine devices for heavy menstrual bleeding is increasing in Australia, and they are considered first-line medical management for women accepting of hormonal therapies. Tranexamic acid, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the combined oral contraceptive pill and oral progestins offer alternatives. Hysterectomy offers a definitive surgical approach to abnormal uterine bleeding and is associated with high levels of patient satisfaction. Women wishing to preserve their fertility, or avoid hysterectomy, may be offered myomectomy. Submucosal fibroids should be removed via hysteroscopy in symptomatic or infertile patients. Intramural and subserosal fibroids may be removed via an open or laparoscopic approach. There are several minimally invasive options, including uterine artery embolisation, magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound and endometrial ablation, but patients should be aware that there is insufficient evidence to ensure fertility preservation with these procedures and further research is needed. Areas for additional research include cost-effectiveness of treatments and quality of life comparisons between management options using patient reported outcome measures to evaluate patient satisfaction.
Australia has one of the highest rates of antidepressant use in the world; it has more than doubled since 2000, despite evidence showing that the effectiveness of these medications is lower than previously thought. An increasing placebo response rate is a key reason for falling effectiveness, with the gap between response to medications and placebo narrowing. Psychotherapies are effective treatments, but recent evidence from high-quality studies suggests that their effectiveness is also modest. Combined treatment with medication and psychotherapy provides greater effectiveness than either alone. The number of patients receiving psychotherapy had been declining, although this trend is probably reversing with the Medicare Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative. Antidepressant medications still have an important role in the treatment of moderate to severe depression; they should be provided as part of an overall treatment plan that includes psychotherapy and lifestyle strategies to improve diet and increase exercise. When medications are prescribed, they should be used in a way that maximises their chance of effectiveness.
Vitamin D has been proposed to have beneficial effects in a wide range of contexts. We investigate the hypothesis that vitamin D deficiency, caused by both aversion to sunlight and unwholesome diet, could also be a significant contributor to the triumph of good over evil in fantasy literature.
To test the popular assertion that bald men are more virile than their well thatched contemporaries
Criminal cases involving human immunodeficiency virus transmission or exposure require that courts correctly comprehend the rapidly evolving science of HIV transmission and the impact of an HIV diagnosis. This consensus statement, written by leading HIV clinicians and scientists, provides current scientific evidence to facilitate just outcomes in Australian criminal cases involving HIV.Main recommendations: Caution should be exercised when considering charges or prosecutions regarding HIV transmission or exposure because:Scientific evidence shows that the risk of HIV transmission during sex between partners of different HIV serostatus can be low, negligible or too low to quantify, even when the HIV-positive partner is not taking effective antiretroviral therapy, depending on the nature of the sexual act, the viral load of the partner with HIV, and whether a condom or pre-exposure prophylaxis is employed to reduce risk.The use of phylogenetic analysis in cases of suspected HIV transmission requires careful consideration of its limited probative value as evidence of causation of HIV infection, although such an approach may provide valuable information, particularly in relation to excluding HIV transmission between individuals.Most people recently infected with HIV are able to commence simple treatment providing them a normal and healthy life expectancy, largely comparable with their HIV-negative peers. Among people who have been diagnosed and are receiving treatment, HIV is rarely life threatening. People with HIV can conceive children with negligible risk to their partner and low risk to their child.Changes in management as result of the consensus statement: Given the limited risk of HIV transmission per sexual act and the limited long term harms experienced by most people recently diagnosed with HIV, appropriate care should be taken before HIV prosecutions are pursued. Careful attention should be paid to the best scientific evidence on HIV risk and harms, with consideration given to alternatives to prosecution, including public health management.
In 2017, the National Cervical Screening Program in Australia will transition to 5-yearly primary HPV screening for all women, irrespective of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination status. As an adjunct to the mainstream program, HPV testing on self-collected samples will be offered under practitioner supervision to all unscreened and underscreened women aged 30-74 years. We quantified how different screening decisions affect the future risk of cervical cancer.