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Latest News: Chicken factory health probe ordered
Chicken drumsticksThe companies named in reports denied the claims

An investigation into allegations of hygiene failings at poultry processing factories has been ordered by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Facilities belonging to 2 Sisters Food Group at Llangefni, Anglesey, and in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, will be checked within 24 hours.

It follows reports in the Guardian including claims that carcasses which came into contact with workers' boots were returned to the production line.

The company denied the claims.

A spokeswoman for Mr Hunt said a Food Standards Agency (FSA) review of the evidence found "no risk to public health".

Supermarket supplies

"We want the public to feel reassured that the food they buy is safe. The Food Standards Agency has already reviewed the Guardian's evidence and found no risk to public health," said the spokeswoman.

"In addition, the FSA has agreed, at the request of the secretary of state for health, to conduct a full safety audit. They will start in the next 24 hours and report back shortly."

Another company named in the Guardian's investigation, Faccenda Foods, said claims that it ignored biosecurity rules were not true.

Three of the UK's biggest supermarkets - Tesco, Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer - have launched investigations into their chicken supplies following the reports.

FSA figures suggest that 65% of raw shop-bought chicken is contaminated with campylobacter bacteria which is the most common cause of food poisoning, with symptoms including diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

Cooking chicken properly kills the germs, but they still cause more than 300,000 food poisoning cases and 15,000 hospitalisations a year in England and Wales.

Latest News: Male circumcision lowers HIV risk for women, forum told

A campaign to promote male circumcision to prevent AIDS infection also indirectly benefits women by reducing their risk of contracting the HIV virus, according to a study presented at the world AIDS forum Friday.

In a South African community where large numbers of men had been circumcised, women who only had sex with circumcised partners had a 15-percent-lower risk of being infected by HIV compared with women who also had uncircumcised partners, it found.

"The risk reduction is small, but it is a start," said investigator Kevin Jean of France's National Agency for AIDS Research (ANRS).

The study was presented on the final day of the 20th International AIDS conference in Melbourne.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends voluntary circumcision as an option for men in 14 sub-Saharan countries struggling with high rates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

The guidelines -- which have triggered a multimillion-dollar programme -- are founded on evidence from three trials carried out in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda.

These concluded that circumcision resulted in a reduced HIV risk -- for men -- of between 50 and 60 percent.

What has been fiercely debated, though, is the impact of male circumcision on women.

Key questions included whether, if large numbers of men were circumcised, the infection risk for women would fall too.

Another issue raised was that circumcised men might think wrongly that they were fully shielded from HIV and ignore advice to wear a condom -- thus increasing the risk for women.

Looking at these questions, the new study enrolled 2,452 women aged between 15 and 29 who lived in Orange Farm in South Africa, where the first of the landmark trials was carried out in 2002.

The women's blood was tested in 2007, 2010 and 2012, and they were also asked questions about their sexual behaviour, as was a representative sample of local men.

During this time, the prevalence of circumcision among men in the community rose from 12 percent to 53 percent.

Over 30 percent of women reported having sexual relations only with circumcised men: 17.8 percent became infected during the study period.

But among women who had sex with uncircumcised men, the prevalence of HIV was almost twice as high, at 30.4 percent.

- Indirect benefit -

In an interview with AFP, Jean said women who had only circumcised partners were relatively a small group.

Statistically speaking, they were less likely to have multiple sex partners, a well-known boost of infection risk.

This explained in part why the risk reduction -- 15 percent, averaged out over the whole period -- seems relatively small, Jean said.

Further work will show whether this protection improves over time as more men in the community become circumcised and uninfected younger men have the operation, he said.

There was also good news from the questions on sex behaviour: men were unlikely to engage in unprotected intercourse after being circumcised, he said.

"What we are seeing is an indirect effect," he said. "Circumcision reduces HIV among men, and if fewer men are infected, they are less likely to infect women."

He stressed, though: "The message still has to be made that they use condoms."

An earlier presentation at the Melbourne conference found that offering men compensation in the form of food vouchers worth around $9 or $15 (6.5 euros or 11 euros) was a useful incentive for circumcision.

Most countries in the voluntary circumcision campaign remain far short of reaching their target numbers.

Investigators have found that many men are deterred by the loss of wages from time off work to have the operation, and the cost of travelling to and from the clinic to have it carried out.

The protective effect from circumcision appears to lie in removal of cells in the foreskin which are especially vulnerable to penetration by HIV.

Latest News: VIDEO: Water ATMs bring clean water to Delhi

The authorities in the Indian city of Delhi are piloting a scheme to bring clean drinking water to the city's residents.

Known locally as water ATMs, the water dispensers use pre-paid smart cards and allow people to fill containers with water for a small fee.

The pilot has proved so successful that the city government is now looking to expand it.

Nitin Srivastava went to find out more.

Latest News: Beatings and addiction: Pakistan drug 'clinic' prescribes torture

Hashish addict Noor Rehman has spent three years chained to a concrete slab covered by insects.

Beaten and malnourished, he lost his eyesight in a "clinic" run by a Pakistani mullah claiming to cure addicts who were kept against their will and forced to recite the Koran.

"They treated us worse than animals," the 30-something with a salt and pepper beard muttered among a room full of mullah Maulana Ilyas Qadri's last remaining patients, all clapped in irons.

When police broke into the clinic last week in Haripur, a city built on a hill around 80 kilometres north of Islamabad, they found 115 'patients' chained in pairs and shackled to the ground.

Most have now been freed and Qadri has been arrested, but around 20, including Noor, are waiting for their families to come and take them home.

The clinic's methods fall on the more extreme end of the spectrum -- even for Pakistan -- but offers some insight into how the conservative Islamic nation deals with the taboo subject of drug addiction.

Observers say a lack of legal oversight allows such institutions as well as some mental asylums to become places where families can 'do away' with inconvenient relatives.

To prevent inmates from escaping and getting back on to drugs, Qadri left them permanently chained, day and night -- except for a few precious moments to go to the bathroom, still chained to their partner.

If they uttered a word of complaint, they were beaten by the mullah and his four guards.

- 'No therapy, just chains' -

"They tortured us! By the end of it, patients developed mental issues," said Noor, who lost his sight eight months ago after two years of confinement.

"It was due to psychological pressure and stress," he said. Unhygienic conditions where an eye-infection would likely go untreated may have also played a part.

Noor's brother took him to the centre after discovering his hashish addiction. But he could never imagine himself being imprisoned, let alone becoming handicapped as a result.

Like many other "patients" he blames his family -- in this case his brother, who he accuses of leaving him at the centre so he could steal his lands.

Shafiullah, an Afghan refugee with a sinewy physique and bright, turquoise eyes, added: "There was no therapy here, just chains.

"The mullah lets us go out only when he wants our help in construction work. It was us who built these walls," he said, still chained to a fellow patient.

Others said they were forced to cook and clean in the absence of staff.

Many became addicted to the widespread and -- at 50 US cents a hit -- cheap drug, with Pakistan a hub for opium smuggled in from neighbouring Afghanistan since the 1980s.

Today, Pakistan has more than four million cannabis consumers and more than 860,000 heroin users, a figure which has doubled since 2000 according to a recent UN survey.

Many detoxification clinics offer primitive therapies. Some isolate their patients behind bars -- but it is unusual for them to be deprived of their freedom.

- 'Nothing to do with Islam' -

A complaint by the family of one patient at Qadri's clinic led to a police raid and his downfall. Locked up at Haripur police station, the incarcerated mullah continued to defend his controversial methods, even as he faces the prospect of jail time for torture and illegal confinement.

"I recite the Koran, then blow on water and give this water for drinking three times a day. Normally the addicts who stop using have the tendency to vomit and shake. But thanks to the Surah Yassin (a verse) they don't have problems," said the self-proclaimed healer.

"And then one week, without any medicine, they are better. Even in the top institutions you will never see this," he boasted, while calling himself a victim of police corruption for failing to pay them a bribe.

"He chained us and beat us with a stick. This has nothing to do with Islam," responded ex-patient Shafiullah.

The controversial mullah was previously arrested in 2006 for imprisoning patients in his clinic. But he was released under bail and then acquitted.

He then re-opened his centre where his shock therapy costs each family Rs8000 ($80) per month.

During family visits, patients were instructed to say "everything is okay, else they would be beaten" said Mehboob Khab, head of the police station where the Mullah is jailed.

But his controversial methods also found approval among many families.

"When he's chained up, my son cannot escape. These chains are doing him good, and on top of it he has learnt to recite the Koran," said a man called Sultan, who was outraged by the closure of the centre.

Niaz, who came to pick up his brother Lutuf, said the treatment was necessary. "My brother needed this severe treatment. Without it he would get back on the drugs."

Lutuf stared blankly into space for a moment before responding.

"My brother doesn't know the whole story. I know what happened here."

Latest News: VIDEO: Yoga all at sea

Yoga requires focus, stamina and patience.

But if that still sounds a bit too easy you could try a new form of yoga being taught in Cornwall.

SUP yoga - or stand up paddleboard yoga - involves most of the usual yoga positions, but with the added complication of it being done at sea on a paddleboard.

Jen Austin runs a yoga school in Newquay and teaches the practice when tide and weather allow.

BBC News went along to a class.

Video journalist: Dan Curtis

Stop/Start is a series of video features for the BBC News website which follows both new trends that are beginning and old traditions that are coming to an end.

Latest News: UN urges Chile to allow abortion in some cases

The UN Human Rights Committee asked Chile Thursday to make exceptions to its ban on abortion in cases of rape, incest and the health of the mother.

Chile is one of the few countries in the world that prohibits abortions for any reason.

Legislation that would create exceptions has been blocked in the Chilean parliament.

In a periodic report on Chile, the committee said it "should establish exceptions to the general prohibition of abortion, contemplating therapeutic abortion and in those cases in which the pregnancy is a consequence of a rape or incest."

Alvaro Elizalde, a government spokesman, said the UN committee's suggestion "must be analyzed on its merit and if a decision is adopted it will be announced in a timely manner."

The UN report expressed concern over the high rates of clandestine abortions in Chile, estimated to exceed 150,000 a year.

Chile "should make sure that reproductive health services are accessible to all women and adolescents," the report said.

President Michelle Bachelet in May announced her intention to reopen debate on abortion with an eye to passing legislation by the end of the year that would permit the procedure in therapeutic cases where the health of the mother is at risk or the fetus is unviable.

Abortions on those cases were permitted in Chile until 1989 when it was outlawed near the end of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Divorce was only approved in 2004.

The UN report was based on the conclusions reached by the UN Human Rights Committee, which debated the Chilean case last July.

Latest News: Experts call for stepped-up hepatitis battle

The world can beat the cancer-causing disease hepatitis if it raises its game, but treatment programmes need to go hand in hand with those tackling the likes of HIV, experts said Thursday.

Viral hepatitis is a group of infectious diseases known by the letters A, B, C, D or E, which attack the liver.

Despite killing close to 1.4 million people every year -- with Asia the hardest-hit region -- hepatitis has long failed to grab the spotlight.

Ninety percent of deaths are from hepatitis B and C, responsible for two-thirds of the global liver cancer toll.

"It's a no-brainer. The best way to prevent liver cancer or people dying from liver cirrhosis is to prevent and treat viral hepatitis," said Samuel So, a liver surgeon and professor at Stanford University in California.

"If you do that, you'll save a lot of lives and a lot of healthcare costs," he told reporters in Geneva.

Hepatitis B and C are transmitted from infected mothers to newborn babies, by unsafe injections during medical procedures and drug use, or unsafe sex.

"Finally we're seeing some real momentum building," said Stefan Wiktor, leader of the hepatitis programme at the World Health Organization.

Testing is crucial, given that of the estimated 500 million people with viral hepatitis, many are unaware of their infection.

"We also need to make sure there is prevention in place, that healthcare-associated transmission is reduced, that injecting drug users to the equipment they need to prevent from getting infected," Wiktor told reporters.

Hepatitis C, notably, is undergoing a "therapeutic revolution", Wiktor said, with new medicines offering a cure rate of 95 percent.

"That totally changes the dynamic about how we should approach this," he added.

Hepatitis kills almost as many people a year as HIV/AIDS, and therefore needs a similar degree of international traction, said So.

People affected by HIV are also particularly vulnerable to hepatitis, with up to 10 million worldwide estimated to be infected with both.

Advances in HIV treatment have prolonged the lives of people with that virus, meaning they have more time to develop hepatitis-related liver cancer, but hepatitis treatment still lags behind.

"The structure we created for HIV treatment is ideal for hepatitis treatment. It's time that we didn't put these diseases into silos," So said.

Latest News: Ruling on antibiotics in livestock reversed

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration isn't required to hold public hearings to evaluate the health risks of widespread use of antibiotics in animal feed, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling in 2012 by a district court that sided with several health and consumer organizations that sued the FDA after the agency decided against holding the hearings.

The health groups want the FDA to withdraw approval of using penicillin and tetracycline in animal feed to make cattle and other livestock grow faster. They say the practice has been linked to an increase to human resistance to antibiotics, while industry groups argue the issue needs more study.

The appeals court found that the FDA isn't required to hold the hearings because it's made no official finding that the antibiotics pose a health risk.

The agency claims it has addressed the situation by initiating a voluntary program that encourages the industry to use the drugs "judiciously," saying public hearings consume too much time and resources.

Jennifer Sorenson, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement that the plaintiffs are considering other legal options.

The appeals court ruling "gives a free pass to ignore science when it is politically inconvenient," she said.

Latest News: Police seek man who refused tuberculosis treatment

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — Prosecutors in Northern California said Thursday that they have obtained an arrest warrant for a tuberculosis patient who has refused treatment and may be contagious, putting those around him at risk.

Eduardo Rosas Cruz, a 25-year-old transient, went to the San Joaquin General Hospital's emergency room in March, complaining of a severe cough. Diagnosed with tuberculosis, medical staff told him to stay in a Stockton motel room, where a health worker would deliver his medication and watch him take it. But officials say he took off.

County health officials asked prosecutors to seek the warrant, in part, because Rosas Cruz comes from a part of Mexico known for its drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis. County health officials are searching for Rosas Cruz, and his name is in a statewide law enforcement system, San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor said.

"He could be in a homeless shelter. He could be around the corner from the courthouse," Taylor said. "We don't know."

Tuberculosis spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The disease most commonly infects a person's lungs. It can cause death if left untreated.

Catching tuberculosis requires extended contact with a contagious person, said San Joaquin County's public health officer, Dr. Alvaro Garza, adding that it is unclear if Rosas Cruz is contagious. Rosas Cruz needs a nine-month regime of medicine, which Alvaro said the patient is not near to completing.

"If you stop taking it, it comes roaring back," Alvaro said.

In court papers filed in support of the warrant, public health officials say Rosas Cruz resisted treatment from the start. He also uses crack cocaine and methamphetamine, officials said, adding that he could develop the drug resistant strain if he hasn't already.

"We need help getting him in," Alvaro said. "We've not been able to find him in places he's told us he's going to be."

Rosas Cruz initially went to the hospital after feeling shortness of breath for two weeks, had a high fever and had lost considerable weight, in addition to the cough, according to court papers.

Taylor, who prosecutors public health cases, said he seeks arrest warrants like this once or twice each year.

In mid-2012, officials in San Joaquin County arrested Armando Rodriguez, who refused tuberculosis treatment. Taylor said Rodriguez, age 34 at the time, was released Jan. 7, 2013.

By law, health officials can't force a patient to be treated for tuberculosis, but officials can use the courts to isolate him from the public. That is when officials offer treatment.

Taylor, who did not know the status of Rosas Cruz's residency, said he is not interested in punishing him through the criminal court system. Rather, Taylor said he is using the courts to protect the public's health.

"We're interested in this guy because he broke the orders of the health officer," Taylor said. "It's all that's left on the shelf."

Latest News: Autism school's legacy lives on
Paul Shattock's son Jamie was diagnosed with autism in 1975

Free schools for children with autism are gradually being setup in the UK by community groups, with another one due to open in Easter 2015. But in the 1970s, parents in Sunderland clubbed together to create what they saw as a real need back in a time when autism wasn't such a well-known disability.

In the 70s Paul Shattock's autistic son Jamie was six. Although they say he was a lovely child his parents - like many parents with autistic children - found they needed extra support.

"He slept 4 hours a night," says Shattock. "In the end the only option we had was for him to go to a residential school."

But the specialist centre available to them was in Aberdeen, some 394km (245m) away from their home in Sunderland. "I had to take him, that was the worst day of my life, I cried my eyes out and he did too," Shattock says.

Unhappy with his son being so far away, Shattock, who is the chairman of Education and Services for People with Autism in Tyne and Weir, wanted to do something to change the situation and so teamed up with local parents who had children on the autism spectrum.

Paul with JamiePaul was desperate for his son Jamie to be closer to the family

They all wanted their children to be closer to home and still receive the correct care and education, so looked into setting up their own residential school.

The group started by purchasing a a former Jewish day school in Sunderland that needed quite some restoration. Despite raising the £70,000 needed to buy the building funds were low and the work was eventually done by the parents, with help from young unemployed people on Government training schemes.

"It was a wreck, a real 'seat of the pants' operation," says Shattock but reports there was tremendous support from the community. "We spent four years fundraising. Every working men's club in Sunderland had social events, we approached leek clubs, pigeon fanciers' associations, rotary clubs and round tables for funds…we tried everything. It was a Sunderland venture, a local venture."

By 1980 Shattock's mission to provide a local residential school for autistic children was complete.

On opening there were just two pupils in attendance. It was the first specialist autism school in the country offering a full residential service 52 weeks per year. But very quickly that figure grew to 12 children aged five to 16 and local authorities began to fund places.

Sunderland autism school's legacy lives on

But the school was the start of something much bigger. The founders realised there was a need for something more as the children became older and reached leaving age. The perceived need led to the setting up of a new college catering for young people aged over 16.

This time the parents took out bank loans secured against their houses in order to buy an old vicarage. It too is still running today and provides education placements for young people aged 13-19 yrs with autism, learning disabilities, other disabilities and/or mental illness.

Shattock with the mayor opening the school Paul Shattock (left) endeavoured to open a school for autistic children after his son Jamie was diagnosed in 1975

In 1998 Mr Shattock received an OBE for over 30 years of services to the autism community.

More on how free schools for children with autism are becoming more prevalent can be read here.

Film made by BBC North East Today.

Follow @BBCOuch on Twitter and on Facebook, and listen to our monthly talk show

Latest News: Shift workers 'face diabetes risk'
Woman working

Related Stories

Type 2 diabetes is more common in people who work shifts, a large international study suggests.

The findings, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, indicated men and those doing rotating shifts were at highest risk.

It is thought that disruption to the body clock affects waistlines, hormones and sleep - which could increase the risk.

Diabetes UK said shift workers should eat a healthy balanced diet.

The disease can lead to blindness, increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as damaging nerves and blood vessels - dramatically increasing the risk of a foot needing to be amputated.

Studies in a sleep laboratories have shown that making people snooze at the wrong time of day led to the early stages of type 2 diabetes developing within weeks.

Now an analysis of data from 226,652 people strengthens the link with type 2 diabetes.

Increased risk

In the UK, 45 out of every 1,000 adults have some form of diabetes, with the vast majority being type 2.

The study, by researchers at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, showed shift workers were 9% more likely to have type 2 diabetes.

But in men, the figure was 35%. For people chopping and changing between day and night shifts, the risk increased by 42%.

Eating on a night shift

The researchers said: "The result suggests that male shift workers should pay more attention to the prevention of of diabetes.

"Given the increasing prevalence of shift work worldwide and the heavy economic burden of diabetes, the results of our study provide practical and valuable clues for the prevention of diabetes."

Possible explanations include shift work disrupting sleeping and eating patterns. One idea is that eating late at night makes the body more prone to store the energy as fat, increasing the risk of obesity and in turn type 2 diabetes.

James Gallagher explores whether eating against the body clock can make you fat

The increased risk in men could be down to changes in levels of male hormones, it has been suggested.

Also, because the studies are looking at only one snapshot in time it is impossible to say definitively that shift work causes diabetes as other factors could be at play.

The type of person more prone to type 2 diabetes may be more likely to become a shift worker.

Dr Alasdair Rankin, from the charity Diabetes UK, said: "These findings suggest that shift workers need to be aware of their personal risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

"They can do this by taking a type 2 diabetes risk assessment, either online or in their local pharmacy.

"The best way to reduce your risk of type 2 is to maintain a healthy weight through regular physical activity and by eating a healthy balanced diet."

Prof Nick Wareham, from the University of Cambridge, said any effect was moderate.

He added: "If it were shown that it is shift working itself that has a link to diabetes, then the key question would be to identify what interventions could be put in place to alleviate the risks in those who have to work shifts."

Body Clock
Latest News: One-shot cancer therapy gets NHS nod
Breast cancer surgeryThe radiation is delivered during surgery to remove the tumour

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A pioneering breast cancer treatment that replaces weeks of radiotherapy with a single, targeted shot is set to be offered on the NHS.

The dose of radiation is delivered from inside the breast, once a tumour has been removed in surgery.

It would benefit up to 36,000 people and should also save the NHS money.

Draft guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said it would improve patients' quality of life.

The technique, called intra-operative radiation, is suitable only for patients who have caught their cancer early.

Currently, those patients would have surgery to remove the tumour. They would then face at least another 15 trips to hospital for radiotherapy to kill any remaining cancerous cells.

One shot wonder

Intra-operative radiation is performed during surgery.

Once the tumour is removed, a probe is inserted into the breast and delivers radiation to the exact site of the cancer for about half an hour.

Tests on more than 2,000 people suggest the technique has a similar level of effectiveness as conventional radiotherapy.

However, as the technique has been developed recently, there is no long-term data available.

As well as avoiding the inconvenience of regular hospital trips, the single dose should avoid potential damage to organs such as the heart, lung, and oesophagus - which is a risk during radiation to the whole breast.

Breast cancerThe technique works only on tumours that have not yet spread

NICE said the pros and cons should be made clear to patients.

Prof Carole Longson, director of health technology evaluation at NICE, said: "Because it is still relatively new, it is only right to recommend its use in a carefully controlled way.

"This will ensure patients are fully aware of the risks and benefits before choosing which treatment to have and allow doctors to gather more information about the treatment."

Previous estimates have suggested a shift to intra-operative radiation could save the NHS £15m a year.

But the equipment is expensive - each probe would cost about £500,000.

If approved, the guidelines would be introduced in England towards the end of the year. Wales and Northern Ireland tend to follow NICE guidelines at a later date, while Scotland considers treatments separately.

Play it safe

Sally Greenbrook, a senior policy officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: "This is great news for early breast cancer patients due for breast conserving operations.

"As this is a new technology, patients will need to be made aware of the pros and cons before going ahead.

"However, this technique can greatly reduce the disruption, stress and inconvenience of what for some people can be over 15 additional trips to and from hospital as well as saving the NHS money and time."

Emma Greenwood, Cancer Research UK's head of policy, said: "This could be good news for breast cancer patients.

"Giving radiotherapy in a single dose at the time of surgery potentially offers a huge benefit, especially if it means fewer visits to hospital.

"It's essential that those who receive this radiotherapy are followed up for a long period of time to ensure the single dose is as at least as effective as the standard treatment.

"Radiotherapy is already a very effective treatment, and this technique could offer another valuable option for treating early breast cancer."

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