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Health Highlights: May 27, 2020

Last Updated: May 27, 2020.

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

AIDS Activist and Playwright Larry Kramer Dies at 84

U.S. AIDS activist and writer Larry Kramer died Wednesday in Manhattan at age 84.

The cause of death was pneumonia, according to his husband, David Webster, The New York Times reported.

Kramer struggled with illness for much of his adult life, including infection with the AIDS-causing HIV virus. He also had a liver disease and required a liver transplant.

Kramer helped found the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the first service organization for people with HIV, in 1981, and his aggressive demands for a strong response to the AIDS crisis helped change U.S. health policy in the 1980s and 90s, according to The Times.

He was also a prolific writer, and is probably best known for a largely autobiographical play chronicling the AIDS movement, "The Normal Heart," first produced in 1985.

Kramer had a cantankerous, rabble-rousing approach to activism. One target in 1988 was Dr. Anthony Fauci, longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Kramer called him a killer and "an incompetent idiot," for what Kramer saw as the agency's neglect of AIDS issues.

But that relationship grew less rancorous with time, and in years to come Fauci and Kramer became friends and colleagues in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

"Once you got past the rhetoric," Fauci told the Times, "you found that Larry Kramer made a lot of sense, and that he had a heart of gold."

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Preventative Meds Help Reduce Rebound Headaches: Study

Withdrawal therapy combined with early preventative medications help ward off medication overuse headaches (also called rebound headaches), a new study says.

These headaches typically occur in people who suffer from migraines, cluster headaches or tension-type headaches and take pain medications that don't work. When they don't get relief from their pain, they take another pill, which can lead to a rebound headache, CNN reported.

Currently, withdrawal therapy is the only treatment for rebound headaches, sometimes along with physical therapy or preventative medications such as anticonvulsants, antidepressants, beta blockers and calcium channel blockers to help control withdrawal pain, or injections of Botox or antibodies to prevent migraines.

However, there's been ongoing debate about whether preventative treatments help patients undergoing withdrawal therapy for rebound headaches, CNN reported.

In this new study, researchers examined the effectiveness of withdrawal therapy alone, withdrawal with preventatives, or preventatives alone in reducing headache days per month.

All three approaches were effective, but withdrawal plus preventive medicine led to the largest reductions in headache and migraine days, days with short-term medication use and days with headache pain intensity, CNN reported.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Neurology, also found that patients who withdrew from pain medications with the help of preventatives were much more likely to be cured of their medication overuse headaches than patients who used preventatives or withdrawal alone.

"We were surprised of the study results and the excellent adherence to the treatment," Jensen told CNN. "We now recommend withdrawal and early start of preventive treatment."

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Apple Reopening 100 U.S. Stores

One hundred Apple stores in the United States will reopen this week with protective measures such as social-distancing, mandatory face masks for workers and customers, and temperature checks for customers.

"This week we'll return to serving customers in many U.S locations," the company said Tuesday in a statement, CBS News reported. "For customer safety and convenience, most stores will offer curbside or storefront service only, where we provide online order pick-up and Genius Bar appointments."

Some of the reopened stores will permit walk-in customers, but there will be limits on how many can be in the store at a time.

Apple, which reopened a few stores in Idaho and Alabama two week ago, closed all of it's more than 250 U.S. stores in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, CBS News reported.

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FDA Approves Drug to Treat Severe Malaria

A drug to treat severe malaria in adults and children has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

There hasn't been an FDA-approved drug to treat severe malaria since quinidine was discontinued by the manufacturer in March 2019.

The new approval is for intravenous (IV) artesunate, which should always be followed by a complete treatment course of an appropriate oral antimalarial therapy, the FDA said.

"This approval will now give patients more access to a lifesaving drug," Dr. John Farley, acting director of the Office of Infectious Diseases in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an agency news release.

About 2,000 malaria cases are diagnosed each year in the United States, and about 300 are severe cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most U.S. cases occur in people who've traveled to countries with malaria.


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