Health Highlights: May 1, 2012

Topics: Press, Medical / Health Reporting

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

Appeals Judge Grants Extension in Planned Parenthood Funding Case

In the ongoing legal fight over funding for Planned Parenthood in Texas, a federal appeals judge on Tuesday said more time is needed to hear arguments on whether that state can prevent the group from receiving funding as part of the the Women's Health Program.

The move comes less than 24 hours after another federal district court judge, Judge Lee Yeakel, issued an order forbidding Texas from enforcing a law that bans Planned Parenthood from participating in the program.

On Tuesday, Fifth Circuit Appeals Judge Jerry Smith gave lawyers for eight Planned Parenthood clinics involved in a lawsuit against the state until 5 p.m. Tuesday to present their arguments about why Texas should be prevented from enforcing the law, the Associated Press reported.

"We are disappointed in the stay granted last night," Sarah Wheat, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood of Austin Family Planning, told the AP. "When presented with both sides, the District Court agreed the rule was likely unconstitutional, and that implementation would cause a serious problem with health care access for Texas women."

Under the appeals judge's order, Texas can exclude the Planned Parenthood clinics from the Women's Health Program today, according to Texas Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman.

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New Facebook Initiative Promotes Organ Donation

Facebook has introduced an initiative to help promote organ donations for people who require life-saving transplants.

Facebook users in the United States and Britain can now indicate that they are organ donors on their timelines. If they are donors, they can find links to official donor organ registries and enroll, Agence France-Presse reported.

"We want to make it simple," said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. "You just put in the state or country that you're from, so that we can help link you to the official registries."

"Today, more than 114,000 people in the United States, and millions more around the globe, are waiting for the heart, kidney or liver transplant that will save their lives," Zuckerberg said in a statement with Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, AFP reported.

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Insurer Agrees to Cover Transgender Woman's Mammograms

A transgender American women has won insurance coverage for mammogram breast cancer screening after a long battle.

Beth Scott, 44, was told by her doctor she needed a mammogram and underwent the procedure in June 2010. She paid $385 out of pocket and then submitted the claim to her insurance company Aetna, which denied the claim, ABC News reported.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund took up the case and announced this week that it had won the landmark battle and resolved Scott's claim. The settlement clarified that this type of denial will not happen in the future and that transgender people will be able to change their sex on their insurance records by providing a birth certificate or driver's license.

"I am really pleased and glad it went smoothly," Scott told ABC News. "It's something that gives me hope -- by the fact that Aetna apologized and reimbursed me," she said. "Their willingness to treat transgender people is a positive sign."

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U.N. May not Meet 2015 HIV/AIDS Treatment Goal: Report

The United Nations' goal to stop and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015 may not be achieved due to funding shortfalls, says a U.N. report released Monday.

It said about $15 billon was available for HIV/AIDS projects in 2010, but an estimated $22 billion to $24 billion will be required by 2015 to meet the U.N.'s targets, the Associated Press reported.

"It will be impossible to achieve global targets without sufficient financial resources," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in the report, which called for funding from public, private and charitable sources.

Ban said the international community needs "to now stand up to meet the commitments it has made," the AP reported.

More than 7 million people with HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income nations were receiving antiretroviral treatment in 2011. The U.N.'s goal is to double that to 15 million people in 2015.

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Sleep Affects Genes' Influence on Weight: Study

Getting more sleep helps people counter the influence that genes have on weight, a new study says.

"The less sleep you get, the more your genes contribute to how much you weigh. The more sleep you get, the less your genes determine how much you weigh," said lead author Nathaniel Watson, a neurologist and co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center in Seattle, USA Today reported.

He and his colleagues studied 604 pairs of identical twins and 484 pairs of fraternal twins and found that those who slept longer at night had lower body mass index than those who slept less. Genetic factors accounted for about 32 percent of weight variations among those who averaged more than nine hours of sleep per night, 60 percent for those who slept seven to nine hours, and 70 percent for those who slept less than seven hours.

The study appears online in the journal Sleep.

The findings offer another good reason to be sure you get enough sleep every night, sleep expert Jodi Mindell, a psychology professor at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, told USA Today.

"If you're trying to lose weight, getting enough sleep gives you a fighting chance," Mindell said.

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