HIV Testing in Pregnancy Can Prevent or Cure Infected Infants; Free, Confidential Testing Available at AIDS Activities Office

Infectious disease specialist Margaret Hoffman-Terry, MD, with the AIDS Activities Office at Lehigh Valley Health Network reminds pregnant women to get tested for HIV. To illustrate why, Hoffman-Terry wrote the article below that summarizes news about how an effective treatment plan eliminated HIV from a baby born in Mississippi who had been infected in the womb.

Margaret Hoffman-Terry, MD

Margaret Hoffman-Terry, MD
Infectious diseases

By Margaret Hoffman-Terry, MD

In July 2010, a female infant was born in rural Mississippi. While HIV testing and prenatal treatment are standard for pregnant women in the U.S., the infant’s mother was not in care during her pregnancy and was unaware of her HIV diagnosis. Within 30 hours, the baby was transferred to Hannah Gay, MD, at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Based on the mother’s prior lack of HIV care, Gay decided the risk for the mother giving HIV to the child was so great that she made the highly unusual decision to immediately start the child on a full antiretroviral regimen.

The infant was treated very early, within 31 hours of life, with three different potent drugs. Children normally are treated with one or two drugs.

The HIV test came back positive, and further testing revealed she was infected in the womb rather than during labor.

Within a month, the baby’s viral load (amount of virus carried in the blood) had fallen to undetectable levels. After 18 months of treatment, the mother decided to take the child off treatment. In a recent update, it was found that despite discontinuing treatment, the infant has no virus in her blood and a normal immune system — 21 months after stopping HIV therapy.

The Mississippi child is considered to be in remission, with no detectable virus in the blood and such a small amount hiding in her immune system that it is unlikely to ever come back or need treatment again. Read More »

Prone Breast Irradiation Offers a New Option for Women With Early-Stage Breast Cancer

Radiation therapy for breast cancer is a common treatment course, particularly for women with early-stage cancer who opt for breast-conserving therapy. For some women, especially those with larger breasts, lying in a prone, chest-down position for radiation therapy may reduce the risk for certain side effects from the treatment.

Prone breast irradiation tableWith prone breast irradiation therapy – now offered at Lehigh Valley Health Network – a patient lays chest-down on a special table that allows one breast to fall downward for treatment. This is an alternative position to the more traditional supine position, where a patient lies on her back for treatment.

“By allowing the treated breast to fall away from the body, a skinfold between the breast and the torso is eliminated, helping reduce the risk of radiation dermatitis,” says LVHN radiation oncologist Robert Prosnitz, MD, MPH, with Allentown Radiation Oncology Associates. “This is a temporary irritation of the skin from radiation, but it can be more severe in women with larger more pendulous breasts who are treated in the traditional supine position.” Read More »

Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton Offering Free Colon-Rectal Cancer Screening Kits

Colon-Rectal Cancer Screening KitEach year, 150,000 people nationwide are diagnosed with colon-rectal cancer, and more than 50,000 people die from the disease in a year. But thanks to screening, treatments and increased awareness of the disease, there now are more colon-rectal cancer survivors than ever before. Still, colon-rectal cancer remains the third leading cause of cancer death.

To help spread the word about colon cancer, Lehigh Valley Hospital-Hazleton is offering free Hemoccult cancer screening kits throughout Colon-rectal Cancer Awareness Month in March. The test screens for the presence of blood in the stool.

Colon-rectal cancer, if identified early, is highly curable. There often are no warning signs. However, symptoms that may signal colon-rectal cancer include: Read More »

100th Patient Receives TAVR at LVHN, Celebrates Milestone With Her Care Team

100th TAVR group

Mary Longo, center, is surrounded by LVHN clinicians and her family members who gathered today to celebrate the network’s 100th TAVR procedure. From left are Rhonda Moore, CRNP; Bill Long, Raymond Singer, MD; Peggy McAndrew; Longo; J. Patrick Kleaveland, MD; Sarah Capella; John Capella; Jimmy Capella and Kathleen Capella.

A bit groggy after undergoing a heart procedure at Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), 90-year-old Mary Longo of Hazleton was still able to recite the quadratic formula to prove she was OK. “I know what that is,” says Longo in her heavy Boston accent. “It’s ax2 + bx + c=0. Everyone knows that.”

A retired math professor who taught at Penn State Hazleton and King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Longo has long suffered from aortic valve stenosis. The disease caused her to experience chest pains, dizzy spells and shortness of breath, especially when walking up stairs. Open-heart surgery to replace the valve was deemed too risky. However, Longo was a perfect candidate for transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). On Feb. 5, 2014, she became the 100th patient to receive TAVR at LVHN.

Today, Longo (a mother of eight and grandmother of 20) and her family celebrated the milestone with her caregivers, including heart and lung surgeon Raymond Singer, MD, and cardiologist J. Patrick Kleaveland, MD. Everyone who attended the celebration at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest enjoyed a piece of cake decorated with icing depicting the TAVR valve. Read More »

Gynecologic Oncologist Richard Boulay, MD, Describes Cancer Prognosis Considerations

Richard Boulay, MD

Richard Boulay, MD
Gynecologic oncology
Watch a video to learn more about him.

“How long do I have, Doc?”

It’s a question your doctor considers carefully, because there’s a lot riding on the answer.

It’s too important to guess, and yet your prognosis is based on a series of assumptions. Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) gynecologic oncologist Richard Boulay, MD, with Gynecology Oncology Specialists in Allentown, explains why the crystal ball is so cloudy in a blog post that published earlier this month on Read More »