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The development of a cocktail of powerful antiretroviral drugs has transformed what was once an all-but-certain killer into a chronic illness that can be managed (at least for those who have access to treatment). In the United States, annual deaths have fallen from a peak of nearly 51,000 in 1995 to more than 14,100 in 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But there is still no cure or effective vaccine for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that causes it.

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With as many as 5 million Americans suffering from this mind-robbing illness, and their numbers soaring as the population ages, scientists are working feverishly on strategies for prevention and treatment. But more than 100 years after the disease was discovered, scientists still aren't sure what causes it. The only approved treatments barely dull the symptoms, and there is no cure. Yet, numerous new approaches that have “cured” Alzheimer’s in mice are now being tested in people, with funding from the government and drug companies.

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Get tips on covering medical research stories from veteran AP reporter Lauran Neergaard.

 

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Journalists have to ask hard questions about where sources get their money – and about the science they are promoting. Following the money trail can be daunting. But journalists and whistleblowers are doing just that and uncovering important connections. Here's what to look for.

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The first step in asking a stranger to open up to you is to follow the golden rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated. Get more tips on interviewing patients from a veteran broadcast journalist.
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Obesity is visible — walk down the street and you bump into it. Diabetes, on the other hand, is silent and tragic. Here are tips for reporting on the links between them.

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