Category Archives: AIDS

Nov 21 2011
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Public Health News Roundup: November 21

CDC: Syphilis Cases Down, Other STDRates Up

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report finds that the number of new syphilis cases in the U.S. has fallen for the first time in ten years, but cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea are up. The report also finds that sexually transmitted diseases continue to impact minority groups disproportionately. Read more on sexual health.

Children's Seat Belts Often Don’t Fit Correctly

A parent survey in the journal Academic Pediatrics finds that drivers of four to nine year-old children say their children’s seat belts often don’t fit correctly. The researchers suggest that clinicians should encourage the use of size-appropriate child passenger restraint systems, including car seats and booster seats, instead of seat belts, which may not fit well for this age group. Read more safety news.

United Nations: Dramatic Drop in New HIV Infections and AIDS-Related Deaths

New HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths have fallen to the lowest levels since the peak of the epidemic, according to a new report by the United Nation’s Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS. New HIV infections decreased by 21 percent since 1997, and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses decreased by 21 percent since 2005. Read about a recent effort to usher in a global AIDS-free generation.

Oct 31 2011
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Social Media in Public Health: What's Not to 'Like'?

Twitter, Facebook and other social media applications are often seen as up-to-the-minute, spontaneous news tools. But at a session this afternoon at the 2011 APHA annual meeting, AIDS.gov’s Miguel Gomez shared a secret: he and his staff meet each week to plan out what they are going to Tweet. They examine what their partners and advocates are talking about in the social media sphere so that they know they are being responsive to relevant topics. And, of course, they respond as needed if circumstances warrant, but this advice was a great kick-off to an engaging session on using social media to communicate, educate, and advocate for public health.

Michele Late is the woman behind @publichealth, APHA’s Twitter account since 2007. With 140,000-plus followers, @publichealth is one of the top health Twitter accounts out there, and TIME magazine said as much in a ranking this past March. Late shared tools such as URL shorteners, analytics tools and Tweet schedulers that she has mastered over the past few years, urging others to take advantage of the many (free!) resources out there that can give Twitter account owners information about their followers. By tracking retweets and other statistics, Late learned what types of posts were most interesting to the @publichealth audience (career-related, health observances and personal health tips are way up there).

Some specific tips Late shared:

  • If you put a period if front of an @ reply, it will show up for everyone who follows you (and not just the person you are replying to and anyone who follows them).
  • Tweet for all time zones. If you’re on the East Coast, make sure to Tweet in the late afternoon.
  • Interact with followers (“otherwise you’re not social – you’re a bulletin board”)

Megan Yarbrough from M+R Strategic Services reminded the audience that if they want to measure their social media success, they should make sure to define their goals in advance. If you don’t know who you want to reach, it’s pretty hard to be strategic and to determine whether you made an impact. And it is also helpful to understand social media algorithms: for example, on Facebook, things such as affinity (“likes”) and the type of content (photos are worth more) are weighted heavily toward your metrics. Yarbrough also reported on a benchmarking survey of Facebook use by non-profits that found:

  • Non-profits average 15,000 fans on Facebook pages
  • A good way to measure Facebook fans is to look at number of fans compared to number of e-mail subscribers. Non-profits averaged 110 fans/email subscriber.
  • For every 1,000 fans, non-profits only had an average of 1.7 likes or comments.

Ever wonder how the CDC strategizes about social media? Former social media guru (now she’s at the National Office for Drug Control Policy) Erin Edgerton shared some tips—in 140 characters—for success. Her advice included remembering to use the principles of good communication, even if you are working on a new or flashy platform; holding on to your content promotion until you have a really good piece to promote, and ensuring that you use people’s ideas and input if you ask for them.

>>Follow our coverage of APHA 2011 on Twitter here and read up from NewPublicHealth here.

Aug 11 2011
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Public Health News Roundup: August 11

Violence Toward Health Efforts Is Rampant in Conflict Regions

The International Committee of the Red Cross has issued a report that finds that care is disrupted for millions in conflict areas because of violence against health workers, facilities and vehicles.

New Truck Fuel Standards Will Reduce Some Pollution

New fuel standards, written by both the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency, require semi-trucks from model years 2014-2018 to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent, according to a news release.

FDA Approves Second Once a Day HIV Drug

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a second once-a-day HIV pill, Complera, marketed by Gilead Sciences, Inc. The pill contains three HIV drugs and is expected to help streamline drug therapy for appropriate patients. Reducing the complexity of drug taking can help improve drug compliance—and treatment.

Two Million Eligible Seniors Not Taking Advantage of Medicare Drug Subsidy

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that more than 2 million people on Medicare could qualify for financial assistance for their drug costs, but have not applied for the subsidy, according to a news release. Eligible individuals would pay no more than $2.50 for generic drugs and $6.30 for each brand name drug. The steps and requirements beneficiaries can take to check if they qualify for the Medicare Low-Income Subsidy Program (also known as LIS or “Extra Help”) can be done by phone or online.

Lifting Weights Helps Smokers Quit and Avoid Weight Gain

A new study in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research funded by the National Cancer Institute found that a group of smokers who were given nicotine patches were more likely to quit and to lose weight if they also participated in weight training. A control group that also received patches but didn’t do the training were less likely to quit and more likely to gain weight during the study period, a frequent problem for people trying to quit smoking.

Jul 14 2011
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Public Health News Roundup: July 14

More Restaurants to Offer Healthier Kids’ Meals Options

The National Restaurant Association announced an initiative at many national restaurants aimed at increasing healthy menu options for kids.

Study: Preventive Therapy Prevents HIV in High-Risk Heterosexuals

Giving antiretroviral drugs to heterosexuals at high risk of developing HIV significantly reduces the chance they will contract the virus, according to the results of two clinical trials. The trials were conducted in Africa and funded in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC Issues Outpatient Infection Control Guide

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released an infection control guide and checklist for outpatient care settings such as endoscopy clinics, surgery centers, primary care offices, and pain management clinics. The new guide and checklist are needed, according to the CDC, because of repeated infection outbreaks from unsafe practices.

Caring for Overall Health May Protect Against Dementia

A new study in the journal Neurology finds that caring for overall health may protect people from dementia. The study was conducted in over 7,000 people age 65 and older who did not have dementia when they were enrolled in the trial and were assessed in five year intervals.

>> NEWS ROUNDUPS: Catch up on previous stories you may have missed

Jun 27 2011
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Public Health News Roundup: June 27

Pediatricians: Ban Junk Food Advertising

A new policy statement issued today by the American Academy of Pediatrics focuses on the impact of food advertising on television and through digital media. The statement urges pediatricians to work with other child health advocates at the local, state and national levels toward a ban on junk food advertising, restrictions on digital media food advertising and increased funding for research on the impact of heavy media use by children.

Today is National HIV Testing Day

National HIV Testing Day is an annual campaign coordinated by the National Association of People with AIDS to encourage individuals of all ages to be tested for HIV. Currently, almost 40 percent of people with HIV are not diagnosed until they already have developed AIDS. That can be up to 10 years after they first became infected with HIV. Early diagnosis and treatment can be life saving and life-prolonging for people diagnosed with HIV and their sexual partners.

Flooding Impacts Drinking Water for Thousands of Residents in North Dakota

The North Dakota Health Department has instructed residents in Minot, North Dakota to drink bottled water or boil tap water after the Souris river crested and likely contaminated the water supply.

Diabetes Rising Twice as Fast in U.S. as in Western Europe

A new study in The Lancet finds that nearly 350 million people worldwide now struggle with diabetes. Over the past three decades the number of adults with diabetes has more than doubled, jumping from 153 million in 1980 to 347 million in 2008. The incidence of diabetes in the United States is rising twice as fast as that of Western Europe. The study was conducted by an analysis of blood samples taken from 2.7 m illion people age 25 and older living in 199 countries and territories.

Drug Use Linked to One Quarter of All Car Crashes

Among U.S. drivers who died in a car crash, about one in four tested positive for drugs, and that drug use may have been a key factor in the crash, according to a new study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Researchers reviewed federal drug test information from over 40,000 who died in car crashes between 1998 and 2009. The most commonly used drugs by the crash victims, according to the study, were marijuana and stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines.

Jun 24 2011
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Public Health News Roundup: June 24

CDC Identifies Top Global Public Health Achievements

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified the top global public health achievements for the first ten years of the 21st century. Achievements include reductions in child mortality, access to safe water and sanitation and gains in the treatment and control of malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

APHA Reports ACA Provisions Not Receiving Funding

A new report from the American Public Health Association finds that while the the Affordable Care Act reauthorized and created several new programs that could increase the supply and expertise of the public health workforce, only 11 of the 19 ACA provisions assessed in the report have received funding. And those those that have received monies have been funded at substantially lower levels than authorized. The report also notes that since 2008 nearly 20 percent of the governmental public health work force has been lost because of recession-related budget cuts. That has resulted in cuts to public health services such as immunizations and air and water monitoring.

CDC HIV Testing Initiative Diagnoses Thousands Previously Unaware of their HIV Status

A new report in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review has shown that a three year program to expand access to HIV testing in parts of the U.S. most affected by HIV has provided close to three million HIV tests and resulted in the diagnosis of over 18,000 people who were unaware they were infected with the virus.

People in Two States Contract Livestock Disease

Reuters is reporting that nearly a dozen people in Washington and Montana who had contact with infected goats have developed Q fever, a disease common in livestock but rare in humans. The illness causes flu-like symptoms, including fever.

Inferior Heart Attack Care for Blacks Tied to Delays in Hospital Transfer Time

A new study in the journal Medical Care has found that black patients are much more likely than white patients to initially go to hospitals for heart attack care that take longer to transfer their patients, regardless of race. Such transfers take place if the first hospital is not able to do certain cardiovascular procedures such as angioplasty. Researchers reviewed over 26,000 Medicare patient records and found that on average black patients waited six hours longer than whites to get higher level heart attack care if it was not available at the initial hospital.

Community Health Workers Increase Mammography Rates

A new study in the journal Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention finds that interventions by community health workers including referrals, education and support increase mammography screening rates in the U.S. In particular, researchers found that the rates increased in urban settings and among women with the same race and ethnic background as the health worker.

Obama Administration Announces Expanded Medicaid Coverage to Help Smokers Quit

The Obama Administration today announced expanded Medicaid coverage of tobacco cessation services, including comprehensive cessation coverage for pregnant women and funding for telephone quitlines.

Jun 7 2011
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Public Health News Roundup: June 7

Risky Behaviors More Likely Among Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Teens

Students who report being gay, lesbian or bisexual are more likely than heterosexual students to engage in unhealthy risk behaviors including tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual risk behaviors, suicidal behaviors, and violence, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The researchers analyzed data from youth risk behavior surveys conducted between 2001–2009 in seven states and six urban school districts.

Wildfires, Tornadoes, Floods; Are Hurricanes Next?

The United States is bracing for a rough hurricane season, and budget cuts in disaster preparedness have some experts concerned.

Low Blood Sugar Episodes Impact Work Days for People with Diabetes

Nearly one in five people with diabetes frequently miss hours of works each month because of low blood sugar episodes, according to a new study in the journal Value of Health. The study was based on a survey of over 1,000 people with diabetes in the U.S., Great Britain, France and Germany.

March of Dimes Begins New Healthy Baby Campaign

“Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” is a new campaign from the March of Dimes to encourage women having healthy pregnancies to let labor to begin on its own, rather than schedule a C-section. March of Dimes officials say that the campaign wants to dispel the myth that it's safe to schedule a delivery before 39 weeks of pregnancy without a medical need. Only 25 percent of women know a full-term pregnancy should last at least 39 weeks, according to research published in the December 2009 issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

HRSA HIV/AIDS Clinical Care Guide Now Online

The updated Guide for HIV/AIDS Clinical Care, published in January 2011, is now available online. The guide is a comprehensive directory for health professionals treating patients with HIV/AIDS. Information in the guide includes updates on testing, patient assessment and medications.

Jun 6 2011
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AIDS@30: More Work Ahead

The National Institutes of Health has been the world’s lead agency for developing and funding tests and treatments for HIV/AIDS. Thirty years after publication of the first report about a rare type of pneumonia that became a frequent hallmark of the disease, Anthony Fauci, M.D., head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and among the foremost AIDS experts in the U.S., looks back at the history of HIV/AIDS in a statement published on the NIH website.

Says Fauci: “…NIH is committed to advancing a comprehensive program of basic, clinical, translational and behavioral and social science research toward controlling and ultimately ending this modern plague. In memory of the patients, friends, loved ones and colleagues we have lost over these three decades, we wholeheartedly embrace this responsibility and opportunity knowing that history will judge us as much for what we accomplish during the coming years as for what we have achieved thus far.”

Jun 6 2011
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Public Health News Roundup: June 6

German E.Coli Outbreak Linked to Organic Sprouts

The New York Times has reported that organically grown sprouts appear to be the culprit food source in the German e.coli outbreak. Four people have died and thousands have fallen ill, including four Americans who recently traveled to Germany. The Food and Drug Administration also announced, in an email to reporters late Sunday evening, that it was stepping up inspections of imported lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and sprouts.

New Yearly HIV Cases Fall by 25% Between 2001 and 2009

This June marks thirty years since the first cases of AIDS were reported in the U.S. and worldwide, and the news about the disease is encouraging. The number of new HIV cases reported each year fell 25% between 2001 and 2009, according to a press release from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. Researchers say they attribute the drop in HIV cases to safer sex behaviors among men and women, in part because of increased awareness and prevention campaigns.

Partner Support Helps Latino Smokers Quit Smoking

Latinos trying to quit smoking may be more successful if they have a partner to provide support, according to researchers at the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. The study, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, included 131 Latino smokers. Over 75% were female and smoked an average of 11 cigarettes a day. The participants also averaged three quit attempts.

Morning Workouts Help Improve Sleep

A new, though small, study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine finds that morning exercise may improve night time sleep habits, according to a news release issued by the College. Researchers at the Appalachian State University studied the effects of exercise timing on the sleep patterns of six male and three female study participants. Each was monitored on a treadmill three times—in the early morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. At night, each wore a sleep-monitoring headband to measure sleep stage time and quality of sleep. Using data from the sleep monitors, researchers found that morning exercisers had greater rates of light and deep sleep and a 20 percent increase in sleep cycle frequency. Increased sleep has been linked to improve health factors, including increased weight loss for people trying to lose weight.

May 31 2011
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New York Times: The Story of AIDS

To mark the thirty years since cases of the disease that would become known as AIDS were first reported in the U.S., veteran New York Times health reporter Lawrence K. Altman, M.D., has written a concise history of the disease, and the virus, HIV, that causes it.

Altman’s account, written from his perch in the front row of reporters covering the story, touches on the full wide swath of the history of this modern disease--homosexuality, epidemiology, pharmacology, history and the venerable practice of public health.