Category Archives: LGBT

Jul 25 2014
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Public Health News Roundup: July 25

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United States, Mexico to Enhance Safety of Certain Agricultural Products
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Mexico’s National Service for Agro-Alimentary Public Health, Safety and Quality and Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks have entered an agreement to form a partnership to improve and promote the safety of fresh and minimally processed agricultural products. Each year, Mexico exports approximately $4.6 billion in fresh vegetables; $3.1 billion in fresh fruit, excluding bananas; $1.9 billion in wine and beer; and $1.5 billion in snacks to the United States.

The preventive practices and verification measures will include:

  • Exchanging information to better understand each other’s produce safety systems
  • Developing effective culturally-specific education and outreach materials that support industry compliance with produce safety standards
  • Identifying common approaches for training auditors who will verify compliance with such standards
  • Enhancing collaboration on laboratory activities as well as outbreak response and traceback activities

“To be successful as regulators, the FDA must continue developing new strategies and partnerships that allow us to more comprehensively and collectively respond to the challenges that come with globalization,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, in a release. “The FDA is working with our Mexican government counterparts as well as stakeholders from industry, commerce, agriculture, and academia to ensure the safety of products for American and Mexican consumers.” Read more on food safety.

JAMA: Health Experts Call for End on Blood Donation Ban for Gay and Bisexual MenEx
perts writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association have called for the repeal of a 30-year ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) instituted the ban for any man who had sex with another man in 1983, near the beginning of the AIDS crisis. Now, however, the experts said that technological and societal advances mean the ban should be lifted. "We think it's time for the FDA to take a serious look at its policy, because it's out of step with peer countries, it's out of step with modern medicine, it's out of step with public opinion, and we feel it may be legally problematic," said Glenn Cohen, who directs Harvard Law School's Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology & Bioethics, who co-wrote the article with Jeremy Feigenbaum of Harvard Law School and Eli Adashi, MD, of Brown University's medical school. They also noted that the ban is not in line with other FDA policies regarding people considered high-risk donors due to their sexual behavior. Read more on HIV/AIDS.

CDC Re-Opens Clinical TB Lab; Safety Reviews of Other Labs Continues
Less than two weeks after closing laboratories due to two serious lapses with anthrax and avian flu virus and an intensive review by its CDC’s internal Laboratory Safety Improvement Working Group, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has resumed the transfer of inactivated materials out of its high-containment Clinical Tuberculosis Laboratory. The moratorium on material transfers remains in effect for BSL-3 and BSL-4 laboratories, with those supporting direct patient care receiving priority review. The working group’s ongoing lab assessments focus on two main areas:

  • Each lab must demonstrate that its protocols for key control points—such as inactivation of a pathogen—are not only being used but that they are being used by appropriately trained and supervised individuals.
  • Each lab is expected to establish redundant controls, similar to the two-key system used in other contexts for critical control points. For example, in the TB lab when heat is used to kill a pathogen, a second trained lab technician will witness the process to make sure the right temperature is used for the right amount of time. Both individuals then sign off on the process.

There will also be unannounced safety inspections by internal auditors. Read more on infectious disease and research.

Feb 19 2014
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Public Health News Roundup: February 19

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Labor Department Announces Grants to help Adults Transition from Prison to Workforce
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced  close to $30 million in grants to help men and women participating in state or local prison work-release programs get the job skills needed for “in demand” jobs. Grants will be awarded to implementing partners that provide qualifying services in areas with high-poverty and high-crime rates, including communities that have a large proportion of returning citizens that typically experience higher rates of recidivism. Read more on community health.

Combining Online Games, Betting and Social Interaction Can Help People Lose Weight
A study by researchers at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island finds that a web-based commercial weight loss program that pairs financial incentives with social influence resulted in significant weight loss for many of the study participants. The results were published in JMIR Serious Games.

Players joined a game to lose weight while betting money on themselves and had four weeks to lose four percent of their starting weight. At the end of week four, all players who lost at least four percent of their initial body weight were deemed winners and split the pool of money collected at the start of the game. The researchers studied nearly 40,000 players over seven months and found that winners lost an average of 4.9 percent of their initial body weight and won an average of $59 in four weeks. Factors associated with winning the game included betting more money, sharing on Facebook, completing more weigh-ins, and engaging in more social interactions with the other players. Read more on obesity.

New SAMHSA Guide Provides Resources to Help Families Support Their LGBT Children
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a Resource Guide to help health care and social service practitioners provide guidance to families on how to support their children who are coming out or identifying themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). According to SAMHSA, with greater access to more information about sexual orientation, gender identity and LGBT resources through the internet and other media, more young people have been coming out than ever before and at younger ages, and the family-oriented approach offered by the guide can provide useful information during a critical period. Read more on pediatrics.

Dec 2 2013
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Public Health News Roundup: December 2

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Study: Gay, Bisexual Men Who Know Their HIV Status Less Likely to Engage in Risky Sex
Gay and bisexual men who know their HIV status are far less likely to engage in unprotected sex, which in lessens the sexual risk both for them and for their partner, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. An analysis of HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) in 20 U.S. cities found that about 33 percent of those who did not know their status engaged in unprotected sex with a partner, and also did not know the status of the partner; men who knew their status were 60 percent less likely to do so, for an overall rate of 13 percent. MSM account for about two-thirds of new HIV infections and about half of the 1.1 million people in the United States with HIV. "While we remain concerned about potentially increasing levels of sexual risk, it is encouraging to see that risk is substantially lower in those who know they have HIV," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. "HIV testing remains one of our most powerful tools to reverse the epidemic. Everyone should know their HIV status." Read more on HIV/AIDS.

Improved HealthCare.gov Faces Next Challenges
HealthCare.gov, the online portal for the Affordable Care Act, faces another test starting today as the Obama administration announced it met a weekend deadline to make the site easier to use and more accessible for most users. The original launch of the site was met with must frustration across the county as many people were unable to navigate the site properly or even to log in. The administration now expects a rush of people--both a backlog and people who have yet to try the site--to enroll by the December 23 deadline for coverage that would begin January 1. Multiple organizations, including Enroll America and AIDS Alabama, have announced plans to help people enroll. Jeffrey Zients, an administration advisor, warned that the post-Thanksgiving wave of enrollment could still overwhelm the servers at times. Read more on the Affordable Care Act.

Study: Energy Drinks Can Increase Strain on Heart
People who consume energy drinks can experience rapid heart contractions and increased strain on the heart up to an hour later, according to new research to be presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, in Chicago. The findings raise concerns over the effects of caffeine and taurine on heart health, especially for people who already suffer from heart disease. Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to measure the heart function of 18 health people both before and after they consumed an energy drink, finding an average 6 percent increase in the heart contraction rate afterward. "We know there are drugs that can improve the function of the heart, but in the long term they have a detrimental effect on the heart," said Williams, a cardiology professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine, in Detroit. Researchers noted that further study is needed to determine the reason for the apparent link. Read more on heart health.

Sep 16 2013
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Public Health News Roundup: September 16

U.S. Youth Exercise, Diet Improved Over Past Decade
Exercise and dietary habits of U.S. kids and teenagers seems to have improved over the past decade, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics. The study found that from 2001-2002 to 2009-2010, the average number of days per week being physically active for at least 60 minutes for sixth through tenth graders climbed from 4.3 to 4.5; the days eating breakfast before school climbed from 3 to 3.3; and hours per day watching television dropped from 3.1 to 2.4. The findings suggest that it takes time for public health efforts to translate into behavioral changes. "I would like to believe that all the public health efforts focusing on increasing physical activity and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption are having an effect, because that seems to be a pattern," said Ronald Iannotti, study author from the University of Massachusetts Boston. "The fact that (obesity) is leveling off, that's a surprise and a major change from the steady increase that we've seen over time.” Read more on pediatrics.

Study: Kids of Same-sex Couples Less Likely to Have Private Health Insurance
Children of same-sex parents are less likely to have private health insurance, although the rates improve in states that recognize same-sex marriages or unions, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics. Approximately two-thirds of U.S. youth with same-sex parents have private health insurance, compared to approximately 78 percent of U.S. youth with married heterosexual parents. When accounting for additional factors such as parental incomes and education level, researchers determined that youth living with same-sex parents were as much as 45 percent less likely to have private health insurance than were youth living with married heterosexual parents. The findings indicate yet another public health benefit of same-sex marriage, as access to health insurance directly affects a child’s health; previous studies have shown a connection between legal unions and improved mental health for gay and lesbian adults. A likely cause for the disparity is the fact that employers have not had to extend coverage to an employee’s same-sex partner or that employee’s children. "I think we are going to see more and more research like this that shows how marriage-equality laws have far-reaching health consequences," said Richard Wight, a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not a part of the study. Read more on LGBT issues.

HHS: $67M for Expanded Preventive and Primary Care for 130,000 Americans
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded approximately $67 million for the creation of 32 new health service delivery sites to expand access to individuals, families and communities across the country. The sites will provide improved preventive and primary health care to more than 130,000 people. Another $48 million will go toward the approximately 1,200 existing centers. “Health centers have a proven track record of success in providing high quality health care to those who need it most,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “New health center sites in some of the neediest communities in the country will provide access to health care for individuals and families who otherwise may have lacked access to high quality, affordable and comprehensive primary care services.” Read more on access to health care.

Mar 21 2013
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Public Health News Roundup: March 21

AAP Policy Statement Supports Same-sex Marriage
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a new policy statement in the journal Pediatrics in support of same-sex marriage, as well as the right for all to adopt kids and provide foster care. "Children thrive in families that are stable and that provide permanent security, and the way we do that is through marriage," said policy statement co-author Benjamin Siegel, MD, chair of the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. "The AAP believes there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children.” Added Ellen Perrin, MD, another co-author: "If a child has two loving and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond, it's in the best interest of their children that legal institutions allow them to do so." Read more on LGBT issues.

1 in 50 U.S. Kids Have Autism
Approximately one in 50 youth ages 6 to 17 had autism from 2011 to 2012, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration. The share was about 1.2 percent in 2007. The greatest increase was seen in boys an in those ages 14 to 17. Health officials say the increase doesn’t mean autism is becoming more prevalent, but that it is being diagnosed more frequently, according to CBS News. Under the new statistics approximately 1 million U.S. children have autism. Read more on mental health.

Study Links Gulf War Syndrome to Brain Damage
A link has been found between Gulf War Syndrome and damage to the brain, according to a new study in the journal PLOS ONE. James Baraniuk, senior author and professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, said the study clearly demonstrates that Gulf War Syndrome—a collection of symptoms experienced by approximately 250,000 veterans of the 1991 war—is not psychological. Researchers and Georgetown University used fMRI machines to identify “anomalies in the bundle of nerve fibers that interpret pain signals in the brain in 31 Gulf War veterans,” according to USA Today. This quick form of diagnosis could also end up helping people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Read more on the military.

Feb 27 2013
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Public Health News Roundup: February 27

Breast Cancer in Young Women May Be Up Slightly in Past Several Decades
Advanced breast cancer in women ages 25 to 39 may have increased since 1976, according to a new report in The Journal of the American Medical Association. In 2009 there were about 2.9 advanced cased per 100,000 younger women, up from 1.53 per 100,000 in 1976. The researchers say further study is needed to verify the numbers. In the mean time, they recommend that young women see a doctor if the notice lumps or other early indicators, and not simply assume they are too young to develop breast cancer. Read more on cancer.

Cohabitating Same-sex Couples Report Worse Health than Married Heterosexuals, Possibly Tied to Discrimination
Stress and discrimination may be the reason that cohabitating same-sex couples report generally worse health than do married heterosexuals, according to a new report in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. The study looked at how the individuals describe their health, not at their health records. The same-sex male couples were 61 percent more likely to report poor or fair health and same-sex female couple were 46 percent more likely. "Research consistently suggests that 'out' sexual minorities experience heightened levels of stress and higher levels of discrimination, and these experiences may adversely affect the health of this population," said Hui Liu, lead author and an assistant professor of sociology at Michigan State University. "It may also be that same-sex cohabitation does not provide the same psychosocial, socioeconomic and institutional resources that come with legal marriage, factors that are theorized to be responsible for many of the health benefits of marriage." Read more on LGBT issues.

Poll: 1 in 5 Americans Know a Victim of Gun Violence
One in five Americans—and 4 in 10 black Americans—know a victim of gun violence, according to the latest Kaiser Health Tracking Survey. The poll measured personal experience and concerns about firearms. About 42 percent of Americans are worried about being the victim of gun violence, with racial and ethnic minority groups more likely to be concerned. About 75 percent of Hispanics, 62 percent of black Americans and 30 percent of white Americans say they are worried. Read more on violence.

Jan 7 2013
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Public Health News Roundup: January 7

FDA Proposes Two New Food Safety Rules
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed two new food safety rules to help prevent food-borne illness. Once made final, the rules will become part of the Food Safety and Modernization Act signed into law two years ago. The new rules are available for public comment for the next four months. The first rule would require companies engaged in selling food to be sold in the United States, whether produced at a foreign- or domestic-based facility, to develop a formal plan for preventing their food products from causing food-borne illness and for correcting any problems that develop. The second rule proposes enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of produce on farms. Read more on food safety.

NIH Developing Health Plan for LGBT Communities
The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) LGBT Research Coordinating Committee is developing a plan to “extend and advance the knowledge base” for promoting health in the LGBT community, according to a recent statement from NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD. The plan is based on analysis of The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding, a study commissioned by the NIH and issued in March 2011. Read more on LGBT issues.

Mass. Bill Would Improve Oversight of Compounding Pharmacies
Months after the state of a meningitis outbreak linked to 39 deaths and 656 cases of illness in 19 states, the governor of Massachusetts has introduced legislation that would improve the state’s ability to regulate compounding pharmacies. The source of the outbreak is believed to be tainted steroids produced at the Framingham, Massachusetts-based New England Compounding Center. "The regulations that we have in place and governing authority hasn't kept up with an industry that's changed," said Governor Deval Patrick, according to Reuters. Read more on infectious disease.

Jun 20 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: June 20

HHS Creates New Centers to Develop, Manufacture Medical Countermeasures

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has established three new centers, the Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development, to develop and manufacture medical countermeasures, such as vaccines and medicines used to protect health in emergencies. According to HHS, the centers will be able to bring the countermeasures to the market quickly. The centers were created as public-private partnerships among small biotech firms, academic institutions and large pharmaceutical companies. The centers will be overseen by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority within the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. Read more on preparedness.

Progress Seen on LGBT Health care Equality

The number of American hospitals striving to treat lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) patients equally and respectfully is on the rise, according to a report released yesterday by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation. The report details the results of the most recent Healthcare Equality Index, an annual survey administered by HRC. This year’s survey found a 40 percent increase in rated facilities, which totaled 407 nationwide. It also found a 162 percent increase in the number of facilities achieving the status of "Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality," a special recognition given to facilities earning a perfect rating by meeting four core criteria for LGBT patient-centered care. Read more on LGBT health.

Many Medical Residents Work When Ill

A new survey published in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that more than 50 percent of medical residents report that they have worked at least once when they were sick with flu-like symptoms, and 16 percent said they worked while sick at least three times in the year before the survey. The residents said among their reasons for working while ill were concern of putting a burden on other doctors, and a sense of obligation for their patients. Read more on infectious disease.

Jun 4 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: June 4

June is Pride Month

In observance of Pride Month, recognizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people in the United States, the Department of Health and Human Services has announced several new initiatives:

  • Later this year, HealthCare.gov will allow LGBT consumers to identify health insurance policies available to them that include coverage of domestic partners.
  • More demographic surveys will collect and report sexual orientation and gender identity data.
  • New and existing health profession training programs will be encouraged to include LGBT cultural competency information.

Read more on LGBT health.

Minority Groups Have High Rate of Untreated Cavities

At least one in five Americans has one or more untreated cavities, and Non-Hispanic Blacks and Mexican Americans account for a large proportion of those not receiving care for their cavities, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics. Untreated cavities were significantly more prevalent in Mexican-American and non-Hispanic black children and adolescents (23%), compared with non-Hispanic white children and adolescents (13%).

Other findings include:

  • Adults between ages 20 and 64 were more than twice as likely to have untreated cavities if they were living in poverty (42% vs. 17%).
  • Among adults, nearly 90 percent of whites had had dental restoration, compared to 68 percent of Mexican-Americans and 73 percent of non-Hispanic blacks.

Read more on health disparities.

Mar 20 2012
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Bullying: Take Action, Join the Conversation

“They said he was a geek, he was worthless and that he should go and just hang hisself, and I think he just got to the point where enough was enough” – spoken by Kirk Smalley, father of Ty, in the forthcoming documentary, Bully. Ty, 11, hanged himself in 2010.

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An astonishing thirteen million kids face bullying each year according to government surveys, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the United States. Bullying’s effects can impact every aspect of a child’s life from grades to self-esteem and, as Ty’s story shows, even the desire to live. The new documentary Bully, set to hit theaters across the U.S. on March 30, offers an intimate look at how bullying has affected five children and their families.

Parents and schools have been invited to sign on to a Twitter Town Hall on bullying to be hosted TODAY by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. EST. Follow the conversation using the hashtag #vetoviolence, or by following the CDC Injury Center on Twitter. The Town Hall will feature experts from the CDC, the Anti-Defamation League, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Department of Education.

Read more