Category Archives: Sexual Health

Jul 25 2012
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HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C.

The choice of Washington, D.C. as the site of the 2012 International AIDS Conference is an important one – about 3 percent of the adult and teen residents of the city are HIV positive. That exceeds the definition of an AIDS epidemic by UNAIDS – 1 percent of a population.

new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation says that, “In many ways, the D.C. epidemic is a microcosm for what is happening nationally”: D.C. is a small, densely populated community with overlapping sexual networks that can fuel transmission, and also faces significant health care access challenges, poverty, drug use, high rates of other sexually transmitted infections, stigma and lack of knowledge about HIV status.

Blacks in D.C. have the highest HIV prevalence rates per 100,000 adults and adolescents (4,264.6)—more than twice the rate among Latinos (1,836.4) and three times the rate among whites (1,226.3). One difference is that in D.C., there is a higher prevalence of HIV among Black women (2.6%) compared with white men (2.4%).

Importantly, though, the report finds gains in HIV awareness and testing in the city. Over 100,000 HIV tests were done in DC last year, triple the number in 2007. And, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, D.C. was the first jurisdiction to adopt CDC recommendations for routine HIV testing in health care settings and actively works with providers to expand testing. More than four in 10 D.C. residents, ages 18-64, report being tested for HIV within the past year, the highest share of any state.

>>Bonus Link: The Washington Post has been live blogging the AIDS conference this week and the site also has some notable features including an important story on the stigma of AIDS in the South and obstacles in the U.S. to successful treatment for HIV/AIDS.

Jun 7 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: June 7

Growing Number of Boomers Abuse Drugs

Data from national surveys reviewed by researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows that the number of 50 to 59-year-old adults reporting past-month abuse of illicit drugs — including the nonmedical use of prescription drugs — more than doubled from 2002 to 2010. The number increased from 907,000 in 2002 to 2,375,000 in 2010, or from 2.7 to 5.8 percent of this population.

The NIDA researchers say younger baby boomers were more likely than previous generations to have used illicit drugs in their youth, but abusing these drugs may be particularly harmful in older adults. "As people get older, it is more difficult for their bodies to absorb and break down medications and drugs," says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the NIDA. "Abusing these substances can worsen age-related health conditions, cause injuries and lead to addiction.” Read more on substance abuse.

Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea Across Countries Prompts WHO Action Plan

Millions of people with gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease, may be at risk of running out of treatment options, according to an action plan released this week by the World Health Organization (WHO). Several countries, including Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, are reporting cases of resistance to cephalosporin antibiotics — the last treatment option against gonorrhea.

According to the WHO, every year an estimated 106 million people are infected with gonorrhea. The action plan calls for increased vigilance on the correct use of antibiotics, more research into alternative treatment regimens for gonorrhea, increased monitoring and reporting of resistant strains, and better prevention, diagnosis and control of the infections. Read more on sexual health.

Just Two to Three Head CTs May Increase Brain Tumor Risk in Kids

Two or three computed tomography (CT) head scans in kids can triple the risk of brain cancer later in life, according to a new study published in The Lancet. The study, which spanned twenty years, also found that the accumulated radiation in five to 10 scans during childhood may increase the likelihood of a child developing leukemia.

Recommendations include keeping radiation doses as low as possible and using alternatives to CT scans such as MRI and ultrasound, when possible.

The risk is about 1 in 10,000 according to the researchers, which may help physicians weigh the risk and benefit in each case. The study comes at a time when concern over sports-related head injuries may be increasing the number of head CT scans for kids. Read more on sports-related head injuries.

Apr 11 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: April 11

Birth Rates for U.S. Teenagers Reach Historic Lows for All Age and Ethnic Groups

The U.S. teen birth rate declined 9 percent from 2009 to 2010, reaching a historic low at 34.3 births per 1,000 women age 15 through 19. The rate dropped 44 percent from 1991 through 2010. Teen birth rates by age and race and Hispanic origin were lower in 2010 than ever reported in the United States, and fewer babies were born to teenagers in 2010 than in any year since 1946. Read more on sexual health.

Online Tool Estimates Youth Exposure to Alcohol Ads on the Radio

A new online tool from the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health determines the extent of exposure to radio alcohol advertisements among young people ages 12 to 20 in 75 different media markets. The free tool is the first service to provide parents, health departments and other key audiences with customizable information on youth exposure to radio alcohol advertising. Read more on alcohol and public health.

Non-cancerous Brain Tumors Linked to Frequent High-dosage Dental X-rays

A new study published in the journal Cancer suggests that risk of meningioma, a potentially debilitating type of non-cancerous brain tumor, was associated with receiving frequent dental X-rays before X-ray dosages were lowered.

Researchers from the Yale University School of Public Health analyzed data from 1,433 patients who were diagnosed with the tumor as well as a control group of 1,350 individuals with similar characteristics who did not have the tumor. The study found that over a lifetime, individuals who developed meningioma were more than twice as likely as those in the control group to report having received "bitewing exams" (which use X-ray film held in place by a tab between the teeth) on a yearly or more frequent basis.

Apr 10 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: April 10

Minorities and Medicare/Medicaid Recipients Less Likely to Get Antidepressants

A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health finds that Hispanics and blacks are less likely to be prescribed antidepressants than whites, and Medicare and Medicaid patients are less likely to receive the drugs than those with private insurance.

The study, published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, also found that Medicare and Medicaid patients were significantly less likely to receive newer antidepressants, which may have fewer side effects than older drugs and are often less expensive. Read more mental health news.

HHS Awards Grants for Early Childhood Family Support

Ten states have received grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide early childhood support and home visits to families. The grants will help states expand or establish their home visiting programs.

Initiatives of the program include guidance and assistance in early learning and development, prevention and identification of child maltreatment, improvement of maternal and child health outcomes, and family engagement. Read more on children's health.

GYT: Get Yourself Tested for STDs

The fourth annual "GYT: Get Yourself Tested" campaign kicks off National STD Awareness Month (April) with new initiatives on TV, online and on the ground at college campuses and in more than 5,000 health centers across the U.S. GYT is an ongoing national campaign launched in 2009 between MTV and the Kaiser Family Foundation to address the high rates of STDs among people under 25. Read more on sexual health.

Mar 14 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: March 14

HUD Awards $201 Million For New Local Homeless Programs

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $201 million to support 731 new local homeless programs across the U.S. The funding will provide emergency shelters, transitional housing and permanent support for individuals and families. Read more on the connection between housing and health.

NIH and Drug Firm to Generate Public Resource of Approved and Investigational Drugs

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Eli Lilly and Company will generate a publicly available resource to profile the effects of thousands of approved and investigational medicines.

The NIH's newly established National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences collection of 3,800 approved and investigational medicines will be screened using Lilly’s advanced testing systems to assess their biological profiles. This could enable biomedical researchers to better predict treatment outcomes and improve drug development, according to an NIH release. Read more on prescription drugs.

CDC Finds Too Few Young Women Tested for Chlamydia

Just 38 percent of sexually active young women were screened for chlamydia between 2006 and 2008, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends annual screening for all sexually active women aged 25 and under. Read more on sexual health.

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Feb 29 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: February 29

FDA Announces Safety Changes to Statin Drug Labels

The Food and Drug Administration has announced some key safety changes to the labeling for some widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins. The changes include a revised schedule for monitoring liver enzymes in patients taking the drugs, and new information on rare cases of memory loss, confusion and hyperglycemia. Read more prescription drug news.

National Guardsmen Face Alcohol Abuse Risk

Soldiers in the Army National Guard with no history of alcohol abuse are at significant risk of developing alcohol-related problems during and after deployment, according to a new study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal. Researchers found that the soldiers at greatest risk of developing alcohol-related problems also experienced depression or PTSD during or after deployment. Read more on military health.

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Feb 28 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: February 28

Hearing Loss May Be a Risk Factor for Falls

Hearing loss may be a risk factor for falls, according to a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers, including Frank Lin, MD, PHD, of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, looked at data from the National Health Examination Survey and found that for about 2,000 participants ages 40 to 69, those with a 25-decibel (mild) hearing loss were nearly three times more likely than those without hearing loss to have a history of falling. The researchers found that for every additional 10-decibels of hearing loss, the chances of falling rose by 1.4 fold.

And research published earlier this month by Dr. Lin found that although an estimated 26.7 million Americans age 50 and older have hearing loss, only about one in seven uses a hearing aid. Read more on the health of older adults.

Pediatrics Update: Sports Injury Prevention, HPV and Active Video Games

The current issue of Pediatrics looks at three important issues:

  • A revised policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends prevention of baseball and softball throwing injuries by instructing kids on proper throwing mechanics, training and conditioning, and encouraging kids to stop playing and seek treatment when signs of overuse injuries arise.
  • A second revised policy statement on HPV Vaccine Recommendations recommends use of the HPV vaccine in both males and females at 11 to 12 years of age.
  • Children who were given active video games were not more physically active than those given inactive games, according to a new study in Pediatrics. Providing explicit instructions to use the active games did seem to lead to increased physical activity, however.

Read more children's health news.

New Flu Virus Discovered in Guatemalan Bats

A new influenza A virus discovered in fruit bats in Guatemala doesn't appear to pose a current threat to humans, but should be studied as a potential source for human influenza, according to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Catch up on this year's flu news.

HUD Releases Charges on Discrimination Against Home Buyers With Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today announced that it is charging Bank of America with discriminating against home buyers with disabilities. HUD alleges that Bank of America imposed unnecessary and burdensome requirements on borrowers who relied on disability income to qualify for their home loans and required some disabled borrowers to provide physician statements to qualify for home mortgage loans. Read more on disability.

 

Feb 2 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: February 2

Child Abuse and Neglect Cost the US $124 Billion

The total lifetime estimated financial costs associated with a single year of confirmed cases of child maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse and neglect) is approximately $124 billion, according to a report released published in Child Abuse and Neglect, The International Journal.

Child maltreatment has been shown to have many negative effects on survivors, including poorer health, social and emotional difficulties, and decreased economic productivity.

Pfizer Recalls One Million Packs of Birth Control Pills

Pfizer Inc. has announced a voluntary recall of Lo/Ovral®-28 (norgestrel and ethinyl estradiol) and Norgestrel and Ethinyl Estradiol Tablets (generic) birth control pills in the US because the placebo pills in packages may have been placed out-of-order in some packs. Pfizer says it believes only about 30 packs of birth control pills may have received an inexact count or inactive tablet. Pfizer advised women who have used Lo-Ovral or Norgestrel pills over the last several months to consult with their physician and begin using a non-hormonal barrier method immediately.

AAP Releases Updated Immunization Schedule

The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated immunization schedules for children ages 0 through 6, ages 7 through 18 and a catch up schedule for children with late or incomplete immunizations.

Three of the vaccine recommendations reflect major changes: human papillomavirus (HPV), meningococcal, and influenza:

  • The AAP now recommends that all males aged 11 or 12 years of age receive the HPV vaccine in a three-dose series; the series can start as early as 9 years of age.
  • The meningococcal vaccine can now be given to children as young as 9 months if they are residents or travelers to countries with epidemic disease or at increased risk of developing meningococcal disease. Routine immunization with the meningococcal vaccine should begin at 11 through 12 years with a booster dose administered at 16 years of age.
  • For children aged 6 months through 8 years, the influenza vaccine should be administered in two doses for those who did not receive at least one dose of the vaccine in 2010-11. Children who received one dose last season require one dose for the 2011-12 influenza season.

Jan 20 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: January 20

New CDC Report: More Than Half of Teenage Girls Who Had Unintended Pregnancies Had Not Used Contraception

Slightly more than half of U.S. teenage girls who had a child between 2004 and 2008, and reported that the pregnancy was unintended, did not use any form of birth control. A third of these respondents didn't think they could get pregnant at the time, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Although the number of teens who get pregnant in the U.S. has fallen in recent years, the U.S. teen birth rate is still the highest of any developed country, with more than 400,000 births in 2009, according to the CDC. Read more on teen pregnancy.

American Lung Association Releases Tenth Annual State of Tobacco Control Report Card

Most states did a poor job of combating tobacco-caused disease in 2011, according to the 2012 State of Tobacco Control report from the American Lung Association. No state passed a strong smokefree air law, and Nevada weakened its existing law. Washington virtually eliminated a tobacco prevention and quit-smoking program, which a recent study found saved the state $5 for every $1 spent from 2000 to 2009. And, for the first year since the Lung Association released the first report in 2003, no state raised its tobacco tax significantly.

The report noted some federal progress:

  • On January 1, 2011, the federal government began offering comprehensive quit-smoking benefits to its millions of employees and their families.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced in June that the government will give states partial reimbursement for quit-smoking counseling services provided to Medicaid enrollees through state quit lines.

Read more on tobacco and public health laws.

HHS Funds to Help Low-income Households With Energy Costs

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service is releasing more than $863 million to help low-income households with their heating and other home energy costs. Read up on health and housing.

Jan 3 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: January 3

Physical Activity Helps Improve Kids’ Grades

A review of fourteen studies in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine finds that the more physically active a child is, the better their grades are likely to be. Read more on education.

Some Girls Believe HPV Shot Lets Them Practice Unsafe Sex

Just over 20 percent of girls surveyed in a recent study say getting the HPV vaccine means they no longer have to practice safe sex. The researchers, who published their findings in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine says physician practices should make sure to include an education component when they give the vaccine. Read up on sexual health news.

More Hospitals Balk at Deliveries before 39 Weeks

Concerned about developmental delays and physical health problems, a growing number of hospitals are refusing to allow cesarean deliveries before a baby reaches 39 weeks gestation, according to a joint report from Kaiser Health News and National Public Radio. Read the latest in maternal and infant health.