Category Archives: Sexual Health
Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, reports on some key public health concerns for children and teens in the current issue, published online today.
Giving the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine to children 12 months of age and older has significantly increased protection for infants too young for the shot, according to a study in the December 2011 issue of Pediatrics. The researchers say that before varicella vaccination began for children 12 months of age and older in 1995, infants were four times more likely to die from a varicella infection compared to children ages 1 to 14 years. Researchers tracked cases in children under 1 year of age from 1995 to 2007 and found that the infections declined by 90 percent even though infants were not eligible for the vaccine. The researchers say that because exposure to the virus continues to occur, improving vaccination coverage in all age groups will further reduce the risk for infants. Get more vaccine news.
The recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that infants sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, has resulted in an increase of reports of babies with positional skull deformities (flat heads). The AAP has issued a revised clinical report to help pediatricians differentiate between infants with positional skull deformities and infants with a more serious condition that can lead to neurological damage or severe deformity. According to the report, most positional skull deformities can be corrected with physical therapy and noninvasive measures and special helmets—which can costs hundreds to thousands of dollars and are often not covered by insurance—are rarely necessary. The AAP says that if the condition appears to be worsening by 6 months, referrals should be made to pediatric neurosurgeons to decide if intervention is needed. Read more on maternal and infant health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that in addition to teens receiving a meningococcal vaccine at age 11 or 12, a booster shot should also be given at age 16. Adolescents who get their first dose of meningococcal vaccine at or after 16 years of age do not need a booster dose. Additional booster recommendations are included in the policy statement for children who received the vaccine earlier due to certain health conditions and who are at increased risk of disease.
A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics encourages pediatricians to discuss age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health issues with adolescent male patients during routine office visits. The report also urges the physicians to deliver appropriate sexual and reproductive health care—including taking a sexual history, conducting an examination, administering vaccinations and providing age-appropriate guidance related to sex, relationships and prevention of sexually transmitted infections, HIV and unintended pregnancy. Read more on sexual health and teen pregnancy.
A policy statement just released by the American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizes that incarcerated youth are entitled to the same standards of medical and mental health care as their peers in the community. The policy statement stresses that clinicians caring for incarcerated youth should have training and expertise in pediatrics or adolescent medicine. According to the policy statement, youth in the juvenile justice system should receive:
- A comprehensive history and physical exam
- Dental screening
- Mental health screening for psychiatric illness, substance abuse and neurological and developmental disorders
- HIV and sexually transmitted infection testing
- Pregnancy screening for all girls beyond the age of puberty
The policy statement also points out that that youth in prison have higher rates of substance abuse and mental health disorders and urges pediatricians to advocate for interventions that will be linked to continued care in the community following prison release.
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.
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.
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.
Some of the most interesting conversations overheard at the recent American Public Health Association annual meeting were among public health students discussing their plans to work in the developing world after graduation. Those plans often include a round trip ticket, says Jennifer Kates, Vice President and Director of Global Health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, who says overseas public health posts build skills that often come back home. CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, for example, worked in India for six years where he helped develop that country’s tuberculosis treatment program.
The inter-connectedness of U.S. and global health was underscored in a major address by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week at the National Institutes of Health. The Secretary pointed to recent, significant HIV and AIDS-related research findings and treatment advances largely spearheaded by U.S. funding and scientists. “[U.S.] efforts,” said Secretary Clinton, “have helped set the stage for a historic opportunity… to change the course of this pandemic and usher in an AIDS-free generation.”
“The Secretary’s speech was an important marker to think about in a world that has changed its response to HIV,” said Kates. “It’s a marker because of who it was, that it was a policy goal, and that has not been a goal before,” said Kates.
Among the recent advances:
- Research that shows the potential for voluntary medical male circumcision to reduce HIV incidence
- Earlier initiation of AIDS treatment to reduce the likelihood of one partner passing HIV to another, uninfected one
- Studies on the effectiveness of using vaginal microbicides to prevent infection in women
- Pre-exposure preventive treatment in heterosexual and homosexual populations
“These approaches, combined with behavioral interventions, condom access, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, syringe exchange programs, and other initiatives present the opportunity to make real progress against the epidemic, said Kevin Robert Frost, CEO of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, in response to Secretary Clinton’s address.
Secretary Clinton went on to explain exactly what she meant by an AIDS-free generation: “one where virtually no children are born with the virus; second, as these children become children and adults, they are at far lower risk of becoming infected than they would be today thanks to a wide range of prevention tools; and third, if they do acquire HIV, they have access to treatment that helps them from developing AIDS and passing the virus on to others.”
Additional advances are expected to be announced when the annual International AIDS Conference returns to the U.S. this July for the first time in 22 years. Conferences organizers decided decades ago not to allow the conference to be hosted by countries that banned entry to travelers who are HIV-positive. The U.S. ban was lifted in July 2010.
>>This continues a series of discussions around the impact of global health efforts here in the U.S. Read a related Q&A with Kaiser Family Foundation’s Jennifer Kates around the U.N. High-Level Meeting on Noncommunicable Diseases. In a Q&A with Public Health Newswire about the U.N. meeting and other topics, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who was a delegate at the meeting, said, “all nations need to apply what we can learn from other countries beyond our borders that are facing very similar public health challenges—and from leaders around the world who are on the vanguard of addressing the risk factors.” Read the full Public Health Newswire Q&A with Lavizzo-Mourey here.
>>Read more on global health.
The birth rate for U.S. teens age 15 to 19 years hit a record low in 2010, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC, the birth rate for teenagers in this age group has declined for the last three years and 17 out of the past 19 years, falling to 34.3 births per 1,000 teenagers in 2010. That’s a 9 percent decline from 2009 and the lowest rate ever recorded in nearly seven decades of collecting data. And birth rates for younger and older teenagers and for all race/ethnic groups reached historic lows in 2010, according to the report. Read more on teen pregnancy.
By 2050, the number of people 90 and older may reach 9 million, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau, commissioned by the National Institute on Aging. In 1980, there were 720,000 people aged 90 and older in the United States. By 2010, there were 1.9 million people aged 90 and older. Read more on the health of older adults.
More than 100,000 primary care providers have signed up to adopt certified electronic health records with help from Regional Extension Centers, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). ONC is supporting investment in electronic health record in hopes they will help improve quality of care and ultimately lower health care costs. Read more on health technology and public health informatics.
Advocates say the immediate response should be a call to 911. “That’s an emergency, a child is being assaulted,” says Mitru Ciarlante, director of the Youth Initiative at the National Center for Victims of Crime. Trained operators will then contact the police and dispatch experts trained to handle the specific assault that has occurred. “Every one of us is responsible for keeping children safe,” says Ciarlante.
If you suspect abuse is taking place but haven’t witnessed it, calling the police can be a more intimidating step, says Ciarlante, who suggests instead calling Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD. The hotline line is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week with professional crisis counselors who, through interpreters, can provide assistance in 170 languages. The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous and confidential.
Almost all groups who handle children crises have updated their websites since the news broke at Penn State to better help the public seek out help for children who might be in trouble, says Ciarlante. While many are baffled by the alleged hesitation to call authorities at Penn State, Ciarlante says many people hesitate to report crimes against children for a variety of reasons. They may not be sure abuse is taking place, for example, or may not be able to admit the seriousness of the problem for a range of personal reasons.
Experts at Stop It Now, the Child Sex Abuse Prevention and Protection Center, say they hope the cases being investigated at Penn State can be a catalyst to bring attention to the issue of sexual abuse of children in the U.S. Over 90,000 children are sexually assaulted in America each year. Many more take place but are never reported, says Ciarlante.
“The indicators help communicate high-priority health issues to the public and actions that can be taken to address them,” said Howard Koh, MD, Assistant Secretary of Health at HHS, at the briefing this morning. The indicators also give health professionals a chance to narrow their focus when it comes to the health of Americans. Healthy People 2020, which the leading indicators are linked to, contain 42 topic areas, nearly 600 objectives, and close to 1200 measures. “Through these… measures, communities can identify vital health issues and track how they are doing compared to other communities,” said Dr. Koh.
The new indicators include some of the usual, though critical, suspects including violence and injury prevention but also include two new measures that public health officials cheered at the announcement today—oral health and social determinants. The other indicators include access to health services, clinical preventive services, environmental quality, maternal, infant and child health, mental health, nutrition, physical activity and obesity, reproductive and sexual health, substance abuse and tobacco. According to HHS, preparedness was not selected because the topic is new and there’s a lack of historical data, however the agency will continue to monitor the issue to see if it should be included in the future.
The indicators were developed by HHS advisory groups and the Institute of Medicine, which released a report on leading health indicators several months ago.
Todd Park, HHS Chief Technology Officer, today announced a related app challenge at this morning’s briefing. “We’re launching a new application development challenge to bring technology innovators and public health mavens together to develop tools that can be used to help communities apply the power of the Leading Health Indicators to improve health,” said Park. The contest ends in March, and will be available at challenge.gov.
Weigh In: Do you have an idea for a leading health indicator app that would benefit communities?
>>Follow the rest of our APHA 2011 Annual Meeting Coverage here.
A new study in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases finds that current flu vaccines can provide moderate protection against the flu, but not for everyone and protection is inconsistent across flu seasons. Study authors conclude that new, better vaccines are needed. Read more flu stories.
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced that workplace injuries fell from 3.6 per 100 full time workers in 2009 to 3.5 per 100 full time workers last year. Rates are still high, though. Over three million injuries were reported last year. Read more on safety and injury prevention.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory panel on immunizations has recommended that boys age 11 and 12 receive the Human Papalloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to protect them against certain HPV-related conditions and cancer, as well as to help provide indirect protection against the virus for women. Get more news on sexual health.
A new survey from healthcare market research company Manhattan Research found that 56 million U.S. consumers have accessed their medical information on an electronic health record (EHR) system maintained by their physician. However, 140 million consumers report that they have not used an EHR system and are not interested in doing so. The audience not interested in doing so is older, less educated, and significantly less likely to use the Internet, lending credence to the continued problem of the “digital divide.” The survey included 8,745 U.S. adults, who were surveyed online and on the phone. Read more on health information technology.
A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that more than a decade after being diagnosed, more than one-third of cancer survivors reported persistent or worsening symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms included being agitated or anxious, having disturbing thoughts about the cancer and its treatment, or feeling emotionally numb toward friends and family. The study is based on a survey of 566 patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Read more on mental health and cancer.
More teen males aged 15-19 years are using a condom the first time they have sex, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the latest data collection, 8 in 10 teen males used a condom the first time they had sex, an increase of 9 percentage points from 2002. Despite long term improvements in pregnancy risk behaviors among teens, differences still exist among Hispanic origin and race groups. Hispanic males have the highest percentages using no contraceptive method the last time they had sex. Find more news on sexual health.
Follow the National Weather Service and the NWS link to local forecasts for updates on Hurricane Irene.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that vaccination rates among teenagers for human papillomavirus (HPV) are lower than the rates for two other vaccines recommended for teens and preteens--Tdap, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, and a vaccine which protects against meningococcal meningitis.
The Department of Health and Human Services will be awarding grants to states totaling up to $137 million to strengthen the public health infrastructure and provide jobs in core areas of public health including tobacco cessation services, public health laboratory and immunization services, prevention of healthcare-associated infections, and substance abuse prevention and treatment.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has issued a recommendation to its members to prescribe antibiotics for the male partners of their female patients diagnosed with Chlamydia or gonorrhea to reduce the high reinfection rate.