Category - Health Issues

‘Historic’ Ruling States That Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Isn’t Sex Ed

Think Progress, By Tara Culp-Ressler, May 13

In a decision that’s being hailed as “historic,” a judge in California has ruled that health classes focusing exclusively on telling students to remain abstinent until marriage fall short of the state’s comprehensive sex ed requirements.

In his opinion, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Donald Black concludes that, given the high rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy in the U.S., medically accurate sexual health information is “an important public right.”

Black’s decision narrowly applies to about 40,000 students who attend the Clovis Unified School District. However, since his opinion represents the first-ever ruling on California’s decade-old sex education standards, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — whose legal counsel represented the plaintiffs in the suit — believes it sets an important precedent for the rest of the state.

“This is the first time that abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula have been found to be medically inaccurate,” Phyllida Burlingame, the director of reproductive justice policy at the ACLU, told the San Francisco Chronicle. She added that the ruling should send a strong message to other schools that “young people need complete, accurate health information required by law.”

Liberia Is Free of Ebola, World Health Organization Declares

New York Times, By Sheri Fink, May 9

The World Health Organization declared Liberia free of Ebola on Saturday, making it the first of the three hardest-hit West African countries to bring a formal end to the epidemic.

“The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia is over,” the W.H.O. said in a statement read by Dr. Alex Gasasira, the group’s representative to Liberia, in a packed conference room at the emergency command center in Monrovia, the capital.

Just before Dr. Gasasira’s statement, Luke Bawo, an epidemiologist, showed a map depicting all of Liberia in green with the number 42 superimposed on it. This represented that two maximum incubation periods of the virus, a total of 42 days, had passed since the safe burial of the last person confirmed to have had Ebola in the country, fulfilling the official criteria for concluding that human-to-human transmission of the virus has ended.

[…]

In the past week, Guinea and Sierra Leone each reported nine cases of the disease, the lowest weekly total this year. Dr. Bruce Aylward, head of the W.H.O.’s Ebola response efforts, cautioned that hidden chains of transmission were probably occurring in those two countries. “We don’t know where that virus is,” he said.

Dr. Aylward said it had taken Liberia several months to get to zero cases after reaching single digits.

New York Times: After Ebola Outbreak, Liberian Churches Confront Crisis of Faith

Battling America’s other PTSD crisis

Research shows that inner-city violence can be as traumatizing as war. A program in Philadelphia is pioneering new ways to treat the urban wounded/

Yahoo News, By Tina Rosenberg, March 6

The fight that started Keith Davis on a path to a new life began when he was buying marijuana. It was early afternoon on Aug. 8. As he tells it, he was in at his usual hangout in North Central Philadelphia, in front of an abandoned church at 18th and Ridge. He was taking too long mulling over his purchase, and another man got impatient and told him to go buy his stuff somewhere else.

“I go wherever I want to go,” said Davis. The man said some things back. A fight broke out, which ended when the man pulled out a knife and stabbed Davis in the abdomen and left arm.

Davis, who was 21, was still punching at the man even as he watched the knife go in. He saw the blood, but he felt no pain. He thought about calling an ambulance. “But I don’t want to pay $2,000 for an ambulance,” he said. And an ambulance would probably mean police — nobody wanted that. “I ain’t no snitch,” Davis said in December, recalling his thinking. Hahnemann University Hospital’s emergency department, a place well known to Davis and his friends, was a little over a mile away. He started to walk.

This was Davis’ corner. He grew up a few blocks away in the Francisville neighborhood, and these were his people. But no one volunteered to come with him. “I didn’t ask nobody, and they know what kind of person I am,” he said — one who can take care of himself. As Davis walked, holding his stomach wound, the bloodstain bloomed across his shirt and began to drip onto the sidewalk. Strangers offered help, but Davis shrugged them off and kept walking. He got to the emergency room. He remembers one gentle doctor calming him down. “Let’s call your mom,” the doctor said, “and then we’re going to put you to sleep.” Nurses took off his sneakers, cut off his clothes and stuck a needle in his arm. He woke up a day later with 72 stiches in his left arm and more than 30 staples in his stomach.

It was the type of crime that kills more young men in America than any other: The ingredients are an argument over nothing, an audience (ensuring that neither man can back down) and a weapon. The weapon was a knife, so Davis woke up. It’s usually a gun, and often they don’t wake up.

That knife, though, did not just wound his stomach and arm. It also altered his brain. When he woke up in the hospital, he was surrounded by his family, but his first thoughts were new worries: Who can I trust? It now seemed too dangerous even to walk to the store. “I can’t let my guard down when I go around the neighborhood.” And then, “I need to retaliate.”

Five billion people ‘have no access to safe surgery’

BBC, By Tulip Mazumdar, April 27

Two-thirds of the world’s population have no access to safe and affordable surgery, according to a new study in The Lancet – more than double the number in previous estimates.

It means millions of people are dying from treatable conditions such as appendicitis and obstructed labour.

Most live in low and middle-income countries.

The study suggests that 93% of people in sub-Saharan Africa cannot obtain basic surgical care.

Previous estimates have only looked at whether surgery was available.

But this research has also considered whether people can travel to facilities within two hours, whether the procedure will be safe, and whether patients can actually afford the treatment.

One of the study’s authors, Andy Leather, director of the King’s Centre for Global Health, said the situation was outrageous.

Brazilians Spraying and Praying for Dengue Vaccine Breakthrough

Bloomberg, By Mac Margolis, April 24

A cup of cloves, a half-liter of alcohol and a dollop of body oil: You won’t find this homemade mosquito repellent in Brazilian drugstores, but the recipe went viral after a worried sanitarian posted a cell phone video on Facebook last week.

Amid one of their worst outbreaks of dengue fever — 460,000 people infected and 132 dead this year — Brazilians are understandably jumpy. That humming sound is aedes aegypti, a familiar pest storied for spreading yellow fever throughout tropical America and now enjoying a comeback as the vector for what has become a 21st-century pandemic.

Once a mostly Asian affliction, the dengue virus has gone global because of breakneck urbanization, bad management of water, haphazard public health care and travel on jets that can take passengers anywhere overnight. A 2013 study in Nature reckoned that dengue had infected 390 million people that year, with 94 million falling ill.

The outbreak is especially severe in the Americas, which have seen a 30-fold increase in the disease over the past 50 years. Counting hospitalization and sick leave, the disease costs the region at least $2.1 billion a year, says the Pan American Health Organization.

Brazil, alone, accounts for six of every 10 reported cases of illness from dengue worldwide.

After Record Drought, Dengue Fever Is Now Sweeping Across Sao Paulo

Johns Hopkins sued over STD study in Guatemala

More than 770 plaintiffs are seeking $1 billion in damages in connection with US program in Guatemala

Al Jazeera, April 1

More than 770 plaintiffs are suing the Johns Hopkins Hospital System Corp. over its role in a series of medical experiments in Guatemala in the 1940s and 1950s during which people were deliberately infected with venereal diseases without their consent.

The lawsuit filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court seeks $1 billion in damages for individuals, spouses and children of people infected with syphilis, gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases through a U.S. government program between 1945 and 1956.

The suit claims officials at Johns Hopkins had “substantial influence” over the studies by controlling some panels that advised the federal government on how to spend research dollars. The suit also alleges that Hopkins and the Rockefeller Foundation, which is also named as a defendant, “did not limit their involvement to design, planning, funding and authorization of the Experiments; instead, they exercised control over, supervised, supported, encouraged, participated in and directed the course of the Experiments.”

The suit, which includes 774 plaintiffs, says the experiments were conducted abroad in order to give “researchers the opportunity to test additional methods of infecting humans with venereal disease easily hidden from public scrutiny.”

Kingdom of Shadows–the aftermath

I spent the last three days watching Bernardo Ruiz’s Kingdom of Shadows at the SXSW movie festival in Austin. I appear in the film, along with a nun from Monterrey, Mexico and an agent from the Department of Homeland Security in El Paso.

After screenings, we took questions from the audience, but sessions were too short to adequately address issues related to the subject matter of the film—the effect of drugs and drug prohibition on our societies.

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Drinking coffee may lower risk of multiple sclerosis: researchers

Sydney Morning Herald, February 27

People who drink four to six cups of coffee a day may be less likely to get multiple sclerosis, US and Swedish researchers say.

While caffeine intake has been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, the findings of the research released on Thursday show the same could apply to MS, an incurable disease of the central nervous system that affects 2.3 million people worldwide.

“Our study shows coffee intake may also protect against MS, supporting the idea the drug may have protective effects for the brain,” said lead author Ellen Mowry of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

[…]

More research is needed to determine if caffeine has any impact on relapse or long-term disability due to MS.

Be a Coffee Achiever!

Johann Hari: ‘I failed badly. When you harm people, you should shut up, go away and reflect on what happened’

He was the Independent’s star columnist whose lying and cheating destroyed his career. Now Johann Hari is back, with a book about drug-taking – including his own. But will anyone believe a word of it?

The Guardian, Decca Aitkenhead, January 2

When I heard that Johann Hari had written a book about the war on drugs, two immediate concerns sprang to mind. The first was whether anyone would trust a word he wrote.

The author used to be the Independent’s star columnist, a prolific polemicist and darling of the left, until his career imploded in disgrace when it emerged in 2011 that many of his articles contained quotes apparently said to him but in fact lifted from his interviewees’ books, or from previous interviews by other journalists. Worse, he was exposed as a “sockpuppet”, or someone who anonymously furthers his own interests online. Using a false identity, Hari had maliciously amended the Wikipedia pages of journalists he disliked – among them the Telegraph columnist Cristina Odone and the Observer’s Nick Cohen – accusing them of antisemitism, homophobia and other toxic falsehoods. Under the same pseudonym, he had also edited his own Wikipedia page, lavishly flattering his profile to, as he puts it, “big myself up”. The Independent suspended him, four months later he resigned, and no British newspaper has published his journalism since. He has never spoken publicly about the scandal, until now.
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Vatican forever bars woman who bared breasts

Grabbed baby Jesus statue

Thomson Reuters, December 27

Vatican City – The Vatican said it had arrested a member of women’s rights group Femen who on Christmas Day bared her breasts and grabbed a statue of the baby Jesus from a nativity scene in front of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

Femen’s website says the woman was protesting as part of its anti-clerical “Massacre of the Innocents” campaign contesting religions’ “maniacal desire to control women’s fertility”.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Friday that Ukrainian citizen Iana Aleksandrovna Azhdanova was being detained and questioned by a Vatican judge. On Saturday, the Vatican said she had been released and was forbidden to return to the Holy See.

He said she was accused of vilification of religion, obscene acts in public, and theft. He said her action “offended the religious feelings of many people”.

New surgeon general approved despite remarks on guns, contraception

Los Angeles Times, By Melissa Healy, December 15

Overruling the objections of gun-rights advocates, the U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed Dr. Vivek Murthy, a British-born, American-educated internal medicine specialist, to become the 19th surgeon general of the United States.

The 51-43 vote makes Murthy, a 37-year-old graduate of Harvard University and Yale University Medical School, the third-youngest physician to lead the U.S. Public Health Service’s 6,800 commissioned officers.

Murthy founded Doctors for America, a national physicians group that worked to pass the Affordable Healthcare Act, and has worked to promote HIV/AIDS education both in the United States and India. At Brigham & Womens Hospital in Boston, his research has focused on improving the quality of clinical trials, and expanding the participation of women and minorities in biomedical research.

He has declared obesity “the defining public health challenge of our time,” and, more controversially, supported an assault weapons ban and asserted that “guns are a healthcare issue.”

Federal ‘Cromnibus’ spending bill also effectively ends U.S. ban on medical marijuana

Raw Story, By Arturo Garcia, December 16

The newly-passed $1.1 trillion federal spending bill also includes a bipartisan provision that signals the end of the federal ban on medical marijuana, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The provision bars federal agents from raiding medical marijuana retailers in the 32 states and the District of Columbia where the practice has been legalized. It also protects hemp farms in Colorado. The amendment was written by two California congressmen, Sam Farr (D-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA).

“This is a victory for so many, including scores of our wounded veterans, who have found marijuana to be an important medicine for some of the ailments they suffer, such as PTSD, epilepsy, and MS,” Rohrabacher said in a statement.

Endless Blood: How smart use of an old technology is saving women’s lives

Not world headline material, but a a positive, informative piece I read this weekend

One of the largest risks for women, one of the leading causes of pregnancy-related mortality, has always been—and unfortunately still is—postpartum hemorrhage.

A few years ago, I delivered a beautiful baby at 3:06 a.m. after an uncomplicated labor. I put the baby on Mom’s chest, and everything went fine until 3:10 a.m., when the placenta delivered. Then, as sometimes happens, the uterus failed to contract. It was relaxed and floppy; it didn’t start to grow smaller as it should almost immediately after delivery. And as happens, the uterine bleeding started and wouldn’t stop. I tried medications and uterine massage. As less often happens, those did not work…[]

We took the patient to the operating room. We put her to sleep. We opened her belly. We started to remove her uterus. Everything bled; places where we put stitches bled; places we touched with our cautery bled. Nothing stopped the bleeding. By 4:30 a.m. I had the terrible, nauseating, sinking feeling that I’ve only had a few times in my career: I was pretty sure this woman, this new mother, was going to die.
more at the link

A Peek Inside the Conservative Mind

WARNING: Below, you will be exposed to toxic thinking and noxious conclusions from right-wing partisans. A Level Four HazMat suit is recommended. The CDC will NOT be available for protection. You have been warned. Proceed with caution. Should you experience nausea, vomiting, tearing eyes, a rise in blood pressure SHUT DOWN YOUR BROWSER IMMEDIATELY and seek expert medical attention from Doctors Jack Daniels or Jim Beam.

The Ebola crisis is, in point of fact, a manufactured crisis. Media outlets, tired of covering insipid and meaningless political horse races found a sexy and dangerous news item and not only ran with it, but decided to tie it into the politics of the day.

The prevailing wisdom, of course, is this crisis reflects badly on the CDC. I suppose when you push a false narrative, it has to. After all, the CDC is supposed to be on top of “crises” like these, and handle them with aplomb.

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