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Polio Gets Screen Time February 26, 2009

Posted by yostliketoast in Global Health.
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A recent CNN article shed light on an important and often overlooked issue, polio eradication. The article describes an Oscar nominated documentary entitled, “The Final Inch” which explores

“the final stages of a 20 year initiative.”

A producer for the film states that the main goal of the documentary was to bring polio to the forefront of peoples minds stating that,

“ordinary American people have forgotten polio.”

Although I was excited to see that the issue to polio eradication was receiving new attention from the mainstream media, I thought the article did a poor job on explaining how and why polio remains a problem today.

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The Chrianna Crisis:Let’s Take A Deeper Look February 26, 2009

Posted by Bobbett Plummer in Blogging, Mental Health, Prevention.
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Everyone who watches the news or listens to the radio has heard about Chris Brown and Rihanna (aka Chrianna).  On Sunday, February 7th, 2009, following Clive Davis’ Grammy Party, the pop-superstars got into a physical altercation.  Chris will be 20 years old in May and Rihanna recently turned 21 on February 20th.  Their story has remained at the forefront of news and gossip columns.  Yet, the media has failed to highlight the occurrence of teen and tween domestic violence.  Tween is a relatively new term that describes adolescents between the ages of 11-14. Chris and Rihanna are not that much older than the teens and tweens who adore them. (more…)

Health People 2010 – Chlamydia incidence far off the mark February 23, 2009

Posted by Katy Roberson in Prevention.
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Healthy People 2010, launched in January 2000 by the Department of Health and Human Services, is a national agenda for the health promotion and disease prevention. The objectives are meant to serve as a framework for improving the health of Americans over ten years. During the first decade of the 21st century, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has and continues to be responsible for monitoring the progress toward the 2010 targets for each of the 467 objectives. This data is made available by the NCHS in DATA2010, the Healthy People 2010 database.

Taking a look at the database I noticed an alarming lack of change. Cases of chlamydia among women 15-24 years old have increased since baseline measurements in 1998 until the most recent measurements in 2004. What makes this increase more alarming are concurrent increases in responsible adolescent sexual behavior and increased use of condoms. Responsible sexual behavior includes students (grades 9-12) who never had sexual intercourse and students who had sexual intercourse but not in the past 3 months. Increases in condom use were shown among 18 to 24 year old women reporting partner condom use. It goes without saying that we are far from the 2010 target for cases of chlamydia. If behaviors identified as indicators for improving health outcomes are not affecting outcomes, what behaviors should we be targeting?

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New York Times Chronicles Movement to Ban Trans Fat February 23, 2009

Posted by Anna Dillingham in Prevention, Uncategorized.
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In a recent New York Times article, Stacey Stowe reports that Suffolk is the latest county to ban the use of trans fats in restaurants.  The legislation also requires restaurants to include calorie information on menus.  Suffolk County, NY joins a growing list of local governments that have taken similar action in an effort to fight rising obesity rates.  (more…)

Nonprofit and Government Blogs February 21, 2009

Posted by Liz Borkowski in Blogging.
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Here are a few different examples of nonprofit and government blogs:

Enviroblog – blog of the Environmental Working Group
Janelle’s Blog – blog of the founder and president of the National Breast Cancer Foundation
APHA Annual Meeting Blog – blog focusing on APHA’s annual meetings (currently with posts from 2007 and 2008 meetings)
USDA’s National Agriculture Library Blog
FEMA U.S. Fire Administration
AIDS.gov Blog – A blog about new media and policy
CDC’s Injury Center Blog
Walter Reed Army Medical Center Blog
Greenup County, Kentucky Health Department

What do you think these organizations and agencies are trying to accomplish with their blogs? Are they succeeding? Might some of them be better served with a website rather than a blog?

Cancer Survivor: My Sister Finally Fights Back February 18, 2009

Posted by Carolyn Watson in Healthcare, Prevention.
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I was surprised and moved by an email I recently recieved from my sister, Wanda, announcing she had joined the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk and urging me and the rest of her sisters to join her on the 60-mile journey or help with fundraising efforts.  Tongue-in-cheek, she prefaced her message with “Nope, I’m not crazy.” 

I have five sisters, and Wanda (by her own admission) is the last among us to participate in physical activity for more than ten minutes— not since her days as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corp.  Her pledge to participate in the Walk touched us all because it signifies she has come full circle with her  healing process.  In her email, she enthusiastically acknowledges her ability to make a difference, stating,

“I want to help others as a cancer survivor and as a woman, and this is as good a place as any to start.” 

…“I know my bout was with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but as women, we are all at risk for breast cancer,” she adds.   

Wanda was diagnosed several years back with late stage-four Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  We consider her recovery nothing short of a miracle.  As a newly diagnosed cancer patient, she was overcome with fear and drifted between stages of disease acceptance–mostly at some level of denial.  Her husband was  supportive throughout her recovery and helped manage her treatment.  Ultimately, my sister’s desire to see her two small children (more…)

Time to Act on Childhood Immunization February 17, 2009

Posted by Nalini Padmanabhan in Prevention.
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On January 8, U.S. Representative Gene Green of Texas introduced H.R. 323, the Comprehensive Insurance Coverage of Childhood Immunization Act of 2009. According to the U.S. Library of Congress, the bill would require individual and group health insurance plans to comprehensively cover childhood immunizations. The bill would apply to all plan beneficiaries (and dependents of beneficiaries) up to 18 years of age, without deductibles, coinsurance, or any other type of cost-sharing. It would cover all immunizations recommended by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

If passed, H.R. 323 would bring private insurance coverage levels up to that of Vaccines for Children (VFC), a federal entitlement program that since its implementation in 1994 has covered the cost of all ACIP-recommended vaccines for uninsured, underinsured, and Medicaid-eligible children. Given the public health benefits of population-wide vaccination and the rising costs of completing the ACIP-recommended series of childhood immunizations, ensuring private coverage of vaccines would increase the overall percentage of the population able to access them. (more…)

Breast Cancer: Death Rate Remains Higher Among African American Women February 17, 2009

Posted by Carolyn Watson in Health Communications & Marketing, Prevention.
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The overall death rates from breast cancer in the United States has dropped, but not among African American women.  In a study conducted by the American Cancer Society, researchers examined data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) for years 1975 through 2004, by state and race. 

The study found that in 1991 breast cancer death rates among African American women were 18% higher than among Caucasian women.  Although incidence rates for breast cancer is consistently lower among African American women (than in their Caucasian counterparts), the study found by 2004, death rates from breast cancer had increased 36 percent higher among African American women than among Caucasian women.  

A primary reason for the disparity is African American women tend to be diagnosed at later stages of disease.  Early diagnosis is critical to cancer survival.  Therefore, lower rates of mammography put African American women at higher risk for late-stage cancer diagnosis. 

There are several barriers to mammography screening among African American women including:

Access to clinical breast exams and mammography screening:  In some geographic regions of the country, particularly rural areas, low-income African American women continue to have less access to mammography and lower quality screenings.  Although great strides have been made in terms of equalizing access to mammography screenings (i.e., through mobile units and increasing the number of screening sites), many women are simply not utilizing the services being provided.

Knowledge, cultural attitudes, and beliefs:  Cultural and religious beliefs among many African Americans can influence decision-making regarding health behaviors and disease treatment.  Studies show a correlation between fatalistic thinking and lower prevalence of mammography screening among African American and other minority women.  The extent to which such beliefs exist, however, may be generational or denomination-based (as similar beliefs occur among various other racial and religious groups.)  Fatalism in terms of cancer is based on (more…)

No Smoking…please? February 17, 2009

Posted by Joy Lee in Healthcare, Prevention.
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Smoking.  It’s just not cool anymore. In recent years, many state lawmakers have been planning to ban smoking in public areas. Even Virginia, one of the nation’s largest tobacco producers, is moving towards being smoke-free as Virginia’s leaders, Governor Tim Kaine and Republican House Speaker William Howell signed a plan earlier this month (as reported in the Washington Post) to prohibit smoking in restaurants and bars (with the exception of private clubs). This is a tremendous step forward for public health.

However, just as I thought that the anti-smoking campaign was beginning to make some progress, a friend forwarded me an article from ABC news that proved me wrong.  Apparently, due to the poor economic situation of the country, many state/local officials are easing up on the smoking ban as restaurants, bars and casinos are losing smoking customers and therefore, a lot of money.  My heart really goes out to those businesses that are truly suffering due to the economy, but please do not blame public health. The way I see it, the government is finally making a significant move in protecting the people’s health.  We have to understand that this ban will not only promote a healthier way of life for smokers and nonsmokers, but it will also protect nonsmokers from second hand smoke.
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Washington Navy Yard: Contaminated Groundwater Migration not under control February 16, 2009

Posted by yostliketoast in Environmental Health.
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Browsing the Center for Public Integrity’s website, I discovered that D.C.’s historic Washington Navy Yard was listed as an active Superfund site: a large polluter requiring a federally mandated clean-up. Although little information was given about the site and Publicintegrity.org did not list the contaminates or any potential public health risk, one statement did catch my eye:

Contaminated Groundwater Migration” not under control

I was intrigued. The idea that the water I drink everyday could be contaminated scared me and prompted me to further investigate this topic.

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