I went to an event tonight for Children First for Oregon. I was impressed to learn about the notable achievements we have made in expanding health insurance coverage to an additional 80,000 children under the Healthy Kids Plan and Kids Connect. Oregon is committed to covering 95% of uninsured kids in our state. Check out Children First and all the great work they’re doing to ensure children have access to health services.
I like the way this New York Times article explains that there is such a thing as too much screening. A nugget:
Much of our discomfort with the panel’s findings stems from a basic intuition: since earlier and more frequent screening increases the likelihood of detecting a possibly fatal cancer, it is always desirable. But is this really so? Consider the technique mathematicians call a reductio ad absurdum, taking a statement to an extreme in order to refute it. Applying it to the contention that more screening is always better leads us to note that if screening catches the breast cancers of some asymptomatic women in their 40s, then it would also catch those of some asymptomatic women in their 30s. But why stop there? Why not monthly mammograms beginning at age 15?
Stick with him through the math, because he makes a good point. Basically, false positives can have a big effect on whether or not a screening program really works. I also like how he talks about survival measurements:
Another concern is measurement. Since we calculate the length of survival from the time of diagnosis, ever more sensitive screening starts the clock ticking sooner. As a result, survival times can appear to be longer even if the earlier diagnosis has no real effect on survival.
So… we need to consider some pretty nerdtastic factors when we’re talking about screening, including probabilities, sensitivity, specificity, and measurement. I GD love epidemiology!
Pharmacists have been trained to do general checks and provide oral contraception in two inner-city London areas, both with high teenage pregnancy rates (one, Southwark, has twice the national average). I am sooooo interested to see the findings.
Apparently the UK government’s goal to reduce teenage pregnancy by 50% by 2010 is not even close to being reached. Thus the program. Of course opponents go with the old stand-by: promiscuity.
What are your thoughts? Possible increases in promiscuity? OTC birth control for teens a good idea? I’m personally pretty jazzed, but we’ll see how things proceed.
Today is World AIDS Day. I hope everyone’s wearing red and considering the impact AIDS has had on the world. And figuring out ways to stop it.
I realize it’s been ages since the last post. The end of the term will do that to ya. We’ll be back up and running in just a few days, but in the mean time check out this video. It’s a British anti-cocaine ad that is kinda funny, kinda scary, and kinda poignant. I personally think it seems like a fabulous way to reach out to people, but I don’t do cocaine so I have no idea if cocaine users would respond well to it.
Something the public healthists have been saying for awhile now…
National Partnership for Women and Families has it here. The CDC issued a report that gave the findings of a panel of 15 experts who reviewed the results of a meta-analysis of studies on comprehensive sex education. Here’s what Women’s Health Policy Report said:
Sex education programs that advise students to delay sexual activity while also offering instruction on ways to avoid unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections effectively reduce risky sexual behavior, increase condom use and decrease spread of STIs, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-commissioned report released on Friday, the Washington Post reports. The report said there is insufficient evidence to determine whether programs that focus on abstinence until marriage reduce the chance adolescents will engage in risky sexual behavior, become pregnant or contract an STI.
Of course the abstinence-only supporters (becoming fewer and fewer by the day) tried to discredit it, but I think the proof is in the pudding.
I can’t find the original CDC report, does anyone have it?
I think it’s interesting as well that they couldn’t find sufficient evidence to make a determination on the effects of abstinence-only programs. I’ve read studies that say it may contribute to higher teen pregnancy rates. I don’t have links for that either, though, so don’t quote me in your final papers.
Anyhoo, good news! This report comes on the heels of President Obama’s attempts to redirect federal funds to only cover sex ed programs that have scientific evidence to support their validity. Not internal/external, ya nerds, like their truthfulness. I like to think things like this mean some of us might actually find jobs when we’re done with school in June.
Keep in mind as well that comprehensive sex ed includes curriculum to prevent sexual initiation by promoting abstinence but also educating students about STI and pregnancy prevention.
You have to check out this slideshow from Newsweek.com. It’s a look back at the history of birth control. Just a few minutes long and very informational. Plus it’s funny! They definitely use the word “womanizer”. Genius.
Many urban and rural areas have become “food deserts”, or places where there are no supermarkets and grocery stores. Food deserts leave people with few options other than shopping at convenience stores for food. Well you’re lucky if you can finding a banana selling for $1.00 at most of these places and it is mostly cookies, candy, and canned goods a high prices. Public health officials have finally caught on to this (it does little good to tell a person how to eat right if they don’t have access to the food in the first place) and store owners in Cleveland, New York, Louisville and elsewhere are being approached by public health organizations and economic development agencies with offers of new equipment, marketing expertise or neighborhood promotions to encourage them to stock more fresh produce, whole wheat bread and other healthy offerings. The NY Times has more on this. Makes me feel pretty hopeful that we can turn things around.
Finally, after 22 YEARS, HIV-positive individuals will be able to travel to the United States. While I can understand the environment when this restriction was initially based in 1987, I really cannot understand why it took 22 years to lift this ban. Despite all our funding for HIV/AIDS efforts in Africa, our country was continuing to contribute to stigma and discrimination. I think the lifting of this ban will have many positive effects on public health because the ban discouraged travelers and some foreigners already living in the United States from seeking testing and medical care for HIV/AIDS. It will also ease adoption of children with HIV and allow for international HIV/AIDS conferences to be held in the United States. Progress in public health! Hizza!
Gardasil, the Merck vaccine approved for girls a few years ago, has been approved for boys. The discussion surrounding the approval has been truly fascinating. This Slate post on the topic is amazing.
The post is definitely not objective, but I love the way William Saletan talks about it. Has anyone read the BMJ article?