This summer, Illinois passed a law set to take effect in the beginning of this year that stipulated that any doctors who cite conscience-based objection to abortion must have a system in place to give information about or provide referrals to providers who will perform abortions. Of note, the law requires doctors to provide this information only when specifically asked for it by a patient. Doctors refusing to do so can be fined $10,000 or risk losing their medical license. The law’s aim was to ensure that “patient’s rights are not trampled on because of [doctors’] religious objections,” according to Assistant Attorney General Sarah Newman.
On October 6, 2016, the National Institute of Health (NIH) confirmed that a new health disparity population has been designated for research purposes. Eliseo J. Perez-Stable, MD, the director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, released a message stating that sexual and gender minorities (SGM) will be classified as a minority population, which suggests health disparities exist within this population.
Jamming to Vampire Weekend’s “Diplomat’s Son,” I walked passed two women on 95th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. Each woman had an unlit cigarette in her mouth, and one woman was pushing a stroller. Thinking that the stroller could be empty, holding groceries, or carrying a small dog (as is the trend in parts of New York City), I turned around and was surprised to see a child, no more than a few weeks old, quietly sitting in the stroller.
The history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is marked by devastating losses and a disease burden that persists to this day. Though slow to emerge, both government policy and pharmaceutical research began to address the epidemic, and the resulting combinations of antiretroviral cocktails and outreach programs have helped make HIV infection a manageable, if inconvenient, chronic condition. In 2012, however, the FDA approved a drug that had the potential to shift both the American and global strategies regarding HIV and AIDS.
Social media pages with titles like “Motivation For Fitness” and “Gym Looks” are becoming increasingly popular, and it’s hard not to notice the explosion of fitness popularity. But even as the diet industry dwindles and our newfound fascination with health hits its stride, it is important to consider the ramifications of these cultural changes. Has this new trend led to the rise of what has been called “excessive exercise” and how much exercise is too much? Here, we examine how the current rise in fitness culture may be affecting our bodies.
Gun violence is a public health crisis. On your average day in America, 297 people are victims of gun violence. They are shot in murders, assaults, suicide attempts and completions and police interventions. 89 of these victims died — seven of which were children. In the first 90 days of 2016, there have been 57 mass shootings. Your average American is now equally as likely to die via firearms as in a car crash.
This is the first installation of a three-part series entitled “Ten Lessons from Flint” in which I speak with Professor Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech, pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Hurley Children’s Hospital, and Michigan State University and interim Dean Dr. Aron Sousa of Michigan State University.
Researchers like Professor Marc Edwards and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha were not the first people to speak up about the water crisis in Flint. In June of 2015, regional EPA employee Miguel A Del Toral, Regulations Manager of the Ground Water and Drinking Water Branch, issued an internal memorandum entitle “High Lead Levels in Flint, Michigan – Interim Report.” This document described the lack of corrosion control protocol and high lead levels. It was released to officials within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Professor Edwards and Flint resident Lee Ann Walters, whose home water contained extremely high lead levels, as confirmed by city officials.
Exposing contaminated and corrosive water in Flint was necessary and life-saving, and the story garnered significant national attention. Yet not every situation calls for advocacy in such a public way. Advocacy for individual patients and patient safety is also crucial. Whether you’re advocating for an individual patient in a hospital or the public on the national stage, becoming an effective advocate requires practice and training. With the right training and understanding of the advocate’s tool kit, we can advocate for positive changes on behalf of individual patients and the public.
Vaccines have become a cornerstone of modern public health and have greatly reduced the burden of infectious disease across the globe. They are also the center of major debate in America. Conjuring furious arguments with divided opinion, where vaccine safety gets more attention than vaccine effectiveness. In the era of Facebook, Twitter and every imaginable social media outlet, opinions and facts flood computer screens, distorting truth and instilling doubt. To support an argument, it is not difficult to find an article or group that agrees with you. Medical professionals constantly find themselves concerned and restrained by an apathetic response to reason and science.
The images of water from Flint, Michigan water came into my mind and I lingered at the sink a few minutes too long. I became heartbroken for the children whose bodies may have been irreversibly and negatively impacted. I became enraged at a system that would prioritize saving pennies over properly protecting its citizens from preventable harm. Governor Rick Snyder, his appointed “emergency financial managers” and other leaders allowed this crisis to develop over years as they mistreated Black citizens through racist policies, violated the public trust, and endangered lives. A significantly poor and majority black city was told it was okay to use polluted water to prepare their children’s dinners. Families washed their dishes in what could be mistaken for urine. They scrubbed their pearly whites with toxins to avoid cavities.
“Race is a social construct.” This is a statement that we hear frequently but don’t fully believe or understand. In the United States, we may superficially state that race is a social construct, but in reality, we understand it as genetic underpinnings. In medicine especially, race and genetics are often understood as interchangeable.