October 29, 2009
A recent (9/23/09) report from the Alan Guttmacher Institute confirms many public health workers’ worst fears: the recession may impact women’s use of contraceptives:
From the release: “Nearly one in four women have put off a gynecologic or birth control visit in the past year to save money, and the same proportion report having a harder time paying for birth control than they did in the past.”
Among the survey results, 8% of women note that they “sometimes did not use birth control in order to save money.” 18% of pill-users, furthermore, report “inconsistent use as a means of saving money.” This inconsistent use is more common among women who are struggling financially (25% vs. 6%)
A pdf of the full report is available here.
October 26, 2009
Designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is traditionally a time when breast health organizations stress the importance of early detection. In an interesting twist this October, an analysis released in last week’s Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that too much emphasis has been placed on the benefits of breast cancer screening. According to the authors, the observed increased incidence of early-stage breast cancer—without a corresponding decrease in detection of late-stage cancers—point to the potentially overstated benefits of mammograms. Based on these findings, there is concern that screening is leading to the detection and treatment of non-lethal tumors, while not aiding in the more timely diagnosis of aggressive cancers.
An article in last week’s New York Times states that the American Cancer Society (ACS) will soon release a statement in support of the journal’s findings. Yet, ACS and other cancer advocacy organizations may be hard pressed to effectively communicate this new (and nuanced) message about breast screening. The general public and people in the breast cancer community may be invested in the use of mammography (and other early detection methods) because of anecdotal experiences of their life-saving effects. Others may conflate the ineffectiveness of mammography at the population level with its lack of benefit at the individual level. Overall, individuals will now be responsible for weighing the potential risks and benefits of breast cancer screening when deciding whether to undergo mammography.
To learn more, you can follow the link to the NY Times article or access the JAMA article through the University of Minnesota Bio-Medical Library:
Esserman L, Shieh Y, Thompson I. Rethinking Screening for Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer. JAMA. 2009; 302(15): 1685-1692.
October 26, 2009
Given the increasing number of H1N1 illnesses and associated deaths reported by the CDC–including nine confirmed deaths among children for the week of October 11-17, 2009–this article on swine-flu parties in Bio-medicine sent chills down my spine:
“These are parents who are reportedly arranging swine flu ‘parties’ — similar to chicken pox or measles parties — so their healthy children can be exposed to the virus through kids who are already sick with the H1N1 flu.”
Experts agree that this is a terribly dangerous idea– particularly given the high number of hospitalizations of children with H2N1. For more facts on the swine flu, visit the CDC’s Q&A page (also available in Spanish, French, Russian, and Arabic).
And for a through explanation of vaccine fears, see Wired magazine’s “H1NL Flu Shot: 3 Major Fears Debunked,” available here.
October 26, 2009
On October 2nd, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) met with over 200 community members in Minneapolis to discuss HIV and the issues confronted by our citizens here in Minnesota and surrounding areas. Jeff Crowley, ONAP Director, explained the need for help from communities and individuals across the United States to provide information on how best to address the HIV epidemic as a nation. For those who were not able to attend the discussion on October 2nd, ONAP has issued an online “Call to Action”. To provide your comments or thoughts on how best to respond to HIV in the United States, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/onap/action/.
For information on how the HIV epidemic is affecting Minnesota families, check out the 2008 Annual Report from the Minnesota AIDS Project: http://www.mnaidsproject.org/pdf/MAP%20annual%20report%2008.pdf