Friday, December 10, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Down here in the District, HIV and AIDS have reached well over epidemic proportions. The generally accepted benchmark for a condition to reach severe epidemic concern is 1%- D.C. is at 3%. And to put this nearing-retirement trend in context, 70% of the people infected in the District are over the age of 40. D.C. officials are making concerted efforts to lower the rates of transmission. There are needle-exchange programs in place, and plenty of interventions to make adolescents and young adults more cognizant about safe sex practices. And, the message is spreading. The study, conducted at Indiana University's Center for Sexual Health Promotion, showed that 80% of male teens (14-17) who were sexually active used a condom the last time they had sex. But, how do we spread the word to those whose Viagra just kicked in and are ro-ar-ring to go? At their age, few are looking for everlasting love, and simply want to enjoy the company of another without any strings attached. The 50+ year-olds' rate for condom use the last time they had sex- a staggering (not!) 25%.
So, health promotion people, I'm talking to you! Do we put Rap-It-Up campaign ad's in More magazine? Offer "FREE CONDOMS!" incentives for prostate exams? There are lives at risk here, and something's gotta give!
Friday, November 12, 2010
In 1991, Tupac told the story of a fictional woman named Brenda, and how her unwed pregnancy "affects the whole community." By the time Fantasia Barrino's 'Baby Mama' hit the airwaves in 2005, many women rid themselves of shame or guilt, and instead sported single motherhood as "a badge of honor."
According to an article in yesterday's Washington Post, 72% of black babies are born to unwed mothers.* Per usual, the rate of this health outcome is higher in the black community than it is in either the white or any minority population. And what's the root of the problem? WaPo offers that it could be because black men constitute the majority of the incarcerated population in the States.** Furthermore, even if a young man doesn't have a record, if he's brought up in a low socioeconomic environment, his education likely won't be enough to get him any occupation paying above the poverty line. So, essentially, we end up with a lot of men who are capable of making kids, but incapable of supporting them.
But we can't just blame the men, can we? Of course not. Not when black women are increasingly adamant on proving themselves as independent women- what do they look like waiting around for a man to start a family? This is a common mentality shared by those who are financially stable enough to support an infant-sized addition to their lives. However, U.S. Census Bureau Statistics show that more often than not, single mother households are not run by mothers with a corner office. Most single black moms have no more than a high school education, and are working class women to whom another mouth to feed is simply an added stress. What other alternative is there but to raise the child as best they can, abortion or adoption?
It's not just an issue of having help, because there are countless friends, grandmothers, or babysitters probably watching babies at this very moment, because mom has to take night classes, or works a double shift to keep food on the table, (or go out to the club, but that's a whole 'nother blog post.) No, the issue is that "...a mother cannot give all that a man can give. A truly involved father figure offers more fullness to a child's life," OB-GYN Natalie Carroll noted in the WaPo article.
As public health professionals, we are supposed to have concern for the greater community, and prevent trends and behaviors that will contribute to allostatic load. Thus, one could ague that allowing women to have babies outside of a monogamous relationship is a failure from a public health standpoint. It is allowing the continued cycle of the proven effects of poverty to endure. The more babies out of wedlock, the more mothers on welfare, the less adequate health care they are able to afford, the more youths getting into a life of crime as a means to survive...and we're right back where we started. So, as supporters of No Wedding No Womb would argue, we need to stop this "problem" at the root. Is it our place to tell a woman not to conceive until she's [happily] married?
You tell me.
*CNN reported this data; their source was the National Center for Health Statistics, who completed the study in 2007
**3,161/100,000 black men were incarcerated in 2008, compared 1,200/100,000 Hispanics, and 487/100,000 whites.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
For all you public health folks that are into stats:
- Poverty level affects mental health status. African Americans living below the poverty level, as compared to those over twice the poverty level, are 4 times more likely to report psychological distress.
- African Americans are 30% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than Non-Hispanic Whites.
- Non-Hispanic Whites are more than twice as likely to receive antidepressant prescription treatments as are Non-Hispanic Blacks.
- The death rate from suicide for African American men was five times that for African American women, in 2005.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Less than 2% of women who are victims of acquaintance rape report their attack, compared to 21% of those who are raped by strangers. The following letter was written by a woman who falls into that 2%. She never reported the incident to the police, but asked for an outlet for her pain- here it is:
Love is a friend. We’ve known each other for almost two years, and before any romantic relationship, we were friends first. You knew how to make me laugh, and you knew what to say when I started to cry. And somehow tonight, you were the reason my cheeks had rivers of salt-water gushing toward my chin.
Of all the times to tell me that ‘love’ is what you’re feeling, you think this moment is appropriate? Just a few minutes ago, I was pleading you to stop trying to make love to me, and my screams fell on deaf ears. ‘I’m sorry’, and ‘I love you’, and ‘I didn’t mean it’ don’t fix what just happened. What if I’m pregnant? When is the last time you were tested? In a week I’ll go get tested and lose sleep until my results come back. And what will you do? Apologize a few more times, and go back to living your life?
I forgive you. But, I'll never forget.
Talk about it.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Dr. David Malebranche is an Internal Medicine physician, public health professional, and assistant professor at Emory University’s School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. On Saturday, October 9, Dr. Malebranche posted an open letter to Oprah in a Note on his Facebook account. It was in response to the recent episode on the transmission of HIV/AIDS to a woman by her husband who was sleeping with men “on the down low”.
In Dr. Malebranche’s eyes, the story- while tragic- was depicted as one-sided. In his letter, Malebranche argued that “the show remained stuck in a metaphorical time warp.” During my interview with him this past Thursday, Dr. Malebranche pointed out that there is an incessant depiction of women as “innocent victims”, and of gay black men as the villains. “It’s HIV innocent versus HIV guilty,” Malebranche said. He argues that because of this sentiment, the rift between black gay men and women is irreparable. I asked if there was any way that this chasm could be bridged. “Not when shows like this keep airing," he responded. "I felt bad for the woman that was there. But, it was approached with a ‘this really shouldn’t happen to me’ attitude. Do you think any of these people across the world wanted [HIV]?"
Another area that was left untouched in the Oprah episode was why men feel the need to hide the truth from their heterosexual partners. At the root of these down-low brothers’ behavior, is perhaps a troubled past, and the fear and shame that are associated with being an openly gay black man. “How many people are just genuinely dishonest?” Malebranche remarked, “…you have to scratch beneath the surface a little bit.” Dr. Malebranche’s intention in writing the letter was simply to “be clear in my truth.” He received over 300 new Friend requests on Facebook, and 100+ messages in his Facebook inbox by the Sunday evening after he posted the letter. People thanked Malebranche for his voice, and for clarity, since many people got caught up in the sensationalism of the episode.
And where does the public health come into play? Dr. Malebranche suggests that, more so than personalized interventions, social media and mass marketing are the best ways to spread important information. His letter is a prime example- he posted the note at the suggestion of a friend, when he realized he had to stop waiting on “someone” to say something. That someone was him, and the response was viral (no pun intended). Dr. Malebranche’s letter allowed the public to gain a different perspective on a rarely visited, always divisive issue. “I got tired of it. I sat down and watched the show and I was bothered but the one thing that really stuck out in my mind was, 'Really Oprah? Have you really not done any research? Six years have passed by and you haven’t learned jack sh*t.”
Friday, October 8, 2010
An Ode to the Ounces
- Marijuana can cause panic, anxiety, and paranoia; in large doses, it can cause temporary toxic psychosis
- From 1993-2000, the number of emergency room marijuana mentions more than tripled
- Someone who smokes five joints a week may be taking in as many cancer-causing chemicals as someone who smokes a full pack of cigarettes a day.
- A Columbia University study showed that people who smoked one marijuana joint every other day for a year had a white blood cell count that was 39% lower than normal
Thursday, October 7, 2010
First up was the 24th annual AIDS Walk Washington. This 5K walk/timed run is a fundraiser hosted by and benefiting the Whitman-Walker Clinic. BPHSN President, Chinenye Anyanwu (or as we like to call her, ChiChi) walked for her second time this past Saturday. Despite the early wake-up call and long walk from the metro to Freedom Plaza where the walk began, ChiChi thoroughly enjoyed the event. Most notable to her was the solidarity among everyone who came to participate. "We saw past GW students...entire families came out, some people were wearing t-shirts in memory of loved ones...everyone came together to walk for a good cause," ChiChi commented. And, although the walk was long, there was plenty of laughter to keep people energized. When she reached the quilt at the end of the walk, ChiChi took a moment to inspect some of the patches. "Some were really detailed, others just had encouraging messages..." Although HIV/AIDS affects our community most detrimentally, to her, participating in the walk did not make for a depressing day. "It was fun," she said, and like the impact of HIV/AIDS in families across the world "there were happy moments and sad moments."
First-time AIDS Walk Washington participant, and BPHSN Logistics chair, Tinika McIntosh, had a personal attachment to the cause. In addition to supporting BPHSN, Tinika said, "I was walking for people who can't walk today." She has lost a number of family and friends to causes related to AIDS. Tinika was delighted to see that everyone had so much enthusiasm for the day's causes. "What stood out to me was how much people supported both events," she said. "Everyone was really spirited, and people went straight from the walk to the One Nation Rally."
The One Nation Rally was attended by over 175,000 people. Liberals- gay rights groups, labor unions, and faith-based organizations came out in droves- showed up in response to the rising poll numbers for conservatives in the mid-term elections. According to an article in PekingTimes.com, the purpose of the rally was to "re-energize [Democrats'] political base." There was a controversial issue being addressed, and as ChiChi pointed out, "some people definitely didn't like what we had to say." BPHSN members stood just outside of the rally, holding up their picket signs. They addressed causes such as 'End racist unemployment NOW' and 'BPHSN says Job Loss = Bad Health'.
Overall, both Tinika and ChiChi were glad to spend their Saturday with "people who were like-minded" and attached to similar causes. Legs tired and spirits high, it's back to the library we go.
|Tinika McIntosh posing with her One Nation rally sign|
Check out more pictures from the rally and AIDS Walk on our FB page
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Event: Free Brown Bag Lunch DC - Working with Young MSM
Date: April 14, 2010
Location: 651 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Sponsor: MetroTeen AIDS
A new study by the D.C. Department of Health concluded that 14% of gay and bisexual men in Washington D.C. are living with HIV. This mini workshop will explore best practices for engaging young men who have sex with men (MSM) in prevention efforts in D.C. The session will also look at community resources and include a discussion on how partners can collaborate to reach this population. This Brown Bag is free and lunch is provided.
Space is limited.
To reserve your spot, email an RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: If you have any questions, comments, concerns, please visit www.metroteenaids.org
Internship: Open Internship Position at DC DOH
Intern with the Capacity Building and Community Outreach Bureau at the DC Department of Health HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, & TB Administration (HAHSTA)!
This is a great opportunity to get health promotion, marketing, and social marketing experience in a dynamic office.
Paid internship and practicum opportunity available!
Responsibilities would include (but are not limited to):
- · Managing the new Wrap M.C. program and blog to increase condom access in DC Public and Charter High Schools
- Working on materials and distribution of Routine HIV Testing campaign, Summer Youth STD Testing Campaign, Condom Distribution campaigns, and Hepatitis C campaigns
- Developing condom and youth social marketing campaigns, including multimedia outreach strategies and materials design
- Key point of contact between graphic designers, web designers and DC DOH
Flexible work hours in a fun, busy work environment!
Job Opportunity: Public Health Analyst
Become a part of the Department that touches the lives of every American! At the Department of Health and Human Services you can give back to your community, state, and country by making a difference in the lives of Americans everywhere. Join HHS and help to make our world healthier, safer and better for all Americans.
CDOM (Center for Delivery, Organization, and Markets within the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality—AHRQ) is recruiting someone to oversee a $9 million contract to evaluate 5-year CMS Quality Demonstration Projects that were mandated by Congress in the Child Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act. This is a civil service GS-12 position in CDOM.
For more information please visit: http://jobview.usajobs.gov/GetJob.aspx?JobID=87013849&JobTitle=Public+Health+Analyst&FedEmp=Y&FedPub=Y&sort=rv%2c-dtex&vw=b&re=134&caller=basic.aspx&jbf574=HE33&AVSDM=2010-04-01+10%3a07%3a00