Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

How the Global War on Drugs Drives HIV and AIDS

Global Commission Calls for Drug Decriminalization and Expansion of Proven, Cost-Effective Solutions to Reduce HIV/AIDS – Including Sterile Syringe Access, Safer Injection Facilities, and Prescription Heroin Programs


From the 29 June 2012 article at

The war on drugs is driving much of the global AIDS pandemic, increasing new infections among injection-drug users in the U.S. and elsewhere, according to a new report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy...

(A PDF of the report may be found here***)

bout one-third of all new infections outside of sub-Sarahan Africa occur in injection-drug users.

Since the 1990s, effective public-health strategies to curb HIV transmission in drug users have led to drops in new infections in most countries. But over the same time period, seven countries have seen a 25% increase in new infections. Not coincidentally, five of these countries — mainly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia — employ aggressive drug war strategies, such as arresting and incarcerating users for drug or needle possession…

…These tactics have been shown to be ineffective not only for controlling drug use, but also for reining in the spread of HIV. Why? Because the fear of recrimination prevents drug users from seeking clean needles — a major risk factor for HIV infection. In the U.S. as well, areas with the highest infection rates are those that have the most aggressive drug policies, the report shows. The solution is straightforward, if drastic; it requires a complete overhaul of current drug policy: drug users need treatment, not imprisonment, and drug possession needs to be decriminalized, the authors argue.



The Commission’s recommendations are summarized here. They include:

– Push national governments to halt the practice of arresting and imprisoning people who use drugs but do no harm to others.

–  Measure drug policy success by indicators that have real meaning in communities, such as reduced rates of transmission of HIV and other infectious diseases, fewer overdose deaths, reduced drug market violence, fewer individuals incarcerated and lowered rates of problematic substance use.

– Respond to the fact that HIV risk behavior resulting from repressive drug control policies and under-funding of evidence-based approaches is the main issue driving the HIV epidemic in many regions of the world.

– Act urgently: The war on drugs has failed, and millions of new HIV infections and AIDS deaths can be averted if action is taken now.

How the drug war fuels the HIV pandemic:

– Fear of arrest drives persons who use drugs underground, away from HIV testing and HIV prevention services and into high-risk environments.

– Restrictions on provision of sterile syringes to drug users result in increased syringe sharing.

– Prohibitions or restrictions on opioid substitution therapy and other evidence-based treatment result in untreated addiction and avoidable HIV risk behavior.

– Deficient conditions and lack of HIV prevention measures in prison lead to HIV outbreaks among incarcerated drug users.

– Disruptions of HIV antiretroviral therapy result in elevated HIV viral load and subsequent HIV transmission and increased antiretroviral resistance.

– Limited public funds are wasted on harmful and ineffective drug law enforcement efforts instead of being invested in proven HIV prevention strategies.

June 29, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[Reblog] 14 Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Consumption



14 Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Consumption (In Substainability and Health)

Plastic is found in an astonishing percentage of products or packaging today. It’s in your computer, your car, your refrigerator, your toothbrush, your recycle bin (ironically enough), your fork at lunch, your to-go box for dinner, and even your clothes. And of the nearly 30 million tonsof plastic Americans generate each year, only about seven percent was recycled. Besides piling up in our landfills, floating around in our oceans, leaching chemicals into our soil, and increasing our dependency on oil (yes, most production involves a large amount of oil), it’s also potentially harmful to our health.


A common compound in plastic is called Bisphenol A, or BPA. This chemical is often found in food packaging, plastic bottles, toys and other consumer goods, and more than90 percent of us have traces of it in our bodies due to the large amount of plastic we encounter. This chemical has been linked tohealth problems such as infertility, developmental issues, and prostate and breast cancers. While eliminating BPA and plastic from your life may be impossible, I think it’s worth making a few changes to reduce your exposure. Below are some ways I avoid plastic in my life, both to benefit my health and the planet.

1. Use reusable grocery bags. …

2. Don’t use individually packaged items…

3. Shop bulk bins….

8. Bag your trash more efficiently. ..

9. Stop accepting plastic utensils. ..

14. Buy bar soap instead of body wash. …

Click here to read the entire post

Includes these tips
         Compost your rubbish to reduce your use of plastic bags.
  • Don’t use bin liners – just tip your rubbish into the bin.
  • Bring unusable cloth bags to the shops with you.
  • Avoid buying beverages in plastic bottles – opt for glass where possible.
  • Carry your own thermal mug and ask coffee retailers to fill it for you rather than taking a disposable cup. Bring your own coffee mug to work with you.
  • Avoid buying foods packaged in plastic. Buy loose fruit and vegetables.
  • Make your own bread or buy it from bakeries that package it in paper.
  • Clean your home with baking soda and vinegar instead of using cleaning products packaged in plastic.
  • Buy washing powder in boxes, not liquid in plastic containers.
  • Buy cheese and meat from your local delicatessen and have it wrapped in paper.
  • Use bar soap to wash your dishes – and yourself.
  • Use scented candles or incense instead of artificial air fresheners.
  • Buy milk in paper cartons or glass, rather than plastic bottles.
  • Buy toilet paper that is wrapped in paper, not plastic.
  • Don’t wrap left-over foods in cling film – use aluminium or wax paper instead.
  • Use matches instead of plastic-encased lighters.
  • Give your pets cloth-based toys, like catnip mice and soft balls.
  • Buy cloth nappies instead of disposables.
  • Stuff delicate postal packages with old newspapers or junk mail instead of bubble wrap.
  • Use rechargeable batteries to avoid buying batteries packaged in plastic.

June 29, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, environmental health | , , | 1 Comment

How To Have Healthy Skin

First television play NBC 1936

Apply skin care product immediately after washing your face

 Photo of actor Eddie Albert and actress Grace Brandt applying make-up for the first television presentation of a play. The play, The Love Nest, was also written and produced by Albert. The telecast took place on 6 November 1936 in NBC’s Studio 3H in Radio City.

The Columbia History of American Television, page 53 Gary R. Edgerton.

From the 29 June 2012 MedicalNewsToday article

Shoppers frequently spend fortunes on high-end facial products as they strive to improve the quality and look of their skin; this may be to treat acne, wrinkling and general aging, etc. Consumers vary in age from early teens to late adulthood. Dermatologists (skin specialist doctors) say that the routine in which these medications are applied really matter for optimum effectiveness.

Dermatologist Susan C. Taylor, MD, FAAD affirms this by saying that medications or treatments should be applied immediately after washing your face. This will ensure that it is absorbed properly. If you do not apply the product straight after washing, it may not do what its manufacturer claims.

Dr. Taylor recommends the following four steps to maximize your skin care:

    • Wash your face with a gentle cleanser. When drying, pat the skin, don’t rub it dry.
    • Apply medication. Use your ring finger when applying cream around the eyes; it is the weakest finger and will not tug at this very delicate skin.
    • Apply sunscreen or moisturizer (or both).
  • If desired, apply makeup.
    (Article continues with additional tips for healthy skin)

June 29, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , | Leave a comment

The Health Care Law and You‏ ( Update) & A Commentary

An updated gateway to information about the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) from the US government including

Read this section to learn more about your rights and protections, insurance choices, and insurance costs. Get information on important benefits and programs available to seniors and small businesses.

The Health Care Law timeline

  • Timeline: What’s Changing and When
    The health care law puts in place reforms that will roll out through 2014 and beyond. Use the timeline or a printable list of key features in chronological order to learn what’s changing and when.
  • Implementation Resources
    Find out how the health care law is being carried out across the country. Find links to regulations, authorities, grants, letters, reports, and other information related to the Affordable Care Act.
 Related news items
  • The Supreme Court on health reform: Everybody wins! (
  • The Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act—A Bullet Dodged (with a video) (Brookings Institute)

    “…The outcome can be stated simply. People must pay a tax if they fail to carry approved health insurance. States may extend Medicaid coverage as specified in the Affordable Care Act, but if they don’t, none of the funds for previously eligible Medicaid enrollees will be in jeopardy. All other provisions of the Affordable Care Act stand….

    Behind this seemingly simple outcome stand sharp disagreements over constitutional interpretation.

    For starters, by a vote of 5 to 4, the Court rejected the federal government’s argument that it can use its power to regulate interstate commerce to require people to carry insurance. Congress can impose a tax on those who don’t carry such insurance, but the concept of ‘mandate’ really doesn’t arise. …

“The U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision today in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) v. Florida. There were four issues before the Court regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA): the applicability of the Anti-Injunction Act; the constitutionality of the individual mandate; the severability of the individual mandate provisions from other provisions of PPACA; and the constitutionality of the Medicaid expansion.”

(Includes a chart explaining the legal arguments for and against each of these issues along with the Court’s ruling)

 “The big surprise, for many, was the vote by the Chief Justice of the Court, John Roberts, to join with the Court’s                              four liberals…Roberts nonetheless upheld the law because, he reasoned, the penalty to be collected by the government for non-compliance with the law is the equivalent of a tax – and the federal government has the power to tax. By this bizarre logic, the federal government can pass all sorts of unconstitutional laws – requiring people to sell themselves into slavery, for example – as long as the penalty for failing to do so is considered to be a tax.Regardless of the fragility of Roberts’ logic, the Court’s majority has given a huge victory to the Obama administration and, arguably, the American people. The Affordable Care Act is still flawed – it doesn’t do nearly enough to control increases in healthcare costs that already constitute 18 percent of America’s Gross Domestic Product, and will soar even further as the baby boomers age – but it is a milestone. And like many other pieces of important legislation before it – Social Security, Medicare, Civil Rights and Voting Rights – it will be improved upon. Every Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has sought universal health care, to no avail.

June 29, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nursing Trauma: How One Church is Going After Chicago’s Violence Epidemic

Gunshot wound victim makes it to the trauma ce...

Gunshot wound victim makes it to the trauma center at Valley Care Hospital (Photo credit: ffsetla)

This is one response to how to lower the high murder rate rate in Chicago (5,056 since 2001). The author believes that many victims of violence react with shock in much the same manner as soldiers with PTSD. These victims will most likely grow up angry with greater potential to use violence to solve problems unless they are worked with, much like returning soldiers from a war zone.

The blog post Nursing Trauma: How One Church is Going After Chicago’s Violence Epidemic may be found here.


The Real Problem: Trauma

I spent a summer in the ER of a Level 1 trauma center in Chicago. Gunshot victims would come in, and they couldn’t believe what had happened to them. It was traumatic in the truest sense – their bodies were broken and put into shock. But their mind and spirit were as well: it was a jarring experience all around for them. But not only for them. Mothers and aunties and cousins and baby mommas were going crazy too. A light bulb turned on: This situation is traumatic for them too! They need care as well.

And so the idea of “care” was expanding from physical to psycho-spiritual, and from patient to family. Everybody involved was a victim of trauma here.

I began to look into this idea of “trauma” and found that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the result of unfettered moments of shock that continue to reside in the body: the brain and body never return to “normal,” and will erupt in erratic behavior. Think of a geyser here. Hot springs are the result of spontaneous combustion of something that happened in a river far away and a long time ago. What if this is true with humans?

We already know it is. One study on inner-city kids in Chicago showed that children who were exposed to violence or witness a violent act were much more likely to demonstrate aggressive behavior within one year of exposure. PTSD also carries symptoms of depression, which contribute to feelings of meaninglessness in self and the world (thus devaluing another human life enough to take it). This is all very scientific and I want to get to the point:

Our children are being put into shock every single day.

They are experiencing violence as perpetrator, victim, and witness, and they are no less exposed to the trauma. The trauma of being poor….

One Real Solution

Chicago has been called a “warzone” – let’s play with that a moment. Maybe the best thing a small church can do to stop the violence is work with our children like we work with our returning soldiers. (We need to do this better as well). Vets need safe space to talk. They need to give voice to experiences and be able to create new ways of understanding themselves—it’s called moving from “soldier” to “human” again.

Our children need to understand themselves not as black or poor orat-risk but as HUMAN first. They need to develop meaning to confront the meaninglessness that surrounds them. This angry and dark world is traumatic for children, and they will grow up angry and dark unless we help them process what they have seen. Finding one’s own voice is critical to meaning-making. Some of them are not soldiers, but they are all in the war.

June 29, 2012 Posted by | health care, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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