Category: Health Promotion

World AIDS Day

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What is World AIDS Day? World AIDS Day is held on December 1 every year, and is an opportunity for individuals worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV, and remember those who have died from HIV. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day, held for the first time in 1988.

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. If left untreated, HIV can lead to the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). No effective cure for HIV currently exists, but with proper treatment and medical care, HIV can be controlled.

The CDC estimates that roughly 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and nearly 1 in 8 of these 1.2 million are not aware that they are infected. As many as 50,000 people become newly infected each year, with men who have sex with men and African American heterosexual women being the two groups with the most new HIV infections. The Southern United States experiences the highest number of new diagnoses each year followed by the Northeast, West, and Midwest.

Learn about the national HIV/AIDS strategy and prevention methods.

The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested. You can get tested at your healthcare provider, and most medical clinics, substance abuse programs, community health centers, and hospitals offer them as well. Home testing kits are also available. On World AIDS Day, many community organizations host testing and awareness events in order to increase awareness of and decrease stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.

Show your support with these social media resources and find a local testing site here.

Tips for Healthier TV Binge Watching

By: Aria Gray MPH: Maternal and Child Health candidate 2017

It’s about to get colder out, and I plan to spend some time this fall and winter on my couch covered in blankets, especially when the new Gilmore Girls episodes premiere. Yet this year I plan to plan ahead to make my TV and Netflix binge watching healthier, especially after reports that binge-watching and prolonged sitting have negative effects on your health. Binge watching has most commonly been linked to weight gain and obesity as well as an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. While many experts recommend cutting TV viewing hours and limiting the number of hours you watch at once, sometimes there are rainy days or a new show that everyone will be talking about on Monday and you find yourself on your couch binge watching yet again.

Before you Netflix and chill, here are three tips to make your marathon a little bit healthier.

Choose Healthier Drinks and Snacks: Eat real meals with protein and vegetables to prevent too much snacking. For snacking, choose healthy options such as veggies and hummus, fruit, and nuts. Remember to stay hydrated, which will also get you up and moving!

Get Physical: Keep active while you are watching TV by doing stretches, yoga, or crunches. Also, instead of jumping right into the next episode, use the pause as an activity break and take a walk, complete a task in your house that requires movement, or try a two-minute workout like this. Keeping some exercise equipment or a yoga mat near your TV is a great reminder to stay active while watching your favorite show.

Set a Limit: We all know it can be extremely difficult to stop in the middle of a marathon (especially when the next episode auto plays!). Decide beforehand how long you will watch TV and set a timer, or set a bedtime for yourself if watching at night. Setting a timer will help the day from getting away from you without you realizing. Also, since screens can alter your production of melatonin, be sure to turn off the TV 30 minutes before you want to go to sleep.

When should you get tested for an STI?

By: Aria Gray MPH: Maternal and Child Health candidate 2017

If you are sexually active, getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is one of the most important things you can do for your health. According to the CDC, there are about 20 million new STD infections in the United States every year. While many of us know that it is recommended to get STI tested, the rest of the details aren’t always so clear. When should you get tested and how do you get tested?

When?

  • If you have symptoms of an STI you should get tested. Common symptoms include sores on the genitals, discharge, itching, and burning during urination
  • Many STIs do not cause symptoms and many people have and spread STIs and never know it. Testing is the only way to know for sure. If you have had unprotected sex, you should get tested for STIs.
  • Preventative screening (Check out these screening recommendations from the CDC)

How?

  • Make an appointment with your health provider and ask for an STI test
  • Your health care provider will talk with you to decide what STI tests make the most sense for you
  • Potential STI tests can include
    • Physical exam
    • Blood sample
    • Urine sample
    • Discharge, tissue, cell, or saliva sample

Remember that many STIs are curable and all are treatable. The sooner you find out if you have an STI, the sooner treatment can begin.

 

Research Dissemination: Part 2

The most highly regarded place to publish medical research findings is in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. However, journals are not all considered equal.


Most people have at least heard of the so-called “top-tier” journals including The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the British Medical Journal, and the New England Journal of Medicine. There are also mid-tier journals which are still respectable, but less competitive, and then there are lower quality journals whose standards and peer review process are much less rigorous (or non-existent) and consequently are taken much less seriously by the medical community.  

The dream is usually to have an article published in a top-tier journal, however, this is not always the best choice depending on the content and goal of a paper. If a paper does not present novel and/or ground-breaking findings, it is probably not worth an author’s’ time to submit it to a top journal and then wait, only to be rejected. Also, if authors’ want to get the results of a study published quickly so that the data is publicly available (for instance to help support an application for FDA approval), it is probably better to go with a less prestigious journal that has a higher acceptance rate or a less rigorous review process.

In addition to journal prestige, there are many other factors that must also be considered when deciding where to submit a manuscript. For example, medical specialty, target audience, impact factor, primary language or region, length limits, and allowance of figures and other supplementary materials are all potential considerations.

Due to the complexity of the factors that weigh into this decision, many medical publications agencies offer assistance with target journal selection by researching and compiling this information for authors so that they can more easily make a decision based on the variables that are most important to them for a particular manuscript.

 
Getting the right information in front of the right audience in a timely manner is critically important in fields such as medicine and pharmaceuticals since that information could potentially affect the lives and well-being of countless individuals.

Research Dissemination: Part 1

After a clinical trial or other medical study has been conducted and the researchers have planned out the ways in which they want to structure the results for disseminationthey next need to actually make that information public in the form of one or more medical publications. These publications typically take the form of posters, presentations, and journal manuscripts.

These publications all require a brief written summary known as an abstract. An abstract includes an overview of each relevant section of a medical publication including the study’s objectives, methods, results, and a discussion of the main conclusions.

For conferences, abstracts are typically developed and submitted as a first step in the acceptance process. The conference committee will then use the submitted abstract to decide whether or not to include a poster or presentation about that study as part of the conference. Once an abstract has been accepted to the conference, the authors can then create a poster or slide deck to present.

Because researchers want to get the maximum bang for their buck when it comes to their study data, most research findings will be presented as a poster or an oral presentation at a medical conference first, then be expanded into a full manuscript for publication in an academic journal.

 
Manuscripts allow researchers to provide a more detailed description of a study’s results and implications and are also able to reach a wider audience. We’ll talk more about manuscripts in next week’s post so be sure to check back on Monday.

Celebrating Freedom from Disease

Happy 4th of July!

Today is the day that we celebrate freedom in the U.S. However, most of us don’t think about, or we simply take for granted, the successes that have been achieved and the continued fight being waged to be free from disease.

Through public health initiatives like improved sanitation, the initiatives and infrastructure to ensure clean drinking water, and the use of medical advances such as vaccinations and antibiotics, the US is now free, or well on its way to becoming free, from numerous pathogens and infectious diseases.

The most recent data from the CDC concerning reported cases of infectious diseases showed that there were zero reported cases of smallpox, polio, diphtheria, and yellow fever in the U.S., along with staggeringly low numbers of several other diseases, like cholera, that were previously responsible for thousands of deaths.

 

So this Independence Day, enjoy all of your freedoms and have a happy and healthy celebration!

Disease Chart

Data taken from Summary of Notifiable Infectious Diseases and Conditions — United States, 2013

 

The Dangerous Myths Behind Indoor Tanning [Infographic]

GUEST BLOGGER: Sophia Bernazzani

While everyone wants a beach-ready body by the start of summer, you may want to reconsider that next indoor tanning session. Although the risks associated with excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays are well documented and include everything from sunburns to skin cancer, according to the World Health Organization, myths still abound about the supposed safety of indoor tanning. Indoor tanning is thought to be safer than traditional sun tanning, to help prevent sunburns and to be completely unrelated to melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Besides, only women and old people are at risk for skin cancer, right?

Wrong. Just like sun tanning, indoor tanning involves UV rays, which are the primary culprit Georgetown Tanning Graphicbehind melanoma, according to the American Cancer Society. Research from the journal Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine indicates that indoor tanning slightly increases your risk of subsequent sunburns. Not only does research from the American Journal of Public Health find indoor tanning partially to blame for an increase in melanoma among young adult women over the last decade, but it’s men, not women, who have the highest risk for skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

“The Truth About Indoor Tanning,” an interactive graphic from Georgetown University’s online family nurse practitioner program, explodes these myths about indoor tanning and UV rays just in time for summer. Share it with the misinformed, young tanners in your life today

Quench Your Thirst in a Healthier Way This Summer

Summer is officially here! While that may mean more hours at the pool or beach, more family picnics, and more time outside in general, it’s important to remember that excessive heat exposure can lead to dehydration, which can lead to more serious health complications like heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat stroke.

In order to stay healthy all summer long, it’s important to not only stay hydrated, but to know how to hydrate yourself the right way. While it may be tempting to crack open that soda at your friend’s barbecue or enjoy that iced cold cocktail by the pool, these beverages will only dehydrate you more.

Here are some sugary beverage alternatives that will keep you healthy and hydrated this summer:

  1. Water. Water is the best way to give your body back the fluids lost from sweating in the heat. While experts recommend drinking 6-8 cups of water a day, this number should increase if you’re spending more time outside.
  2. Infused Water. If drinking plain water is hard for you, try infusing your water with fresh fruit to give it that extra flavor. Try this Blueberry Orange Water, this Strawberry Lime Cucumber Mint Water or create your own!
  3. Watermelon. This popular summer snack is 92% water, and its salt, calcium, and magnesium content make it ideal for rehydration.
  4. Smoothies. Smoothies can offer rehydration benefits IF you include the right ingredients. Try to fill yours will water filled fruits like strawberries, watermelon, or cucumbers, and fill with liquids like coconut water instead of milk. Try this Refreshing Strawberry Watermelon Smoothie.

Stay hydrated!

FDA Makes Big Changes to Nutrition Facts Label

Two weeks ago, the FDA finalized the new Nutrition Facts label for packaged food products. While the iconic look of the twenty-year old label will stay the same, several changes were made to the information provided in order to help consumers make more informed decisions about the foods they eat.

Some of the major changes include:

  • Increasing the type size for “Calories,” “servings per container,” and the “Serving size” declaration. This change along with bolding the number of calories and the “Serving size” declaration will serve to better highlight this important information.
  • “Added sugars,” in grams and as percent Daily Value, will now be included on the label. Because excessive sugar intake typically occurs from the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and processed foods that contain an abundance of added sugar (as opposed to natural sugar), this information will now be included on nutrition facts labels.
  • Serving sizes must be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating. Because how much people eat has changed, and because package sizes affect how much people eat, serving sizes will be updated to be more realistic. For example, the serving size for ice-cream will change from 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup, and both 12 and 20 oz soda bottles will equal one serving, since most people drink a whole bottle in one sitting.

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Old label vs. New label

Manufacturers will need to use the new label by July 26, 2018. However, manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply. For more information about all the changes made, visit the FDA website.

How to have healthy feet this summer!

Summer is almost here and many people are getting ready to expose their toes. Whether you’re shopping for flip flops, going for a pedicure, painting your nails at home, or planning a vacation, there are some things you need to consider to keep your feet healthy. In honor of National Foot Health Month, here are some health and safety tips from the American Podiatric Medical Association to get your feet ready for summer!

 

To get your feet looking their best:

  • Cut nails straight across, not curved, to reduce the chance of ingrown nails.
  • Use a pumice stone, foot file, or exfoliating scrub to remove dead skin and calluses, not a razor or other sharp implement (these increase the risk of infection by removing too much skin).
  • Dry between your toes thoroughly to avoid fungal infections.
  • Don’t paint nails if you have a fungal infection (discoloration is a warning sign) as this blocks air flow to the nail. Wait until the problem is resolved.

 

  • Don’t shave your legs the day of a pedicure. This creates small breaks in the skin that increase your risk of infection.
  • If possible, go to the nail salon in the morning when everything is likely to be cleanest, and make sure the salon sterilizes their foot bath and tools between clients.

 

When shopping for summer footwear:

  • Look for sandals made of leather which is less likely to create blisters and other irritation.
  • Make sure your feet don’t hang over the edge or off the end of the sandal.
  • Don’t wear flip-flops or sandals when walking long distances. They lack sufficient shock absorption and arch support.

 

While on vacation:

  • Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your feet and ankles if they’ll be exposed to the sun to prevent burns.
  • Stay hydrated to prevent your feet from swelling on a hot day.
  • Try not to walk barefoot in public places, like around a pool or in locker rooms and showers to prevent bacterial and fungal infections.

 

Do you have any other tips for keeping your feet in top condition?