Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Earlier this month the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a press release marking a sad milestone: the thirty-year anniversary of the discovery of the disease that is now known as AIDS. The release rightly gives credit to the medical and scientific researchers who have developed drugs and protocols that have expanded the expected lifetime of many AIDS patients from weeks or months to years and sometimes decades. It also reminds us that we still have far to go: 2.6 million people became infected with HIV in 2009 alone, and in developing countries only around one third of the people who need anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) have access to them.
Friday, June 24, 2011
I teach a course on injury prevention for graduate students. Early in the course, I engage the class in a little exercise (shamelessly borrowed from a colleague). First I ask all of the students to stand. Then I tell them to remain standing if they wore their seatbelt the last time they were in a car. Seat belt use rates are about 85 percent nationally; nearly all the students remain standing. Next I tell them to remain standing if they have a smoke alarm in their home or apartment. Again, almost all are still standing. Then I ask about carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in the home. With a loud thud, a large group of (relieved) students slump into their chairs. Why the difference?
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has a vision for the next Farm Bill in which the United States will recruit 100,000 new farmers. This vision is born of urgency. In 2007, the average age of U.S. farmers was 57. But as is so often the case, danger is paired with opportunity. National interest in the effect of agricultural laws upon our food systems has increased dramatically in the past decade. To date, much of the focus in the public health community has been upon access to healthy foods.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
For years, animals meant for human consumption have been treated with antibiotics in their feed. This widespread practice began when it was discovered that treating the entire population at sub-therapeutic levels (below the dosage levels used to treat diseases) prevented the spread of disease and contributed to animal growth. Concern has grown that dosing animals at sub-therapeutic levels can lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. If these resistant bacteria are passed to humans the antibiotics that are currently available could fail. In response to this threat, many countries have prohibited sub-therapeutic uses of antibiotics.
Earlier this year I wrote about the efforts of several cities to enact paid sick leave ordinances and wondered how widely these type of ordinances would spread. Well, even if a local government adopts a paid sick leave ordinance there is a chance state law will end up preempting it. This is what recently happened to Milwaukee’s local paid sick leave ordinance in Wisconsin.