Tag: Public Health

“The Mommy Instinct” and Vaccinations

“Mommy instincts:” that’s what Jenny McCarthy called them.1 You know, those innate feelings you get about your kids when they’re lying to you, or right before they knock over that glass jar on the counter. These instincts kick in about kids’ health, too. It’s a sense of detecting what other people can’t. And since Jenny… Read more →

Eyes of the Beholder: The Public Health Service Reports on Trachoma in White Appalachia and Indian Country

In 1912, the United States Public Health Service (PHS) set out to survey trachoma rates among two populations: Appalachian Whites in Kentucky and American Indians. I knew about the American Indian survey from my dissertation research on Native health in the early twentieth century. But when I read the report from that study, I was… Read more →

The Anti-Vaccine Movement, Bad Science, and the Rise of Fake News

Fake news was one of the biggest news stories following the 2016 U.S. presidential election. From climate change to abortion, health care to international relations, formerly fringe information hubs like Breitbart took on unprecedented mainstream importance. Could it be that a sizeable chunk of Americans were more persuaded by conspiracy theories and political rumor than… Read more →

We Need to Talk About Chikungunya

My friend from Rio de Janeiro got chikungunya virus in April. First she came down with a high fever. Soon after, she developed a red rash. She went to the doctor and was told she had zika. She was not pregnant nor planning to conceive; thus, she wasn’t too worried about the diagnosis. In next… Read more →

The New Rubella: Zika and What it Means for Abortion Rights

Historians, journalists, and public health officials have begun to call Zika the new rubella (German measles). When a pregnant woman contracts the Zika virus, she normally experiences mild symptoms of fever and rash, much like rubella. But also like rubella, the Zika virus can wreak havoc on the developing fetus. Before the rubella vaccine in… Read more →

Of Rifles and Responsibility: How Can We Speak to Each Other Across the Gun Control Divide?

As a kid, I loved shooting a rifle with my uncle, out back at my grandmother’s farmhouse. My dad and I would go out with Uncle Bill, in his ubiquitous plaid flannel and hunting cap, and my cousin. We’d set a tin can on a stump. Uncle Bill would show me, holding the rifle firm… Read more →

Public Health and the Dead at Johnstown

In the twenty-four hour news cycle we live in, we frequently are treated to instantaneous images of disasters unfolding around the globe. I am often reminded how disasters do more than destroy the physical infrastructure of the affected areas; they strike at the very core of individual and community identity. The normal rituals of everyday… Read more →

Tuning In for Public Health: The Promise of Televised Health Education in 1950s America

During a recent well-child check up, the nurse asked how much television my son watched. Although not common a generation ago, this question is now part of the routine examination. Along with asking about our kids’ diets and daily exercise, we are also asked about their television viewing habits. There seems to be a general consensus… Read more →

Positively Negative: Love, Pregnancy, and Science’s Surprising Victory over HIV

By Lara Freidenfelds

What would you do if you desperately wanted to have a baby, and your spouse had HIV? In the mid-1990s, the introduction of highly-effective HIV drug regimens turned HIV from a death sentence into a chronic condition. People with HIV and their life partners could begin to imagine creating families and living to see their children grow up. But it was not until 2014 that researchers and policy-makers approved a prophylactic regimen that effectively protects against HIV-transmission even without condom use. (It still is not officially condoned for family-building purposes, but some physicians are willing to prescribe it for that purpose.) For almost two decades, HIV-discordant couples faced a special kind of infertility: it was childlessness caused by the threat of illness, by fear, and by a traumatized, cautious public health and medical community that could not move beyond its initial message, that “only condoms prevent HIV transmission.”

A new e-book, Positively Negative: Love, Pregnancy, and Science’s Surprising Victory over HIV, takes us into the lives of two couples who lived this history.

Paranoia on the Border: Immigration and Public Health

Like others, I find the growing humanitarian crisis in Texas deeply troubling. The number of minors making this dangerous journey alone, in search of a better life away from violence and poverty, is overwhelming and heart-wrenching, not least because they’ve been met with more hostility than sympathy at the US end of their long trek…. Read more →