Category Archives: Hepatitis

High-cost hepatitis C treatments hits big insurer

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$100-dollar bill inside a capsuleBy Jay Hancock
KHN

UnitedHealth Group spent $100 million on hepatitis C drugs in the first three months of the year, much more than expected, the company said Thursday.

The news helped drive down the biggest insurance company’s stock and underscores the challenge for all health care payers in covering Sovaldi, an expensive new pill for hepatitis C.

“We’ve been surprised on the volume — the pent-up demand across all three businesses” — commercial insurance and private Medicare and Medicaid plans, said Daniel Schumacher, chief financial officer of UnitedHealth’s insurance wing. Continue reading

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Should prisoners get expensive hepatitis C drugs?

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Dollar bill inside a capsuleBy Michael Ollove
Stateline Staff Writer

Mar 25, 2014

If used widely, a new generation of antiviral drugs has the potential to wipe out the deadly hepatitis C virus in the United States. But the high price of the drugs might prevent their use in prisons, which house as many as one-third of those who are infected.

The drugs cost anywhere from about $65,000 to $170,000 for a single course of treatment—between three and nine times more than earlier treatments.

Ronald Shansky, former medical director of the Illinois prison system and founder of the Society of Correctional Physicians, described that price as “extortionarily high, criminal.” Continue reading

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There’s a life-saving hepatitis C drug. But you may not be able to afford it.

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Sovaldi logoBy Julie Appleby
KHN Staff Writer

MAR 03, 2014

This KHN story was produced in collaboration with 

There’s a new drug regimen being touted as a potential cure for a dangerous liver virus that causes hepatitis C.  But it costs $84,000 – or $1,000 a pill.

And that price tag is prompting outrage from some consumers and a scramble by insurers to figure out which patients should get the drug —and who pays for it.

Called Sovaldi, the drug is made by California-based Gilead Sciences Inc. and is the latest in handful of new treatments for hepatitis C, a chronic infection that afflicts at least 3 million Americans and is a leading cause of liver failure. It was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in December. Continue reading

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Will new hepatitis C drugs bust state budgets?

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OlysioBy Michael Ollove
Stateline Staff Writer

Two new medications to treat the deadly epidemic of hepatitis C promise millions of Americans a better chance of a cure, shorter periods of treatment and fewer side effects than older drugs. They also threaten to bust state budgets and raise private insurance rates. Continue reading

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Snohomish to offer free HIV tests for eligible gay & bisexual men, Oct. 1

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aids-ribbonIn support of National Gay Men’s HIV Awareness Day, the Snohomish Health District will host a free evening of information and testing from 4-7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 1 in Suite 108 at the Rucker Building, 3020 Rucker Ave., Everett, Wash.

The event is directed to gay and bisexual men who are at risk for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. No appointment needed. The event includes door prizes and light refreshments, and every man screened will receive a financial incentive.

Snohomish County currently ranks third in the state for new HIV cases, following King and Pierce counties. Recent data show that 58 percent of all new HIV cases in Washington State are among men who have sex with other men (MSM). Gay and bisexual men make up less than 10 percent of the population, but account for almost 60 percent of the burden of HIV disease.

The Health District also will offer free testing to qualified men for Hepatitis C and syphilis, and vaccine for Hepatitis A and B. Both the Hepatitis C and HIV tests are “rapid” antibody tests, requiring only a drop of blood pricked from a finger.

Test results will be available within 30 minutes. The tests are anonymous and confidential.

New prevention tool: Pre-exposure prophylaxis –PrEP

Information about a new HIV prevention tool will be shared by Michael Louella, outreach coordinator for the AIDS Clinical Trial Unit in Seattle.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is when HIV-negative individuals take a pill to prevent HIV infection.

The medicine currently is used to treat HIV, and has now been approved for this treatment by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration.

Research studies show that PrEP can lower the risk of HIV transmission when used with other prevention measures, such as condoms.

For more information about HIV testing and risk, please call David Bayless, 425.339.5238.

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Washington teens getting their whooping cough immunizations; HPV vaccinations lag

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From the Washington State Department of Health

Vaccination_of_girlImmunization rates for Washington teens improved for some vaccines, while holding steady for others, according to a new national study.

In 2012, 86 percent of teens aged 13–17 in our state got a Tdap booster, according to the National Immunization Survey. That’s up from 75 percent in 2011 and tops the national goal of 80 percent.

Tdap is the vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis). The increase is welcome news following the recent whooping cough epidemic in Washington.

“We’re delighted that more teens in our state are protected against whooping cough,” said State Health Officer Dr. Maxine Hayes. “Older kids and teens often spread the disease to babies without knowing it. That’s why it’s so important for teens to get a dose of the Tdap vaccine.”

Over the last couple years, more teen girls are getting all three doses of the HPV vaccine, but fewer are getting the initial shot. About 43.5 percent of Washington girls 13 to 17 received the recommended three doses of the vaccine, up 3.5 percent from 2011.

Yet, only 64.5 percent of girls in the same age group got one dose of the HPV vaccine, a 2 percent decrease over the same time.

In 2012, nearly 15 percent of Washington boys aged 13–17 got the first HPV vaccine dose, up 6 percent from 2011. HPV vaccine was originally licensed only for girls and was made available to boys in October 2011.

This, plus a lack of knowledge by health care professionals and parents on the need and recommendation to vaccinate boys, may be why the rate for boys is lower than girls.

HPV vaccinations are recommended for girls and boys to protect against cervical cancer, genital warts and other types of oral and anal cancers.

Health care professionals should talk with parents about the importance of all kids getting HPV vaccinations starting at age 11 and 12. Kids in this age group have a stronger immune response compared to older kids.

“Parents want what’s best for their kids and want them to live happy, healthy lives,” Hayes said. “They can lower their children’s risk for HPV or cancer by getting them vaccinated.”

Nearly all sexually-active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. HPV is most common in people in their teens and early 20s. That’s why it’s important for kids to get vaccinated before they start having sex. The vaccine doesn’t protect against any HPV strains someone already has.

Our state’s vaccination rate for two or more doses of chickenpox vaccine rose 8 percent in 2012. The rate for one dose of meningococcal vaccine rose slightly, from 69.4 percent in 2012 to 71.2 percent in 2011.

No-cost vaccines are available to kids up to 19-years-old through health care providers who participate in the state’s Childhood Vaccine Program.

Participating health care providers may charge for the office visit and an administration fee to give the vaccine. People who can’t afford the administration fee can ask for it to be waived.

For help finding a health care provider or an immunization clinic, call your local health agency or the WithinReach Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588.

 

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Tips for a less stressful shot visit – CDC

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child wincing while be given a shot injection

Making the choice to vaccinate your child is vital for their health and well-being. Even so, getting shots can still be stressful for you and your little one. Fortunately, there are simple ways you can support your child before, during, and after shots.

Before Getting Shots

Come prepared! Take these steps before your child gets a shot to help make the immunization visit less stressful on you both.

Help children see vaccines as a good thing. Never threaten your child with shots, by saying “If you misbehave I will have the nurse give you a shot.” Instead, remind children that vaccines can keep them healthy.


Ways to soothe your baby:

  • Swaddling
  • Skin-to-skin contact
  • Offering a sweet beverage, like juice (when the child is older than 6 months)
  • Breastfeeding

Your health care professional may cool or numb the injection site to reduce the pain associated with your child’s shots.

  • Read any vaccine materials you received from your child’s health care professional and write down any questions you may have.
  • Find your child’s personal immunization record and bring it to your appointment. An up-to-date record tells your doctor exactly what shots your child has already received.
  • Pack a favorite toy or book, and a blanket that your child uses regularly to comfort your child.

For older children

  • Be honest with your child. Explain that shots can pinch or sting, but that it won’t hurt for long.
  • Engage other family members, especially older siblings, to support your child.
  • Avoid telling scary stories or making threats about shots.

At the Doctor’s Office

If you have questions about immunizations, ask your child’s doctor or nurse. Before you leave the appointment, ask your child’s doctor for advice on using non-aspirin pain reliever and other steps you can take at home to comfort your child.

Try these ideas for making the shots easier on your child.

  • Distract and comfort your child by cuddling, singing, or talking softly.
  • Smile and make eye contact with your child. Let your child know that everything is ok.
  • Comfort your child with a favorite toy or book. A blanket that smells familiar will help your child feel more comfortable.
  • Hold your child firmly on your lap, whenever possible.

For older children

Remember to schedule your next visit! Staying current with your child’s immunizations provides the best protection against disease.

  • Take deep breaths with your child to help “blow out” the pain.
  • Point out interesting things in the room to help create distractions.
  • Tell or read stories.
  • Support your child if he or she cries. Never scold a child for not “being brave.”

Once your child has received all of the shots, be especially supportive. Hold, cuddle, and, for infants, breastfeed or offer a bottle. A soothing voice, combined with praise and hugs will help reassure your child that everything is ok.

Take a moment to read the Vaccine Information Sheet your health care professional gives you during your visit. This sheet has helpful information and describes possible side effects your child may experience.

After the Shots

Sometimes children experience mild reactions from vaccines, such as pain at the injection site, a rash or a fever. These reactions are normal and will soon go away. The following tips will help you identify and minimize mild side effects.

  • Review any information your doctor gives you about the shots, especially the Vaccine Information Statements or other sheets that outline which side effects might be expected.
  • Use a cool, wet cloth to reduce redness, soreness, and swelling in the place where the shot was given.
  • Reduce any fever with a cool sponge bath. If your doctor approves, give non-aspirin pain reliever.
  • Give your child lots of liquid. It’s normal for some children to eat less during the 24 hours after getting vaccines.
  • Pay extra attention to your child for a few days. If you see something that concerns you, call your doctor.
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Snohomish parents get a B+ for kids’ back-to-school shots

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child wincing while be given a shot injectionFrom Snohomish Health District 

More 5 and 6 year olds in Snohomish County had all the vaccines they needed to enter school last year, according to recent data released by the state Department of Health.

For the 2012-2013 school year, 86.3 percent of local kindergarteners were up to date on their shots, better than past years and higher than the state average of 85.6 percent

Vaccines are required for school children because they prevent disease in a community setting. The rate of vaccination has continued to climb since an all-time low in 2008-2009.

School districts report vaccination rates to the state. The highest immunization rates for all grades (K-12) in Snohomish County last school year were in Lakewood (94.8%) and Everett (94.7%) school districts.

A small percentage of families seek exemption from the vaccination requirement, an average of 5.3 percent in Snohomish County schools compared to 4.5 percent statewide for children entering kindergarten.

In 2011 the process for parents or guardians to exempt their child from school or child care immunization requirements was changed.

Parents need to see a medical provider to get a signature on the Certificate of Exemption form for their child’s school. 

More information about the form and the law is available online at www.doh.wa.gov/cfh/Immunize.

Although exemptions are allowed for medical, religious, or personal reasons, the best disease protection is to make sure children have all their recommended immunizations.

Children may be sent home from school, preschool, or child care during outbreaks of diseases if they have not been immunized.

Summer is a good time to make sure your children are up to date on required shots. The cost of childhood vaccines is subsidized by federal and state government so that every parent can choose to have their child protected without regard to cost.

Required childhood vaccines are available for the school year 2013-2014.

 Two doses of chickenpox (varicella) vaccine or doctor-verified history of disease is required for age kindergarten through grade 5. Students in grade 6 are required to have one dose of varicella or parental history of disease.

 The whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine, Tdap, is required for students in grades 6-12 who are 11 years and older.

Recommended vaccines also are available.

 Varicella vaccine for children in grades 7-12 who have never had chickenpox.

 Meningococcavaccine for adolescents age 11-12. A second (booster) dose at age 16-18 if first dose was given at ages 11-15.

 A three-shot series of human papillomavirus (HPV) for both adolescent boys and girls age 11 and older.

 Children 12 months and older should receive hepatitis A vaccine, a two-shot series.

 Flu vaccine for all people age 6 months and older.

Snohomish Health District promotes routine vaccination of children and adults.

Snohomish Health District’s Immunization Clinic will serve you if your family does not have a health care provider. A visit to a Health District clinic includes a check of your child’s record in the Washington Immunization Information System, the state’s immunization registry.

Parents should beat the rush by making appointments now with their child’s health care provider. At the Health District, parents can make an appointment during normal clinic hours at either the Lynnwood or Everett office.

A parent or legal guardian must accompany a child to the clinic, and must bring a complete record of the child’s immunizations. 

You need to fill out a Snohomish Health District authorization form to have another person bring your child to the clinic. Ask the clinic staff to mail or fax a form to you.

Health District clinics request payment on the day of service in cash, check, debit, or credit card. Medical coupons are accepted, but private insurance is not.

The cost can include an office visit fee, plus an administration fee per vaccine. Reduced fees are available by filling out a request based on household size and income.

Teens also occasionally require travel vaccines for out-of-country mission work or community service. The Health District offers those immunizations and health advice for traveling in foreign countries.

Please call if you have questions, concerns or to schedule an appointment: SHD Immunization Clinic 425.339.5220.

Back-to-school shots hours:

SHD Everett Immunization Clinic, 3020 Rucker Ave, Suite 108, Everett, WA 98201

425.339.5220

By appointment: 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday-Wednesday-Friday

SHD Lynnwood Immunization Clinic, 6101 200th Ave SW, Lynnwood, WA 98036

425.775.3522

By appointment: 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday

NOTE: Both clinics will be closed on weekends and on Labor Day, Sept. 2.

 

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Hepatitis A case in Thurston County linked to frozen berries sold at Costco

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Costco berries

‘Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend’ frozen berries have been linked the outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now believes there has been at least one case of hepatitis A illness in Washington State that may be linked to frozen berries sold at Costco.

“The probable case in our state is a man from Thurston County who was sick in March and has recovered,” the Washington State Department of Health reports.

The national outbreak now lists 79 cases in eight states linked to the product marketed as “Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend” frozen berry and pomegranate mix.

According to the label, the brand contained products originating from the U.S., Argentina, Chile, and Turkey.

The product was also sold at Harris Teeter stores, the CDC reports, however, no cases have been identified that bought the product at Harris Teeter at this time.

For advice for consumers about the outbreak go to the CDC website.

The Department of Health advises against eating these berries and recommends discarding any remaining product from your freezers:

Even if some of the product has been eaten without anyone in your home becoming ill, the rest of the product should be discarded.

Contact your health care provider right away if you have eaten these berries and develop yellow eyes or skin, abdominal pain, diarrhea, pale stools, or dark urine. Symptoms can start up to seven weeks from the time of exposure.

If you consumed this product in the last two weeks and have never been vaccinated for hepatitis A or had the disease, contact your health care provider to find out if you should be vaccinated or receive other treatment.

If you have already received the hepatitis A vaccination in the past or had hepatitis A, you are unlikely to become ill with the disease.

People without a health care provider may contact the local health agency in their community. If it’s too late for a hepatitis A shot, be sure to wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet and don’t prepare food for others if you have diarrhea.

Follow this advice even if you get the vaccine in time. The latest information about the national hepatitis A outbreak is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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Hepatitis A: national outbreak linked to frozen berry product sold at Costco

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No WA cases reported yet, but Costco shoppers who bought product urged to get checked

An outbreak linked to “Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend” frozen berries has caused 30 cases of hepatitis A in five states.

There have been no reported illnesses in Washington linked to these berries but they were sold in Costco stores throughout the state.

The Washington State Department of Health advises against eating these berries; discard any remaining product from your freezers.

Even if some of the product has been eaten without anyone in your home becoming ill, the rest of the product should be discarded.

Contact your health care provider right away if you have eaten these berries and develop yellow eyes or skin, abdominal pain, diarrhea, pale stools, or dark urine. Symptoms can start up to seven weeks from the time of exposure.

If you consumed this product in the last two weeks and have never been vaccinated for hepatitis A or had the disease, contact your health care provider to find out if you should be vaccinated or receive other treatment.

If you have already received the hepatitis A vaccination in the past or had hepatitis A, you are unlikely to become ill with the disease.

People without a health care provider may contact the local health agency in their community.

If it’s too late for a hepatitis A shot, be sure to wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet and don’t prepare food for others if you have diarrhea.

Follow this advice even if you get the vaccine in time.

The latest information about the national hepatitis A outbreak is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

 
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Hepatitis B affects 1 in 12 Asians Americans and Pacific Islanders

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From the CDC

Hepatitis B is common in many parts of the world, with an estimated 350 million people living with the disease worldwide. In the US, an estimated 1.2 million Americans are infected.

However, hepatitis B disproportionately affects Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders because it is especially common in many Asian and Pacific Island countries.

While AAPIs make up less than 5% of the total U.S. population, they account for more than 50% of Americans living with chronic hepatitis B.

Asian American PI hepatitis

Hepatitis B is serious

Hepatitis B affects 1 in 12 Asian Americans; most don’t know it. Talk to a doctor about getting tested for Hepatitis B if you or your parents were born in Asia or the Pacific Islands.As many as 2 in 3 Asian Americans with hepatitis B don’t know they are infected

If left untreated, up to 25 percent of people with hepatitis B develop serious liver problems such as cirrhosis and even liver cancer. In the US, chronic hepatitis B infection results in thousands of deaths per year. Liver cancer caused by the hepatitis B virus is a leading cause of cancer deaths among Asian Americans.

People can live with hepatitis B without having any symptoms or feeling sick. Many people with chronic hepatitis B got infected as infants or young children. It is usually spread when someone comes into contact with blood from someone who has the virus.

As many as 2 in 3 AAPIs living with the virus do not know they are infected. Often, people do not know they have hepatitis B until they have been tested.

Who should get tested for Hepatitis B?

  • Anyone born in Asia or the Pacific Islands (except New Zealand and Australia)
  • Anyone born in the United States, who was not vaccinated at birth, and has at least one parent born in East or Southeast Asia (except Japan) or the Pacific Islands (except New Zealand and Australia)

Hepatitis B testing identifies people living with chronic hepatitis B so they can get medical care to help prevent serious liver damage. Testing also helps to find other people who may not have hepatitis B, but are at risk for getting infected. This can include people living with someone with hepatitis B.

For more information, talk to a doctor about getting tested for Hepatitis B.

More Information

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What will the impact of sequestration be on Washington health programs?

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In an effort to pressure Congress to come up with a deal to prevent the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts required by the sequestration agreement, the White House has released a list of programs that will be hit should the cuts go through.

Here is the White House’s list of cuts that will likely hit health-related programs in Washington state.

Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water:

Washington would lose about $3,301,000 in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, Washington could lose another $924,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.

Vaccines for Children:

In Washington around 2,850 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $195,000.

Public Health:

Washington will lose approximately $642,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. In addition, Washington will lose about $1,740,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 3800 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the Washington State Department of Health will lose about $174,000 resulting in around 4,300 fewer HIV tests.

Nutrition Assistance for Seniors:

Washington would lose approximately $1,053,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors.

Education for Children with Disabilities:

In addition, Washington will lose approximately $11,251,000 in funds for about 140 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

To learn more:

  • Read the full list of programs the White House says will be affected here.
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What impact have vaccines had on health? – Infographic

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Leon Farrant, a graphic design student at Purchase College, used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create a striking infographic showing the impact vaccines have had on health in the U.S.

PrintCreative Commons Licence.

To see more of Farrant’s work go to: To see more of his work go to: www.behance.net/leon_farrant

CDC stats

 

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Healthy Monday Tip: Suds up for food safety

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healthy red cherry tomatoes with green stalkWashing fruits and vegetables before eating them reduces the risk of foodborne illness.

If fruits and veggies have a ridged or uneven skin, use a scrub brush to remove dirt from the grooves.

Remember, even produce with inedible skin should still be washed as a first step.

This week, get into the habit of washing all produce thoroughly before serving.

Be sure to start with clean hands and a sanitary work station.

 

About the Monday Campaigns:

The Healthy Monday Tips is produced by a national health promotion initiative called the Monday Campaigns.

The thinking behind the initiative derives from two studies done at the Center for a Liveable Future at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health by Jullian Fry and Roni Neff.

In one study, they reviewed the scientific studies that looked at ways to get people to adopt healthy habits.

In that review, they found that one of the most effective ways to keep people on track is simply to remind them from time to time to stick to it.

But when would be the best time send those reminders?

Fry and Neff decided to look at Monday, which many of us consider the start of our week.

To better understand how we thought and felt about Monday, they reviewed the scientific literature as well as cultural references to Monday in movies, songs, books and other forms of art and literature, even video games.

They noted that a number of scientific studies have found that we may suffer more health problems on Monday. For example, a number of studies find that Americans have more heart attacks and strokes on Monday.

There is also evidence that we have more on-the-job injuries on Monday, perhaps because we are not quite back into the swing of things, or are still recovering from our weekend.

Fry and Neff also found that while many of us, facing the return to work, may dread Mondays, Monday is also seen as a day for making a fresh start.

Fry and Neff concluded that Monday might be a good day for promoting healthy habits. Calling attention to the health problems linked to the first day of the work week, such as heart attacks and on-the-job injuries, makes Monday a natural day to highlight the importance of prevention.

And the Monday’s reputation as a day to make a fresh start offers the opportunity to help people to renew their efforts to adopt healthier habits.

Fry and Neff’s findings are put into practice by the Monday Campaigns, which helps individuals and organizations use Monday as a focus for their health promotion efforts, providing free research, literature and artwork, and other support.

To learn more about Healthy Mondays:

 

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Chlamydia within cell. Image Credit: Volker Brinkmann, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology

Sexually Transmitted Infections: Part 3 Chlamydia

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Chlamydia within cell. Image Credit: Volker Brinkmann, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology

Chlamydia within cell. Image Credit: Volker Brinkmann, Max Planck Institute

By Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH
From Seattle Children’s Teenology 101 weblog

We’ve been focusing on sexuality and sexually transmitted infections in teens in the this series of posts. Now, let’s talk about the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that’s caused by a bacteria: Chlamydia.

Most people with chlamydia don’t know it. The most common symptom is nothing at all, so it is extremely important that any teen who is sexually active be screened.

The CDC recommends all women younger than age 25 who are sexually active be screened for chlamydia each year (about 1 in 15 sexually active females age 14-19 has chlamydia).Men who have sex with men should also be screened every year.

Why worry about an infection that doesn’t cause symptoms?

Well, if left untreated, chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, a sometimes painful infection that can lead to scarring of the fallopian tubes and infertility or a life threatening pregnancy outside of the uterus (ectopic pregnancy).

In males, they may develop a burning sensation with urination, or rarely, an infection called epididymitis (swelling of the testicles).

If a woman is pregnant and has chlamydia, the baby is at risk for developing a dangerous eye infection, pneumonia, or being born early.

Though most people have no symptoms, infection can lead to burning with urination, discharge, or itching.

Chlamydia is spread through sexual contact: oral, anal, or vaginal sex. It can lead to infection of the throat, rectum, or cervix (the lower portion of a woman’s uterus).

Though most people have no symptoms, infection can lead to burning with urination, discharge, or itching.

Screening and diagnosis is done through a laboratory test: either a urine sample or a vaginal swab (usually collected by the individual or health care provider).

Talk to your teen about sexuality and relationships. Not just having ‘the talk’ but many conversations about the topic.

Treatment is with antibiotics and a person’s sexually partners over the past 2 months should be treated too.

Fortunately, chlamydia is preventable. The only 100% guarantee that a person will not get chlamydia is to not have sex, but using condoms with every sexual encounter also protects against the spread of chlamydia.

So what can a parent do to help protect their teen from chlamydia?

Talk to your teen about sexuality and relationships. Not just having ‘the talk’ but many conversations about the topic. This can be a very challenging thing to discuss, but sex is all around. Just turn on the radio or watch TV. Use our media to your advantage… the next time a commercial for perfume comes on, comment on how sexuality isn’t all about a look or smell.

Discuss what a healthy relationship means to you and share your expectations about sex and relationships with your teen. This conversation will hopefully, lead to future discussions.

Sure your teen may be embarrassed, or refuse to talk initially, but just bringing up the topic of sex shows that your are available to listen and answer questions.

If your teen is sexually active, encourage them to get screened for sexually transmitted infections. Ask your primary care provider about screening or use your teen’s school based health clinic (if available).

Let your teen know that condoms need to be used with every sexual encounter.

If you are uncomfortable or have questions talk to your teen’s health care provider.

What tips to readers have for other parents on how to talk with their teens about sex and relationships?

About Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH

Yolanda-Evans-MD-MPH_avatar-100x100My work is a ‘dream come true’ and it’s what I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. I have the privilege of getting to know some amazing teens and hearing things about them that they may not have told anyone before. When I’m not working, I like trying new foods, traveling around the world, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying the fresh Washington air (though not quite as fresh as Alaska where I grew up, but very close!) – Yolanda Evans, M.D., Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s

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