Thursday, December 31, 2009

PBS "A Girl's Life"

Link: PBS presents "A Girl's Life"

A great video from an expert in the field.

An issue close to my heart--raising healthy, strong, capable young women in a society where even they view themselves as "pleasers," whether it's to boys, teachers, parents, friends, or a force even they can't identify. When for so long women fought for their independence and solidarity, something (music, movies, TV?) is telling young women to shut up and sit down. I didn't realize how one-sided society views boy/girl relationships until I started raising my girls. Now, I try very hard to make sure their behavior is not to "impress," "tease," or otherwise "gain the attention" of boys. Not to say I don't encourage their natural sexual curiosity, but there is a fine balance, right?

What do you think of the video?

Much love and peace to you all as we gently embrace 2010. Be safe :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Kids and Candy

So, there is a lot of buzz right now about childhood obesity (and rightfully so) and how kids have easy access to junk food. There is talk, and some actual effort, in removing junk food from vending machines in schools as well as taxing this kind of food and beverage in the grocery store. I'm mulling this over............only recently did WIC begin offering fruits and vegetables as part of their repetoire in addition to the 5 lb blocks of cheese and multitude dairy items.

Hmmm........I'm not sure how I feel about that. At what point do we put our efforts into removing the obstacles that impede this natural behavior change (i.e, the high overall cost of nutritious food versus candy, for example) rather than simply taking away the temptation. In addition, if we are truly afraid of childhood obesity, why do we continually vote down any efforts to increase PE in schools? My daughter has PE two days a week. ONLY TWO! I'm not sure that taking away her one candy bar a day is making a huge difference here.

In other words, whose responsibility is it? Parents? Schools? Government? I'd love to hear your thoughts.......

Friday, December 4, 2009

H1N1-Are we overreacting?

U.S. officials have reported that H1N1 activity has declined for the fourth consecutive week, suggesting that the pandemic may have peaked. The CDC reports 43 states had widespread flu activity the week before Thanksgiving, compared with 46 the week before that. I've personally been affected by the flu and it seems to be pretty typical with a high fever, severe fatigue, and a horrendous cough that can last for weeks. It certainly didn't turn out to be the catastrophe it was made out to be by the far as I know we haven't called off any public events or quarantined anybody!

Since the outbreak began in April, 22 million Americans have contracted H1N1, 98,000 have been hospitalized, and approximately 4,000 individuals have died.

How does that compare to the regular flu season?

On average 5-20% of the population get the flu, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized, and about 36,000 people die from season flu-related causes. The peak of flu season has occurred from late November through March.

I guess we will wait it out and continue to hound Rite-Aid until they get more vaccines; people will continue to bid on Tamiflu on ebay, and I will keep stocking cereal and spaghetti sauce in my garage until mid-July when I can be assured flu season is over and I can bask in the warm sun......until it all starts again in August :-)

For more info:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Teen Dating Violence

Each year one in four adolescents report verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a dating partner

Have any of you had any experience with teen dating violence?? As my oldest daughter enters the dating years I cringe at the thought of her having to protect herself in this way. However, I know it's my job to empower her not only physically, but emotionally and mentally to handle the pressures dating brings. Every time I get the eye roll, or the "mommmmm" I want to stop bugging her about "relationships" but then I hear something like these statistics, and I am reassured my incessant bugging will be appreciated one day ;-) Right??

What are we doing as a nation?

There's a new initiative under way, Start Strong, to target 11-14 year olds to promote healthy relationships as the way to prevent teen dating violence and abuse. Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan are engaging teens, their parents, and program leaders around this issue as the nation commemorates the 15th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Here are some additional resources:

Choose Respect Initiative

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Sexual Assault Hotline


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Today is World AIDS Day!

World AIDS Day 2009--As we embark on another year of fighting this dreadful illness, I want to emphasize how important it is to protect yourself. So, here are my little reminders:

1. Get tested! Many health departments offer confidential testing on a sliding fee scale. Alternatively, you can purchase a testing kit from a pharmacy and send in a blood sample for your results. For testing locations:
2. Use a condom or dental dam during every sexual act.
3. Don't share needles.
4. Support the 33 million men, women, and children who are suffering from this illness.

We all need a little compassion, support, and encouragement from time to time--let this be their time.

Much love,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Girls aged 15-19 have highest incidence of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

According to a recent CDC report, adolescent girls aged 15-19 have the largest reported number of Chlamydia and Gonorrhea cases (409,531) when compared to any other age group. More than 1.5 million cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea were reported in 2008. Even scarier than the reported numbers, these diseases may have no symptoms and often go untreated; however, they are the two most commonly reported in the U.S. African-American girls continue to be disproportionately affected by STDs than any other racial group.

Additionally, Syphilis, once on the verge of elimination, began re-emerging in 2001.

YIKES! What are we doing about this? Is abstinence the answer? Should we hand out condoms in schools?

What's your opinion?


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mental Health Services for Immigrant and Refugee Students

Have you heard about the Caring Across Communities Initiative? The Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation awarded 15 projects a total of $4.5 million to address reducing emotional and behavioral health problems in immigrant and refugee families.

These students often have limited access to mental health benefits including cultural and linguistic barriers. If not treated, or identified, some of these conditions could develop into more serious problems in adulthood. Often times these problems are mis-identified as disinterested or unwilling to learn, and their schoolwork suffers as a result. Incidentally, the No Child Left Behind rules holds schools accountable for the academic achievement of these students.

Thoughts? Agree? Disagree?


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stupak Amendment

When the House health care bill passed last Saturday did it come at too high a price?

The Stupak Amendment makes insurance coverage for abortion almost impossible to obtain for millions of women buying insurance plans through the new exchange even if they are purchasing the coverage with their own money.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gardasil Poll Results

I apologize for not keeping up with my blog! Life has been crazy, but I will try harder to post :-) Thanks for being much going on too with healthcare at this point; it's a great time to be in the field!

Thank you all (8 of you--and you are the important 8!) for voting on my poll on what you think about the Gardasil vaccine. The majority of you feel that you would like to see more information on the risks, benefits, and outcomes of the vaccine before deciding on whether it should be part of the regular immunization schedule.

Some news: According to the CDC, the HPV vaccine was monitored in 5 clinical trials with over 21,000 girls aged 9-26. As of September 1, 2009 more than 26 million doses were distributed in the U.S. There have been 15,037 reports of adverse reactions following the vaccine with 93% considered non-serious (fainting, pain, swelling, headache, fever) and 7% considered serious (requiring hospitalization). Additionally, there have been 44 U.S. deaths after receiving the vaccine.

So what about boys? Well, as of October 16, 2009 the FDA approved the Gardasil vaccine for boys as well. At this point, the vaccine is not listed as a required vaccine for children in the U.S., but it could be in the future. It's worth keeping an eye on the insurance industry around this issue as the vaccine is very expensive and at this point, is not covered by insurance companies. This could mean some potential divides among the "haves" and the "have nots" if we don't subsidize the vaccine. In any case, it's interesting, and worth taking a second, third, and fourth look at!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Teen Pregnancy

Is having a baby when you're 17 a good idea? Of course not, but you can make it work, and you do have choices. Mind you, I'm not advocating for youth pregnancy in any way; in fact I work in an industry that attempts to do just the opposite. However, if you are a teen, and you do find yourself pregnant, there are resources for you, and additionally, don't let anyone put you down, make you feel inadequate, or stupid, or try to control your decision. Show them how smart you really are by sharing these stats with them........and know you are indestructible.

1. Are teens really the source of all unplanned pregnancies? Come on.......

-While the majority of pregnancies to teens are unplanned, teens do not account for the majority of unplanned pregnancies, and they do not have the highest rates of unplanned

2. Are we talking about kids under 18 having babies when we say unplanned pregnancies? No.

-Women in their 20s account for 1.6 million unplanned pregnancies—54% of all
unplanned pregnancies.

3. So what percentage of unplanned pregnancies are actually to teens? Take that....

-Unplanned pregnancy is clearly not just a teen issue. In fact, less than one quarter
of all unplanned pregnancies are to teen girls.

4. And the rest? Hmmm......

-Nearly 900,000 unplanned pregnancies
occur to married women (30% of all unplanned pregnancies)

5. So, teens are just dumb right?

-Nearly one half, or more than 1.1 million
unplanned pregnancies occur to women with at least some college education.

Source: Finer, LB and Henshaw, SK (2006). Disparities in Rates of Unintended Pregnancy in the United States, 1994
and 2001. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 38 (2):90-96. Accessed 9/2009 from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. DCR Report.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Healthiest Nation in One Generation

Click on the title of my blog post to find out more about what public health is/does and check out this great video. A fellow colleague of mine found it and I think it captures the essence of who we are. Enjoy! ;-)


Monday, August 17, 2009

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate....that is the question

posted by CNN:

This article was posted on and presents some interesting opinions on the new vaccine to prevent HPV (Gardasil). What are your thoughts on this? Take my survey on the right side bar and I'll post results, and my opinion in a few weeks...........

What is Public Health, anyway?

A professor of mine once described public health this way: Two young men were fishing in a river. As the older of the two men cast his bait out to the middle he saw a body floating down the river before him. He was awestruck as another body floated by, and then another one. When his partner began to run from the river, the older man asked "Won't you help me pull these bodies out of the river?" to which the young man replied "I'm going to see who's pushing them in!"

When I say I work in Public Health the first question I get asked is "Are you a nurse?" Nope.
"Oh, do you work in a lab?" Nope.

I don't fault them for this--the field as a whole is still vying for its niche. Basically, what we do can range from coordinating social research projects (like what I do) and conducting research, writing reports, etc. to becoming an advocate for tobacco prevention (for example), to putting up mosquito nets to ward off Malaria. Public health plays an important role in disease prevention in developing and developed countries.

The key component of public health is that it is focused on a) prevention rather than the cure (or an upstream approach), and b) it deals with population-level, rather than individually-focused health issues. In other words, we are interested in improving the health of the community as a whole as opposed to an individual intervention.

Be safe and healthy!



My name is Faith and I decided to start this site because of my passion for public health. I have a Masters degree in Public Health with a focus on adolescent risk behavior (read more in "About Me." My interest in health issues stems not only from my personal experiences, which I will share throughout this site, but also from my passion for debate. I realize not everyone shares my views and although I have always been comfortable expressing my opinion on public health-related issues, I have never attempted a blog before--so be gentle. This site will be dedicated to public health-related issues, current and proposed policy, and education. I hope you find this a safe, welcoming forum with which to express your opinions, ask questions, comment, and ultimately strive to improve the health of our nation. That is my goal after all.....

Enjoy and be safe,