Longer Looks: Data And The Pandemic; HIV Prevention; And Suicide Rates In Millennials
Each week, KHN finds interesting reads from around the web.
The New York Times:
How Data Became One Of The Most Powerful Tools To Fight An Epidemic
The River Lea originates in the suburbs north of London, winding its way southward until it reaches the city’s East End, where it empties into the Thames near Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs. In the early 1700s, the river was connected to a network of canals that supported the growing dockyards and industrial plants in the area. By the next century, the Lea had become one of the most polluted waterways in all of Britain, deployed to flush out what used to be called the city’s “stink industries.” In June 1866, a laborer named Hedges was living with his wife on the edge of the Lea, in a neighborhood called Bromley-by-Bow. Almost nothing is known today about Hedges and his wife other than the sad facts of their demise: On June 27 of that year, both of them died of cholera. (Johnson, 6/10)
The Dangers Of Excluding Women From HIV Prevention Drug Tests
When Dazon Dixon Diallo began working to prevent the spread of HIV among women in 1985, she first had to convince them that they could get the infection. Even some HIV activists didn’t fully appreciate that women needed to be included in prevention efforts. Diallo founded an Atlanta-based organization called SisterLove to promote reproductive justice and to support women with or at risk of getting HIV/AIDS, expanding it to a program in South Africa, where today two-thirds of the people living with HIV are women. In the US, almost one in five new HIV diagnoses are among women. Yet after 35 years, Diallo is still waiting for gender equity in the research for drugs that could prevent HIV infection. (Marill, 6/10)
As Uganda Takes Control Of The HIV Epidemic, U.S. Shifts Funding
On July 11, 2003, then-U.S. President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush visited a clinic of The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) in Entebbe, Uganda, about 25 miles southwest of the capital Kampala. Six weeks earlier, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar) had been signed into law. Congress committed $15 billion to support HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment over the next five years to combat the disease in the 15 most afflicted countries, including 12 in Africa, with Uganda foremost among them. “We knew [the Bushes’ visit] was the most significant event at the time. There was true hope,” says Bernard Michael Etukoit, a physician who was then manager of the TASO clinic. “Our patients were all dying and there was nothing we could do about it. Pepfar gave us hope. It gave us an additional narrative to give to the patients. They had a chance to live longer.” (Nakkazi, 6/10)
Why Suicide Rates Among Millennials Are Rising
Throughout the summer of 2012, Tylor Morgan would call his sister Lacey at night and beg her to come over and sit with him. It wasn’t obvious why Tylor felt so depressed. Growing up in Pocatello, Idaho, Lacey and Tylor had a fairly happy childhood. Tylor was shy, with lily-white hair and blue eyes. He retreated to the background while their charismatic older brother, Mark, drew the limelight. Their parents had divorced and remarried, but the siblings stayed close. Recitals were attended and mountains explored. Tylor was “pretty much a normal kid,” Lacey, who is now 26, told me. (Khazan, 6/11)
The New York Times:
Can A Vaccine For Covid-19 Be Developed In Record Time?
In the history of medicine, rarely has a vaccine been developed in less than five years. Among the fastest to be developed was the current mumps vaccine, which was isolated from the throat washings of a child named Jeryl Lynn in 1963. Over the next months, the virus was systematically “weakened” in the lab by her father, a biomedical scientist named Maurice Hilleman. Such a weakened or attenuated virus stimulates an immune response but does not cause the disease; the immune response protects against future infections with the actual virus. Human trials were carried out over the next two years, and the vaccine was licensed by Merck in December 1967. (6/8)