Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.
In April 1984, then-U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret Heckler announced the National Cancer Institute had discovered the virus that caused acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), and scientists hoped to soon have a cure.
Since the epidemic began, around 35 million people have died around the world from AIDS-related illnesses, and there is still no widely available cure. There have, however, been huge advances in treatment, with new drugs to prevent the disease and drugs that enable those diagnosed with the virus -human immunodeficiency virus or HIV – that causes AIDS, to live into their 70s. Continue reading →
Ticks are emerging earlier from winter hibernation and remaining active for more weeks of the year as the climate is warming, according to public health experts. The result is that Americans’ risk of infection from pathogens carried by the outdoor pests is increasing.
“There are more tick-borne disease [cases] every year,” John Aucott, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center, told WebMD. Continue reading →
Predicting whether a pathogen will have an impact on a few people or an entire population would be a huge achievement in global health security. Public health leaders would be able to determine the most effective response, whether it is expending resources on vaccination, or quarantining people in their homes, or just letting a disease run its course if it isn’t life threatening.
Researchers have turned to information technology to develop mathematical models that may predict the next infectious disease outbreak, but the models so far rely on data from past events to predict the future. Continue reading →
Researchers are looking to old drugs, plants and viruses in a race to find new ways to kill disease-causing microbes before they become resistant to all existing pharmaceuticals, but their work will flounder if the federal government can’t figure out how to incentive companies to turn their work into commercially viable drugs. Continue reading →
Since antibiotics were widely introduced in the mid 1940’s, scientists warned of microbes’ innate ability to evolve and develop resistance. People were cautioned to be judicious with antimicrobials, because overuse could breed “superbugs,” germs resistant to most or all antibiotics.
Indeed, microbes have developed resistance to virtually every new class of antibiotics introduced. Up until the 1980s, however, most pharmaceutical companies kept developing new antibiotics. When a drug developed resistance, there was a new one in the development pipeline that could take its place. Continue reading →