Category Archives: Infectious diseases

Caution and ideas for covering HIV/AIDS in 2019

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

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

Tick season increasingly begins sooner with climate change

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

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.

Image by Penn State via Flickr

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

Covering climate change and public health from the local level

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

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.

Photo: Luca Castellazzi via Flickr

One angle journalists can take to tackle huge issue like climate change and public health is to take a focused look at how life might be changing for low-income people in a specific city.

This is what NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro did earlier this spring in her report on how climate change is affecting residents’ health in Miami. Continue reading

Health journalism student explores challenge of gathering data, predicting outbreaks

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

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.

Photo: Kat Masback via Flickr

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

Health Journalism 2019 sets attendance record

Cynthia Craft

About Cynthia Craft

Cynthia Craft (@cynthiahcraft) is the director of engagement for AHCJ, joining the organization after an extensive career in daily journalism, including a decade on the health care beat. Craft most recently worked as a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee, having also worked for the Los Angeles Times, Dallas Times Herald and the California Journal.

Drawn by an influential lineup of speakers and panels – plus an intriguing offering of field trips – more than 800 conference-goers helped make AHCJ’s Health Journalism 2019 in Baltimore a record-setter in attendance.

In AHCJ’s 20 years of annual conferences, the increase in attendance has mirrored the public’s level of interest in health news and need for clear, accurate health care reporting. Today, health-care pocketbook issues, partisan politics and worrisome matters such as the re-emergence of measles and stubborn drug dependence epidemics are seen as topics likely to be front and center in upcoming elections.

From May 2 to May 5, health journalists attended more than 60 panels, including a carefully curated lineup guiding independent journalists toward success and informative sessions on how to cover aspects of the scientific revolution of genetics.

Continue reading 

Investigations put focus on infection control in dental offices

Mary Otto

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: John Ong via Flickr

Two high-profile safety breaches have highlighted the importance of close adherence to infection control protocols in dental clinics and offices.

In both recent cases, patients have been advised to undergo testing for HIV and hepatitis B and C due to possible exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

In Seattle and nearby Vashon Island, news broke in early April that nearly 1,300 students face infection risks because equipment used in school clinics was improperly sterilized. Ten school-based dental clinics operated by Neighborcare, a local health center have been impacted by the safety breach. Continue reading