Category Archives: Infectious diseases

Pandemic, closed clinics drove rise in drug overdoses and STDs, data show

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Photo: G Witteveen via Flickr

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on July 16 published data showing drug overdose deaths soared 30 percent in 2020. Public health experts say infectious diseases connected to illicit drug use, such as HIV, hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases and endocarditis, likely rose as well.

The increase is considered linked to pandemic-related shutdowns of health care facilities that provide testing for infectious diseases and treatment for substance use disorder last year. Physicians also say they are observing a spike in substance misuse and an increase in new cases of HIV and other infections connected to drug use. Continue reading

Science writer follows the trail of tick bites and a meat allergy

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Photo: Jakub Steiner</a> via Flickr

Photo: Jakub Steiner via Flickr

A feature story exploring how some ticks can cause people to develop an allergy to meat was one of the winners of AHCJ’s 2020 Awards for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. Its author, freelance journalist Bianca Nogrady, looked closely at this allergy — called Alpha-gal syndrome — which is on the rise in multiple countries, though the number of people who have developed it is unknown.

Nogrady spoke with AHCJ about the story and her advice to journalists covering this subject. Continue reading

Covering HIV angles and updated HIV and AIDS resources tip sheet

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

National HIV Testing Day, June 27Most of our attention over the past year has been on the COVID-19 pandemic, but AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) remain global threats.

June marks the 40th anniversary of the first cases of what would later be known as AIDS being reported by the CDC. Since then, 32 million people have died around the world.

Public health leaders have made a lot of progress in slowing the spread of HIV, but there are still thousands of Americans infected with the virus annually. Many of them aren’t aware they’re infected. The CDC reported that in 2019, there were 34,800 newly diagnosed HIV infections, down from 37,800 in 2015. About 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. Continue reading

Science journalist Siri Carpenter says ‘follow the money’ to combat misinformation

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Siri Carpenter

Siri Carpenter

Among the biggest challenges for health and science writers over the past year is how best to respond to misinformation.

Siri Carpenter, co-founder of The Open Notebook, a science journalism non-profit, suggests focusing on the business side of misinformation and who’s profiting by pedaling false narratives to the public.

“I think it’s … important to recognize that we’re up against moneyed interests that are extremely invested in that this [false] information,” Carpenter said in a ‘How I Did It.’ “Misinformation isn’t out there by accident. It wasn’t just accidentally created, and then other people stumbled onto it.” Continue reading

Tips on picking good photos for vaccine stories

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

MTA worker getting vaccinated

Photo: NY State MTA via Flickr

Those who have known me long enough have, at some point or another, heard one of my diatribes about poorly chosen vaccine photos in the media. These photos often feature screaming babies, wincing mothers, giant needles (usually medically inaccurate) and similarly negative images that can undermine public health. While it’s not a journalist’s job to promote public health per se, we certainly need to avoid undermining it. Continue reading