News Briefs: April 4, 2015

The Torch’s news briefs are both a compilation of important and relevant current events in the domestic and global health sphere, as well as a list of must-read think pieces and articles that pertain to a domestic and global health discipline.

HIV Outbreak in rural Indiana

Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) has declared a public health emergency in Scott County, Indiana due a surge of new HIV infections over the past few months. Scott County usually sees five new cases each year, but has reported at least 79 since December. Most cases have stemmed from intravenous use of the prescription painkiller Opana and increased transmission of HIV through contaminated needles. Some believe the closures of Planned Parenthood clinics in the county has contributed to the outbreak, limiting resources for people who otherwise don’t have transportation to drive to other clinics miles away. Gov. Mike Pence has issued a temporary needle-exchange program to slow down the spread of the virus.

Arizona Signs Law to Inform Patients that Abortion Pill is Reversible

Senate Bill 1318 was signed into law by Governor Doug Ducey (R) on March 31, 2015, becoming the first of its kind to state that drug-induced medical abortions, or “the abortion pill” can actually be reversible. Medical abortions are a two step process, requiring patients to first take mifepristone, then two days later to take the drug misoprostol. The law is based on experimental data that if the first step is taken alongside the hormone progesterone, the procedure can be stopped in case women change their mind within that two-day period. Opponents of the bill argue that this procedure is still experimental, as the doctor behind this operation, Dr. George Delgado has had only a 60% success rate: of the 270 women he had given progesterone injections, 87 babies had been born and 75 women were still pregnant.

Link Between Enterovirus 68 and Paralysis Investigated

A study in The Lancet journal studies the potential link between Enterovirus 68, a strain of a respiratory virus and acute flaccid myelitis, known to cause “polio-like paralysis”. According to the New York Times, 115 children in 34 states have evolved with such paralysis in an arm or leg since August. The Lancet concludes that their study’s findings increase the association between the Enterovirus strain and acute flaccid myelitis.


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