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More than a health issue: addressing the social determinants of obesity
8 August 2014 | Lareen Newman | Senior Research Fellow, Southgate Institute for Health Society & Equity at Flinders University

Almost two-thirds of Australian adults and one in four children are overweight or obese. Excess weight is responsible for 7,200 deaths each year in Australia, as well one in five heart attacks, half of diabetes, and other problems such as reproductive complications and back pain.

Economically, obesity costs Australia A$38 billion a year, through more than four million days lost from work, over A$1bn in medical costs, as well as the costs of premature death.

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Five myths about HIV in Australia
23 July 2014 | Bridget Haire | Lecturer in ethics, HIV prevention a specialty at UNSW Australia

Australia had a quick and effective response to HIV at the start of the epidemic. Some 30 years later, however, there’s a tendency to underestimate the sheer effort involved in maintaining HIV prevention responses. Misinformation and lazy assumptions about quick fixes can mar sustained and effective HIV prevention.

The nation’s initial response was multifaceted. On the prevention front, safe sex was invented by affected communities, and needle and syringe programs were pioneered by intrepid health workers and their injecting drug user clients. Screening of donor blood began as soon as the HIV antibody test was available.

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Stepping up the HIV response in the world’s Indigenous communities
23 July 2014 | James Ward | Associate Professor in Indigenous Health at Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute

Indigenous people are estimated to comprise 4.5% of the total global population. They are often overrepresented in HIV data and recognise themselves as being particularly vulnerable to HIV.

In Canada, for instance, First Peoples make up 4% of the population but account for 23% of HIV diagnoses.

But the bigger problem affecting Indigenous peoples is where data doesn’t exist. Of an estimated 5,000 groups of Indigenous peoples worldwide, accurate HIV data exists for only a handful of distinct groups.

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‘The law can be an awful nuisance in the area of HIV/AIDS’: Michael Kirby
23 July 2014 | Michael Kirby | Visiting Professorial Fellow at UNSW Australia

Watch the Honourable Michael Kirby, visiting professorial fellow at UNSW Australia, talk about how the law impacts HIV below.

Michael Kirby is a former justice of the High Court of Australia, serving from 1996 to 2009 and a former member of the Global Commission on HIV and the law.

He spoke to us at the AIDS2014 Conference in Melbourne about the many ways in which the law affects the spread of HIV by marginalising men who have sex with men, sex workers, injecting drug users, prisoners and refugees. And about how we need to change international intellectual property law if we are to get ahead in public health.

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You are what you eat: how diet affects mental well-being
22 July 2014 | Felice Jacka | Friend of The Conversation | Principal Research Fellow at Deakin University

Over the last half century, the global food industry has profoundly changed the way we eat. While we understand how these dietary changes have impacted physical health, their effect on mental well-being is only now being realised.

Big business has successfully developed and marketed food products that appeal to our evolutionary preferences and have addictive properties.

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Editor attacked US health-care ‘parasites’
July 6, 2014 | Douglas Martin

Arnold Relman | Medical editor
17–6–1923 – 17–6–2014

Dr Arnold S. Relman, the longtime editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, which became a platform for his influential attacks on America’s profit-driven health care system, has died at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on his 91st birthday.

Relman and his wife, Dr Marcia Angell, filled top editorial posts at the journal for almost a quarter-century, becoming “American medicine’s royal couple,” as the physician and journalist Abigail Zuger wrote in The New York Times in 2012.

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Don’t be fooled, supermarkets don’t have your health at heart
7 July 2014 | Adrian Cameron | Senior Research Fellow, WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University | Gary Sacks | Senior Research Fellow, WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University

In their bids for greater market share, Australia’s two largest supermarket chains sometimes portray themselves as healthy places to shop. But Woolworths’ latest “Jamie’s Garden” sticker campaign might be about more than just promoting fruit and vegetables.

What has caused a stir for the company is the fact that it’s charging fruit and vegetable growers 40 cents per crate in advertising fees during the campaign. The assumption seems to be that the company will sell so much extra fruit and veg that it’s only fair for the farmers to contribute too.

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Antibiotic-resistant superbugs now a global epidemic
30 April 2014 by Debora MacKenzie

Bacteria that resist antibiotics are widespread around the planet, concludes the first global review of antibiotic resistance

To make matters worse, the World Health Organization, which produced the report, has revealed that there is no globally standardised way to assess and share information on drug-resistant infections – something the WHO will now make a priority.

“Unless we take significant actions to improve efforts to prevent infections and also change how we produce, prescribe and use antibiotics, the world will lose more and more of these global public health goods and the implications will be devastating,” says Keiji Fukuda, head of health security at the WHO.

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Norman Spack: How I help transgender teens become who they want to be
Published on 16 Apr 2014 | TED Talks

Puberty is an awkward time for just about everybody, but for transgender teens it can be a nightmare, as they grow overnight into bodies they aren’t comfortable with. In a heartfelt talk, endocrinologist Norman Spack tells a personal story of how he became one of the few doctors in the US to treat minors with hormone replacement therapy. By staving off the effects of puberty, Spack gives trans teens the time they need. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.)

View YouTube

Newborn Circumcision Shown to Be a Better Financial Choice in Medical Coverage
By Annie Sneed | January 22, 2014

Physicians have debated for years whether to cut foreskin. It’s unclear whether potential benefits of circumcision—greater prevention of health problems such as urinary tract and HIV infections, STDs and penile cancer—outweigh the risks of surgery. Many parents adhere to national guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which in 1999 deemed circumcisions as medically unnecessary. Florida and 11 other state governments also followed AAP’s stance when they decided to drop the procedure from Medicaid coverage.

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Circumcision Coverage Comes Into Focus

Revised Study on Procedure’s Benefits Spurs Some States to Reconsider Ending Routine Medicaid Funding for Newborns

Saleem Islam, a pediatric surgeon in Gainesville, Fla., was surprised a few years ago when he started receiving a steady stream of referrals for older boys from low-income families to be circumcised.

“When we ask the parents, ‘Why did you not get it done when the child was a baby and when it would have been safer?’ they say, ‘We couldn’t afford it,’ ” Dr. Islam said recently.

Like a dozen other states, Florida ended…

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Circumcision Ethics and Economics
Published on September 25, 2011 by Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D. in Moral Landscapes

Let’s face reality and abandon the harmful practice.  Infant circumcision is an ethical issue that has lifelong effects on the child and societal costs.  NOTE: Primary author is Lillian Dell’Aquila Cannon (see her blog), with assistance from Dan Bollinger

No medical association in the world recommends routine infant circumcision. None.  The American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement on Circumcision says:
“Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.” (AAP 1999)

The British Medical Association says:
“[P]arental preference alone is not sufficient justification for performing a surgical procedure on a child.” (BMA 2006)

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