KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Longer Looks: HIV Epidemic In The Deep South; Planning For Alzheimer’s

Every week KHN reporter Marissa Evans finds interesting reads from around the Web. 

The New Yorker: H.I.V.'s Grip On The American South
One of the strangest things about the H.I.V. epidemic in the Deep South—from Louisiana to Alabama to Mississippi—is how easily most Americans have elided it, choosing instead to imagine that the disease is now an out-there, elsewhere epidemic. It's a plague from some anterior time, some exterior continent .... Only recently, in the face of unrelenting statistics about the convergence of H.I.V./AIDS rates in the Deep South with almost every other relevant public-health risk—from obesity to heart disease and diabetes—have many of the mega-funders taken a different tack. They are learning that the people doing the grunt work of prevention, education, and treatment often do so in an environment of fierce hardships, the most obvious of which is a lack of funding (Sarah Stillman, 4/10). 

?Health Affairs: It's Always Too Soon Until It's Too Late: Advanced Care Planning With Alzheimer's
My sister, who had gotten 700s and 800s on her SATs and graduated from Radcliffe magna cum laude, would sit in a room, subtracting by seven, judging spatial relations, and repeating dates. The slow decline on those tests didn't begin to show the behavior we saw in real life. They didn't mark the deteriorating house, the bills unpaid, and the struggle to find her way to my home. Nevertheless, she would say pridefully, defensively that there was nothing to worry about. ... On this day, though, a new doctor finally used the "A" word. ... When I got home, I told my husband that finally Jane had been told and finally she’d understand. Surely we could talk about it. Surely we could make some plans for her care. But of course the next day, she didn't remember (Ellen Goodman, 4/10).

The New Republic: Today's Obamacare Conspiracy Theory And Why You Should Be Skeptical 
Figuring out whether Obamacare is reducing the number of people without health insurance is obviously a very important question. And the preliminary data—from independent organizations like Gallup and the Rand Corporation—isn't precise. Those surveys show that more people have insurance because of the law, but they don't reliably say how many or what kind of insurance people have. That requires more comprehensive, more thorough surveys—the kind that the federal government has traditionally provided (Jonathan Cohn, 4/15). 

Matter: The Silencing Of The Deaf
Parenting is full of big decisions. But in the first year or so of Ellie's life, when other parents are focused on helping their kids to walk and talk, Christine and Derek had to think about an issue that many parents never even contemplate: They had to decide which culture their daughter should be a part of. Ellie could join their world, the hearing world, if she received cochlear implants. Yet implants don't work perfectly. ... What's more, implants might cut Ellie off from a community that, some would argue, is her birthright: the Deaf world, where lack of hearing is an identity to be celebrated, not a disability to be cured (Sujata Gupta, 4/10).

Slate/Bulletin of The Atomic Sciences: A Brief, Terrifying History Of Viruses Escaping From Labs
The public health danger posed by potentially pandemic-causing viruses escaping from laboratories has become the subject of considerable discussion, spurred by "gain of function" experiments. The ostensible goal of these experiments—in which researchers manipulate already-dangerous pathogens to create or increase communicability among humans—is to develop tools to monitor the natural emergence of pandemic strains. Opponents, however, warn in a variety of recent research papers that the risk of laboratory escape of these high-consequence pathogens far outweighs any potential advance (Martin Furmanski, 4/11).

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