Ebola and the Construction of Fear
by Karen Sternheimer (Everyday Sociology)
"Sociologist Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear: Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things, explains how misguided panics are not just benign opportunities to prevent something horrible, but can divert attention and public funds away from more likely threats. He notes:
Panic-driven public spending generates over the long term a pathology akin to one found in drug addicts. The money and attention we fritter away on our compulsions, the less we have available for our real needs, which consequently grow larger (p. xvii).
Whether it's the constant fretting over Miley Cyrus
' influence on school girls or the growing (and troubling) tradition of Purity Balls
, it's clear that society has a fascination with young women's sexuality — especially when it comes to controlling it. But what are we actually teaching today's girls about sex? Fueled by outdated ideals of gender roles and the sense that female sexuality is somehow shameful, there seem to be certain pernicious myths about girls and sex that just won't die. That sex education in America has gaping holes in its curriculum hasn't helped much, either; in a recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report
just 6 out of 10 girls said that their schools' sex ed program included information on how to say no to sex. This lack of personal agency was reflected in a forthcoming study by sociologist Heather Hlavka at Marquette University
as well, which found that many young girls think of sex simply as something that is "done to them." Knowledge is power, and we can promote a healthier relationship with sex by encouraging a more open dialogue, teaching girls to feel comfortable with their sexuality and, most importantly, emphasizing that their bodies are theirs and theirs alone.
But first, we're going to need to stop perpetuating the following 17 myths about female sexuality. [more inside]
Self-harm now takes more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. Why are we killing ourselves, and how can we stop it?
Over the last five decades, millions of lives have been remade for the better. Yet within this brighter tomorrow, we suffer unprecedented despair. In a time defined by ever more social progress and astounding innovations, we have never been more burdened by sadness or more consumed by self-harm. And this may be only the beginning. If Joiner and others are right—and a landmark collection of studies suggests they are—we’ve reached the end of one order of human history and are at the beginning of a new order entirely, one beset by a whole lot of self-inflicted bloodshed, and a whole lot more to come.
Since mid-2011, a substantial rise in pertussis [Whooping Cough] cases has been reported in the state of Washington. In response to this increase, the Washington State Secretary of Health declared a pertussis epidemic on April 3, 2012. By June 16, the reported number of cases in Washington in 2012 had reached 2,520 (37.5 cases per 100,000 residents), a 1,300% increase compared with the same period in 2011 and the highest number of cases reported in any year since 1942 [Make sure you don't miss Figure 1]. Commentators are already drawing corellations
with the fact that Washington State leads the nation in vaccine non-compliance
, Washington State's recent cutbacks in public health funding
, and increases in the number of uninsured (PDF)
. [more inside]
“[...] it took more than a dozen calls to work out the details of her zombie contagion. “After about the 17th time,” says McGuire, “I called and said, ‘If I did this, this, this, this, this, this and this, could I raise the dead?’ And got, ‘Don’t … don’t do that.’ And at that point, I knew I had a viable virus
Since 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
has based its estimates of how many children in the United States have autism on surveillance reports from its Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network
. Every two years, researchers count how many 8-year-olds have an autism spectrum disorder in about a dozen communities across the nation. According to a new report released by the CDC yesterday
, (pdf), the latest data estimate that 1 in 88 American children has some form of autism spectrum disorder. (1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls.) That's a 78% increase compared to a decade ago
. The report, which analyzed data from 2008, indicates a 23 percent rise in diagnoses of ASDs over a two-year period
. (Last link has autoplaying video)
Confessions of a Binge Drinker :
"If, as the CDC suggests in a new report, binge drinking leads to violence, spread of sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, and risky behavior, then why am I doing just fine?" [more inside]
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Matters Blog issues advice on Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse
. Preppers, unite! (Single-link zombie preparedness awareness campaign. That is all.)
Health ministers from the World Health Organization's (WHO's) 193 member states will meet this week to debate
when to destroy the two last known remaining stocks of the virus that causes smallpox. [more inside]
According to new data released by the CDC yesterday,
more Americans are surviving cancer
thanks to advances in increased early detection and treatment
. CDC analysis shows an unprecedented 20% increase in survival rates between 2001 and 2007, which is nearly a quadruple increase since 1971
. [more inside]
Mumps has stricken New York
, in the U.S.'s largest outbreak of the disease since 2006
. [more inside]
"The average video gamer is not the stereotypical adolescent locked to a computer screen 24/7."*
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory University and Andrews University
: "A new study [PDF]
says the average age of video-game players in the United States is 35 [PDF]
, and oh, by the way: They're overweight and tend to be depressed." [more inside]
Julie Louise Gerberding, M.D., M.P.H.,
first female director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is resigning her post
effective January 20th. While subject to criticism for her management
of the agency and failure to mollify
the autism community over issues of vaccine safety
, she was a straight (if silenced)
shooter on global warming and her efforts to restructure the CDC
as a prevention-oriented agency are to be commended.
Google Flu Trends
brings us epidemiology through search analytics. The prevalence of certain search terms seems to be a good predictor of CDC flu reports a couple of weeks later
. The New York Times has a story
on this project.
SWF application showing the time of day expressed in actual time, the number of species passed into extinction, barrels of oil produced, the temperature of the earth, prison population, world population, and deaths by various causes. Because, y'know, you weren't depressed enough already. Site also offers a number of free games, calculators and applications
for your own site.
An Atlanta man caused the U.S. government to issue its first quarantine order since 1963
this weekend, knowingly exposing
as many as 107 passengers
on two transatlantic flights to a rare, "extensively drug-resistant" form of tuberculosis
. "It's regretful that we weren't able to stop that
," the CDC's Dr. Martin Cetron said of how the man fled when U.S. health officials tracked him down in Rome and told him not to get on an airplane.
Ever wanted a page about rabies just for you?
Well now you have it!
The CDC has released guidelines
for improving the "preconception health" of all women of childbearing age whether they plan to have children or not. From the the WaPo article: "among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control."
So ladies, don't even think of touching the litter box
. You know, just in case.
Dengue in Texas.
If it ain't the flu, it's the haemorrhagic fever. Disease info from WHO
For the first time since the 1980s, the CDC estimates that there are more than 1 million people living with HIV in the United States.
[MSNBC link, but the article is actually good.] This is good news and bad, it means more people are living with the disease with the help of Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART)
, of which there are just over 20 drugs in 4 different classes. The CDC has recently launched a new prevention initiative
targeted at people with the disease, rather than at convincing HIV- people to avoid contracting it. Central to the new effort are increased HIV surveillance methods, which basically boil down to increased testing (in the case of pregnant mothers, testing they would have to opt out of) and reporting of HIV positive testees. This despite the fact that there is plenty of evidence that HIV discrimination is alive
The other discouraging news is that despite the success of HAART for controlling HIV, the adverse effects are significant, including much higher rates of heart attack and cardiac disease
, increased incidence of diabetes and insulin resistance
and very noticeable changes to how people look, lactic acidosis
, as well as the more standard (and less toxic) problems of nausea and diarrhea. Up to 50% of people on HAART will experience these problems.
Disease Trading Cards
! Here's set two
! There's diseases for everyone at the CDC 'kids' page!
[warning; squeam factor, PDF]
Caveat: Several search attempts to verify it's not got the Double Post Syndrome. Does not include bubble gum.
The CDC recently issued new HIV prevention guidelines
that would mandate all organizations that get any federal funding to submit all surveys, curricula, web materials, posters, ads, brochures, etc. to new community-based Policy Review Panels. Politically appointed censors rather than health officials will now decide what's acceptable in terms of HIV prevention and education. Materials must promote abstinence and include a message about the ineffectiveness of condom use in preventing the spread of HIV and STDs. There is a period of public comment on the new regulations until August 16. - more inside -
Bad news for American
abstinence supporters... A survey commissioned by the CDC (I'm surprised the admin didn't bury this one) shows that "The Virginity Pledge" has an 88 percent failure rate. On average, pledgers do delay sex longer and have 'less' partners, and have 'statistically-insignificent' lower STD rate. Choose among Reuters story, New York Times story
, Miami Herald
, AP via MSNBC
(can't find it at FoxNews or the New York Post yet). Let the spin begin: sex education advocates say: "See?"
, radio talk show host cries BS
Half of young Americans to get STDs
- so say several collected studies by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and others. Can the Bush administration's plan to double abstinence-only spending
solve this problem? Or can the argument be made that keeping condoms out of the classrooms causes more STDs than prevents?
Fat Lazy Unsafe Smokers=FLUS
CDC Official says obesity is closing in on tobacco as leading cause of death in U.S.
"We just recalculated the actual causes of death in the U.S. and we did see that obesity moved up very close to tobacco, and is almost the number one health threat," Julie Gerberding said.
Her work in an emergency unit revealed many tobacco-related cases along with some involving failure to wear seat belts and helmets. There were no cases linked to bioterrorism.
Hmmm, you mean I should just keep brushing my teeth, eat right, exercise, buckle up, etc. How boring.
CDC posts medical alert for atypical pneumonia.
There is travel alert for those traveling from Asian countries around and in China. It seems that this type of pnenumonia has been found in North America. Symptoms include fever and hard-of-breathing. More articles about the disease here.
US Government Support for the Fight Against HIV/AIDS
is an overview from the State Department of funding and programs directed towards international AIDS prevention and treatment. World AIDS Day was proclaimed
by the President. The special CDC site
focuses on the stigma and discrimination of AIDS that creates impediments to fighting the disease. The National Institutes of Health launch AIDSInfo
on December 2, combining prior resources
. USAID notes its own programs and accomplishments
. The US Surgeon General notes the impact on persons of color
. Housing and Urban Development
looks at housing opportunities. And the Department of Veterans Affairs
provides more AIDS care than any other single agency. The NIH Drug Abuse office
has its own information site, including notes on the perhaps ineptly, perhaps tellingly PSA spot series titled "Jack and Jill"
The Politics of Flu Vaccination.
When the next deadly Flu pandemic sweeps the world, will you be able to get a vaccination? Are you an infant, elderly, or a nuclear power plant worker? Due to economics,
the yearly flu vaccinations are unreliable.
The Real Biothreat
Currently the United States is experiencing shortages of eight of the eleven vaccines required by law for children. In response, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have revised their immunization schedule from "optimal" to "some protection," which means that, depending on the vaccine, kids may get the first shot and not the boosters that solidify immunity, or they may not get the first shot at all until several months past the recommended age...
Condoms don't really work?
According to this study conducted by a panel of 10, 000 physicians, while condoms are 85 percent effective in helping prevent the spread of HIV, they offer less protection against sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and genital herpes.
The worst part? They claim the CDC has known this for years.
Well, that's it.
We're done for. Ebola hits North America...maybe.
"A mysterious epidemic, hitherto unknown, which had struck terror into all hearts by the rapidity of its spread, the ravages it made, and the apparent helplessness of the physicians to cure it." — on syphillis, in the 16th centruy.
Highlights from the CBC's 1996 Ideas shows on AIDS in historical perspective, available in real audio for downloading or streaming. I remember stopping the car and listening to the whole thing four years ago: "The programs underline how a whole series of biological, psychological and social factors shape the public's perception of disease, and society's response to it. The strengths and limits of past approaches to detecting sexually transmitted diseases are explored, in order to shed light on approaches that could be used to control AIDS today."
Four out of 10 people mistakenly believe
it is possible to get HIV by sharing a drinking glass or being coughed or sneezed on by an infected person. The survey, released Thursday, was conducted by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "It's scary that so many people are still so ignorant of what
causes HIV-AIDS," said Marty Algaze, a spokesman for
the Gay Men's Health Crisis. "Almost 20 years into this
epidemic, it's disturbing that people think you could still
get it from casual contact."