Health Hub

Obama Makes Buzzfeed Video of Things Everyone (Including the President) Does in Private: WATCH


President Obama will do anything to get you to go to, including wacky Buzzfeed videos of all the things he does behind when folks aren't looking that make him just like you.


Continue reading "Obama Makes Buzzfeed Video of Things Everyone (Including the President) Does in Private: WATCH" »

NJ Judge's Opinion Could Set Legal Precedent Against Gay 'Conversion Therapy' - READ

Screenshot 2015-02-12 09.59.55

Superior Court Judge Peter Bariso has handed down a decision regarding a New Jersey-based organization’s characterization of homosexuality as an ailment in its marketing for conversion therapy treatments. On its website Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) describes itself as a non-profit organization that “works with those struggling with unwanted same-sex sexual attractions (SSA).”

Chaim Levin and Benjamin Unger, two of the plaintiffs named in the consumer fraud lawsuit filed against JONAH, recounts an experience that’s better described as humiliating sexual abuse. During sessions with Alan Downing, a JONAH counselor, Levin was made to list negative things about himself while removing his all of his clothing, and then instructed to touch himself. The process, Downing explained while observing (and also naked), was designed to cure Levin of his homosexuality. Other treatments included beating an effigy of one’s mother while screaming and spending more time in the gym with other men.

Though the very concept of reparative therapy is as backwards as it is dangerous, Judge Bariso’s ruling specifically took to task JONAH’s business practices, calling the organization out for violating New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act. The organization provided data meant to persuade potential clients that its reparative treatments were effective, something that multiple clinics do despite the many instances where “cured” gays admit to they haven’t changed. That data, Bariso reasoned, was tantamount to misrepresentation and fraud.

“For the first time, a court has ruled that it is fraudulent as a matter of law for conversion therapists to tell clients that they have a mental disorder that can be cured.” said David Dinielli, deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “This is the principal lie the conversion therapy industry uses throughout the country to peddle its quackery to vulnerable clients. Gay people don’t need to be cured, and we are thrilled that the court has recognized this.”

Going forward in an upcoming trail this summer, JONAH will find itself in a difficult legal position given Bariso’s decisions up to this point. As Mark Joseph Stern explains in Slate, the SPLC has done an effective job of cutting off the bulk of JONAH’s arguments at the knees.

Key to the organization’s defense is the central idea that homosexuality is a disorder, an idea that would have allowed them to call a number of expert witnesses on the matter to the stand to defend them. In New Jersey, however, expert witnesses testimony is only permitted regarding “techniques” that are generally recognized as sound by professionals in any given field. The American Medical Association and a number of other medical bodies have thoroughly rejected the legitimacy of conversion therapy. In Bario’s opinion on the case, he agreed.

“The theory that homosexuality is a disorder is not novel but—like the notion that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it—instead is outdated and refuted.

The significance and cleverness of this case cannot be overstated. If Levin and his three co-plaintiffs are successful in their fight against JONAH specifically on the basis of consumer fraud, the decision could set a precedent for conversion therapy clinics across the country.

Read Judge Peter Bariso’s full opinion on the case against JONAH’s reparative therapy treatments AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "NJ Judge's Opinion Could Set Legal Precedent Against Gay 'Conversion Therapy' - READ" »

Testosterone Prescriptions On The Rise As Clinics Market 'T' As Youth Supplements

440px-Depo-testosterone_200_mg_ml_cropA growing number of “age management” clinics across the country are beginning to seriously market testosterone therapy treatments as a means of combatting the natural side effects of growing older. More often than naught, we associate the transformative aspects of supplemental testosterone injections with transmen in the process of transitioning. But as Dr. Paul Campion explains in a lengthy profile in Fusion, the community of proponents for testosterone as a rejuvenating agent is growing larger.

“Testosterone is ridiculously powerful,” Campion says. “I can tell you from experience, the feeling of well-being, of focus, and of masculine energy are massively increased. It’s like you’re back to being 35.” Campion goes on:

"The emerging popularity of testosterone has opened up whole new business models for entrepreneurial doctors. Chains of shops that provide the hormone have exploded all over the United States, especially across the South. How many millions more men might be willing to try testosterone if it was easy to acquire, and a clinic happened to implant itself in an adjacent office building or a local strip mall, next to an abandoned video store and the Starbucks?"

Between 2001 and 2011 the number of men over the age of 40 taking testosterone supplements increased by nearly threefold. Today nearly four percent of men over the age of 60 report using products like AndroGel, a popular testosterone product. While lower testosterone levels are a recognized health risk for many, the recent spike in use and purchase of “t-products” is thought to be directly connected to increased marketing efforts billing the drugs as fountains of youth.

According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, one in four men are prescribed testosterone supplements without having consulted their physicians about whether or not the drugs are safe for them. As Fusion points out however, the market seems willing to pay the financial price and take the physical risks associated with a testosterone-fueled shot at a second adolescence.

“[I]n the coming years, the battles over T’s use are going to be repeated for future drugs that give people—anyone with money, at least—the power to transform the body beyond its innate abilities and configurations.”

Read the full piece here.

Experimental Smartphone Peripheral Could Be The Future of HIV Screening

Screenshot 2015-02-10 14.01.29

A $34 smart phone dongle being developed by Columbia University could become the future of rapid HIV screening in clinics and the privacy of peoples’ homes. The proposed smartphone peripheral would operate similar to the way that most blood glucose testers currently function. Unlike most blood testers the testing dongle wouldn’t need its own power source, but would instead draw energy from a smartphone, tablet, or PC via a headphone jack. With a single drop of blood the device, detailed in Science Translational Medicine, would be able to effectively screen for HIV and two different types of syphilis antibodies.

The dongle is currently being tested in small trials in certain parts of Rwanda, and its early results have been promising, though flawed. Of the 96 patients participating in the technology’s limited trials, a number have been falsely identified as testing positive for antibodies that they didn’t have. Still though, further refinement and widespread deployment of future versions of the dongle could change the way that people participate in maintaining the public’s health.

Check out video of the dongle prototype AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Experimental Smartphone Peripheral Could Be The Future of HIV Screening" »

Black HIV-Related Deaths Remain High As Overall Death Rates Drop

Screenshot 2015-02-06 14.00.08

Death rates for those living with HIV have dropped across the board according to a new report from the the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately black people are still bearing the brunt of the disease with significantly higher death rates as compared to their white and Hispanic counterparts.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found that between 2008 and 2012 black HIV infection rates dropped by 28 percent, but nearly 50% of the people who died of HIV-related complications in 2012 were black. The report does not spin off specific causes of death, but rather takes a look at HIV-positive individuals dealing with a wide range of physical ailments such a compromised immune systems and drug use.

"Efforts are needed to increase entry into and retention care of black persons living with diagnosed HIV," the report reads. "Focusing prevention and care efforts on minority populations with a disproportionate HIV burden could lead to further reduction, if not elimination, of health disparities."

Chris Christie Clarifies Position on Measles Vaccination After Saying Parents Should Have a 'Choice' in the Matter

Chris Christie has issued a quick clarification on his position on measles vaccinations after made headlines this morning for saying parents "need to have some measure of choice" about vaccinating their kids against the virus.

The New York Times reports

ChristieMr. Christie, when asked about the connection between the new measles cases and parents who object to the long-recommended vaccine against it, said that he and his wife had vaccinated their four children. He called that “the best expression I can give you of my opinion.”

But he added: “It’s more important what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official. I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well. So that’s the balance that the government has to decide.”

Mr. Christie said that “not every vaccine is created equal, and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others.”

NPR reports that there have been over 80 cases of measles this year - already more than the U.S. typically sees all year. Health experts say the current outbreak can be traced to people who haven't been properly vaccinated. 

Here's Christie's clarification on the matter:


Towleroad - Blogged