Health

Health
3:51 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Austin HIV Planning Council Looking for Volunteers

A recruitment fair of HIV Planning Council members is tonight at City Hall.
flickr.com/andymccarthyuk

The Austin Area Comprehensive HIV Planning Council is looking for volunteers.

Federal legislation for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program requires “that we have a board with committee members that reflect the make up of the community,” says the council’s John Waller. Recruiting new members is a normal part of the council’s charge, but Waller says with a new chair and other members recently having completed their terms, the council is looking for new members.

The council needs different types of volunteers: HIV positive Austin residents that use programs funded by Ryan White grants; local social and medical service providers; and community leaders.

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Health
1:00 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Buzz Off: Bedbugs Unfazed by Ultrasonic Devices

Bedbugs are becoming a common nuisance in many places. But cheap ultrasonic devices advertised as bedbug repellents don't work, scientists say.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 7:04 am

With bedbugs bunking just about everywhere these days, people battling the bloodsucking insects may be tempted to try their hand at driving them away.

But ultrasonic bug zappers, which retail for less than $25, aren't the solution, say entomologists who tested some of the devices.

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Women's Health
12:01 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Lawmakers Could Restore Family Planning Funds

Microgestin birth control from Planned Parenthood.
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

When state lawmakers passed a two-year budget in 2011 that moved $73 million from family planning services to other programs, the goal was largely political: halt the flow of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics.

Now they are facing the policy implications — and, in some cases, reconsidering.

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Women's Health
9:55 am
Fri December 7, 2012

'Morning After' Pill Advocates Want Age Rules Revisited

Currently, you need a doctor's prescription to obtain emergency contraception, such as Plan B, if you are younger than 17.
AP

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 8:20 am

Friday marks a not-so-happy anniversary for some of President Obama's biggest supporters: It's exactly one year since Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius decided not to lift the age restrictions on availability of the so-called morning-after pill, Plan B.

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Pakistan
4:49 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

A Polio Outbreak In Pakistan Reveals Gaps In Vaccination

A child is inoculated with the polio vaccine at a traffic checkpoint just outside Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Roadside vaccinations help health workers reach children in mobile populations.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 8:55 am

Pakistan has made a lot of progress this year in wiping out polio. There are signs that one type of poliovirus is gone and transmission of other strains seems to be slowing.

But a recent outbreak of polio there has health officials concerned about the overall effectiveness of the effort to eliminate polio in that country.

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Health
4:25 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Computerized Health Records Breeding Some Digital Discontent

Electronic medical records can have drawbacks, too.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:50 pm

Two years and $8.4 billion into the government's effort to get doctors to take their practices digital, some unintended consequences are starting to emerge.

One is a lot of unhappy doctors. In a big survey by Medscape, an online site for doctors, 38 percent of the doctors polled said they were unhappy with their electronic medical records system.

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Health
8:16 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Texas Cancer Research Agency Gave Out $11M Without Review

A new controversy faces CPRIT.
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The state’s cancer research agency has revealed it handed out an $11 million grant without reviewing the proposal.

It’s the latest challenge facing the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT.

The grant was awarded to Peloton Therapeutics in June 2010, making it one of CPRIT's first grants.

The cancer research institute says the oversight was discovered during an internal review.

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Health
8:49 am
Thu November 22, 2012

Texas Researchers Developing New HIV Vaccine

A single-dose vaccine against HIV is being patented by a Texas group.
Amanda Mills, Centers for Disease Control

The San Antonio-based Texas Biomedical Research Institute has applied for a patent for a new genetically engineered HIV vaccine. This new vaccine would provide lifelong protection from the disease with a single dose.

The vaccine is designed to target the cells that line the body’s surface structures. which are the point of entry into the body in approximately 90 percent of HIV cases. Once HIV enters the body through these cells, it quickly spreads to the lymph nodes and other organs, where it replicates throughout the body. The new vaccine would stimulate the body’s outer layers and cells to generate cells that produce antibodies to HIV. 

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Health
8:59 am
Wed November 21, 2012

Pflugerville Lifts Boil Water Notice (Update)

Some Pflugerville residents should boil tap water or drink bottled until further notice.
flickr.com/ag2r

Update: The City of Pflugerville says “The boil water notice is now lifted. Chlorine levels are now at required levels and water is safe to drink.” You can read more here.

Original post (Nov. 20, 7:02 a.m.): The City of Pflugerville is telling people in several subdivisions to boil their water until further notice. The city says a routine check of  the water revealed the chlorine level is too low.

People who live in Pflugerville Heights, Spring Trails, Springbrook and Enclave should boil tap water for at least two minutes before drinking, cooking and making ice.

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Health
3:19 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Holiday Shoppers, Read This Report on Dangerous Toys

Joy Diaz, KUT News

The holiday shopping season is here. But a consumer advocacy group wants to make sure you don’t buy toys that could endanger the health of children.

One example is the Fisher‑Price Dora the Explorer Guitar pictured above, according to Ilya Slavinski with the Texas Public Interest Research Group. 

“The National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders recommends that no toy should be above 85 decibels. And this Dora Guitar clocked in at 93 decibels,” Slavinski said. “It’s dangerous and can lead to hearing loss.”

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Health Care
4:31 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Computer Issues May Complicate Launch Of Health Insurance Exchanges

Problems with a computer system could delay work on health insurance exchanges.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 2:34 pm

Online insurance markets set to begin selling health coverage to consumers next October may be hampered by software delays.

State regulators learned late last week that an electronic system most insurers will use to submit their policies for state and federal approvals won't be ready for testing next month, as originally planned. The lag is being blamed on the wait for several regulations from the Obama administration that are needed to update the software.

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Health Care
1:09 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Before Health Exchange Deadline, Perry Reaffirms Stance

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Ahead of a Friday deadline to decide, Gov. Rick Perry's office has reaffirmed that Texas will not implement a major tenet of federal health reform — a state-based online marketplace for consumers to purchase coverage.

That means the federal government will have to roll out a program for Texas instead. Every state must have an exchange by 2014, the year “Obamacare” — which many Republicans had hoped would be repealed if Mitt Romney won the presidency — requires most Americans to carry coverage.

Allison Castle, Perry’s spokeswoman, said Texas won’t design its own exchange because there is “really no such thing as a ‘state exchange.’”

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Health
1:09 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Two More West Nile Deaths in Travis County (Updated)

Mosquito activity may finally be slowing down across Central Texas.
flickr.com/aesum

Update: Nov. 11, 1:09 p.m.:

Dr. Philip Huang is the Medical Director for Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services. He says there are still some people in the county who are very sick from the virus but he’s hopeful the death total won’t continue to rise.

Dr. Huang says it’s not clear if West Nile will be as big of a problem next year.

“This particular season with the warmer winter and then some of the spring rains seemed to be sort of the conditions that really promoted West Nile activity," Huang says. "So we don’t know how things are going to be next year. But I think there’s certainly some concern that there is going to be for the future continued increase in some mosquito activity and things in the Austin-Travis County area.”

Huang says the county has found mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile as recently as late October.

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Women's Health
7:25 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Planned Parenthood to Remain in Women's Health Program

Pete Schaekken, the lawyer representing Planned Parenthood speaks to the press.
Callie Richmond, Texas Tribune

Planned Parenthood will continue participating in the Women’s Health Program — for now. Travis County District Judge Stephen Yelenosky on Thursday approved a temporary injunction to delay the state’s implementation of the “Affiliate Ban Rule,” which would bar the nonprofit from participating in the program, until a full trial can be held in December.

Planned Parenthood is "likely to prevail on their claim that the rule is inconsistent with the instructions of the Texas
Legislature," wrote Yelenosky in a letter authorizing the temporary injunction. 

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Women's Health
12:55 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Planned Parenthood Seeks Temporary Injunction to Stay in Women's Health Program (Update)

Credit flickr.com/dogra, Lizzie Chen for KUT News

Update: Planned Parenthood received a temporary injunction against the state today. You can read more here

Original Post: Planned Parenthood is awaiting a judge’s ruling on their request to extend an injunction against the State of Texas banning its clinics from the Women’s Health Program. The program provides basic screenings and other health services for 130,000 low-income Texas women.

Texas is trying to enforce a law that says state money can’t go to clinics affiliated with abortion clinics. That would exclude Planned Parenthood, which has been the program’s largest provider.

Two weeks ago, Planned Parenthood won a temporary restraining order allowing its clinics to stay in the program. Now, Planned Parenthood is trying to extend the time its clinics can stay in the program.

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Health
12:38 pm
Wed November 7, 2012

With Obama's Victory, Health Law Stays On Track

In June, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was making the case for the repeal of the administration's health law. With his defeat, the law is looking secure.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 11:58 am

After a shaky few years, President Obama's health care legacy looks secure.

His health overhaul law barely made it through Congress and to his desk. Then there were the legal challenges, launched when the ink of his signature was barely dry, that were resolved by a surprising Supreme Court ruling in June.

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Health
4:15 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Does Austin Already Have Enough Doctors?

A new study finds doctors are moving to Austin.
Credit Phalin Ooi, flickr.com/phalinn

While advocates of a proposed medical school in Austin claim that the region faces a looming doctor shortage, a recent study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio seemingly argues otherwise.

The San Antonio study, led by surgeon Ronald M. Stewart, M.D., examined changes in the number of physicians throughout the state of Texas, compared with changes in the general population, in the years after Texas lawmakers limited medical liability claims in 2003.

The study found that the number of physicians practicing in Texas grew by 44 percent since 2003, which is more than double the state's 21 percent overall population growth.

In the Austin-Round Rock region, Stewart's report found that the number of physicians per 100,000 people grew from 178 to 216 from 2002 to 2012.

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Women's Health
10:05 am
Fri November 2, 2012

Where the State Women's Health Program Stands

Women's health providers in Texas have had Nov. 1 marked on their calendars for months. It was supposed to be the day the state-funded Women's Health Program would launch. But it hasn't. And it won't until, according to Texas Health and Human Services Commission officials, the federal government stops funding it or a final court decision is rendered.

families
1:30 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Today, 28 Local Children Were Adopted Into Permanent Homes

Attorney Denise Hyde addresses the judge on behalf of her clients, Alexander Wells and his adoptive mother Kelly Wells.
Nathan Bernier, KUT News

After spending years wading through temporary homes in the foster system – some for most of their lives – 28 children were adopted into permanent homes today during legal proceedings at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center on South Congress Avenue. It is one of dozens of events taking place across the state during National Adoption Month.

One of the adoptees was 18-year-old Alexander Wells, a teenager who had been removed from his biological family twice and had changed foster homes many times, according to a state official. Wells was smiling throughout the adoption proceeding as he sat next to his new mother and answered questions from their family attorney, Denise Hyde.

“Why is it important for Judge Hathaway to legally make you their child?” Hyde asked Wells.

“This is my new forever family,” he responded. “I get to come home for Christmas. I get to come home for all the holidays. It’s a place where I get to have a solid ground to come home to, a solid place. A home that I can call mine now.”

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Health
12:47 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Texas Women's Health Program Won't Launch As Planned

October 31st, 2012: TribLive event with Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Dr. Kyle Janek
Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

The Texas Women’s Health Program that excludes clinics like Planned Parenthood that are affiliated with abortion providers will not launch on Thursday as the state planned.

Despite comments Wednesday morning from Texas Health and Human Services Commission executive director Kyle Janek indicating the program would be ready to start on Nov. 1, an agency spokeswoman confirmed that the state-led program would not begin until ongoing court controversy over the issue is clarified.

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