LGBT Health Concerns

Jul 16, 2013

According to Dr. Ron Stall, director of the Center for LGBT Health Research at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, the dearth of investment in sexual health research, especially for the LGBT community, is something of an American tradition. Primarily due to the hot-button nature of conversations about sexuality and sexual practices, “the US has been slow to invest in sexual health in general.”

This additional roadblock makes the advances that have been made in the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV all the more impressive. According to Stall, thanks to breakthrough drug research, HIV “has now become a chronic manageable disease much like diabetes,” for those who are aware of their illness and have access to drugs.

Starting July 1, 2014, UPMC is stubbing out the cigarettes of its employees, physicians, students and volunteers during their shifts.

UPMC has introduced a policy in which employees are not permitted to smoke at any point during their shift — even during scheduled breaks.

Tim Cline, senior director of clinical training and development, said exposure to tobacco smoke and the residual products of tobacco use is not safe on any level.

In an effort to better understand brain aneurysms, researchers in Pittsburgh will examine aneurysm tissue to try and learn what determines whether an aneurysm ruptures or doesn’t.

Last July, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center opened a $250 million dollar, 156-bed hospital in Monroeville.

A year in, Mark Sevco, UPMC’s East President said they have had “a great first year.”

They are seeing more than a hundred patients a day in the emergency department, operating at 75 percent capacity.

“We were expecting 65 patients a day, and we’re at about 115," Sevco said. "And from a surgical perspective, we’re 50 percent over our budget projections."

About a month after its re-opening, the fountain at Point State Park is being tested by the Allegheny County Department of Health for Legionella.

The move follows a report of one person coming down with Legionnaires' disease after a visit to the fountain. County health officials say it’s unlikely the infection came from the fountain, but they are testing it as a precaution.

According to a Pew report, too many Pennsylvania children are developing cavities and dental-related issues, but this is not mom and dad’s fault.

The Pew Children’s Dental Campaign report assessing states on how well they are providing children access to dental care showed that 10 percent of Pennsylvania’s population is under-served and living in a dental “shortage area.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports about 45 million Americans live in regions that do not have enough dentists to serve the population.

The longest study of the link between obesity among Type 2 diabetes patients and cardiovascular disease recently wrapped up, and it found that among the 5,145 participants, losing weight did not improve their chances of having hospital stays due to things like chest pain and heart attacks. 

However, researchers warn there is much more to the study once you start to dig a little deeper.

Calling it an “overreach” of the state’s power and a “new frontier,” three female members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are blasting recently passed legislation that would prohibit insurance companies from offering policies that cover abortion services in the soon-to-be-launched Pennsylvania health exchange. 

Reps. Erin Molchany (D-Allegheny), Madeline Dean (D-Montgomery) and Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery) said the solution might lie in the next election cycle.

A study out of the University of Pittsburgh has found similar brain abnormalities in concussion and Alzheimer’s disease patients.

Saaed Fakran, an assistant professor of neuroradiology at the University of Pittsburgh and author of the study, said it's too early to make any conclusions based on this research, but he hopes to follow up on it.

The study looked at concussion patients ranging in age from 12 to 28 who have had some sort of trauma, persistent abnormality but have a conventional CT and MRI.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

The last couple years have seen high profile mass shootings and terrorist attacks — Aurora, Newtown, Boston.

Here in Pittsburgh we’ve seen the same. Last year a gunman opened fire at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, killing one person and injuring seven. And in 2009, a man walked into an aerobics class at an L.A. Fitness and started shooting, killing three women and injuring nine.

There are also regular incidents of community and street violence. Last month a gunman injured two women and killed a 15-month-old in the East Hills.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

A few days a week, Joe Finkelpearl goes to the Jewish Community Center and makes phone calls.

He calls a few dozen fellow seniors from an office and chats them up, talking about sports and books, but also ensuring their meals are delivered and their furnaces are working in the winter.

An 81-year-old retired widower, he is a volunteer for Agewell Pittsburgh, a one-stop referral system that provides coordinated access to services for seniors who are living independently.

Bernard Farrell / Flickr

At one time or another you’ll see someone and say, “the face is familiar but I can’t remember the name.” For people with prosopagnosia, known as “face blindness,” the face isn’t familiar. Actor Brad Pitt, in a recent interview with Esquire magazine reported having the condition.  Dr. Marlene Behrmann of Carnegie-Mellon University is one of the leading researchers on this condition

The infected blood suckers are back.

The first two West Nile virus-carrying mosquitos of the season were detected last week in Erie and Adams counties, signaling the start of what could be a long summer.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are advising people to take steps toward mosquito prevention.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

When you walk into the Squirrel Hill Health Center, you hear something you don’t hear very often in Pittsburgh: the sounds of people talking in seemingly every language but English.

The patients at this federally qualified health center, or FQHC, are mostly seniors, immigrants and refugees and speak Spanish, Nepali, Russian, Arabic and a few dozen other languages. It’s a community not easily serviced everywhere. It's also one that's grown to depend on FQHCs.

A researcher at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh is hoping to slow the progression of Type 2 diabetes by treating children before they get sick. The hospital will serve as one of six sites in a study that looks to be more proactive in the treatment of the illness.

“Give them medications to see if we can rest the pancreas and preserve the beta cell function and prevent the progression to full-blown or severe diabetes,” said principal investigator and University of Pittsburgh Pediatric Endocrinologist Silva Arslanian. 

Air quality in Pittsburgh is getting cleaner, but it continues to negatively affect the health and well-being of city residents.

The Breathe Project and Allegheny General Hospital convened a summit Tuesday — World Asthma Day — to examine the overall effects of poor air quality, from increased instances of asthmatic attacks, higher mortality rates and cancer.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

In rural Lawrence County, part way between Slippery Rock and New Castle, there's a repurposed farm building sitting on 42 acres of land.

Eleven people call it home, and on site there are mental health workers, a director and other staff.

There's also close to a dozen dogs and cats.

That's because the facility, known as the Caritas House, is not just an enhanced personal care home for those with serious mental illness. It's also a crisis center for pets.

Got any medications that you don’t need any more or has expired? The Allegheny County Police want to help take them off your hands.

As part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, southwestern Pennsylvania residents can drop off their unused medications at the North Park and South Park County Police stations on Saturday.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

When the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is published next month, there will be several changes to psychiatric diagnoses.

Many of these changes are controversial — especially the one made to autism spectrum disorders. 

Phil Garrow has Asperger's syndrome. It's what’s written on his medical chart. He says the social struggles that come with the diagnosis is why he hasn’t been able to hold down engineering jobs despite his proficiency in the field.

A state Senate committee has passed a proposal to restrict abortion coverage in health insurance plans provided through Pennsylvania's federally mandated exchange.

Last session, similar measures passed the House and Senate independently, but neither one made it through the entire legislative gauntlet.

But with the 2014 operational date for health care exchanges right around the corner, Senate GOP spokesman Erik Arneson said this measure may go to the finish line.

A study completed at Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville could lead to physical therapy sessions being replaced with a device you would use in your home.

The study was done to see if electrical muscle stimulation, or EMS, is as effective as standard physical therapy in helping patients recover from joint replacement surgery.

Dr. Michael Levine, the principal investigator, said he wanted to have an alternative treatment for patients.

Wednesday is National Walking Day, and organizers in Pittsburgh are hoping to get people in the good habit of taking a daily constitutional as warmer spring weather begins in the region.

Sandy McCurdy, board member of the American Heart Association, said walking is the easiest way to reduce one's risk for heart disease and stroke — two diseases that account for a combined 870,000 deaths in the United States each year.

Energy Drinks

Mar 4, 2013
Matteo Paciotti / Flickr

You can’t help but notice the amount of products on the market to help you fight that tired feeling. Drinks like Red Bull, Monster and five-hour energy shots are supposed to give you a much-needed jolt. But, how safe are these products? We’ll find out from Leslie Bonci director of sports nutrition at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine.