Friday, July 26, 2013

Public health researchers keep Indiana University on the global map of sexuality research

Sexual health expert Brian Dodge earned his graduate degrees from Indiana University Bloomington and then moved on for prestigious postdoctoral research fellowship and faculty appointments elsewhere.
Dr. Brian Dodge

But he was always interested in coming back to Bloomington, so much that in 2007, he left a tenure-track faculty position at the University of Florida to join the Department of Applied Health Science as an assistant research scientist -- in a position funded by competitive extramural research grants.

Brian Dodge, a researcher with IU Bloomington's Center for Sexual Health Promotion in the School of Public Health, recently was appointed as associate editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy -- that I would need to get funded or get out,” said Dodge, now an associate professor in a tenure-eligible position with a diverse portfolio of studies funded by National Institutes of Health and a range of other entities. “But for those of us who do sexuality research, Indiana University really is seen as ‘the top.’ I guess that says a lot about how much I wanted to come back to IU and to be part of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion.”

Dodge is associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion, which is part of the School of Public Health-Bloomington.

Monday, July 22, 2013

In the news: Riley kids experience scuba camp

Bradford Woods, affiliated with the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington, hosted a group of kids from Riley Hospital for Children who are normally confined to wheelchairs for a special scuba program that allowed them the unique opportunity to scuba dive. 

The Indianapolis Fire Department’s Station 7 Tactical Rescue Team provided the support and training for the kids. For some of the kids, it was the first time doing an activity outside of their wheelchairs. 

"We're out of our chairs, we're with everybody doing the exact same thing,” said First Step Foundation Founder Cody Unser. “Water's freedom. It's just a really great feeling and you feel confident and after you accomplish something like this. You feel like you can do anything."

Full story (plus video from WISH TV): 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Study suggests STD clinics could reduce obstacles to much-needed cervical cancer screenings

A new study found that STD clinics could provide important access to cervical cancer screenings for women who traditionally have trouble receiving these screenings because of lack of insurance or other obstacles.

Cervical cancer can be painful and deadly but can be effectively treated if caught soon enough. Yet in the U.S., reaching women who are underscreened for this cancer remains a public health challenge because insurance is the primary indicator for screening.

"Women who are uninsured, as well as women of color, are at highest risk for being underscreened for cervical cancer. The primary medical system misses these women completely because of their access challenges," said Beth Meyerson, co-director of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention and lead researcher in the study, "Can STD Clinics Ride the Cervical Cancer Screening Bike? Experiences From an Urban STD Clinic," presented at the STI & AIDS World Congress in Vienna.

"We have all the tools to address cervical cancer: a safe and effective vaccine, accurate diagnostic tools and treatment options if cervical disease is identified soon enough," Meyerson said. "Yet access is not equal in this country, and we need to find ways to expand our health systems for greater access. This study was about finding a new point of access for women who need it most."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pharmacists could play role in boosting rural HIV testing, study finds

Pharmacists in Indiana want an active consultation role when customers purchase over-the-counter HIV tests, according to a new study.

Researchers at Indiana University, Butler University and the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention, lead by center co-director Beth Meyerson, said that community pharmacists have a unique opportunity to consult with customers about HIV treatment when selling OTC HIV tests. Engaged and supportive pharmacists, the researchers said, could help increase the number of those who test for HIV and who are linked to treatment.

"Pharmacists understood the benefit of greater access to HIV testing, but they felt that their role as pharmacists was beyond that of OTC test seller," Meyerson said. "Instead, pharmacists saw themselves as health consultants and wished to build on the strong relationships that they have with customers during the point at which they sell the test."

Because rural communities often lack HIV testing and treatment infrastructure, and residents often feel stigmatized about testing, they have the most to gain from an engaged pharmacy environment.

"The pharmacy system could be an effective environment for HIV consultation because it would help to strengthen the current system of linkage to care," Meyerson said, noting that 20% of those living with HIV don't know it, and 24% of those who do are in treatment and have suppressed their viral loads. "This essentially means that people are not testing for HIV, that they are not properly linked to treatment when they do test positive and are not maintained in care."


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

School of Public Health-Bloomington Receives Approval for Three New Public Health Majors

The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) has approved an expansion of the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree program in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. Effective fall 2013, students will be able to pursue an MPH degree with majors in Physical Activity, Family Health, and Professional Health Education.  

These three new MPH majors reflect the unique and multidisciplinary nature of the school, and expand the school’s MPH program beyond those areas found in traditional schools of public health.  Dr. Catherine Sherwood-Laughlin, director of public health programs for the school, notes “Given the clear linkages between physical activity and overall health and well-being, the importance of family dynamics and systems to the health of families and society, and the continuing need to prepare professionals who improve the health literacy of the nation, these three new majors expand our efforts to train the public health workforce in innovative and important ways.”  

Prospective students can explore the “what will I learn in this major” link on the school’s website, which provides a listing of the professional competencies that underlie each of the school’s academic degrees and majors.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Older women who quit smoking can cut heart disease risk regardless of diabetes status

Postmenopausal women who quit smoking reduced their risk of heart disease, regardless of whether they had diabetes, according to a new study conducted by Juhua Luo, an epidemiologist at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington.

Her findings, "Smoking Cessation, Weight Change and Coronary Heart Disease Among Postmenopausal Women With and Without Diabetes," were published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Women who gained more than 5 kilograms or 11 pounds after they quit smoking still saw their risk for cardiovascular disease drop. But their risk didn't drop as much as for those who gained less than 11 pounds, which Luo notes was the majority of the women.

"Our study found that if you quit smoking, even for older women, the benefits start pretty quickly, within years," said Luo, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the School of Public Health. "It's never too late to benefit from quitting smoking."

IU School of Public Health-Bloomington faculty member selected for Academic Leadership Program

Michael Reece
Michael Reece, associate dean and professor of applied health science in the School of Public Health-Bloomington, will take part during the 2013-14 school year in the Academic Leadership Program, which develops leadership potential for faculty who have demonstrated an interest in and aptitude for academic administration.

The Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of the 15 universities of the Big Ten conference plus the University of Chicago, sponsors the program, which includes three seminars hosted by different CIC universities and participation in campus-based activities.

Faculty members are selected by their universities to take part in the program, which leverages the resources and expertise of CIC member institutions to provide professional development opportunities.

"Indiana University Bloomington is committed to providing support for faculty as they consider a move into administrative positions," said Tom Gieryn, vice provost for faculty and academic affairs. "Participation in the Academic Leadership Program will provide the 2013-14 fellows with training and skills that will help them be even more effective in their leadership roles."

Michael Reece is co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion and also serves as a faculty member in the African Studies Program. His research is focused on sexual health in both domestic and international settings, and he has published widely on topics related to sexual health, sexual behavior, communication and mental health.

He serves as president of the North American Federation of Sexuality Organizations and is president-elect of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. He earned a Master of Public Health degree at San Diego State University and a Ph.D. at the University of Georgia.