Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
Cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis hit a record high in 2016 for the second year in a row, with federal data showing more than 2 million reported cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). According to the Los Angeles Times, health officials say the increasing rates reflect a decrease in condom usage and in the number of STD clinics, as well as a lack of awareness about STDs among physicians and patients. Rates are particularly high in California, with more than a quarter-million Californians infected with either syphilis, chlamydia, or gonorrhea last year. According to state officials, this increase constitutes a 40% jump compared with 5 years prior, the LA Times reported. Health officials recommend sexually active adults be tested regularly.
Opening a safe-consumption space in Baltimore, Maryland, for individuals addicted to opioids could save an estimated $6 million in net health care costs. According to The Washington Post, the spaces would offer medical supervision, sterile equipment, syringe disposal, treatment referrals, overdose prevention, injection education, and relationship development. A panel of law enforcement officials and a Johns Hopkins professor appeared before a joint legislative committee on behavioral health and opioid use disorders to present research on the benefits of opening a safe-consumption space in Baltimore. The research predicts that creating a safe space would cost $1.8 million annually to run, but is expected to prevent 3.7 HIV injections and save $1.5 million; prevent 21 hepatitis C virus cases and save $1.4 million; save 374 days in the hospital for skin and soft-tissue infection and save $0.93 million; save 5.9 lives that would otherwise be lost to overdose and save $3 million; save nonfatal overdose costs of $258,000; and save treatment costs of $640,000 for 121 individuals.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative brain disease, recently made headlines after autopsy results showed former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez had a severe case of CTE. Although the disease is difficult to understand because of the inability to diagnose it in living individuals, new findings identify a protein that could serve as a biomarker of CTE. According to CNN, investigators found an increased amount of the protein CCL11 in patients previously diagnosed with CTE. CCL11 is commonly associated with inflammation and is a process researchers believe can trigger the disease, CNN reported. Senior author Dr Ann McKee cautioned that although the findings show promise, it is still early in the research process. “The next step—–is repeating, validating our findings, and seeing if we can detect it in blood, and of course do it in living subjects,” Dr McKee told CNN. “These are critical next steps.”