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Trumps State Department eyes ban on terms like sexual health

U.S. diplomats may soon be prohibited from using the phrases “sexual and reproductive health” and “c..

U.S. diplomats may soon be prohibited from using the phrases “sexual and reproductive health” and “comprehensive sexuality education” under a proposal being floated to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, four people familiar with the issue said.

The proposal is being pushed by a handful of conservative political appointees at the State Department and other agencies, including Mari Stull, an adviser at State whose alleged mistreatment of career government staffers has already sparked multiple federal investigations.

It was not immediately clear what sort of direct policy changes, if any, could result from eliminating such terms, which have been used for years in domestic and international communications.

But changing the terms could lead to more contentious negotiations at the United Nations and other forums over language used for resolutions and agreements. It also could complicate matters for some nongovernmental groups that receive U.S. funding and opt to stick with the traditional terms.

At the very least, abandoning the use of the word “sex” would be a symbolic move that aligns with other Trump administration efforts to reduce funding for and focus on womens reproductive issues — especially anything related to abortion.

The proposal is contained in a memo that still needs Pompeos approval to take effect, according to two of the people who talked to POLITICO. Foreign Policy on Tuesday reported some details of the memo.

Instead of “sexual and reproductive health” and “comprehensive sexuality education,” U.S. officials would be instructed to use phrases like “reproduction and the related health services” in official communications, one of the people familiar with the issue said, while cautioning that could change.

Alternate terms proposed for use are expected to be accompanied by definitions as to what sort of programs or treatments they cover, another one of the people said.

The State Department did not reply to repeated requests for comment on the memo or whether Pompeo would sign it. The four sources who spoke to POLITICO were outside human rights and health advocates who are in touch with people inside the State Department.

One of President Donald Trumps first moves after taking office was to revive and expand the so-called Mexico City policy, which prior Republican presidents have implemented and which bars U.S. aid to groups that provide or promote abortion overseas. The State Department also has removed language about womens access to contraception and abortion from its annual human rights reports.

Stull and another political appointee, Bethany Kozma, are behind the push to restrict the terminology, three of the people familiar with the issue said. The pair tried to initially put the proposal in a diplomatic cable to all embassies. But they switched it to a memo for Pompeo after career staffers warned they were circumventing protocol. Cables are typically signed by the secretary or one of his top deputies, and Pompeo could still send a cable if he approves the memo, one source said.

As a Kansas congressman between 2011 and 2017, Pompeo was known for his anti-abortion views and criticism of LGBTQ protections, co-sponsoring legislation that would have allowed states to subvert the Supreme Courts protections for same-sex marriage.

“When I was a politician, I had a very clear view on whether it was appropriate for two same-sex persons to marry,” Pompeo said during his April 2018 confirmation hearings to run the State Department. “I stand by that.”

Stull is a former lobbyist and wine blogger serving as an adviser in the State Departments International Organizations bureau. Shes under investigation after facing allegations that she tried to create a blacklist of career staffers whose loyalty to Trump she questioned. Kozma is an adviser at the U.S. Agency for International Development who reportedly agitated against transgender rights before joining the administration.

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Officials investigating 252 possible cases of polio-like illness AFM

Officials are now investigating 252 cases of possible acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), including 90 con..

Officials are now investigating 252 cases of possible acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), including 90 confirmed cases in 27 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of cases under investigation by the CDC is up 33 from last week, and the number of confirmed cases rose by 10, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of CDCs National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters Tuesday.

Acute flaccid myelitis is a condition that has polio-like symptoms such as partial paralysis. The virus mostly affects children and young adults. The CDC said they do not know why the condition is impacting these individuals, but many believe it is caused by viruses. The CDC emphasized it remains a rare condition and said there have been no reported deaths from AFM so far in 2018.

The typical symptoms of AFM are similar to those of a severe respiratory illness, along with a fever, but then progress into neurological symptoms. Some patients with AFM feel weakness in their arms or legs, a loss of muscle tone or slower reflexes.

Some patients may also exhibit facial droop or weakness, difficulty moving their eyes and drooping eyelids or difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech. The most severe symptom is respiratory failure.

Messonnier said the CDC doesn't yet have enough information to definitively say what causes AFM and are casting a wide net for information. Part of that is studying the long-term health of AFM patients. Scientists are also looking for a pathogen in AFM patients' spinal fluid, but haven't yet found a pathogen that's a clear cause, she said.

The CDC said it sees an uptick in AFM cases every two years, and so far, the curve of the cases being investigated this year looks very similar to that of 2014 and 2016.

Officials don't expect many more cases in 2018 compared to 2016 and 2014, Messonnier said.

The best advice available is to wash your hands regularly, which lowers the chances of getting sick or spreading germs from many of the viruses linked to AFM, and protect against mosquito bites by using repellent, in addition to staying indoors at dusk and dawn.

The CDC said the vaccines your pediatrician suggests are very effective and children should continue to receive them on schedule even though there is no vaccine for AFM. (more…)

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‘Make-a-Wish’ wishes decrease trips to hospital for sick children: Study

A recent study from the Nationwide Childrens Hospital in Columbus, Ohio shows that participation in ..

A recent study from the Nationwide Childrens Hospital in Columbus, Ohio shows that participation in the Make-A-Wish program may give children better quality of life and reduce hospital visits and healthcare costs.

Patients who received a wish were 2.5 times more likely to have fewer unplanned hospital admissions and 1.9 times more likely to have fewer unplanned emergency department visits compared to patients of similar age, gender, disease category, and disease complexity who would also quality for a wish but did not receive one.

What is the Make-A-Wish Foundation?

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a non-profit organization whose goal is to provide children aged three to 17-years-old who have progressive, life-limiting, or life-threatening medical conditions, with experiences known as “wishes.” These wishes include “I wish to…” “go,” “be (someone for a day),” “meet,” and “have” (i.e. receive gifts.) The foundation is funded by contributions from individual donors, corporations, and other organizations.

What are the goals and mission of the Make-A-Wish Foundation?

The Make-A-Wish Foundation “serves a unique, and vital, role in helping strengthen and empower children battling illnesses.” And, “wishes make life better for kids with critical illnesses.”

How many “wishes” does the foundation grant?

The Make-A-Wish Foundation was founded in November 1980 and the first wish was granted in the spring of 1981 to Frank “Bopsy” Salazar, a 7-year-old who had leukemia. Bopsy had three wishes: to be a fireman, go to Disneyland, and ride in a hot air balloon — all of which were granted to him. Since then, more than 285,000 children in the United States and its territories have benefited from experiencing their wishes. The foundation granted 15,300 wishes last year alone; which means on average, a wish is granted every 34 minutes.

What are the potential benefits of receiving a “wish?"

There is a long-held belief that receiving a wish improves a childs quality of life and potentially improves their familys quality of life, enhances family bonding, reduces stress, increases hope and serves as a distraction from illness. (more…)

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To curb STD rise, doctors treat patients’ partners without an office visit

This is a Kaiser Health News story.

If patients return to Dr. Crystal Bowe soon after taking medi..

This is a Kaiser Health News story.

If patients return to Dr. Crystal Bowe soon after taking medication for a sexually transmitted infection, she usually knows the reason: Their partners have re-infected them.

“While you tell people not to have sex until both folks are treated, they just dont wait,” she said. “So they are passing the infection back and forth.”

Thats when Bowe, who practices on both sides of the North and South Carolina border, does something doctors are often reluctant to do: She prescribes the partners antibiotics without meeting them.

Federal health officials have recommended this practice, known as expedited partner therapy, for chlamydia and gonorrhea since 2006. It allows doctors to prescribe medication to their patients partners without examining them. The idea is to prevent the kind of reinfections described by Bowe — and stop the transmission of STDs to others.

However, many physicians arent taking the federal governments advice because of entrenched ethical and legal concerns.

“Health care providers have a long tradition of being hesitant to prescribe to people they havent seen,” said Edward Hook, professor at the University of Alabamas medical school in Birmingham. “There is a certain skepticism.”

A nationwide surge of sexually transmitted diseases in recent years, however, has created a sense of urgency for doctors to embrace the practice. STD rates have hit an all-time high, according to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention. In 2017, the rate of reported gonorrhea cases increased nearly 19 percent from a year earlier to 555,608. The rate of chlamydia cases rose almost 7 percent to 1.7 million.

“STDs are everywhere,” said Dr. Cornelius Jamison, a lecturer at the University of Michigan Medical School. “We have to figure out how to … prevent the spread of these infections. And its necessary to be able to treat multiple people at once.”

A majority of states allow expedited partner therapy. Two states — South Carolina and Kentucky — prohibit it, and six others plus Puerto Rico lack clear guidance for physicians. (more…)

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