Health News Roundup

The opioid epidemic no one talks about, reducing poverty through contraception in Delaware, and more

health equity

State focuses on most vulnerable in effort to eradicate new HIV cases
Jake Kara, The Connecticut Mirror, December 17
Black women are around 40 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than white women, yet many black women said in listening sessions around the state that they aren’t getting that message. This is the kind of hurdle that state officials and advocates have worked to pinpoint in the first six months of work by Getting to Zero CT, a campaign to eradicate new HIV diagnoses in the state.

A generation of African American heroin users is dying in the opioid epidemic nobody talks about
Peter Jamison, The Washington Post, December 18
Medical professionals and bereaved families have warned for years of the damage caused by opioids to America’s predominantly white small towns and suburbs. Almost entirely omitted from their message has been one of the drug epidemic’s deadliest subplots: The experience of older African Americans, for whom habits honed over decades of addiction are no longer safe. Since 2014, the national rate of fatal drug overdoses has increased more than twice as fast among African Americans as among whites.


What happens in Connecticut if the ACA ruling is upheld?
Christine Stuart, CT News Junkie, December 17
Last week’s ruling by a Texas judge that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional won’t have an immediate effect. What happens if the decision is upheld? In Connecticut, some of the federal health law’s provisions – including those requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions and to offer plans that cover essential health benefits – are also included in state law. However, approximately two-thirds of Connecticut residents with private insurance wouldn’t be protected because state law doesn’t govern most plans offered by large employers.

Denied: A look into inmate health care
Jacqueline Rabe Thomas and Clarice Silber, The Connecticut Mirror, December 20
Prison doctors made a series of requests in October 2017 for patients to see specialists. It appears they were all denied care. But the state can’t say for sure. That’s because officials from the state Department of Correction and the University of Connecticut Health Center, which until recently managed the $100 million-plus inmate health care system, didn’t keep records of the panel that made these final decisions. With no record-keeping system – which was required under UConn Health’s contract with the state – it is impossible to determine if appropriate health care was delivered to the 13,000 inmates in state prisons on any given day.

women’s health

Set it and forget it: How better contraception could be a key to reducing poverty
Margot Sanger-Katz, The New York Times, December 18
When a woman of childbearing age goes to the doctor in Delaware, she is now asked: “Do you want to get pregnant in the next year?” If her answer is no, clinics are being trained to ensure she gets whatever form of birth control she wants that very day, whether a prescription or an implant in her arm. This simple question is part of the state’s effort to remake its approach to contraception. The bet by state officials is that this will both reduce unintended pregnancies and help women escape poverty. It could also reduce state spending on Medicaid.