Addressing Sexual Violence Here On Campus

Sexual violence, which is defined as any sexual activity where consent is not obtained or not given freely, is a major issue in the US and on college campuses. It is also a critical area for public health intervention. In the United States, someone is sexually assaulted every 107 seconds. In addition, 1 in 2 women, 1 in 5 men and 1 in 2 trans identifying individuals experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.

Here at the University of Iowa, there have been 7 sexual assaults reported so far this

The Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP) and the Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC) are the two organizations leading sexual violence prevention efforts at the University of Iowa. In order to help address this issue, these organizations along with others at the university are hosting the “It’s On Us” Summit again this year. This one day event is designed to raise awareness on sexual assault and interpersonal violence issues on campus and in our communities. The Summit will be held on Tuesday, April 19 at the Iowa Memorial Union. Registration is FREE and now open.

This summit is a great opportunity for those of us in public health to show our support and help bring more attention to this important public health issue. To find out more about the Summit and sexual violence resources on campus, check out the following links:

What Made the 2013 Ebola Outbreak Different?

Most people know that the 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak that mainly took place in 3 West African countries was the largest in history. A final tally of over 27,000 cases and over 11,000 deaths gives this most recent outbreak a strong lead over the second largest outbreak which took place from 2000-2001 in Uganda which had only 425 recorded cases and 224 deaths. And while most of us may be aware of its relative size, do we know why it was exponentially worse and further reaching than previous outbreaks? What specific factors contributed to the unprecedented spread we saw over the course of 3 years?

A recent study published by the CDC addresses these questions and offers up a handful of contributing factors. Many of these contributing factors have been thoroughly discussed throughout the outbreak such as poor surveillance and diagnosis, along with a general lack of trust from the population while others not as much such as the role of genetic variation in the virus.  Finally, the study discusses current priorities in Ebola research and outbreak management necessary to more efficiently contain the next outbreak.

Are Safe Injection Sites Coming to the US?

Heroin and opioid addiction has become an increasingly important topic in public health and nationwide as the epidemic continues to worsen. Heroin-related overdose deaths have quadrupled in the last decade alone and the issue is affecting all segments of our society regardless of gender, age, income, etc.

Bojan Senjur/Getty Images

Many experts believe increasing access to needle exchange programs, sites where injection drug users can receive clean needles as well as referrals to addiction treatment programs, is an important piece to solve this issue. However, a New York mayor is already prepared to go one step further and is fighting to open the first supervised injection site in the United States.

Supervised injection sites, already used in countries such as Canada and some European nations, are sites where injection drug users can go to inject themselves with their own illegal drugs while being monitored by a health professional. This health professional’s only job is to provide an opioid overdose antidote if necessary. This type of organization is currently being pushed by Ithaca, New York mayor Svante Myrick.

Predictably, this is a very contentious topic as many in the country still support a zero drug tolerance policy and disapprove of similar support services like needle exchange sites. This unfortunate truth is highlighted by the current federal funding ban.

This is undoubtedly a topic of public health importance and will continue to be until appropriate health services for injection drug users are supported and widely implemented. See the article below as well as a few other sources of information on the topic.

Ithaca’s Plan To Open A Safe Site For Heroin Users Faces Legal Hurdles

Needle and Syringe Programs For HIV Prevention

Supervised Injection Facilities



Working More Effectively with “Anti-Vaxers”

Many vaccine preventable diseases are on the rise in the United States. Measles, mumps, whooping cough, and chickenpox are the four most commonly cited diseases that are a part of this trend. As future public health practitioners, this issue should come as a concern. So how do we effectively target people who are choosing not to vaccinate their children?

Researchers from Rutgers University made an important point that will be critical to future efforts in this area: Not all anti-vaxers are the same. I am guilty of separating people into two groups. There are those who vaccinate and those who don’t. However, the truth is that people fall along a continuum, with each person placed at a different point along that continuum based on a unique combination of barriers and information they are exposed to.

The paper specifically divides anti-vaxers into four groups. Each group has their own set of convictions and obstacles that have pushed them away from recommended vaccinations, some of which are more easily addressed than others.

This article is a good reminder that as future public health practitioners we need to look closer at our populations of interest, regardless of the public health topic. There is not simply a them and us or those who follow the ‘rules’ and those who don’t but rather a whole section of the population that is scattered somewhere in between, and they need tailored interventions specific to their needs if we are to ever move them in the right direction.

Why everyone should get CPR certified this semester

Sudden cardiac arrest is the number one cause of death in the United States. The majority of these events (85%) will happen at someone’s home which means they will be relying on the reactions and skills of those around them (family, friends, and YOU) to save their life. Despite the importance, less than 30% of people who have a heart attack outside of a hospital receive CPR. Why? Usually because no one in the home was trained.

Becoming CPR certified is the best way to prepare yourself for a situation such as this. Good news! As a student, you can become certified for FREE here at the University of Iowa. The Red Watch Band is a university organization that provides free CPR and AED RWBtraining to students. Sessions take place at the CRWC and last less than two hours.

After the course you will be officially certified by the American Heart Association for 2 years. As a former instructor for Red Watch Band, I can promise you that the training is painless, and you will learn something! If you still aren’t sure it’s worth it or want to make it more fun, get a group together and go! Just make sure you go.

As public health students, faculty, and staff, we all know the importance of being informed and active in our community, so this semester I hope you all will practice what we as a college preach and become CPR certified. After all, it is FREE and could save the life of someone you know.

For more information visit



Three Years Old and Diabetic

Many of you may have seen a recent news story of a three year old toddler who just recently recovered from Type 2 diabetes. She is thought to be the youngest person ever to be diagnosed with the condition. The girl was first diagnosed two years ago at a Texas hospital. Her weight and BMI were both in the top 5 percent of all children her age.

For me, stories like this are an unfortunate, yet necessary reminder of how much work there is still to do in public health. With all the attention around Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Program, the first signs of a possible decline in childhood obesity rates, and effective high level youth health campaigns such as Play 60, it’s easy to believe that sufficient progress is being made and become complacent.

I think this story is also a great reminder of how important it is to never lose touch with the basics in public health practice. The doctor treating the diabetic toddler prescribed a simple treatment plan including replacing soft drinks and fast food with water, home-cooked meals, and exercise. It was so simple that it actually made me confused. I think sometimes as future public health practitioners, we can get so caught up in designing the latest evidence-based activity, theory-based intervention, or summative evaluation that it’s easy to forget what we are fundamentally trying to do and achieve.

Luckily, it seems the child’s family effectively followed the treatment prescribed by their doctor and their daughter no longer has diabetes. However, it’s always interesting to think about what the alternative outcome could have been. What if the family hadn’t responded in such a healthy and effective manner? What responsibility do we as public health workers have to enforce these healthy practices? In this specific case, where would you have drawn the line between a family’s personal freedom to choose what their daughter eats and enforcing a diet and lifestyle that you know would give her the greatest heath benefits?