Opinion writers weigh in on these public health issues and others.


The Washington Post:
What We Can Learn From Video Game Violence


In the aftermath of mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, President Trump blamed violence in video games for the “glorification of violence in our society.” It’s an old refrain, and gamers and their allies typically respond by pointing to the facts. We lack evidence that supports a causal relationship between video games and violence, and though some studies have found links between violent video games and aggression, which is distinct from criminal violence, the effect is small.But while research matters, this line of argument misses an important point. Though some video games are casually, thoughtlessly violent, many others explore violence with nuance, placing it in social context and giving players a hands-on opportunity to explore moral conundrums they would never face in real life. (Anna Goshua, 8/29)


Stat:
Animal Research May Yield An AIDS Vaccine. Don’t Jeopardize It 


AIDS could soon be history. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) recently announced plans to test an experimental HIV vaccine in the United States, South America, and Europe. It’s already conducting a clinical trial of the vaccine in Africa, with results expected in 2021. If successful, this research could yield a workable vaccine within 10 years. AIDS was once a death sentence. A quarter-century ago, HIV/AIDS was the leading cause of death among Americans aged 25 to 44. But over the last four decades, scientists have made significant progress against the disease and the virus that causes it. Today, someone diagnosed with HIV can expect to live approximately as long as someone without it, thanks to the latest antiretroviral treatments. (Matthew R. Bailey, 8/30)

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The New York Times:
How Not To Grow Old In America 


Assisted living seems like the solution to everyone’s worries about old age. It’s built on the dream that we can grow old while being self-reliant and live that way until we die. That all you need is a tiny bit of help. That you would never want to be warehoused in a nursing home with round-the-clock caregivers. This is a powerful concept in a country built on independence and self-reliance.The problem is that for most of us, it’s a lie. And we are all complicit in keeping this dream alive. (Geeta Anand, 8/29)


Stat:
Recovery Coaches In The ER Aid People With Substance Use Issues


Families of loved ones treated in our emergency department for overdoses or other substance use problems once begged us to get these patients into treatment programs. All they wanted was to help them get treatment — and stay alive. For years there wasn’t much our emergency medicine team could do. Now there is: We’ve added recovery coaches. (James Baird, 8/30)


JAMA:
Using Telemedicine To Treat Opioid Use Disorder In Rural Areas 


Opioid use disorder (OUD) used to be mainly an urban problem involving heroin. But in the past 3 decades, a deluge of prescription pain medications in rural counties has helped spread the phenomenon far beyond major metropolitan centers. The overdose death rate—driven mainly by prescription opioids, and, more recently, heroin and illicit fentanyl—has been trending higher in rural areas than in urban since 2004, the CDC reported in 2017. However, the treatment of OUD, which involves medication as well as counseling and behavioral therapies, has not kept pace. Rural counties are far less likely than urban counties to have health care professionals who can treat OUD, despite the growing need. (Rita Rubin, 8/28)

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The Wall Street Journal:
AARP’s Interests Diverge From Its Members’


Ten thousand American baby boomers will turn 65 each day for the next 10 years. This is one of the biggest demographic transitions in U.S. history, and the resulting shifts in health-care spending will require intelligent policy. But a significant conflict of interest has led AARP, senior citizens’ strongest lobby, to put their well-being aside. AARP portrays itself as a classic membership organization, funded by dues in return for representation on a variety of issues. Yet its public financial statements reveal that the group receives the bulk of its revenue from health insurers. In 2017 the group received $627 million from UnitedHealth , the nation’s largest insurer, compared with $301 million in membership fees. (Gerard Gianoli, 8/29)


The Hill:
Creating Organs For Transplants Is Necessary, But It Shouldn’t Have Ethical Costs 


There is a big health crisis in the U.S. that receives too little attention — the shortage of organs for transplant. As of January 2019, there were more than 113,000 people waiting on the organ transplant list, yet only 36,528 transplants were performed in 2018.  Moreover, 20 people die in this country every day while awaiting an organ. (Marc Siegel, 8/29)

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Boston Globe:
Fewer Prisoners, Lower Crime


The Brennan Center for Justice found that 34 states, across all regions of the country, reduced both their prison populations and their crime rates over the decade between 2007 and 2017. The data “show clearly that reducing mass incarceration does not come at the cost of public safety,” the report concludes. (Renée Loth, 8/30)


The New York Times:
What Genetics Is Teaching Us About Sexuality


As researchers in biology and sociology who are also gay men, we have long wondered (and debated) whether sexual orientation has any biological basis. We followed the ascent in the 1990s of the “gay gene” finding — which claimed that male sexual orientation was linked to specific DNA markers — and then watched as that result was called into question. We have wondered whether the two of us, who differ in so many ways, could really trace our common identity to a shared biology. New data are finally giving us answers. (Steven M. Phelps and Robbee Wedow, 8/29)


This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.



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