Newsletter The Women’s Health Activist® is a bimonthly publication of the National Women’s Health Network. We’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jennifer Lee and Sarah Lipton-Lubet
Since the Obama Administration announced in August 2011 that health insurance plans would be required to cover contraceptive care without charging co-pays, over 50 lawsuits have been filed across the country claiming that requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception violates employers’ religious beliefs. The lawsuits may be making headlines, but the Administration’s rule for implementing this policy, which includes a narrow exemption for institutions such as houses of worship, is fully consistent with religious freedom law and principles — not to mention that it is a major advance for women’s health and equality. Nonetheless, with this many cases at play, it is almost certain that at least one of the lawsuits will be heard by the Supreme Court, and the outcome could affect far more than the future of the contraceptive coverage rule.
By Cynthia Pearson
By Heidi Gider and Amirah Tyler
Our members are the heart and spirit of the Network! We receive a number of calls, emails, and letters from you and enjoy having the opportunity to talk about our work. We get certain questions a lot, and thought we’d take this opportunity to answer a few of the most common ones. If you have a different question for us, please feel free to contact us at any time —by email at email@example.com or by phone at 202.682.2640. We want to hear from you!
By Allyson Reddy, NWHN Intern
We’ve come a long way in treating HIV/AIDS, but there is a strong need for more and better tools that can prevent transmission and stem the tide of infection. So, last year, HIV/AIDS activists celebrated when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Truvada, a drug that can reduce the risk of HIV infection. Truvada is a combination of two anti-retroviral drugs already used for HIV treatment (tenofovir and emtricitibine); the new approved use is based on research showing that, taken daily before exposure to HIV, the combination offers protection against infection. This is called “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” or (PrEP).
By Taylor Cole, NWHN Volunteer
As children, everyone experiences pressure from their parents to do or try something new. Well, as an eight-year-old with quite a bit of baby fat, I was pushed onto a swim team. Little did my family know that this little push would completely change my life, and theirs, in so many amazing ways!
Network Program Update
We love sharing news about issues of concern to our community through the Women’s Health Activist. Now, we’re introducing a new column to share updates about some of the issues and activities staff are working on. We plan to bring you this update regularly throughout the year, to highlight ways the Network is advancing women’s health issues every day.
Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need
By Charlea Massion and Adriane Fugh-Berman
We constantly hear that obesity is a killer and that the obesity epidemic will surely sink our health care system — but are a few extra pounds really bad for your health? A recent study suggests that being a little overweight may actually reduce your chance of dying. Hear us out, though, before scarfing some cookies in celebration!
What a difference simple, common sense improvements can make! The non-profit organization, We Care Solar, is distributing its free “solar suitcase” kits to medical facilities in Africa, Asia, and South America. The suitcases emit light and can help prevent maternal and infant deaths caused by birth attendants’ lack of adequate lighting. Originally designed for midwives, health care workers have also used the kits to treat patients during a recent cholera outbreak in the Congo!
By Judy Costlow
I have been aging for decades, but it only took me one year to grow old! “Things” can happen quickly in our lives as we age, and we may not be prepared to handle them. Loss of a loved one, a stroke, a broken hip, heart attack, and diabetes are all too common for older folks. A friend says, Jan fell and broke her hip. Even though she is doing well, she is limited in her physical activities, as she must now use a cane. What can we do to better prepare ourselves for healthier aging? Part of the answer, which this article explores, lies in building and maintaining social connections, keeping physically fit, and avoiding falls.
By Cindy Pearson
Ever hear that old joke? One friend asks another “How was the continental breakfast at the hotel?” The friend replies, ‘It was awful. The coffee was cold, the pastry was stale, and the juice was sour. And there wasn’t enough of it!”
By Rebecca Spence
In January, the U.S. women’s health movement celebrated the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right to legal abortion. In the decades since Roe, health activists have focused on advocating for reproductive justice, which demands that women have the right to be parents — as well as the right not to parent — and to decide where, with whom, and how we give birth. Reproductive justice includes the rights to accept or refuse any type of maternity care and to access this care from respectful and culturally appropriate providers — which are essential for women to be able to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
Trans men's Health is a “Women’s Health” Issue: Expanding the Boundaries of Sexual & Reproductive Health Care
By E. Cameron Hartofelis, MA(c), MPH(c) and Anu Manchikanti Gomez, PhD, MSc
During the 2012 elections, Vice President Joe Biden called transgender discrimination, “the civil rights issue of our time.” While this is a sign that transgender rights are garnering national attention, the population continues to face many obstacles in accessing needed health care. In particular, transgender men (or “trans men”) face significant barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health care.
By Amy Laskowske
When I was 19, I was blindsided by getting an osteoporosis diagnosis. The first images that came to my mind were of an unhealthy woman, who was not knowledgeable about her health, and who was sickly looking. At the time, I was a successful runner just beginning an exciting career as a Division I collegiate athlete. I was a good student and was conscious about my health because my success as a student-athlete depended on it! But, I also prioritized my immediate goals and short-term success over my long-term health. I ignored the advice to do “everything in moderation” — and had to deal with the consequences.
January 1, 2013, marked a new day in preventive health services coverage for many women! The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that all new private insurance plans cover key women’s preventive health services without additional costs like co-pays. This rule applies to new plans, as well as to on-going insurance plans’ new coverage periods. Because most plans’ coverage periods start at the beginning of the calendar year, many women gained access to these important services without co-pays in January.
By Rachel Walden
The National Women’s Health Network has long argued for stricter regulation and elimination of direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug advertising due to its tendency to overstate drugs’ benefits and understate risks in order to increase pharmaceutical companies’ profits. A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that every $1 the pharmaceutical industry spends on DTC advertising yields $4.20 in drug sales, and that DTC ads are responsible for 12 percent ($2.6 billion) of the total growth in drug spending in 2000.i
There seems to be no limit to what you can use a smart phone for these days! A new app gives people a way to share their sexually transmitted infection (STI) status through what the developer calls “safe bumping.” Mobile users can touch (“bump”) their mobile phones together and instantly exchange information about their STD status. The MedXcom app also encourages users to get STD tests; allows your doctor to post that a person is STD-free on the app; and provides a way for people with an STD to track their treatment plan, medications, and appointments.
On Thursday, October 18, NWHN supporters gathered at Elizabeth’s on L in Washington, DC for the 5th Annual Barbara Seaman Awards for Activism in Women’s Health. This year’s theme was Celebrating Changemakers, honoring two women who have qualitatively transformed the way social justice is done.