APHA 2015 TAKEAWAYS

I had the privilege of screening a film and joining a panel at the American Public Health Association annual meeting in Chicago this year! Here are a few things I took away from the sessions I attended when I wasn't stuffing my face with 🌭, 🍕, and 🍺.
  1. Harm reduction for people who inject drugs should go beyond "don't share needles".
    PWID generally know this. We need to provide more tailored and nuanced harm reduction messaging — how do I minimize my risk when mixing/cooking drugs?
  2. We need to talk to our sons/adolescent men about contraception.
    One presenter found that while the young men in his population heard from parents plenty about condoms — and used them! — their parents did not talk about partners' contraceptive needs, wants, and options. This is important because discussions with parents were linked to behavior change in this study.
  3. Managing an outbreak is not just about infection!
    A presenter on the role of public health nurses during a TB outbreak focused on the ethical issues they faced during the outbreak, the many new roles they had to take on (such as social worker), and the stress of dealing with such outbreaks in unprepared contexts.
  4. Condom marketing should be increasingly geared toward women.
    Several studies explored norms around condom use in heterosexual relationships. Still very common to believe it is the male partner's responsibility, choice, etc to have and use a condom. BUT one study showed that when women were positive about condom use, it influenced their partners' attitudes and even their behaviors. And same for disuse/discontinuation!
  5. Fred Holmes is a badass pediatrician changing the face of addiction in Vermont, and the makers of The Hungry Heart are super fuckin inspirational.
    Seriously. This film was used to enact policy change in VT. Art is so powerful!! http://thehungryheartmovie.org
  6. Epidemiology + creativity + feet on the ground = effective interventions.
    Designers and implementers of public health interventions: we need to know our epidemiology! But epi isn't enough — it needs to be married with a grounding in cultural, societal, and behavioral realities and a healthy dose of creativity.