Mobile Version - September - October 2015

From the Director Dr. Jonathan Mermin

The years of adolescence are a critical time for physical, intellectual, emotional, and sexual development – when young people begin to establish lifestyle choices and behaviors that can stay with them most if not all of their lives. In August, the CDC Public Health Grand Rounds presented “Adolescence: Preparing for Lifelong Health and Wellness.” Led by Dr. Stephanie Zaza, Director of the CDC Division of Adolescent and School Health, the program explored the role of schools, communities, parents, and peers in helping adolescents adopt healthy habits as they move into adulthood. In his opening remarks, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Friedan noted that societal norms, government policies, and interventions that address multiple risk factors make a difference in reducing risk behaviors among youth. Other speakers discussed ways in which schools can offer protective environments for adolescents and provide access to physical and mental health services. To improve care, health care settings that serve adolescents need to be available and accessible, offer age-appropriate care, and have staff members that are approachable and accepting. I encourage you to take time to review the presentations. CEUs are available.

Recognizing the Frontline Public Health Workforce

On January 23, 2015, the Indiana State Department of Health initiated an investigation of an outbreak of HIV infection because of the keen eye of an Indiana Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS) who noticed a small number of linked cases of HIV infection. After 7 months, the investigation has led to the diagnosis of HIV in 181 people, many co-infected with hepatitis C virus. This is just one example of DIS at work. DIS conduct ground-level investigations that are a key component of swift responses to tuberculosis outbreaks, STD partner notification, HIV exposure notifications, and other infectious disease rapid control efforts. On October 2, 2015, Disease Intervention Specialist Recognition Day, we recognize DIS staff members and their work on the front lines of public health across the United States. CDC has also funded the DIS Certification Program to establish and formalize DIS competencies nationwide, expand recognition of their professional standing, and ensure good support and training. A webinar, Overview of the Disease intervention Specialists (DIS) Certification Project, is scheduled for later this month.

Updating the National HIV/AIDS Strategy

On July 30, 2015, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) released the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Update to 2020 (NHAS). NHAS is bigger than any single agency. It builds on major shifts in policy and science since the launch of the original NHAS in 2010, including the emergence of treatment as a core prevention strategy; the advent of PrEP; and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which has lowered barriers to HIV testing, treatment, and prevention services. CDC will continue to engage state and local health departments and community organizations through our Act Against AIDS and related public health campaigns, to fund prevention and treatment initiatives, and provide support and educational materials for health care providers to stop the spread of HIV and improve the health of those with the disease.