City of Light
IAS 2017 in Paris highlights rapidly evolving HIV science.
Story by Jackie Powder • Photo by Shepard 4711/Wikimedia
Paris will become the epicenter of the universe for HIV/AIDS research July 23–26, 2017, when more than 6,000 scientists convene for the 9th biennial International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2017).
Trending topics will include the health complications of aging with HIV, new prevention technologies and improving HIV service delivery, says the Bloomberg School’s Chris Beyrer, MD, MPH ’91, a past IAS president.
While life-extending antiretroviral therapy has redefined AIDS as a chronic disease, people with HIV are experiencing accelerated aging, including cardiovascular disease, HIV-associated dementia and bone deterioration. “A lot of people are needing hip replacements in their 40s and 50s,” says Beyrer.
He expects that informal conference “hallway discussions” will focus on providing HIV services to migrant populations and the prospect of further cuts to global AIDS funding. “If you have not achieved epidemic control and you start cutting back on programs and interventions, we could lose a lot of gains we have made,” Beyrer warns.
Percentage of Americans living with HIV who are 55+
Percentage of people worldwide with HIV who had access to treatment in 2015
New HIV infections every hour
New HIV infections in 2015
Discovering Public Health
A 10-week summer internship for undergrads is a primer on public health—and much more.
Story by Jackie Powder • Photo by Chris Hartlove
In the summer of 2007, Miranda Jones, a rising college senior, came to the Bloomberg School to test the public health waters.
Jones hoped that the 10-week Diversity Summer Internship Program (DSIP) that introduces undergraduates to graduate-level public health research would lead her to a career decision. She worked with a faculty mentor on secondhand smoke research, learned about public health and began to envision her future.
Two Bloomberg School degrees and a postdoc later, Jones, PhD ’13, MHS ’10, joined the Epidemiology faculty in 2015, the first DSIP graduate to attend the School and the first to join its faculty.
“That summer experience opened my eyes to the School and assured my decision to pursue research,” says Jones, an assistant professor whose research focuses on health disparities associated with environmental exposures—including secondhand smoke.
Since 1995, DSIP has guided close to 450 undergraduates through a program of public health discovery. At its core is an independent research collaboration with a faculty mentor in the student’s area of interest. Interns also attend weekly faculty seminars in different public health disciplines.
Geared to underrepresented minorities in public health, the program, which has multiple funding sources, receives more than 500 applications each year for 20 to 25 internship slots. In 2016, DSIP began offering scholarships to eligible alumni entering select degree programs at the School.
DSIP isn’t just about research, says program manager Jessica Harrington, MPA. Some students come from academic settings where they were the only minority student in their science classes. Some talk to Harrington about feeling isolated and their search for minority mentors.
“We try to help them develop as people as well as scholars and researchers,” says Harrington, noting that interns attend professional development seminars and peer-led leadership discussions. “I say ‘Tell me what your story is, where you are and what we can give you while you’re here to help you achieve your goals.’”
For Jones, the internship (and a second one in 2008) helped her enter the MHS program in the fall of 2008 well-prepared. “While everyone else was starting to learn how to do data analysis,” she says, “that was something I had spent the summer doing!”
All roads lead to Baltimore for traffic safety leadership training.
Story by Kate Harrison Belz • Photo by Shehzad Noorani
The journey to improved global road safety requires a map. Better road management, smarter infrastructure and effective post-crash care are just some of the routes the Global Road Safety Leadership Course plans to navigate this summer in Baltimore.
Sixty-five government officials, health professionals and NGO representatives are set to attend the training program, now in its second year.
Offered July 30 to August 11 by the Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit (JH-IIRU) in the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health, and the Global Road Safety Partnership, the course helps low- and middle-income countries build leadership capacity to improve road safety. The course aims to meet “a critical gap in our efforts to stop death and disability on the world’s roads,” says Adnan Hyder, MD, PhD ’98, MPH ’93, JH-IIRU director and International Health professor.
Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, the course will incorporate site visits and sessions with global experts.
“Different countries have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to road safety,” says Abdulgafoor M. Bachani, PhD, associate director of JH-IIRU, and “that leads to fascinating and fruitful discussions.”
The Word on Wolfe Street
Harms from child sexual abuse extend well beyond the immediate event, noted Ryan Shields in an April 5 CBS News article on a Journal of Adolescent Health study that associated child sex abuse with early puberty in girls—a condition linked to depression and some cancers.
"I think that we’ve tended to view opioids as the first-best treatment for many types of chronic noncancer pain, when nothing could be further from the truth."
Caleb Alexander told WBUR’s Here & Now on April 18 that clinicians—after decades of over-prescribing opioids—must look to other prescription drugs and non-prescription options to treat chronic pain.
With an emphasis on reproducibility and transparency, the open science movement has been gaining steam, but in an April 5 story in The Atlantic, biostatistician Jeff Leek cautions that proposed cuts to federal science budgets could hamstring researchers’ efforts to increase data-sharing.
If not public health...
“I’d be working for a tech startup that needed a competent and fun data scientist.”
Awakening to Sleep
3 Questions for Adam Spira, PhD
Interview by Jackie Powder • Photography by Chris Hartlove
In the context of public health, where does sleep fit in?
There’s an increasing recognition of the implications of not getting enough sleep and disturbed sleep—whether it’s increased risk for chronic medical conditions, and for Alzheimer’s disease, injury, educational outcomes, mental disorders or addiction.
Are there effective ways to treat sleep disturbances without medication?
We have very good behavioral interventions, like cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, but they’re not yet as accessible as they need to be, and there aren’t enough trained providers.
In general, do you think that people understand the importance of sleep to overall health?
Our lives are very busy, and sleep can appear to be the thing that’s expendable. Along with diet and exercise, sleep is one of the three legs of the stool that form the foundation for health.