This past Sunday marked the 26th annual World AIDS Day, which is held every year on December 1st to remember the nearly 30 million people who have died from the disease since it was first identified in 1981.
Like most married couples, my husband and I have a morning routine. I tend to get up first, shower, get dressed, get a cup of coffee, and make lunch. Dan is a little slower to get started, and likes to listen to a program like Good Morning America or the Today Show while ironing our shirts.
Normally the television is just background noise to me, but last week I actually stopped and listened in disbelief as ABC News correspondent Amy Robach revealed publicly that she'd been diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy later that week.
Earlier this week, the US Justice Department announced that pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay more than $2 billion in fines and penalties for illegally marketing the drug Risperdal to doctors and patients.
Like many academics -- and contrary to the image of college professors as lazy scholars that take sabbaticals every other year and have their summers off -- I about have four or five full-time jobs. I direct a graduate program in bioethics, teach six courses (including two summer courses), and supervise four students each year as they complete their Masters projects.
Unless a miracle happens, but the time this commentary airs the US federal government will enter its tenth day of shutdown. Nearly 800,000 workers will remain furloughed, important social service and educational programs will remain unfunded, national parks and monuments will remain closed, and the National Zoo's panda cam will remain offline.
Many of my friends, family and co-workers smoke cigarettes. They, like the other 20% of Americans who smoke, do so despite the known health risks and the fact that a pack of cigarettes now runs over $12 in New York. That they continue to smoke given the physical and financial cost demonstrates just how powerful nicotine addiction can be. In fact, some studies suggest that nicotine is more addictive than alcohol, cocaine or heroin. So it's really no surprise that nicotine addiction is the most common form of chemical dependence globally.
Next weekend my husband and I plan to attend a fundraiser to raise money to cover some medical expenses for the friend of a friend. The person in question, a middle-aged woman not much older than myself, suffers from severe cardiomyopathy. Her heart is literally falling apart and she needs a transplant.
If you’ve read the paper or watched the nightly news sometime in the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably noted what appears to be a disturbing trend. Specifically, there has been a rash (pun intended) of infectious disease outbreaks locally, nationally, and internationally.
If you watched one of the major networks in the past week – CNN, MSNBC, Fox News – you would think that the only newsworthy thing that happened was the arrival of the royal baby in England. Even here in the United States, a country that rejected British rule over 237 years ago, hysteria over the birth of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s son reached a fevered pitch.
Just two weeks ago, the US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages even if they took place in one of the 13 states or in the federal district where such weddings are legal. In a 5–4 decision, the Court ruled that key sections of the Act were unconstitutional because they deprived same-sex couples of liberties protected by the Fifth Amendment.