While being sworn in for a second term earlier this week, Barack Obama made history by being the first president to refer to the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in an inaugural speech. In what that some pundits are calling ‘Lincoln’s third inaugural address,’ the President laid out a civil rights agenda that placed the fight over gay rights on equal footing as battles against racial, ethnic, religious and gender discrimination.
In Great Britain, where much of my family is from and still lives, there is an annual tradition known as the Royal Christmas Message. Begun in 1932 by then King George V as a radio broadcast, the tradition has evolved into an annual event in which the sovereign head of the British Empire delivers a speech on that year's events, as well as personal and national triumphs and tragedies.
Just in time for World AIDS Day -- held every year on December 1st to remember the nearly 30 million people who have died since the epidemic began in the late 1970s -- the US Preventative Services Task Force has released new guidance on routine HIV testing. This is first time since 2005 that the Task Force has updated its HIV testing recommendations.
Most pundits have been describing last week's elections as a victory for the status quo, with President Obama being reelected and Democrats retaining control of the Senate despite the timid economic recovery and despite SuperPACs spending nearly a billion dollars on largely negative campaign ads. From a health and science policy perspective, however, nothing could be further from the truth.
Last week marked the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. That solemn occasion was marked by carefully scripted shows of bipartisan unity, with Republican and Democratic lawmakers honoring those who made great sacrifices on that day and in the years since, including the victims of 9/11, those who responded to the attacks, and soldiers and veterans of the subsequent war on terror.
Over the past two weeks, the attention of the American public has been held captive by the political circuses known as the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. They couldn’t have been more different.
Rumor has it that, sometime in the next few weeks, the US Preventative Services Task Force is expected to release a report recommending that HIV testing become a routine part of medical care. For a sexually active adult this means that anytime you go for a check up your doctor would be expected to screen you for the virus that causes AIDS.
Like most people, these last two weeks I have been captivated by the spectacle that is the Olympic Games. In a summer that has been defined by such tragedies as mass shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin and an increasingly violent civil war in Syria, watching Olympic athletes vie for medals in largely peaceful competition offers some much-needed respite.
Most of us were shocked and deeply saddened by the tragedy that occurred last Friday at the movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people lost their lives and another 58 were wounded – 11 critically – during one of the worst mass shootings in US history.
Coming just two days before the anniversary of the massacre in Norway, and close on the heels of such US-based tragedies as the shootings at Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Tucson and Columbine High School, what happened in Aurora has sparked considerable debate and controversy.