Thursday, July 18, 2013

Some Places Where You Can Find My Writing

Every so often, I'm asked where people can read my articles or posts. I've been writing online since the 90s, so there's a lot out there, but here are some of the places where you will find me most often.

First is a bit of an announcement: I'm a new contributor to You can follow me and be informed of new posts by clicking on the "follow" button by my name. I'll be writing five columns/posts per month for them and my first was posted yesterday afternoon. It's quite timely in some parts of North America (and Europe) because of the topic: Summer Dehydration Can Kill: How To Keep Your Children Safe.

Several years ago, I was a writer for HealthDay News. I began writing for them again recently, so not only will you find pieces on their site, you may find some on news sites that pick up the HealthDay feed. One from a couple of weeks ago was a possible obesity and migraine link: Obesity May Boost Migraine Odds.

Over at, they sometimes ask for permission to repost some of my blog posts from here. I usually agree because the topics they are interested in are near and dear to my heart, usually safety related. I sometimes write quick pieces for them too. The most recent ones are part of a series that describe the different roles of healthcare providers.

I've been published in print magazines as well and many of these have an online presence. I'll have another piece in the next issue of the US Costco Connection. Sometimes these pieces are picked up by editions in other countries. A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece about the health benefits of potatoes. Several months later, I received a copy of the Korean CC - all in Korean, except for my article, which was reprinted there in English. That was a fun find. Recently, I was published in Alive magazine, which is also available online. This article was a fun one to write. It's on the importance of getting a properly fitting bra.

And then there is the older stuff but pieces I still like. I wrote an essay-type piece for NursingLink a few years ago: Every Patient Has a Story. I still like that piece as I do another one I wrote for them, on the importance of health literacy.

As you can see, I'm all over the place with health writing. I've also written a few articles that appeared in the print magazine The Quilter, Montreal Home, and Jobboom. It's fun to get outside of health writing sometimes.

So, there are some of the places you can find me. And thanks for reading this blog. It's what helped spark so many of my opportunities.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Push to Extend HPV Vaccinations for Gay Men

Vaccines are quite controversial these days. There are still people who believe the autism/vaccine link, even though that has been debunked by the very person who made that claim in the first place. Other people believe that we need to build up immunity naturally, by getting the illnesses rather than through vaccinations. Some object just out of principle.

Vaccines are not fool-proof. It is still possible to get an illness even if you have had the vaccine because sometimes they don't work as well as they should. Unfortunately, some people also get some of the side effects, the adverse reactions they're called, some of which can be quite severe. But for the most part, vaccines have saved many, many lives. Certain diseases have been eradicated, like small pox, while others are rarely found in many parts of the world, like polio.

The HPV vaccine, a vaccine that protects against some strains of the HPV (human papillomavirus) has been one of the more controversial ones. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus. According to the CDC, it is the most commonly spread sexually transmitted infection (STI). The virus can cause cancers of the cervix and anus, as well as others.

There has been a push to ensure that all young women (below the age of 26 who have not yet been sexually active) to be vaccinated. There is also a call for young men under the age of 21 to do so, because they can pass on the virus.

In 2008, the United Kingdom began vaccinating the girls, but not yet the boys. The idea was that if the girls stopped getting the virus, it wouldn't be spread to the boys. But this thinking is changing, particularly because of the high rate of genital cancer among gay men, which is more than 15 times than that of straight men.

According to a press release issued by the BMJ: 

"Data from Australia show that HPV vaccination of girls has had an impact on the prevalence of genital warts in straight men, but there has been no such change in prevalence among gay men, say the authors.

In February this year, Australia extended its school based HPV vaccination programme to 12-13 year old boys, with a catch up programme for 14-15 year olds.

Recent research has shown that the HPV jab is effective in men, including gay men. The vaccine covers HPV 16 and 18, the two strains of the virus which account for most of the cancers associated with the infection."

What do you think about the HPV vaccine? Should it just be given to everyone?