BCHS Faculty News

Achieving COVID-19 herd immunity through infection is dangerous, deadly, and might not even work

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THE CONVERSATION - White House advisers offer a “natural” approach to herd immunity as a way to reduce the need for public health control measures. BCHS chair Steven Albert asserts that this infection-based approach would almost certainly fail. Recklessly dropping social distancing and mask-wearing, reopening restaurants, and allowing large gatherings will overwhelm hospital systems and skyrocket mortality without producing the desired herd immu... 

HIV-related stigma in healthcare settings during COVID-19 (video)

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As part of the Conversations about COVID-19 seminar series, Mackey Friedman of IDM and BCHS joins IDM's Sarah Krier to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the lives of people living with HIV including their beliefs and attitudes about their healthcare needs and experiences.  

Harm Reduction Approach: Implications for the COVID-19 Pandemic

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BCHS's Mary Hawk and Harvard's Julia Marcus introduce the harm reduction approach and describe how the principles can be applied to public health messaging during COVID-19. They discuss how to balance general uncertainty, concerns about what is best for population and personal health, and the tensions between collectivism and individualism.  

'I won't be used as a guinea pig for white people' - Black Pittsburghers think twice about vaccine trials

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NEW YORK TIMES - Mistrust of vaccines runs deep in African-American communities. Against formidable odds, Fr. Paul Abernathy and his teams are trying to convince residents fo Pittsburgh's Black neighborhoods to volunteer for trials testing a COVID-19 shot. “The community health deputies have been instrumental in communicating about the vaccine registry in authentic ways,” said Elizabeth Miller of BCHS and Pitt Medicine, who coordinates outreach ... 

Using a harm-reduction framework to guide teacher-student interactions

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Teaching during this pandemic is hard. BCHS faculty and student co-authors—MPH student Shannon Mitchell (BCHS '21) and doctoral student Abisola Olaniyan (BCHS '21)—offer educators guidance on using harm-reduction principles to guide interactions with students while building compassionate, collectivist communities that allow people to learn and thrive. Check out the full article in the current edition of the journal Pedagogy in Health Promotion. ... 

Steroids can save lives among COVID-19 patients, UPMC and Pitt researchers say

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NPR – Pitt Medical Center’s Derek Angus (BCHS ’92) said that while some worried that steroids could also prevent the body from fighting off the coronavirus, all the coordinated studies reached the same conclusion, which is, I guess we have to stop our trials. It is reassuring that we can get randomized trials executed successfully and rapidly in the face of a pandemic, and it definitely puts us on a sure footing.  

Angus says large antibody study offers hope for virus vaccine efforts

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LOS ANGELES TIMES – A comprehensive study from Iceland revealed that natural antibodies remained stable for four months, longer than was first thought. HPM’s Derek Angus (BCHS ’92), UPMC’s critical care chief, said that “will be encouraging for people working on vaccines.” He added that the infection fatality rate of 0.3 percent is in keeping with recent estimates here in the U.S.  

Baumann and Burke create community with shared art space to combat negative effects of physical distancing

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, how have you stayed connected and maintained community connections? BCHS' Jessie Burke and Sara Baumann asked the Pitt community to respond with art projects, which are now available for viewing in a new virtual gallery featured on Pitt Public Health's website. "[A]rt space interventions like this project can be powerful approaches for reducing adverse physiological and psychological health outcomes," said Baumann. ... 

Egan finds short-term PrEP use protects at-risk men on vacation

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MEDICAL XPRESS - "We started this as a feasibility study to see if we could identify barriers to short-term PrEP use and make adjustments. But we were excited when we got the results and discovered that almost all the participants were adherent to the point of protection against HIV," said BCHS’ James Egan (BCHS '14). "This gives us a promising strategy to pursue in engaging at-risk men in HIV prevention efforts that work for them."  

Miller finds homophobic men who display traits of toxic masculinity are more likely to be bullies

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DAILY MAIL - “There has been a lot of discussion around harmful masculinities in the media and in the research community,” said study author and medical anthropologist Elizabeth Miller, BCHS faculty and chief of adolescent and young adult medicine at Pitt Medicine. However, she added, “no one has agreed on a standardized way to measure the concept.”  

Angus says “Covid vaccine shortages are very likely. Without a plan, it will be a feeding frenzy.”

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THE TELEGRAPH - Derek Angus (BCHS '92), chair of critical care medicine and HPM distinguished professor, says hard conversations about who should be prioritized will be needed both within and between countries. It might be decided that frontline workers should be at the head of the queue, but you could say that minorities who have a disproportionate burden of the disease should have a chance. You must be transparent about your principles of fair... 

Albert on the COVID-19 testing shortage; Allegheny County residents share difficulties getting timely results

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PUBLIC SOURCE – BCHS’ Steven Albert believes the Allegheny County Health Department has done a great job despite a meager federal response and a decades-long disinvestment in public health. He said when our health department says to stay home if you have a problem but only get a test if you’re symptomatic, that shows we don’t have the testing apparatus we need. If it takes a week to get test results, we’re failing miserably.  

Brown talks about health equity implications of SCOTUS decision on employment protections for SGM

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"The June 15, 2020, decision by the Supreme Court of the United States affirming Federal Civil Rights protections in employment for sexual and gender minorities (SGM) across the country has significant health equity implications...we celebrate this decision as a positive step toward creating more equitable health and social environments for those in our communities who exist across the gender and sexuality spectrum," said BCHS's Andre Brown.   


Politics, fear keep some people from disclosing contacts. Maseru talks solutions.

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SPOTLIGHT PA – Contact tracing is crucial to keeping people safe but success relies on cooperation. “The key is building community trust,” said BCHS’s Noble Maseru. “If the people doing this work are known and respected in the community, residents will be more likely to trust that their information is being used for a good purpose.”  

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Recent BCHS Publications

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Physician-patient communication behaviors in the most popular prime television shows 

Physician-patient communication behaviors in the most popular prime television shows

JOURNAL OF HEALTH COMMUNICATION - Hoffman BL, Cafferty LA, Shensa A, Jain P, Rosenthal EL, Primack BA, Sidani JE extended Jain and Slater's (2013) research to the most popular primetime television programs of 2016 and 2017. Our analysis suggests that patient–provider interactions on primetime telev... (02/10/2020)

Paid leave and access to telework as work attendance determinants during acute respiratory illness, United States 2017-18 

Paid leave and access to telework as work attendance determinants during acute respiratory illness, United States 2017-18

EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES - Faruque Ahmed, Sara Kim, Mary Patricia Nowalk, Jennifer P. King, Jeffrey J. VanWormer, Manjusha Gaglani, Richard K. Zimmerman, Todd Bear, Michael L. Jackson, Lisa A. Jackson, Emily Martin, Caroline Cheng, Brendan Flannery, Jessie R. Chung, and Amra Uzicanin found that... (02/10/2020)

Rural Access to MAT in Pennsylvania (RAMP): A Hybrid Implementation Study Protocol for Medication Assisted Treatment Adoption among Rural Care Providers 

Rural Access to MAT in Pennsylvania (RAMP): A Hybrid Implementation Study Protocol for Medication Assisted Treatment Adoption among Rural Care Providers

ADDICTION SCIENCE AND CLINICAL PRACTICE - Cochran G, Cole E, Warwick J, Donohue J, Gordon AJ, Gellad W, Bear T, Kelley D, DiDomenico E, Pringle J found that rural areas in the U.S. have been hit particularly hard by the current OUD and overdose epidemic given the paucity of health and human service... (02/10/2020)

Factors Contributing to Domestic Violence Among Hindu Asian Indian Immigrant Women in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: A Feasibility Study 

Factors Contributing to Domestic Violence Among Hindu Asian Indian Immigrant Women in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania: A Feasibility Study

JOURNAL OF HEALTH DISPARITIES RESEARCH AND PRACTICE - Pallatino C, Bear TM, Terry M's study indicated that research within Hindu AIIW is feasible and there were no issues with recruitment or item nonresponse among participants in this study.  (02/10/2020)

An Athletic Coach-Delivered Middle School Gender Violence Prevention Program: A Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial 

An Athletic Coach-Delivered Middle School Gender Violence Prevention Program: A Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial

Miller, Jones, Ripper, Paglisotti, Mulbah, Abebe found that gender attitudes and intentions to intervene did not differ between study arms. In exploratory intensity-adjusted and per protocol analyses, athletes on teams receiving CBIM were more likely to report positive bystander behaviors and to en... (02/06/2020)
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Intimate partner violence and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP): A rapid review of current evidence for women’s HIV prevention 

Intimate partner violence and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP): A rapid review of current evidence for women’s HIV prevention

AIDS AND BEHAVIOR - O’Malley TL, Hawk ME, Egan JE, Krier SE, and Burke JG's findings indicate a dearth of research on women’s PrEP use and IPV and highlight the urgency for research, public heath practice, and policy attention around the HIV risk context and needs of women who experience IPV. (12/02/2019)
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Cancer-related beliefs and perceptions in Appalachia: findings from 3 states 

Cancer-related beliefs and perceptions in Appalachia: findings from 3 states

JOURNAL OF RURAL HEALTH - Vanderpool RC, Huang B, Deng Y, Bear TM, Chen Q, Johnson MF, Paskett ED, Robertson LB, Young GS, Lachan R found variations in cancer beliefs were observed across the 3 states’ Appalachian populations. Interventions should be tailored to specific communities to improve canc... (10/14/2019)
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The role of accountability in batterers intervention programs and community response to intimate partner violence 

The role of accountability in batterers intervention programs and community response to intimate partner violence

JOURNAL OF FAMILY VIOLENCE - Pallatino C, Morrison P, Miller E, Burke J, Cluss P, Fleming R, Hawker L, George D, Bicehouse T, Chang J. found that in order to have a sustainable impact on IPV perpetration, stakeholders across the Social Ecological Model will need to utilize crucial intervention peri... (10/14/2019)