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Erin Schumaker
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Healthy Living Editor, The Huffington Post

Entries by Erin Schumaker

ICYMI: The Dark Side Of Being A People Person And How Sleep Can Make You More Creative

(0) Comments | Posted May 2, 2015 | 10:25 AM

ICYMI Health features what we're reading this week.

Mental Health Awareness month began on May 1, and we were captivated by the stories of friends and family whose loved ones struggled with sports-related concussions and then depression. We also took in a mini-documentary highlighting the day-to-day difficulties of parenting...

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First HIV Home-Testing Kits Available In Britain

(1) Comments | Posted April 29, 2015 | 2:11 PM

Britain's first at-home HIV testing kit, which gives results in 15 minutes with 99.7 percent accuracy, went on sale April 27.

The BioSure HIV Self-Test is currently the only at-home test in Britain that doesn't involve mailing samples to a laboratory. The test works by detecting HIV antibodies from a finger prick's worth of blood. Results are displayed via the device's digital window. For a positive diagnosis to register, a person must have been infected for at least three months, reported Agence France-Presse, and all results must be corroborated by more testing at a doctor's office.

Though it's the first approved at-home device in the U.K., BioSure is not the first in the world. OraQuick, a self-test that was FDA approved in the U.S. in 2012, involves a cheek swab and gives results in about 20 to 40 minutes. OraQuick has 91.7 percent accuracy when identifying positive results and 99.9 percent accuracy when identifying negative results.

Founder and CEO of BioSure, Brigette Bard, told HuffPost Live that self-testing in the U.S. helped pave the way for the U.K. "Various countries are going through processes at the moment to revoke the prevention of self-testing," Bard said. "I think everyone agrees that testing -- increased testing -- is the only way forward to control and hopefully eliminate onward transmissions."

"Over 40 percent of people living with HIV are diagnosed late, meaning they have been living with HIV for at least four years," Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National Aids Trust, told Business Insider. "People diagnosed late are 11 times more likely to die in the first year after diagnosis."

At-home HIV tests have a complicated history. The first FDA application for a home test was in 1987, but it took 25 years for the test to finally be approved in part because of predictions that home tests would lead to a wave of suicides, according to The New York Times.

"Pregnancy self-tests were considered controversial at some point, and concerns were raised that young women would commit suicide if they found out they were pregnant," Alex Carballo-Diéguez, a psychology professor at Columbia University and research scientist at the H.I.V. Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute told The Huffington Post. "Yet, decades later, they are perfectly accepted and available everywhere. HIV self-tests still raise some concerns now, but this will probably not be so in the future."

While individuals with an HIV/AIDS infection are at a higher risk for suicide than the general population, studies have repeatedly shown that individuals who receive a positive diagnosis through at-home kits do not have a significantly greater suicide risk than individuals who are diagnosed in health clinics.

At the height of the AIDS crisis, however, activists worried that increased testing would lead to discrimination against HIV-positive individuals, and moved to block home testing, even passing out copies of the obituary of a man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge after learning his HIV-positive status as proof that increased testing would have negative consequences on the community.

An estimated 26,000 people in the UK are HIV-positive, but don't know it, according to The Guardian. Increased accessibility to testing could drive this number down and reduce HIV transmissions.

In the three years that OraQuick has been on the U.S. market, the biggest drawback Carballo-Diéguez can see is the cost, around $40 per test. (In comparison, the BioTech HIV test retails for £29.95, approximately $45 USD.) "This makes the product inaccessible to many potentially interested people," Carballo-Diéguez said, noting that there have been proposals in New York State to offer free at-home tests through community organizations, in an effort to reach individuals who don't otherwise go to health clinics.

While there aren't any large-scale studies measuring the efficacy of at-home testing in preventing HIV transmissions, Carballo-Diéguez was lead author on a small-scale study that examined at-home testing results, published in the journal AIDS and Behavior in 2012. Of the 27 men in the study who gave the at-home test to approximately 100 potential male partners, there were six individuals who tested positive and were unaware of their HIV status.

While more studies need to be done to determine the effectiveness of at-home testing, increased access is a step in the right direction toward reducing HIV...

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This Will Make You Never, Ever Forget Your Taxi Seat Belt Again

(1) Comments | Posted April 29, 2015 | 8:32 AM

taxi seat belt

Riding in a taxi without a seat belt isn't just a big city public health problem. Thanks to the popularity of car-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, everyone's sliding into the backseat of a cab these days.

In private cars,...

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ICYMI: Tango As Medicine, What Stress Looks Like And Your Brain On 'Food Porn'

(0) Comments | Posted April 24, 2015 | 7:30 PM

ICYMI features what HuffPost editors are reading this week.

This week, we teared up while re-reading this year's recipient of the Hillman Prize -- a long-form profile of an abortion doctor who treats women in Mississippi. We were also awed by our infographics editor's illustrations of stress...

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Americans Are Binge Drinking More, Especially Women

(6) Comments | Posted April 24, 2015 | 4:21 PM

The binge drinking rates for women rose almost 36 percent between 2002 and 2012, according to a study published this month in the American Journal of Public Health. Men's binge drinking rates rose 23 percent over the same time period, and men are still more likely to binge...

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What Causes Someone To Fake Cancer On The Internet?

(40) Comments | Posted April 22, 2015 | 2:21 PM

Belle Gibson, the Australian Instagram star who claimed diet and lifestyle changes cured her terminal cancer -- landing a book deal and an award-winning app as a result -- admitted this week that she faked her cancer diagnosis.

The 23-year-old's story unraveled after it was...

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ICYMI: An Infuriating History Of Breast Cancer And The Psychological Depth Of ‘YOLO'

(5) Comments | Posted April 18, 2015 | 12:21 PM

ICYMI Health features what we're reading this week.

This week, we took a closer look at psychology across disciplines. We were fascinated that 18th-century doctors blamed women for their breast cancer diagnoses and disappointed that new research confirmed what many already suspected: teachers tend to punish black...

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It's Time To Stop Using These Phrases When It Comes To Mental Illness

(58) Comments | Posted April 17, 2015 | 8:05 AM

Research by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy shows the loaded words used to describe drug addiction, such as "clean" vs. "dirty," can actually drive people away from getting help, The Huffington Post reported in March.

The same is true of terminology used to...

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The Oral Cancer Risk You Might Not Know About

(7) Comments | Posted April 14, 2015 | 8:25 AM

Sexually transmitted disease might not be top of mind during a semi-annual dental checkup, but perhaps it should be.

Some behavioral risk factors for oral cancer, like being a smoker, chewing tobacco or drinking heavily are well-known, but in the last few years, reports have shown that...

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ICYMI: The Dubious Appeal Of Cryotherapy And The Limits Of ‘In Sickness And In Health'

(1) Comments | Posted April 11, 2015 | 10:39 AM

ICYMI Health features what we're reading this week.

This week, we can't get enough of question-and-answer style interviews with captivating subjects. We were drawn to a Q&A with an anthropologist on the societal complexity fueling female genetical cutting in Kenya and to an interview with a muslim chaplain on...

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Fast Food Chains Are Allowed Inside Hospitals In These 15 States

(16) Comments | Posted April 10, 2015 | 8:08 AM

Florida and Texas earn a dishonorable mention for being the states with the most fast food locations inside of hospitals, according to a recent report from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Of the 208 hospitals surveyed in the report, many of which receive federal funding, 20 percent...

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Harvard Study Finds Anger Issues, Not Major Mental Illness, Tied To Gun Violence

(96) Comments | Posted April 8, 2015 | 11:33 AM

Nearly one in 10 U.S. adults have both a history of impulsive anger and access to a firearm, according to a new study by researchers from Duke, Harvard and Columbia universities. The researchers also found that 1.5 percent of adults with impulsive anger issues carry a gun.

The...

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Inside The Mind Of A Superfan

(3) Comments | Posted April 8, 2015 | 8:07 AM

After Duke pulled out a victory over Wisconsin in the NCAA championship on April 6, ending the Badgers' March Madness run, Wisconsin fans were understandably disappointed. Photos circulated online of defeated Wisconsin fan dressed in a Teletubby costume, seemingly on the verge of tears.

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Health Stories Of The Week: Belle Gibson, India's Surrogacy Industry And Catholic Vs. Jewish Guilt

(0) Comments | Posted April 4, 2015 | 9:34 AM

ICYMI Health features what we're reading this week.

This week, we were drawn to a Q&A with the journalist correspondent in a new film on the dark realities of India's surrogacy industry, as well the news that Australia's poster girl for healthy living might have misled the...

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Researchers Discover New Source Of Airborne Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

(5) Comments | Posted April 1, 2015 | 8:03 AM

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria from cattle feed yards can become airborne, according to a study to be published in Environmental Health Perspectives this month.

Researchers from Texas Tech University collected particle matter samples downwind and upwind of 10 large-scale cattle feed yards within a 200-mile radius of Lubbock, Texas, over...

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Health Stories Of The Week: Gender Bias, Sleep Justice And Iceland's Genetic Experiment

(0) Comments | Posted March 28, 2015 | 10:12 AM

ICYMI Health features what we're reading this week.

During this last week in March, we were captivated by the story of Iceland's cache of genetic information and an exposé on the problem of gender bias in medical experiments. We also affirmed a long-held belief that sleep habits...

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Obamacare Has Already Transformed How We Diagnose Diabetes

(34) Comments | Posted March 26, 2015 | 8:08 AM

President Obama may be able to add another feather to his cap, according to a study of newly diagnosed diabetes patients published in Diabetes Care this week. The study found a 23 percent increase in newly diagnosed diabetes patients in the 26 states (and the District of Columbia)...

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Why One Woman With Lung Cancer Photographed Herself Every Day For A Year

(57) Comments | Posted February 24, 2015 | 7:19 AM

In 2013, Jennifer Glass was diagnosed with stage IIIB lung cancer. To help document her life, she took a photo every day and then, in March 2014, she set it to music and uploaded it to YouTube. Since then, the video has been viewed more than 345,000 times, by people...

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5 Historical Figures Who Dared To Be Pro-Vaccine Before Their Time

(3) Comments | Posted February 5, 2015 | 4:28 PM

With more than 100 confirmed cases of measles in the United States so far this year, many of which have been linked to the Disneyland outbreak in December, the importance of vaccines can't be understated. Politicians and doctors have weighed in, several pushing back on exemption loopholes that exist...

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Facebook Knows You Better Than Your Therapist

(3) Comments | Posted January 27, 2015 | 7:11 AM

Who knows you better than anyone? Facebook, of course. In a recent study of 86,000 Facebook users, researchers compared the results of a personality survey completed by study participants’ family and friends to a computer analysis of the participants’ Facebook likes. The computer blew family and friends out...

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