By Derek M. Griffith, Vanderbilt University and Elizabeth C. Stewart, Vanderbilt University
If you had to choose, which would you rather have: a healthy father or a good father? Studies suggest men often choose being a good father over being healthy. Becoming a father is a major milestone in the life of a man, often shifting the way he thinks from being “me focused” to “we focused.” But fatherhood can also shift how men perceive their health. Our research has found that fathers can view health not in terms of going to the doctor or eating vegetables but how they hold a job, provide for their family, protect and teach their children, and belong to a community or social network. As founder and director of the Center for Research on Men’s Health at Vanderbilt University and as a postdoctoral fellow from Meharry Medical College, we study why men live shorter lives than women, male attitudes about fatherhood, how to help men engage in healthier behavior – as well as what can be done to reduce men’s risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
There are many perils for humans and wildlife crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, from the hazards of navigating challenging terrain to the trauma of being detained by law enforcement. As tensions rise with each newly erected section of border wall, the impact of hardline policies can be seen taking a toll on the mental, physical, and environmental health of the borderland. Rising waters threaten migrants crossing Rio Grande
Risks to migrants crossing into the U.S. near El Paso have increased with the annual release of Rio Grande water from upriver in New Mexico. The release replenishes the borderlands and allows its farmers to irrigate, but the surge of water and migrants is a potentially deadly combination. Migrants who bypass barriers at U.S. ports of entry to seek asylum by crossing the Rio Grande risk drowning in the high water of the borderland canals.
As the measles outbreaks spread, many people are growing concerned. New York City declared a public health emergency and mandated vaccinations in four ZIP codes where vaccination rates have been low. A Israeli flight attendant is in a coma from being infected with the highly contagious disease. As a professor who teaches courses in immunology, microbiology and vaccine public policy, I research the fundamental processes of how our bodies respond to infections and vaccines to generate protective immunity. In my teaching, I work with students to develop an understanding of the complexity of these issues and encourage them to engage in the public discourse on these topics from balanced and informed perspective.
El Pasoan Ventura Villasenor grew up in the aftermath of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s where he lost friends and family members due to HIV complications, but there are now a preventive treatments that give people a chance they didn’t have when the crisis began. “I think it’s a great opportunity for the gay community, in reality, for anybody who is at high risk of becoming HIV-positive to take advantage of the clinic, of the features that they offer, because they do not only offer HIV testing, they do all types of screenings,” said Villasenor, 39. A clinic to treat and prevent HIV opened on El Paso’s East Side by Centro San Vicente in the summer of 2018. Villasenor is a patient at the clinic. El Paso is among the Top 10 counties with HIV cases, according to the Texas HIV Surveillance annual report.
El Paso has a significantly higher rate of Alzheimer’s diagnosis’ than the national average, and Latinos in general have higher rates of risk factors for the disease. Yet limited access to prevention services and medical care may make Borderlanders more likely to delay treatment and receive inadequate health care treatment for dementia issues. In 2015, according the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 12.4% of El Paso county residents over the age of 65 had some form of dementia. Hispanics in general are 1.5 times more likely to contract Alzheimers than non-Hispanic whites, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. This might be connected to Hispanics having higher rates of risk factors such as obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular risk, according to a 2016 report by the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging.
E-cigarettes that look like USB flash drives are making it harder for adults to crack down on their illegal use among minors – even in school hallways. Shacel De La Vega, a 2018 graduate of Coronado High School in El Paso, said it wasn’t hard to get a nicotine boost almost any time on campus using Juuls, slim vaping devices that are the size of a data stick. “Other than just letting us know that it was not allowed, there wasn’t really any sort of system that they had set up to stop us from using it,” De La Vega said. While still in school, De La Vega missed the optional presentation educators gave to students about vaping. Students were told that underage possession of tobacco products is against the law and the school would be cracking down on campus use.
Sexually transmitted disease rates in El Paso spiked to record highs in recent years, according to public health department data. The El Paso Department of Public Health reported a 10-year high of 7,681 new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in 2017 – an 11 percent increase from 2016 and a 62 percent increase from 2007. “Nationwide it’s on the rise. STDs, the whole nine yards, the gonorrhea, the syphilis, the chlamydia, this is not unique for El Paso,” said Faduma Shegow, clinic services manager for the STD clinic of El Paso. “It’s happening nationwide.”
EL PASO, Texas – When classical musicians perform in local hospitals, both the players and the patients find it to be good medicine. “It’s about being a healer, because the music is designed to soothe and heal and when you see that there is a change in the status of their health,” said Felipa Solis, Executive Director of El Paso Pro Musica. Performers with Pro Musica are going beyond the concert hall to bring classical music to the people, which UTEP masters cellos performance major Amy Miller said helps her as a musician to build a connection her audience. “I think that playing for people is very important because, you know, you’re in a practice room for hours at a time and you’re playing for yourself but when you have that time to share with someone else and connect with them in that way,” she said “You know, music is an unspoken language, it’s universal.” Solis said that playing music for hospital patients is an extension of the groups’ mission to make classical music accessible to all.
El Paso – Nearly 20 percent of high school students in Texas are considered obese and the state ranks fifth in the U.S. for high school students who are obese, according to the website The State of Obesity. At the same time, Hispanic children in Texas have the highest rate of childhood obesity, or 21.9 percent, followed by non-Hispanic blacks with a rate of 19.5 percent and non-Hispanic whites with a childhood obesity rate of 14.7 percent, according to the Texas Medical Association. Obesity among the youth ages 10-17 accumulated a total of 18.5 percent within the state. And, for the Paso Del Norte region, almost 40 percent of residents between the ages of 18 and 29 are considered obese, and one in three of all El Pasoans are considered obese or overweight. Reasons for obesity in teens range from personal behaviors including eating habits and physical activity to genetics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For cancer patients living in the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez metroplex, treatment is not just expensive, costing thousands of dollars for the uninsured, but also difficult to find. Although El Paso has two oncology centers and a few independent oncologists, according to the non profit cancer support group Junt@s Vamos, services such as Pet scans, radiation treatment and chemotherapy are not easily available in neighboring Ciudad Juarez, a border city of almost 1.5 million residents.Launched in 2013 by Juarez resident Cristina Coronado, Junt@s Vamos aims to provide a safe space for people with cancer to talk about their illness and receive emotional support. The group also aims to inform patients of their rights and treatments they can seek elsewhere.There are four core members of the group, but the community involvement extends beyond them. Every fundraiser event consistently draws about 15 volunteers. Aside from the core members, Junt@s Vamos also has eight permanent volunteers.The health information sessions they hold in Ciudad Juarez throughout the year usually draw 200 people suffering from cancer.