July 26, 20232:33 PM ET By Bec Roldan
How do viruses do their job of infecting humans? Some of them are experts at evading the immune system so that it won't knock them out.
Take hepatitis C, a sneaky and potentially deadly viral infection of the liver that is transmitted by contact with human blood – for example, through needles, sex and childbirth.
Scientists have known for a long time that hep C can hide from our immune system. While the immune system might attack the invading virus at first, leading to mild symptoms like fever or fatigue, the virus eventually hides so the immune system gives up the chase. Which is why most patients with hep C never show symptoms.
That gives hep C plenty of time to replicate and spread throughout healthy liver cells, leading to a chronic case of hepatitis C.
"We have this constant battle going on with these viruses," says Jeppe Vinther, a professor of biology at the University of Copenhagen who studies hepatitis C. "We are trying to defeat them and they are trying to avoid being detected and defeated."
But scientists didn't know how hep C pulled off its hiding trick. A new study led by Vinther and published in the journal Nature offers an explanation.
The cap is the keySo how does hep C do it? The virus uses standard villain fare to evade detection: a mask.
Hepatitis C is an RNA virus – one of several viruses that rely on their RNA instead of their DNA to carry information needed to take over the body's healthy cells. Other RNA viruses include measles, mumps, influenza and SARS-CoV-2.
RNA molecules in our body have a protecting group of DNA building blocks at their end known as a cap. These caps have various functions, including sending a message to our immune system: Leave us alone! Do not destroy us!
Since RNA viruses lack caps, once they invade our body, says Vinther, the cell control alarm bells go off and the immune system is activated to kill the foreign RNA.
This new study shows that when your body is infected with hep C, the virus attracts a cap for its RNA – like the protective cap on the body's own RNA. The researchers don't know exactly how the hep C virus does this — one of the many mysteries about viruses.
TO CONTINUE READING: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2023/07/26/1187040969/hep-c-has-a-secret-strategy-to-evade-the-immune-system-and-now-we-know-what-it-i
JULY IS BIPOC MENTAL HEALTH MONTH AND A GOOD TIME TO REFLECT ON HOW WE USE THESE TERMS, AND THEIR IMPACT ON PEOPLE OF COLOR.
BY ISHA WEERASINGHE July 31st 2023
At least twice a day, I hear the phrases “It’s driving me insane!” or “That was crazy” to describe everyday occurrences.
Words like “crazy,” “mad,” “insane,” and “nuts” have been completely absorbed into our lexicon, and we don’t think twice about using them. Casual use of these terms, however, can be stigmatizing and dehumanizing for people with mental health conditions.
People often don’t think about the origin of these phrases or their true meaning. They often reinforce society’s negative view of people struggling with their mental health and can lead to fatal consequences.
Casual use of these terms, however, can be stigmatizing and dehumanizing for people with mental health conditions.
Several decades ago my mother was diagnosed with a serious mental health condition — undifferentiated schizophrenia — bringing this issue close to my heart. Her experiences motivated me to pursue a career in mental health policy and devote my energy to eradicating stigma and expanding access to culturally responsive care.
When someone casually says, “she’s so crazy” in an off-handed way, they could be talking about someone like my mom.
TO CONTINUE READING: https://wordinblack.com/2023/07/the-damage-we-do-when-we-throw-around-terms-like-crazy/
BY ANNA LUCENTE STERLING NEW YORK CITY
PUBLISHED 5:22 PM ET JAN. 13, 2023
Overdose deaths in the city continued to climb in 2021, reaching new record highs that topped record overdose deaths the previous year, according to provisional data released on Thursday by the Department of Health.
There were 2,668 drug overdose deaths across the five boroughs in 2021, an increase of 78% since 2019 and 27% since 2020, the report found.
“These deaths are heartbreaking and many, if not most, are absolutely preventable,” Dr. Ashwin Vasan, health commissioner, said in a statement.
The report found disparities by age, race, poverty level, and neighborhood of residence.
According to the provisional data, overdose deaths among males in 2021 were about three times as high as deaths among females.
Black New Yorkers had the highest rate of overdose deaths among ethnic groups, as well as the largest increase of ethnic groups from 2020 to 2021, city provisional data shows.
Fentanyl was detected in 80% of the drug overdose deaths in 2021 and was the most common substance involved in overdose deaths for the fifth year in a row, according to the city. The opioid is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
New Yorkers ages 55 to 64 years old, and Bronx residents, also had the highest rate of overdose deaths compared to other age groups and boroughs.
TO READ: https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2023/01/13/drug-overdoses-continue-to-climb-in-2021--provisional-city-data-shows?cid=share_email