Health Desk

We've made great progress treating people who are infected with HIV, but if they get cancer they're less likely to get the care they need, a recent study found.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Amid a raging opioid epidemic, many doctors and families in the U.S. have been pleading for better treatment alternatives. One option now under consideration by the Food and Drug Administration is a system of implanted rods that offer controlled release of buprenorphine — a drug already used in other forms to treat opioid addiction.

Because it's implanted in the skin, this version of the drug can't easily be sold on the illegal market, proponents say — a key treatment advantage. The FDA is expected to decide whether to approve the device — called Probuphine — within a week.

Oklahoma lawmakers have passed a bill that makes performing an abortion a felony.

NPR's Jennifer Ludden told our Newscast unit that the bill is the first of its kind, and an pro-abortion rights group plans to sue if the governor signs the bill into law. Gov. Mary Fallin has not yet indicated what she plans to do. Here's more from Jennifer:

While Congress fidgets over whether and how to pay for the fight against the Zika virus, state and local health departments are scrambling and slimming down.

That's because these front-line public health agencies have already seen their budgets chopped because of the debate.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

There's a lot of talk about helping the girls and women of the developing world, but there's not a lot of money to back it up.

According to a 2014 report from the United Nations Population Fund, "less than two cents [of] every international development dollar is spent on an adolescent girl."

She was a mother in rural Ghana. She only wanted four children. But she had seven.

That's a story that Faustina Fynn-Nyame told at the Women Deliver conference this week in Copenhagen, Denmark. Fynn-Nyame works with the reproductive health care nonprofit Marie Stopes International.

"She was let down by the community, the government and us," Fynn-Nyame told the audience. And there are millions of women like this Ghanaian mom, unable to get access to contraception.

We've all been caught in that hazy tug of war between wakefulness and sleep. But the biology behind how our brains drive us to sleep when we're sleep-deprived hasn't been entirely clear.

People have been wrapping their babies like burritos since before there were burritos. My husband described the skillful nurses where I gave birth as "swaddling ninjas," and by my estimation he had at least his brown belt by the time we left.

In a basement office at Purdue University in Indiana, associate professor of engineering practice Brad Duerstock has designed a special space.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Illinois State Police

The state’s heroin crisis has captured headlines and the attention of lawmakers. But in the past few years, the number of methamphetamine lab busts has crept back up, and law enforcement officials say the drug is also coming into the state from Mexico. 

A handful of scientists around the United States are trying to do something that some people find disturbing: make embryos that are part human, part animal.

The researchers hope these embryos, known as chimeras, could eventually help save the lives of people with a wide range of diseases.

One way would be to use chimera embryos to create better animal models to study how human diseases happen and how they progress.

Perhaps the boldest hope is to create farm animals that have human organs that could be transplanted into terminally ill patients.

As the population of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder keeps growing, so does the number of people with that diagnosis who aren't finding employment.

Though many young adults on the spectrum are considered high functioning, recent research shows 40 percent don't find work — a higher jobless rate than people with other developmental disabilities experience.

Single mothers, untenured professors, young reporters and on-call doctors might have a thin silver lining for their hurried days and response for the people who insist on slowing down: All that hustling may translate into superior brain power as you get older, as a study finds that the busiest people perform best on cognitive tests.

Everyone in the office was thrilled when Pamela showed up for her first day at DigitalMania Studio, a video game company in Tunisia. She couldn't code. She was worthless as a beta tester. She had a habit of farting and urinating on people who annoyed her. But wow, could she moo.

"And we got used to the smell," says Sami Zalila, DigitalMania's communications manager.

Pamela's job? Prove to skeptics that the company really would give a cow to the top scorer of Bagra the Game.

A single question asked at an annual checkup — whether parents have trouble making ends meet — could help pediatricians identify children at risk for serious health problems associated with poverty and the chronic levels of stress that often accompany it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges members to ask if their patients' families are struggling financially and then commit to helping them get the resources they need to thrive. And some communities are trying to make that happen.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Before I had a child, I only occasionally set foot in the many parks in our neighborhood. Now I spend so much time in them that I can tell you about every swing set, picnic table and unfenced patch of grass within a two-mile radius. Also the location and cleanliness quotient of every park restroom.

Scientists and doctors say the case is clear: The best way to tackle the country's opioid epidemic is to get more people on medications that have been proven in studies to reduce relapses and, ultimately, overdoses.

Yet, only a fraction of the more than 4 million people believed to abuse prescription painkillers or heroin in the U.S. are being given what's called medication-assisted treatment.

Last week's episode of The Mindy Project finally addressed a lingering criticism of the show — that it doesn't explore Mindy's "otherness." In it, Dr. Mindy Lahiri — the character played by series creator Mindy Kaling — goes on a date with an Indian man named Neel. He is, as Mindy admits to him, the first Indian guy she's gone out with. She also tells him she knows little about the place her parents came from.

South Africa is said to be a country where rape is "highly prevalent" – that's the finding of a comprehensive 2011 report compiled by several universities. According to police statistics released in September, there were nearly 54,000 sexual offenses in the year running from mid-2014 to mid-2015.

And this spring, Facebook has sparked two big stories about attitudes toward rape.

When insurers pull out of the health law marketplaces, will customers buying plans outside those exchanges lose access, too? And do families have to meet two deductibles if each spouse has a separate insurance plan? Here are the answers.

A man moves to a city in Florida and decides he wants to be mayor. He wins the election. He's happy. Then he's told his city is slowly going underwater. Not financially. Literally.

James Cason had settled in Coral Gables, a seaside town near Miami, six years ago. He ran for mayor on the Republican ticket and, soon after he won, heard the lecture by scientists about sea level rise and South Florida that left him flabbergasted.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Mosquito season is just getting underway. And many parts of the country have mosquitoes that could potentially transmit Zika.

Health officials expect to see cases here in the next few weeks. So we decided to figure out who needs to break out the bug spray and what other precautions they should take.

By now, you've probably heard that pregnant women — and those trying to get pregnant — face the biggest danger when it comes to Zika. The virus can cause devastating brain damage in fetuses at any point during a pregnancy.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR — together with member stations from across the country — has been reporting on troubles with the Veterans Choice program, a $10 billion plan created by Congress two years ago to squash long wait times veterans were encountering when going to see a doctor. But as we reported in March, this fix needs a fix.

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