Top Five Reads of the Week

Massachusetts May Be Eligible for $20 Million to Help Fight Opioid Abuse: This week, the White House released a proposed funding plan for opioid abuse treatment and prevention. The plan, released with a state-by-state monetary breakdown, could give Massachusetts up to $20 million. Talk of opioid abuse has been increasingly loud in state political conversation in recent years, with Massachusetts having the 13th-highest rate of accidental overdoses in the country. This new funding, for which the Commonwealth would still need to apply and be awarded, comes after the state received a $2.5 million federal grant for the treatment of opioid abuse earlier this year. (Boston Magazine)

World Health Organization Removes Coffee from Its List of Carcinogens: Coffee lovers, you’re in luck. The World Health Organization reported this week that coffee is no longer classified as a carcinogen—25 years after researchers deemed it a possible cause of bladder cancer. With that said, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer said drinking “very hot beverages” is still “probably carcinogenic.” So, Americans, you can stick to your average of three cups of coffee a day, but make sure it’s not too hot! (The Wall Street Journal)

Federal Government Encourages Medicaid Enrollees to Use More Long-Acting, Reversible Contraceptives: Federal officials are urging states to increase the use of long-acting, reversible contraceptives, or LARCs, among their Medicaid enrollees. LARCs, which include hormone implants and intrauterine devices, can prevent pregnancy for as long as 10 years and “provide nearly complete protection,” compared to birth control pills that are about 90 percent effective. Officials hope that if Medicaid enrollees increasingly opt to use LARCs, states can decrease their money spent as a result of unplanned pregnancies each year. In 2010 alone, the federal government spent $14.6 billion on unplanned pregnancies, paired with another $6.4 billion from the states. (Kaiser Health News)

The American Red Cross Spent a Quarter of the Money Raised After the Haiti Earthquake on Internal Expenses: The American Red Cross spent nearly $125 million—a quarter of total money raised after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti—on internal expenses, according to a report released Thursday by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and his team. The findings come after a nearly yearlong investigation into the $500 million raised by American Red Cross and the question of where that money was spent. Among the report’s findings include the charity’s claimed allotment of $70 million for oversight of the Haiti programs; however, Grassley reported that the charity “is unable to provide any financial evidence that oversight activities in fact occurred.” (NPR)

America’s Deadliest Mass Shooting Reawakens the Call to Change Limits on Gay Men Donating Blood: Days after the United States’ deadliest mass shooting left 49 dead and 53 more wounded, gay rights activists are raising their voices about the limits on gay men who want to donate blood. As the restriction stands today, gay men must wait one year after having sex with another man to donate blood, a rule imposed by the Food and Drug Administration. The restriction was put in place in December, after the FDA lifted a 32-year ban that had prohibited gay men from donating blood in their lifetime. Many gay rights activists argue that men who have safe sex or are in monogamous relationships should be allowed to donate; others request the restriction be lowered to one month without sex. Health authorities argue that lifting the ban entirely would be a health risk. The chance of transmitting HIV through a blood transfusion, which is 1 in 1.5 million now, could be raised to 1 in 375,000. (The New York Times)

… and a bonus feature

A Schizophrenia Researcher Gets Diagnosed with the Very Illness He Treats: Brandon Chuang, 28, spent six months volunteering at a lab that helps schizophrenia patients before he received his own diagnosis for the illness. Frankly, the results terrified him. “It was pretty scary to think I might become like that someday,” he said. “Almost like a nightmare come true.” The then-24-year-old hit a roadblock in his career. This story follows Chuang’s journey from his denial of the diagnosis to his perseverance in his research career. As many schizophrenia patients face pressure to take on only simple or menial jobs, Chuang is determined to prove them wrong. (STAT)

Felicia Gans

Felicia Gans

    Felicia Gans is an editorial intern at MedTech Boston. She will be a senior this fall at Boston University, where she is studying journalism, political science, and computer science. When she's not working, Felicia loves drinking coffee, jamming out to Broadway music, and reading the news.

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