HIPAA Explained, Trans Research, Queer Scientists. June 24, 2022, Part 2

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What Does HIPAA Actually Do?

HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is name dropped a lot, but frequently misunderstood. Many are surprised to find that the “P” stands for portability, not privacy.

Misunderstandings about what’s protected under the law go way deeper than its name. The law outlines protections only for health information shared between patients and health care providers. This means that any personal health data shared with someone who is not specifically mentioned in the law is not covered.

If a period tracking app shares personal health information with Facebook, that’s not a violation of HIPAA. Neither is asking for someone’s vaccination status.

Guest host Maddie Sofia talks with Tara Sklar, professor of health law and director of the Health Law & Policy Program at the University of Arizona, to explain what’s actually covered under HIPAA.

“Research By Us And For Us”: How Medical Research Can Better Serve Trans Communities

Trans medical care isn’t new or experimental, and study after study has shown that transition-related procedures—such as hormone therapies and surgeries—are incredibly safe and effective. But most long-term studies on trans health focus on the first few years after transitioning, leaving unanswered questions about the years after.

Similar to members of other marginalized groups, trans people have long been treated like “case studies,” rather than potential experts when it comes to scientific research. So while researchers have studied trans bodies for decades, they haven’t always asked trans people what they need to know about their own bodies, such as: If I’m pursuing medical transition, how will my bone density change after years of taking estrogen? If I take testosterone, will I also need to get a hysterectomy? How will my hormonal and surgical options affect my fertility?

Now, a new wave of medical research—led by trans medical experts themselves—is trying to fill in those blanks and address the needs of trans communities.

Guest host Maddie Sofia speaks with Dr. Asa Radix, the senior director of research and education at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, and Dallas Ducar, nurse practitioner and founding CEO of Transhealth Northampton. They talk about the state of research on trans health, and how studies can better address the needs of the trans and gender diverse communities.

Food Pantry Venison May Contain Lead

Iowa requires warning labels about the possible presence of lead in shot-harvested venison. Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska do not. A walk-in freezer about two stories high sits in one corner of a warehouse owned by a food bank called Hawkeye Area Community Action Program Inc. in Hiawatha, Iowa. Chris Ackman, the food bank’s communication manager, points to the shelving racks where any donated venison the organization receives is typically stored.

Known as the Help Us Stop Hunger, or HUSH, program, the venison is donated by hunters from around the state, and Ackman says the two-pound tubes of ground meat go pretty quickly, lasting only a few months.

“It’s a pretty critical program, I think, because there are a lot of hunters in Iowa,” he said. “And, it’s well enjoyed by a lot of families as well.”

Similar programs around the country have been applauded as a way for hunters to do something they enjoy while also helping feed those in need. Iowa hunters donate around 3,500 deer a year through the program. From the hunters, the deer goes to a meat locker, where it’s ground, packaged and shipped off to food pantries around the state. But before it hits the shelves, Iowa officials require a warning label on the venison package.

The label reads:

“Lead fragments may be found in processed venison. Children under 6 years and pregnant women are at the greatest risk from lead.”

Then, in bold type, the label notes: “Iowa has not found cases of lead poisoning from lead in venison,” along with a number to call for more information.

Iowa stands out among Midwestern states in requiring a label warning about the potential hazard of lead ammunition and the fragments it can leave behind in shot-harvested game meat like venison. Donated venison in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska come with no similar warning label.

Read more at sciencefriday.com.

Museum Exhibit Celebrates Queerness In Science

Last year, the California Academy of Sciences debuted “New Science: The Academy Exhibit,” which celebrates 23 incredible LGBTQIA+ scientists. The folks in this exhibit are challenging the exclusionary practices that are all too common in scientific spaces, with the aim of creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment. It is a celebration of queerness in science.

Guest host Maddie Sofia talks with the curator of this exhibit, Lauren Esposito, who is a curator of arachnology at the California Academy of Sciences and founder of 500 Queer Scientists, based in San Francisco. They discuss the exhibit, the importance of LGBTQIA+ representation in STEM, and, of course, arachnids.

The exhibit is free and open to the public at the California Academy of Sciences, and it is also available online.

Transcripts for each segment will be available the week after the show airs at sciencefriday.com.

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