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Weekly Health Digest: Opioid Case, HIV And Organ Donation, School Shooting Technology, And More

A summary of important health news from the past week.

OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma and Sackler family agree to pay $270 million to settle Oklahoma state opioid case

By: Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Purdue Pharma was scheduled to go to trial for “misleading the public about the dangers” of Oxycontin but instead, it has decided to settle and pay $270 million to the state of Oklahoma. For years, the company denied any contribution to the opioid crisis claiming that their products had clear warning signs of abuse and misuse. However, they were quickly accused of downplaying the risks and overstating the benefits, amongst many other actions, that eventually led to one of the nation’s “worst public health crisis.” In addition to the $270 million, Purdue Pharma will also make other payments that will contribute towards different addiction treatment centers such as the National Center for Addiction Studies at Oklahoma State, that will receive $102.5 million. Since OxyContin was first introduced to the market in 1996, there have been about 218,000 opioid overdose-related deaths.

In World First, HIV-Positive Woman Donates Kidney to HIV-Positive Recipient

By: Susan Scutti

Surgeons at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland have successfully performed the first organ transplant from a living HIV-positive donor to an HIV-positive recipient. Nina Martinez, who acquired HIV as a six-week old as a result of a blood transfusion, donated her kidney to a recipient who has chosen to remain anonymous. In the United States, HIV-positive organ donations were not permitted until 2013, with the passage of HOPE, the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act. Before Martinez’s donation, there had been about 100 transplants between HIV-positive donors and recipients in the US, but the donors in these cases had all been deceased. Martinez’s surgery is an important step forward for healthcare in the US, as well as for the de-stigmatization of HIV. 

These students have developed technology to protect their high schools during a shooting

By: Michelle Lou and Brandon Griggs

Samsung hosted their Solve for Tomorrow contest where two groups of high school students used their STEM skills to address the real-world problem of mass shootings. One team from Missouri designed a simple auxiliary steel lock to add an extra level of protection; the other team from South Carolina created an electromagnetic system to remotely lock doors and cover windows. These innovative designs could lower the current statistic of a school shooting about every 12 days.

Climate change could expose 1 billion more people to bug-borne diseases, study says

By: Jen Christensen

A recent study has suggested that nearly 1 billion more people could be exposed to mosquito-borne diseases as a result of rising temperatures from climate change. Over 15% of global illness and disability cases are caused by mosquitos; this number is increasing at a rapid rate, with the proportion of individuals at risk of contracting such diseases estimated to increase by half a billion by 2050. Mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, chikungunya, and dengue will continue to spread farther north with progressive global warming, implicating European regions the most. To monitor predicted temperature changes and the range of disease-carrying mosquitos, the authors of this study created a model in the hope officials will implement it as a tool for vector control—largely in preparation of the potential burden of mosquito-borne disease from climate change.