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F.D.A. Considering New Approach to Blood Donation by Gay and Bisexual Men

By Christina Jewett and Emily Anthes , The New York Times

Amidst the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, the Food and Drug Administration completely prohibited men who have sex with men from donating blood, amid fears of H.I.V. transmission. In 2015, the FDA lessened this restriction by allowing gay and bisexual men to donate blood, assuming they had not had sex with other men in the past year. Still, when the nation witnessed a blood shortage during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, restrictions were lessened even further in that the period was reduced to only three months. Today, the FDA is leaning towards a rule change to finally depart from these policies that originated during the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 80s. The newest plan will require all potential donors to complete a questionnaire regarding recent sexual activity and a series of follow-up questions. This new blood donation approach is intended to find a middle ground between activists who want no restrictions that single out gay and bisexual men and blood banks who wish to prevent recipients from acquiring HIV. 

— by Gabriella Salazar

Who Will Care for ‘Kinless’ Seniors?

By Paula Span, The New York Times

It is the expectation that family members and kin take care of senior individuals and their growing health complications. However, a small subset of the elder community must navigate what it means to travel through retirement without family. In fact, 1% of American adults 55 or older have no living spouse, children, or biological siblings. This number rises to 3% among women over 75. This phenomenon is known as kinlessness, and more and more individuals are beginning to fit into this category. Baby boomers are aging with lower marriage rates and higher divorce rates than previous generations and remaining childless. Further, seniors who are Black, female, and have lower levels of wealth have particularly high rates of kinlessness. Studies show that older adults without familial connections have lower levels of mental and physical health, higher levels of loneliness, and are less likely to participate in sports, cultural or religious groups, or service clubs, which is a predictor of later cognitive impairment. Yet, as this issue worsens, there is no government assistance to alleviate it. Too many individuals in this category make a salary that isn’t low enough for Medicaid, but isn’t high enough to afford home care aids or assisted living. To combat this, experts provide a few ways to support kinless seniors. First, shared housing and co-housing would provide safety and assistance while giving seniors community. Simultaneously, expanding family-leave policies and caregiver support programs to include friends, neighbors, or more distant relatives would provide an additional means of support from unexpected members of seniors’ communities.  Ultimately, the expectations of friends, neighbors, and families must be redefined on a community, and governmental level as kinlessness continues to increase at an alarming rate. 

By Chris Ejike

Alzheimer’s Drug May Benefit Some Patients, New Data Shows

By Pam Belluck, The New York Times

About six million people in the United States and roughly thirty million worldwide have Alzheimer’s, and that number is only expected to double by the year 2050. To tackle this epidemic, pharmaceutical companies Biogen and Eisai have developed a new drug called lecanemab that has left physicians in awe. On Tuesday morning, the drug companies were ecstatic to announce that the drug was beginning to show positive effects in clinical trial patients. The experimental drug slows cognitive decline for those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Yet, some patients have experienced brain swelling and bleeding, leading the companies to acknowledge the need for further testing and alteration. There has been much controversy surrounding the development of this drug as the data was showing primarily negative effects, but that all changed this week. The current clinical trial has shown that after 18 months, patients receiving lecanemab declined at a rate 27 percent slower than others not on the drug. It is expected that the FDA will decide by January 6th whether lecanemab can move forward in the drug approval process. This accelerated approval will require that Eisai and Biogen conduct further trials to concretely prove lecanemab efficacy and if the benefits are worth the costs. The development of this drug could ultimately change the medical field as a whole as Alzheimer’s affects so many globally. There should be updates as time goes on to aid consumers in deciding if the drug would be the right fit for them or their loved ones. 

by Madison Woods

Items contributed by: Gabriella Salazar, Chris Ejike, and Madison Woods