Health literacy refers to the capacity of an individual to obtain, process, and understand basic information regarding their health in order to make the most appropriate health-related decisions. This knowledge may define the individual’s concerns about preventive measures, treatment outcomes, relevant costs, or any other related issue.
The spread of the Zika virus and its consequences are a clear example of how, in some cases, the lack of literacy can define how we deal with these situations. Examples that influence the decision-making capacity include but are not limited to the lack of information and educational tools and misinformation being communicated by unreliable sources.
Since the moment we are born, we are exposed to a variety of infectious diseases caused by viruses and other microorganisms that live around us. The common cold and the feared flu are all part of our daily lives. However, we have recently seen emerging diseases that are alarming, for example the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa and the 2015 Zika outbreak in Brazil that is now a threat to the rest of the Americas. This begs the question: If there were vaccines against these diseases, would you receive them? Although scientists work hard to develop these vaccines, it is not a reality at the moment. The good news is that there are many other infections that can be prevented if you get vaccinated against them.
Less than two months ago, the Puerto Rico Medical Center identified an outbreak of hepatitis A in which at least 26 hospital employees were affected. Despite the shock the news provoked, most readers were oblivious, and possibly still are, as to the nature of this particular virus (such as the fact that it is not transmitted by sheer proximity, or by sneezing, by example).
Learning about a style of medicine with its roots in nature and the adaptability of the human body was one factor that influenced my decision to make an expedition to the Indian subcontinent in order to pursue my development as a healthcare professional.
I’m currently a student of allopathic medicine (American practice) and have been a patient of this paradigm in healthcare methodology for the last 21 years. But I have always been curious about healthcare systems in other parts of the world. How do cultural and geographical variations affect the doctor-patient relationship? And what about countries with fewer resources and availability of doctors, how do they endure and overcome those challenges?
Written by Eduard H. Valdés Valderrama, a student at the School of Medicine of the Medical Sciences Campus of the University of Puerto Rico.
Imagine that you are doing something routine, like walking back to the dining table after getting a glass of water from the fridge. Now imagine that a strange feeling overcomes you and you feel as if something bad is about to happen. Suddenly you feel a strange stomach pain that creeps along with a dizziness that stops you in your tracks. No matter how much you want and try to keep moving and back to your chair, you can’t, and everything goes dark, as if you were falling into deep sleep.
As part of the 10th-anniversary celebration of Ciencia Puerto Rico, we have been collecting anecdotes from our volunteers to celebrate them and the work they do. We also want to share with you the team's vision for CienciaPR.
Today we will share the story of Marla S. Rivera-Oliver from Arecibo. She has been a volunteer with CienciaPR for a year and a half.
- How did you hear about CienciaPR?
I've always been aware of science in Puerto Rico. During an internet search, I discovered CienciaPR back when it was just starting. I created my account then and I have been aware of all the news that have been published since.
A stroke is a cerebrovascular incident in which there is a lack of oxygen being supplied to the brain. There are local ischemic strokes, where a clot blocks a blood vessel and hemorrhagic strokes, which occur due to the rupture of a blood vessel.1 Although local ischemic attacks are more prevalent (85% of cases) both cause massive neuronal death in the affected area, called the core, and less extensive neuronal death in adjacent areas, called the penumbra.
Even before its discovery in the mid-80s, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was already responsible for one of the most devastating pandemics in the history of humankind. Since then there have been significant advances, ranging from the approval by the FDA ("Food and Drug Administration") of the first antiretroviral drug, zidovudine (AZT) in 19871; to the launch in 2015 by the World Health Organization (WHO) of the recommendation that all HIV-infected individuals should receive antiretroviral therapy immediately after being diagnosed.2
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that is known to circulate in tropical climates and has caused disease outbreaks in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and most recently in the Americas. The symptoms of Zika are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya, diseases spread through the same mosquitoes that transmit Zika, and usually include low fever or rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, appearing a few days after a person has been infected by an infected mosquito or after sexual intercourse with an infected person. Zika is generally a mild disease and most people with the virus will not even experience symptoms.