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Tue, Aug. 5th, 2008, 10:15 pm
What I do

Yes, for shame I don't blog regularly much any more. An apology to you if this is the main way we keep in touch. I graduated from U of A in May with my Master's in Public Health. I have moved back to Phoenix and started a job with the state health department. My official title is: HIV Incidence/Surveillance Epidemiologist for the Arizona Department of Health Services. yay for sounding official! but I understand if you have no idea what that is. In light of recent press in HIV news, I thought I would share with everyone...

...What I do:

Surveillance involves tracking new and current cases of HIV in Arizona (and no, it does not involve cameras, wire-tapping or trench coats...not that kind of surveillance :). Cases are tracked so we can connect people with care services and drug assistance as well as so we know what is going on in the state. Incidence is specifically tracking new infections of HIV. It is useful to know how many new infections occurred recently so we can tell how well prevention methods and education are working. It answers questions like, "Are there any unexpected increases in new infections?" or "What populations should we be targeting prevention efforts to?"

In the 1990's incidence was first estimated by counting the number of new AIDS cases and working backwards to estimate how many new HIV cases occurred. This was done because AIDS reporting was mandatory, but HIV reporting was not. This is problematic, because there is always going to be a lag time between a person being infected with HIV and converting to AIDS. When highly-active anti-retroviral therapy (effective and expensive drugs) came on the scene, this lag time increased substantially. The number of new HIV infections began to be estimated instead by counting the number of new HIV diagnoses, which now must be reported (though isn't...but that's another topic). The problem with using new HIV diagnoses is that people maybe living with HIV for years prior to getting tested, so it is difficult to know how many truly new infections occurred.

A new test was developed, called a STARHS (serologic testing algorithm for recent HIV seroconversions...because you wanted to know that) test, that tests the blood used to diagnose a new HIV case and determines if the infection occurred within the last 5 months or not. 22 states started sending off samples to be tested in 2006 and we are getting our numbers from it now. There was a good article about it in the tribune and more info from the CDC here and here on the results. Basically, the CDC used data and test results from these 22 states and estimated the number of new infections occurring in the nation. The previous methods for estimating new HIV infections apparently underestimated the numbers. So now there is a more accurate way of keeping track of everything.

An important chunk of my job is getting the samples from labs in Arizona to the CDC lab for the STARHS test, summarizing and de-identifying the results for the CDC and figuring out why we didn't actually get what we needed (are certain labs or counties not sending samples? how much time does it take for an investigation?). Now that this article has been released, we will start working on Arizona specific statistics.

I do other things around the office including other stat projects, helping out in the drug assistance program and shake my head at the amount of bureaucracy there is. And, as more of my coworkers have babies and take month long vacations, I am learning what everyone in the office does and plan on taking over soon.

If you're curious about current HIV trends and numbers in Arizona (and who isn't???) ADHS has good summary here. Skip to page 8.

So there you go. There is much more to it all, but hopefully this gives you a basic idea. Questions are welcome here or in person :)
A real life update will be coming at some point. no, really.

Sun, Dec. 16th, 2007, 09:14 pm
I'm an aunt!

I am pleased to announce the arrival of my niece, Rachel Jean Williams. She was born today, December 16, 2007 at 3:24pm. She is a beautiful 7 pounds, 15 ounces and a perfect 19.5 inches long. Her mom and dad are tired, but doing well. Scott managed to get some pictures out to the family. As you can see, she is in fact, the cutest little girl you've ever seen.

Rachel Jean

Miss Rachel

Sat, Dec. 1st, 2007, 01:21 pm
does starbucks even know?

Starbucks is missing out on a lot of money this week. I've been to 4 different coffee places in the last few days spending precious credit on caffeine and munchies and none of them have been starbucks. I wouldn't mind spending hours there (I have gift cards!), but I need internet, and there is no reason to pay for it. Also, the food selection at other places is better and maybe even healthier (may I recommend the Ultimate Vegan Sandwich at Bentley's or the Hummus plate at Ike's?). I prefer not to total the amount of money (or hours) I've spent at: Ike's, Bentley's, Coffee Xchange, and Java City lately, but be assured it's more than I probably should have :)

end procrastination

Mon, Nov. 12th, 2007, 07:15 pm
Darn you Robert Ludlum!

I've been writing a paper on food borne illness. But apparently my fingers think it should be on food bourne illness. now I'm left questioning that when in my past did I write about Jason Bourne so often that I developed muscle memory in my fingers?

Sat, Nov. 10th, 2007, 10:10 am
Why?

I just had a neighbor from across the street come and ask me about the party my neighbors had last night I don't think he believed me when I said I slept through it--I don't think he's ever lived in a dorm. Normally, this would be very neighborly and fine, but the door bell rang at 10am on a Saturday. Granted, he has probably been up for 3 hours, read the paper and mowed the lawn. But does he really think that collegish (I'm still claiming that term) students would be up and around before noon on a saturday? The only reason I'm out of bed is that I have a paper due--but that doesn't require me to be out of my pj's. Last year, we had some Jehovah's witnesses come around at 9am on a saturday. Way to know your audience. I just don't get it.

Mon, Nov. 5th, 2007, 05:50 pm
I wonder

I think this is awesome, but I couldn't help but wonder if my bibliophile friends would love or shudder at this idea: how to make a purse out of a book. Thoughts?

yes I haven't posted lately...working on it?

Mon, Sep. 17th, 2007, 09:38 pm
I hate when I'm right

When I was in my undergrad I bought my books from the bookstore. I had friends who would buy them second hand or online, but I always coughed up the cash for the bookstore. Sometimes they would come bundled with class notes or keys for online resources. And when it came time to sell it back, it would be the right edition. At least those were my reasons/excuses for convincing myself to buy the shiny and clean books.

But then I would never sell them back. I think I might have sold a few of the boring ones (lit. type classes) and maybe a pysc book when I was short on cash. But with every book, I asked myself if I could ever need it again. Usually I could come up with a reason or scenario to hang on to them. So I've moved with at least 2 boxes of textbooks for the past few years. I think that so far in my grad school career I've used about half of them. On one hand, its good--yay for prudent decisions! On the other hand, do you realize how many papers I've written and how many citations I've made? Ugh, that is time I can't have back*. Thankfully, I still haven't found a reason to crack open organic chemistry book :)

*You may have figured out that I spend 8 hours today trying to hammer out a 6 page paper. I used to be better than that :(

Sun, Sep. 9th, 2007, 10:31 pm
dumplings!

You may remember about a year ago a post I made about my excessive tomatoes and recipes I found to use them up. Well the same friend has had a windfall (hee!) of apples--thank you Daniel!. He has tons of galas and red delicious up for grabs. I went for the galas for baking. I didn't want to do a pie (I've done a lot of pies lately...maybe later you'll hear about my fresh raspberry and blackberry sour cream pie :) But I did find a recipe for apple dumplings, and our friends Ed and Lindsay asked us over for dinner tonight.

I'll post the link to the recipe below, but let me give you the highlights. Peel and core some apples. Stuff the middle of the apple (where the core was) with butter and brown sugar. sprinkle more brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Wrap the apple in a square of pie crust. Put in pie pan. Make and boil sauce of sugar, butter, vanilla and water. Pour over dumplings. Bake at 400 degrees.

Oh my.

Mon, Sep. 3rd, 2007, 08:37 pm
My skin

sunshinetreeearring

I've stopped washing my face with soap.

No really. I've never been terribly happy with my skin. It's been flaky. It's been oily. It's been bumpy. I've tried a lot of different cleansers and brands. I think I've found something that I'm satisfied with. I wash my face with oil :) Here is a link explaining the basics.

My personal mixture includes equal parts extra virgin olive oil and castor oil, with a few drops of lavender oil for scent. Massage it in, steam with an electric kettle, wipe off with a warm washcloth. Every other day or so I use some brown sugar as a scrub. I've been doing this for 1 month. Here are the results, up close and make-up free.

upclose

Now I get that this isn't for everybody and granted, I didn't have extremely problematic skin to begin with (though I've read that using the oil actually helps oily skin) but it has evened out my color --less irritation-- and smoothed it out. In my case, its given me a confidence with my skin--I don't feel like I need to cover it up.

I'll wrap this commercial up. Here's one of my favorites that my roommate (thanks Kristi!) took for me to show-off celebrate.
canyouseeme

Sun, Aug. 5th, 2007, 10:27 pm
with a vengeance

You may remember a post from about this time last year about the population of mosquitoes in Tucson.
Well they are back. with a vengeance. regarding my ankles apparently.
grrrrr.

(speaking of, I haven't seen the 4th die hard movie yet...must remedy this soon)

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