Dr. Paul Blanc kicked off the UCSF Department of Medicine Continuing Medical Education (CME) course on “Occupational and Environmental Factors in Infectious Disease” on March 6, 2014, at the Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, California. The faculty for the course provided updates on the latest “Advances in Occupational and Environmental Health” on the following two days, March 7-8.
Dr. Blanc, professor of medicine, endowed chair, and division chief in Occupational and Environmental Medicine at UCSF co-chaired the event with Dr. Robert Kosnik, professor of medicine and medical director of UCSF’s Occupational Health Services that provides care for UCSF employees and hospital workers.
The course attracted policy makers and leaders from state and federal government such as Dr. Gina Solomon, deputy secretary for Science and Health at the California Environmental Protection Agency; Deborah Gold, deputy chief of Health and Engineering Services for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health in the State of California Department of Industrial Relations; Dr. Robert Harrison and Dr. Dennis Shusterman, both of the State of California Department of Public Health Occupational Health Branch, and Dr. Bruce Bernard, Captain, U.S. Public Health Service and chief medical officer, Health Hazard Evaluations and Technical Assistance, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Dr. Bernard was a post-doctoral fellow in the UCSF OEM program before he went to work at NIOSH.
In total, nearly 160 people attended from the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, New Zealand, and the United States territory of Guam. Each year, the event brings together a wide range of health professionals with bridging interests in OEM, including academics, nurses, physicians, industrial hygienists, and others from the public and private sectors.
Consistent with the 2014 CME intensive focus, “Occupational and Environmental Factors in Infectious Disease,” Dr. Bruce Bernard shared new insight on issues confronting hard-to-reach workers in the sex trade who are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted diseases (STD). These workers are driven underground, he said in his presentation, when fear of arrest overrides the safety hazards of their occupation, preventing access to health care and treatment guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Cal/OSHA.
Citing evidence from the CDC that condoms are highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV and other STDs, Bernard emphasized that sex workers still engage in transactional intercourse without a condom under financial pressures because clients demand this. Sexual minorities, drug users, and those having experienced violence are less likely to use a condom, and sex workers who solicit indoors in brothels are more likely to use condoms compared to those who work on the street. Condom use in either straight or gay adult films can be problem-ridden, according Bernard’s review.
Turning his focus to disease prevention strategies, Dr. Bernard addressed California State Bill AB 1576, introduced in January 2014. This legislation seeks to prevent the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases within the adult film industry. This is particularly relevant to Los Angeles, California, which is the site of the largest adult film production worldwide, employing 12,000 workers and 1500 performers, according to data reported by Bernard.
The UCSF course was supported in part with funding from the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health as part of its Continuing Medical Education outreach in occupational and environmental health.
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