Happy New Year, dear readers! Here at We ❤️ Health Literacy HQ, we’re looking forward to another year of health comm adventures — and we’re thrilled that you’re along for the ride with us. To start us off, we compiled just a few of the health topics that made headlines in 2023 — and added a couple things to watch for in 2024. Enjoy!
- The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ended. On May 11, 2023, the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ended. While experts agree COVID is here to stay, this move signaled a shift toward managing the disease long term. It also meant changes to the way we track COVID cases — from relying on test results to monitoring community spread through wastewater surveillance. For us health communicators, COVID will continue to be top of mind — whether it’s thinking about what learning to live with COVID means for people with disabilities and chronic health conditions, helping folks navigate access to tests and treatments, or following the latest research on long COVID.
- The fight for reproductive rights continues. 2023 saw a number of U.S. states (further) restricting abortion access. As a result, states where abortion remains legal have seen a rise in people seeking care — and many are taking steps to expand access to this essential health care service. In 2024, we’ll be following the Supreme Court case on restricting access to mifepristone, a commonly used abortion pill — and of course, we’re keeping a close eye on the 2024 election and what the results could mean for reproductive rights and other important public health issues.
- Generative AI (artificial intelligence) is changing health care. In 2023, some went so far as to announce an AI revolution in health care, while experts and policymakers struggled to install guardrails and regulate this new technology. Whether you’re excited about the possibilities or feeling a bit apprehensive, one thing’s for sure — we’ll be watching closely to see how technological advancements continue to transform health care (and health comm) in 2024.
- There are new ways to protect against RSV. RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, causes thousands of hospitalizations and deaths every year — and there are finally new ways to protect against it. In 2023, the first RSV vaccine was approved for pregnant people to help protect their babies from RSV. There’s also a new antibody treatment to prevent RSV in babies and toddlers, as well as a vaccine for adults 60 years and older. And speaking of good news…
- According to the latest stats from the American Cancer Society, cancer deaths in the United States have fallen by 33% since 1991. The biggest drop happened in cervical cancer rates, largely thanks to the introduction of the HPV vaccine (put that in your health comm toolbox for the next time you’re writing about how vaccines save lives). In 2024, we’ll continue to promote the benefits of cancer screenings and vaccination — and share resources to help people access preventive care.
The bottom line: It’s bound to be another eventful year — and we’ll be here advocating for the clear communication and access to resources that everyone deserves to protect their health.
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