HEALTH

HHS, Ad Council launch television PSAs for H1N1

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday announced that the Department of Health and Human Services has joined with the Ad Council to launch a series of national television public service advertisements designed to encourage Americans to take steps to protect themselves from the 2009 H1N1 flu virus.

The ads are designed specifically to reach children, parents, pregnant women and young adults. A second series of PSAs, aimed at encouraging high-risk populations to get the H1N1 vaccination, is launching in late October.

Included in the PSAs being released Thursday were new spots featuring characters from “Sesame Street” and the winning spots from the recent 2009 Flu Prevention PSA Contest sponsored by HHS. The Ad Council distributed the PSAs nationwide and the ads will be supported in airtime donated by television stations nationwide. The spots also will be available at Flu.gov, the government’s one-stop Web site for all the latest information on both seasonal and H1N1 flu.

The PSAs include:

  • Targeting young adults — the winning PSA video from HHS’ national 2009 Flu Prevention PSA Contest on YouTube featuring the “hip hop doc,” along with four additional videos from the contest, will aim to reach those ages 17 to 24. More than 50,000 votes were cast for the contest. The PSAs are available in 30-second and 60-second lengths, and include a Spanish-language spot;
  • Targeting parents and pregnant women — produced by HHS, a new series of TV ads featuring Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, singer Marc Anthony and actress Amy Ryan, aim to reach parents and pregnant women. The PSA featuring Marc Anthony also is available in Spanish, and the ads are in 30-second length; and
  • Targeting parents and children — designed to reach children under the age of 5 and their parents, Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind “Sesame Street,” produced two new television PSAs. “Sesame Street’s” Elmo and Rosita have a new song teaching children the proper way to sneeze, while Elmo and Luis talk to parents about the importance of creating a plan to keep their children home from school if they get sick. These messages build on a PSA Sesame Workshop released with HHS and the Ad Council earlier this year, which explained the importance of practicing healthy habits this flu season. The PSAs are available in English and Spanish and are in 30-second lengths.

“While getting a flu vaccine is the best way for Americans to protect themselves and their families from the flu, as we wait for the H1N1 vaccine to get distributed out into local doctors’ offices and sites across the country, there are critically important things that Americans can be doing right now to keep their friends and family healthy and safe and to prevent the spread of flu,” Sebelius said. “These new prevention PSAs will help us get the word out about what to do about the flu. Fighting the flu is a shared responsibility between all of us, and we are so grateful to all those who helped create these wonderful new messages. We are hopeful that Americans will spread these new PSAs virally and use to them to help stop the spread of H1N1 and seasonal flu,” she said.

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Phadia announces launch of celiac disease tests

BY Michael Johnsen

UPPSALA, Sweden Phadia on Thursday announced the launch of two new assays to support the accurate diagnosis of celiac disease.

“Our launch this month of EliA Gliadin IgA and EliA Gliadin IgG will offer physicians who suspect a possible case of celiac disease antibody tests with the lowest number of false positive results,” stated Stefan Eschbach, general manager of autoimmunity, Phadia. “This means avoiding putting patients through unnecessary biopsies.”

Celiac disease is a life-long condition in which ingestion of “gluten”, the water insoluble wheat-gliadin and the prolamins in rye and barley, leads to chronic inflammation and damage of the lining of the small intestine.

Approximately 1-out-of-every-250 people may have celiac disease, however, only 1-out-of-10 people with the disease may be actually be diagnosed, Eschbach noted. There may be as many 5 million worldwide with celiac disease.

A Mayo Clinic study published in last month’s issue of Gastroenterology reported that celiac disease is four times more common today than it was 50 years ago. Another key finding: Individuals who don’t realize they suffer from celiac disease (and therefore never received treatment for it) were four times more likely to have died during the study’s 45 years of monitoring versus individuals not affected by celiac disease.

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The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America launches new Web site

BY Michael Johnsen

NEW YORK The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America recently launched its updated Web site to usher in the 2010 Walk season comprising more than 100 walks nationwide.

The Foundation reached a new plateau with new interactive features such as a blog, downloadable banners and widgets, and tips and tools for fundraising to support the walks that raise much-needed awareness of and funds for the 1.4 million Americans living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both chronic digestive diseases.

“It’s very important that we create an environment that fosters awareness and support for our Walks, while making the job a little easier for those participating,” stated Cassidy Richards, National Event Director for the Foundation. “One way we’re doing that is with our new banners and widgets in different sizes that people can add to their social networking sites like Facebook.”

The banners and widgets can also be added to participants’ blogs, personal web sites, and on e-mails to friends to help get the word out about Take Steps. Available on the site’s new Spread the Word section, these tools are part of the Foundation’s efforts to help walkers show their support and get others to join Take Steps.

The new Web site also offers helpful suggestions on how to organize fundraisers at school or at work even during these trying economic times. It also encourages people to join a team, make a donation, or take part in volunteer activities through the site’s Get Involved feature.

The upcoming season kicks-off in spring 2010 and will continue into the summer in cities throughout the country.

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