Health Briefs

2013-04-01T00:00:00Z 2014-07-30T17:28:21Z Health BriefsStephanie Innes Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 01, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Mental health walk to raise awareness

An annual awareness and fundraising walk for mental health is scheduled for Saturday at Kino Stadium.

The 2013 NAMIWalk Southern Arizona, a fundraiser for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Southern Arizona, is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Check-in is at 7 a.m.

Participants can do either 5-kilometer or 3-kilometer distances.

Participation is free, but donations are appreciated. Proceeds are used for free mental illness education, advocacy and support groups. For more information or to register, visit namisa.org

Drivers are needed for cancer patients

The American Cancer Society is looking for volunteer drivers in Green Valley to take cancer patients to medical appointments.

The Road to Recovery program offers rides to cancer patients who have no means of transportation or are too ill to drive themselves. Volunteer drivers can choose the driving schedule that works best for them.

Volunteers must have a valid driver's license, vehicle insurance and a good driving record. They must complete an orientation session.

For more information, go to www.cancer.org or call 323-4200.

Valley fever cases up in recent years

Cases of valley fever are on the rise.

A report released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the infection, caused by the inhalation of coccidioides spores, increased "substantially" between 1998 and 2011 in the areas where it is most common - New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, California and Arizona.

Nearly 16,500 cases were reported in Arizona in 2011, up from 1,475 in 1998.

Some of the spike may be due to better reporting, improved awareness and improved lab testing, officials say. However, the report's authors say the causes of the increase are unclear.

Federal officials say health-care providers should be aware of the increasingly common infection when treating people with influenzalike illness or pneumonia who live in or have traveled to an endemic area.

There are currently no proven preventive measures for valley fever, and additional research to reduce the incidence and morbidity of the infection is warranted, the authors state.

The report was co-authored by Clarisse A. Tsang, who is an epidemiologist from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Student who took on major insurer dies

Arijit Guha, who earned national attention for challenging Aetna over its health insurance policy for students, died of colon cancer March 22.

Guha, 32, had been treated at the Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson. The Arizona State University graduate student attracted national attention for taking on the insurance giant over caps on student health insurance policies.

He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011.

While Guha was paying $400 a month for a student health plan through Aetna, his coverage stopped when his medical bills reached $300,000 - the policy's cap. That left Guha with $118,000 in unpaid medical bills.

A battle on Twitter with Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini resulted in Guha's bills getting paid.

Guha had already started his own fundraising campaign to cover his medical bills on his website, poopstrong.org, and he donated the money to cancer funds.

Guha's wife said he died peacefully at home.

"He will be greatly missed, but I know that his beauty, goodness and desire to make the world a better place will continue on through all of the people and lives he has touched," she wrote on the website.

Contact health reporter Stephanie Innes at sinnes@azstarnet.com or 573-4134.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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