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Debunking Falsehoods, Promoting Equity, Championing Clinical Advances on Tap for Kidney Week Sessions

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Sessions at Kidney Week 2022 range from combatting medical misinformation to learning about the latest clinical advances, as well as championing health equity for patients with kidney disease.

Kidney Week 2022—the annual meeting put on by the American Society of Nephrology (ASN)—kicks off Thursday in Orlando, Florida, bringing together about 10,000 nephrology specialists for the first time since 2019.

The keynote speech, “Preventing the Next Pandemic,” is being given Thursday by Peter J. Hotez, MD, PhD, dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas.

Hotez, who has written and spoken extensively about the spread of scientific misinformation and anti-science beliefs, published a book by the same name last year. His keynote will be followed by a panel discussion.

In July 2021, the annual Gallup Confidence in Institutions survey found that in 1975, 72% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats felt confident about science. In 2021, however, the share of Republicans who trusted science plummeted to 45%, while Democratic confidence rose a bit to 79%.

A session Friday is aimed at helping nephrologists understand how social media and other formats can help educate and dispel scientific misinformation. One of the speakers is Jen Gunter MD, FRCS(C), FACOG, DABPM, ABPMR, an obstretrician/gynecologist and pain management specialist.

The pandemic hit individuals with kidney disease and related comorbid conditions particularly hard. There are 10 oral abstract sessions related to COVID-19 as well as more than 100 abstracts. Poster sessions take place Thursday and Friday.

Between Thursday and Sunday, there are more than 2 dozen learning pathways centered around different clinical areas, late-breaking clinical trials, and sessions focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and health care justice.

One of the highlighted sessions looks at the progress made in the past year in clinical practice regarding the removal of a race-based equation in kidney disease.

Last year, a national task force, made up of representatives from ASN and the National Kidney Foundation, released a new equation to diagnose kidney disease. Previously, the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) equation used a multiplier to assign higher values to Black patients, which could affect care decisions. eGFR is the total volume of filtrate passing through the glomeruli each minute, but that is challenging to assess in real time in a physician’s office. The new method involves a blood test for creatinine to estimate GFR and a urine test for albumin to calculate albumin to creatinine ratio (uACR).

Other advances on the agenda for this meeting include those surrounding transplant care.

“We will have a plenary speaker talking about xenotransplantion and many really important advances in policies that will help patients who have kidney transplants, increase access to kidney transplants, and ensure that kidney transplants survive for longer,” said Susan E. Quaggin, MD, FASN, ASN president for the 2021-2022 term, in an interview with The American Journal of Managed Care®.

That speaker, Jayme E. Locke, MD, MPH, is the director of transplantation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and made headlines last year when her team successfully transplanted kidneys from a genetically modified pig into the stomach of a 57-year-old man with brain death. The man’s body did not reject the kidneys.

Alabama has the longest wait times in the United States for kidney transplants and has a higher rate of kidney disease compared with the rest of the country overall.

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