What We're Reading: HPV Vaccine for Men; San Francisco Bans e-Cigarettes; VA Uses AI to Predict Suicide

June 27, 2019

A US vaccine panel recommended the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for both men and women up to age 26; San Francisco has become the first city to ban e-cigarettes; the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is using artificial intelligence (AI) to predict which veterans are more likely to die by suicide in the next year.

Vaccine Panel Recommends HPV Vaccine for Men Through Age 26

A US government advisory panel said Wednesday that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine should be recommended for both men and women up to age 26. Currently, men are recommended to get the vaccine until age 21. According to The Associated Press, the CDC almost always accepts the panel’s recommendations and uses them as guidance for physicians. While the vaccine is approved for people up to age 45, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices decided against recommending it for people older than 26 and instead issued a weak endorsement for those aged 26 to 45 years, meaning patients and their doctors can make the decision together.

San Francisco Bans Sale of Juul, Other e-Cigarettes

San Francisco has become the first city in the United States to ban Juul and other e-cigarettes. The bill, which was praised by antitobacco advocates and the American Heart Association, also has its critics, including researchers who say that the bill might harm the wider goals of antitobacco efforts by eliminating what’s considered a safer alternative to cigarettes. According to The New York Times, merchants in the city will have 6 months to get rid of their stock. The ban will not impact the sale of conventional cigarettes or cannabis joints. City attorney and co-author of the bill Dennis Herrera said the ban would be in place until the FDA conducts a full-scale assessment of e-cigarettes.

VA Using Artificial Intelligence to Predict Suicide

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is using artificial intelligence to determine which veterans are in need of mental health treatment. According to Politico, the computer program scans millions of records for medications, treatment, traumatic events, overall health, and other information, and, based on prior experience, picks out which veterans are more likely to die by suicide in the next year. Based on this information, clinicians then reach out to the veterans directly. Since the VA adopted the algorithms in 2017, approximately 250 fewer veterans have died by suicide; however, it’s not clear how big of a role the algorithms played in the decline.