Health Highlights: March 13, 2012

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Many States Plan Tighter Indoor Tanning Rules for Teens

Nearly two dozen states are considering new laws to prohibit or further restrict teens' use of indoor tanning devices in order to protect them from skin cancer.

Eighteen states are thinking about banning the use of indoor tanning devices by people younger than age 18, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and 5 others are weighing increased regulation.

"It's a major push this year," Ron Moy, of the American Academy of Dermatology, told USA Today. He noted that indoor tanning is undeniably associated with skin cancer.

Currently, California is the only state that bans indoor tanning for all minors. Most states require teens to get parental consent before using tanning beds and 10 states have age restrictions, with minimum ages for use ranging from 13 to 16.5 years.

The American Academy of Dermatology says indoor tanning devices are used by about 30 million people (including 2.3 million teens) each year, USA Today reported.


White House Outlines Plan for Health Insurance Exchanges

As part of the new health reform law, the U.S. government on Monday released its blueprint for state insurance exchanges meant to allow Americans to purchase health insurance in a more organized and competitive market.

The new marketplaces, intended to provide one-stop insurance shopping, are mandated to be up and running in every state by Jan. 1, 2014, as part of the Affordable Care Act, the Associated Press reported.

Individuals and small businesses are the intended customers. They will be able to apply for coverage online, and trained "navigators" will be available to educate them about the new system.

The exchanges are expected serve some 30 million Americans, of whom half are currently uninsured, the news service said.

"More competition will drive down costs and exchanges will give individuals and small businesses the same purchasing power big businesses have today," U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in statement, the AP reported.

Meeting the new regulation entails a huge cooperative effort for state and federal officials, who will need to verify personal and financial details, get customers enrolled in the correct health plan, and calculate possible government aid for millions of people, the AP said.

Jan. 1, 2013, is the deadline for states to obtain conditional federal approval for their exchanges.


CDC Promotes HIV Testing, Awareness Among Black Women

A new campaign to increase HIV testing and awareness among black women was launched Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

HIV/AIDS is a major health issue among black women. The CDC's "Take Charge. Take the Test" campaign -- which features community outreach, a website and advertising -- was launched in conjunction with National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

The campaign was launched in 10 cities where black women are especially hard-hit by HIV/AIDS: Atlanta; Chicago; Detroit; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Houston; Memphis, Tenn.; Newark, N.J.; New Orleans; Hyattsville, Md.; and St. Louis.

"At current rates, nearly 1 in 30 African-American women will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetimes," Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, said in a CDC news release.

"To help reduce this toll we are working to remind black women that they have the power to learn their HIV status, protect themselves from this disease, and take charge of their health," he added.

MedicalNewsCopyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


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