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This Issue of Public Health Reports is a combination special issue on school health and a supplement on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing. Also enclosed with this issue is the PHR calendar for 2009, a collection of U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) posters from World War II themed around safety and health on the job. This year-end set of PHR products reflects the rich and diverse mix of public health topics addressed by PHR.
Our special issue on school health focuses primarily on school-based health centers, emphasizing the important role that these centers play not only in improving the health of America's children, but ultimately in improving the nation's public health. Topics in the 11 articles range from health-care reform and in-school anti-tobacco campaigns to dental and mental health programs. As demonstrated in this issue, schools provide an excellent venue for teaching sound public health values to our nation's youth that will last a lifetime.
The supplemental issue presents new strategies for implementing HIV testing in the U.S., particularly the delivery of testing services to individuals of minority races and ethnicities—the groups at highest risk of infection. The articles in this supplement bring together current reports on new strategies for making HIV testing available to those people most in need. To emphasize the importance of this public health topic, the Surgeon General's Perspectives (SGP) column focuses on the need for wider HIV testing to slow down the HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to recognize LTJG Jeffery Strich, a young PHS officer in the Office of the Surgeon General who recently began his first year of medical school at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. In addition to serving as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Surgeon General, Jeff played an integral role in reintroducing the SGP column this year, helping to write the SGP columns in issues 3, 4, 5, and 6. He will certainly be missed, and we wish him well in his new PHS career direction.
As we enter the 2008–2009 flu season, the topic of vaccination and immunization naturally arises. Vaccination and immunization are extremely successful and cost-effective strategies for preventing or minimizing many infectious diseases1—perhaps saving more lives in the last century than any other prevention strategy. Viral infections of the respiratory tract impose a heavy burden on society. In the past few decades, efforts to prevent or minimize their impact have focused on the use of influenza vaccines. Each year, much effort goes into the development and delivery of the influenza vaccine for seasonal flu.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its recommendations regarding the use of influenza and antiviral agents. The 2008 report provides new and updated information on the prevention and control of influenza, including a new recommendation that annual vaccinations be given to all children aged 5 to 18 years beginning in the 2008–2009 influenza season. The report also continues to advocate the annual vaccination of all children aged 6 months through 5 years. This is a primary focus of vaccination efforts because these children are at higher risk for influenza complications compared with older children. This report and other recommendations are available at CDC's influenza website, http://www.cdc.gov/flu.
We hope you enjoy the special issue, supplement, and calendar as much as we enjoyed producing them. In 2009, you can look forward to seeing larger issues of PHR, a new student column from the Association of Schools of Public Health, and issues devoted to special topics such as occupational interventions, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV prevention.