Get out ahead

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Wednesday, April 9: Get Out Ahead

Prevention is now a nationwide priority, and as the public health system evolves, there are more options than ever when it comes to preventive health measures.  Public health and clinical health professionals must work collaboratively to help individuals identify and pursue the best preventative health options. 

Did you know?

  • Today, seven in 10 deaths in the U.S. are related to preventable diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Another striking fact is that 75 percent of our health care dollars are spent treating such diseases. However, only 3 percent of our health care dollars go toward prevention. [1]
  • According to recent research, investments such as the Prevention and Public Health Fund have the potential to improve health outcomes and reduce costs. For example, every 10 percent increase in funding for community-based public health programs is estimated to reduce deaths due to preventable causes by 1 to 7 percent, and a $2.9 billion investment in community-based disease prevention programs was estimated to save $16.5 billion annually within five years (in 2004 dollars). [2]
  • CDC estimates that 1,144,500 people ages 13 and older are living with HIV infection, including 180,900, or 15.8 percent, who are unaware of their infection. Over the past decade, the number of people living with HIV has increased, while the annual number of new HIV infections has remained relatively stable. Still, the pace of new infections continues at far too high a level— particularly among certain groups. [3]
  • Average medical expenses are more than twice as high for a person with diabetes as they are for a person without diabetes. In 2007, the estimated cost of diabetes in the United States was $174 billion. That amount included $116 billion in direct medical care costs and $58 billion in indirect costs from disability, productivity loss and premature death. [4]
  • More than half of all cancer deaths could be prevented by making healthy choices such as not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, eating right, keeping active and getting recommended screening tests. [5]
  • Among adults who smoke, 68 percent began smoking regularly at age 18 or younger, and 85 percent started when they were 21 or younger. The average age of daily smoking initiation for new smokers in 2008 was 20.1 years among those ages 12-49. [6]
  • People who begin smoking at an early age are more likely to develop a severe addiction to nicotine than those who start at a later age. Of adolescents who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lifetimes, most report that they would like to quit, but are not able to do so. [7]

Start Here:

  • Inquire about volunteer opportunities at community health centers and with state public health associations.
  • Take part in national health observances, such as National HIV Testing Day, National Youth Violence Prevention Week and National Minority Health Month. APHA will partner with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in May 2014 for National Prevention Month. Share this information with your community so they can participate in events and learn more about prevention and treatment.
  • Diabetes prevention is as basic as eating more healthfully and becoming more physically active. Making simple lifestyle changes may help you avoid the serious health complications of diabetes down the road, such as nerve, kidney and heart damage. Consider the latest diabetes prevention tips from the American Diabetes Association, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes-prevention/DA00127
  • Reach out to clinical partners and engage them in community health and prevention efforts.
  • Learn about cancer screening guidelines and make sure you, your family, and community are aware of them. Schedule your screenings in advance and visit the American Cancer Society’s website for more information.
  • Set up local support groups to help community members quit smoking.  Provide them with up-to-date resources and information to guide them through the difficult transition.  Share the national lung health hot line 1-800-LUNGUSA  and/or national quit lines 1-800-QUIT-NOW to help the community locate local support resources.
  • Visit schools to educate students on the health risks of smoking. Enlist teachers and school administrators to help spread the word and cut down on the number of young adults who begin smoking.


[1] Public Health and Prevention Fund Fact Sheet, APHA, http://www.apha.org/advocacy/Health+Reform/PH+Fund/

[3] HIV in the United States: At A Glance, CDC, http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/basics/ataglance.html

[4] Diabetes Report Card 2012: National and State Profile of Diabetes and Its Complications CDC, http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/pubs/reportcard/diabetes-overview.htm