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Interview with Social Workers for Reproductive Justice Maggie Rosenbloom



I recently had the opportunity to interview Maggie Rosenbloom, LGSW founder of Social Workers for Reproductive Justice. SWRJ is a budding organization working to uphold the National Association of Social Works Code of Ethics by advocating for reproductive justice. Maggie will also be our guest for Social Work Chats on Monday March 25th.

Can you tell us about Social Workers for Reproductive Justice?

It’s still in its development stages but we want to be an organization that fosters knowledge of reproductive health issues for social workers. Our mission statement is: Educating social workers to advocate for reproductive justice and promote client self-determination in reproductive health care options. We use the term reproductive justice as it has been described by groups like Sister Song to mean the right to have children, to not have children and to parent the children we do have in a safe environment.

Although other professional reproductive justice groups exist for physicians, lawyers and nurses, no such organization for social workers has been established to date. While the National Association of Social Workers has policies that support reproductive health services that include abortion, it has done little to educate social workers on the importance of full-spectrum family planning or to advocate for increased abortion access in the United States. I hope that SWRJ can fill that gap.

How did SWRJ get started?

It was an idea I had for an assignment in my Resource Development class during my last semester of the MSW program. It was to do strategic planning either for an existing agency or to come up with an idea for an agency of our own. My first field education internship for my Master of Social Work program was at a low-barrier emergency homeless shelter for women that was run by a faith-based agency. The agencies policies stated that employees and interns of the agency were prohibited to discuss contraception and abortion with the shelter residents, and were actively discouraged from referring clients who may have asked for such resources to outside agencies. SWRJ came out of that conflict I saw between social work practice at some agencies and the NASW Code of Ethics; particularly, the section on client self-determination. I had been involved with reproductive justice movement and had worked for the National Abortion Federation hotline, was aware of DC Abortion Fund and knew of groups like Med Students for Choice and saw that there was not a relative group for social workers. After completing the assignment and receiving my MSW I continued to work on the development of this organization.

What are your goals for SWRJ?

The goals are twofold 1. To educate social workers about reproductive health including abortion access and 2. To motivate social workers to advocate for reproductive justice and social equality. I want to develop a Standards of Care in Reproductive and Sexual Health for Social Workers that NASW can endorse. I also want SWRJ to develop continuing education workshops on reproductive health and family planning for continuing education units for social workers and work to develop curriculum for Schools of Social Work so they can include family planning information in classes and create a forum for social workers to discuss any legal or ethical issues that arise in their practice related to reproductive health. I hope that SWRJ can work with NASW, and other relevant organizations, to hold accredited social work schools responsible for the omission of such courses and work toward a uniform expectation that social workers will be responsible to allow their clients freedom in the full range of reproductive health options available.

What has the response been from social workers and social work organizations?

Very encouraging and supportive. There are already social workers and students focusing on reproductive justice and doing research. And I’ve spoken with a lot of social workers and students who have had similar questions about working at agencies that they felt had policies that went against the NASW ethical imperative for client self-determination.

I have been working with a dedicated group of 20 social workers, including students and faculty, from DC to Hawaii who have been volunteering their time to assist in the development of this organization. Many of them are well known in the reproductive justice field, and all are passionate individuals willing to donate their time and resources to establishing a national organization and state chapters and school chapters for students.

What is social works role in the reproductive justice movement? How does this fit into the code of ethics?

For me the issue has always come down to self-determination. The National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics (2008) states that social workers are ethically obligated to respect their clients’ right to self-determination in decision-making. However, some social workers refuse to provide evidenced-based information to their clients for family planning and abortion services to their clients based on their personal beliefs. Additionally, the Council on Social Work Education, the body responsible for accrediting schools of social work, regularly accredits schools that teach biased and nonscientific policies on reproductive health and family planning. To my knowledge, there is no campaign to only accredit schools of social work that adhere to the NASW code of ethics for issues of sexual and reproductive health.

Omitting such important issues as reproductive health and justice from social work curriculum harms the mission of the profession. SWRJ will improve social work’s commitment to social justice by seeking to make reproductive health a mandatory aspect of social work curricula with the goal of producing social workers who are knowledgeable about the breadth of reproductive health issues that affect their clients.

Is SWRJ working on any projects or campaigns that you can discuss here?

Right now we are just in our start-up phase, but hope to be registered as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in the coming year.

How can social workers get involved?

They can find our contact information on our website  and follow us on twitter at @socialworkersrj. They can also make sure to raise the issue of reproductive justice with their colleagues and in their classrooms!

Update: Below is the link to the transcript from Social Work Chats with SWRJ.

[View the story “Social Workers For Reproductive Justice” on Storify]

Rachel L. West is the Founder of the Political Social Worker, a blog dedicated to macro social work and politics. She holds a BA in History from SUNY Stony Brook and an MSW from Adelphi University. She is a community outreach and engagement specialist. Rachel resides in New York State, and she is available as a consultant and coach. You can find out more about Rachel at The Political Social Worker at (


Part of our job is to allow them self determination and to talk with them about different possible outcomes and to educate. They only way someone can make a truly informed decision is to know what us actually happening both to the mother and the living human inside of her.

I agree with the idea of this and knowledge is very important. Including the knowledge of how abortions are done and what really happens. One of the reasons I am becoming a social worker is because I’m for equal rights for all, born and unborn. I do not believe that one life is more important than the other. We as social workers are suppose to value all humans.

RT @poliSW: This is an interview Maggie did with SWH last week #swunited

RT @poliSW: This is an interview Maggie did with SWH last week #swunited

Rachel West says:

This is an interview Maggie did with SWH last week #swunited

Podsocs says:

SW and reproductive justice

Rachel West says:

RT @SocialWorkersRJ: check out this awesome interview @SocialWorkersRJ Founder, Maggie Rosenbloom, LGSW, did with @swhelpercom #SWRJ…

RT @SocialWorkersRJ: check out this awesome interview @SocialWorkersRJ Founder, Maggie Rosenbloom, LGSW, did with @swhelpercom #SWRJ…

check out this awesome interview @SocialWorkersRJ Founder, Maggie Rosenbloom, LGSW, did with @swhelpercom #SWRJ…

Daniel Roberts says:

I agree that self determination is important and sw’ers need to allow clients to make their own choices. However, we also have an obligation and a legal mandate to report abuse or any threats to harm another. Protecting those who are unable to defend themselves is an important part of social work ethics. Promoting abortion as a viable option is denying life to those that least can defend themselves. Science has shown that an unborn fetus is indeed living. Courts have charged people with manslaughter and murder of unborn babies. How can social workers ethically support abortion which is the killing of a baby? As mandated reporters of abuse supporting abortion goes against NASW ethics.

RT @poliSW: Thank you @SocialWorkersRJ – Interview with Social Workers for Reproductive Justice… #socialwork

RT @SocialWorkersRJ: Check out our interview with @poliSW in @swhelpercom – Interview with SWRJ

Annie says:

RT @SocialWorkersRJ: Check out our interview with @poliSW in @swhelpercom – Interview with SWRJ

Check out our interview with @poliSW in @swhelpercom – Interview with SWRJ

Rachel West says:

Thank you @SocialWorkersRJ – Interview with Social Workers for Reproductive Justice… #socialwork


Study Suggests Why Food Assistance for Homeless Young Adults is Inadequate



Though young homeless adults make use of available food programs, these support structures still often fail to provide reliable and consistent access to nutritious food, according to the results of a new study by a University at Buffalo social work researcher.

The findings, which fill an important gap in the research literature, can help refine policies and programs to better serve people experiencing homelessness, particularly those between the ages of 18-24.

“It may be tempting to think of food pantries, soup kitchens and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as the solution,” says Elizabeth Bowen, an assistant professor in UB’s School of Social Work and lead author of the study with Andrew Irish, a UB graduate student in the School of Social Work, published in the journal Public Health Nutrition. But these supports are not enough. “We’re still seeing high levels of food insecurity, literal hunger, where people go a whole day without eating anything.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as “multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.” Hunger is a “potential consequence of food insecurity [that] results in discomfort, illness, weakness or pain.” In Bowen’s study, 80 percent of participants were considered to be severely food insecure.

“There has been recent research about housing and shelter use for homeless young adults, as well as work on drug use and sexual risk behaviors for this same population, but I found that not much had been done on the issue of food access,” says Bowen. “It’s hard to even think about housing and health needs if we don’t know how people are eating, or not eating.”

It’s not surprising see a relationship between homelessness and food insecurity, but Bowen warns of oversimplifying what is in fact a more nuanced problem.

“This research is important because we’re establishing a clear indication of food insecurity in this population, which we did not previously have,” she says. “If we’re going to design programs and services that better address food insecurity, along with addressing housing, education and employment, we need to know about the access strategies: How and what are homeless young adults eating? Where are they finding food? What do they have to do to get it? And how does that affect other parts of their lives?”

For her qualitative study, Bowen conducted in-depth interviews with 30 young adults between the ages of 18-24 who were experiencing homelessness in Buffalo, New York.

“Working with this small group gives us insights into the lived experience,” says Bowen. “It’s a way of setting a knowledge foundation and understanding of the topic in the context of people’s lives, and what goes on with their health, housing, relationships, education and trying to get out of homelessness.”

In Bowen’s study, 70 percent of young adults were receiving SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps. But actually getting these benefits can be difficult.

SNAP covers dependent children under their parent’s benefits until the child’s 22nd birthday. But the program administers benefits based on the parents’ address and assumes that parents and children of a single family are living together.

“This is clearly a problem for young people experiencing homelessness since many of them are under 22 and obviously aren’t living at the same address as their parents,” says Bowen. “The young people in this case can’t get SNAP on their own because they’re already listed on their parents’ open application for those same benefits – and the burden of proof is on the young person to demonstrate they don’t live with their parents.”

Documentation is required as proof that the family is no longer together, according to Bowen, but in many cases getting the necessary paperwork is difficult because of strained family relationships.

“That’s one avenue for a policy change,” says Bowen.

But even with revised eligibility guidelines, food stamps sometimes are not enough, particularly for homeless young people who have no way to store or prepare food. Bowen notes that this problem would be greatly exacerbated by a change proposed in the 2019 federal budget to convert part of a household’s SNAP benefits from electronic benefits to a box of canned goods and other commodities.

Homeless young adults’ food access challenges are further compounded by the fact that young people are sometimes reluctant to use resources like soup kitchens, or have trouble accessing these places due to transportation barriers and limited hours. This finding mirrors prior research showing how young adults are not comfortable in places meant for the general homeless adult population, according to Bowen.

For instance, where shelter is concerned, an 18-year-old in the city of Buffalo is considered an adult and would go to an adult shelter, which can feel discouraging and unsafe.

“What I found in this study is that people were saying the same things about places to get food. They know about these soup kitchens, but the places feel institutional and stigmatized to young people,” says Bowen. “If we want to develop food programs to be engaging to young people we have to think about breaking down some barriers. For example, because of food insecurity among students, many college campuses are now offering food pantries. I would like to think about how to integrate food pantries and other services into places where young people are going anyway.”

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How to Recognize and Help an Addict



It’s devastating to know a friend or a loved one suffers from an addiction. Before people get help, they often go down a long road of addiction prior to anyone, including themselves, noticing a problem. Consider the information and advice below if you know or suspect someone is an addict.

Your Gut

Addicts are excellent liars. It can seem disheartening to hear that you shouldn’t take them at face-value. However, listen to your gut. Your gut is telling you that something is wrong. Do not ignore this. They will tell you all the right things you’d like to hear. They will go into detail about where they were, why they did something and more. Everything will sound right to your mind. The very fact that you feel something isn’t right means more than likely something truly isn’t. Listen to what they say, and take notes because if they are addicts, they will slip up eventually. Don’t be the big-bad wolf that’s out to get them, but don’t be an enabler either. Enablers help them to stay stuck in their addiction by making excuses for them.


Addicts especially high-functioning addicts think that if they’re able to go to work, bring money home, do housework and other normal day-to-day life they do not have a problem with addiction. An addict is not just the junkie on the corner. Most addicts are high-functioning, which means they go under the radar for what passes as an addict to society. Because of this, and for reasons such as not wanting to face themselves, addicts will lie to themselves and the world. This is why most addicts are in denial. They might also reason that they don’t drink “enough” to be an addict. Make no mistake that alcoholism isn’t about the quantity of alcohol ingested. It’s about the mental obsession and physical craving of alcohol that makes someone an alcoholic. People who don’t drink for three of four months and suddenly “binge” can be alcoholics.

Things Don’t Add Up

It is often said that addicts lead double lives. This is true for anyone living in dysfunction. To the outside world, they have it together. Underneath that façade is a broken human being who uses alcohol, substances or anything else to get by. To make matters worse, this outward appearance can be further covered up, or justified, with a prescription medication. Abuse of a prescription medication is a serious concern. People often overdose on their pills or makeup excuses for why they need them even though they don’t have a legitimate need for them. This is why centers offer painkiller addiction treatment because it is a common phenomenon. It is also a growing phenomenon.

Real Help

To the addict, you’re “mean,” “unreasonable,” and a few choice words when you confront them. Expect this upfront. It’s not a reflection of who you are as a person despite their best attempts to assassinate your character. What they say about you has everything to do with their dysfunction. More often than not, they will choose their addiction over you. Real help and real love mean saying, “I’m going to tell you the truth,” “I need to love myself before I can love you,” or “I don’t accept your excuse. You’re responsible for your behavior, and I refuse to be a part of your life until you take responsibility for yourself.”

You can’t force someone to get help, but you can stop enabling them. Don’t make excuses for their behaviors or addiction. Addicts have to want to get help before they do. Once you know there is a problem, stand your ground. Speak truthfully to the addict. Above all, love yourself because this has been and will continue to be incredibly hard on you. Understand that they have to learn to love themselves too.

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Veterans: Take This Survey!



Learning about military-to-civilian reintegration requires asking the right questions of the right people. A novel, new study is seeking military veteran respondents to learn more about the way service impacts health, civic engagement, and socio-economic outcomes for military-connected men and women. The data collected through this survey are expected to help us answer questions such as:

• Do veterans feel welcome and interested in institutional service groups like the VA and informal groups like VSOs? Do those organizations serve their needs? How are prospective members welcomed and served?
• How does military service impact community involvement and political engagement?
• How does military service impact experiences on the job market (and is this effect conditioned by demographic factors?
• Does military service break the glass ceiling for service women?

The project was developed by an interdisciplinary research team with experience, training, and connections to the military community. Dr. Kyleanne Hunter is a Marine Corps Cobra pilot and political science researcher. Dr. Rebecca Best is an experienced security studies researcher with a focus on service women. Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas is a public health researcher and Marine Corps veteran. Each has specific training in community-based, participatory research and is invested in filling current gaps in what we think we know about the transition from service member to civilian.

Access the survey online here:

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Lower Blood Sugar Levels with These 7 Superfoods



Being cautious about your health doesn’t have to be a dull and agonizing check off your to-do list. You can make it fun by trying new foods and recipes throughout the week. It’s not hard to cover all the basics, especially if you eat a variety of colors and flavors every day.

Lowering and stabilizing your blood sugar is an essential demand when you want to prevent diabetes from occurring or progressing. Add these seven superfoods to your meals, (or eat them as a snack through the week) and watch the level of your health transform with ease.

1. Sweet Potatoes

This rooted superfood is an excellent choice as a main dish, side dish and even a snack on a lazy day. They are packed with fiber, have a low glycemic index, and are easy to cook. The best way to prepare a sweet potato is to roast/bake it in the oven. They go great paired with leafy greens or even just topped with a dash of cinnamon (which is also a superfood).

2. Turmeric

Another rooted superfood is Turmeric. You might have heard of this spice when visiting restaurants with Caribbean or Indian cuisine. It’s said to have the best medicinal history of preventing disease and illness in many cultures around the world. Curcumin, the active ingredient in Turmeric, can prevent inflammation and the activation of cancerous cells.

3. Blueberries

Wild blueberries are one of the best power fruits to hit the list. Not only are they packed with soluble fiber, but they also offer a good source of insoluble fiber. Having both of these properties allows this superfood to flush out your system which, in turn, improves your blood sugar levels. Anthocyanins are one of the specific types of antioxidants found in blueberries giving them their vibrant blue color. You can find blueberries at your local grocery store and farmer’s market just about all year-round depending on where you live. Freeze them for smoothies, eat them for a snack, or add them to muffins and pancakes for breakfast.

4. Oats

Organic oats are another easy meal you can whip up to reduce your risk of diabetes. Oats pack large amounts of magnesium and fiber. These two components help the body produce insulin and adequately regulate your blood pressure. Oats are super versatile to cook with and easy to make on any day, making them fit well into any schedule. You can boil them for breakfast and add fruit, or add them to muffin and cookie mix. Surprisingly, there are recipes that use oats as an alternative to using flour.

5. Kale

While making dietary plans to lower your blood sugar, you should highly consider adding kale to your grocery list. This super leafy green is one of the best non-starchy vegetables available. It’s super nutrients build up your immune system, burn fat, and regulate blood pressure. It’s easy to add to a salad, eat with fresh fruit, or throw in your smoothie for breakfast.

6. Avocado

Another versatile food to eat is the heart-healthy avocado! It offers the right amount of fats, improves cholesterol levels, and has enough carbs to keep you feeling full. You may think it’s a vegetable, but it’s technically a fruit. It goes great paired with strawberries or as a topper for toast. Cooking with avocado is a breeze. Plan to make pasta, guacamole, salads, and sandwiches with it. The only downfall to eating avocado is the painful wait for them to ripen. Worry not – placing avocados in a brown paper bag can speed up the process.

7. Cranberries

Last, but not least, on our superfoods list is the bold and bright cranberry. Most people only know about cranberries when it comes to holiday dinners, but there are other ways to indulge in this power-packed fruit. Since cranberries have high antioxidant levels, they reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure.

Much like the other foods listed, you can have this in salads, smoothies, or by themselves for a snack. The best part? You never have to feel guilty about munching on these tangy treats.

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Common STIs and How To Avoid Contracting Them



Every year, an estimated 20 million adults in the USA contract some type of STI. While some STIs exhibit distinct symptoms, others might be completely unnoticeable. Whether they’re asymptomatic or not, any sexually active person will still need to be vigilant and informed when it comes to preventing the spread of STIs. With convenient, discreet, and affordable STD testing much more commonplace today, there’s no excuse for anyone to avoid taking charge of their own health and protecting others as well. Here are some of the most common diseases and how you can avoid contracting them.

HPV – Genital Human Papillomavirus

In the United States, about 14 million people get HPV every year, making it the most common STI. It’s so common that almost every sexually active person will contract it in their lifetime. There are over 40 different strains of HPV. Some strains can cause warts, while others can lead to cancer if left untreated.

HPV is spread by having oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone who has the virus. With most strains of this virus, you may not experience any symptoms and it may go away on its own. However, if it doesn’t go away, then it can cause problems.

Sometimes, HPV can cause genital warts. These warts can vary in size or shape. So, it’s recommended that you consult your doctor examine you if you notice anything that could be a genital wart. Some strains of HPV can cause cancer. It can take years, even decades, to contract cancer after getting the virus. You could get vaginal, anal, throat, tongue, penis, vulva, or tonsil cancer.

The CDC recommends that you get the HPV vaccine. Many people get this vaccine around 12 years old, but you can get it up until you’re 26 years old.


This STI is a bacterial infection. You can contract chlamydia by oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone who has it. Additionally, a pregnant person could pass the infection onto their newborn. Symptoms of this STI include:

  • Unusual discharge from a penis or vagina
  • Burning sensation during urination

Your doctor can provide tests to determine if you have chlamydia. If you do, you can treat it using antibiotics. It’s recommended that you get treatment as soon as possible as chlamydia can cause fertility problems in both genders.


An estimated 800,000 people deal with this STI every year. Gonorrhea occurs when bacteria infects the lining of a woman’s reproductive tract. It can also manifest in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus. You can contract this infection by having oral, vaginal, or anal sex with an infected person.

With this infection, you may face no symptoms at all. If you do have symptoms, you may experience unusual discharge from your genitals and pain while urinating. Men may experience pain in their testicles, while women may experience vaginal bleeding in between periods.

After diagnosis, you may be treated with two, different strains of antibiotics. Like Chlamydia, if it’s left untreated you may experience fertility issues in the future.

Genital Herpes

Unlike most STIs, there is no cure for genital herpes. Each year, around 800,000 adults contract the disease nationwide. This infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus or HSV. There are two strains of this virus – type 1 and type 2 and you can be infected by having any type of sexual contact with someone who carries the disease.

While some people experience mild symptoms, others are completely asymptomatic. Symptoms include having blisters around the mouth, anus, or genitals. These blisters will break open, causing pain and discomfort. The fluid inside of the blisters carry the herpes virus.

While it cannot be cured, your doctor can prescribe medicine to ease your pain.

How To Avoid STIs

There are multiple things you can do to prevent getting STIs. First and foremost, you need to ask your sexual partners to disclose their sexual history before you have sex with them. This lets you know if they’ve had any STIs and how many partners they’ve had intercourse with. Additionally, you can ask your partners to get tested for any STIs before you have sex with them.

Whenever you have sex, you should be using latex condoms. Using a condom every time you have sex can vastly reduce your chance of contracting an STI. The CDC has many tips on preventing STIs.

I Have an STI – What Now?

If you do contract an STI, go to your doctor’s office as soon as possible. If you can’t afford to go to the doctor’s, there are many places that offer STD testing.  It’s important to get tested so that you can protect yourself from having health problems down the road.

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Child Welfare

Parental Medicaid Expansion Translates into Preventive Care for their Children



When low-income parents enroll in Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) state expansion program, their children have considerably better odds of receiving annual preventive care pediatrician visits, according to a new analysis by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins University.

This “spillover effect,” explained in a study published online today and scheduled for the December issue of the journal Pediatrics, demonstrates that the potential benefits of Medicaid expansion extend beyond the newly covered adults.

“These findings are of great significance given the current uncertainty surrounding the future of the ACA and Medicaid expansions authorized by the law,” said senior author Eric T. Roberts, Ph.D., assistant professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management. “Lawmakers crafting policy proposals that could curtail Medicaid benefits or eligibility should recognize that such efforts would not just limit the receipt of health care services by low-income adults, but also by their children.”

The ACA provided states the opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage to all low-income people at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. So far, 31 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid coverage.

Roberts and his colleagues identified 50,622 parent-child pairs from data collected in the 2001 through 2013 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys, a nationally representative survey administered by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services that includes detailed information on family structure and demographics, including health insurance status and health care use.

They discovered that children of parents who had recently enrolled in Medicaid had a 29 percent higher probability than children of unenrolled parents of receiving their well child visit, which is recommended annually for children age 3 and older, and more frequently for infants and toddlers.

During the visits, the children are examined for growth and development and given immunizations, and their caregivers are guided on proper nutrition and child behaviors. Studies have shown that children who get well child visits are more likely to receive all their immunizations and less likely to have avoidable hospitalizations. The U.S. has persistently low rates of well child visits, particularly in low-income families.

“There are many reasons that parental Medicaid coverage increases the likelihood of well child visits for their children,” said Roberts. “It could be that insurance enhances the parents’ ability to navigate the health care system for themselves and their children, increasing their comfort in scheduling well child visits. Medicaid enrollment could be a sort of ‘welcome mat,’ in which eligible but previously uninsured children are enrolled after their parents gain coverage. It also could be that parental Medicaid coverage frees up more money to provide preventive services to their children, because even copays can be a deterrent to medical care among low-income people.”

Maya Venkataramani, M.D., is lead author on this research, and Craig Evan Pollack, M.D., M.H.S., is a coauthor. Both are from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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