(Some portions of this Blog were first posted August 2011)
Once upon a time there was a world without HIV/AIDS. Ask those who live with it daily; provide medical care to a patient, sit by the bed of a loved one, search for a cure, or grieve over the loss of a friend, lover, or family member - and they'll tell you it's hard to remember the time "before". Three decades have passed with this virus bringing pain and suffering to our planet, whether it is one individual or entire generations, it has been deadly!
My introduction to working in this field came through my years as a Health & Safety Educator for the American Red Cross. I remember clearly the day my Chapter Director told me "there is this new disease; it has something to do with blood. Are you willing to go to a workshop and learn about it?" Well, I did, and here I am thirty years later.
Yup, it is a disease spread via blood, the blood and infectious body fluids of an infected person. How did someone get infected? Well, after much research and investigation we knew it was through unprotected sex with an infected person through vaginal, anal, or oral sex (semen & vaginal fluids). Also by sharing contaminated needles and syringes when injecting drugs (blood), and an infected Mother could transmit the virus to her baby during pregnancy; at birth or even through her breast milk because the virus was found in breast milk of infected mothers (breast milk).
It is not spread through casual contact, it is bloodborne not airborne. So it can't be coughed on you, it isn't spread on toilet seats or by drinking or eating after someone who is infected. But sadly, fear, misinformation, stigma and discrimination related to HIV/AIDS continues to this day. It's been 30 years folks, get educated, get tested, know your status and that of your sexual and drug using partners! Enough is enough already! I'm not going to let you off easy on that one; we are going to talk about it!
I want us to learn all we can about this infection, talk about it, think on it, dwell on it, chew on it in our mind and then I want my community to PREVENT it. Yes, I don't want another darn person in our community to become infected, cause we know how to stop it! And yet is continues to take our sons, daughters, uncles, mothers, brothers and on and on and on.
Over the next few posts I want to share with you some links and websites so that if you are interested you can learn more and share the information. And don't tell me this doesn't affect you because it does. The toll on our country is significant and it is especially so in the Southern states where the epidemic is at crisis level. So here is your homework... (just kidding) but please hang with me and let's make a difference by at least knowing the facts and how we can make a difference in our community.
Sites to check out:
1. The Cheaha Coosa Valley Community HIV Network (ADPH)
If you are on Facebook, please LIKE the page for the local HIV Planning Group at ADPH. The group meets monthly to inform the community, consumers and interested service providers, schools, churches, businesses, etc. about HIV in our community and across the state.
Meetings are held usually the 4th Wed. of each month, often at the Calhoun Co. Health Dept. at 10:00. All meeting are open to the public. and are Chaired by local HIV HIV Coordinator Tom Robertson.
Thanks, go LIKE the page and share with your social media friends.
Health Services Center's Project Revolution
This page supports our SAMHSA prevention project focused on minority young adult females in the community (ages 19-24). Project Coordinator Teri Wheeler.
Please go LIKE their page!
Health Services Center's Project Vortex
This page supports our SAMHSA prevention project providing prevention services on college campuses to minority young adult females (ages 19-24). Project Coordinator Melissa Parker
Please go LIKE their page!
4. Health Services Center's New Media Project (NMP) on TWITTER (coming soon to Facebook and You Tube)
This new project will focus on using social media to promote substance abuse and HIV prevention messages to two populations. LGBT/MSMs - and Persons over 50, especially those living with HIV
The project is on Twitter right now and will soon have Facebook pages and an You Tube Channel as well. We will be recruiting for community volunteers to Post and Tweet for us, especially from among our patients and consumers at HSC clinics...MORE INFO TO COME, but if you are on Twitter, please go FOLLOW this page now!
5. The Health Services Center (Open Group) on Facebook
This group is open to all, posting news, articles, updates, promoting HSC events and awareness days etc.
Thanks so much, feel free to share these social media links with your colleagues and email lists.
(And just so you can "bookmark" it - the new and improved HSC agency website:)
www.cdc.gov (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) go to the HIV or AIDS pages, lots of great resources and fact sheets)
www.adph.org (Alabama Department of Public Health, go to the H page for HIV, or the A page for AIDS, find out what the statistics are for your county, and what our State health departments are doing to fight HIV in Alabama)
www.samhsa.gov (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, they provide funding for the substance abuse programs at the Health Services Center and are the premier provider of substance abuse and addiction/recovery information in the U.S.)
www.nmac.org (The National Minority AIDS Council, a national organization focused on HIV/AIDS in minority populations)
www.southernaidscoalition.org (The Southern AIDS Coalition, get the perspective and information for the Southern States from the experts; HIV professionals, persons living with HIV, advocates, and those of us who live and work in the South, and care about the South)
Okay, that's it for today. I'm in this for the long haul, as my truck driver Dad used to say, so come back and join me on this journey. My grandson has assigned a picture for me when I call his cell phone the picture that comes up on his screen to tell him his Nanny is calling...a Trojan condom! So you are "safe" with me. Leave me a comment if you have questions or concerns, I'm all about some conversation.