Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Educating the Public About HIV

Today is National HIV Testing Day and AGI is working with the healthcare industry to bring awareness to getting tested. Although there is no actual cure for HIV at the moment, there is still a way to control it through prevention methods, and most of all, getting tested. In today’s society there are now more than ever different alternatives to getting tested. From your healthcare provider, a mobile clinic, testing events, local organizations, or even at home! There’s no excuse to get tested! According to the CDC, “About 1.1 million people in the United States have HIV, and 1 in 7 of them don’t know it. Young people are the most likely to be unaware of their HIV infection.” Therefore it’s important to get tested, especially, as CDC states, are more sexually active, or if you identify as a sexually active gay or bisexual men.  Knowing your HIV status is not only important, but it’s also breaking the stigma from HIV testing as well as support from peers and family. A lot of times, people refuse to get tested in fear that they may be judged by sexuality, drug abuse, gender, sex work, or simply for having HIV/AIDS. In supporting local and international HIV testing events, AGI is hoping to help break these stereotypes and help bring both national and international awareness on HIV testing.

                HIV is transmitted via sexual activity or through sharing needle or syringes. According to CDC, HIV can live in used needles from up to 42 days of being used! Although sexual activity and needles and syringes are the main source of spreading HIV in the U.S. there are other ways HIV is spread, even through infancy. For example, women who have HIV and are pregnant may infect their child, if they’re not taking medication. The risk of HIV is also higher if you have an STD. According to the CDC, you should get tested if:

º You’re a sexually active gay or bisexual man.
º You’ve had sex with an HIV-positive partner.
º You’ve had more than one partner since your last HIV test.
º You’ve shared needles or works to inject drugs.
º You’ve exchanged sex for drugs or money.
º You have another sexually transmitted disease, hepatitis,
or tuberculosis.
º You’ve had sex with anyone who has done anything listed above + – or with someone whose sexual history you don’t know.

There’s always a fear of testing positive, but it’s better to know in order to live a healthier life knowing, rather than keeping it a mystery. Visiting a mobile testing site or mobile clinic is the first step in becoming more aware of your health, as well as helping spread awareness on the importance of HIV testing.

                Even after testing negative for HIV, it’s always important to practice prevention methods. From abstinence, to using lubricated condoms, it’s important to speak to your local physician to find what’s best for your personal health lifestyle. Most importantly, if you do have HIV, communicating with your partner in regards to having protected sex as well having a routinely HIV testing is important. Visiting a mobile clinic is just as informative as visiting your nearest clinic as well. The U.S. National Library of Medicine states that although health facilities are more than likely to help more children, men, and people who have never been tested before, it’s mobile clinics who help communities find new HIV infections. A mobile clinic has the potential to help save someone’s life through programs that offer affordable and accessible services such as HIV testing. Receive your own personal tips with the CDC’s HIV Risk Reduction Tool here, or visit your local mobile HIV Testing center for more information!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

World Blood Donor Day – Spread Blood Donation Awareness

June 14, 2017 marks World Blood Donor Day where around the world, clinics, hospitals, organizations, etc. spread the message on the importance of donating blood. The World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates every year on June 14th in order to not only emphasizes the need of blood donation, but also to thank those who donate blood. Without blood donations, this makes it more difficult to save lives through blood transfusions. Therefore, it’s important for not just your communities, but you as an individual to donate blood, and help save a life. By bringing awareness to the community with a bloodmobile, the community is helping not just each other, but around the world through a simple task of donating blood. Spreading blood donation awareness will increase the chances of an individual to get to live another day thanks to volunteers around the world!
In order to understand the importance on celebrating World Blood Donor Day, we have to
take a look at what donating blood leads to. For starters, Huffington Post states donating blood is a very simple process: registration, medical history, a mini-physical, the donation itself, followed by light refreshments at the nearest bloodmobile. The process of donating blood does not even take long, in fact, it’s more of a ten minute process. The amount of blood donated is usually about a pint of blood. The human body carries ten pints of blood. Within that pint of blood, there is several items that can help not just one person, but many! From red blood cells, platelets, plasma, and cryoprecipitate—just one pint can help save more than one life. For those who have O-negative blood type, which is about 7 percent of the U.S. population, can be given to patients of all types of blood because it’s a universal blood type. Therefore, donating blood is not only important in saving lives, but we all have our own reasons for doing it. Whether we want to help others, or know someone who is in need of help, donating blood is important in order to help save those who are in need of more blood.
Most of blood for operations and surgeries is supplied worldwide through the donation of blood. The safest blood, according to WHO, is unpaid donor blood. Of course all transfusions are screened for infections such as HIV and hepatitis before used on patients. The organization states, “In high-income countries, transfusion is most commonly used for supportive care in cardiovascular surgery, transplant surgery, massive trauma, and therapy for solid and hematological malignancies. In low- and middle-income countries it is used more often to manage pregnancy-related complications and severe childhood anemia.” Therefore, depending the situations in certain communities, blood transfusions are used for different services. What remains the same in no matter what country we look at or what language we speak, donating blood is a universal cause that helps anyone and everyone.
This year, WHO is focusing their campaign on blood donations for emergency health care. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and so on, lead to not only injured people, but at times may create severe impacts such as destruction of health facilities. During emergencies, there is a higher demand for blood transfusions, and if this demand is not met, it makes it more difficult for healthcare facilities to meet these demands and essentially save a life. Therefore, being prepared for natural disasters is not just important at home, but within healthcare facilities as well. By focusing on donating blood after, before, and during natural disasters, we’re working together to keep a consistency within the blood donation system. So this World Blood Donor Day, visit your nearest bloodbank or bloodmobile, and save a life by