The New “Normal”

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by Tracy Fromm, Mental Health Counselor for Caring Communities Well, two months have passed since the inception of social distancing and self-quarantine.  I can honestly say I thought this would be an easy transition.   As I spoke with clients early on, I noticed a willingness to adapt to the new changes, to cooperate with requests by our President and Governor to “social distance.”  However, the longer the duration of isolation, I am noticing more anxiety with clients and difficulty dealing with monotony and boredom.  Continued confinement is antithetical to human beings.  We are beginning to “long” for previous times, the freedom to go anywhere and not have to strategize our every move.  We want to return to a time when we didn’t carry hand sanitizer and wear a mask.  Our…
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May is Hepatitis Awareness Month

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May is Hepatitis Awareness Month in the United States! This is a time to raise awareness of viral hepatitis and encourage our communities to get tested.  There are several types of hepatitis, all of which affect the liver. Most have treatments available, though they do not all have vaccines or cures.  Hepatitis A: This is a vaccine-preventable, contagious disease of the liver transmitted by blood or stool. Those who contract hepatitis A may feel sick for a few weeks to several months, but usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. (1)  The best way to prevent Hepatitis A is to get vaccinated, and most children in the U.S. are vaccinated around age 12-23 months. The vaccine has been shown to last at least 20 years. (2)  Hepatitis…
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Self-Care During Stressful Times

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by Tracy Fromm, Mental Health Counselor at Caring Communities The ultra-stressful outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been a reality shock and upended life for all of us. No one in the world can say their lives have not been affected in various ways. It is an event unlike any other we have experienced. After several weeks of being informed about the virus, and the mandate of social distancing and limited travel, many people are experiencing “cabin fever”. Individuals are not used to being isolated from others. We need and want companionship. We hope that this will all be soon behind us. So how can we continue to maintain our equilibrium, our mental health, and live without having residual feelings of anxiety or uncertainty once this virus has ended? It…
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STD Awareness Week 2020

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STD Awareness Week, observed during the second full week of April, is an opportunity to raise awareness about STDs, reduce stigmas and fears, and ensure your community has the tools and knowledge to prevent, test for, and treat STDs.  From 2014-2018, the CDC found that many STD cases continued to increase. During this time period, Syphilis cases increased by 81%, Gonorrhea cases increased by 67%, and Chlamydia cases remained at record highs.[1]  This year, STD Awareness Week is April 12-18, 2020 and consists of several different themes.  The first is “GYT: Get Yourself Tested,” a campaign encouraging young people to get tested and treated for STDs and HIV as a way to protect their own health and that of their partner(s). Studies have found that teens don’t always talk to…
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COVID-19 and Those Living with HIV

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The novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) is a new coronavirus that is spreading from person-to-person and causes severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.   Because COVID-19 is a new disease, information regarding risk factors is limited. So far, the limited data available indicates that the disease course of COVID-19 does not differ between those living with HIV and those without HIV. It is still unknown whether an advanced HIV infection is a risk factor for COVID-19. Currently, the CDC believes the risk for people with HIV may be higher if the patient has a low CD4 cell count and is not in HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy or ART).  At this time, the CDC asks those living with HIV to follow their basic guidelines for preventing the spread…
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