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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International Transgender Day of Visibility

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March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV). International TDoV was founded in 2009 by transgender activist Rachel Crandall in response to a lack of recognition days focused on the successes of transgender people, and from the frustration that the only well-known transgender-centered day of recognition was Transgender Day of Remembrance, which mourns the loss of transgender people to violence.1 It is a day of empowerment and celebration for transgender and gender non-conforming people.   A 2017 public survey found that only 30% of Americans reported having a transgender acquaintance, friend or family member.2 This is what makes visibility days like TDoV so important: they help increase acceptance and inclusion. A study by the Williams Institute found that seeing images of transgender and gender non-conforming people can increase support for…
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National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

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The beginning of Spring also brings with it National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD) on March 20. In the United States, the Native communities include American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians, which are collectively referred to as Native people.[1] NNHAAD began in 2007 by a collaboration of agencies known as the National Native Capacity Building Assistance Network. The agencies, funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), worked together to build assistance to Native organizations, tribes, state health departments, and any other organization that serves Native populations.[2] The general goal of NNHAAD is to promote HIV education, testing, prevention, and treatment in Native communities. The day is also a time to remember those who have passed, and those who are infected and affected by HIV.[3] The 2020 theme is…
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Hoarding Disorder

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By Tracy Fromm, Mental Health Counselor for Caring Communities Do you feel guilty when you throw out a stuffed toy or a favorite well-worn teddy bear from childhood? Hoarding disorder, a mental health disorder, is increasing from societal pressures and increasing depression and anxiety. Having our “favorite objects” around makes us feel safe and comfortable. Some of the causes of hoarding disorder are: stressful events a family history of hoarding attachment issues untreated depression and anxiety Many times, people have difficulty with indecisiveness and procrastination. It has been estimated that 18-40% of hoarders have OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). Hoarding disorder can last several years or can be lifelong. 80-90% have excessive shopping tendencies and buy unnecessary items they don’t need nor have room for. How can you tell if you have…
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Pennsylvania and Coronavirus

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As you may be aware, the world is facing a new health crisis -- coronavirus, also referred to at COVID-19.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), officials first identified cases of the coronavirus in China.  As this virus spread, the United States issued a PHE or a Public Health Emergency on January 31, 2020.  There have been some cases in the country, but according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, to date no one in Pennsylvania has tested positive for the virus.  However, should cases begin to emerge in the state, the department has put a plan in place to address it.     In fact, the state has already engaged in the following as a result of this public health crisis: Activated the Department…
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