Yesterday, December 1, has been known as World AIDS Day since 1988.  In the past 27 years, access to care has grown so that 15 million people are able to get life-saving HIV treatment. New HIV infections have been reduced by 35% since 2000; AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by 42% since the peak in 2004.  This year’s theme for World AIDS Day is “On the Fast-Track to end AIDS,” and aims to increase investment in the next five years with the goal of reducing HIV infection by 89% by 2030.

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the advanced stage of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) which can be transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids, most commonly through sexual contact or transfusing blood unsafely (i.e., intravenous drug use) with someone who is infected.  A mother could also transmit the virus to their child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.  The HIV infection attacks the immune system until an opportunistic infection such as certain kinds of pneumonia, toxoplasmosis, as well as rare cancers and brain illnesses are contracted, at which time the diagnosis has progressed to AIDS.  There is

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Transgender Pride Flag

The week leading up to November 20 is observed as Transgender Awareness Week. While new healthcare laws may have expanded access for more Americans, there are still populations that continue to have little to no access to appropriate health care. In the United States, over 27% of transgender/gender non-conforming people have been denied health care.

As transgender/gender non-conforming have become more mainstream terms in recent years, one should be aware of the concept of gender identity:

Gender identity” shall mean a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth. Gender-related identity may be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender-related identity or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is

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November is National Diabetes Awareness Month.  In previous blog posts, we have offered tips for prevention and saving costs.  We have also held special topic webinars on empowering patients to self-manage their diabetes.

In the United States, nearly 30 million people are diagnosed with diabetes, with another 86 million Americans at risk for type 2 diabetes; that’s nearly one out of every 11 people with diabetes, with 1 out of 4 unaware they have the condition.  Awareness of the disease can not only prevent future cases for those at risk, but also help raise funds to develop new treatments for those living with diabetes.

There are different types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes presents with the body not making insulin, and those diagnosed must take insulin injections every day. Only 5% of those diagnosed with diabetes have type 1, and there is no known method to cure or prevent type 1 diabetes.  With type 2 diabetes, one’s body doesn’t use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels. Type 2 diabetes has a number of risk factors:

  • Being overweight;
  • Being 45 years or older;
  • Having a parent or sibling diagnosed with type 2 diabetes;
  • Being physically active less than 3 times per week.

Race and ethnicity also can affect one’s risk.  African Americans,

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Since 1999, October is Health Literacy Month.  This week is also National Health Education Week.  Health literacy is defined as the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Being able to disseminate health information allows people to navigate the healthcare system, keep track of their medical history, competently engage in self-care, and understand probability of health risks.

Health literacy is the main form of defense against misinformation prevalent in our society. Knowledge of the facts is key to combat the influence of those who would fly in the face of medical and scientific studies on subjects such as vaccinations or family planning services.  Dangerous pseudoscience can be avoided, saving individuals money and suffering at the hands of those who either don’t know or don’t care.  Despite this, only 12% of adults have “Proficient” health literacy according to the National

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For 25 years, the first full week of October has been Mental Illness Awareness WeekOne in five, or 20% of the population, live with some kind of mental health condition, with one in 25 living with a serious mental illness that substantially limits one’s life activities.  Those living with mental illness fight stigma while trying to survive under internal duress.  Awareness is important so that resources are made available to those who need them and the stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental illnesses will be reduced.

Everyone has stress and difficult emotions on occasion, and this is completely normal. Mental illness, however, is any condition that makes it difficult to function in daily life. It can affect relationships or job performance, and is caused by any number of complex interactions within the human brain.  Mental illness can range from anxiety or mood disorders like depression, psychotic disorders like schizophrenia, eating disorders, or addictive behaviors.

Depression is the leading cause of disability in the world, with 16 million American adults living with major depression.  Eighteen percent

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