We are getting further away from Election Day in the U.S. and getting closer to 2017, when many of the changes voted on will take effect.  Americans voted on much more than president this past November that will impact our nation’s healthcare; several states voted to allow or expand cannabis (aka marijuana) use for medicinal purposes, Colorado weighed in on assisted suicide, and California proposed price caps on prescription medications.

Colorado became the fifth state to allow a person with a terminal illness to receive a prescription for life-ending drugs from a doctor, with two-thirds of Colorado voters supporting the “End of Life Options” law. The law was modeled after Oregon’s 22-year-old “Death with Dignity” law that requires two physicians to agree the patient is mentally competent and is expected to live fewer than six months.  California, Vermont, and Washington also have similar laws allowing for physician-assisted suicide. Opponents of the law point to

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We are barely two weeks into 2016, and there have already been attempts to limit access to healthcare for Americans.  Last week President Obama vetoed a bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) and cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood.  The veto marks the first time a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act has passed through Congress after more than 50 attempts. In previous blog posts, we explored how the ACA has in fact insured over 10 million people and the many services provided by Planned Parenthood to both men and women.

In the latest annual report from Planned Parenthood (2014-2015) the health impact has shown some notable declines in number of people served with cancer and/or STI screenings, likely related to the closings of Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas and other states.  Abortions still only account for 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services. In the time covered by the report, only 43% of the Planned Parenthood’s funding comes from government

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January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month. With all women being at risk for cervical cancer, it’s important to be mindful of the health risks, symptoms, and resources available to those in need. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and about 4,000 women die from it annually.

The main cause of cervical cancer is human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed between people during sex. HPV is so common that most people will have it at some point during their lives without ever developing symptoms. About 90% of cases are cleared naturally by the immune system within two years; however, there is no way of knowing which individuals will go on to develop health problems.

Some strains of HPV can cause warts around genitals or in one’s throat, while others can cause normal cells in the body to turn abnormal—possibly leading to cancer over time. Other factors that can increase your risk for cervical cancer are smoking, having HIV, using birth control pills for an extended time (five or more years), or giving birth to three or more children.

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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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Planned Parenthood has been a controversial organization to many Americans since its beginnings in 1916. Just this week a bill was debated in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood, which failed 53-46 (required 60 votes to pass).  With political rhetoric and misinformation heard from many speaking on the subject, the kinds of services provided by Planned Parenthood may be unknown or misunderstood by those who could potentially benefit from them.

Planned Parenthood began their work when information about family planning and contraception were considered “obscene.”  The founders of the first birth control clinic were arrested and convicted for disseminating contraception information. In the 1960s family planning became a central element of the War on Poverty. Today family planning services include everything from couples counseling to reproductive health screenings, pregnancy tests and prenatal services to contraception or pregnancy termination. Some Planned Parenthood clinic locations are able to provide a full range of family practice services. Planned Parenthood’s mission has always been to provide services for those in need

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