Ideas on assisting in the relief effort without going in person. Much can be done without leaving your house. Give those affected by disaster some hope, and use some of these ideas to help them.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Disease On The Rise

1/15 For All Volunteer Agencies
This letter is intended to alarm you. MS Public Health Department released statistics on TB and Syphilis rates for 2006. The numbers are grim. While reading the following, please be mindful of 2 facts: These are only diagnosed cases and not estimates for the entire population; That consistent health care is still minimal, lowering the number of cases that would otherwise be diagnosed.

TB has increased 12% (http://katrinanetworking.blogspot.com/2007/01/tb-on-rise.html). The factors leading to this increase are vast, from a reduction in healthcare access to unventilated small living spaces. And while TB is difficult to contract, it isn’t rare – proven by the epidemics in our nation’s history. Encourage your volunteers to be tested for TB once or twice per year after working in the Gulf Region.

Please review the FAQS at the CDC’s website and give the information to your volunteers to read as well. http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/tb/faqs/qa.htm

Even more frightening is the emergence of Syphilis. It has increased 75 % (http://katrinanetworking.blogspot.com/2007/01/syphilis-on-rise.html). With it being known as The Great Imitator, it is easy to not visit the doctor for a proper diagnosis, creating an ever-widening infection pool. Coupled with the un-recovered health care system, Syphilis will spread that much more readily.

Using protection such as condoms helps, but is not fail safe. Studies for pregnancy show condoms 4%-10% ineffective (brand, storage and usage factors), with leakage being the main source of failure. Both Syphilis and HIV are up to 100 times smaller than sperm, making failure rate of condoms far higher for viral STDs. Syphilis makes a person 2-5 times more likely to become HIV infected (due to risky behavior and a reduction in the body’s defenses) as well as other STDs. For this reason, it is vital that people be tested if they become sexually active while visiting the Gulf Coast. http://www.cdc.gov/std/Syphilis/STDFact-Syphilis.htm

Spring Break and Mardi Gras are rapidly approaching. TB and STD transmission will be heightened dramatically due to environment and actions.

Please use common sense. Hope they practice abstinence, but educate them and give them access to protection as insurance policies. Educate your volunteers! Send information on all STDs and TB for them to read prior to traveling to the coast and leave information for them at the base camp. Urge abstinence. Require Hepatitis B vaccination and strongly urge HPV vaccination. Urge them to be tested for all STDs and TB when they return home from the coast. Discretely supply protection.

To order a copy of the Can We Talk? Kit and to learn more about program and the steps for implementing it in your community, visit the Can We Talk? Web site (http://www.canwetalk.org/) or contact the NEA Health Information Network at 1201 16th St. NW, Suite 521,Washington, DC 20036; (202) 822-7570.
· Talking with Kids about Tough Issues. This booklet was prepared by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (http://www.kff.org/) and Children Now (http://www.childrennow.org/). For information, call 1-916-441-2444.
· Finding Our Voices: Talking with our Kids about Sexuality and AIDS. This booklet is available from Mothers' Voices (http://www.mvoices.org/), 212-730-2777.
· Askable Parent — a booklet developed by the American Social Health Association (http://www.ashastd.org/), 919-361-8419.

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