National Volunteer Week is a great time to learn more about the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (Va MRC). The Va MRC is a force of dedicated volunteers who stand ready to support the community in the event of a public health emergency. Each of the 27 local MRC units is comprised of teams of medical and public health professionals who, along with interested community members, volunteer their skills, expertise and time to support ongoing public health initiatives and assist during emergencies throughout Virginia. Learn more and sign up to volunteer through the Virginia Volunteer Health System.
All adults can benefit from thinking about what their health care choices would be if they are unable to speak for themselves. These decisions can be written down in an advance directive so that others know what they are. VDH provides a free, secure tool to store end of life documents that protect your legal rights and ensure your medical wishes are honored if you are unable to manage your own care. Visit the Advance Health Care Directive Registry to get started.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can cause serious health problems if left untreated. Syphilis is easy to cure with the right treatment. Syphilis has stages (primary, secondary, latent and tertiary); each stage has different symptoms. Symptoms may include a painless sore, a rash on the body, hands, or feet, patchy hair loss, or even sudden changes in vision. Learn to recognize the symptoms of syphilis.
The United States is experiencing the highest numbers of reported syphilis cases in over 20 years. Rates are on the rise in men, women, newborns, most age groups, all regions and almost every race/ethnicity. In Virginia, the number of reported syphilis cases increased 40% between 2015 and 2016. The recent rise of syphilis highlights its ability to affect many communities at anytime and anywhere. We encourage you to learn how you can disrupt syphilis!
Men who have sex with men (MSM) are experiencing rates of syphilis not seen since before the HIV epidemic. In Virginia in 2015, 90% of reported cases of syphilis were among men. Three out of four cases of reported syphilis were among MSM. Half of MSM who have syphilis also have HIV. If you are a man who has sex with men:
- Know what puts you at risk for syphilis and how to avoid and lower those risks.
- Get tested for HIV and STDs, including syphilis, frequently. If you have multiple or anonymous partners, you should get tested every 3 months or a least once a year.
Pregnant women are also experiencing increasing rates of syphilis. When a pregnant woman has syphilis, her baby may be stillborn or miscarried. Congenital syphilis is when a baby is born with syphilis. If you are pregnant:
- Get tested for syphilis the first time you see your doctor for healthcare during pregnancy. Your doctor may want to test you later in your pregnancy and again when your baby is born.
- If you test positive for syphilis, get treated right away. Medicine used to cure syphilis is safe for you and your baby to receive during pregnancy.
- Make sure your sex partner(s) receive treatment to avoid getting syphilis again.
As the weather warms up and you plan on spending more time outdoors be sure to keep the bugs away while you play! Ticks and Mosquitoes can make you sick. They can carry illnesses like Lyme disease, West Nile and Zika. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents to keep you and your family safe this summer.
Before your Spring trip:
- If you are pregnant, do not travel to an area with Zika. If you or your partner are trying to get pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider before traveling to an area with Zika.
- Check the latest travel recommendations from the CDC
During your Spring trip:
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites
- Keep mosquitoes outside by staying in places with air-conditioning and windows and doors, or use a bed net
After your Spring trip:
Thank you for celebrating Virginia Public Health Week with us. The ultimate goal of the Virginia Plan for Well-Being is to serve as a call to action to create and sustain conditions that support health and well-being for all people in Virginia. Whether it is through working to create healthier conditions in your community, providing a strong start for a child, taking preventive actions in your own life such as quitting smoking or exercising or regularly seeing a primary care provider, each of us has a role to play in making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation.
During each day of Virginia Public Health Week, we will be focusing on aims from the Virginia Plan for Well-Being. The Plan serves as a call to action to create and sustain conditions that support health and well-being. The third aim of The Plan is Preventive Actions.
A culture of health and wellness is built on preventive actions. Virginia’s high obesity rate will require 1) community design and policies that promote health 2) clinical interventions and education and 3) individual behavior modification. Together, we can do it! Learn more about preventive actions you can take at VDH LiveWell.
During each day of Virginia Public Health Week, we will be focusing on aims from the Virginia Plan for Well-Being. The Plan serves as a call to action to create and sustain conditions that support health and well-being. The fourth aim of The Plan is a System of Health Care.
Did you know that the leading category of health care spending in Virginia is hospitalization? Many hospital stays can be avoided through prevention and primary care. Only 70% of adults in Virginia have a regular healthcare provider. Our goal for 2020 is to raise that number to 85%. One simple preventive action you can take today is getting your flu shot. It’s not too late to Miss The Flu!
During each day of Virginia Public Health Week, we will be focusing on aims from the Virginia Plan for Well-Being. The Plan serves as a call to action to create and sustain conditions that support health and well-being. The second aim of The Plan is a Strong Start for Children.
Children with chronic health problems have a greater risk of having poorer health outcomes and lower job status as adults. Health also affects children’s school performance which can affect countless other things in their lives. Healthy pregnancies lead to strong starts for children in Virginia. Learn more about healthy mothers and healthy babies in Virginia.