Disease Prevention Highlights

Open Enrollment Extended

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended open enrollment for the Health Insurance Exchange.  The deadline to complete enrollment is now 3:00 am on December 18, 2019.  You can read the entire press release from CMS here: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/cms-statement-health-insurance-exchange-open-enrollment-extension.

Benalytics, a partner of the Virginia Medication Assistance Program (VA MAP), will continue its efforts to enroll/re-enroll clients in eligible exchange programs through the extension deadline.  For more information on the VA MAP program, visit: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/disease-prevention/virginia-aids-drug-assistance-program-adap/.

Weather Preparedness

While the Atlantic Hurricane Season ends on November 30, we head directly into the season for winter weather.  The HIV Care Services Program asks all of its clients to be prepared before inclement weather.  Assess medication refill needs before a storm affects your area.  If you access medications at local health departments, mail order, or retail pharmacies make sure you get your refills early.  You could be displaced during the storm or be unable to travel to pick up your medications.

Community Partners that work with HIV Care Services, please see the HIV Care Services web page .  Under the Emergency Preparedness drop-down there is information on policies, procedures, and forms to help clients who need emergency services during inclement weather.

Please stay safe during inclement weather.

World AIDS Day 2019

World AIDS Day takes place December 1 of each year.  It is a time when people across the world can take the opportunity to unite in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and show support for those living with HIV, and remember those that have lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses.  Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.

You can read more about World AIDS Day on the official website*.

Find an event near you and get involved for World AIDS Day 2019.  Show your support by wearing a red ribbon.  Get tested and update your HIV status.  Learn about advances in HIV prevention and care.  Share resources on HIV and World AIDS Day on your social media.  There are many ways to get involved.

This year marks the first full year of Virginia’s Comprehensive Harm Reduction (CHR) program.  Virginia’s CHR program provides new syringes and needles, disposes of used syringes, refers participants to drug treatment and medical care, distributes Naloxone (to reverse overdoses), provides education and counseling, provides testing for HIV, hepatitis and other diseases, and provides referrals to social services and insurance.  Since the beginning of the program, 553 Virginians were tested for HIV.  The program has found previously-identified HIV-positive persons and re-engaged them into medical care.  For more information on the Virginia CHR program or to find locations, visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/disease-prevention/chr/.

For Virginia Medication Assistance Program clients:  Remember that open enrollment for 2020 could be ending soon, depending on your health plan.  Read the enrollment announcement and take action now.

The Virginia Disease Prevention Hotline is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am until 5:30 pm.  You can reach a counselor at 800-533-4148.

*This website link is the official WorldAIDSDay.org website and is provided to give background on the global health day.  VDH providing this link does not constitute an endorsement of the organization’s campaign or a request for donations to the campaign.

Know Your Sexual Health

The number of sexual transmitted disease (STD) cases are at an all-time high.  In fact, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 2 people will get a STD before the age of 25.  Most people who get STDs don’t know that they have them.  That’s because STDs often have no obvious signs or symptoms.  Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are common STDs that can cause these serious health problems:

  • Increased risk of giving or getting HIV
  • Long-term pelvic and/or abdominal pain
  • Inability to get pregnant or pregnancy complications
  • Health problems for newborn babies if moms are not treated adequately

The only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested.  Learn more about testing, including where to go, here.   STDs are curable or manageable with the right treatment.  Not all doctors will ask you about your sexual activity or need for STD testing.  Don’t be afraid to ask your medical provider for STD testing!

Here are some ways you can prevent STDs:

  • Use condoms – correct and consistent use of the male latex condom is highly effective in reducing the transmission of many STDs. Learn the right way to use condoms and dental dams here.  Female condoms are available, too!
  • Get vaccinated – safe and effective vaccines exist to prevent hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV). These infections can be transmitted through sex.
  • Reduce your number of sex partners – reducing the number of people you have sex with can decrease your risk of STDs. It is still important for you and your partner to get tested and share your results with one another.
  • Practice mutual monogamy – mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has also agreed to be sexually active only with you. It is important to make sure that you are both tested and treated for STDs early on.
  • Abstinence – not having sex is the most reliable way to avoid STDs. This includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

Last Updated: December 16, 2019.