Get Ready to Think Pink: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

You’ve probably seen – and maybe even worn – a pink ribbon during October to recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to support those who have been diagnosed with, are battling, or are recovering from the disease.

Did you know that there is more than one shade of ribbon?

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, there are four specific ribbons:

  • Hot pink: inflammatory breast cancer
  • Teal and pink: hereditary and gynecologic cancers
  • Pink and blue: male breast cancer
  • Teal, pink and green: metastatic breast cancer

Whatever color you choose, wear your ribbon all month or specifically during Pink Week, October 3rd – 5th. During Pink Week, people often wear pink and participate in pink-themed events and fundraisers.

Breast Cancer is the most common cause of cancer in women in Virginia.

Regular screening with a mammogram can catch cancer early so that it can be treated. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best time to be screened and for help with a plan that is right for you.

For many women, insurance covers the cost of routine screenings. For those who do not have insurance or who may have a loved one who doesn’t, the Virginia Department of Health’s Every Woman’s Life program may be able to help.

The program provides free breast and cervical screening tests and diagnostics. To learn more and find a provider site, visit the Every Woman’s Life page on the Virginia Department of Health website.

National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NGMHAAD) is September 27.  It was first in 2008 by the National Association of People with AIDS.  On this day, we focus on the impact of HIV and AIDS on gay and bisexual men.  We also focus on ongoing efforts to reduce HIV and AIDS in this community.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gay and bisexual men are the population most affected by HIV in the United States.  This is also true in Virginia.  In Virginia in 2022, 53% of people with HIV were men who had sex with men.

There are signs of progress.  New HIV infections are falling among some age and racial/ethnic groups in gay and bisexual men.  However, disparities continue to exist among Black/African-American and Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men.  For more on these disparities, see HIV and Gay and Bisexual Men: HIV Diagnoses.

Take the time this NGMHAAD to:

If you or a loved one has questions about HIV services, call the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Disease Prevention Hotline.  Reach a hotline counselor toll free at (800) 533-4148.  Hotline hours are 8:00am until 5pm, Monday through Friday.

Other Health Updates for Gay/Bisexual Men

While Virginia has not seen a resurgence in mpox that other parts of the county have, it is still important to learn about mpox and be prepared.  Gay and bisexual men have been most affected by the mpox outbreak.  Get vaccinated.  Two doses will provide the greatest protection.  To learn more about mpox, visit the VDH mpox page.

The VDH has announced a statewide outbreak of meningococcal disease.  An increase in meningococcal disease has occurred in several health regions.  This increase is three times the number of expected cases in one year.  Vaccination is recommended for individuals who may be at increased risk for the disease.  This includes persons with HIV.  Learn more about meningococcal disease, the current outbreak, and recommendations on the VDH outbreak page.

Protect Yourself and Your Pets: Rabies Awareness Week is Sept. 25th – Oct. 1st

Why should you be concerned about rabies? Because rabies is a highly fatal yet highly preventable illness that can affect any mammal.  

Rabies Awareness Week, Sept. 26th – Oct. 1st, is a good time to make sure your pet is up to date on vaccines and to review what to do if you or your pets are ever potentially exposed to rabies.  

Here are some tips:

  • If you have been bitten by an animal, don’t panic. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Treat it as any wound with first aid.  
  • Don’t try to pick up the animal. If you can, capture the animal under a large box or identify it before it runs away. Call an animal control or law enforcement officer to come get it.  
  • Report the bite to your healthcare provider. 
  • If your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal, report it to your local health department or animal control authorities. Be sure to follow their instructions for how to manage your pet’s health after a rabies exposure, including getting your vaccinated dog, cat, or ferret a booster rabies vaccination.  

Store garbage in tamper proof containers and keep pet food inside so that wild animals are not attracted to your property.  

Keep your pets from roaming off your property to decrease exposure to wild animals that could have rabies.  

Don’t approach wild animals, no matter how tame they may seem. An animal sick with rabies may act tame. If it is acting strangely, call animal control.  

Call your veterinarian or attend a local rabies vaccination clinic to have your pets vaccinated for rabies. Vaccinating domestic animals for rabies is one of the most important things you can do to protect your pets, yourself, and your community.

To learn more, visit the VDH’s Rabies Control webpage or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Rabies website.

#NPM2023 Week 4: Stay Ready This Hurricane Season

#NPM2023 Week 4: Stay Ready This Hurricane Season

Storm hit Virginia Beach Fishing Pier, Virginia Beach, VA

Basic Hurricane Preparedness Tips

#NPM2023 Week 3: Build a Kit

Hand completing Emergency Preparation List by Equipment


#NPM2023 Week 3: Build a Kit

After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for minutes to several days. Based on your situation you may need an emergency kit. The kit is vital to sustaining you and your family after a disaster. Here is a list of emergency preparedness kits you may want to have ready before facing an emergency or disaster. Preparedness kits should be checked at least every six months or when items expired. Kits may not only include supplies, but it may include items like copies of identification, insurance documents, personal contact information, and list of medications.

Emergency Kit

Being prepared means each family member having their own 3-day supplyfood, water and other supplies to last for several days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

Personal Workplace Disaster Supplies Kit

An emergency can happen at any time, such as while you are at work. Just as you have an emergency kit ready at home, so you would want a kit prepared and ready at work.

Pet Kit

Your pets are important part of the family. Just as you prepare enough food, water, and supplies for each member of your family, you would do the same for your pets.

Financial Kit

To prepare financially and help reduce financial impacts after an emergency or disaster for you and your family see Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK).

Emergency Car Kit

Every vehicle should have an emergency supply kit. Kits should be checked every six months, and expired items should be replaced regularly.

During National Recovery Month, Learn About Treatment, Recovery and What You Can Do

If you or someone you know is in immediate distress:

A son lost his 58-year-old father to prescription opioid addiction. A college athlete became addicted after surgery, stopped playing sports and dropped out of classes. A mother who was prescribed opioids to manage headaches lost her career, her home, and much of her retirement savings.

Addiction is a medical condition.  A person who seeks help and those who care about them shouldn’t feel ashamed. Many people are affected by SUD.

It can happen to anyone.

The good news is recovery from a substance use disorder (SUD) is possible. There is hope.

You may wonder why someone with an SUD can’t just stop using a certain substance. Did you know that drugs affect the brain, making it more difficult to stop using? The way a person feels about spending time with other people and how much they enjoy food also can be affected.

Treatment can work. It may include medications that can help with cravings or withdrawal symptoms. Rehabilitation and counseling also are options, depending on the type of SUD.

September is National Recovery Month, a time to learn about treatment, recovery and what you can do to support someone who may be struggling.

To learn more about substance use disorders, prevention, treatment, and recovery, visit the following sites:

To get help with treatment or locate a Community Services Board, visit Substance Use Disorder Services – Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

To find support: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

To learn about naloxone: Virginia Department of Health

To find naloxone training: Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

To learn about Comprehensive Harm Reduction, visit Comprehensive Harm Reduction – Disease Prevention (

To learn about how to end the stigma: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention\

To learn about prevention: Injury and Violence Prevention – Injury and Violence Prevention (

#NPM2023 Week 2: Pet and Animal Preparedness

Happy woman playing with her dog on the couch at home. Dog licking middle aged woman in the living room


#NPM2023 Week 2: Pet and Animal Preparedness

Your pet is an important member of your household. Unfortunately, animals are also affected by disaster. Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can’t care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for your pets if you are unable to do so. If you evacuate your home, do not leave your pets behind! It is your responsibility as a pet owner to find out what type of shelters and assistance are available in your area to accommodate pets, and to include pets in your disaster plan to keep them safe during an emergency.

What you should know about Pet Preparedness

  • Include your pets in your emergency plans.
  • Build a separate emergency kit for your pets.
  • Make sure and keep digital records and/or pictures to identify your pet after a disaster in case you become separated.
  • Create a list of places that accept pets if an emergency happens.

Make a Pet Emergency Plan

  • ID your pet. Make sure your pet’s tags are up-to-date and securely fastened to your pet’s collar. If possible, attach the address and/or phone number of your evacuation site. If your pet gets lost, his tag is his ticket home. Also consider microchipping your pets.
  • Make sure you have a current photo and description of your pet for identification purposes.
  • Make a pet emergency kit:
    • 5 gallons of water and sufficient food and medicine for at least three days per pet
    • Medications
    • Immunization and medical records
    • Manual can opener
    • Serving dishes
    • First aid kit and other supplies
    • Pet toys and bedding
  • Identify shelters. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets. Find out which motels and hotels in the area you plan to evacuate to allow pets well in advance of needing them. There are also a number of guides that list hotels/motels that permit pets and could serve as a starting point. Include your local animal shelter’s number in your list of emergency numbers.
  • Make sure you have a secure pet carrier, leash or harness for your pet so that if he panics, he can’t escape.
  • Call your local emergency management office, animal shelter or animal control office to get advice and information.
  • If you are unable to return to your home right away, you may need to board your pet. Find out where pet boarding facilities are located. Be sure to research some outside your local area in case local facilities close.
  • Some animal shelters will provide temporary foster care for owned pets in times of disaster but this should be considered only as a last resort.
  • If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place your animal in great danger! Confine your pet to a safe area inside – NEVER leave your pet chained outside! Leave them loose inside your home with food and plenty of water. Remove the toilet tank lid, raise the seat and brace the bathroom door open so they can drink. Place a notice outside in a visible area, advising what pets are in the house and where they are located. Provide a phone number where you or a contact can be reached as well as the name and number of your vet.

Tips for Large Animals

If you have large animals such as horses, cattle, sheep, goats or pigs on your property, be sure to prepare before a disaster.

  • Ensure all animals have some form of identification.
  • Evacuate animals whenever possible. Map out primary and secondary routes in advance.
  • Make available vehicles and trailers needed for transporting and supporting each type of animal. Also make available experienced handlers and drivers. Note: It is best to allow animals a chance to become accustomed to vehicular travel so they are less frightened and easier to move.
  • Ensure destinations have food, water, veterinary care and handling equipment.
  • If evacuation is not possible, animal owners must decide whether to move large animals to shelter or turn them outside.

Training Opportunities:

Additional Resources: Your Pets for Disasters Brochure

Animal Poison Control

Pet First Aid Mobile Apps

Anyone Can Help Prevent Suicide. Learn the Signs During Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

If you or a loved one is thinking about suicide, please call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. Trained staff are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year.

Suicide is a public health issue, a leading cause of death across the nation and across the Commonwealth, and can have lasting harmful effects on individuals, families, and communities. Mental health well-being, which affects how someone feels, thinks, and acts can be associated with suicide, but other factors play a role as well. These factors can include a history of trauma, relationship problems, substance use, physical health challenges, job stressors, and financial and legal problems.

Anyone can help prevent suicide. While many situations are different, there are often key signs that a friend, family member, or coworker is thinking about suicide and could use help.

Each September, Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is observed across the nation and in Virginia. This is a time to raise awareness about suicide prevention, educate the public about everyone’s part in preventing it, and to help individuals, families, and communities stay connected.

Warning signs for suicide may include:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or behaving in a reckless way.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Extreme mood swings.

What should you do if you have one or more of these concerns for someone?

  • While it can be difficult, talk to the person without judging them.
  • Ask them if they are thinking about suicide.
  • Make sure you know where to find help.

What is the Virginia Department of Health doing to help prevention suicide?

  • Identifying and helping people at risk.
  • Increasing help seeking behaviors.
  • Making sure someone can get treatment.
  • Supporting safe care and the ability to receive treatment.
  • Helping those in crisis in the best possible way.
  • Making sure help is available long-term after someone dies from suicide.
  • Enhancing life skills and resilience.
  • Promoting connectedness.

To learn more about Virginia’s and national suicide prevention programs, or to find training and resources, visit the following websites:

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

Veterans Crisis Line

Resources – Suicide Prevention (

Suicide Prevention Awareness Month (SPAM) | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Suicide Prevention | Suicide | CDC

If you are someone with lived experience or are interested in joining suicide prevention work throughout the state, send your information and request to the Suicide Prevention Interagency Advisory Group (SPIAG), by completing the form on the VDH SPIAG page.

#NPM2023 Week 1: Preparing for Older Adults & People with Disabilities

Multi-Generation Family Sitting On Sofa At Home Reading Book With Baby Granddaughters


#NPM2023 Week 1: Preparing for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

We know older adults can face greater risks when it comes to the multitude of extreme weather events and emergencies we now face, especially if they are living alone, are low-income, have a disability, or live in rural areas. As an older adult, you may have specific needs after a disaster. Use the information below to assess your needs and take simple, low-cost steps that help you and your loved ones get better prepared.

  • Keep a NOAA Weather Radio tuned to local emergency station or TV for warnings about disasters and emergencies near your area. 
  • Plan how you will communicate if you have special communication needs (deaf or hard of hearing, Blind or have low vision, speech disability). 
  • Communication cards to say you are deaf, deaf/blind or hard of hearing (Card can be located at Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division) 
  • Notebook and pens for writing notes. 
  • Plan for food, water, and essentials for you and pets or service animals. 
  • Plan for your transportation if you may need help evacuating. 
  • Plan how you will evacuate with any assistive devices (wheelchairs, walkers).
  • Include medicines, medical supplies, batteries, and chargers. 
  • Make copies of ID, Medicaid, Medicare, and other insurance cards. 
  • Phone and/or tablet and chargers. 
  • If have service animal or pet, pet supplies such as food, leashes, and medications. 

Consider adding to Emergency Preparedness Kit: 

  • Plan to have contact information for important people and care providers. 
  • Hearing aids, assistive listening devices, braille display, glasses (extra batteries). 
  • A list of medicines you need, dosage instructions, and any allergies. 
  • Contact information for your durable medical provider. 
  • Communication apps on your phone or tablet (speech-to-text apps, video relay service apps, captioned telephone apps, IP Relay or real-time text apps).
  • List need-to-know information for first responders and others who might need to help you during this emergency. 

Additional Resources: 

OK-WARN Weather alert remote notification for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing 

ARC Being Prepared Means Planning Ahead 

FEMA/ARC Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and other Special Needs 

VDEM Individuals with Disabilities 

September is National Preparedness Month and it’s the Perfect Time to Build a Kit, Make a Plan and Sign Up to Be Informed 

You may have heard that it’s important to “Build a kit, Make a plan and Be Informed” before severe weather or another type of emergency happens. 

September is National Preparedness Month, and it’s the perfect time to get prepared for emergencies that could force you to evacuate your home and require you to survive on your own for several days. 

Most of us know how to Stay Informed about the weather and other emergencies by reading or watching news outlets or signing up for alerts. You also can download the FEMA app, and listen to NOAA weather radio.

Building a kit means putting together important documents and items that you may need to survive if your power goes out or you need to evacuate.

But what about making a plan?

An emergency plan for your family means discussing ahead of time how you will communicate during an emergency. It also includes figuring out how to reconnect after the danger has passed. It involves having all the information you will need in one place, such as phone numbers, insurance information and more if you need to evacuate in a hurry or search for loved ones after an emergency. Before filling out the form, ask yourself a few questions: 

  • How will my family/household get emergency alerts and warnings?  
  • How will my family/household get to safe locations before and after emergencies?  
  • How will my family/household get in touch if cell phones, internet, or landlines don’t work?  
  • How will I let loved ones know I am safe?  
  • How will family/household get to a meeting place after the emergency? 

Topics on your form can include:    

  • Household information, including your address and phone number  
  • List of family members, including email addresses and medical information  
  • Information on schools, childcare, caregivers, and workplaces  
  • Emergency contacts  
  • Emergency meeting places where everyone can reconnect  
  • Doctors’ names and numbers  
  • Veterinarian information  
  • Insurance information  
  • List of medications and dosage  
  • Gathering important documents

Having a plan means that everyone will know exactly what to do in an emergency. To learn more about how to be ready for an emergency or disaster, visit the website.