World AIDS Day #WorldAIDSDay

World Aids Day logo

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, show support for those living with HIV, and remember those who 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  Shareable images can be found on the website as well as through Greater Than AIDS.

Show your support this World AIDS Day by wearing a red ribbon or sharing web resources.  Get tested and update your HIV status.  Learn about advances in HIV prevention and care.  There are many ways to get involved.  The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has expanded the availability of our in-home HIV testing program during COVID-19 to meet the needs of Virginians.  If you are interested in receiving a test kit mailed directly to you, visit the program REDCap page.

Virginia’s Comprehensive Harm Reduction (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.  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

For Virginia Medication Assistance Program clients:  remember that open enrollment for 2022 has started.  Be sure to visit and take action before January 15 to make sure you have health coverage for the 2022 year.

The Virginia Disease Prevention Hotline is available to answer questions and provide resources Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  You can reach a counselor at (800) 533-4148.

Rabies Awareness Week

Rabies is a virus that is commonly found in Virginia’s wildlife, especially in certain wild animals such as raccoons, skunks and foxes. It’s important to remember though that any mammal can get rabies and so it’s helpful to take some basic precautions to protect you and your pets from being infected. World Rabies Day is September 28, and it is a global health observance to raise awareness about rabies and bring together partners to enhance prevention and control efforts worldwide.

Remember to protect yourself and your pets from rabies exposures by following these simple steps:

  • Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock. Remember to  keep their vaccinations up-to-date. 
  • Contact your local health department or animal control authorities if your pet is attacked or  bitten by a wild animal. Depending on the situation, keep in mind that your pet may need a  rabies booster vaccination and be restricted to your property for a period of time after the  wildlife exposure.  
  • Wash animal bite wounds thoroughly and report the bite to your local health department.  
  • Limit the possibility of exposure to rabies by keeping your animals on your property. Don’t let  pets roam free. 
  • Keep garbage or pet food inside. Leaving garbage or food outside may attract wild or stray  animals. 
  • Enjoy all wild animals from a distance, even if they seem friendly, and NEVER keep wild animals  as pets. A rabid animal sometimes acts tame. If you see an animal acting strangely, especially if  rabies exposures may have occurred, report it to your local animal control department and do  not approach it. 
  • Contact the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources to find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for  guidance if you think a wild animal needs help. DO NOT take matters into your own hands. 
  • Bring stray domestic animals, especially if they appear ill or injured, to the attention of local  animal control authorities. If you think a stray animal needs help, contact your local animal  control office for guidance.


Rabies Awareness Week is September 21 through October 3

SepticSmart Week

As proclaimed by Governor Northam, SepticSmart Week in Virginia is September 20-24, 2021. Read the proclamation. This annual event focuses on educating homeowners and communities on the proper care and maintenance of their septic systems. Visit for more resources and information about SepticSmart Week 2021. Learn more about the public health, environmental and economic benefits of a well-maintained septic system at www.epa/gov/septic.

Maintaining your system is important to protect your home, health, environment and property value. The Environmental Protection Agency offers many tips. At VDH, the Division of Water and Wastewater Services protects public health and ground water quality through its wastewater program. Read more about the program.


National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month (NPM) is an observance each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. The 2021 theme is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.” For the first time in its history, the Ready Campaign, in partnership with the Ad Council, identified the Hispanic community as a key audience, and will launch a series of Public Service Advertisements specifically designed to encourage preparedness within the underserved demographic.

Each week in September, the campaign will focus on a different aspect of preparedness for individuals, families and communities.

Week 1, Sept. 1-4: Make a Plan

  • September is National Preparedness Month. Make Your Plan Today. Don’t know where to start? Visit to #PrepareToProtect your family during a variety of disasters. #BeReady
  • September is National Preparedness Month. #PrepareToProtect means preparing to protect everyone you love. Start by making a plan before disasters and emergencies strike.
  • September is National Preparedness Month. Involve your entire family, including your children, in planning for disasters and emergencies so they are prepared, not afraid

Week 2, Sept. 5-11: Build a Kit

  • September is National Preparedness Month. Prepare to Protect. Create or update your emergency supplies with this list:
  • September is National Preparedness Month. People with disabilities should consider the items they use daily, as well as life-sustaining items for their kit.
  • September is National Preparedness Month. Prepare to Protect. Check out FEMA’s online Ready Kids Build A Kit game:

Week 3, Sept. 12-18: Low-Cost, No-Cost Preparedness

  • September is National Preparedness Month. Emergencies can happen anytime, make sure your family has a communication plan: 
  • Know what disasters and hazards could affect your area, how to get emergency alerts, and where you would go if you and your family need to evacuate. Visit:

Week 4, Sept. 19-25: Teach Youth About Preparedness

  • September is National Preparedness Month. Kids, parents, & educators, visit the Ready Kids web pages in Spanish:
  • September is National Preparedness Month. Need tips for talking to your kids about natural disasters? Visit

More information about National Preparedness Month:

Extreme Heat Safety Tips

Summer temperatures in Virginia normally climb into the upper 90’s and even reach over 100 degrees at times. The hot temperatures and high heat indexes can cause ill health effects.

The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn’t enough. Prolonged exposure to heat can cause cramping, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and even death. It is important to stay hydrated and seek cool temperature environments until the heat subsides.

Here are some tips to avoid heat-related illness during the summer:

Drink water. When the temperature rises, it is important to drink plenty of water. Drinks that contain caffeine, large amounts of sugar or alcohol should be avoided because they can cause you to become dehydrated.

Keep cool indoors. On hot days, prevent illness by keeping cool indoors. If your home is not air conditioned, try to spend the hottest hours of the day in a cool public place such as a library, movie theater, or store.

Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella. Always apply sunscreen to exposed skin.

Limit physical activity. Avoid excessive physical exertion in hot temperatures, especially in the middle of the day. If you must work outdoors, stay hydrated by drinking 2-4 glasses of water each hour and take frequent breaks in a cool place. Even a few hours in an air-conditioned environment reduces the danger of heat-related illness.

Do not keep children or pets in cars. Temperatures inside a car with windows up can reach over 150 degrees quickly, resulting in heat stroke and death.

Check on your neighbors. Although anyone can suffer heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. People aged 65 or older are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses and complications that can result during periods of high temperatures and humidity.

Heat-Related Weather Terms:
Understanding heat-related weather terminology can help you and your family prepare for hot weather.

  • Heat Index: is a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is added to the air temperature.
  • Excessive Heat Outlooks: Issued when the potential exists for an excessive heat event in the next 3-7 days.
  • Excessive Heat Watches: Issued when conditions are favorable for excessive heat in the next 24 to 72 hours.
  • Excessive Heat Warning/Advisories: Issued when excessive heat is expected in the next 36 hours.

Signs & Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness:
Several heat-related health conditions can cause serious health problems. When temperatures are on the rise, watch for the following symptoms:

Dehydration— Dehydration is caused by the excessive loss of water and salts from the body due to illness or from prolonged exposure to heat. Severe dehydration can become a life-threatening condition if not treated.

Heat Cramps— Heat cramps are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that usually occur during heavy physical activity in hot environments. Muscles most often affected include those of your calves, arms, abdominal wall and back. If you are suffering from heat cramps, rest for several hours and drink clear juice or an electrolyte-containing sports drink.

Heat Exhaustion— Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses too much water and salt from sweating during hot temperatures. The elderly, people who work outside and people with high blood pressure are most at risk of heat exhaustion. Continued exposure may lead to heat stroke, which is life-threatening.

Heat Stroke— Heat stroke is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures or by doing physical activity in hot weather. Sweating has usually stopped and your body temperature becomes too high; body temperatures can reach as high as 106 degrees in 15 minutes. Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition and you should seek immediate medical attention if you or someone you know is suffering from heat stroke.

For more information:

Vaccinate Virginia Town Hall, June 24 at 7PM

Tune in to Virginia’s COVID-19 Town Hall on June 24 at 7 p.m. with Juan Conde at 8News. Medical leaders will answer questions about COVID-19 and how to stay safe this summer. Learn more about the town hall:
Email your questions before the show to or post them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #VaccinateVirginia.

This event will be live broadcast and streaming at:

  • WRIC8 /
  • WAVY10 /
  • WDCW /
  • FOX43 /
  • WFXR /
  • WDVM /
  • News Channel 11 /

Town Hall Panelists Include:

    State Vaccine Coordinator, VDH
    Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases and Pulmonary/Critical Care, UVA Health
    President, Virginia Tourism Corporation
    Professor of Pediatrics and Medical Director of Safety and Quality, VCU Health
    Director of Community Outreach, VDH COVID-19 Taskforce

Learn more about Virginia’s COVID-19 Vaccination Response:

(Town Hall Flier PDF)

Healthy and Safe Swimming Week 2021

This time of year marks the unofficial start of summer with the opening of pools and water parks. As temperatures rise, so do visits to Virginia’s beaches, lakes and rivers. Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, May 24–30, focuses on the steps everyone can take to have a healthy and safe swimming experience. Nationwide, communities will be collaborating and engaging in discussion about how to maximize the health benefits of water-based physical activity while minimizing the risk of recreational water–associated illness and injury.

Working together, we can help to prevent people from getting sick from waterborne illness.

Prevent illness and injury when swimming in pools by following these steps:

  • Avoid swallowing water when swimming, pool water is disinfected but still contains germs!
  • Don’t swim if you are ill.
  • Shower with soap and water BEFORE and AFTER swimming.
  • Provide continuous and close supervision to swimmers.
  • Know how to recognize swimmers in distress and how to perform CPR.
  • Preventing access to the water when the pool is not in use.
  • Secure pool chemicals from children and pets; and
  • Make sure to wear safety equipment—such as masks, gloves, and goggles—when handling pool chemicals

Prevent recreational water illnesses by following these simple steps:

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea. Just one diarrheal incident can release enough germs into the water that swallowing a mouthful can cause diarrhea lasting 2-3 weeks.
  • Don’t swallow pool water, and don’t drink water directly from streams, lakes, or other bodies of water.
  • Practice good hygiene. Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands with soap after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.
  • Avoid exposing open wounds or cuts to salt or brackish (somewhat salty) water. If exposed, wash the affected area right away with soap and clean water.
  • If you become ill, visit your primary healthcare provider.
  • Report harmful algal blooms or large groups of dead fish to the HAB Hotline at:

It is also important to remember that drowning is the leading cause of injury and death for children ages 1-4 years. To keep swimmers safe in the water:

  • Make sure everyone knows how to swim.
  • Use life jackets.
  • Provide continuous attentive supervision near swimmers.
  • Know CPR. Find a class near you.
  • Use sunscreen. Apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
  • Install and maintain barriers like 4-sided fencing and weight-bearing pool covers.
  • Use locks or alarms for pool access points.

To learn more about staying safe in pools and natural waters, visit and

EMS Week in Virginia – May 16 – 22, 2021

Virginians rely on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel to respond to the call for help and to provide quality prehospital care during their greatest time of need. National EMS Week is May 16 – 22, 2021. EMS for Children Day, May 19, focuses on the pediatric patient and the specialized care required when providing treatment to them.

EMS Week recognizes the dedication of 36,383 EMS providers and 569 agencies in Virginia. We commend their continued efforts to provide lifesaving care and their commitment to the EMS system. During the pandemic, EMS providers in the Commonwealth and across the nation have responded to an immeasurable crisis, which has required planning and adaptation in order to take care of the people in our communities. We are finally starting to see some progress with the administration of vaccines and encourage all EMS providers to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated will be our way out of the pandemic. For more information about COVID-19 vaccination​s near you​, visit: Everyone in Virginia age 16 or older is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine now!

Vaccinate Virginia Town Hall, May 4 at 7 p.m.

Send your questions prior to the show to or post them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #VaccinateVirginia.

This event will be live broadcast and streaming at:

  • WRIC8 /
  • WAVY10 /
  • WDCW /
  • FOX43 /
  • WFXR /
  • WDVM /
  • News Channel 11 /

Town Hall Panelists Include:

    State Vaccine Coordinator, VDH
    Virginia State Health Commissioner, VDH
    Associate Professor of Infectious Diseases and Pulmonary/Critical Care, UVA Health
    OBGYN and VA Latino Advisory Board
    Health Committee, Inova Health
    Director of Mt. Rogers Health District, VDH
    Medical Director of Population Health, Valley Health

Learn more about Virginia’s COVID-19 Vaccination Response:

(PDF Town Hall Flier)

National Public Health Week 2021

April 5-11, 2021 marks National Public Health Week (NPHW). During this time, we recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that need improvement. Governor Ralph Northam has issued a proclamation to observe NPHW in Virginia. 

This year’s NPHW theme is “Building Bridges to Better Health.” Making communities safe and healthy is public health’s top priority. COVID-19 has made that even more important. Even though we won’t gather in person, social media and virtual platforms make it easier than ever for us to connect, create and take action.

We have been working to move forward by providing more than four million vaccines. Virginia’s vaccination efforts are well underway as we #VaccinateVirginia. For more information, visit:

There is a NPHW toolkit available and it includes social media posts and images, as well as fliers, posters and banners. Learn more about NPHW at: NPHW shareables:

Daily Themes

Monday, April 5: Rebuilding and Elevating the Essential Health Workforce

After a year of unprecedented times and hardship, Virginia is resilient and building connections and listening to community leaders who prioritize health for everyone. This week gives us a chance to show the progress we have made and to start building the necessary connections. Elevating the essential and health workforce is crucial to public health. Worker protections equal better health outcomes. Frontline workers deserve adequate pay, supplies and support. 

Tuesday, April 6: Advancing Racial Equity

Advancing racial equity involves dismantling policies and practices that uphold racism and support inequities. We must make racial equity central to health equity. At VDH, our office of Health Equity works tirelessly to engage front-line response efforts surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. #RacismOrHealth 

For more information, visit:

Wednesday, April 7: Strengthening Community and Uplifting Mental Health and Wellness

Strengthening community improves public health in the places where we live, work, play, and learn. Let’s work toward clean, well-designed, connected communities for all. At VDH, there are several programs that work consistently to reach this goal. For more information, visit:   

COVID-19 and racism have been the dual epidemics harming mental health in our country. Uplift mental health and wellness as key parts of public health. We understand how this is affecting people. 

Anyone experiencing anxiety or stress related to COVID-19 may call or text VA COPES, a free and confidential COVID-19 response warmline, at: 877-349-6428. This line is available: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. & Sat.–Sun. 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Spanish speakers are available.

Thursday, April 8: Galvanizing Climate Justice

Galvanizing climate justice to address social inequities and improve our health must be part of ongoing efforts to prepare for and respond to climate change. We know that building strong communities make them more resilient, so they have better health outcomes after disasters. In Virginia, our Climate Change Committee (C-3) has been working to address the health impacts of climate change. For more information, visit:

Friday, April 9: Constructing COVID-19 Resilience 

Building COVID-19 resilience is key to moving forward. It’s important to invest in public health, promote sound practices and act based on science. The data is clear: when we act backed by public health science, health outcomes improve. Non-medical mask-wearing by 75% of the population reduced infections, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 by 37.7%. States and local counties that enforced stay-at-home orders saw significantly decreased COVID-19 incidence and death rates.

Join us for the “Constructing COVID-19 Public Health Resilience” webinar, Friday, April 9, 12:30-1:15 p.m. Featuring State Health Commissioner Dr. Norm Oliver, MD, MA; Stan McChrystal and Chris Fussell from the McChrystal Group. Join the conversation at the webinar link.