Health Topics of the Month

December Awareness Activities

World AIDS Day

Approximately 1.2 million people in the United States (U.S.) are living with HIV - one in seven do not know they have it. HIV is most commonly spread through unprotected sex, especially with multiple partners or anonymous partners, or through the sharing of contaminated needles, syringes, or other equipment used for the injection of drugs. HIV can affect anyone regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender, age, or where they live.

If HIV is not treated, it can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection that occurs when the body's immune system is badly damaged because of the virus. Without treatment, people with AIDS typically survive about three years. From 2017 to 2021, 26% of people newly diagnosed with HIV in NH also received an AIDS diagnosis within 12 months.

This World AIDS Day is more than a celebration of the achievements of communities; it is a call to action to enable and support communities in their leadership roles. World AIDS Day 2023 will highlight that to unleash the full potential of community leadership to enable the end of AIDS:

  • Communities’ leadership roles need to be made core in all HIV plans and programs, and in their formulation, budgeting, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. “Nothing about us without us.”
  • Communities’ leadership roles need to be fully and reliably funded to enable the required scale up, and be properly supported and remunerated. “Not ending AIDS is more expensive than ending it.”
  • Barriers to communities’ leadership roles need to be removed. An enabling regulatory environment is needed which facilitates communities’ role in the provision of HIV services, ensures civil society space, and protects the human rights of all, including of marginalized communities, to advance the global HIV response. “Remove laws that harm, create laws that empower.”

Because change depends not on a moment but on a movement, the message “Let Communities Lead” will not only ring out on one day, but echo throughout December and beyond.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. Getting tested is one of the most important steps you can take to protect the health of you and your partner because it is the only way to know your HIV status.

Nashua DPHCS offers Sexual Wellness clinics every Thursday from 2 - 6 PM. Register for an appointment by calling 603-589-4500, option #2. NH also offers free HIV self-test kits that can be taken in the privacy of your home or private setting. To receive a kit, visit https://nhhiv.org/.

If you have any questions, call the City of Nashua DPHCS Community Health Department at 603-589-4500, option #2, or visit our Sexual Wellness Program website.

- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2022; NHHIV.org, 2023 

Learn more https://www.unaids.org/en/2023-world-aids-day


National Influenza Vaccination Week

Lung cancers are cancers that begin in the lungs. The two main types of lung cancer are small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

  • Non-small cell lung cancer is more common than small cell lung cancer and usually grows and spreads slowly.
  • Small cell lung cancer is less common, grows more quickly, and is more likely to spread to other organs in the body than non-small cell lung cancer.

Who is at risk?

National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) is an annual observance in December to remind everyone 6 months and older that there’s still time to get vaccinated against flu. This year, NIVW is being observed from December 4-8. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications, including people with certain chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. In fact, in past flu seasons, 9 out of 10 adults hospitalized for flu had at least one underlying medical condition.

Since flu viruses are constantly changing and protection from vaccination decreases over time, getting a flu vaccine every year is the best way to prevent flu. Flu vaccines are the only vaccines that protect against flu and are proven to reduce the risk of flu illness, hospitalization, and death.

Together, we can use NIVW as a nationwide call to action to encourage everyone 6 months and older to get their annual flu shot, especially those at higher risk. The more people vaccinated against flu, the more people are protected from flu.

It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones this flu season! Visit the DPHCS Immunization Clinic on Tuesday's from 4-7pm or Friday's from 9am – 12pm in Nashua or find a place near you with the Vaccine Finder.

- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2023


National Safe Toys and Gifts Month

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month, an observance that was started by the nonprofit organization, Prevent Blindness, to encourage age- and ability-appropriate gift-giving during the holiday season, especially for children under age three. 

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 209,500 toy-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2022. Almost half of those incidents were injuries to the head. Unfortunately, most of these injuries happen to children under the age of 15. If you are giving gifts this holiday season, it's important to think about the safety of any gift you're giving, especially if it's a gift for a child.

TOP TOY SAFETY TIPS:

  • Check labels for age recommendations and be sure to select gifts that are appropriate for a child's age and maturity.
  • Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding, or projectile parts.
  • Make sure children have appropriate supervision when playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an injury.
  • If you give a gift of sports equipment, also give the appropriate protective equipment.
  • Keep toys that are made for older children away from younger children.
  • If your child experiences an injury from a toy, seek immediate medical attention

How to Buy Safe Toys - HealthyChildren.org


International Day of People with Disabilities

International Day of Disabled Persons is the 3rd of December 2023. First launched in 1992, the event is in its 29th year of celebration, marking nearly three decades of meaningful change for the disabled community. 

Recognize Neurodiversity

One of the most common invisible disabilities, it is vital to recognize neurodiversity in your workplace. These individuals uniquely view the world, as their brains are wired differently from their able-bodied counterparts.

What is Neurodiversity? 

Neurodiversity describes the idea that people experience and interact with the world around them in many different ways; there is no one "right" way of thinking, learning, and behaving, and differences are not viewed as deficits.

The word neurodiversity refers to the diversity of all people, but it is often used in the context of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as other neurological or developmental conditions such as ADHD or learning disabilities. The neurodiversity movement emerged during the 1990s, aiming to increase acceptance and inclusion of all people while embracing neurological differences. Through online platforms, more and more autistic people were able to connect and form a self-advocacy movement. At the same time, Judy Singer, an Australian sociologist, coined the term neurodiversity to promote equality and inclusion of "neurological minorities." While it is primarily a social justice movement, neurodiversity research and education is increasingly important in how clinicians view and address certain disabilities and neurological conditions.

Words matter in neurodiversity

Neurodiversity advocates encourage inclusive, nonjudgmental language. While many disability advocacy organizations prefer person-first language ("a person with autism," "a person with Down syndrome"), some research has found that the majority of the autistic community prefers identity-first language ("an autistic person"). Therefore, rather than making assumptions, it is best to ask directly about a person's preferred language, and how they want to be addressed. Knowledge about neurodiversity and respectful language is also important for clinicians, so they can address the mental and physical health of people with neurodevelopmental differences.

Fostering neurodiversity in the workplace

Stigma, a lack of awareness, and lack of appropriate infrastructure (such as office setup or staffing structures) can cause exclusion of people with neurodevelopmental differences. Understanding and embracing neurodiversity in communities, schools, healthcare settings, and workplaces can improve inclusivity for all people. It is important for all of us to foster an environment that is conducive to neurodiversity, and to recognize and emphasize each person's individual strengths and talents while also providing support for their differences and needs.

For the full article:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-neurodiversity-202111232645


International Volunteer Day

International Volunteer Day (IVD) is observed annually on December 5. It started as an international observance mandated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985. It's a day where volunteers are acknowledged and the spirit of volunteerism is promoted at the local, national and international levels.

This year, we mark International Volunteer Day (IVD) by recognizing the power of collective action: if everyone did.

If everyone volunteered, the world would be a better place. Imagine more than eight billion of us volunteering. Limitless possibilities for sustainable development – food and education for everyone, clean environment and good health, inclusive and peaceful societies, and more.

Volunteerism is an enormous renewable resource for social, economic and environmental problem-solving throughout the world. As the world faces mounting challenges, volunteers are often the first to help. Volunteers are at the fore in crises and emergencies, often in very testing and dire situations.

Celebrate today by checking out local volunteer opportunities. If you have some spare time and want to give back to your community, there are lots of great non-profit organizations that could greatly benefit from your help! Take a look at the list of volunteer opportunities throughout the Greater Nashua are!

Learn more about International Volunteer Day: https://www.unv.org/Basic-Page/International-Volunteer-Day-overview