An Apple a Day

HIV/AIDS stigma needs to be talked about

November 18, 2015

The recent news of celebrity actor Charlie Sheen’s HIV diagnosis has a lot of people talking in the social media universe.

Despite feelings we may have about the actor’s lifestyle, the revelation that Sheen spent millions of dollars to keep people from talking about the disease offers us an opportunity to have a dialogue about the stigma that is still associated with HIV/AIDS.

The panic that emerged in the 1980s when we saw the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic still lingers for many people. The fear is still here, despite the fact that we now know so much more about how the disease is transmitted and what we can and should do to minimize our risks.

The fear may have more to do with the way we feel about the people who have been infected. Because key populations disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS have tended to be men who have sex with men, sex workers or people who inject drugs, it’s possible that judgement and discrimination directed towards these groups only serves to fuel the shame and stigma associated with the disease.

However, we know that HIV and AIDS is a disease that can impact people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Money, fame, gender and sexual orientation are no longer prime indicators of who is or will be impacted by the disease.

Second, we need to understand that when stigma attaches itself to a particular issue, then silence almost certainly follows. And that’s a big problem.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), fear and discrimination are the main reason why people are reluctant to get tested, disclose their HIV status and take antiretroviral drugs.  This leads to poor access to care and contributes to an overall increase in the global HIV epidemic and even a higher number of AIDS-related deaths.

If you feel you may be at risk, step out of the shadows today and have your questions and concerns answered by Riverside County Public Health’s HIV/STD Program professionals. Visit And remember – get tested!

The Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at


November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month
November 12, 2015

Since November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a good time to talk about how you can reduce your risk of this devastating disease.

While most experts agree that smoking is a prime factor responsible for lung cancer, there are other things that can lead to a diagnosis. Things like exposure to second-hand smoke and environmental and industrial chemicals, like arsenic, air pollution and diesel exhaust can increase a person’s risk of lung cancer.

According to Lung Cancer Alliance, “even among never smokers, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma may increase lung cancer risk by 50-100 percent.”

As with many cancers, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk by paying attention to what you eat and drink. And, of course, it’s important to refrain from the use of all tobacco products and limit your exposure to second-hand smoke – even the currently popular e-cigarettes.

Symptoms can include a chronic cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, fatigue, pneumonia and coughing up blood. 

Screening for the disease can actually increase your chances of surviving lung cancer by catching it early so that the disease is treatable and even cured.

To find a screening center near you, click here.

The Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter
or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at

Learn about diabetes and lower your risk for the disease

November 3, 2015

November is American Diabetes Month so it’s important to take a moment to learn about this disease that continues to grow and impact millions of people each year.

Diabetes is a long-term condition that causes high blood sugar levels that over time can cause major damage to your body’s organs, including your nerves, eyes, kidneys, heart and blood vessels. Diabetics have a much greater risk of going blind, as well as suffering a heart attack or stroke. Diabetes is also the leading cause of kidney failure, nervous system disease and non-traumatic lower limb amputation.

According to the American Diabetes Association:

·         Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.

·         Another 86 million Americans have prediabetes and are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

·         The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion.

And, according to County of Riverside Department of Public Health’s Epidemiology department, nearly 20 percent of Riverside County’s population 65 years old and older has been diagnosed with the disease. Thousands more could be at risk. Are you?

Symptoms of diabetes can include:

·         Urinating often

·         Feeling very thirsty

·         Feeling very hungry - even though you are eating

·         Extreme fatigue

·         Blurry vision

·         Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal

You can reduce your risk of diabetes by maintaining a healthy weight, eating well and exercising regularly. And even if you’ve already become diabetic, doing those same things can help to reduce the long-term damage diabetes can cause, as well as checking your sugars regularly and following your medical provider’s recommendations. If you’re already at risk, it’s time to make a change.

Visit to learn more about this disease and what you can do to lower your risks.

The Riverside University Health System – Public Health wants your best health! Visit us on Twitter @rivcodoc or Google +.  And be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website at