Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Amazing Rally on Saturday!

We had an amazing turnout of about 1500 people on Saturday at our Albany offices for the Rally for Reproductive Justice!  We heard from lots of people like UHPP CEO Chelly Hegan, Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Congressman Paul Tonko, Assemblymember Pat Fahy, students, activists, people of all ages, races, and orientation. The organizers all did a wonderful job and deserve our gratitude. Folks hand-knitted many hats and scarves, and collected donations for UHPP in exchange for them.  It truly was a beautiful collective of individuals, and one message was heard loud and clear: New Yorkers demand funding for Planned Parenthood!

Special thanks to Sean McLaughlin for donating his time to be DJ, and thanks to Christopher Wilber for the following photos.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What's Going on at Planned Parenthood

A Public Affairs update from VP for Marketing, Communications and Public Affairs, Katherine Bruno.

Things are moving quickly in Public Affairs and we want to keep you all up to date on everything that is happening!

Day of Action: There was an exciting event Monday at the State Capitol in Albany! More than 1,500 people from across the state came to Albany to show they stand with Planned Parenthood. PPFA President Cecile Richards and Governor Andrew Cuomo, in addition to many other representatives and activists, spoke on behalf of reproductive rights and UHPP’s own Omiyea Stanford served as the co-host of the event. Photos can be found on our Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/UHPPANY/.

Upcoming events:

RESIST! for Reproductive Justice Albany NY
On February 11 there will be anti-choice activists around the country protesting Planned Parenthood and calling for us to be defunded. Supporters all over the country caught wind of this and began organizing counter protests before we knew what was happening. The list of locations to protest included the Troy Health Center. Our local supporters began to plan a counter protest but once we touched base with them and let them know that we do not encourage counter protests we began to work with them to change the location and host it at our Albany Health Center parking lot.

Please join on Saturday, February 2:30pm to 4:30pm. We will send out more details as we get closer.

Please remember, this event is a work in progress and it is a partnership with community activists. We are working with them on the details and are hoping for a very successful turnout. If you have questions about this event, please contact Nicole C. at nicolec@uhpp.org.

The details can be found on the Facebook page they created to promote the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1227997093949102/

UHPP Teach-in
UHPP will host our third Teach-in event Monday, February 13 at the Albany Health Center 6 to 8 pm. Teach-in: Legislative Agenda. How can you help? will be hosted by Dan Carpenter, Field Manager at Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts (formerly Family Planning Advocates of NYS). We will review the NYS Legislative Agenda set forth by our statewide organization, learn how to talk about the issues and how to lobby elected officials in our area.
Find out more and RSVP through the event page on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1804561619791550/

Roe v Wade Anniversary Event
UHPP will commemorate the 34th Anniversary of the passage of Roe v Wade on February 17 from 6-8pm at the Albany Renaissance Hotel.  Awardees include Assemblymember Didi Barrett, Rev. Sam Trumbore, the Boys and Girls Club of Albany, Citizen Action, and the Pride Center.  Click here for more information and to RSVP.

If you have any questions or want to get involved, feel free to reach out to nicolec@uhpp.org or Katherine at Katherine@uhpp.org.

Thank you!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Some Thoughts for an Emotionally Charged Time

I promise, I'm not here to chastise or scold. I'm not even asking you to feel differently than you do.We are comprised of a delightful blend of different hopes and ideals, and that can be wonderful! I'm coming from a place of sincere hope of spreading a little understanding and education. This has been a divisive, ugly time, and it's time to mend the schism and come together again.

Please do take care when telling people to 'get over it.' Emotions are high, and the implications of the election will be felt in very real ways. Chances are that a lot of the people you're gloating at are people you actually care about; friends, relatives, even a partner.

Here are just a couple of the ways in which this outcome could affect people.

There is a vacancy in the supreme court. The president-elect has said that he will appoint an anti-choice, anti-equality judge. This could mean a number of things, namely:

1. The reversal of Obergefell v. Hodges, the supreme court decision that legalized same sex marriage. It would go back to being a state issue, which means many states would ban it altogether. That would be devastating to so many people. Also, how is it okay to say, 'you're married here, but not there?' Married is married! Also, couples would lose access to federal benefits, like social security.

2: The repeal of Roe v. Wade. Women will no longer be able to obtain safe and legal abortion. It will go back to being a state issue, and places like Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, et al will ban it altogether, returning us to a time of back alley abortion where women die of sepsis or perforation of the perineum. Those who oppose abortion are well within their rights to do so, but if you think banning it will stop it, you're delusional.

3. Family Planning Centers could lose Title X funding, which was established by Richard Nixon in 1970, allocating federal funding for family planning services. This does not include abortion. Nixon understood the importance of making sure young men and women had access to education and preventative care so that they could better plan their families. Numbers 2 and 3 of this list combined could result in the mass-closing of family planning centers and jobs will be lost (potentially my own, but I'm probably safe here in New York). This is why people are freaking out and getting IUDs now; because they would be covered for several years if they lose access to birth control. Also, google what has happened to states that have cut off funding for preventative care; the STD and teen pregnancy rates go through the roof. It's not good.

There's so much more I could go into, but this is just a slice of it. You might not care about these things, but if you care about someone who would be affected by any of the above, please take a moment to consider their feelings. Now, there is the possibility that the future POTUS will choose not to go after any of these things, and even appoint a more moderate judge, but right now we just don't know. But if anything happens to his presidency, which-- considering he has to stand trial-- is a real possibility, and Pence takes over, that would be very bad for advocates of equality and choice. This is a guy who pushes for gay conversion therapy-- a draconian practice that is actually banned in five states because it has been proven to be so harmful. He also wants to overturn any and all anti-discrimination laws protecting the LGBT community. These are all things that could really, genuinely hurt people.

The election didn't go as I hoped, but I'm choosing to shake it off and move forward with hope. One thing is for sure, OUR DOORS REMAIN OPEN!

Please. Lets stop the divisive rhetoric. We're all in this together. I quote the great prophet John of Liverpool when I say, 'give peace a chance.' BE NICE!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Zika 101: A Health Update From Our Medical Director

Health Update: Dr. Mary Diana, Medical Director

Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). These species are common in Central and South America, but have now made their way north and have been found in Puerto Rico and Florida. New York State has one of the highest numbers of Zika cases in the U.S., although all of these are associated with travel.

While Zika is primarily a mosquito-borne infection, it can also be transmitted sexually through bodily fluids. The vast majority of sexually transmitted cases are from a male traveler to a female partner. There have recently been cases of female-to-male and male-to-male transmission. No one knows how long the virus stays alive in the blood/semen.

The CDC recommends that men who have had a symptomatic Zika infection use condoms for 6 months.
 If they have traveled to an area where Zika is common, but don’t develop any symptoms, they should use condoms for 6 weeks.

Symptoms of Zika infection are headache, fever, joint or muscle pain, conjunctivitis (pink eye), rash, and vomiting. Some people don’t have any symptoms. There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika virus. The infection is self-limited, and usually resolves by itself within a week. Routine testing/screening of the general population for Zika virus is not recommended. Recently, Zika virus infection has been associated with development of Guillain-BarrĂ© Syndrome, a rare neurologic condition involving weakness and sometimes, paralysis. Research is being done to better understand this link.

Zika is a very serious problem in pregnancy. It is passed from the mother’s blood through the placenta to the fetus. Fetuses who become infected during the late first trimester or early second trimester develop severe microcephaly (a condition in which the brain is markedly underdeveloped) as well as other serious irreversible neurologic birth defects. Zika infection later in pregnancy can lead to low birth weight and stillbirth.

Since there is no treatment for Zika virus infection, preventing infection is paramount. Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should avoid travel to areas where Zika is endemic and should avoid having unprotected sex with men who have travelled to these areas. Women who live in endemic areas are advised to prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellants, window screens and mosquito netting, and by wearing long sleeves and pants. If a woman has had a Zika virus infection, she should wait at least 8 weeks before trying to become pregnant.

Policy Update: Katherine Bruno, VP Public Affairs 
Recently the Senate finally passed a bipartisan Continuing Resolution (CR) and Zika funding package and the House is expected to pass the bill before the end of the week, averting a government shutdown and funding the government through December 9, 2016.

We can’t believe it took Congress more than 220 days to approve funding to fight the Zika virus without excluding some of the providers most qualified to help. It shouldn’t have taken this long, but this is still welcome news for women in the Capital Region and around the country.

With the serious risks Zika poses for pregnant women, we are not surprised that medical experts have consistently said that family planning providers must play a central role in preventing the spread of this virus. What surprises us is that some in Congress managed to ignore that guidance for months, trying to jam through a bill that excluded family planning providers. Thankfully, this funding demonstrates importance of family planning providers in combatting Zika, and more broadly, in providing basic health care to women, men and young people.

Planned Parenthood is here to make sure that all women, men and young people the Capital Region and all over the nation have access to the information, health care and support necessary to decide to prevent unintended pregnancy, safely end a pregnancy, or carry a pregnancy to term and raise a child. We believe that all people should be empowered to make decisions for themselves and their families, including the decision of whether to have a child, no matter who they are or where they live.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Real Truth about Mycoplasma Genitalium, the "New STI." A Word from our Medical Director.

By Mary Diana, M.D.
Note: this article has been minimally edited for public consumption.

I’m writing to let you know about a “new STI” which you might be reading about in the media.

Mycoplasma is a class of bacteria, of which there are six different species. Five of them inhabit the genitourinary tract. The species Mycoplasma pneumoniae infects the respiratory tract, causing what is commonly referred to as “walking pneumonia.” Mycoplasma hominis is another well-known species in Ob/Gyn, and is often related to pregnancy complications including miscarriage, pre-term labor, low-birth weight, neonatal infection, and stillbirth.

Mycoplasma genitalium is the species that is recently in the lay press and is being called the “new STI”. This species was first identified in the early 1980s and has been recognized as a common cause of male urethritis, representing 15-25% of nongonococcal urethritis in men. Symptoms include pain during urination and discharge from the penis. In women, it is less clear what role it plays, and has not been well-studied. It can be found in the vagina, cervix, and endometrium. Much like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, there are usually no symptoms in women. There is some evidence that it may cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), although it appears that this only occurs in 5% of women who are infected. Studies looking at its relationship to infertility are conflicting. More research needs to be done.

There is good evidence that M. genitalium is transmitted sexually. As far as incidence of infections goes, it is more common than Gonorrhea but less common than Chlamydia, depending on the population studied.

Currently there are no FDA-approved tests for Mycoplasma genitalium. Cultures can take up to 6 months and there are only a few labs in the world that can do this. In research settings, M. genitalium is diagnosed using a method called NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test) which detects the genetic material of the bacteria (this is the same type of test we currently use for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea). It can be detected in urine as well as cervical, vaginal, and urethral swabs. Again, this test is not FDA-approved and is not commercially available. Even if it were available, screening the general population would not necessarily be recommended, and testing would be limited to patients who have symptoms of urethritis, cervicitis, or PID.  Unfortunately, treatment is not straightforward. 

Hopefully we will be able to test for this infection in the near future, but at this time, testing is not available. This is another great reason to encourage condom use!!

If you have further questions, please contact your local Planned Parenthood Health Center.