A Warm Welcome to Camarin Sanford!


We want to welcome Camarin Sanford, who will be working as an intern with the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Family Planning Program (Go Folic!’s parent program) through February 2015.  Ms. Sanford, who comes to us with a wealth of experiences in the social work field, is looking to expand her skills as a sexual health educator.  Among other projects, she will be updating our Pregnancy Referral Manual, coordinating community groups to review and approve client education materials, and helping to craft (and deliver) several fun sexual health education sessions at one of our partner organizations, the San Francisco Black Infant Health Program.  We are also hoping that she will contribute some posts to this blog.

Without further ado, here is Camarin in her own words…

Bio PictureGreetings!

My name is Camarin Sanford and I am a south Sacramento, CA native. I am currently a Title X Open Doors Intern with the San Francisco Department of Public Health Family Planning Program. Additionally, I serve as the Family Services Manager at a San Francisco based non-profit drug treatment center servicing female offenders on parole.

While interning with the Family Planning Program I endeavor to explore and advance the alliance of mental health and public health services and to propel its impact on young women of color. Historically, the African-American female body and African-American sexuality was a commoditized product. As a result of this devaluation, in addition to many complex extraneous variables, the understanding of African-American female sexuality can be nebulous. While interning, I will strive to learn about the ways in which women of color, specifically African-American women, can be linked to lasting and effective public health, mental health, and sexual health services.   I am training to become a sexual health educator and reproductive health specialist to foster sexual health equity among at-risk populations.

I am a proud and esteemed alum of Clark-Atlanta University where I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology. While in Atlanta, I trained extensively as a post abortion counselor, juvenile mental health intern, and case manager during my undergraduate matriculation. As a result of these experiences, I found my passion to serve others. I plan to earn my MPH/MSW in the coming year.

Find a way or make one!

Fun Facts about me:

  • I have skydived from 13,000 feet!
  • I was born with eleven fingers!
  • I own more pairs of Converse™ Chuck Taylors than I do high heels!
  • I love the Miami Dolphins!!

Weekly Round-Up: Women’s Health News 7.26.13


This was another week full of women’s health news. If you see that we’ve missed something, please post a comment or email it to us and we will publish an addendum!

New standards for STIs screening and treatment in TeensYouth and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) As reported by the National Partnership for Women and Families, Linda Carmine of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York and her colleagues provided updates on the diagnosis and management of sexually transmitted infections in adolescents and young adults, “with an emphasis on ‘what’s new’ in the field.”  The review was published in the 6/17 issue of the Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent GynecologyClick here to read a summary of the findings.

Does your reproductive health provider ask you about your stresses?Does your family planning provider ask you about the stresses in your life? A study published in the June issue of the journal, Contraception, found that, in young women who experience depression or elevated stress are less likely to consistently use hormonal contraceptive methods like the pill.  The researchers recommend that health providers address clients’ psychological and emotional status when helping them make decisions about birth control methods. Click here to read the study abstract.

What if barbie dolls looked more real than this>Barbie and Body Image – What if Barbie looked like a normal woman? It’s not exactly news that few women, if any, look like Barbie in real life.  It’s also not news that Barbie is not the best tool for encouraging healthy body image among little girls.  But what would happen if Mattel(T) modified Barbie, giving her more realistic body proportions?   One enterprising artist decided to see. Would we like her better? Would she be better for little girls’ self-esteem?  We’ll let you be the judge!  Click here to see a blonde Barbie’s before and after picture (on Upworthy)!

7 of 10 women in u.s. seek reproductive health services every year7 of 10 Women Use Reproductive Health Services A new report from the Guttmacher Institute found that 70% of U.S. women of reproductive age make at least one medical visit for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services each year. Uninsured women are significantly less likely than either privately or Medicaid-insured women to receive SRH services. Our hope is that the provisions for women’s preventive care included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare), will make a difference for uninsured women who are currently going without.  To read the report, click here.  To learn more about ACA requirements for women’s health care, click here.

the HPV vaccine may protect against throat cancerGet Vaccinated, Prevent Throat Cancer? A new study suggests that young women who are vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) not only protect themselves from cervical cancer, but from throat cancer as well.  HPV is responsible for up to 70 percent of oral cancers, so getting the vaccine is an important step towards keeping your throat healthy!  Click here to read more about the study.

Weekly Round-Up: Women’s Health News


This week’s stories include vitamin news, conception timing, new resources on HPV, as well as new tools for doing health promotion online.  Read on!

conceiving in the month of may, if you live in the northern hemisphere, may increase your risk of having a premie - one possible reason to get a flu shot before you get pregnantGetting Pregnant in May Might Raise Odds of Premature Birth Due to Flu Exposure, Another Reason to Get a Flu Shot!

Giving birth prematurely (early) can have many repercussions for a baby’s health, including breathing, heart and brain problems. A new study found that children conceived during the month of May faced a 10% greater risk for premature birth compared to babies conceived at other times of the year.  Researchers believe that the reason could be that expectant mothers are more likely to be exposed to the flu close to the time they are about to give birth, another reason to get a flu shot if you are thinking about getting pregnant.  Click here to read more.

What is HPV?  New Information Page from the CDC

Genital human  papillomavirus (also called HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted  infection (STI). There are more than 40 types of HPV. HPV can cause serious  health problems, including genital warts and certain cancers. Click here to see the CDC’s newly updated information page about HPV.

new research from uc berkeley looks at sunshine, vitamin d and bone strength and qualityVitamin D and Bone Health

We build our bones when we’re young (up to age 26). Then, as we get older, they get weaker and more fragile. Now a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley has shown that this bone-aging process can be significantly accelerated through deficiency of vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin. Click here to learn more.

AIDS.gov has a newly updated social media toolkit pageNew Media Toolkit for Health Promotion

As a part of its technical assistance and training efforts, AIDS.gov provides resources on how to use new media. These tools aren’t just for those working in the field of AIDS/HIV prevention – they are valuable for anyone working to promote health.  The agency recently updated its “New Media Tools” webpage to make it easier to locate and use these resources.  For more, see this post on the AIDS.gov blog.

In Case You Missed It! Monday’s Weekly News Round-Up


In case you missed them, here are some of the major news stories that came out regarding nutrition, vitamins and women’s health last week. We decided moved our weekly news round-up from Saturday to Monday in order to reach more people and include breaking news that comes in over the weekend.

If you’re caught in the BART strike, but on some other form of public transit, this might be the perfect way to catch up!  In the news this past week, PTSD, Hep C, battling gender violence world-wide, and some helpful new health resources from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Is someone you love a baby boomer?  Tell them to get tested for Hep C!

Baby boomers are more likely to get infected with Hep C!Hep C is a very serious form of hepititis; as the most common chronic bloodborne pathogen in the United States it is a leading cause of complications from chronic liver disease. Last week the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) expanded 2004 CDC recommendations for HCV screening in persons at high risk for infection by including so including one-time screening for adults born between 1945 and 1965. The goal is to reduce confusion among healthcare providers, increase awareness of the importance of hepatitis C screening and improve testing rates—ultimately identifying millions of Americans previously unaware of their infection status and preventing the associated liver disease and deaths attributable to undiagnosed chronic HCV infection.  To learn more:

  1. Read the AIDS.gov blog post;
  2. Click here to download the full recommendations.

1 in 3 Women Worldwide Experiences Partner Abuse

Eve Ensler and Christine Schuler Deschryver interviewed by Amy Goodman

A new World Health Organization Report highlights violence against women as a “global health problem of epidemic proportions.” The report represents the first systematic study of global data on the prevalence of violence against women – experienced by 35% of all women worldwide, with intimate partner violence being the most common type, affecting 30% of all women.  Impacts range from broken bones to lower birthweight babies, pregnancy-related complications, depression, impaired social functioning and higher STD rates. The report also includes a review of how health professionals can respond to the problem.  To learn more:

  1. Visit the World Health Organization to read the press release and to download the report, as well as related documents;
  2. Click here to watch Amy Goodman’s interview of Eve Ensler and Congolese Activist, Christine Deschryver to learn about the City of Joy, a revolutionary community for women survivors of gender violence in Bukavu (written transcript also available);
  3. If you life in San Francisco, and either are experiencing intimate partner violence yourself, or have a friend or loved one who is, LEAP (Look to End Abuse Permanently) can help.  LEAP is an organization of healthcare providers and volunteers dedicated to ending intimate partner violence and family violence by establishing screening, treatment, and prevention programs in the health care setting. http://www.leapsf.org/

New HHS Tools

Person using a tablet to surf the InternetThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released two new tools this week:

  1. The new HealthCare.gov website will help uninsured Americans to select and sign up for health care coverage that best meets their needs.  Open enrollment begins  October 1. For Spanish speaking consumers, CuidadoDeSalud.gov will also be updated to match HealthCare.gov’s new consumer focus.  Both sites are designed to be viewed on smart phones, as well as computers and tablets.  If you live in California, Covered California (http://www.coveredca.com/) provides the same services in English, Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, Farsi, Hmong, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
  2. The myfamily smart phone app allows you to set and customize health alerts and reminders so that you can better manage the health of your family.  It also allows you to keep track of past medical check-ups and vaccinations and to access health information available on healthfinder.gov.  To learn more, go to http://www.healthfinder.gov/stayconnected/.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on PTSD Awareness Month

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a severe anxiety disorder that can occur when people experience a traumatic event.  PTSD can affect anyone – from service men and women returning from the horrors of war to abused children and the survivors of rape, domestic violence, or natural disasters. June was PTSD Awareness Month.  Secretary Sebelius issued a special statement highlighting the month “as an important opportunity to recognize and pledge ourselves to year-round support for the millions of Americans who are working to overcome this challenging and debilitating condition.”  Click here to read the full statement.

Today is National HIV Testing Day, One Woman’s Story


Today is the 19th annual National HIV Testing Day. More than 1 million people are living with HIV in the United States, but 1 in 5 don’t know they are infected. This makes testing one of our best prevention tools. If everyone in the U.S. who had HIV knew their status, we’d be one step closer to a world without HIV/AIDS.

I started my career in public health as a health educator in the late 1980s.  One of the first projects I worked on was the Wedge Program, the first HIV education program for youth to make HIV+ speakers a focus of AIDS education.  I got to know and love many of the women and men who so bravely shared their stories at a time when HIV+ people were still being fired, denied health care, and ostracized by their families.

This was also a time when most people were diagnosed as HIV+ after they’d already progressed to AIDS and the only treatment available was AZT, which by itself wasn’t very effective.  I lost many of the people I loved to the disease at that time, watching them succumb to the cancers, pneumonia, or mental decline that seemed an almost inevitable part of an HIV diagnosis back then.

Times have changed a lot since then.

With current treatments, HIV is a chronic disease rather than a death sentence.  HIV+ people now have workplace protections and, specially in the Bay Area, are no longer stigmitized as they once were.   I celebrate that many of my HIV+ friends survived to see and benefit by this day. I still miss those who did not.

They key is for everyone to get tested for HIV at least once.

The key to living well with HIV is finding out one’s status early enough to stop the virus from progressing.  This is also one of the keys to a future world in which HIV no longer exists.  That is why health professionals now recommend that everyone aged 15 to 65 get tested for HIV infection at least once. And people with a higher risk for the infection should get tested at least annually.

Pregnant BellyGetting tested is especially important for women who are pregnant or men and women who are planning a pregnancy.  While in the early days of the epidemic, many babies born to HIV+ mothers also had HIV, that is no longer the case.  Medical experts now know how to help an HIV+ person safely conceive. Also, if an HIV+ woman gets proper treatment during pregnancy, she has a very excellent chance of giving birth to a baby born without HIV.  Click here to learn more.

My Testing Experience

I got tested for HIV in the mid-80s.  I’d just found out that a friend and former sexual partner had been diagnosed with AIDS.  At that time, you had to wait two weeks to get your results.  The two weeks of waiting were extremely difficult.  I was not in a relationship at the time, but was fearful not only of the diagnosis, but of how I would tell my family, as well as my ex-girlfriend that she might be at risk.

By the time I went to get my results, I had not slept for two nights and was feeling very anxious.  However, the my test counselor (I went to Castro-Mission Health Center) was wonderful and put me at ease before I got my results.  After telling me that they were negative (meaning I didn’t have HIV), she helped me to figure out: 1) how to make sure that I protected myself from then on; 2) how to use the emotions I experienced during the test process to become a better health educator.

Knowing your status is empowering!

I felt relieved and empowered when I got my results.  I am thankful that I got tested when I did because it helped me both personally and professionally.

We can all make mistakes, especially when it comes to love and lust. Which is one of the reasons it’s so important for everyone to get tested at least once.

If you find out that you are infected with HIV (if you test positive), you can seek medical care and live a longer, healtheir life. It will also lower your chance of passing HIV to others. If you find out that you don’t have HIV, you can take steps to stay that way.

Have you been tested?

If you live in San Francisco, follow the San Francisco AIDS Foundation mobile testing van on Twitter @testmeSF.  If you don’t live or work in San Francisco, or if you’d prefer getting tested at a clinic, you can find an HIV testing site near you by using the CDC’s STD and HIV testing site locater.

Shivaun Nestor, Go Folic! CoordinatorThis post is dedicated wtih love to my friend, Danny Keenan, who worked to establish one of the Nation’s first treatment programs for HIV+ youth, at Larking Street Youth Services.

~ Shivaun Nestor, Go Folic! Coordinator

Weekly Round-Up: Women’s Health News!


Happy Summer!  With last week’s news about Plan B and news about dropping HPV rates among teens who have gotten the HPV, youth health seems to be a major focus right now.  Here are the stories that really caught our attention, along with links to learn more.

teengirlsHPV Rates among U.S. Teens  Drop Since Vaccination Began
The prevalence of the human papillomavirus (HPV) among U.S. teenage girls has dropped by more than half since a vaccine was introduced in 2006, even though vaccination rates are still relatively low, according to a CDC study that was published on Wednesday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.  To learn more, go to Women’s Health Policy Report.

New CDC Outreach Effort to A/PI Community On HEP B
Infographic: Hepatitis B among Americans born in Asia and the Pacific IslandsDid you know that people who were born in Asia and the Pacific Islands represent less than 5 percent of the U.S. population, but account for more than half of the 1.2 million Americans estimated to be living with hepatitis B? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just launched Know Hepatitis B, the first national multilingual, multi-year communications campaign to increase testing for hepatitis B among A/PI folks. To learn more, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/knowhepatitisb/. Click on the image at left for a great infographic on this topic.

What does the ACA (Obamacare) mean for you?
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare,  is set to be fully in place by 2014.  What does it mean for the average person? KQED public radio has developed an easy-to-understand orientationto help people understand the ACA. Go to: http://www.kqed.org/news/health/obamacare/obamacare-guide.jsp#4.  Click here to learn more about preventive services that are covered for women, including

Vitamins-Step-2Do you know what’s in the herbs and supplements that you’re taking?
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and National Library of Medicine (NLM) have just launched a Dietary Supplement Label Database. The DSLD contains a searchable database of the full label contents from a large number of dietary supplement products marketed in the U.S. Go to: http://www.dsld.nlm.nih.gov/dsld/

R1129Skipping Breakfast Could Raise Your Risk for Diabetes
A new study found that when women skipped the morning meal, they experienced  insulin resistance.  This is a condition where a person needs more insulin to bring their blood sugar into a normal range. While the study was done on women with a body mass index (BMI) of over 25, we would be surprised if skipping breakfast wouldn’t result in the same type of insulin resistance among all women, regardless of their weight. Click here to learn more.

Could a Little Alcohol be Safe During Pregnancy?
Pregnant women are told to avoid alcohol  at all costs.   However, a new study published in the British Medical Journal found that moderate drinking (3 to 7 glasses of alcohol per week) didn’t harm developement of a fetus’ nervous system.  Go to WebMD to learn more: http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20130618/could-moderate-drinking-be-safe-during-pregnancy

Take the National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Day Quiz (It’s Cute! And Fun!)


Today is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Day. Every year, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy creates an interactive game.  This year’s game focuses on prom night. Go to http://www.stayteen.org/quiz to take it online, or to download a print version in English or Spanish.  

Our staff had fun taking it, scoring a range of between 8 -11 (perfect is 12).  Last year, of the 100,000+ youth who took it, 62% said that some of the situations were things they or their friends had faced; 72% said it made them think about what they might do.  The majority said that they would encourage friends to take it.

1 in 3! Why It’s Important

If you’re a teen woman in the U.S., you still have a one-in-three chance of becoming pregnant before your 20th birthday.   That’s too much!  While teen pregnancy rates have dropped 42% since 1990, the U.S. still has one of the highest teen birth rates in the industrialized world. 

We know that women who become moms in their teens can be successful.  But as these young women share on Seventeen Magazine’s National Teen Pregnancy Prevention page, having a baby before you complete your education and have the chance to start a career makes thinks a whole lot harder.  

We also know that most teen pregnancies aren’t planned and that unplanned pregnancies can be risky for mom and baby

For more info…