About Anna C.

Anna first volunteered for Planned Parenthood as a high school student in the 1990s. Since then, she has received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California and is now back in school studying science. As an ode to her fascination with microbes, she writes the monthly STD Awareness series, as well as other pieces focusing on health and medicine.

Meet Our Candidates: Denice Garcia for State Representative, LD 29

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, and early voting began on July 31. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.”  Make your voice heard in 2014!

Denice GarciaA competitive House race is underway in Legislative District 29, a West Valley district that includes Glendale and West Phoenix. Four Democratic candidates are competing in this month’s primary election, and the two winners will go on to face Republican challenger Aaron Borders in the November general election. Mr. Borders proudly touts his opposition to abortion rights, so it will be important to support our endorsed candidates in November.

The Democratic candidates are preparing for the primary election, which will be held on August 26. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed three candidates running for House in LD 29: Richard Andrade, Denice Garcia, and Ceci Velasquez. Below is an interview with Denice Garcia — check out our interviews with Richard Andrade and Ceci Velasquez as well!

Ms. Garcia took the time for an interview via telephone on August 11, 2014.


“Making informed decisions should continue to be regarded as personal.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I’ve lived in Phoenix, Arizona for eight years. I’m married, three children, and originally from California. For several years, I’ve worked with children in behavioral health, wards of the court, youth in the judicial system, as well as provided court-mandated counseling for those affected by drugs and alcohol. In addition, I worked with an early intervention program that catered to babies and children born with various disabilities (nonverbal). I taught toddlers, children, and caregivers American Sign Language so that they could learn to communicate with each other. Working with youth, families, and communities is what I am both familiar and comfortable with.

Here in Arizona, I worked for DES/DDD, specifically the Division of Developmental Disabilities. Once again, I found myself advocating for the clients I served, both children and adults, being a voice to defend their rights as well as promoting and advocating for their quality of life.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, the warrantless inspections bill, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about the need for heightened privacy and safety for patients seeking reproductive health services?

I think in any health network or environment, we should all have the right to privacy. I think that it’s wrong that some of our leaders have put such powerful restrictions that not only intimidate people, but invade their right to privacy and choice. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Ceci Velasquez for State Representative, LD 29

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 28 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

Ceci VelasquezA competitive House race is underway in Legislative District 29, a West Valley district that includes Glendale and West Phoenix. Four Democratic candidates are competing in next month’s primary election, and the two winners will go on to face Republican challenger Aaron Borders in the November general election. Mr. Borders proudly touts his opposition to abortion rights, so it will be important to support our endorsed candidates in November.

The Democratic candidates are preparing for the primary election, which will be held on August 26. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed three candidates running for House in LD 29: Richard Andrade, Denice Garcia, and Ceci Velasquez. Below is an interview with Ceci Velasquez — check out our interviews with Richard Andrade and Denice Garcia as well!

Ms. Velasquez took the time for an interview on August 18, 2014.


“It is of a great importance to have sex ed classes in our schools.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I am a third-generation Arizona native. I grew up in the Central Phoenix and West Valley areas. I am proud of my roots and strong heritage and I am committed to serving my community. I am a mother to five wonderful kids.

My profession is within the legal field; I currently serve as a paralegal for an accomplished Phoenix attorney in the areas of family, dependency, and criminal law, with experience in bankruptcy and election law.

Prior to working in the private sector, I worked for the State of Arizona in the area of social services for more than 10 years. My tenure at the State of Arizona helped me cultivate my passion to serve my community in a greater way. I earned an associate’s degree and paralegal certificate from Phoenix College and I’m currently earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in nonprofit leadership and management from Arizona State University.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, the warrantless inspection bill, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about the need for heightened privacy and safety for patients seeking reproductive health services?

I think safety and privacy is important. Continue reading

STD Awareness: Do Sexually Transmitted Diseases Increase HIV Risk?

virion HIVYou might have heard that having an STD like syphilis, herpes, or gonorrhea can make it easier to catch HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. But have you ever wondered if this was true? Maybe it’s just a simple correlation — for example, someone who doesn’t practice safer sex would be more likely to catch HIV along with any other STD. That doesn’t mean that one causes the other, does it?


Common STDs like herpes and trichomoniasis can increase HIV risk.


But it’s not a mere correlation. If you take one person with an STD and one person without an STD and expose them both to HIV through sexual contact, the person with the STD will be at least two to five times more likely to become infected with HIV. Why is that? First, many STDs can make you more susceptible to an HIV infection. Second, the immune response triggered by many sexually transmitted infections can summon the types of immune cells that HIV targets.

Furthermore, if a person with HIV is co-infected with another STD, he or she is more likely to transmit HIV to a partner. In other words, STDs can make a person with HIV more infectious. HIV is more likely to appear in their genital secretions, making it easier to transmit HIV through sexual activity. Continue reading

Tipping the Balance: Why Primary Elections Matter

Arizona state Senate“We will remember in November,” say activists vowing to effect change at the polls. General elections, held in November, are contests between the candidates nominated by their political parties and decided by voters. They are phenomenally important, as their outcomes determine who our presidents, senators, representatives, and other legislators will be.


Not all Democratic candidates support reproductive rights, so check our list of endorsed candidates before voting a Democratic ballot!


What rhymes with August? “You’ll eat sawdust in August”? “We want laws just in August”? I’ll work on that, but for now you should know that the primary elections will be held in Arizona on August 26, and many important races will be decided in August rather than November. How is that possible? Sometimes, only one political party has candidates running for an office, meaning that whoever wins their party’s nomination in the primary election won’t face opposition in November.

In three such races, all featuring Democrats running for the state Senate, reproductive rights are at stake. So, in case you were wondering why voting in the primary elections is so important, read on to learn about these crucial races! And tell your friends in these Phoenix-area legislative districts that the decisions they make at the polls have the potential to bring balance to our state legislature in terms of reproductive health care access. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Richard Andrade for State Representative, LD 29

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 28 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

Rich AndradeA competitive House race is underway in Legislative District 29, a West Valley district that includes Glendale and West Phoenix. Four Democratic candidates are competing in next month’s primary election, and the two winners will go on to face Republican challenger Aaron Borders in the November general election. Mr. Borders proudly touts his opposition to abortion rights, so it will be important to support our endorsed candidates in November.

The Democratic candidates are preparing for the primary election, which will be held on August 26. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed three candidates running for House in LD 29: Richard Andrade, Denice Garcia, and Ceci Velasquez. Below is an interview with Richard Andrade — watch this blog for interviews with Ms. Garcia and Ms. Velasquez, both of whom we hope to feature in the Meet Our Candidates series!

Mr. Andrade took the time for an interview on July 16, 2014.


“Our government has no business interfering in a person’s health care decision.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I am a native of Arizona, an Air Force veteran, proud union member with SMART, a certified locomotive engineer. The reason I am running for state representative in LD 29 is I believe we need better paying jobs with benefits and health care. We need to take care of working families, who are struggling every day to make a living. They need the tax breaks, not big corporations and big businesses. Our education is near the bottom and we need to invest more into our education to prepare our children for the 21st century, which was evident in the recent court ruling on Prop 301, where the state has to pay back education in the sum of $316 million to start. Another deciding factor to run for office, legislation that gets introduced, which targets certain groups of people and our rights.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, the warrantless inspection bill, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about the need for heightened privacy and safety for patients seeking reproductive health services?

Once again our rights are being targeted. The need for heightened privacy and safety for patients is needed due to HB 2284. Legislation will have to be introduced in order to keep a patient seeking reproductive health services private and safe. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Martín Quezada for State Senator, LD 29

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 28 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

Martin Quezada 2014The 29th legislative district’s current state senator, Steve Gallardo, is not seeking reelection, and now Martín Quezada and Lydia Hernández are vying for the open seat in the Democratic primary election. Martín Quezada has deep roots in Legislative District 29, a West Valley district that includes Glendale and West Phoenix. He has used his background in law and passion for public service to represent the interests of his constituents, standing strong against bad bills that have been introduced over the past several years.

In so doing, he’s stood up for reproductive-health patients’ right to privacy, fought for the dignity of the LGBTQ community, protected the right to receive an abortion after 20 weeks, and fought to keep state funding for preventive health-care services provided through Planned Parenthood Arizona.

Mr. Quezada and Ms. Hernández have served alongside one another as seatmates representing LD 29 in the House; however, when it comes to reproductive rights, they could not be more different. This race could very well be decided in the primary election, highlighting why it’s so very important to vote in every election — including the primaries!

Mr. Quezada generously took the time to answer our questions on July 19, 2014.


“My opponent differs from me in several areas, but women’s rights and women’s health choices is one of the clearest distinctions.”


It’s great to talk to you again! How has your commitment to serving Arizona grown over the past two years? On the policy level, what has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?

My commitment to serving Arizona has grown tremendously over the past two years since I’ve gained a deeper understanding of how to be an effective legislator. During my first full term, as a “rookie,” I’ve used this time to learn as much as possible and improve my skills as a legislator. I’ve been hugely successful in that regard and my performance reflects that. Through that learning process, my appreciation and love for public service has only deepened.

On the policy level, we saw Democrats make significant achievements with the help of a few moderate Republicans to pass significant legislation that would benefit the entire state. Those achievements, though politically difficult, gave me hope that more successes and better policy could be enacted in the future.

Yet, my convictions were strengthened because of some of the extreme and hyper-partisan bills pushed by the Republican Party. Some bills this past year that were extremely homophobic or blatantly discriminatory in nature reminded me that despite our advancements, that type of hatred is still alive and well, and we need to be vigilant in our efforts to defeat those efforts. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Victoria Steele for State Representative, LD 9

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 28 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

Steele,-Victoria_10Victoria Steele has represented Tucson’s Legislative District 9 in the Arizona House of Representatives since 2012, and is now running for reelection. To get an idea of why we’re so excited to support her, check out her recent op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star, in which she discusses how last month’s Supreme Court decisions might embolden foes of reproductive justice here in Arizona. We’re also proud to introduce you to her here!

We had a wonderful conversation on July 10 at Raging Sage in Tucson, where Ms. Steele talked to us about her accomplishments and goals; her commitment to abortion access and comprehensive sexuality education; and her Republican opponent, Ethan Orr, whose voting record on reproductive health is out of step with the views held by the majority of his constituency. While you can hope that Ethan Orr will vote in favor of women’s health, you can know that Victoria Steele and her fellow Democratic candidate Dr. Randall Friese will do so!

Read on to get to know Ms. Steele even better!


“It’ll be even harder to get our rights back if we’ve lost them all, so let’s not let that happen.”


Interviewer: I’m glad we get to meet in person this time! How has your commitment to serving Arizona grown over the past two years? On the policy level, what has happened during that time to give you hope?

Representative Steele: I was really excited to see that we were able to finally defeat SB 1062 [a bill that would have allowed discrimination on religious grounds, for example against LGBTQ people]. That gives me a lot of hope. The only reason that happened is because the community got mad. The governor’s veto came way too late as far as I’m concerned.

That was a very hopeful thing, because it showed what I really suspected was true, that a majority of the people do not feel that we have the right to discriminate. There is a very vocal minority that feels otherwise. To me, that is hopeful.

A poll of Arizona Republicans showed they were in favor of vetoing SB 1062. It just shows how quickly the tide is turning, which is pretty exciting to me.

It is. Continue reading