During my last semester of college, I took an Introduction to Chicana Studies class in which I read a lot about HIV transmission between the United States and Mexico. In the book we used, Latina Activists Across Borders, activists in Michoacán argue that women are infected with HIV by men who migrate to the United States and then bring it back to Mexico. While there is a lot of truth to that, the way our two countries interact on this issue is a little bit more complicated.
We need to have a more complex conversation about migration and HIV/AIDS than the one we’re having.
Often, HIV is constructed as something that is spread between “immoral” people. When it comes to transnational transmission, the country the disease comes from is seen as “immoral” or “dirty.” In the United States, we have just as many beliefs about HIV coming into the country from Mexico as the other way around. But who is right?
Ranked against the other 49 states, Arizona’s teen-pregnancy rate has been in the top 5 for years. And while you probably won’t see that fact emblazoned on a license plate anytime soon, teen pregnancy still has a significant impact on Arizona residents.
Abstinence-only education teaches to prevent pregnancy and STDs by abstaining from sex, which isn’t helpful to the 70 percent of teenagers who have had intercourse by age 19.
As of 2009, Arizona had the fifth highest teen birth rate in the United States. This trend is on the rise — as of 2006 the rate had increased by 6.5 percent. In 2009, 12,537 teenagers became pregnant. Of those pregnancies, 10,952 resulted in live births. While the majority of those women were either 18 or 19, that’s still about 3,500 girls under the age of 17 giving birth, a number that varies every year but generally stays in the 4000s. Continue reading →
If you’re like me, you’ve been scared to get your flu shot ever since seeing that Fox News story about the woman who developed a rare neurological disease after getting a standard flu shot. I’m not even going to link to it here because if you’ve already seen it you know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, you don’t want to. Trust me. Go look for it yourself if you want to see it so bad.
It’s not too late to get a flu shot.
Anyway, I hadn’t gotten one for years because I was afraid of being one in a million and contracting Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare, paralyzing illness that causes fever, nerve damage, and muscle weakness. Obviously, as has been pointed out to me by parents, friends, and doctors, the chances of that happening are so small that they aren’t even worth worrying about. Risks from getting the flu, especially if you’re a child or senior, are much more definite. (Furthermore, a 2011 study found no link between GBS and the flu shot.)
Last year I got the flu, and it was so awful that in my fever-induced haze I vowed I would not let it happen again.
This summer I had the awesome opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., with Emily Herrell, PPAZ advocacy coordinator, and three other students for the annual Planned Parenthood Youth Conference. We spent three days in the city going to workshops, meeting other activists and listening to speakers like Cecile Richards and Jon Lewis.
The experience was especially valuable to me as the newly elected University of Arizona VOX chapter president. In one workshop I got to meet other VOX leaders and we bounced event ideas and strategies to increase membership off of each other. While there are some pro-choice groups on my campus, it’s rare for us as activists to be able to connect with other than Planned Parenthood student volunteers. I was relieved to find that most VOX leaders struggled with the same problems (i.e. membership) that we do at the UA. Continue reading →
In honor of national STD Awareness Month Planned Parenthood and MTV are once again teaming up for the GYT (Get Yourself Tested) campaign.
GYT was launched in 2009 by Planned Parenthood, MTV, the Center for Disease Control, and the Kaiser Family Foundation in response to the growing rates of STDs in American youth. About half of sexually active people will get an STD by age 25, according to the CDC. Nationally, one in four teenage girls has an STD. And in Arizona, young adults ages 15-24 are diagnosed with more STDs every year than any other age group.
GYT also focuses on preventing STDs through safe sex. Teens can find side-by-side charts comparing the benefits and disadvantages of different types of birth control, including side effects, success rates in preventing pregnancy, and ability to protect from STDs. Continue reading →
Tabling with VOX at Terry Goddard’s rally at the UofA
I started volunteering for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona when I moved to Tucson for my sophomore year of college. I was drawn to Planned Parenthood because I saw in the organization a combination of two things I wanted to be a part of: pro-choice feminism and political activism. My first event was a crowd canvass at a local street fair. I was not the sort of person who regularly spoke to strangers, let alone asked them for their signatures on pro-choice petitions. But I quickly got over the awkwardness and discovered I loved it. People were overwhelmingly supportive and grateful for our presence. There were those who ignored us and moved on, but they were few and far between. I remember the men and women who smiled, not the ones who rolled their eyes.
The next few events I attended were much of the same. People were friendly and supportive. I kept volunteering for the rest of the year and began attending VOX (Voices for Planned Parenthood) meetings as well.
This past summer I returned home to Illinois to spend the school break with my family. Bored and unemployed, I applied for an internship with Planned Parenthood of Illinois, and a few months later got the job. Continue reading →
Planned Parenthood Advocates for Arizona has endorsed Penny Kotterman for Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Kotterman began her career as a high school teacher in Illinois, before moving to Arizona to teach Special Education. She has also taught journalism and English, and taught students at all grade levels. She was president of the Arizona Education Association for six years, during which time she worked with governors Janet Napolitano and Jane Hull. She has long been a supporter of teacher accountability, and has helped shape policies that require teacher compensation to reflect performance. Kotterman was a member of the National Education Association’s Professional Standards and Practices committee, which develops NEA teacher performance policies, for six years.
Kotterman does not believe in what she calls “quick fixes” to education issues. Because of her close involvement with all levels of education, both as a leader and a teacher, Kotterman knows Arizona’s system from every angle. She has been involved in education for over twenty years, and knows how to use that experience to Arizona’s benefit. She plans to focus on improving teacher quality, student standardized test scores, and graduation rates. She believes music and art programs are extremely important in public schools, and opposes state budget cuts to education.
At a time when Arizona’s teen pregnancy rate is higher than ever, and politicians continue to oppose comprehensive sexual education, it is very important to elect a pro-choice superintendant to office. Arizona does not legally require sexuality education in public schools. If a district does decide to teach it, they must fulfill certain state requirements. Abstinence must be pushed as the socially acceptable form of behavior. Educators are not allowed to inform students of safe sex practices for gay and lesbian couples. Continue reading →