I was finishing up for the day this afternoon when my co-worker Jen rushed in and told me about Public Health offering vaccinations for the H1N1 flu virus. She was able to somehow wrangle up a shot or nose-puff or whatever and told me that I needed to do so also. "Remember to tell them that you spend time with patients at the hospital 2-3 times each week." I called and was told that I don't qualify for the vaccination because I don't fit in any of the high risk groupings. Which is pretty much what I'd understood up until Jen came bursting into my office.
To be honest, I'm not terribly concerned. Lots of folks have struggled with the flu so far this year, but it doesn't seem to be the scarefest that everyone was predicting. I read recently that 27 Iowans have died from the disease, which is pretty good odds considering how many people seemed to have it in October and November. I got my regular flu shot last month and will get vaccinated for H1N1 if it ever becomes available. Otherwise, I'll hope for the best and not stress out about it.
This brief H1N1 development in conjuction with World AIDS Day made me wonder about fatality levels in my own state from AIDS-related complication. I couldn't find any statistics yet for 2009, but 2008's numbers weren't that much different than our current H1N1 stats: 33 fatalities. It's a smaller number than I expected, even if it was a 57% increase from 2007. We had about 1,616 people living with AIDS in Iowa by the end of 2008. Slightly more than half of all new infections were men having sex with other men.
It seems like everyone and their dog is blogging about World AIDS Day today. Here's my advise: Treat all potential sexual partners like they have AIDS and protect yourself as if they all have AIDS. Limit your risk, by limiting your number of sexual partners. Better yet, -- and this is sage advice for all folks: het or gay -- wait for marriage. If your state won't allow you to marry, save yourself for your commitment ceremony. Stay monogamous. Don't abuse drugs or alcohol. Don't have sex after abusing drugs and/or alcohol as it might affect your ability to make safer decisions.