Make sure you get tested!

Make sure you get tested!

April is STD Awareness Month. If you’re a sexually active young person, you should know that sexually transmitted diseases continue to disproportionately affect young people. Half of the estimated 20 million sexually transmitted diseases each year occur among the under-25 age group, even though we only represent one-quarter of the sexually active population. And young people account for the largest percentage of new HIV infections each year. 

I know there’s a lot of misinformation out there among people my age about STDs and testing. People should know that you can’t tell by looking who has an STD: 75 percent of women and 50 percent of men with chlamydia have no symptoms and on average, people with HIV don’t develop symptoms for 10 years. The only way to know your status is to get tested.

It might feel awkward at first, but taking charge of our health by getting tested is one of the most important things we can do. If not treated, STDs can lead to serious health outcomes. The sooner you know your status, the sooner you can get treated and avoid cervical cancer or infertility.

To find out more about STDs and testing, visit the “Get Yourself Tested” website at, or contact a Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando health center to schedule a checkup. Planned Parenthood works every day to keep young people healthy, and their doors are open to everyone. So go on! Get yourself tested!

  • American Baptist Churches calls upon us to “enact a major program of health care reform which will extend health care coverage to every person in the United States.”
  • Central Conference of American Rabbis says, “We seek a national health care plan which grants universal access to health care benefits…”
  • The Disciples of Christ calls upon its members to “Work for the establishment of health care for all, regardless of the ability to pay”
  • “The Episcopal Church has stated on numerous occasions that all people should have access to quality affordable health care.”  
  • The Presbyterian Church, USA believes all people deserve “an equitable, efficient and universally accessible health plan…” 
  • “The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations affirms the worth and dignity of every individual, and thus affirms access to quality healthcare as a basic human right. It is the responsibility of the public— through government—to meet this and other basic human needs in a just, equitable, and compassionate manner.”
  • “The United Church of Christ believes that the Affordable Care Act is a huge step in the right direction to providing much needed health care for millions who continue to live their lives without it and in fear that one catastrophic illness would plunge them into deep financial ruin. “
  • "The United Methodist Church is committed to health care for all in the United States…” 

If you were looking for heaven, I found it. ☺️ #jacksonville #stjohns #florida #sunsets

It’s been a long time since she’s been at the beach. She just sat there. Not sure what to do, in the sand with toes dug deep. She had what she wearing from the day, a green tank with a short flower skirt that the wind easily pushed up. A cardigan hung on her brown skin, and to keep her warm, she pulled on a forest green wool coat she had kept in the car, for moments like this.

 Being by the water was a retreat for her. This was her third city in three days—she left Orlando on Wednesday night, arrived in Tallahassee Thursday early morning, and was now on Jacksonville Beach, watching the Sun disappear behind her. Despite the hours spent driving, she felt as if she was by the water the whole time.

That’s what the ocean does to you. It makes you feel so small. Problems lose their importance and stress dissipates. 

“It’s a stark reminder of how insignificant we are as individuals, and how much purpose we hold as humans,” she said to herself.

And with those few words, sandals heavy with sand, she picked up herself and walked back to car. She knew she would be back.

  1. Aperture: f/2.4
  2. Exposure: 1/15th
  3. Focal Length: 4mm

The world deserves better than Sea World.

This piece was originally published in the Central Florid Future, here at this link. If you still haven’t applied for health coverage through the ACA (also known as Obamacare) it’s not too late. The new deadline is April 15th— so get on it at :)

In 2010, when the Affordable Care Act was first signed into law, none of us knew what to expect. There were so many unanswered questions, and the pundits never stopped passing judgment.

As time passed, the ACA became more and more politicized. Republicans branded it as Obamacare to draw jeers, and then it was re-branded by the Democrats to draw cheers. In its short four years of existence, the ACA has seen 50 attempts by Congressional House Republicans to repeal it, one Supreme Court case and two election cycles — with a third one on the way.

Despite all of the political banter, the ACA has continued to move forward and, in such a short amount of time, has risen to become one of the strongest success stories in American history.

More than 6 million Americans across the nation have enrolled in a private health insurance plan through the ACA, according to CNBC, meeting and exceeding the administration’s original goal. In Florida, that number is more than 442,000 — with 83 percent of those individuals receiving financial help in the form of tax credits to cover the monthly cost of a premium.

But the impact doesn’t stop there. For those who already had private insurance, positive changes have already taken shape, all with the goal of expanding coverage. Pre-existing conditions are no longer a reason to deny someone of health benefits. Preventative care, like well-woman exams and STI testing are now available in most cases, without any out-of-pocket cost. Young adults can also stay on their parent’s plan till they’re 26 years old.

Young people also have the option of purchasing a plan that is specifically designed for those under the age of 30. These plans have a low monthly premium but a high deductible, meaning that if you end up in the hospital, you’ll have coverage for the bulk of your bill. It also includes three primary care visits, making it a greatly affordable option for those who might not go to the doctor often. For individuals with non-immigrant status, which includes student visas, insurance can also be purchased via the ACA’s, giving our international students another coverage option too.

We need to remember that those benefiting from the ACA are not strangers to us. They’re our family, friends, neighbors, small business owners and our fellow students. Their stories are our stories, and it’s infuriating to see our politicians work so tirelessly to dehumanize the impact of the ACA.

Here in Florida, our state legislators have made no attempts to support the implementation of the ACA. Not only did they opt out of creating a state exchange, but they have yet to accept the $51 billion of Medicaid expansion money that the federal government has allocated to the Sunshine State in an effort to provide coverage to thousands of low-income Floridians.

Now, as the ACA has reached its first enrollment deadline, I hope that we will begin to realize that the issue of health care should be one of people over politics. It’s time that Florida’s legislators think about the lives of many and not just those of a few. It’s what the people want, and the success of the ACA is evidence enough.

Amazing production of #ragtime by my high school theatre department. Proud #cougar. ☺️ #troupe4848 #uhs #thespian #thespian4lyfe

We were rocking it this morning during our #civicengagement series in #Bithlo. Today’s focus was the #executive branch. Great way to start a busy day. ☺️ #ProjectBithlo