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Natural Disasters and People Living With HIV and AIDS

By Miguel Gomez

May 31, 2011

This article was cross-posted from the AIDS.gov blog.

Natural Disasters and People Living With HIV and AIDS

As if the tornadoes that recently devastated several communities including Joplin, Missouri, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama and the flooding along the Mississippi River weren't enough, June 1 marks the start of hurricane season. These are all stark reminders of the stunning impacts these forces of nature can have on anyone and the importance of doing what we can to be prepared to the extent we can.

The effects of these disasters on people living with HIV and AIDS can be particularly severe:

Any of these circumstances can disrupt the continuity of care for those living with HIV and result in negative health consequences. It is possible, however, to mitigate some of these possible outcomes with some planning.


Preparedness Matters

Now is the time to plan ahead for what you may need to stay safe, healthy, informed, mobile, and independent during a disaster. CDC's recent advisory regarding preparedness for a zombie apocalypse (or hurricanes, flood or other emergencies) offers a number of useful preparedness tips that we may all wish to pause and consider. In addition, read our AIDS.gov page about Natural Disasters and People Living with HIV/AIDS for more information and tips to help you prepare your plan. Finally, visit Ready.gov for more information on what you can do to make preparations for dealing with a natural disaster or other emergency situation. The site includes a page on special considerations for people with disabilities, some of which may be relevant for you to consider. We hope you'll never need it, but we'll be glad that you have a plan in the unfortunate event that a disaster does strike your community.

Do you have an emergency plan? What special features would you recommend be considered by people living with HIV/AIDS? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Miguel Gomez is the AIDS.gov Director.

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