June 20, 2007

HPV Vaccine Commentary

So everyone is all in an uproar about the HPV vaccine made by Gardasil, and working for the Romulus/Taylor Teen Health Center it's probably predictable that I have something to say. I'm annoyed with people continuing to make this a political issue, to me it's a cancer issue, bottom line. Cervical cancer is caused by certain types of the Human Papilloma Virus, this is one of the rare cases in which we not only know the cause of a cancer, but how to prevent it. Cervical cancer kills approximately 37,000 woman a year, a large percentage who were infected when they were 14-18 years old, and were infected within the first 2-3 years they started having sex. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 80% of woman will have had genital HPV by age 50, this is becoming an epidemic, which is why we suddenly have had such a push for a vaccine, trying to get some kind of handle on this HUGE problem. I can personally say that about half of the people I know are infected with HPV, and if they had been given a chance would absolutely have gotten vaccinated as a kid. The controversial issue is that the recommended starting age for the vaccine is about 11-12 years old, because many teens are infected between ages 14-18 and prevention could only be completely effective if given before sexual activity begins.

Now I know parents are afraid that because HPV is sexually transmitted that vaccinating their kids means they'd have to discuss sex prematurely, but how many parents discuss sex when their kids get the Hepatitis B vaccines for school (as many are mandated to do, I know I was), because although it's not often discussed Hep B is most commonly sexually transmitted? We aren't vaccinated for Hep A or C, which are transmitted through blood and fecal interaction (think impoverished countries), we are mandatorily vaccinated for the STI Hep B in the United States and there isn't this kind of uproar! This apparently hasn't been a problem, most parents don't feel the need to prematurely talk about sex, or about vaccines in general. All they have to say is "this vaccine will keep you healthy" or in the case of the HPV vaccine "this vaccine will help prevent you from getting cancer," it's simple. And as always there's an opt out option for parent who insist their kids shouldn't get the vaccine, there are some families who for religious or personal reasons sometimes avoid vaccines and medical treatment altogether, and of course there have to be exceptions based on our constitution for those kinds of beliefs.

For most people under the age of 19 there are many places where you can get the Gardasil vaccine for free or low cost, unfortunately most insurances will not cover vaccinations after age 19 (like mine), and will then have to pay $160 out of pocket for each of the three shots in the series. I personally think it's wonderful that we have options now in fighting this epidemic, not only can it prevent HPV from occurring, but it can help people who are already infected to reduce or eliminate it's affect. I just had to put my two cents in, but I'm down for questions or comments if people have them.

Here are some fast facts from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) for more information.

Posted by jtalamo at 03:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Teen Centers Losing Funding

Hi Michigan Friends,

We need help!!! Our teen centers (among other programs) may lose funding! The teen centers provide low cost medical services to adolescents ages 10-21. Although we do accept insurance, most of the teens who use our services do not have health insurance. Without the teen centers, many adolescents would not have access to medical care. There is an online petition to support the governor's tax proposal which will help fund education, health and human services and public safety programs.

Please click here to sign the petition and pass this e-mail on!

Posted by jtalamo at 03:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Student Teaching Placement

I found out where my student teaching placement for this fall is, Robichaud Jr./Sr. High in Dearborn Heights (literally walking distance from my house). I've been all over the school website this morning reading all the teacher bio's and getting myself excited. I had the Taylor School District (where I work and used to attend) as my first choice but I guess this will be ok, it will be nice to actually work with the kids from my neighborhood and be close to home. I am placed with a teacher named Lou Ann Davis, she teaches 10th grade English and her website is very organized and she's experienced working with high risk youth, I will attach the email I sent to her below, you'll notice my attempt to sound professional and not overly geeked!

Mrs. Lou Ann Davis,

I am a MAT (Master's in the Art of Teaching) student at The University of Michigan -Dearborn and I was told by my field placement representative that I will be working in your 10th grade classroom this fall. I was told to contact you and set up an appointment to get acquainted, and although I have tried calling the school and leaving messages for you and for Principal Harris, it has been to no avail. I found your website and decided to try contacting you through email.

I have been working in Health Education and Prevention with teens through Oakwood's non-profit Taylor and Romulus Teen Health Center's for the last nine years. I currently coordinate two peer education programs in the downriver area, I love working with teens and impacting my community for the better. I have not formally worked in a classroom, except in my health education presentations in local high schools. I have always wanted to be a teacher, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to help you this fall, I am incredibly excited!

Please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience to schedule a meeting to discuss our future plans, I look forward to hearing from you.

Most Sincerely,
Jessica Ruelle
(Health Educator, Peer Education Coordinator)
Romulus & Taylor Teen Health Center
26650 Eureka Road, Ste. C-2 Taylor, MI 48180
(734) 942-2273 Extension 5
(734) 942-7478 Fax
(313) 520-2862 Cell

Posted by jtalamo at 03:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Future Classroom Website

School is going well, I'm taking 2 classes currently, one of which is technology class where I'm developing my future classroom website (best viewed with Firefox). It's all very basic, but I'm learning from scratch, so I'm sure it'll get better as the semester progresses. After these 2 classes I have one more for summer and then just student teaching! Master's degree here I come, I really am excited to move on to the next step, I have always wanted to be a teacher and it's almost here.

Check out my future classroom website here!

Posted by jtalamo at 03:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I've created an e-portfolio in my EDT 511 class that showcases some of my recent technological endeavors. Not only is it a great way to track my progress on projects but it will serve as a useful tool when applying for teaching jobs and sharing my capabilities.

Feel free to visit my e-portfolio here!

Posted by jtalamo at 03:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I figured I would share some of my school project fun, here's my podcast page if you're bored and want to learn more about HIV. I made an informational podcast of my HIV 101 introduction. I think the "Too Sexy/Twilight Mix" is probably the best, but I'd love feedback.

Visit my podcast

Posted by jtalamo at 03:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Challenge Day

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.?-Margaret Mead

On April 3rd, 2007 I volunteered to be an adult facilitator for Challenge Day at Hamilton Alternative High School in Lincoln Park. Challenge Day is a world-renowned program (Oprah had a special on it last year) that encourages students to look inward and use empathy to relate to each other and break down judgments to create a loving and supportive environment. Now, being an Alternative High School, many of these kids had been dismissed from other schools and districts because of drug use, violence, teen pregnancy etc… Long story short, they had a lot going on inside and came to the situation with lots of baggage, not that anyone wouldn’t. I’m not sure how to put into words what I experienced, all I can say is that it was amazing, I saw transitions happening to people right before my eyes. We were able to break down barriers and connect with each other in a non-superficial way, overcoming and learning things about ourselves in one day that sometimes takes many people (as my Dad put it) 10 years to accomplish.

The blurb on the back of a card I got yesterday said: “What is Challenge Day? Imagine a school day where enemies find their common ground and make peace; where friends heal past hurts and make amends; where young people ignite their passion for service and leadership; where teachers and youth alike join hands to create a school where every student feels safe, loved and celebrated. This is the work of the heart. This is the work of Challenge Day.? By demonstrating that love, respect and connection are possible in schools the award-winning Challenge Day program inspires youth and adults to be the change they want to see – in their schools, in their communities, and in the world.

The challenge day formula for change is to “be the change,? plainly put:
Notice – Wake up! What’s happening around you and inside of you?
Choose – How do you want things to be?
Act – Do what it takes to create the changes you want to see!

Something I really took to heart yesterday from the experience was this quote, if I could pass along any one thing:
“Drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, smoking, teasing, bullying, gangs, violence. These are all actually symptoms of a greater problem – loneliness. If our children are feeling lonely, it’s not because of a lack of people; it’s because of a lack of connection among the people?
For More Information...

Posted by jtalamo at 03:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack