Calendar November 29, 2017 19:23

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An Overview of HPV Statistics in America


Real Alternatives is a not-for-profit health organization that provides women with a variety of services and support during unexpected and crises pregnancies. Real Alternatives also offers a wealth of information regarding related health topics, including sexually transmitted diseases

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 110 million Americans are living with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), at a cost of more than $16 billion annually. Studies have found that of the 20 million newly-reported cases of STDs every year, over 14 million are linked to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. 

Nearly 80 million individuals of all ages in the United States live with HPV. The infection is incurable, though some symptoms can be managed with medical treatments. In many instances, HPV is passed between partners, and it can remain dormant for years without active symptoms. Some strains of HPV can cause genital warts or even cancer. 

There are a number of ways to mitigate one's chances of contracting HPV. Individuals are advised to get the HPV vaccine, which helps protect against the most common strain but not all of the strains. Practicing safe sex can lower the chance of contracting HPV or other STDs. However, living a chaste lifestyle (abstinence) until committing to a long-term monogamous relationship is the best and the most effective means of risk reduction.

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Calendar November 29, 2017 19:20

Basic Facts about STDs in America

 

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STDs
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Real Alternatives puts women dealing with unexpected pregnancies in touch with helpful programs and services. In addition to unplanned pregnancy, Real Alternatives operates in areas related to sexual health and STD prevention.

Unexpected pregnancy is not the only reason to refrain from sexual intercourse at a young age, or at any time outside of a committed, trusting relationship. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are another serious consequence to consider. In recent years, STDs have reached epidemic levels in the United States, with more than 20 unique infectious diseases impacting over 20 million American men and women. Every year, the US government addresses the effects of STDs with response efforts in excess of $16 billion.

Knowledge and prevention represent an individual’s two strongest weapons against STDs, which can be contracted by any sexually active individual. Age, gender, race, economic background, and other identifying characteristics have nothing to do with contracting an STD. That said, certain populations are more at risk than others. More than 66 percent of STD cases in America are found in individuals under the age of 25, for example.

Sexually active individuals must be highly vigilant in regard to the symptoms of a possible STD. In many cases, particularly in women, the symptoms do not show immediately. In some cases, a disease may lie dormant for years at a time. Even when there are no symptoms, the disease can be transmitted.

There are a number of ways to mitigate the chances of contracting an STD, but abstaining from sexual intercourse is the only way to completely prevent the chances of infection.

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Calendar November 17, 2017 01:18

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Real Testimonies from Real Alternatives Clients


Real Alternatives provides support and information to women from all walks of life who have been impacted by an unplanned pregnancy. The Real Alternatives website, www.realalternatives.org, features a number of stories from clients who have benefited from the support of the organization. 

The stories come from a host of women of different ages and backgrounds, a testament to the organization’s desire to provide help to any individual who seeks it. Certain accounts highlight the organization’s all-inclusive attitude in regard to age, as opposed to similar agencies that focus solely on helping younger women dealing with unexpected pregnancies. 

Other women have pointed to a lack of support upon learning about their pregnancy, including disapproval from family and friends and pressure to abort, or complete indifference from their partner. The informed support and welcoming approach of the Real Alternatives team, along with a number of approved service providers, helped these women to identify different ways to address their situation.

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Calendar November 7, 2017 15:08

What Happens during an Abortion

 

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Founded to provide pregnancy and parenting support to new and expectant mothers, Real Alternatives is committed to educating women about their options. Real Alternatives helps women to understand what is involved in an abortion, so that they can make informed choices. Medical abortions, also known as chemical abortions, involve the use of a hormone-blocking chemical known as mifepristone. Mifepristone is colloquially known as the abortion pill, as well as RU-486 this chemical is used to end an early pregnancy by inducing an abortion. In some cases, the woman will need to take a second drug, misoprostol to complete the abortion. Misoprostol causes the womb to contract; the contractions expel the baby from the womb. Medical abortions are typically only available to women who are nine or fewer weeks into pregnancy.

After the ninth week of pregnancy, women seeking abortions who are still in their first trimester are more likely to undergo vacuum aspiration, a surgical procedure in which a physician will numb the cervix and insert a catheter into the woman’s cervix. The catheter is connected to a machine that acts like a vacuum cleaner. The fetus is sucked out of the womb through the catheter.

Usually during a second trimester (the fourth, fifth, and sixth months of pregnancy), to perform an abortion, the doctor opens (dilates) the cervix and empties (evacuates) the uterus. This method is known as dilation and evacuation (D & E).
When this abortion method is used in the second trimester, the doctor may insert a sponge-like material into the cervix. As the sponge gets wet it becomes larger, opening the mouth of the cervix. The doctor will remove the sponge two to sixteen hours later. The doctor uses forceps to remove the fetus or fetal parts; the doctor may also suction the fetus or fetal parts by vacuum aspiration using a larger catheter than described for the first trimester. The afterbirth is most commonly removed by vacuum aspiration.
Finally, late-term abortions are abortions performed between 24 and 38 weeks gestation.
An abortion at this stage of your pregnancy may only be done if your physician reasonably believes that it is necessary to prevent either your death or a substantial and irreversible impairment of one of your major bodily functions.

When a pregnancy is ended at this stage, one of two procedures is performed: labor induction or cesarean section.
Labor and delivery of the fetus during the third trimester are similar to childbirth. The duration of labor depends on the size of the baby and the “readiness” of the womb.
If labor cannot be started by injecting medicine into the pregnant woman, or if the pregnant woman is too sick to undergo labor, a cesarean section may be done.
Another type of late term abortion that is also performed is known as partial birth abortion. Partial birth abortion is legal in only 18 states.

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Calendar November 1, 2017 14:48

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Sexually Transmitted Diseases Reach Record High in US


Real Alternatives provides easy-to-understand education surrounding pregnancy, parenting, and sexual health. Targeting its services to pregnant women and women of childbearing age, Real Alternatives strives to help its audiences make informed decisions.

According to recent data available through the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Surveillance Report, collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incidence of gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis has reached a record high in the United States. Chlamydia stands out as the most prevalent of these three diseases, the total number of cases having reached 1.6 million, as compared to 470,000 cases of gonorrhea and close to 28,000 cases of infectious syphilis. 

Close to 50 percent of reported chlamydia cases occur in young women, a percentage significantly higher than the incidence rate in other populations. New diagnoses of syphilis are present primarily in men, the percentage being highest in men who engage in sex with other men (MSM). There were also 600 new cases of syphilis reported in infants in 2016, a rate that indicates the widespread failure of readily available screening procedures.

The most dramatic increase in gonorrhea infection also rests with the male population, and particularly with those in the MSM category. Scientists believe that the 22 percent increase in men with gonorrhea is attributable largely to the resistance of the infection to common antibiotics.

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Calendar October 27, 2017 13:34

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Calendar October 22, 2017 14:03

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Then-Governor Mike Pence’s Support of Indiana’s Real Alternatives


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Calendar October 22, 2017 13:51

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Prohibiting Late-Term Abortion, “Micah’s Law” Reaches Senate Floor

Headquartered in Pennsylvania, Real Alternatives provides a full suite of coordinated pregnancy services that include no-cost counseling and assistance with health care and temporary shelter needs. Real Alternatives supports the efforts of Americans in life-affirming positions that encourage childbirth and, in certain cases, responsible adoption.

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Calendar October 22, 2017 13:44

Catholic Social Services – Recognized for Life Affirming Work

 

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Real Alternatives
Image: cssphiladelphia.org

A nonprofit organization based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Real Alternatives engages with women facing unplanned and crisis pregnancies in providing compassionate and practical support. Affirming life, Real Alternatives operates as part of the state-funded Alternatives to Abortion initiative and teams up with dozens of qualified support service providers statewide.

As reported in the National Right to Life News, Real Alternatives has consistently selected Catholic Social Services as the recipient of its Pennsylvania Service Provider of the Year award. In 2015 alone, the Philadelphia organization met the needs of some 5,500 pregnant women, with core services including parenting and prenatal support that included baby showers held monthly at many of its greater Philadelphia locations.

Real Alternatives’ vice president of operations described the award as reflecting Catholic Social Services’ longstanding commitment to going “above and beyond” what is required in reaching out to young women in the urban communities it serves. Coordinated efforts by the group have significantly decreased the number of abortions regionwide and bolstered life-affirming personal decisions.

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Calendar September 28, 2017 19:12

Strategies for Breaking the News of a Pregnancy to Family Members

 

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Pregnancy
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Providing free, life-affirming support to women facing unexpected pregnancies, Real Alternatives offers confidential support in everything from temporary shelter to maternal health care. Real Alternatives also offers compassionate counseling that enables expectant mothers to overcome hurdles in informing their partners and family members, such as parents, of a new addition to the family.

Before women speak to their parents, it is important to confirm that a pregnancy has actually occurred. Real Alternatives offers a combination of health care provider references and free self-test kits for this purpose. Once a pregnancy is confirmed, mothers are advised to relax and collect their thoughts by visiting a favorite spot or taking a walk.

They may also want to speak with a trusted relative, counselor, or friend. If possible, they can use a journal to collect their thoughts, including ideas and options for their child’s future. This will not only bring a sense of order to a chaotic process, but also prepare them to bring up the subject with their parents.

Breaking the news is often accompanied by a sense of anger and hurt among parents, who may fear the ways in which their daughters’ lives will change. Mitigating this reaction should begin with a mature response from the mother that emphasizes that she is taking responsibility and actively working to ensure a healthy, happy future for her new baby.

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Calendar September 28, 2017 19:05

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Pennsylvania-Based Real Alternatives Expands to Michigan and Indiana

Real Alternatives is a respected Pennsylvania provider of human services programs designed to meet the needs of women through free parenting and pregnancy support services. Featuring an approach that affirms life, the Real Alternatives program has its roots in Pennsylvania Governor Robert P. Casey’s work in the early 1990s to create a state budget that included pregnancy and parenting education services.

In 2013 and 2014, the organization achieved two distinct milestones in expanding to Michigan and Indiana, respectively. The introduction of Real Alternatives by Governor Rick Snyder through the Michigan Department of Community Health involved a $700,000 pilot program covering the southern half of the state and used the successful Pennsylvania program as its model.

The following year, Governor Mike Pence spearheaded the efforts of the Indiana State Department of Health in initiating a $1 million pilot program for the state’s northern half. Both states’ pilot programs quickly proved their worth and were expanded statewide in 2015. The renewed Michigan program was allocated an $800,000 annual budget, while the renewed Indiana program was funded through a $3.5 million annual budget.

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Calendar September 19, 2017 19:01

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Calendar September 19, 2017 17:32

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Calendar September 15, 2017 21:20

Learning to Be a Parent Requires Support

 

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Real Alternatives
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Based in Pennsylvania, the nonprofit organization Real Alternatives serves as a contracted government partner in providing life-affirming free counseling services to pregnant women who are contemplating an abortion. Real Alternatives’ staff offers empathetic, nonjudgmental, emotional support designed to empower women to make positive choices for themselves and their families.

The organization’s mission also includes facilitating access to a wide range of helpful information on parenting, child development, and life skills. By calling 1-888-Life-Aid, women worried about how they will feed, shelter, clothe, and care for their unborn children can obtain free assistance with these needs, as well as access to classes that will help them develop parenting skills.

Expectant and new mothers may feel intense concern about their ability to effectively parent a child, particularly when they themselves may have grown up in chaotic, neglectful, or abusive homes. A solid parenting skills class is set up to address these issues and offer guidance on everything ranging from how to build strong emotional bonds between parents and their children to how to deal with medical emergencies.

For generations, experts on family dynamics have pointed out that no one is born knowing how to be a good parent. Learning to be an effective and caring parent comes from many sources that include one’s own family history, personal life experiences, books and other educational materials, observation of role models, and trial and error.

With counseling, support, and education, women can learn how to confront their fears associated with parenting a child and learn to nurture happy, healthy families.

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Calendar September 15, 2017 21:13

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Clothing Pantries Address Social Needs Nationwide

Since the late 1990s, Real Alternatives has served women who are experiencing crisis pregnancies and contemplating an abortion. The nonprofit, life-affirming organization, which began in Pennsylvania and has since expanded to Michigan and Indiana, offers warm, responsive, nonjudgmental counseling services. In addition, Real Alternatives provides food, clothing, and other necessities to help women and their families thrive over the long term.

While many Americans are already familiar with the concept of community food pantries, community clothing pantries also meet a vital need across the country. Pregnant women receive maternity clothes from the 150 plus centers in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana funded by Real Alternatives. Babies and young children receive a supply of warm, comfortable clothing that keeps up with their growth.

Whether they are called clothing pantries, clothing banks, or clothing closets, these organizations are contributing toward building community and keeping families together. By offering free gently worn or new clothing - often donated by members of the community - these organizations work to address social inequities while promoting dignity and fostering self-respect.

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Calendar September 15, 2017 21:11

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How to Support a Friend Experiencing a Crisis Pregnancy


Serving women and their families in Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan, Real Alternatives partners with these states’ social service agencies to offer free crisis pregnancy counseling and support. With close to 150 centers spanning the three states, Real Alternatives provides safe, empathetic, and non-judgmental advice. The organization also offers food, clothing, shelter, and ongoing parenting education. 

Many people will, at some point in their lives, know of someone who is considering an abortion. Knowing how to be supportive and helpful can be difficult, given the mixed messages that society and popular culture relay about the subject. 

Experienced pro-life counselors generally suggest that you remain loving and accepting of a friend who is experiencing a crisis pregnancy. They advise that you focus on the woman’s need to be heard, understood, and treated as an individual who is capable of making her own decisions. 

Other ways to help include offering practical assistance with activities such as household chores, transportation, and shopping, so that a woman can concentrate on caring for herself and her family.

Friends can also show that they care by staying positive and affirming through their words and actions the value of every human life, including those begun under less-than-ideal circumstances.

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Calendar August 30, 2017 23:15

Qualifications to Become a Real Alternatives Service Provider

 

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Calendar August 20, 2017 21:26

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The Importance of Parental Touch in Raising Newborns

Headquartered in Pennsylvania and with social service networks extending throughout several states, Real Alternatives provides women who experience unplanned pregnancies with compassionate counseling and support. Real Alternatives emphasizes pathways that allow mothers to keep their babies and receive housing and job opportunities that set them on a positive life course.

Among the services offered is help caring for the newborn baby, which is a principal area of anxiety and concern for many new mothers. No-cost parenting skills classes offer mothers the support that helps them ensure that their baby is happy, healthy, and well-nourished.

With the newborn baby fragile and small, one of the keys to being a new parent involves cuddling. Numerous studies point to the importance of a mother’s touch in the early weeks and months.

One study by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio underlined parents’ skin-to-skin care as providing a sense of continuity, as gentle touch mimics what infants experience throughout their time in the womb. In cases of premature babies who require extended stays in the hospital, occupational and physical therapists are a part of ensuring a well-planned touch experience that promotes normal development.

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Calendar August 20, 2017 21:23

Understanding First Trimester Surgical Abortions

 

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Surgical Abortions
Image: realalternatives.org

With a focus on providing women with comprehensive support when unplanned pregnancy occurs, Real Alternatives’ network of service providers affirms a woman’s decision to keep her baby. Abortion rates have dropped in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Indiana due in part to Real Alternatives’ programs. The Real Alternatives website at www.realalternatives.org offers a full range of educational resources, including details on the risks and possible complications associated with abortion at the various stages of pregnancy.

Surgical abortions undertaken during the first trimester center on a vacuum aspiration technique that begins with the mother lying on her back and bending the knees. The physician examines the uterus opening using a speculum, placing one hand in the vagina and one on the abdomen. A drug injection or spray is then used as a way of blocking any pain that may be experienced.

A long soft tube called a catheter is then inserted into the cervix, with the baby removed using suction similar to that of a vacuum cleaner. In cases where six weeks or more have passed since menstruation, the cervix is gently dilated so that a curette (a larger, more rigid tube) can be inserted and the fetus evacuated. Undertaking this procedure requires that the mother be fully informed on what will occur and provide signed intent that she wants to end the life of her unborn baby.v

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Calendar August 13, 2017 15:53

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Understanding STDs and How to Avoid them

With support beginning with a confidential call to 1-888-LIFE AID, Real Alternatives provides mothers with a full range of resources designed to support them and their babies. Real Alternatives’ services extend throughout pregnancy and the first year of the baby’s life, and include assistance with food, clothing, health, transportation, and temporary shelter.

The services coordinated throughout Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Michigan extend to resolving issues associated with sexually transmitted diseases, which have reached near epidemic levels in recent years. With approximately two-thirds of STDs impacting those in their mid 20s and younger, a particular risk factor is having multiple sex partners.

A number of STDs initially have no symptoms, and this is particularly the case with women. This does not mean that the disease does not exist and cannot be passed on to partners through sexual contact. An unfortunate result is that the disease is often passed on to others before the person who has it becomes aware that he or she is infected.

Accurately diagnosed and treated early, the vast majority of STDs are receptive to treatment. That said, a number of types of venereal disease, such as gonorrhea, have developed resistance to readily available drugs as they have been overprescribed in the last few decades. In addition, there are conditions such as HIV/AIDs that have no known cure. This makes abstinence from sexual contact outside of long term, monogamous relationships one of the key aspects in preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

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