Tag Archives: National Institutes of Health

Straight, No Chaser: Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Signs-That-You-are-Probably-An-Alcoholic

With all the focus of late on other forms of drug use and abuse (e.g., methamphetamine, marijuana, opiates), alcohol abuse seems to be lacking the attention it deserves. Fully one in six people in the United States has a drinking problem. In this segment of the Straight, No Chaser series on alcohol, we will explore problem drinking.
“Problem drinking” is a way of describing alcohol intake that causes problems with your functioning. Alcohol abuse is an episode or continued excessive alcohol consumption that causes problems with your daily living activities, such as family or job responsibilities. Of course, a single episode of alcohol abuse can cost you your life if you’re an impaired driver who runs into a tree or some other calamity befalls you.

alcoholism

Alcoholism is alcohol dependence, which is composed of two separate considerations:

  • Physical addiction to a drug is defined by tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance is when you become acclimated to the same dose of drug, meaning, in this case, the same amount of liquor no longer gives you the same buzz. Withdrawal symptoms occur when you experience effects from no longer having the drug in your system.
  • Mental addiction to alcohol is illustrated by its increasingly prominent role in your life. Your life becomes centered around the pursuit and consumption of alcohol. It creates problems with your physical, mental and social health, controlling your life and relationships.

Many of you ask if alcoholism is hereditary. Hereditary means a specific thing medically, so the answer is no. However, we believe genes play a role and increase the risk of alcoholism. It is most likely that genetics “load the gun,” but environment “pulls the trigger.”

AlcoholicGrayscaleDiagram2

Regarding environment, there’s no fixed equation to if and when you’ll become dependent, but there is a correlation with certain activity and an increased risk. Consider the following activities as suggestive of a significant risk for development alcoholism:

  • Men who have 15 or more drinks a week (One drink is either a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.)
  • Women who have 12 or more drinks a week
  • Anyone who has five or more drinks at a time at least once a week
  • Anyone who has a parent with alcoholism

Here are some less hard signs, but these situations also have been shown to increase risk, according to the National Institutes of Health:

  • You are a young adult under peer pressure
  • You have a behavioral health disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia
  • You have easy access to alcohol
  • You have low self-esteem
  • You have problems with relationships
  • You live a stressful lifestyle
  • You live in a culture in which alcohol use is more common and accepted

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

The Straight, No Chaser Comprehensive Safe Sex Guide

safe-sex-no-regrets
This edition of Straight, No Chaser is a keepsake, whether for your own reference or as a conversation piece/teaching guide for others. I suspect that due to the volume and wealth of information contained within, you’ll refer to this post time and again (or so I hope). For additional information, refer to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention and/or the National Institutes of Health websites.
Talking_Partner_STD
STAYING STD-FREE
The best ways to stay STI free is to confirm it and then avoid it. If you want to reduce your risk of acquiring HIV and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections) through sexual contact, here are your options.

  • Abstain from sex.
  • Be monogamous.
  • Prove both you and your partner(s) are negative. Get yourself and your partner(s) tested, preferably prior to engaging in sexual activity and subsequently every three to six months, especially if you and/or your partner have more than one sexual partner.
  • If and once you establish that you’re STI-free, learn how to use condoms and do so every time you have sex.

A special note about protecting yourself from HIV
HIV can be spread by having unprotected sexual contact with an HIV-positive person. “Unprotected” means any vaginal, anal or oral sex without barrier protection, like a condom or dental dam. Some of the ways to reduce your risk of getting HIV through sexual contact include the following:

  • Don’t have sex. Abstinence is the best way to be certain that you won’t contract HIV. Although HIV is occasionally transmitted in other ways, vaginal, anal and oral sex are the most common ways that HIV is transmitted.
  • Be monogamous. To be clear, this means you are in a sexual relationship with only one person and both of you are having sex only with each other. For the purposes of contracting HIV, sex includes vaginal, oral or anal sexual activity. Monogamy is optimally effective if you also confirm early and often that both you and your partner are not infected with HIV.
  • Get yourself and your sexual partner(s) tested: Knowing your own status is important for both your health and the health of your partner. Talking about your HIV status likely will be difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s important to start the discussion BEFORE you have sex.

Repeal DADT logo-2
FRANKLY, “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” IS JUST DUMB WHEN IT COMES TO STIs.
This is actually quite simple. No excuses. You need to ask your sexual partner(s) and any possible future partners the following questions.

  • Have you been tested for HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and/or chlamydia?
  • When was the last time you were tested for HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and/or chlamydia?
  • If you’ve been tested, what were the results of your tests?

STDlights
SAFER-SEX ACTIVITIES
These activities carry no risk of HIV transmission:

  • Non-sexual massage
  • Casual or dry kissing
  • Masturbation (without your partner’s body fluids)
  • Frottage—also known as “dry humping” or body-to-body rubbing

You can still contract other STIs, like herpes, HPV, or pubic lice (“crabs”) if you have bare skin-to-skin contact with your partner.
howToUseCondoms
CONDOM USE
Here are two questions for both males and females.

  • Have you ever learned how to safely and appropriately use condoms?
  • Do you use condoms consistently?

To maximally reduce your risk of getting HIV or other STIs, you must use a new condom with every act of vaginal, anal or oral sex. If you don’t use them for oral but do for vaginal and anal, you have still lowered your risk, just not as much as you could have. Also, you must use condoms correctly, as depicted in the above diagram, to appropriately reduce your risk. Learning correct usage also will keep condoms from breaking or slipping off, which reintroduces the risks.
I also want you to understand that all condoms are not created equal. Latex condoms are highly effective against HIV and other STIs. Do you or your partner have a latex allergy? If so, the next safest condom choice is a polyurethane or polyisoprene condom. Just tell your pharmacist at the drug store that you’re allergic to latex, and s/he’ll take it from there. On the other hand, lambskin condoms do NOT protect against HIV. The particle size of the virus allows it to maneuver and slip through lambskin.
Condoms alone have never been enough. Did you know that you should always use a water-based lubricant when you use a condom for either vaginal or anal sex?  I want to restate this: that’s water, not petroleum jelly. Water-based lubricants reduce friction and help keep the condom from breaking. Do NOT use an oil-based lubricant (such as petroleum jelly, hand lotion or cooking oil). Oil-based lubricants can damage condoms, making them less effective.
Both male condoms and female condoms will help protect you against HIV and other STIs. If you’ve learned to enjoy sex with a male condom, you can learn to enjoy it with a female condom or a dental dam. Additionally, there are many of you who have contracted STIs. If you wish to continue to enjoy a variety of sexual activities, learning to use the full range of barrier protection may be a better option for you and your partner than abstaining.
Condoms do not provide 100% protection against all STIs, but you are always safer using a condom than not. You can get certain STIs, like herpes or HPV, from contact with your partner’s bare skin, even if one of you is wearing a condom, but condoms lessen the risk. Take the time to explore and inspect each other if you’re confused or concerned about the possibility of your partner having an STI.
Spermicides only serve the purpose of reducing the risk of becoming pregnant. They are ineffective in preventing contraction of HIV and other STIs. They actually irritate rectal and vaginal walls, in effect increasing the chances of HIV infection, should infected fluids come into contact with these areas.
sex-toys-300x285
ABOUT SEX TOYS
This is pretty straightforward. Using sex toys can be safe, but think of staying clean and “not sharing.”

  • It is important that you use soap and water to clean your toys after each use. If the instructions allow for a stronger disinfectant, you may do so.
  • As a rule, don’t share your toys. The nature of how toys are typically used likely increases the risk of vaginal or anal irritation, which increases the risk for HIV or other STI transmission.
  • If you “must” share your toy with your partner while still trying to be safe, use a condom on the toy before you use it, and change the condom before your partner uses it.

circumcision None Required
CIRCUMCISION
We’ve discussed circumcision at length in Straight, No Chaser. (Click here for a dedicated post on circumcision.) There has been ongoing interest and research over the past few years about circumcision and its effect on preventing HIV infection. The bottom line? In 2007, the World Health Organization reported that male circumcision reduced the transmission of HIV by 60% from women to men in three randomized, controlled studies in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa.
There is much less available data for men who have sex with men and how circumcision might affect HIV transmission through anal sex. In addition, recent studies show that circumcision does NOT protect women from contracting HIV from male partners.
Let’s be careful in interpreting the results of these findings.

  • Circumcision is only additionally effective when earlier preventative efforts have not been taken. Advocating circumcision is not an appropriate substitute for any of the numerous safety measures and habits previously discussed to reduce one’s risk for HIV and other STIs.
  • Failure to have a circumcision does NOT increase one’s HIV and other STI risk in the presence of appropriate safe-sex activities.

So there you have it. Knowledge is power. We appreciate that this posting was not balanced by the human decisions and passions that come into place with sexual activity. We recommend that you adopt a posture of “safety first” to create that balance! Good luck, and feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser In The News: HIV Vaccine Awareness and Update

HIVvaccines-1

The first (and at that point only) vaccine developed to date that has shown any significant effectiveness was demonstrated to be so in Thailand back in 2009. It was shown to cut the rate of HIV infection by 31% over 3.5 years, with most of the effect seen in its first year. This study was followed by a small-scale study in South Africa. The trial study involved 252 South Africans, and its positive results have set the stage for a much larger study, and it is generating a lot of excitement among the world’s top HIV vaccine scientists.

HIVvaccines-2

The U.S. National Institutes of Health is following up with a trial of an experimental vaccine in South Africa later this year on 5,400 healthy, at risk volunteers from ages 18-35, pending regulatory approval. The vaccine is a combination of a canarypox-based vaccine and another that enhances the body’s immune response to a vaccine. Results from the study will be available in 2020.
In case you’re wondering why the trial is occurring in South Africa, HIV is more pervasive in southern Africa that anywhere else in the world. According to the United Nations, it is estimated that 12.2 percent of the South African population (6.4 million persons) are HIV positive.

HIVvaccines-3

New HIV infections have fallen by 35% globally since 2000 but still ravages millions worldwide. The opportunity to offer an effective HIV would be welcomed everywhere.
If you’re interested in learning more about HIV/AIDS, just type HIV or AIDS into the search engine on the right.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress
 

Straight, No Chaser: Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Signs-That-You-are-Probably-An-Alcoholic

With all the focus of late on other forms of drug use and abuse (e.g., methamphetamine, marijuana, opiates), alcohol abuse seems to be lacking the attention it deserves. Fully one in six people in the United States has a drinking problem. In this segment of the Straight, No Chaser series on alcohol, we will explore problem drinking.
“Problem drinking” is a way of describing alcohol intake that causes problems with your functioning. Alcohol abuse is an episode or continued excessive alcohol consumption that causes problems with your daily living activities, such as family or job responsibilities. Of course, a single episode of alcohol abuse can cost you your life if you’re an impaired driver who runs into a tree or some other calamity befalls you.

alcoholism

Alcoholism is alcohol dependence, which is composed of two separate considerations:

  • Physical addiction to a drug is defined by tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance is when you become acclimated to the same dose of drug, meaning, in this case, the same amount of liquor no longer gives you the same buzz. Withdrawal symptoms occur when you experience effects from no longer having the drug in your system.
  • Mental addiction to alcohol is illustrated by its increasingly prominent role in your life. Your life becomes centered around the pursuit and consumption of alcohol. It creates problems with your physical, mental and social health, controlling your life and relationships.

Many of you ask if alcoholism is hereditary. Hereditary means a specific thing medically, so the answer is no. However, we believe genes play a role and increase the risk of alcoholism. It is most likely that genetics “load the gun,” but environment “pulls the trigger.”

AlcoholicGrayscaleDiagram2

Regarding environment, there’s no fixed equation to if and when you’ll become dependent, but there is a correlation with certain activity and an increased risk. Consider the following activities as suggestive of a significant risk for development alcoholism:

  • Men who have 15 or more drinks a week (One drink is either a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.)
  • Women who have 12 or more drinks a week
  • Anyone who has five or more drinks at a time at least once a week
  • Anyone who has a parent with alcoholism

Here are some less hard signs, but these situations also have been shown to increase risk, according to the National Institutes of Health:

  • You are a young adult under peer pressure
  • You have a behavioral health disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia
  • You have easy access to alcohol
  • You have low self-esteem
  • You have problems with relationships
  • You live a stressful lifestyle
  • You live in a culture in which alcohol use is more common and accepted

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

The Straight, No Chaser Comprehensive Safe Sex Guide

safe-sex-no-regrets
This edition of Straight, No Chaser is a keepsake, whether for your own reference or as a conversation piece/teaching guide for others. I suspect that due to the volume and wealth of information contained within, you’ll refer to this post time and again (or so I hope). For additional information, refer to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention and/or the National Institutes of Health websites.
Talking_Partner_STD
STAYING STD-FREE
The best ways to stay STI free is to confirm it and then avoid it. If you want to reduce your risk of acquiring HIV and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections) through sexual contact, here are your options.

  • Abstain from sex.
  • Be monogamous.
  • Prove both you and your partner(s) are negative. Get yourself and your partner(s) tested, preferably prior to engaging in sexual activity and subsequently every three to six months, especially if you and/or your partner have more than one sexual partner.
  • If and once you establish that you’re STI-free, learn how to use condoms and do so every time you have sex.

A special note about protecting yourself from HIV
HIV can be spread by having unprotected sexual contact with an HIV-positive person. “Unprotected” means any vaginal, anal or oral sex without barrier protection, like a condom or dental dam. Some of the ways to reduce your risk of getting HIV through sexual contact include the following:

  • Don’t have sex. Abstinence is the best way to be certain that you won’t contract HIV. Although HIV is occasionally transmitted in other ways, vaginal, anal and oral sex are the most common ways that HIV is transmitted.
  • Be monogamous. To be clear, this means you are in a sexual relationship with only one person and both of you are having sex only with each other. For the purposes of contracting HIV, sex includes vaginal, oral or anal sexual activity. Monogamy is optimally effective if you also confirm early and often that both you and your partner are not infected with HIV.
  • Get yourself and your sexual partner(s) tested: Knowing your own status is important for both your health and the health of your partner. Talking about your HIV status likely will be difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s important to start the discussion BEFORE you have sex.

Repeal DADT logo-2
FRANKLY, “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” IS JUST DUMB WHEN IT COMES TO STIs.
This is actually quite simple. No excuses. You need to ask your sexual partner(s) and any possible future partners the following questions.

  • Have you been tested for HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and/or chlamydia?
  • When was the last time you were tested for HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and/or chlamydia?
  • If you’ve been tested, what were the results of your tests?

STDlights
SAFER-SEX ACTIVITIES
These activities carry no risk of HIV transmission:

  • Non-sexual massage
  • Casual or dry kissing
  • Masturbation (without your partner’s body fluids)
  • Frottage—also known as “dry humping” or body-to-body rubbing

You can still contract other STIs, like herpes, HPV, or pubic lice (“crabs”) if you have bare skin-to-skin contact with your partner.
howToUseCondoms
CONDOM USE
Here are two questions for both males and females.

  • Have you ever learned how to safely and appropriately use condoms?
  • Do you use condoms consistently?

To maximally reduce your risk of getting HIV or other STIs, you must use a new condom with every act of vaginal, anal or oral sex. If you don’t use them for oral but do for vaginal and anal, you have still lowered your risk, just not as much as you could have. Also, you must use condoms correctly, as depicted in the above diagram, to appropriately reduce your risk. Learning correct usage also will keep condoms from breaking or slipping off, which reintroduces the risks.
I also want you to understand that all condoms are not created equal. Latex condoms are highly effective against HIV and other STIs. Do you or your partner have a latex allergy? If so, the next safest condom choice is a polyurethane or polyisoprene condom. Just tell your pharmacist at the drug store that you’re allergic to latex, and s/he’ll take it from there. On the other hand, lambskin condoms do NOT protect against HIV. The particle size of the virus allows it to maneuver and slip through lambskin.
Condoms alone have never been enough. Did you know that you should always use a water-based lubricant when you use a condom for either vaginal or anal sex?  I want to restate this: that’s water, not petroleum jelly. Water-based lubricants reduce friction and help keep the condom from breaking. Do NOT use an oil-based lubricant (such as petroleum jelly, hand lotion or cooking oil). Oil-based lubricants can damage condoms, making them less effective.
Both male condoms and female condoms will help protect you against HIV and other STIs. If you’ve learned to enjoy sex with a male condom, you can learn to enjoy it with a female condom or a dental dam. Additionally, there are many of you who have contracted STIs. If you wish to continue to enjoy a variety of sexual activities, learning to use the full range of barrier protection may be a better option for you and your partner than abstaining.
Condoms do not provide 100% protection against all STIs, but you are always safer using a condom than not. You can get certain STIs, like herpes or HPV, from contact with your partner’s bare skin, even if one of you is wearing a condom, but condoms lessen the risk. Take the time to explore and inspect each other if you’re confused or concerned about the possibility of your partner having an STI.
Spermicides only serve the purpose of reducing the risk of becoming pregnant. They are ineffective in preventing contraction of HIV and other STIs. They actually irritate rectal and vaginal walls, in effect increasing the chances of HIV infection, should infected fluids come into contact with these areas.
sex-toys-300x285
ABOUT SEX TOYS
This is pretty straightforward. Using sex toys can be safe, but think of staying clean and “not sharing.”

  • It is important that you use soap and water to clean your toys after each use. If the instructions allow for a stronger disinfectant, you may do so.
  • As a rule, don’t share your toys. The nature of how toys are typically used likely increases the risk of vaginal or anal irritation, which increases the risk for HIV or other STI transmission.
  • If you “must” share your toy with your partner while still trying to be safe, use a condom on the toy before you use it, and change the condom before your partner uses it.

circumcision None Required
CIRCUMCISION
We’ve discussed circumcision at length in Straight, No Chaser. (Click here for a dedicated post on circumcision.) There has been ongoing interest and research over the past few years about circumcision and its effect on preventing HIV infection. The bottom line? In 2007, the World Health Organization reported that male circumcision reduced the transmission of HIV by 60% from women to men in three randomized, controlled studies in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa.
There is much less available data for men who have sex with men and how circumcision might affect HIV transmission through anal sex. In addition, recent studies show that circumcision does NOT protect women from contracting HIV from male partners.
Let’s be careful in interpreting the results of these findings.

  • Circumcision is only additionally effective when earlier preventative efforts have not been taken. Advocating circumcision is not an appropriate substitute for any of the numerous safety measures and habits previously discussed to reduce one’s risk for HIV and other STIs.
  • Failure to have a circumcision does NOT increase one’s HIV and other STI risk in the presence of appropriate safe-sex activities.

So there you have it. Knowledge is power. We appreciate that this posting was not balanced by the human decisions and passions that come into place with sexual activity. We recommend that you adopt a posture of “safety first” to create that balance! Good luck, and feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser In The News: HIV Vaccine Awareness and Update

The search for an effective HIV vaccine continues. Let’s take this space to bring you up to date.

HIVvaccines-1

The first (and at that point only) vaccine developed to date that has shown any significant effectiveness was demonstrated to be so in Thailand back in 2009. It was shown to cut the rate of HIV infection by 31% over 3.5 years, with most of the effect seen in its first year. This study was followed by a small-scale study in South Africa. The trial study involved 252 South Africans, and its positive results have set the stage for a much larger study, and it is generating a lot of excitement among the world’s top HIV vaccine scientists.

HIVvaccines-2

The U.S. National Institutes of Health is following up with a trial of an experimental vaccine in South Africa later this year on 5,400 healthy, at risk volunteers from ages 18-35, pending regulatory approval. The vaccine is a combination of a canarypox-based vaccine and another that enhances the body’s immune response to a vaccine. Results from the study will be available in 2020.
In case you’re wondering why the trial is occurring in South Africa, HIV is more pervasive in southern Africa that anywhere else in the world. According to the United Nations, it is estimated that 12.2 percent of the South African population (6.4 million persons) are HIV positive.

HIVvaccines-3

New HIV infections have fallen by 35% globally since 2000 but still ravages millions worldwide. The opportunity to offer an effective HIV would be welcomed everywhere.
If you’re interested in learning more about HIV/AIDS, just type HIV or AIDS into the search engine on the right.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress
 

Straight, No Chaser: Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Signs-That-You-are-Probably-An-Alcoholic

With all the focus of late on other forms of drug use and abuse (e.g., methamphetamine, marijuana), alcohol abuse seems to be lacking the attention it deserves. Fully one in six people in the United States has a drinking problem. In this segment of the Straight, No Chaser series on alcohol, we will explore problem drinking.
“Problem drinking” is a way of describing alcohol intake that causes problems with your functioning. Alcohol abuse is an episode or continued excessive alcohol consumption that causes problems with your daily living activities, such as family or job responsibilities. Of course, a single episode of alcohol abuse can cost you your life if you’re an impaired driver who runs into a tree or some other calamity befalls you.

alcoholism

Alcoholism is alcohol dependence, which is composed of two separate considerations:

  • Physical addiction to a drug is defined by tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance is when you become acclimated to the same dose of drug, meaning, in this case, the same amount of liquor no longer gives you the same buzz. Withdrawal symptoms occur when you experience effects from no longer having the drug in your system.
  • Mental addiction to alcohol is illustrated by its increasingly prominent role in your life. Your life becomes centered around the pursuit and consumption of alcohol. It creates problems with your physical, mental and social health, controlling your life and relationships.

Many of you ask if alcoholism is hereditary. Hereditary means a specific thing medically, so the answer is no. However, we believe genes play a role and increase the risk of alcoholism. It is most likely that genetics “load the gun,” but environment “pulls the trigger.”

AlcoholicGrayscaleDiagram2

Regarding environment, there’s no fixed equation to if and when you’ll become dependent, but there is a correlation with certain activity and an increased risk. Consider the following activities as suggestive of a significant risk for development alcoholism:

  • Men who have 15 or more drinks a week (One drink is either a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.)
  • Women who have 12 or more drinks a week
  • Anyone who has five or more drinks at a time at least once a week
  • Anyone who has a parent with alcoholism

Here are some less hard signs, but these situations also have been shown to increase risk, according to the National Institutes of Health:

  • You are a young adult under peer pressure
  • You have a behavioral health disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia
  • You have easy access to alcohol
  • You have low self-esteem
  • You have problems with relationships
  • You live a stressful lifestyle
  • You live in a culture in which alcohol use is more common and accepted

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

The Straight, No Chaser Comprehensive Safe Sex Guide

safe-sex-no-regrets
This edition of Straight, No Chaser is a keepsake, whether for your own reference or as a conversation piece/teaching guide for others. I suspect that due to the volume and wealth of information contained within, you’ll refer to this post time and again (or so I hope). For additional information, refer to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention and/or the National Institutes of Health websites.
Talking_Partner_STD
STAYING STD-FREE
The best ways to stay STI free is to confirm it and then avoid it. If you want to reduce your risk of acquiring HIV and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections) through sexual contact, here are your options.

  • Abstain from sex.
  • Be monogamous.
  • Prove both you and your partner(s) are negative. Get yourself and your partner(s) tested, preferably prior to engaging in sexual activity and subsequently every three to six months, especially if you and/or your partner have more than one sexual partner.
  • If and once you establish that you’re STI-free, learn how to use condoms and do so every time you have sex.

A special note about protecting yourself from HIV
HIV can be spread by having unprotected sexual contact with an HIV-positive person. “Unprotected” means any vaginal, anal or oral sex without barrier protection, like a condom or dental dam. Some of the ways to reduce your risk of getting HIV through sexual contact include the following:

  • Don’t have sex. Abstinence is the best way to be certain that you won’t contract HIV. Although HIV is occasionally transmitted in other ways, vaginal, anal and oral sex are the most common ways that HIV is transmitted.
  • Be monogamous. To be clear, this means you are in a sexual relationship with only one person and both of you are having sex only with each other. For the purposes of contracting HIV, sex includes vaginal, oral or anal sexual activity. Monogamy is optimally effective if you also confirm early and often that both you and your partner are not infected with HIV.
  • Get yourself and your sexual partner(s) tested: Knowing your own status is important for both your health and the health of your partner. Talking about your HIV status likely will be difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s important to start the discussion BEFORE you have sex.

Repeal DADT logo-2
FRANKLY, “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” IS JUST DUMB WHEN IT COMES TO STIs.
This is actually quite simple. No excuses. You need to ask your sexual partner(s) and any possible future partners the following questions.

  • Have you been tested for HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and/or chlamydia?
  • When was the last time you were tested for HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and/or chlamydia?
  • If you’ve been tested, what were the results of your tests?

STDlights
SAFER-SEX ACTIVITIES
These activities carry no risk of HIV transmission:

  • Non-sexual massage
  • Casual or dry kissing
  • Masturbation (without your partner’s body fluids)
  • Frottage—also known as “dry humping” or body-to-body rubbing

You can still contract other STIs, like herpes, HPV, or pubic lice (“crabs”) if you have bare skin-to-skin contact with your partner.
howToUseCondoms
CONDOM USE
Here are two questions for both males and females.

  • Have you ever learned how to safely and appropriately use condoms?
  • Do you use condoms consistently?

To maximally reduce your risk of getting HIV or other STIs, you must use a new condom with every act of vaginal, anal or oral sex. If you don’t use them for oral but do for vaginal and anal, you have still lowered your risk, just not as much as you could have. Also, you must use condoms correctly, as depicted in the above diagram, to appropriately reduce your risk. Learning correct usage also will keep condoms from breaking or slipping off, which reintroduces the risks.
I also want you to understand that all condoms are not created equal. Latex condoms are highly effective against HIV and other STIs. Do you or your partner have a latex allergy? If so, the next safest condom choice is a polyurethane or polyisoprene condom. Just tell your pharmacist at the drug store that you’re allergic to latex, and s/he’ll take it from there. On the other hand, lambskin condoms do NOT protect against HIV. The particle size of the virus allows it to maneuver and slip through lambskin.
Condoms alone have never been enough. Did you know that you should always use a water-based lubricant when you use a condom for either vaginal or anal sex?  I want to restate this: that’s water, not petroleum jelly. Water-based lubricants reduce friction and help keep the condom from breaking. Do NOT use an oil-based lubricant (such as petroleum jelly, hand lotion or cooking oil). Oil-based lubricants can damage condoms, making them less effective.
Both male condoms and female condoms will help protect you against HIV and other STIs. If you’ve learned to enjoy sex with a male condom, you can learn to enjoy it with a female condom or a dental dam. Additionally, there are many of you who have contracted STIs. If you wish to continue to enjoy a variety of sexual activities, learning to use the full range of barrier protection may be a better option for you and your partner than abstaining.
Condoms do not provide 100% protection against all STIs, but you are always safer using a condom than not. You can get certain STIs, like herpes or HPV, from contact with your partner’s bare skin, even if one of you is wearing a condom, but condoms lessen the risk. Take the time to explore and inspect each other if you’re confused or concerned about the possibility of your partner having an STI.
Spermicides only serve the purpose of reducing the risk of becoming pregnant. They are ineffective in preventing contraction of HIV and other STIs. They actually irritate rectal and vaginal walls, in effect increasing the chances of HIV infection, should infected fluids come into contact with these areas.
sex-toys-300x285
ABOUT SEX TOYS
This is pretty straightforward. Using sex toys can be safe, but think of staying clean and “not sharing.”

  • It is important that you use soap and water to clean your toys after each use. If the instructions allow for a stronger disinfectant, you may do so.
  • As a rule, don’t share your toys. The nature of how toys are typically used likely increases the risk of vaginal or anal irritation, which increases the risk for HIV or other STI transmission.
  • If you “must” share your toy with your partner while still trying to be safe, use a condom on the toy before you use it, and change the condom before your partner uses it.

circumcision None Required
CIRCUMCISION
We’ve discussed circumcision at length in Straight, No Chaser. (Click here for a dedicated post on circumcision.) There has been ongoing interest and research over the past few years about circumcision and its effect on preventing HIV infection. The bottom line? In 2007, the World Health Organization reported that male circumcision reduced the transmission of HIV by 60% from women to men in three randomized, controlled studies in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa.
There is much less available data for men who have sex with men and how circumcision might affect HIV transmission through anal sex. In addition, recent studies show that circumcision does NOT protect women from contracting HIV from male partners.
Let’s be careful in interpreting the results of these findings.

  • Circumcision is only additionally effective when earlier preventative efforts have not been taken. Advocating circumcision is not an appropriate substitute for any of the numerous safety measures and habits previously discussed to reduce one’s risk for HIV and other STIs.
  • Failure to have a circumcision does NOT increase one’s HIV and other STI risk in the presence of appropriate safe-sex activities.

So there you have it. Knowledge is power. We appreciate that this posting was not balanced by the human decisions and passions that come into place with sexual activity. We recommend that you adopt a posture of “safety first” to create that balance! Good luck, and feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Signs-That-You-are-Probably-An-Alcoholic

With all the focus of late on other forms of drug use and abuse (e.g., methamphetamine, marijuana), alcohol abuse seems to be lacking the attention it deserves. Fully one in six people in the United States has a drinking problem. In this segment of the Straight, No Chaser series on alcohol, we will explore problem drinking.
“Problem drinking” is a way of describing alcohol intake that causes problems with your functioning. Alcohol abuse is an episode or continued excessive alcohol consumption that causes problems with your daily living activities, such as family or job responsibilities. Of course, a single episode of alcohol abuse can cost you your life if you’re an impaired driver who runs into a tree or some other calamity befalls you.

alcoholism

Alcoholism is alcohol dependence, which is comprised of two separate considerations:

  • Physical addiction to a drug is defined by tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance is when you become acclimated to the same dose of drug, meaning, in this case, the same amount of liquor no longer gives you the same buzz. Withdrawal symptoms occur when you experience effects from no longer having the drug in your system.
  • Mental addiction to alcohol is illustrated by its increasingly prominent role in your life. Your life becomes centered around the pursuit and consumption of alcohol. It creates problems with your physical, mental and social health, controlling your life and relationships.

Many of you ask if alcoholism is hereditary. Hereditary means a specific thing medically, so the answer is no. However, we believe genes play a role and increase the risk of alcoholism. It is most likely that genetics “load the gun,” but environment “pulls the trigger.”

AlcoholicGrayscaleDiagram2

Regarding environment, there’s no fixed equation to if and when you’ll become dependent, but there is a correlation with certain activity and an increased risk. Consider the following activities as suggestive of a significant risk for development alcoholism:

  • Men who have 15 or more drinks a week (One drink is either a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.)
  • Women who have 12 or more drinks a week
  • Anyone who has five or more drinks at a time at least once a week
  • Anyone who has a parent with alcoholism

Here are some less hard signs, but these situations also have been shown to increase risk, according to the National Institutes of Health:

  • You are a young adult under peer pressure
  • You have a behavioral health disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia
  • You have easy access to alcohol
  • You have low self-esteem
  • You have problems with relationships
  • You live a stressful lifestyle
  • You live in a culture in which alcohol use is more common and accepted

Feel free to contact your SMA expert consultant if you have any questions on this topic.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC

The Straight, No Chaser Comprehensive Safe Sex Guide

safe-sex-no-regrets
This edition of Straight, No Chaser is a keepsake, whether for your own reference or as a conversation piece/teaching guide for others. I suspect that due to the volume and wealth of information contained within, you’ll refer to this post time and again (or so I hope). For additional information, refer to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention and/or the National Institutes of Health websites.
Talking_Partner_STD
STAYING STD-FREE
The best ways to stay STI free is to confirm it and then avoid it. If you want to reduce your risk of acquiring HIV and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections) through sexual contact, here are your options.

  • Abstain from sex.
  • Be monogamous.
  • Prove both you and your partner(s) are negative. Get yourself and your partner(s) tested, preferably prior to engaging in sexual activity and subsequently every three to six months, especially if you and/or your partner have more than one sexual partner.
  • If and once you establish that you’re STI-free, learn how to use condoms and do so every time you have sex.

A special note about protecting yourself from HIV
HIV can be spread by having unprotected sexual contact with an HIV-positive person. “Unprotected” means any vaginal, anal or oral sex without barrier protection, like a condom or dental dam. Some of the ways to reduce your risk of getting HIV through sexual contact include the following:

  • Don’t have sex. Abstinence is the best way to be certain that you won’t contract HIV. Although HIV is occasionally transmitted in other ways, vaginal, anal and oral sex are the most common ways that HIV is transmitted.
  • Be monogamous. To be clear, this means you are in a sexual relationship with only one person and both of you are having sex only with each other. For the purposes of contracting HIV, sex includes vaginal, oral or anal sexual activity. Monogamy is optimally effective if you also confirm early and often that both you and your partner are not infected with HIV.
  • Get yourself and your sexual partner(s) tested: Knowing your own status is important for both your health and the health of your partner. Talking about your HIV status likely will be difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s important to start the discussion BEFORE you have sex.

Repeal DADT logo-2
FRANKLY, “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” IS JUST DUMB WHEN IT COMES TO STIs.
This is actually quite simple. No excuses. You need to ask your sexual partner(s) and any possible future partners the following questions.

  • Have you been tested for HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and/or chlamydia?
  • When was the last time you were tested for HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and/or chlamydia?
  • If you’ve been tested, what were the results of your tests?

STDlights
SAFER-SEX ACTIVITIES
These activities carry no risk of HIV transmission:

  • Non-sexual massage
  • Casual or dry kissing
  • Masturbation (without your partner’s body fluids)
  • Frottage—also known as “dry humping” or body-to-body rubbing

You can still contract other STIs, like herpes, HPV, or pubic lice (“crabs”) if you have bare skin-to-skin contact with your partner.
howToUseCondoms
CONDOM USE
Here are two questions for both males and females.

  • Have you ever learned how to safely and appropriately use condoms?
  • Do you use condoms consistently?

To maximally reduce your risk of getting HIV or other STIs, you must use a new condom with every act of vaginal, anal or oral sex. If you don’t use them for oral but do for vaginal and anal, you have still lowered your risk, just not as much as you could have. Also, you must use condoms correctly, as depicted in the above diagram, to appropriately reduce your risk. Learning correct usage also will keep condoms from breaking or slipping off, which reintroduces the risks.
I also want you to understand that all condoms are not created equal. Latex condoms are highly effective against HIV and other STIs. Do you or your partner have a latex allergy? If so, the next safest condom choice is a polyurethane or polyisoprene condom. Just tell your pharmacist at the drug store that you’re allergic to latex, and s/he’ll take it from there. On the other hand, lambskin condoms do NOT protect against HIV. The particle size of the virus allows it to maneuver and slip through lambskin.
Condoms alone have never been enough. Did you know that you should always use a water-based lubricant when you use a condom for either vaginal or anal sex?  I want to restate this: that’s water, not petroleum jelly. Water-based lubricants reduce friction and help keep the condom from breaking. Do NOT use an oil-based lubricant (such as petroleum jelly, hand lotion or cooking oil). Oil-based lubricants can damage condoms, making them less effective.
Both male condoms and female condoms will help protect you against HIV and other STIs. If you’ve learned to enjoy sex with a male condom, you can learn to enjoy it with a female condom or a dental dam. Additionally, there are many of you who have contracted STIs. If you wish to continue to enjoy a variety of sexual activities, learning to use the full range of barrier protection may be a better option for you and your partner than abstaining.
Condoms do not provide 100% protection against all STIs, but you are always safer using a condom than not. You can get certain STIs, like herpes or HPV, from contact with your partner’s bare skin, even if one of you is wearing a condom, but condoms lessen the risk. Take the time to explore and inspect each other if you’re confused or concerned about the possibility of your partner having an STI.
Spermicides only serve the purpose of reducing the risk of becoming pregnant. They are ineffective in preventing contraction of HIV and other STIs. They actually irritate rectal and vaginal walls, in effect increasing the chances of HIV infection should infected fluids come into contact with these areas.
sex-toys-300x285
ABOUT SEX TOYS
This is pretty straightforward. Using sex toys can be safe, but think of staying clean and “not sharing.”

  • It is important that you use soap and water to clean your toys after each use. If the instructions allow for a stronger disinfectant, you may do so.
  • As a rule, don’t share your toys. The nature of how toys are typically used likely increases the risk of vaginal or anal irritation, which increases the risk for HIV or other STI transmission.
  • If you “must” share your toy with your partner while still trying to be safe, use a condom on the toy before you use it, and change the condom before your partner uses it.

circumcision None Required
CIRCUMCISION
We’ve discussed circumcision at length in Straight, No Chaser. (Click here for a dedicated post on circumcision.) There has been ongoing interest and research over the past few years about circumcision and its effect on preventing HIV infection. The bottom line? In 2007, the World Health Organization reported that male circumcision reduced the transmission of HIV by 60% from women to men in three randomized, controlled studies in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa.
There is much less available data for men who have sex with men and how circumcision might affect HIV transmission through anal sex. In addition, recent studies show that circumcision does NOT protect women from contracting HIV from male partners.
Let’s be careful in interpreting the results of these findings.

  • Circumcision is only additionally effective when earlier preventative efforts have not been taken. Advocating circumcision is not an appropriate substitute for any of the numerous safety measures and habits previously discussed to reduce one’s risk for HIV and other STIs.
  • Failure to have a circumcision does NOT increase one’s HIV and other STI risk in the presence of appropriate safe-sex activities.

So there you have it. Knowledge is power. We appreciate that this posting was not balanced by the human decisions and passions that come into place with sexual activity. We recommend that you adopt a posture of “safety first” to create that balance! Good luck, and feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA). Enjoy some of our favorite posts and frequently asked questions as well as a daily note explaining the benefits of SMA membership. Please share our page with your Friends on WordPress, on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

The Straight, No Chaser Comprehensive Safe Sex Guide

safe-sex-no-regrets
This edition of Straight, No Chaser is a keepsake, whether for your own reference or as a conversation piece/teaching guide for others. I suspect that due to the volume and wealth of information contained within, you’ll refer to this post time and again (or so I hope). For additional information, refer to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention and/or the National Institutes of Health websites.
Talking_Partner_STD
STAYING STD-FREE
The best ways to stay STI free is to confirm it and then avoid it. If you want to reduce your risk of acquiring HIV and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections) through sexual contact, here are your options.

  • Abstain from sex.
  • Be monogamous.
  • Prove both you and your partner(s) are negative. Get yourself and your partner(s) tested, preferably prior to engaging in sexual activity and subsequently every three to six months, especially if you and/or your partner have more than one sexual partner.
  • If and once you establish that you’re STI-free, learn how to use condoms and do so every time you have sex.

A special note about protecting yourself from HIV
HIV can be spread by having unprotected sexual contact with an HIV-positive person. “Unprotected” means any vaginal, anal or oral sex without barrier protection, like a condom or dental dam. Some of the ways to reduce your risk of getting HIV through sexual contact include the following:

  • Don’t have sex. Abstinence is the best way to be certain that you won’t contract HIV. Although HIV is occasionally transmitted in other ways, vaginal, anal and oral sex are the most common ways that HIV is transmitted.
  • Be monogamous. To be clear, this means you are in a sexual relationship with only one person and both of you are having sex only with each other. For the purposes of contracting HIV, sex includes vaginal, oral or anal sex activity. Monogamy is optimally effective if you also confirm early and often that both you and your partner are not infected with HIV.
  • Get yourself and your sexual partner(s) tested: Knowing your own status is important for both your health and the health of your partner. Talking about your HIV status likely will be difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s important to start the discussion BEFORE you have sex.

Repeal DADT logo-2
FRANKLY, “DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL” IS JUST DUMB WHEN IT COMES TO STIs.
This is actually quite simple. No excuses. You need to ask your sexual partner(s) and any possible future partners the following questions.

  • Have you been tested for HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and/or chlamydia?
  • When was the last time you were tested for HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis and/or chlamydia?
  • If you’ve been tested, what were the results of your tests?

STDlights
SAFER-SEX ACTIVITIES
These activities carry no risk of HIV transmission:

  • Non-sexual massage
  • Casual or dry kissing
  • Masturbation (without your partner’s body fluids)
  • Frottage—also known as “dry humping” or body-to-body rubbing

You can still contract other STIs, like herpes, HPV, or pubic lice (“crabs”) if you have bare skin-to-skin contact with your partner.
howToUseCondoms
CONDOM USE
Here are two questions for both males and females.

  • Have you ever learned how to safely and appropriately use condoms?
  • Do you use condoms consistently?

To maximally reduce your risk of getting HIV or other STIs, you must use a new condom with every act of vaginal, anal or oral sex. If you don’t use them for oral but do for vaginal and anal, you have still lowered your risk, just not as much as you could have. Also, you must use condoms correctly, as depicted in the above diagram, to appropriately reduce your risk. Learning correct usage also will keep condoms from breaking or slipping off, which reintroduces the risks.
I also want you to understand that all condoms are not created equal. Latex condoms are highly effective against HIV and other STIs. Do you or your partner have a latex allergy? If so, the next safest condom choice is a polyurethane or polyisoprene condom. Just tell your pharmacist at the drug store that you’re allergic to latex, and s/he’ll take it from there. On the other hand, lambskin condoms do NOT protect against HIV. The particle size of the virus allows it to maneuver and slip through lambskin.
Condoms alone have never been enough. Did you know that you should always use a water-based lubricant when you use a condom for either vaginal or anal sex?  I want to restate this: that’s water, not petroleum jelly. Water-based lubricants reduce friction and help keep the condom from breaking. Do NOT use an oil-based lubricant (such as petroleum jelly, hand lotion or cooking oil). Oil-based lubricants can damage condoms, making them less effective.
Both male condoms and female condoms will help protect you against HIV and other STIs. If you’ve learned to enjoy sex with a male condom, you can learn to enjoy it with a female condom or a dental dam. Additionally, there are many of you who have contracted STIs. If you wish to continue to enjoy a variety of sexual activities, learning to use the full range of barrier protection may be a better option for you and your partner than abstaining.
Condoms do not provide 100% protection against all STIs, but you are always safer using a condom than not. You can get certain STIs, like herpes or HPV, from contact with your partner’s bare skin, even if one of you is wearing a condom, but condoms lessen the risk. Take the time to explore and inspect each other if you’re confused or concerned about the possibility of your partner having an STI.
Spermicides only serve the purpose of reducing the risk of becoming pregnant. They are ineffective in preventing contraction of HIV and other STIs. They actually irritate rectal and vaginal walls, in effect increasing the chances of HIV infection should infected fluids come into contact with these areas.
sex-toys-300x285
ABOUT SEX TOYS
This is pretty straightforward. Using sex toys can be safe, but think of staying clean and “not sharing.”

  • It is important that you use soap and water to clean your toys after each use. If the instructions allow for a stronger disinfectant, you may do so.
  • As a rule, don’t share your toys. The nature of how toys are typically used likely increases the risk of vaginal or anal irritation, which increases the risk for HIV or other STI transmission.
  • If you “must” share your toy with your partner while still trying to be safe, use a condom on the toy before you use it, and change the condom before your partner uses it.

circumcision None Required
CIRCUMCISION
We’ve discussed circumcision at length in Straight, No Chaser. (Click here for a dedicated post on circumcision.) There has been ongoing interest and research over the past few years about circumcision and its effect on preventing HIV infection. The bottom line? In 2007, the World Health Organization reported that male circumcision reduced the transmission of HIV by 60% from women to men in three randomized, controlled studies in Uganda, Kenya, and South Africa.
There is much less available data for men who have sex with men and how circumcision might affect HIV transmission through anal sex. In addition, recent studies show that circumcision does NOT protect women from contracting HIV from male partners.
Let’s be careful in interpreting the results of these findings.

  • Circumcision is only additionally effective when earlier preventative efforts have not been taken. Advocating circumcision is not an appropriate substitute for any of the numerous safety measures and habits previously discussed to reduce one’s risk for HIV and other STIs.
  • Failure to have a circumcision does NOT increase one’s HIV and other STI risk in the presence of appropriate safe-sex activities.

So there you have it. Knowledge is power. We appreciate that this posting was not balanced by the human decisions and passions that come into place with sexual activity. We recommend that you adopt a posture of “safety first” to create that balance! Good luck, and feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2013 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Straight Talk About Vasectomies

vasectomy
A couple’s conversation about having a vasectomy can either be a tense one or it can be a display of trust and cohesion. The decision by a man to have a vasectomy can be a soul-searching “moment of truth.” In this Straight, No Chaser, let’s look at seven of the issues surrounding vasectomies. At the end there’s an illustration of the procedure. Yes, it involves a clip.
A vasectomy is a surgical procedure that involves cutting the tube (the vas deferens) that carries sperm from the scrotum to the testes. The vasectomy prevents sperm from leaving the testes so that the man can’t impregnate a woman.
Issue 1: Why would you want it?
The answer to this is relatively straightforward. You’d want a vasectomy if you don’t want any, or any more, children. This is a form of sterilization.
Issue 2: When would it be a good option?
If you’re in a relationship and both partners agree that you’ve either had all the children you want or don’t want the risk of having any children, a vasectomy would be a reasonable option. Other considerations may include if you can’t use other forms of birth control, if pregnancy would be medically unsafe, or if the risk of genetic disease or a birth defect in your offspring is greater than you’re willing to accept.
Issue 3: When wouldn’t it be a good option?
This gets a little dicey and relates to levels of instability, either in your relationship or other personal situations. A decision to have a vasectomy to please your partner or salvage a relationship may not be the best choice. If you’re young or unmarried, you are subject to many life changes that may prompt reevaluating whether you really want a child. For example, if you marry/remarry, children may become more important than they currently are. A vasectomy is a surgical procedure with risks. A decision to have it done as a convenience (e.g., because you are unreliable or don’t want to use other forms of birth control) is irresponsible.
Issue 4: How successful is the procedure?
Vasectomies are very successful and have a failure rate of approximately 1 in 2,000. Comparatively speaking, the analogous procedure in females (tubal ligation) has a failure rate of 1 in 200-300. Typical failure rates are due to having sex too soon after the procedure. It takes time for existing sperm to be cleared from both ends of the vas deferens; that existing sperm can still impregnate a woman. This is a major reason why men should wait a week after the surgery and until the sperm count has been documented to be zero in the seminal fluid. To a much lesser extent, rare spontaneous reconnection of the clipped portions of the vas deferens may produce failures.
Issue 5: What complications exist?
Vasectomies are generally very safe, and the complications associated with it are those seen with any surgery. These include pain, swelling and infection. Remember, as we just discussed, the circumstances under which post-vasectomy pregnancies can occur.
Issue 6: What happens should I choose to have it reversed?
It is important for men considering a vasectomy to read and fully understand the next sentence. If you have a vasectomy, you should not consider it reversible. That said, you can spend a lot of money for a microsurgical reversal procedure that is successful about 50% of the time if done within 10 years of the vasectomy and approximately 25% of the time if done after 10 years. Be advised that such reversals are associated with a higher level of birth defects.
Issue 7: About what other considerations should I be concerned?

  • Men seemingly are most often concerned about post-vasectomy ability to have an erection or orgasm. Vasectomies do not diminish a man’s ability to have either.
  • You should be concerned about the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which a vasectomy does not prevent. A false sense of confidence may exist after a vasectomy knowing that pregnancy is extremely unlikely, but that has nothing to do with STIs. In fact the greater inclination to have unprotected sex after a vasectomy may put men at greater risk for transmitting or receiving STIs.
  • Vasectomies do not increase the risk of testicular or prostate cancer.

Most men are satisfied with vasectomies, because most men who have vasectomies do so in the context of a stable and healthy relationship. Men who are most likely to seek reversals do so in the context of unexpected life events (e.g., new partner/marriage with a desire for kids). Sometimes their reconsideration is in response to a tragedy. If you are considering a vasectomy, please only do so after a solemn view of the rest of your life. If you believe it to be stable, you will likely be satisfied with the outcome.
The following clip (click the link) is courtesy of the National Institutes of Health and demonstrates the logistics of the various approaches to the procedure. Feel free to leave any comments or ask any questions you may have.
Vasectomy
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Straight, No Chaser: Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Signs-That-You-are-Probably-An-Alcoholic

With all the focus of late on other forms of drug use and abuse (e.g., methamphetamine, marijuana), alcohol abuse seems to be lacking the attention it deserves. Fully one in six people in the United States has a drinking problem. In this segment of the Straight, No Chaser series on alcohol, we will explore problem drinking.
For an additional personal look at if you drink too much, click here.
“Problem drinking” is a way of describing alcohol intake that causes problems with your functioning. Alcohol abuse is an episode or continued excessive alcohol consumption that causes problems with your daily living activities, such as family or job responsibilities. Of course, a single episode of alcohol abuse can cost you your life if you’re an impaired driver who runs into a tree or some other calamity befalls you.
Alcoholism is alcohol dependence, which is comprised of two separate considerations:

  • Physical addiction to a drug is defined by tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance is when you become acclimated to the same dose of drug, meaning, in this case, the same amount of liquor no longer gives you the same buzz. Withdrawal symptoms occur when you experience effects from no longer having the drug in your system.
  • Mental addiction to alcohol is illustrated by its increasingly prominent role in your life. Your life becomes centered around the pursuit and consumption of alcohol. It creates problems with your physical, mental and social health, controlling your life and relationships.

Many of you ask if alcoholism is hereditary. Hereditary means a specific thing medically, so the answer is no. However, we believe genes play a role and increase the risk of alcoholism. It is most likely that genetics “load the gun,” but environment “pulls the trigger.”
Regarding environment, there’s no fixed equation to if and when you’ll become dependent, but there is a correlation with certain activity and an increased risk. Consider the following activities as suggestive of a significant risk for development alcoholism:

  • Men who have 15 or more drinks a week (One drink is either a 12-ounce bottle of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.)
  • Women who have 12 or more drinks a week
  • Anyone who has five or more drinks at a time at least once a week
  • Anyone who has a parent with alcoholism

Here are some less hard signs, but these situations also have been shown to increase risk, according to the National Institutes of Health:

  • You are a young adult under peer pressure
  • You have a behavioral health disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia
  • You have easy access to alcohol
  • You have low self-esteem
  • You have problems with relationships
  • You live a stressful lifestyle
  • You live in a culture in which alcohol use is more common and accepted

Feel free to contact your SMA expert consultant if you have any questions on this topic.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Straight, No Chaser: What are the Symptoms of HIV and AIDS?

This is the third in an ongoing series on HIV and AIDS.

  • For an explanation of what AIDS is, click here.
  • For an explanation of how HIV is contracted, click here.

The National Institutes of Health has a nice method of categorizing HIV signs and symptoms, which I’ll replicate here. There are several take home messages, and I’ll use the pictures to communicate them.

HIV signs-symptoms-2
HIV Positive Without Symptoms
Many people who are HIV-positive do not have symptoms of HIV infection, and symptoms only evolve as their condition deteriorates toward AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). Sometimes people living with HIV go through periods of being sick and then feel fine.
HIV signs-symptoms2
Signs and Symptoms of Early HIV
As early as two–four weeks after exposure to HIV (but sometimes as far out as three months later), people can experience an acute illness, often described as “the worst flu ever.” This is called acute retrovirus syndrome (ARS) or primary HIV infection. This represents the body’s natural response to HIV infection. During primary HIV infection, there are higher levels of virus circulating in the blood, which means that people can more easily transmit the virus to others.
Symptoms resemble a flu-like syndrome, including fever, chills, nights sweats, muscle aches and fatigue. Other symptoms may include a rash, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and ulcers in mouth. It is important to state that not everyone gets ARS when they become infected with HIV.
hiv-and-aids ss3
Signs and Symptoms of Chronic or Latent Phase HIV
After the initial infection and seroconversion, the virus becomes less active in the body, although it is still present. During this period, many people do not have any symptoms of HIV infection. This period is called the ‘chronic’ or ‘latency’ phase. This period can last up to 10 years—sometimes longer.

HIV opportunistic-infections-4

Signs and Symptoms of AIDS
While the virus itself can sometimes cause people to feel sick, most of the severe symptoms and illnesses of HIV disease come from the opportunistic infections that attack the infected individual’s compromised immune system.
When HIV infection progresses to AIDS, many people begin to suffer from fatigue, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, night sweats, and even wasting syndrome at late stages.
Unless symptoms are discovered late, HIV/AIDS is much better being diagnosed early based on risk factors and exposures. That said, use the knowledge provided to prompt evaluation and testing.
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Straight, No Chaser: What is AIDS?

HIV

This is the first blog in an ongoing series on HIV and AIDS.

  • For an explanation of how HIV is contracted, click here.
  • For an explanation of the signs and symptoms of HIV/AIDS is, click here.

After all these years, it’s still an interesting and important enough question to ask and to know how to answer. Most know that AIDS is a devastating disease caused by the HIV virus. However, courtesy of the National Institutes of Health, consider the following:
A – Acquired – AIDS is not something you inherit from your parents. You acquire AIDS after birth.
I – Immuno – Your body’s immune system includes all the organs and cells that work to fight off infection or disease.
D – Deficiency – You get AIDS when your immune system is “deficient,” or isn’t working the way it should.
S – Syndrome – A syndrome is a collection of symptoms and signs of disease. AIDS is a syndrome, rather than a single disease, because it is a complex illness with a wide range of complications and symptoms.
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is the final stage of HIV infection. People at this stage of HIV disease have badly damaged immune systems, which put them at risk for opportunistic infections.
You will be diagnosed with AIDS if you have one or more specific opportunistic infections, certain cancers (such as Kaposi’s sarcoma) or a very low number of CD4 cells (a measure of the strength of your immune systems function).  If you have AIDS, you will need medical intervention and treatment to prevent death.
Check back to Straight, No Chaser for additional posts on HIV/AIDS, including risk factors and symptoms, progression/complications and treatment.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

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