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When having sex, still better to be safe than sorry…

It is worth noting that while some of the STIs are very treatable, some are actually life threatening (e.g. HIV), so real action (particularly – and to start – in terms of education) is needed to stop the worrying upward trend.

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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are still on the rise. That is the news that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has continuously delivered. And to prove the point is the stark data – e.g. since 2013, infections of syphilis alone has increased by 15.1%.

Many will wonder at the reasons for the rise, and while no single factor can be pinpointed, there are nonetheless few factors worth considering – e.g.:

  • More people are getting tested (thus test to have been infected). Testing facilities are now more accessible, and even DIY testing is now more accessible (and cheaper).
  • Normalizing of casual sex particularly in today’s app-crazy world. In fact, online dating sites like Tinder and Grindr are ubiquitous and it is almost the case that if you are single and you don’t have a profile on one of these sites, you’re socially weird. As people become more sexually free, they may accumulate more sexual partners. Subsequently, some may forego safer sexual practices, thus the risk for getting infections.

This infographic from Carvaka Adult Toys shows some info about the seriousness of the situation.

What men need to know about STDs

Some questions worth asking oneself: An interest in casual sex is fine and can be healthy for an individual but only when safe sex is practised; but who really wants a nasty infection as a result of a roll on the sheets? Is it really worth the stress of waiting for test results, taking medication and ultimately your health?

READ:  #REDxSUMMER slated on March 29

It is worth noting that while some of the STIs are very treatable, some are actually life threatening (e.g. HIV), so real action (particularly – and to start – in terms of education) is needed to stop the worrying upward trend.

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Gender-affirming hormone therapy impacts results of lab tests for trans patients

The fact that many medical protocols do not account for sex/gender incongruence is a significant barrier for transgender individuals seeking healthcare.

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Gender-affirming hormone therapy markedly impacts the results of common laboratory tests for transgender patients. This is according to a study that underscores the need for transgender-specific reference intervals to ensure this underserved population receives accurate diagnoses and effective treatments.

The fact that many medical protocols do not account for sex/gender incongruence is a significant barrier for transgender individuals seeking healthcare. In particular, for the nearly 50% of transgender individuals on hormone therapy, the medical field has yet to define reference intervals, which are the ranges of test result values observed in a healthy population that are used to determine whether individual lab results are normal or concerning.

Without tailored reference intervals, test results for transgender patients on hormone therapy could indicate an underlying condition but go unrecognized if they are considered normal for cisgender individuals (those whose gender matches their assigned-at-birth sex). Conversely, if lab results for transgender patients fall outside of cisgender reference intervals, they could trigger unnecessary follow-up work even if the results are actually normal.

To help build the case for developing transgender reference intervals, a research team led by Jeff SoRelle, MD, of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, investigated whether transgender patients on hormone therapy exhibit altered results for laboratory tests ordered during yearly check-ups. The study authors recorded lab values for a complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic panel, and lipid tests in 264 healthy transgender patients undergoing hormone therapy in transgender clinics from 2007 to 2017. Of these patients, 133 were taking estradiol to transition from male to female, and 89 were taking testosterone to transition from female to male. The scientists also gathered lab results for 149 transgender patients not undergoing hormone therapy to serve as a point of comparison.

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From this, the researchers determined that both transgender women and men taking hormones displayed altered values for measures of red blood cell, kidney, and liver health. Transgender women taking hormones also had altered sodium, calcium, total protein, glucose, and platelet levels, while transgender men taking hormones displayed altered lipid values. Interpretation of these altered test results in the context of cisgender reference intervals could have serious consequences, from preventing diagnosis of anemia or kidney disease to affecting assessment of cardiovascular disease risk.

“Transgender patients will need their own reference ranges for several important parameters such as hemoglobin and creatinine,” said SoRelle. “It will also be important to determine whether proteins from cardiac muscle or the prostate, such as troponins or prostate specific antigen, are altered, too, which could affect diagnosis of heart attacks and prostate cancer.”

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Health & Wellness

Ban needed on ‘torturous’ electroconvulsive therapy

Electroshock’s brutal and sordid history ranges from its use to help slaughter pigs, to punishment, painful “aversion therapy” on homosexuals, inflicting brain damage on children and others, and to torture humans.

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Mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) International announced that a ban of electroshock treatment — the practice of up to 460 volts of electricity to the brain to “treat mental disorder” — should be imminent in light of increasing reports of patients being damaged and deaths.

In Texas in the US, the only state to record deaths within 14 days of electroshock being administered, reported a death rate in recent years that represents an estimated 300 deaths nationally each year. The most frequent causes of death have been cardiac events and suicide, according to one study [1].

Electroshock’s brutal and sordid history ranges from its use to help slaughter pigs, to punishment, painful “aversion therapy” on homosexuals, inflicting brain damage on children and others, and to torture humans.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never obtained a single clinical trial from the manufacturers of the electroshock devices proving their safety and efficacy. Under Section 516 of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, the FDA has a duty to ban devices that present “substantial deception or unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury.” Electroshock, also called electroconvulsive therapy or ECT, can cause brain damage, long-term memory loss and death, constituting more than a “substantial risk” and is far from safe and effective, according to thousands of survivors’ complaints.[2] Ignoring these dangers, the FDA has instead limited bans under this Section to prohibiting the use of powdered gloves in medical or surgical procedures and prosthetic hair fiber implants that may trigger inflammation and hypersensitivity reactions, the latter, the FDA says, were misrepresented in marketing as “safe, effective and causing little or no discomfort.”

While the FDA allows the ECT device to remain on the market, it doesn’t regulate how it is used, giving psychiatrists a free-for-all to administer it to whomever they choose. This has meant that children younger than five and toddlers have been subjected to the violence of this shock procedure in at least five states that CCHR has established through Freedom of Information Act requests. Despite a report from the United Nations committee on Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment that warns electroshock without consent constitutes torture, ECT continues to be given to involuntary patients without consent.[3]

Pregnant women and their unborn babies are also not protected from ECT, despite the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiology saying that ECT is “absolutely contraindicated” in pregnancy.[4] Researchers of Maine Medical Center have found brain damage in a baby whose mother had undergone ECT while pregnant.[5] The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine also warns of potential spontaneous abortion, placental abruption, cardiac arrhythmias, fetal burn and intrauterine fetal death when a pregnant woman experiences general electrical shock.[6] Yet, the APA claims that it’s safe during all trimesters.[7]

Jan Eastgate, president of CCHR International, said: “Electroshock is mental euthanasia, with a long history of being used for torture and abuse. Electric shock eradicates memory. It should never be condoned or permitted because quite apart from its inhuman aspects, patients consider it bluntly criminal, especially when forced on them. Psychiatrists and the FDA pass off electric shock machines as wonderful, even though they can kill patients.” Sign CCHR’s Petition to Ban the Electroshock (ECT) Device.

READ:  Same-day HIV testing & treatment improves outcomes for PLHIVs

The impact of any electrical shock upon a body for any purpose is very dangerous. Researchers from the University of Montreal have shown that any electric shock above 120 volts can “cause neurologic and neuropsychological symptoms in humans. Following an electrical injury, some patients may show various emotional and behavioral aftereffects, such as memory loss and symptoms of depression.”[8] ECT uses up to 460 volts, deliberately inducing a grand mal seizure that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) says can last up to 30 minutes.

ECT: Slaughters Pigs and Tortures

ECT was invented in fascist Italy in 1937 by psychiatrist Ugo CerlettiDarius Rejali, author of Torture and Modernity, wrote of Cerletti “having killed a few dogs by experimentation” and then “discovered that Roman slaughterhouses used electrocution to slaughter pigs.” Cerletti “discovered that pigs could be shocked several times and would revive after a few minutes.” He then applied ECT to humans, his first victim screaming that it was “deadly.” “The torture and ‘treatments’ of the insane” historically has derived from the “application to animals in abattoirs,” Rejali stated.[9]

Cerletti’s device very rapidly pressed into political service, Rejali said. In August 2017, a paper published in History of Psychiatry documented how “The Nazi political and medical establishment” regarded ECT as a means “to empty psychiatric institutions, thereby relieving the state of the burden…” Psychiatrist Emil Gelny “added four extra electrodes to existing ECT machines, which were attached to patients’ wrists and ankles to deliver the lethal shocks after patients were knocked unconscious by the initial current applied to the head.”[10]

In the 1950s, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) expressed considerable interest in ECT devices. In 1951, Project Artichoke, then MK-ULTRA under Deputy CIA Director Richard Helms in 1953, aimed to control human behavior through hallucinogenic drugs and electroshock.[11] Dr. Ewen Cameron, the first president of the World Psychiatric Association, while professor of psychiatry at McGill University in Canada in the 1950s and 60s, developed his own version of shock treatment, using the UK Page-Russell electroshock device invented in 1948. Cameron called his shock technique “de-patterning” deliberately wiping out patient memories by the use of intensive ECT. The CIA funded his work.[12] He described the procedure on a patient to the 2nd World Congress of Psychiatry in 1957, stating: “There is complete amnesia for all events of his life.”[13]

Electroshock ‘took away her soul’

In 2017, 60 years after Cameron’s experiments left her mother damaged for life, Alison Steel obtained a $100,000settlement from the Canadian government over Cameron’s experiments. “She was never able to really function as a healthy human being because of what they did to her,” Steel stated. “Her emotions were stripped. It took away her soul.”[14]

Electroshock is also used for torture, including on prisoners of the French during the 1954-62 Algerian War.[15] Journalist Gordon Thomas reported that in 1961, Moroccan king Hassan II’s security service was fully staffed with doctors who supervised a wide range of tortures of political detainees using several Page-Russell electroshock machines.[16] Chinese dissidents and members of the religious group The Falun Gong are still subjected to electroshock and “other barbaric forms of torture designed by prison guards to humiliate and inflict maximum pain.”[17]

READ:  New study claims that one orgasm a day could reduce prostate cancer risk

Until 1973, when the APA de-classified homosexuality as a mental disorder, electroshock treatment was used in an effort to prevent or eliminate homosexual behavior.[18] Other forms of shock included jolts of electricity administered to the skin and body, sometimes directly to the genitals.[19] Voltage of such devices ranged anywhere from 150-200 volts and on children for behavioral control, 300-400 volts.[20] Allegations that psychiatrists and any others recommending ECT to treat the LGBT community today are homophobic and cruel, CCHR says.[21]

Brain Damage and Memory Loss

Yet the FDA and APA continue to ignore the perils of ECT.

  • In March 2016, a coroner from Sunderland County in the UK determined Elsie Tindle died after electroshock triggered an epileptic fit which caused irreparable brain damage.[22]
  • A 2012 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported a considerable “decrease in functional connectivity” between the prefrontal lobes of the brain and other parts of the brain after ECT. The most extensive long-term follow-up study indicates that “most ECT patients will never recover from the damage in the form of persistent severe mental deficits.”[23]
  • Austin, Texas, psychologist John Breeding, who heads the Coalition for the Abolition of Electroshock, said, “The bottom line is that ECT ‘works’ to the extent that it damages and disables the brain.”[24] Breeding dispels psychiatric theories that the procedure is safer today than its “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” days in the 60s. He says that ECT has more potential for harm than ever. Much higher voltages are employed in the modern procedure because muscle relaxants and anesthetics raise the seizure threshold, with more electricity required to produce a seizure. The greater heat and electricity themselves cause more brain cell death, he says. He concludes “Given what we know about the resulting brain damage, I think this is a form of assault…”[25]
  • Leading ECT researcher and advocate, psychologist Harold Sackeim admitted in an editorial in The Journal of ECT that “virtually all patients experience some degree of persistent and, likely, permanent retrograde amnesia.”[26] In a January 2007 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology, Sackeim and colleagues acknowledged that ECT may cause permanent amnesia and permanent deficits in cognitive abilities, which affect ability to function.[27]
  • In 2005, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Denise de Bellefeuille ruled that a psychiatrist and Santa Barbarapsychiatric facility deceived its patients by failing to tell them that ECT causes irreversible memory loss. The psychiatrist (who had performed shock treatment for over 20 years), admitted that neither he nor anyone else understands how shock treatment works, and that the consent form Johnson provided to patients was “decidedly misleading in a critical regard,” concerning the permanency of memory loss.[28]

Last year, psychologist John Read, professor of clinical psychology at the University of East London concluded from a comprehensive review of 91 studies on ECT that “Given the well-documented high risk of persistent memory dysfunction, the cost-benefit analysis for ECT remains so poor that its use cannot be scientifically, or ethically, justified.”[29]

Eastgate says, “To treat mental problems by electric shocks is brutality in the name of mental health care. The high death rate, severe memory loss and the brain atrophy and damage ECT causes warrants it being banned under existing FDA law.”

READ:  Uh–oh… Using saliva for lubricant may not be good for you!

REFERENCES:

[1] “An Analysis of Reported Deaths Following Electroconvulsive Therapy in Texas, 1993-1998,” 1 Aug 2001https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ps.52.8.1095.

[2] Jonathan Emord & Associates, Citizens Petition filed with the FDA Commissioner, 14 Aug. 2016, pp. 14, 27 and 42, http://emord.com/blawg/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/1-ECT-Citizen-Petition.pdf.

[3] A/HRC/22/53, “Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez,” United Nations, General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Twenty-second Session, Agenda Item 3, 1 Feb. 2013, p. 1, Summary.

[4] https://www.wfsahq.org/documents/306%20Anaesthesia%20for%20Electro-convulsive%20Therapy%20ECT.pdf.

[5] http://www.mindfreedom.org/kb/mental-health-abuse/electroshock/pregnancy-study, citing Jacquelyn BlackstoneMichael G. PinetteCamille SantarpioJoseph R. Wax, “Electroconvulsive Therapy in Pregnancy.” Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2007, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, http://greenjournal.org/cgi/content/short/110/2/465.

[6] “Electric shock in pregnancy: a review,” The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, Vol. 29, 2014, Issue 2, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/14767058.2014.1000295?journalCode=ijmf20.

[7] https://www.healthyplace.com/depression/articles/electroconvulsive-therapy-during-pregnancy.

[8] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080515113311.htmUniversity of Montreal. “Electric Shocks Can Cause Neurologic And Neuropsychological Symptoms.” ScienceDaily16 May 2008https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080515113311.htm.

[9] Darius Rejali, “Electricity: The Global History Of A Torture Technology,” http://www.reed.edu/poli_sci/faculty/rejali/articles/History_of_Electric_Torture.htmlPetr Skrabanek, PhD., “Convulsive Therapy – A Critical Appraisal of its Origins and Value,” Irish f’.’lcdicaIJourIlo,, June 1986, Volume 79, No. 6.

[10] https://psmag.com/news/nazis-ruin-everything; G Gazdag, GS Ungvari, and H Czech, “Mass killing under the guise of ECT: the darkest chapter in the history of biological psychiatry,” History of Psychiatry, Sage Publications, 2017.

[11] Stephen Lendman, “Meet Maryam Ruhullah: A Victim of MK-ULTRA,” Countercurrents.org16 Feb. 2010https://www.countercurrents.org/lendman160210.htm.

[12] Leonard Roy Frank, “Electroshock: Death, Brain Damage, Memory Loss, and Brainwashing,” The Journal of Mind and Behaviour, Summer and Autumn 1990; Leonard Roy Frank, Editor, “The Electroshock Quotationary,” June 2006http://www.endofshock.com/102C_ECT.pdfhttp://www.brown.uk.com/brownlibrary/FRANK.htm.

[13] Op. cit.Leonard Roy Frank, “The Electroshock Quotationary.”

[14] https://stillnessinthestorm.com/2017/11/canadian-government-quietly-compensates-daughter-of-mkultra-victi/.

[15] Leonard Roy Frank, Editor, The History of Shock Treatment, 1978.

[16] Gordon ThomasJourney Into Madness, The True Story of Secret CIA Mind Control and Medical Abuse, (Bantam Books) 1989.

[17] https://www.news.com.au/world/asia/extreme-torture-inside-chinas-correctional-facilities/news-story/7e4a796bc1401d593f5cc58d7fd32ecb.

[18] Patrick Strudwick, “This Gay Man Was Given Repeated Electric Shocks By British Doctors to Make Him Straight,” Buzz Feed30 Sept 2017https://www.buzzfeed.com/patrickstrudwick/this-gay-man-was-given-repeated-electric-shocks-by-british?utm_term=.orlQxe4JR#.coV1dRZOn.

[19] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/jamie-scot/shock-the-gay-away-secrets-of-early-gay-aversion-therapy-revealed_b_3497435.htmlhttps://www.madinamerica.com/2014/09/fda-panel-rejects-aversive-therapy-shock-devices/https://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/07/inside_judge_rotenberg_center.html.

[20] https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/09/fda-panel-rejects-aversive-therapy-shock-devices/https://books.google.com/books?id=qpcuDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT137&lpg=PT137&dq=aversion+therapy+electroshock+used+70+volts+of+electricity&source=bl&ots=3dqOdCCa7X&sig=-ddCLbjl6FUOI6LspJdjZEBm4-M&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiawZX-p8fcAhWWFjQIHf8ACNk4ChDoATADegQIAxAB#v=onepage&q=aversion%20therapy%20electroshock%20used%2070%20volts%20of%20electricity&f=false.

[21] Emily Reynolds, “The cruel, dangerous reality of gay conversion therapy,” Wired7 July 2018https://www.wired.co.uk/article/what-is-gay-conversion-therapy.

[22] Petra Silfverskiold, “Electric shock therapy led to Sunderland patient having permanent fit,” Daily Mail (UK), 10 Mar. 2016http://www.sunderlandecho.com/news/local/all-news/electric-shock-therapy-led-to-sunderland-patient-having-permanent-fit-1-7786233.

[23] Peter Breggin, “New Study Confirms Electroshock (ECT) Causes Brain Damage,” Huffington Post, 9 Apr. 2012https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-peter-breggin/electroshock-treatment_b_1373619.html.

[24] John Breeding, Ph.D., “Electroshocking Children: Why It Should Be Stopped,” Mad in America11 Feb. 2014https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/02/electroshocking-children-stopped/.

[25] Op. cit.John Breeding, Ph.D., “Electroshocking Children: Why It Should Be Stopped”; John Breeding, Ph.D., “Chapter 9: Electroshock,” http://www.wildestcolts.com/psych_opp/d-electroshock/1-shock.html.

[26] IbidJohn Breeding, Ph.D., “Electroshocking Children: Why It Should Be Stopped.”

[27] Ibid., citing, Sackeim et al., “The Cognitive Effects of Electroconvulsive Therapy in Community Settings” Neuropsychopharmacology, Volume 32, Number 1, 2007.

[28] Charles D. Morgan, “Milestone case: Hospital ordered to cease shocking patients,” https://suemypsychiatrist.wordpress.com/category/ect/.

[29] John ReadChelsea Arnold, “Is Electroconvulsive Therapy for Depression More Effective Than Placebo? A Systematic Review of Studies Since 2009,” Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry Volume 19, Number 1, 2017, pp. 5-23(19), http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/springer/ehpp/2017/00000019/00000001/art00002.

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Only 25% of trans youth feel care providers are helpful about their sexual health issues

Only 25% of transgender youth feel that their primary care providers (PCPs) are helpful about the sexual health issues of gender and sexual minorities (GSMs).

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Only 25% of transgender youth feel that their primary care providers (PCPs) are helpful about the sexual health issues of gender and sexual minorities (GSMs). This is according to a study that explored trans youth’s perceptions regarding encounters with PCPs related to GSM identity and sexual health.

In “Perceived Barriers to HIV Prevention Services for Transgender Youth” – written by Celia B. Fisher, Adam L. Fried, Margaret Desmond, Kathryn Macapagal and Brian Mustanski for LGBT Health – it was posited that many trans youth lack access to trans affirming care, which may put them at risk for HIV.

So researchers surveyed youth ages 14–21 (N = 228; 45% trans masculine, 41% trans feminine, 14% gender nonbinary) on GSM identity disclosure and acceptance, gender-affirming services, sexual health attitudes and behaviors, and interactions with PCPs involving GSM identity and concerns about stigma and confidentiality.

A factor analysis yielded three scales: GSM Stigma, Confidentiality Concerns, and GSM-Sexual Health Information. Items from the GSM Stigma scale showed that nearly half of respondents had not disclosed their GSM identity to their PCP due to concern about an unaccepting PCP. One-quarter of youth were less inclined to discuss GSM identity and sexual health with their PCP due to concern that their provider would disclose this information to parents; these concerns were greater among adolescents <18 and those not out to parents about their gender identity.

Only 25% felt their PCP was helpful about GSM-specific sexual health issues. Youth who were out to parents about their gender identity and had received gender-affirming hormone therapy were more likely to report receiving GSM-specific sexual health information.

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Transgender youth may not discuss their GSM identity or sexual health with PCPs because they anticipate GSM stigma and fear being “outed” to parents. As such, “PCPs should receive transgender-inclusive training to adequately address youths’ sexual health needs and privacy concerns.”

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1-in-4 girls, 1-in-10 boys report self-injury or attempt suicide due to fighting, bullying or forced sex

Adolescents were more likely to report deliberate self-injury if they noted being sad or thinking about or attempting suicide. Drug and alcohol use were also associated with self-injury, as was fighting, being electronically bullied, or having experienced forced sex.

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One in four (1 in 4) high school girls will deliberately injure themselves by methods as extreme as cutting themselves or burning their own skin, and about one in 10 high school boys deliberately hurt themselves without trying to kill themselves.

This is according to a new study from the University of Portland released in the American Journal of Public Health. Frank Deryck, M.A. initiated this study. Co-writers included Martin Monto, Ph.D. and Nick McRee, Ph.D.

Consistent with other studies, adolescents were more likely to report deliberate self-injury if they noted being sad or thinking about or attempting suicide. Drug and alcohol use were also associated with self-injury, as was fighting, being electronically bullied, or having experienced forced sex.

The study, the first of its kind to use weighted probability sampling, revealed significantly high levels of deliberate, non-suicidal self-injury among large, representative, non-clinical samples of high school students (n=64,671). The study used data from the Centers for Disease Control from 11 states in the US collected in 2015. Individual states had substantially different rates of self-injury, with boys ranging from 6.4% (Delaware) to 14.8% (Nevada) and girls from 17.7% (Delaware) to 30.8% (Idaho).

Among the patterns the study revealed was that the behavior was more commonly reported among 14-year olds and diminished with age. Rates were higher among students identifying as Native American, Hispanic, or Whites than they were among those identifying as Asian or Black.

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The findings are timely, as public concern with adolescent mental health has grown. Additionally, though deliberate self-injury is different than suicide, persons who self-injure are also more likely to consider and attempt suicide.

The authors argue that self-injury among adolescents is so widespread that clinical and therapeutic interventions may be insufficient to address this public health problem. Since many other health risk behaviors are associated with self-injury, efforts to address the problem should be incorporated into broader efforts to address mental health among children and adolescents.

A study done in 2012 actually also similarly noted that female students are more likely to have suicide behavior. In the Philippines, for instance, they are more likely to have suicide ideation than Indonesian students. However, Indonesian students with suicidal ideation were more likely to express their ideation by making a suicide plan (53.5%) compare to the counterparts (40.6%). Psychosocial factors, gender and school grade are important factors in students’ suicide behavior. Therefore, policy strengthening in counseling in the junior high schools is needed to prevent suicide.

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4 Things you can do today for your mental health

We can definitely do more to keep the conversation going, including taking care of our own mental health.

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Mental health is being talked about more than ever, which is an amazing thing. Having open and honest conversations can help us to all deal with mental health better, and stop the stigma that surrounds it. Just like normal health and varying states of it, we all have some state of mental health, and some need more help than others. We can definitely do more to keep the conversation going, including taking care of our own mental health.

But what are the best ways to take care of it and keep it balanced? Here are some ideas for you. Hopefully, this can help you and people that you’re around.

We can definitely do more to keep the conversation going, including taking care of our own mental health. PHOTO BY ROBINHIGGINS FROM PIXABAY.COM

Take Care of Physical Health

Poor physical health and mental health are closely connected. So if there is one thing that you can take away from this, it is that you should be taking care of yourself. Avoid bad habits like cigarettes as they can make you feel worse. Exercise where you can, which can be done in a gym or from home. Get some equipment like the best power rack for your home if needed. Or go running or do yoga. All can help you to deal with stress and poor mental health better. Drink plenty of water, eat well, and sleep well. All of the standard answers, but they do work.

Practice Mindfulness

We all lead busy lives, and as a result, we can all get overwhelmed and stressed out. This can lead to anxiety, as well as other mental health issues. So learning to be mindful, to take one thing at a time, is a really great skill to learn. Do you eat breakfast, while watching the news and scrolling through your phone? That is a lot to take in. Do one thing at a time, like simply eat your breakfast, and then you will be on the way to learning to be more mindful.

Set Goals

Setting goals can be a great thing for your esteem and confidence. It can do wonders for your mental health too. The key is setting yourself realistic goals, though. Think about where you want to be this time next year, and then look for realistic ways of getting there. Do you want to be in a different job or in a happier relationship? It could just be to get fitter than you currently are. Start small and go from there.

Break Up Routine

Routine can give us some confidence and help us know what we are meant to be doing and when. But it can be really quite dull and can bring you down when it is endless and repetitive. So although you can’t change everything, think about taking a different route to work, planning a road trip, or going to somewhere new to eat. Try some new things, and do different things, to make your normal routine a little more varied and interesting.

What else would you add to the list? It would be great to hear what you think.

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False beliefs about sexual risk, poor physician-patient communication impede STD screening in young women

A study found that one in four clinicians surveyed will disregard screening guidelines for chlamydia and/or gonorrhea if a patient is asymptomatic.

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Despite record high rates of new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), young women who are sexually active often don’t talk to their clinicians about sex and STD risk, and many aren’t being tested for infection or disease as guidelines recommend, according to new research from Quest Diagnostics, a provider of diagnostic information services.

The findings from a new survey -“Young Women and STDs: Are Physicians Doing Enough to Empower their Patients and Protect their Health?” – suggest that lack of direct communication between clinicians and patients – and false beliefs about STD risk held by both groups — may contribute to STD prevalence.

The survey examined the perceptions of young women 15-24 years of age, mothers of young women in this age group, and primary care, OB/GYN, and other specialty physicians regarding sexual activity, sexual health, and knowledge of and screening for STDs (also known as sexually transmitted infections or STIs). The results of the 2017 survey were also compared to those of previous research by Quest in 2015 involving similar populations.

Medical guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend annual laboratory testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea for all sexually active women under the age of 25. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cases of sexually transmitted disease are at an all-time high, with more than two million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis reported in the United States in 2016. Young adults make up about half of STD cases.

“We know that people often think of STDs as something that happens ‘to others’ and, frequently, health care providers have similar beliefs and don’t view their patients as being at risk,” said Lynn Barclay, president and CEO, American Sexual Health Association. “Testing is crucial in young women because STDs are very common, often without symptoms, and undetected infections like chlamydia can lead to problems including infertility.”

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Among the key findings:

  • Young women may not understand their STD risk: A little more than half of young women (56%) say they are sexually active and of those who are, 56 percent say they have been tested for an STD. Young sexually active women cite “not feeling at risk” (62%) and “being asymptomatic” (55%) as reasons for not testing, although STDs often lack symptoms. Of women who are sexually active, 86 percent and 88 percent said they aren’t at risk for chlamydia or gonorrhea, respectively.
  • Many young women are uncomfortable talking to their clinician about sex and STDs: Fifty-one percent of young women say they don’t want to bring up for discussion the topics of sex or STDs with their clinicians.
  • Young women may fail to be truthful with their clinician: Twenty seven percent of sexually active young women admit they don’t always tell the truth about their sexual history to their clinician. For the youngest sexually active women (15-17 years of age), forty-three percent aren’t always truthful.
  • Women don’t recall having a clinician ask about STD screening: 49 percent of young women claim their clinician has never asked if they want STD testing, and less than one in four sexually active women has asked their healthcare professional for an STD test.

In addition, the survey responses of young women suggest rates of STD screening by clinicians have declined, particularly among those 15-17 years of age. Based on the comparison of responses of sexually active women 15-17 between 2015 and 2017, STD testing by clinicians for chlamydia and gonorrhea has decreased by 9 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

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The survey also found gaps in care by some physicians.

Clinicians may also be uncomfortable discussing STDs, with one in four (24%) primary care physicians agreed with the statement, “I am very uncomfortable discussing STI risk with my female patients.”

One in three primary care physicians rely on symptoms to diagnose an STD: Twenty-seven percent reported that they could accurately diagnose STD patients “based on their symptoms,” even though CDC notes, “STDs do not always cause symptoms, so it is possible to have an infection and not know it.”

Undiagnosed women are much more likely than men to suffer long-term health impacts from STDs, including infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.
Photo by Olla Ky from Unsplash.com

Also, one in four physicians will disregard screening guidelines if a patient is asymptomatic: Only seventy-four percent of primary care doctors said they would order chlamydia testing of an asymptomatic, sexually active female patient. Only seventy-two percent would order testing for gonorrhea for such an asymptomatic patient.

Annual screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea for men who do not have sex with other men is not currently guideline recommended, although, like women, they may not have symptoms and can unknowingly transmit infection to a partner. Undiagnosed women are much more likely than men to suffer long-term health impacts from STDs, including infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease.

“Our findings suggest that discomfort with frank conversations about sexual activity and false beliefs about risk are key barriers to STD testing, and could be driving some of the increase in STD cases of young women,” said Damian P. Alagia, III, MD, FACOG, FACS, medical director of woman’s health, Quest Diagnostics. “Half of all new STD cases are acquired by young people between the ages of 15-24, and one in four sexually active adolescents has a sexually transmitted disease. Our hope in sharing this survey’s findings with clinicians and the general public is that it prompts open dialogue about reproductive health and STD risk, which is absolutely critical to reversing the trajectory of high STD rates in the US.”

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The research was conducted by Aurora Research & Consulting on behalf of Quest Diagnostics in December, 2017. A total of 4,742 study respondents, comprised of 3,414 young women between the ages of 15-24, of whom 1,500 self-identified as sexually active; 1,016 mothers of young women in that age group; and 312 primary care, OB/GYN and specialty physicians were surveyed. Most clinician survey data presented in this report was of responses of 100 primary care physicians. Each respondent completed 15-30 minute online surveys regarding perceptions and knowledge of STDs and chlamydia and gonorrhea testing. Strengths of the research include the large number of respondents and the research’s national scale, while limitations include self-reported data and a lack of direct comparability between study populations. The 2017 research was complemented by results of a survey of similar cohort of patients and healthcare practitioners performed in 2015.

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