Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV): Is It In You?

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the world with its highest prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa. Most people who are sexually active will get the virus at one point in their lives. Unfortunately very few studies have been done about this disease in Nigeria. 
There are over 100 types of HPV. Some types may go unnoticed, while others can cause serious health problems including genital warts and cancers.

You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.
Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person. You also can develop symptoms years after you have sex with someone who is infected making it hard to know when you first became infected.

HPV can cause cervical and other cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. 70% of cervical cancer cases worldwide are caused by HPV. In Nigeria, about 67% of invasive cervical cancer is caused by HPV. Recently a well-known former DG of NAFDAC died from cervical cancer. 
HPV can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils.
Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV. The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types of HPV that can cause cancers.
There is no way to know which people who have HPV will develop cancer or other health problems. People with weak immune systems (including individuals with HIV/AIDS) may be less able to fight off HPV and more likely to develop health problems from it. 

Get vaccinated. HPV vaccines are safe and effective. They can protect males and females against diseases (including cancers) caused by HPV when given in the recommended age groups(roughly 9-26yrs). HPV vaccines are given in three shots over six months; it is important to get all three doses.
Get screened for cervical cancer. Routine screening for women aged 21 to 65 years old can prevent cervical cancer.
Use condoms every time you have sex. This can lower your chances of getting HPV. But HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom - so condoms may not give full protection against getting HPV. 
Be in a mutually monogamous relationship – or have sex only with someone who only has sex with you.

There is no specific treatment for HPV. However, there are treatments for the health problems that HPV can cause. Genital warts can be treated by you or your physician with the right medication. If left untreated, genital warts may go away, stay the same, or grow in size or number. Cervical precancer can also be treated. Women who get routine Pap tests and follow up as needed can identify problems before cancer develops. Prevention is always better than treatment. 

Talk to your healthcare provider about HPV today.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

10 Myths about HIV and AIDS

HIV/AIDs is arguably the most talked about sexually transmitted disease in Nigeria (which, by the way, has the world’s second largest number of people with HIV), however many people still don't know many facts about the disease. Here are some of the myths peddled by ignorant folk followed by the real facts.

Myth #1
There is no need to use a condom during sexual contact if both partners already have HIV.
There are different strains of HIV. If a condom is not used during sexual contact, HIV-infected partners may exchange different types or strains of HIV. This can lead to re-infection, which will make the treatment of HIV infection more difficult. The new HIV strain may become more resistant to the current treatment taken, or cause the current treatment option to be ineffective.
Myth #2
Homosexual men and drug users are more likely to get infected with HIV than other people.
In Nigeria, 80% of all HIV infections occur through heterosexual intercourse. HIV is spread mostly through unprotected sexual contact and does not discriminate against anyone. It is not who you are but your risky behaviors which put you at risk of HIV infection. Regardless of your personality or sexuality, you will be at risk if you don't take protective measures.
Myth #3
Getting HIV/AIDS is a death sentence.
Although HIV/AIDS has no cure, it can be treated. There has been tremendous progress in treatment for HIV over the years. A person living with HIV/AIDS can now continue to live a strong and productive life for many years.
Myth #4
My partner tested negative for HIV. That means it is safe for us to have sex.
An HIV test works by detecting the presence of antibodies in the body that develop when HIV infects the body. But it takes about three weeks for there to be enough antibodies for detection. In addition, to be sure that the individual is completely HIV-free, it is not enough to have one negative HIV test result - the individual would need to take another HIV test at least 3 months after the first one. He or she must also avoid any risky sexual activities in that whole period. If the second test result is negative, the individual is HIV-free and able to have sex without spreading HIV.
Myth #5
An HIV-positive person who receives antiretroviral treatment will not spread the virus.
Antiretroviral therapy can reduce the amount of HIV in the body. However, HIV remains in the body and can be transmitted to others.
Myth #6
Faithful and loving partners do not spread HIV.
You may think that your partner has been faithful and loving to you, and will not spread the virus. But what if your partner doesn't know that he already has HIV? A person can be HIV-positive for years without symptoms. Besides, how sure are you about your partner's sexual history? Also, HIV can be transmitted through non-sexual activities -- such as blood transfusions and the sharing of injection needles -- regardless of whether he or she has remained faithful. To be safe, use a condom during sex, and get your partner and yourself tested for HIV.
Myth #7
HIV infections can be cured by having sex with a virgin.
There's no cure for HIV/AIDS. However, HIV can be treated and a person who goes on treatment will be able to live a strong and productive life. By having unprotected sex with a virgin or anyone else for that matter, the person with HIV/AIDS can transmit the virus, which is irresponsible.
Myth #8
HIV/AIDS cannot be transmitted during oral sex.
Transmission of HIV occurs when there is an exchange of body fluids (such as semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, blood or pre-ejaculatory fluids), and this is possible during oral sex when there are open wounds. These include cuts, sores or abrasions in the mouth or gums, or infections in the throat or mouth that are inflamed. There may also be abrasions or sores on the penis or vagina. It is best to avoid oral sex if you have any cuts, sores or abrasions, or if you have a sexually transmitted infection. Otherwise, it is advisable to use condoms when engaging in oral sex.
Myth #9
HIV can be spread during contact with saliva, such as through kissing or the sharing of utensils.
HIV may be found in saliva, but it is in too small an amount to infect anyone.
Myth #10
HIV can be spread through non-sexual physical contact such as hugging, handshakes, sharing toilet seats, and from mosquito bites. 
HIV can only be transmitted through an exchange of body fluids. It cannot be spread through physical contact unless you have an open wound which comes into contact with the body fluids (semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, blood or pre-ejaculatory fluids) of an HIV-positive person. Body fluids such as saliva, sweat and tears cannot transmit HIV. Also, as the virus cannot survive in insects, HIV cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Performance Anxiety and How to Overcome It

Many partners who fail to reach a climax during sexual intercourse have no underlying physical problem.  Instead, the problem may be due in part or whole to worrying about not being able to perform.  In such cases you may need a bit of old fashioned reason rather than a Viagra pill! 
So how can worrying about performing sexually actually prevent you from performing?    
The first thing to note is that worrying about not performing sexually only distracts you from sexually interacting with your partner.  Often, when worrisome people have sex, they don't give due attention to the more erotic thoughts and responses that typically accompany successful sexual relating.  So instead of thinking erotically, you may start thinking and ruminating about how awful it would be if you couldn't perform, how this would reflect poorly on your masculinity or femininity, and what your partner might think of you.
Such thinking produces performance anxiety.  Anxiety is a future-oriented emotion in which you catastrophize about the consequences of a possible future event. In the case of sexual performance anxiety the event in question is failure to perform sexually and the perceived catastrophic consequences are loss of self-respect and fear of how you think others, especially your sex partner, would view you.

So maybe you think that a man must have an erection, or that a woman must have an orgasm. And maybe you think this despite the obvious biological fact that having an erection or orgasm is not a necessary condition of being a man or woman. If you never had another erection or orgasm again, you still would not shed your gender! 
"Well maybe I'm still a man if I fail to perform, but that's not what I'm supposed to do as a man.  I'm supposed to have an erection; and if I don't have one, then I'm somehow defective, kind of like a clock that doesn't keep time is still a clock."
Now, a little advice might help to take the edge off this popular "natural law" perspective.  You are not like a clock!  A clock does not have free will.  Its ticks and tocks are purely mechanical.  A clock does not have subjectivity; it is not self-conscious.  But you are, and there lies the rub.
Your "malfunction" is not in your mechanical part.  It is not in your penis or your vagina; it is not in a malfunction of your erogenous zone.  It is rather a set of irrational thoughts that are creating performance anxiety which in turn lead to your lack of orgasm.
A major part of your performance anxiety is fear of what others are going to think of you, especially your sex partner, if you fail to perform.  You may fear that your partner will stop seeing you as sexy or as not being a "real man" or "real woman."
As such, you may tell yourself that your worth depends on whether or not you can reach a climax.  "What good am I," you think, "if I can't even have an orgasm."  But you are not identical to an orgasm.  Again, you are not a mere mechanism.  You are a being who can think, reason, act, feel, desire, and sense.  You are a self-determining being, a being who can autonomously decide things.  You therefore also have an inherent value and dignity.  So respect yourself.  Good sex begins with self-respect! 
And anyway, it's not really awful if you don't have an orgasm or you can't have an erection.  It is not on the level of a nuclear meltdown or an earthquake in which thousands of people perish. It is not the equivalent of murder or rape.  It is not like the end of the universe.  As far as bad things go, it really isn't so bad-unless you tell yourself it is.  But that is where your willpower comes into play.  You can make of it what you will!
Finally, you cannot control what others think of you. Is your partner going to be pleased with you?  How well will you compare to others, sexually?  What will he or she think if you can't even reach a climax?  These are thoughts that shouldn't occupy you because you're simply not in a position to control what others think.  On the other hand you can have considerable control over your sexual experience.  You can think erotic thoughts, touch, feel, and sense.  You can attempt to stimulate and imagine that your partner is as intensely stimulated as you are.  Here, your imagination is all the reality that really matters anyway.  At the end of the day, ranking the sex as good, bad, or somewhere in between may not even be a good idea, but it is definitely a very bad idea while in the midst of the sexual encounter itself.  To do so is already to chill off the experience. 
If it turns out that you had foreplay but no climax, this is still not terrible, horrible, or awful.  The enjoyment reaped through the encounter need not afterwards be desecrated by the failure to be orgasmic.  It is what it is-and it can still be pleasant, unless you catastrophize about it and dilute this pleasure with needless anxiety. "Next time hopefully I'll have an orgasm." That would be nice, but you can and should walk away intact if it just doesn't happen. The quest for sexual gratification should not itself be turned into a source of grief.
So what to do about sexual performance anxiety?  Here are, in sum, some things you and your partner can work on: 
Stop defining yourself as an orgasm. You are much more!
Respect your inherent dignity and value as a human being;
Stop worrying about what others are going to think of you;
Focus instead on what you can control - your subjective world of erotic thoughts, fantasies,   sensations, and feelings;
Stop exaggerating how bad it is to not have an orgasm;
Stop rating your sexual experience, especially while you are having it;

Appreciate whatever pleasure you reap!

Culled from: www.psychologytoday.com

The Risk of Prostate Cancer in Black Men

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Nigerian men but screening is not a common practice. The true burden of the disease in Nigeria is not known.
All men should be concerned about prostate cancer, particularly as they age. Talk with your doctor about if and when you should be screened based on your family history and other risk factors. If you have one or more risk factors and are at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer, early screening is especially important.
Black men are at a significantly higher risk of developing prostate cancer than white men. Among black men, 19 percent — nearly one in five — will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and five percent of those will die from this disease. In fact, prostate cancer is the fourth most common reason overall for death in black men.

Prostate Cancer in Black Men: How Much Greater Is the Risk? 
Researchers aren't exactly sure of the reasons why black men are at an increased risk of developing and dying from prostate cancer. Research is under way in an attempt to better understand the causes, but one recent study suggests that there may be a genetic link.
And while black men are already at an increased risk for prostate cancer, their risk increases dramatically if there is a family history of prostate cancer. Black men with an immediate family member who had prostate cancer have a one in three chance of developing the disease. Their risk rises to 83 percent with two immediate family members having the disease, and skyrockets to 97 percent if they have three immediate family members who developed prostate cancer.

The Importance of Early Screening
Early prostate cancer screening is important because by the time that symptoms appear, the cancer is likely in an advanced stage. The earlier the prostate cancer is caught — before symptoms appear — the better the chances for recovery.

Prostate cancer is highly treatable when caught early.  Almost 100 percent of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer in its earliest stage will be alive five years later.

Prostate Cancer Screening for Black Men
Regular screening is important for all men at the age when prostate cancer becomes more likely. But for black men, routine prostate cancer screening should start at an even younger age. The American Cancer Society recommends that Black men discuss testing with their doctor at age 45, or at age 40 if they have several close relatives who have had prostate cancer before age 65.
Screening tests can include a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and/or a digital rectal exam (DRE). Both tests can be usually be done by your family doctor. A digital rectal exam is a quick and only mildly uncomfortable exam of your prostate. Your doctor will use a lubricated, gloved finger to gently feel the surface of your prostate gland for lumps or other abnormalities.

In addition to recognizing the need for early screening, you should be aware of the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer. These symptoms can include urinating in the middle of the night, needing to urinate more frequently, and feeling like the bladder doesn't completely empty. Blood in the urine may also be a sign of prostate cancer.
It is important for men to talk to their doctor about diagnostic testing for prostate cancer if they are experiencing any of these symptoms. They also need to have a discussion with their doctor about the benefits and limitations of screening for early prostate cancer detection. Not ignoring symptoms and being aware that finding the disease and treating it early has very good outcomes are two things to keep in mind.