December 1st is World AIDS Day, so we’re focusing on HIV this month in our STI Awareness series.
Let’s break down the name:
H – Human: This virus only infects humans and is only passed from human to human.
I – Immunodeficiency: This virus weakens the immune system by destroying cells that fight disease and infection.
V – Virus: This is a virus. Unlike other viruses, however, this virus does not leave the body. This is the mystery that scientists and doctors are working to solve.
HIV is an immune system virus. It hides for a long time in your cells and attacks the T-cells, aka: CD4 cells. Over time HIV can destroy so many CD4 cells that your body cannot fight infection anymore. When that happens, HIV leads to AIDS. While all of this is very scary, the bright spot is that this is an easily preventable disease. Continue reading
The bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis
Did you know that chlamydia (pronounced “kluh-MID-ee-uh”) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States? However, many people with chlamydia may not even know they have it: 25% of men and 30% of women will have no symptoms. Sexually active individuals and individuals with multiple sex partners are at the most risk.
Like other STIs, many people with chlamydia are asymptomatic, some symptoms in men include:
- Burning sensation during urination
- Discharge from penis or rectum
- Testicular tenderness
- Rectal discharge or pain
The symptoms in women include:
- Burning sensation during urination
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Rectal pain or discharge
- Symptoms of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, salpingitis, liver inflammation, similar to hepatitis
Remember the Dalkon Shield? Use the phrase “Dalkon Shield” and you conjure up all kinds of horror stories regarding the intrauterine device (IUD). Times have changed, and so has the IUD.
There are two types of IUDs available now, and both are considered very safe to use. Both IUDs are small, T-shaped, flexible plastic devices with threads at the end that are inserted into the uterus through the cervix by a health care professional.
The Mirena IUD is a hormonal device and the Paragard is a copper IUD. The Mirena IUD releases a small amount of progestin, which thickens cervical mucus, on a regular schedule and works by preventing sperm from joining an egg. This device is considered 99.8% effective in preventing pregnancy.
The copper IUD (Paragard) contains no hormones and also works by preventing sperm from joining an egg. Paragard is soft, flexible plastic, with copper wrapped around the ends of the T bar and the base of the T. This device is considered 99.2% effective. Continue reading
Volunteering at the PPAZ office
I believe in Planned Parenthood. I believe in reproductive freedom, the right to choose, medically accurate sexuality education for all people, access to all reproductive medical care options and, especially, freedom from harassment for women who make that choice.
I am here for Planned Parenthood because I remember my high school years. I grew up in Santa Monica, California and I was educated in the Catholic school system. The best part was this was the early to mid-’70s. There was still kind of a ‘hangover’ from the late ’60s to early ’70s with ‘free love’, ‘summer of love’ and Woodstock. The ‘hangover’ was evident in our high school. The school administration was unabashedly liberal. They actually believed that ‘sex ed’ should be more than just some put-upon phys ed instructor, usually the football coach, trying to maintain order amongst a group of giggling teenagers and passing on some hard-won information about reproduction, sexual intercourse, birth and STDs.
The administration set up a balance of courses that the students passed through at each grade level. Freshman usually started with just the regular catechism courses. These taught the church’s position with regard to birth control and the role of sexual intercourse inside and outside marriage. This was required; after all, we were a Catholic high school. Continue reading
In May of 2010, Governor Jan Brewer signed into law SB1309, the so-called “Parental Bill of Rights.” This bill requires parental consent before a child or teen can receive sex education in school. This law also requires Arizona schools to notify parents when material regarding “sexuality” is presented in non-sex education classes, such as biology. Proponents of the law say this bill will ensure that the government does not intrude on parents’ child rearing. The Arizona Board of Education says that it will be up to the local school governing boards to implement the law.
Before the passage of SB 1309, Arizona did not require sex education. Local school boards decided which subjects this education would cover and the grade level in which topics are introduced. If sex education was taught, it had to be age appropriate. Abstinence had to be covered and stressed as the only effective protection against unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, and abstinence from sexual intercourse outside of lawful marriage was the expected social standard for unmarried school-age person. This is from the 1996 Welfare Reform Act that had provisions added for abstinence education. The federal government then began to divert tens of millions of dollars to abstinence education programs. Most programs were tied to religious programs, rather than traditional public health organizations.
Arizona is one of three states that now require parental consent for sex education. The other two states are Utah and Nevada. The Guttmacher Institute says 35 states – including the District of Columbia – mandate that students learn about sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS. Arizona is also ranked last in the nation in education funding.
The result? Continue reading