Tag Archives: AIDS

STI Awareness: “Can I Get an STD from Oral Sex?”

As tools to reduce risk for STI transmission, dental dams are not to be ignored.

As tools to reduce risk for STI transmission, dental dams are not to be ignored.

Many consider oral sex to be a safer form of sexual activity compared to vaginal or anal intercourse. For this reason, they might put less emphasis on the use of latex barriers, such as dental dams and condoms, during oral sex. Unfortunately, this idea is misguided and can lead to the transmission of preventable infections.

It is generally true that oral sex presents less of a risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) – but this risk is not trivial, especially when people are under the impression that they don’t need to use barrier methods during oral sex. Most sexually transmitted infections can be passed along by oral sex, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis B, herpes (which can be transmitted back and forth from the mouth, as cold sores, to the genital region, as genital herpes), human papillomavirus (HPV), and HIV. Even pubic lice can be transferred from the genital region to eyelashes and eyebrows! Additionally, intestinal parasites are more likely to be transmitted via oral sex than through vaginal sex. A microscopic amount of fecal matter containing parasites can be infectious, and can be unknowingly ingested when present on genitals.


Seventy percent of adolescents who reported engaging in oral sex had never used a barrier to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections during oral sex.


Some bacterial STIs, such as gonorrhea and syphilis, can do permanent damage if not treated in time. Furthermore, gonorrhea of the throat is much more difficult to treat than gonorrhea in the genital or rectal areas. And some viral STIs can’t be cured (such as herpes and HIV), while others can cause chronic infections that have been linked to cancer (such as hepatitis, which is associated with liver cancer, and HPV, which is associated with throat cancer as well as cervical cancer and anal cancer). Continue reading

STI Awareness: The Future of Treatment for HIV/AIDS

This scanning electron micrograph shows HIV particles infecting a human T cell. Most strains of HIV cannot enter T cells that don't have a CCR5 co-receptor on the surface. Photo: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

This scanning electron micrograph shows HIV particles (colored yellow) infecting a human T cell. Image: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health

In 2006, an HIV-positive man was diagnosed with leukemia. First he received chemotherapy, and when the cancer returned his doctor recommended a stem-cell transplant with tissues obtained from a bone-marrow donor. After finding an unusually high number of compatible donors, his doctor, Gero Hütter, had a simple idea that would change the course of HIV research. Dr. Hütter knew of a rare genetic mutation that confers immunity to many strains of HIV, including the strain that infected his cancer patient. And new blood cells, including immune cells, are manufactured by bone marrow. What if he could find a bone-marrow donor with this mutation? What effect would it have on the HIV infection?

Five years after his cancer diagnosis, the man, known as the Berlin patient and recently identified as Timothy Ray Brown, is in remission from cancer … and the most sensitive tests have been unable to detect HIV anywhere in his body, despite the discontinuation of antiretroviral drugs. Scientists are a cautious lot, careful not to make grand statements without qualifying them with words like “seem” and “suggest.” But more and more, researchers are starting to say that Brown could be the first case in which a cure for HIV was attained.

Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, has been the focus of intense research since the 1980s, when it was identified as the causative agent of AIDS. Many anti-HIV drugs have been developed since then, though worldwide, less than a third of people who need the drugs have access to them. Those with access, however, have significantly improved health outcomes and longer life expectancy. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Women with children have more abortions than anyone else, and by an increasingly wide margin. So why is the topic taboo? (Slate Double X)
  • If you couldn’t tell from recent events, in America, women’s lives are expendable. (The Hill)
  • GOP presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, is a staunch opponent of birth control and asserts that contraception is a “license to do things.” “Things” that have absolutely nothing to do with him and are none of his damn business, but that’s of no consequence to him you see. In any case, this idiotic statement confirms that Ricky doesn’t want you women having a license to “do things” in the privacy of your own bedrooms that won’t lead to serious consequences like pregnancy! Why should you have that kind of freedom? Where do you think you are, America??? (RH Reality Check)
  • In other, “Rick Santorum likes to speak out of his rectum” news, the birth control adversary recently argued that Republicans should work to lessen single motherhood in order to score political points against their Democratic rivals. You see, single mothers who run households, in Ricky’s opinion, have “a desire for government,” and thus, often vote Democrat. So let’s see if we have this straight: This dunce wants to lessen single motherhood and eliminate birth control because it gives women a “license to do things”? Mmmkay then. How exactly would you lessen single motherhood if you took away birth control? Don’t these goals wildly contradict one another? This guy is in no danger of being recruited by MENSA anytime soon, is he? (Feministing)
  • Planned Parenthood’s stellar leader Cecile Richards opines on how parents are falling short with the “sex talk.” (Time)
  • Can Herman Cain Be Pro-Life but Pro-Choice? Sorry Mr. Pizza Godfather, but no. (Slate Double X)
  • What is Mitt Romney’s real stance on women’s health? Due to his incessant flip-flopping, your guess is as good as ours. (Planned Parenthood)
  • Ten questions for anti-choice candidates who want to make abortion illegal. The first being, how much hard time should a woman do for terminating a pregnancy? I’d like to see if we could get an answer to that humdinger at the next GOP debate. (Ms. Magazine)
  • Medical science FTW: A vaginal gel developed to reduce a woman’s risk of infection with the AIDS virus also cuts the risk of contracting genital herpes! (NYT)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Wanna Know What It Really Takes to Get an Abortion? As you may have guessed, you have to wake up pretty early in the mornin’ and jump through many a hoop. (Third Wave Foundation)
  • North Carolina GOP Overrides Veto, Axes Planned Parenthood Funding (Huff Po)
  • Memo to the Administration: You Can’t Be Pro-Choice Unless You Support Equal Access (RH Reality Check)
  • We often complain about our status and rights as women in the United States, but after reading about the five most dangerous countries to live in, as a woman, it makes our struggles seem less than insurmountable in comparison. (Alaska Dispatch)
  • Alabama governor signs ban on abortion after 20 weeks. (Reuters)
  • Next month, an independent panel of experts at the Institute of Medicine will decide whether contraception is a women’s preventive health service that should be covered by all new health insurance plans and provided without co-pays. (Care2)
  • Anti-choice zealot extraordinaire, Rick Santorum, says “all abortion doctors should be ‘criminally charged.’” I don’t know what this dunce thinks they should be charged with … providing a service that’s been perfectly legal for almost 40 years? (Florida Independent)
  • AIDS infection rate remains epidemic in our nation’s capital. (WaPo)
  • Check out Medscape’s informative article on considering the failure rate of contraceptive methods before choosing which one is best for you. (Medscape)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • Woman Sues Over Ex-Boyfriend’s Heinous Miscarriage Billboard. Ugh. (Jezebel)
  • Apparently, Americans are sick and freaking tired of Congress’s obsession with restricting abortion. Nice sentiment but they should have thought about that before electing these clowns into office. (Politico)
  • Abortion “showdown” could cost Indiana $4.3 billion. And it’s a “showdown” they ain’t gonna win anyway. So move on already Hoosier State. (AP)
  • Ohio Lawmakers Vote to Ban Abortions at Publicly Funded Clinics, Hospitals. No word yet on whether there will be exceptions based on the life and health of the mother but if you remember the debacle at St. Joseph’s in Phoenix a while back, it’s probably safe to assume there won’t be any exceptions. (RH Reality Check)
  • Ovarian cancer screening doesn’t actually save lives? Someone should probably alert the medical field about that. (MSNBC)
  • Remember those anti-choice billboards targeting blacks stating “The Most Dangerous Place For an African American Is The Womb”? Well, now Latinos are the target. Wonder if white women will be next? Something tells me no. (The Daily Caller)
  • The Pill does not cause weight gain. However, food, in large quantities without adequate exercise, does. (EurekAlert)
  • The CDC estimates that 20% of people infected with HIV don’t know it and one-third are diagnosed so late in the course of their infection that they develop AIDS within one year. This is why it’s so important to be tested regularly! (USA Today)
  • When in Doubt About Sexual Health, Teens Turn to Google. Not their parents, Google! (Huff Po)

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • If you hadn’t noticed, the fight for control over women’s bodies is more contentious than ever. (NYT)
  • In taking a dig at Romney’s health care mandate in Massachusetts, our soon-to-be fellow Arizona resident Sarah Palin claims she doesn’t care for “any level of government telling us what to do” with regard to health mandates. That’s actually really funny coming from someone who wants the government to legislate what happens inside my uterus. (MSNBC)
  • Craptacular “Personhood” bills have far reaching consequences that, if passed, mean the terrorists have won. The terrorists who want to force you to give birth, that is. (Jezebel)
  • What’s good for the goose: The Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services tells Indiana that if they go through with their sinister plan to defund Planned Parenthood, THEY will lose all federal funding for their Medicaid program. Sorry, Indiana — #YouGotServed (Politico)
  • The Foxx Amendment: Without Providers There Is No Choice (RH Reality Check)
  • Radical new birth control for men that’s 100% effective? COME ON WITH IT ALREADY! (Wired)
  • Controversial AIDS cure continues to spur hope (MSNBC)
  • The Feds continue to put the smackdown on those who dare to violate the FACE Act — ’cause after all, they are ♪”Breakin’ the law, breakin’ the law”♪ (Denver Post)