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.
Full image here.
And while we’re on the subject, April is GYT (Get Yourself Tested) Month! At Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and at the Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, we will be offering free STI testing.
At PPSLR, patients ages 25 and younger will be able to receive free gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV testing, with only a $15 visit co-pay. Patients older than 25 can get free gonorrhea and chlamydia testing, again with a small co-pay.
PPKM is offering free testing for gonorrhea, Chlamydia, syphilis and HIV at eight of their nine health centers, although an office visit charge will apply.
- There are no reliable tests for Herpes. So whenever you go in to get a screening, know that unless you are actively having an outbreak there isn’t anything to test
- No HPV screening exists for men. Unless there is a visual inspection or a biopsy of the wart.
- Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Herpes can have no symptoms. That’s why screening is incredibly important.
- Gonorrhea, Herpes, HPV and Chlamydia can all be transmitted orally. Oral sex is still sex and Safe Sex rules apply (Condoms and Dental dams)
- The best contraception money can buy is open sexual dialogue. Open honest conversation with your partners is invaluable. It’s your biggest weapon when it comes to safe sex.
- Glyde Dams are kind of awesome. Glyde Dams are safe barriers intended for sexual use, unlike dental dams. They’re weird when you first look at them and seem so unnatural, but the best motto is ‘Better Safe than Sorry!’
- Wearing gloves when fingering someone is totally okay. Speaking from experience, sometimes nails have a mind of their own and can cause discomfort. Additionally, though most people shower before they have sex at some point, we don’t usually wash our hands right before foreplay. This opens us up to a host of bacteria that gets introduced directly into a mucus membrane. So if you want to glove up, please don’t be ashamed to do so.
When you go to the doctor, not everyone screens you for STD’s, even if you’re sexually active- So make sure to ask. You should always ask what screening tests your doctor has performed, and don’t hesitate to ask for additional tests if you think they are appropriate. Never hesitate to be your own advocate.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a hot topic these days thanks to the advent — and attendant controversy — of Gardasil, the vaccine that protects against four strains of this sexually transmitted virus. Discourse centers around HPV-16 and HPV-18, the two HPV strains that together are responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of anal cancers. However, Gardasil also protects against HPV-6 and HPV-11, two HPV strains that aren’t associated with cancer but rather with 90 percent of genital warts. While genital warts don’t have the potential to cause cancer and death, they can be very upsetting to the people who develop them.
Protozoan organisms are microscopic and unicellular, like bacteria; unlike bacteria, their cell structures more closely resemble that of the so-called “higher” life forms such as animals and plants. While protozoa are considered to be “animal-like,” they are not animals at all – they are single-celled organisms that reproduce asexually. When certain types of protozoans get into your body, they can cause infections – such as trichomoniasis, the most common curable STI among young females (as well as more females over 40 than previously thought). It is estimated that 7.4 million new cases of trichomoniasis occur annually in the United States; worldwide, there are about 170 million cases each year.
April is STD Awareness Month.
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By the age of 25, half of all sexually active people will have contracted at least one STD. Because most of these people are unaware of their disease status, they may continue to spread STDs to others by having unprotected sex. This includes HIV.
Planned Parenthood and other clinics may provide testing services at little or no cost to those who would otherwise not be able to afford these services. Testing may be as easy as providing a urine sample or having a blood test.
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Gonorrhea, colloquially known as “the clap,” is a common sexually transmitted infection caused by sneaky bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is spread by vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and can infect certain cells in the throat, mouth, rectum, urethra, or cervix. It can also be transmitted manually to infect the eye. If you are sexually active, you can reduce risk of transmission by consistently and correctly using latex barriers such as condoms and dental dams.
Safe, protected sex helps prevent the transmission of sexually-transmitted diseases. Safe sex also helps prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Teenagers are going to continue having sex, no matter how much abstinence-only education they get. Let’s keep them informed about their options, starting with an emphasis on safe, protected sex to prevent unwanted pregnancy and the transmission of STIs. And let’s give them alternative options for more “wholesome” activities by promoting after-school programs, maintaining art programs at schools, and getting them interested in and excited about what else makes them special individuals.
When syphilis first descended upon Europe, it was seen as a new plague, and anxiety and blame coalesced around this mysterious scourge. Was it a punishment from God? Was it introduced by a hated Other? Was it caused by the stars’ alignment or the presence of “bad air”? The panic it provoked foreshadowed the hysteria that surrounded the emergence of HIV in the 1980s, as syphilitics were discriminated against, feared, or thought to have received punishment for their “unbridled lust.”
We now know that syphilis is not caused by supernatural forces, foreigners, or “bad air,” but rather by a species of spiral-shaped bacteria called Treponema pallidum, which can cause infections in the vagina, anus, urethra, or penis, as well as the lips and mouth.