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New HIV treatment initiative to be peer-led
Date: 2013-07-30 15:12:25

Lab testing is the only way to determine whether someone has HIV. If everyone in the U.S. got a lab test, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that about 50,000 people would find out that they are positive for the virus.

HIV patients may be able to prolong their lives if they follow a physician-prescribed treatment regimen. However, a new study from the University of Missouri found that nearly half of people living with the disease either do not get medical help or fail to adhere to their treatment plan. The university tested a new method of intervention - one that involves fellow HIV patients rather than just doctors and nurses.

"Being 'peered' is different from being doctored, nursed or counseled," said Maithe Enriquez, the creator of the program. "The peer educators in the intervention also have HIV, which gives them insider perspectives."

Enriquez went on to note that she believes it was the meaningful connections made between those living with HIV that made the treatment program effective. The peer educators talked with patients to identify factors that cause them to miss appointments and avoid medications. Together they set goals and came up with techniques to help them better stick to treatment plans.

When the researchers surveyed the peer educators, they found that the volunteers viewed their role in the program as more that just teachers. They also felt as though they were becoming role models, advocates, motivational sources as well as educational resources to the patients.

"The encouraging thing about HIV care is that patients can remain healthy if they are engaged in their care, and their viral loads decrease, which makes them less likely to spread the virus to others," noted Enriquez.

She went on to say that HIV is not a death sentence, so long as treatment plans are followed.

The consequences of HIV... Full Story

Soybeans can act as an HIV treatment?
Date: 2013-07-29 14:08:53

STD tests reveal that nearly 50,000 Americans get infected with HIV annually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, there is no cure for HIV, only antiviral treatments to prolong the patient's life. But new research has found a compound in soybeans that may be a possible treatment for those living with HIV.

A study from George Mason University National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases discovered that genistein, which is a plant-based compound, may help to inhibit the HIV infection. However, the researchers are quick to note that eating large quantities of soy products is not guaranteed to treat HIV.

"Although genistein is rich in several plants such as soybeans, it is still uncertain whether the amount of genistein we consume from eating soy is sufficient to inhibit HIV," said Yuntao Wu, lead author of the study.

HIV infects cells by tricking them into sending signals into their interior in order to change their structure. This enables the virus to enter the cell and spread infection. According to the report, genistein works by blocking the communication between cell's surface sensors and its interior. This is very different than current HIV treatments, which work to stop the virus directly.

"Instead of directly acting on the virus, genistein interferes with the cellular processes that are necessary for the virus to infect cells," Wu said. "Thus, it makes the virus more difficult to become resistant to the drug."

Plant-based treatment and current medications... Full Story

Herpes dating website spreads love, not disease
Date: 2013-07-23 17:19:23

Recently, Successful Match and Positive Singles launched, a dating site for people living with the herpes simplex virus. The free service allows users to talk with and meet individuals who understand and share their condition. provides herpes patients with the opportunity to date without having to bring up STD testing or their personal disease.

This is not the first dating website of its kind. According to USA Today, there are several online services to match up couples with the same, or similar, STDs. Positive Singles is one, which claims to have orchestrated 60,000 matches.

"A lot of my clients are looking for relationships and they are on dating websites like eHarmony and Match, but then the question is, 'When do I tell him or her that I have herpes? If I tell them right away, that person is going to go away. But if I let the relationship develop and wait to tell the person, is that betrayal?'" Carl Hindy, a clinical psychologist, told the news source.

Impact of STDs in America... Full Story

Study: Sex addiction is merely high libido
Date: 2013-07-19 16:20:07

The University of California, Los Angeles, recently released a study on sexual addiction - a controversial condition that supposedly leaves people unable to control themselves in sexual contexts. By looking at hypersexual subjects' brain responses, researchers found that sex addiction is on par with a high libido.

The study defined sexual addiction as a condition that causes individuals to follow through on out-of-control sexual urges, despite any risk factor. Those afflicted with hypersexuality often jeopardize their marriages, jobs and relationships. Researchers noted that sex addiction often renders people unable to combat their behaviors.

Researchers examined the brains of subjects who reported a sexual addiction, taking note of how they reacted when shown sexual images. This is the first report of its kind that took into account how brain activity changes as self-identified sex addicts are shown sexual images. The study revealed that the participants' brain responses when exposed to such images did not correlate with the level of their hypersexuality, but was linked only to the severity of their sexual wants.

Nicole Prause​, senior author of the study, said that the findings imply that hypersexuality does not necessarily explain brain differences in sexual response any more than just having a high sex drive.

"Potentially, this is an important finding," noted Prause. "It is the first time scientists have studied the brain responses specifically of people who identify as having hypersexual problems."

The author went on to state that the report suggested that hypersexuality is not an addiction, but rather that non-pathological, high sexual desire causes the problems associated with so-called sex addiction.

Brain responses of self-identified sex addicts... Full Story

California considers providing condoms - but not STD testing - to prisoners
Date: 2013-07-08 13:06:35

A bill in the California Senate will determine whether the state will provide condoms to prisons in order to help alleviate the epidemic of sexually transmitted infections, namely HIV. The bill, AB999, proposed by Democratic Assemblyman Rob Bonta of Oakland, Calif., would compel the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to provide condoms, via dispensing machines donated to the state, to five prisons by 2015 and to all 33 adult prisons by 2020. Since the prevalence of HIV is approximately 10 times higher among California prisoners than the general population, according to the University of California, San Francisco, the problem is of an urgent nature.

According to the CDC, condoms - if used "consistently and correctly" - can reduce but do not eliminate one's chance of developing a sexually transmitted disease. In addition, since individuals with STDs - especially HIV - often do not exhibit symptoms, the most effective way to reduce one's risk of contracting an STD is for one and one's partner to receive STD testing before engaging in sexual intercourse.

Prison contraception in California... Full Story

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