HIV Treatment & The Pill
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Some HIV treatments can reduce the effectiveness of your birth control pill. Watch this to see which ARVs affect hormonal birth control.
Transcript: Hormonal birth control can prevent conception, help regulate your menstrual cycle, and ease some PMS...
Hormonal birth control can prevent conception, help regulate your menstrual cycle, and ease some PMS symptoms. But if you're HIV positive, some types of anti-HIV medications can also reduce the effectiveness of your birth control pill. For instance, non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors--or NRTIs--and protease inhibitors - which are standard components of combination treatments - CAN reduce or eliminate the effectiveness of oral contraceptives, whether it's a progestogen-only pill or a combination estrogen-progestogen pill. This is because the same set of enzymes in the liver that breakdown these anti-HIVdrugs, also quickly deactivates contraceptive pills. But on the other hand, oral contraceptives DO NOT impact THE ACTION OF THE antiretrovirals. So EVEN THOUGH your risk of pregnancy increases, your HIV treatment shouldn't be affected. However, other antiretroviral drugs, such as integrase inhibitors - also standard components of combination treatments -- DO NOT reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.Bottom line: if you are using the birth control pill MAKE SURE you ask your doctor if your particular type of HIV treatment regimen raises your risk of pregnancy. And keep in mind, it's not just oral contraceptives that DON'T mix well with specific anti-HIV drugs; hormonal IUDs, vaginal rings, skin patches and shots MAY NOT be as effective, either. Regardless of the form of birth control you and your doctor decide upon, you should ALWAYS remember to use a condom to reduce chances of transmitting the virus to your partner or of you contracting a new strain of HIV that could make your medication regimen less effective. For more information on living with HIV, watch other videos in this series.More »
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If you've been sexually active, it's smart to get tested for STIs. Watch this to find out the ones you could be most at risk of having!
Last Modified: 2013-06-19 | Tags »
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Being HIV positive doesn't mean you have to stop doing activities you enjoy. By actively participating in the creation of-and sticking to-your treatment plan, you can live life to the fullest.
Last Modified: 2014-01-21 | Tags »
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Safe sex takes more than slipping on a condom. If you really want to protect yourself, you need to know how to spot STD myths.
Last Modified: 2012-04-25 | Tags »
Sex, STD, Myth, Fact, Fiction, Testing, Video, Health, Herpes
Theres a lot more to safe sex then using a condom. Want to see how your sexual habits compare? Then take the Safe Sex Survey, and see how you stack up. After you answer each question, we will reveal how everyone else answered!
Last Modified: 2012-07-30 | Tags »
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Clinics and hospitals provide STD testing services, and you should definitely take advantage-- early detection is key in treatment. Watch this video to learn more.
Transcript: Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are passed from one...
Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are passed from one person to another through sexual acts. Most STDs can be treated or cured, but without treatment, can result in illness or even sterility. Once you begin having sex, it's important to see your doctor, or go to a testing clinic, for STD tests at least once a year. This will put your mind at ease, or enable you to seek treatment for an STD should you have one. In addition to this routine screening, you should see your doctor immediately if you experience: Abnormal discharge from your penis or vagina, pain during sex, pain during urination, or growths on your genitals or anus, such as bumps, blisters, sores or a rash. However, some STDs have minimal, or no symptoms, and this makes routine testing absolutely vital for sexually active people. (Most STDs can be diagnosed via blood, urine, or cell samples. But here's where things get tricky: Most doctors won't test you for STDs if you don't ask, and not every doctor will test for every disease. That is why YOU need to initiate the STD talk with your doctor. Ask what she usually screens for in an STD test, and see if you're being checked for everything that you're worried about. Most insurance plans will cover STD testing, but it is also possible to obtain inexpensive or free tests from government-funded and independent testing clinics. Your local Planned Parenthood is a great place to start. A blood test involves taking samples of your blood from a vein in your arm and sending those samples to a lab for screening. Blood tests can screen for common STDs like HIV, the potentially deadly virus that causes AIDs; HSV, the virus that causes herpes; hepatitis B, a virus that inflames the liver; and potentially deadly syphilis. Urine tests are not as always as accurate as blood tests. They are, however, a way to screen for diseases like HIV, or gonorrhea, which can cause infertility or even death. A physical exam is another way in which a doctor can check for STDs. Because some STDs involve outbreaks, a visual exam may be all that is needed for diagnosis. STDs like genital herpes, syphilis, pubic lice, or genital warts, which are caused by HPV, can be seen with the naked eye. However, a follow-up test is usually ordered to confirm the diagnosis. For women, the best confirmation for many STDs is a swab test, which usually involves taking a sample of the cells in the cervix. A cervical swab can test for gonorrhea; Chlamydia, which can cause infertility; and the bacterial infection trichomoniasis. A pap smear, which is a similar procedure, can test for HPV, the virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer in women. STDs can be scary, but many are treatable. Ensure your safest, healthiest sex life by talking to a health care provider about regular screening for STDs!More »
Last Modified: 2013-10-15 | Tags »
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Curious as to whether or not HPV can be treated? Watch this to find out!
Last Modified: 2013-06-19 | Tags »
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These days, STDs are rampant on college campuses. While abstinence is the only guaranteed protection against sexually transmitted diseases, even people who are actively having sex can reduce their risk. Do you know how?
Last Modified: 2012-05-02 | Tags »
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The treatment of HIV has become advanced in recent years. Watch this video to learn how treating HIV can prevent AIDS.
Transcript: HIV is incurable and can lead to the potentially deadly disease AIDS. The GOOD news is that medications...
HIV is incurable and can lead to the potentially deadly disease AIDS. The GOOD news is that medications can slow the spread of HIV, and allow people who are infected to remain healthier for longer. To understand how medications work, it's helpful to understand the life cycle of HIV. This cyclical process begins when HIV enters the body and attaches to receptors on T-cells located in the immune system. One group of anti-HIV medications, entry inhibitors, stops this attaching process. An entry inhibitor binds either to the immune system's T-cells or to the invading HIV, thereby blocking the virus from bonding with healthy T-cells. Currently, the only FDA-approved entry inhibitor is marketed as Fuzeon, but others are being tested. Two other types of medication work to stop the second part of HIV's life cycle, reverse transcription. When HIV infects a cell, it copies its genetic code into that cell's DNA. As a result, the T-cell is "programmed" to create more copies of HIV. But because HIV is in the form of ribonucleic acid, or RNA, it must convert itself to the body's genetic make-up, which is deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, before it can infect the T-cells. This is what happens during reverse transcription. Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors, or NRTIs, are one type of medication that stops this process, by interfering with the nucleotides, or building blocks, that convert RNA to DNA. In this manner, the new DNA cannot be built, and a cell cannot produce more HIV. The first HIV drug, "AZT," or Retrovir, is an NRTI medication. Other FDA-approved NRTIs include Emtriva, and Videx. Another type of medication which blocks RNA from converting to DNA is called Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors, or NNRTIs. While NNRTIs have the same mission as NRTIs, they accomplish it differently. HIV cannot transcribe its RNA to DNA without the aid of a transcriptase enzyme. NNRTI medications attach themselves to this enzyme and prevent the virus from converting. Four FDA-approved NNRTI medications can help stop this conversion process. A final anti-HIV treatment works to stop the last step of HIV infection, viral assembly. During viral assembly, a strand of DNA is cut up and put together to form new copies of HIV. This process requires the help of an enzyme called protease. A group of medications called protease inhibitors, or PIs, block the protease enzyme from cutting up the genetic material that will become HIV, thus stopping new cells of the virus from forming. There are ten PI medications on the market, including Aptivus, Kaletra, and Viracept. For antiretroviral treatment to be effective for a long time, multiple medications are usually taken. Most HIV patients are familiar with the term HAART, which stands for Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy and it used to describe the combining of 3 or more HIV drugs. One drug, Atripla, which is known as the "triple cocktail" combines two NNRIs with one NNRTI. This medication is generally considered to be a once-a-day, all-inclusive HIV treatment. HIV treatment is an individualized process, so it's important to adhere to your doctor's instructions when taking medication to ensure that your body remains as healthy as it can for as long as possible!More »
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Understanding HIV and AIDs is vital in preventing them from greeting you at your doorstep. Find out more about the risks and concerns involving HIV and AIDS by taking a look at this video.
Transcript: AIDS is a disease that represents the final stages of infection with an incurable virus known as the...
AIDS is a disease that represents the final stages of infection with an incurable virus known as the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. To understand how AIDS works, it helps to have a grasp of HIV. Simply put, HIV attacks and destroys cells in the immune system, much as an invading army might destroy a high wall that protects a city. With a weakened immune system, a person becomes less able to fight off infections, as an army would have trouble defending a city without a protective wall. Before HIV can attack, it has to get in. HIV lives in bodily fluids like semen, vaginal secretions, blood, and breast milk. A person who carries HIV can pass it to another through any of these, usually via sexual intercourse, breastfeeding, or the sharing of drug paraphernalia. Rarely, a person will contract HIV through blood transfusions. And while it is highly unlikely for people to acquire HIV through saliva, it is possible to pass it through oral sex. Once the virus is transferred, it attaches to its new host body's sex, or T-cells, which are integral parts of the immune system. Inside the T-cell, HIV literally changes to become part of the body's DNA, or genetic code. At this point, the body will be forced to produce the virus. Because HIV lives in the immune system, every time a foreign invader triggers this system to work, HIV is activated, too. This means that when "good" T-cells fight, for example, the flu virus, new HIV particles are formed. During the first days and weeks after a person is infected with HIV, he or she may experience flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, fatigue, and enlarged lymph nodes. These symptoms generally disappear without treatment. But, as the body is forced to create new HIV cells, the immune system gets weaker, a progression that can take from several months to more than ten years. Eventually, untreated HIV leads to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. The name is appropriate: Acquired means to obtain an infection. Immune deficiency refers to weakness in the immune system, and syndrome is a group of problems that comprise a disease. AIDS is generally diagnosed by a blood or saliva test that measures the T-cells in a person's body. If the count drops below 200/mm3, the immune system is seriously damaged and unable to fight infections properly. A diagnosis of AIDS also occurs if a person gets one of 26 opportunistic infections, which are conditions common in advanced HIV patients, but rarely found in people with intact immune systems. Most people who die of AIDS do so from one of these infections. But while there is no cure for the disease, the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy has caused the number of AIDS-related deaths to decrease significantly. Over one million Americans are infected with HIV. Because 300, 000 people are still unaware of their HIV infection, getting tested and making sure you know your partner's status is essential.More »
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There are plenty of myths about herpes out there. Just how do you know what's fact and what's not? Watch this video to learn the top ten herpes facts you should know.
Transcript: There are 50 million cases of genital herpes in the United States alone, yet myths about the disease...
There are 50 million cases of genital herpes in the United States alone, yet myths about the disease abound. Here are ten facts you need to know. Herpes simplex is a contagious viral infection that can affect the mouth or the genitals. This disease often manifests itself as painful sores on either of these areas. Perhaps one of the most important facts about herpes is that it's contagious, ALL of the time. This is vital, because some people mistakenly believe that if they are not having an outbreak of sores that they cannot spread the virus. Ninety percent of people infected with the herpes virus are asymptomatic, and don't know they have herpes...yet still pass it to their partners. Herpes simplex is a virus that can be spread via the briefest of skin-to-skin contact. Kissing, oral or anal sex, touching with unwashed hands, and even sharing objects like drinking glasses and towels, can all spread the herpes virus. These high rates of asymptomatic herpes combined with the ease of spreading lead to the frequency with which genital herpes is found in the United States. While using a condom is a smart sexual practice, condoms do not necessarily protect against the spread of genital herpes. This is because the disease may be passed through contact with the thighs, pelvis and stomach. With these statistics in mind, you're probably eager to talk to your doctor about herpes simplex, and that's vital. Here's why: Most doctors don't test for herpes (even during a standard STD test) unless you ask them to. A blood test to determine if you are infected with the herpes virus, called a serology, is more accurate than the basic swab method. If you are considering pregnancy and do not know if you or your partner have been exposed to the herpes virus, it is especially important to find out if either of you is infected. That's because there is a chance that the active herpes virus can be passed to an infant during its trip through the birth canal. In some cases, your doctor may choose a cesarean section delivery to ensure that your baby is not infected. You may wonder why these precautions are necessary, since, while annoying and embarrassing, the herpes virus does not cause bodily harm beyond blisters. While this is true for you, newborn babies do not have the developed immune system that is needed to fight herpes simplex and may die if they contract the virus. If you have herpes, you are more prone to contract HIV and other STDs. Since your immune system is compromised because of the virus, it is important to be honest with your partner and discuss options to reduce transmission with your doctor. Finally, remember that either you OR your partner can have the herpes virus even if neither of you experience skin lesions! For this reason, it is absolutely vital to visit your doctor for a serology if you're sexually active. Doing so is worth the peace of mind, or medical help, hat will follow!More »
Last Modified: 2013-06-04 | Tags »
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Would you know if you had Chlamydia? Check out this video to get the basics on Chlamydia.
Transcript: Chlamydia is a curable STD that infects about 3 million Americans every year. The disease is caused by...
Chlamydia is a curable STD that infects about 3 million Americans every year. The disease is caused by the transmission of the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia can spread to both the male and female sex organs, as well to as the rectum, urinary tract, eyes, and throat, of both genders. This disease is passed through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, or from mother to child during birth. Chlamydia is particularly frightening because three out of four women and one out of two men who are infected have NO symptoms at all...and do not know that they have Chlamydia. If symptoms ARE present, women and men may both experience unusual discharge from their genitals, pain while urinating or defecating, or rectal discharge. Because these symptoms are nonspecific and very rare, it is recommended that ALL sexually active people, be tested regularly for Chlamydia, particularly prior to having sex with a new partner. A doctor can test for the disease with a urine sample or cervical swab. If this lab test comes back positive, additional STD tests should be conducted, as having Chlamydia suggests a likelihood of additional infections. It is very important that the infected individual and ALL current partners begin treatment with antibiotics immediately. The two most common ways to treat Chlamydia are a one-time dose of azithromycin, or twice daily doses of doxycycline for a week. These medications are 95 percent effective at killing off the Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium, and that's vital...because left untreated, Chlamydia can cause irreversible damage. In women, infection can progress to pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. This condition can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes and lead to infertility. PID also increases the chance that a woman will develop an ectopic pregnancy, whereby a fertilized egg is implanted, not in the womb, but in a fallopian tube. This can cause the tube to rupture, potentially resulting in death. An infected woman can also pass the bacterium on to her baby. This can lead to potentially fatal Chlamydial pneumonia or to potentially blinding neonatal conjunctivitis. Women who have Chlamydia are also 5 times more likely to contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, if exposed to it. Men do not usually experience any effects of Chlamydia. However, the disease CAN spread to the testicles, possibly resulting in infertility. On rare occasions, untreated Chlamydia can cause reactive arthritis, a disease that may lead to permanent disability. While knowing the possible effects of Chlamydia is important, it's even more important to take preventative action against the disease. Do so by getting tested regularly for Chlamydia and using male latex condoms. Chlamydia's common occurrence, infrequent side effects, and serious consequences all mean that you should talk to your doctor about getting tested if you are at risk.More »
Last Modified: 2012-12-28 | Tags »
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