Category Archives: Chlamydia

Women’s health – Week 45: Sexually transmitted infections

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s HealthSexually

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): also commonly called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are infections you can get by having sex with someone who has an infection. Continue reading

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tacuin women

Women’s Health — Week 12: Contraception

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From the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Contraception, also known as birth control, is used to prevent pregnancy. A woman should talk to her health care provider about her choice of birth control method. Her choice to use birth control and her choice of method depends on factors such as her general health, age, frequency of sexual activity, number of sexual partners, desire to have children in the future, and family history of certain diseases.

There are several general methods of birth control, including:

  • Barrier methods used to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. Condoms, the diaphragm, and the cervical cap are all barrier methods.
  • The intrauterine device, or IUD, is a small device that a health care provider inserts into a woman’s uterus. An IUD can stay in the uterus for up to 10 years until it is removed by a health care provider.
  • Hormonal birth control releases hormones into a woman’s body to prevent ovulation. The birth control pill, injections, skin patches, and vaginal rings are all hormonal forms of birth control.
  • Sterilization is a method that permanently prevents a woman from getting pregnant or a man from being able to get a woman pregnant. A health care provider performs a surgical procedure to sterilize a woman or man. Sterilization usually cannot be reversed.

It is important to remember – even though all these methods can prevent pregnancy – condoms are the only method that can protect against sexually transmitted infections or HIV.

For more information on sexually transmitted infections, see Week 45. For more information on HIV, see Week 27.

For more information: www.nichd.nih.gov

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State gonorrhea cases up 34 percent

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Gonorrhea bacteria - Photo CDC

Gonorrhea bacteria – Photo CDC

From the Washington State Department of Health

The number of gonorrhea cases in Washington is up substantially this year compared to 2012. There have been 3,137 cases through September 2013 compared to 2,350 during the same time in 2012. That’s a 34 percent increase.

Rates have been going up steadily since 2010. Department of Health experts haven’t been able to attribute a specific cause to the uptick. The jump has occurred among men and women in most age groups, but young adults remain the most affected.

Rural and urban counties across Eastern and Western Washington have reported a climb in cases. However, several counties have seen more dramatic upswings, including Spokane, Yakima, Thurston, Kitsap and Benton counties, which are at outbreak levels.

Gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted disease in Washington after chlamydia. It’s spread through unprotected sex with an infected partner. The infection often has no symptoms, particularly among women. If symptoms are present, they may include discharge or painful urination.

Serious long-term health issues can occur if the disease isn’t treated, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and an increased likelihood of HIV transmission.

The department continues to monitor case reports. Local public health officials are actively working with health care providers to ensure that people with gonorrhea and those exposed get appropriate testing and treatment to stop ongoing spread of the disease.

“We’re working closely with local health agencies to actively monitor the rise in cases. We’re especially concerned because of gonorrhea’s resistance to antibiotics used to treat it,” said Mark Aubin, sexually transmitted disease controller for the Department of Health. “It’s important for us to assure every reported case is interviewed so the partners of infected people are identified and receive treatment.”

Despite the increase over the last couple years, Washington rates are still well below the national average.

Health officials urge anyone who is experiencing symptoms, or has a partner that has been diagnosed, to be tested. Routine screenings are recommended for sexually active people.

Prevention methods include consistent and correct use of condoms, partner treatment, mutual monogamy and abstinence.”

To learn more about gonorrhea and find out where you can get tested go to Public Health – Seattle & King County’s Sexually Transmitted Disease webpage.

 

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Monday’s health tip: Be tested for STDs

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Gonorrhea (Photo: Bill Schwarts/CDC)

Gonorrhea (Photo: Bill Schwarts/CDC)

Nearly 1 in 5 people living with HIV don’t know they have it.

Many other STDs (such as chlamydia, herpes, and gonorrhea) are also unknowingly spread and left untreated.

Because of this, the CDC recommends all adolescents and adults between the ages of 13-64 get tested for HIV at least once in their life, as a routine part of medical care.

More frequent testing should be considered if you have had unprotected sex or multiple partners.

Remember, doctors don’t test for STDs as part of your routine checkup, so be sure to speak up!

If you think you should be tested, schedule an appointment with your doctor or a clinic this week.

 

About the Monday Campaigns:

The Healthy Monday Tips is produced by a national health promotion initiative called the Monday Campaigns.

The thinking behind the initiative derives from two studies done at the Center for a Liveable Future at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health by Jullian Fry and Roni Neff.

In one study, they reviewed the scientific studies that looked at ways to get people to adopt healthy habits.

In that review, they found that one of the most effective ways to keep people on track is simply to remind them from time to time to stick to it.

But when would be the best time send those reminders?

Fry and Neff decided to look at Monday, which many of us consider the start of our week.

To better understand how we thought and felt about Monday, they reviewed the scientific literature as well as cultural references to Monday in movies, songs, books and other forms of art and literature, even video games.

They noted that a number of scientific studies have found that we may suffer more health problems on Monday. For example, a number of studies find that Americans have more heart attacks and strokes on Monday.

There is also evidence that we have more on-the-job injuries on Monday, perhaps because we are not quite back into the swing of things, or are still recovering from our weekend.

Fry and Neff also found that while many of us, facing the return to work, may dread Mondays, Monday is also seen as a day for making a fresh start.

Fry and Neff concluded that Monday might be a good day for promoting healthy habits. Calling attention to the health problems linked to the first day of the work week, such as heart attacks and on-the-job injuries, makes Monday a natural day to highlight the importance of prevention.

And the Monday’s reputation as a day to make a fresh start offers the opportunity to help people to renew their efforts to adopt healthier habits.

Fry and Neff’s findings are put into practice by the Monday Campaigns, which helps individuals and organizations use Monday as a focus for their health promotion efforts, providing free research, literature and artwork, and other support.

To learn more about Healthy Mondays:

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Chlamydia within cell. Image Credit: Volker Brinkmann, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology

Sexually Transmitted Infections: Part 3 Chlamydia

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Chlamydia within cell. Image Credit: Volker Brinkmann, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology

Chlamydia within cell. Image Credit: Volker Brinkmann, Max Planck Institute

By Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH
From Seattle Children’s Teenology 101 weblog

We’ve been focusing on sexuality and sexually transmitted infections in teens in the this series of posts. Now, let’s talk about the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that’s caused by a bacteria: Chlamydia.

Most people with chlamydia don’t know it. The most common symptom is nothing at all, so it is extremely important that any teen who is sexually active be screened.

The CDC recommends all women younger than age 25 who are sexually active be screened for chlamydia each year (about 1 in 15 sexually active females age 14-19 has chlamydia).Men who have sex with men should also be screened every year.

Why worry about an infection that doesn’t cause symptoms?

Well, if left untreated, chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, a sometimes painful infection that can lead to scarring of the fallopian tubes and infertility or a life threatening pregnancy outside of the uterus (ectopic pregnancy).

In males, they may develop a burning sensation with urination, or rarely, an infection called epididymitis (swelling of the testicles).

If a woman is pregnant and has chlamydia, the baby is at risk for developing a dangerous eye infection, pneumonia, or being born early.

Though most people have no symptoms, infection can lead to burning with urination, discharge, or itching.

Chlamydia is spread through sexual contact: oral, anal, or vaginal sex. It can lead to infection of the throat, rectum, or cervix (the lower portion of a woman’s uterus).

Though most people have no symptoms, infection can lead to burning with urination, discharge, or itching.

Screening and diagnosis is done through a laboratory test: either a urine sample or a vaginal swab (usually collected by the individual or health care provider).

Talk to your teen about sexuality and relationships. Not just having ‘the talk’ but many conversations about the topic.

Treatment is with antibiotics and a person’s sexually partners over the past 2 months should be treated too.

Fortunately, chlamydia is preventable. The only 100% guarantee that a person will not get chlamydia is to not have sex, but using condoms with every sexual encounter also protects against the spread of chlamydia.

So what can a parent do to help protect their teen from chlamydia?

Talk to your teen about sexuality and relationships. Not just having ‘the talk’ but many conversations about the topic. This can be a very challenging thing to discuss, but sex is all around. Just turn on the radio or watch TV. Use our media to your advantage… the next time a commercial for perfume comes on, comment on how sexuality isn’t all about a look or smell.

Discuss what a healthy relationship means to you and share your expectations about sex and relationships with your teen. This conversation will hopefully, lead to future discussions.

Sure your teen may be embarrassed, or refuse to talk initially, but just bringing up the topic of sex shows that your are available to listen and answer questions.

If your teen is sexually active, encourage them to get screened for sexually transmitted infections. Ask your primary care provider about screening or use your teen’s school based health clinic (if available).

Let your teen know that condoms need to be used with every sexual encounter.

If you are uncomfortable or have questions talk to your teen’s health care provider.

What tips to readers have for other parents on how to talk with their teens about sex and relationships?

About Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH

Yolanda-Evans-MD-MPH_avatar-100x100My work is a ‘dream come true’ and it’s what I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. I have the privilege of getting to know some amazing teens and hearing things about them that they may not have told anyone before. When I’m not working, I like trying new foods, traveling around the world, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying the fresh Washington air (though not quite as fresh as Alaska where I grew up, but very close!) – Yolanda Evans, M.D., Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s

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Sexually Transmitted Infections in Teens: An overview of an uncomfortable topic

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Photo by Brunopp

Photo by Brunopp

By Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH
From Seattle Children’s Teenology 101 weblog

This is the start of an entire series on sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) in teens. Rather than starting the series with gruesome pictures or detailed descriptions of specific infections, let’s talk a bit about teens and sexuality.

A normal part of adolescence is developing physically and emotionally. As teens, we start to discover who we are attracted to and what we are looking for in a partner. We also start to experiment with relationships. Friendships may become more intense and we rely more on approval from peers than from family.

At the same time, we start to have crushes and relationships with potential romantic partners. Sometimes these relationships lead to sex, and sex has consequences.

A consequence could be more intense feelings for a partner or realizing you are not ready to be in a committed relationship; it could be pregnancy, or it could be an infection.

Sexually transmitted infections are nothing new, they’ve plagued famous authors, musicians, husbands, and wives for centuries. In this day and age, we can treat and cure many STI’s with antibiotics, yet some are still incurable (though we may be able to treat symptoms) and antibiotic resistance is a growing concern.

STI’s can lead to feeling anger and shame, but can also cause serious infection and even infertility if not treated. In the US, teens and young adults ages 15-24 account 25% of the populations but contribute to most of the STI’s diagnosed each year (>50%). The good news is that STI’s, with all the consequences, are preventable.

Abstinence (not having sex at all) is the only way to prevent STI’s 100% of the time, but condoms and routine screening are the next best way to stay safe if a teen decides to start having sex.

Over the course of this series, I’ll go into details about specific infections that anyone (not just teens) can get from having sex. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I’ll talk about the infections that are common.

Even though I’ll discuss specific infections, I want to remind parents that they can help keep their teens safe and healthy by communicating.

Keep an open dialogue going about your ideas of a healthy romantic relationship.What are your opinions about sex? What are your expectations for your teen about dating and intimacy? Are your teen’s friends dating? Do you know if their friends are having sex? Have you communicated with your teen in a way that would make them feel comfortable asking you questions about their body’s development and/or sexual activity? Have they asked about condoms and birth control? Have you brought up the topics of sexuality, birth control, and safe sex practices?

A lot of these questions can be uncomfortable to discuss with our own adult friends, let alone our children. If you aren’t comfortable bringing up the topic, schedule a visit with your teen’s health care provider and ask them for tips on how to start the conversation.

Photo courtesy of Brunopp

About Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH

Yolanda-Evans-MD-MPH_avatar-100x100My work is a ‘dream come true’ and it’s what I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. I have the privilege of getting to know some amazing teens and hearing things about them that they may not have told anyone before. When I’m not working, I like trying new foods, traveling around the world, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying the fresh Washington air (though not quite as fresh as Alaska where I grew up, but very close!) – Yolanda Evans, M.D., Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s

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Dr. Larry Corey

Hutchinson Center President Larry Corey Elected American Academy of Art and Sciences Fellow

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Dr. Larry Corey

Dr. Larry Corey, M.D., president and director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has been elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Academy is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies and independent policy-research centers.

The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.

Dr. Corey has led the Hutchinson Center since January 2011 and has held other leadership positions there since 1996, first as head of infectious disease sciences in the Clinical Research Division and later as senior vice president and co-director of the Center’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division.

Dr. Corey is an expert in virology, immunology and vaccine development. His research has focused on herpes viruses, HIV and other viral infections, particularly those associated with cancer.

He also is principal investigator of the Hutchinson Center-based HIV Vaccine Trials Network, an international collaboration of scientists and institutions that combines clinical trials and laboratory-based studies to accelerate the development of HIV vaccines.

Dr. Corey is a professor of laboratory medicine and medicine, adjunct professor of pediatrics and microbiology, and holder of the Lawrence Corey Endowed Chair in Medical Virology at the University of Washington. He is also an infectious disease physician at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Dr. Corey is the Hutchinson Center’s second president to be elected to the Academy. Yeast geneticist Lee Hartwell, Ph.D., a 2001 Nobel laureate, was elected in 1998. He led the Center from 1997 until 2010.

Corey is among 220 leaders in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, arts, business and public affairs who have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2012 class of fellows.

Since its founding in 1780, the Academy fellows have included: George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the eighteenth century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the nineteenth, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the twentieth.

The new class will be inducted at a ceremony Oct. 6 at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.

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Weekend Reading: Santorum’s flip on health reform, malpractice and EHRs, talking about AIDS and sex

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Every week, reporter Jessica Marcy selects interesting reading from around the Web.

Mother Jones: Santorum In ’93: More Government Needed in Health Care

Rick Santorum (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

If elected president, Santorum vows, he will end the “tyranny” of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Yet as an up-and-coming congressman in the early 1990s, Santorum took a much different line. Then—like now—health care was one of the nation’s most divisive issues. In 1993, Republicans were up in arms about a health care reform bill spearheaded by Hillary Clinton and pushed by President Bill Clinton. … During that fiery debate, Santorum said it would be a mistake to allow the delivery of health care services to be determined only by the market. He asserted that Republicans were “wrong” to let the marketplace decide how health care works. He instead argued that government should play a “proactive” role in shaping the health care marketplace “to make it work better” (Andy Kroll and Tim Murphy, 3/5).

The Atlantic: Making The Best Of What Is Often The Very Worst Time Of Our Lives (Book Excerpt)

As difficult as things are now, these may turn out to be the good old days. How we die is already a public health crisis, and care for people through the end of life is poised to become a generation-long social catastrophe. … Very soon, for the first time in human history, older people will outnumber younger people on our planet. In the United States, one in five adults is 65 or older. … Those of us who are concerned about long-term care have good reasons to worry. The nursing homes of the future — our future! — may make today’s nursing homes look like luxury hotels. It doesn’t have to turn out that way (Ira Byock, 3/7).

American Medical News: Legal Risks Of Going Paperless

System breaches. Modification allegations. E-discovery demands. These issues are becoming common courtroom themes as physicians transition from paper to EMRs, legal experts say. Not only are EMRs becoming part of medical negligence lawsuits, they are creating additional liability. … Studies are mixed about how EMRs will impact liability for physicians. … Whatever the future holds for EMRs, it’s important that doctors reduce their liability risks during system implementation, legal experts say. Being aware of potential legal pitfalls prevents doctors from falling victim to technology intended to do good — not cause hardship (Alicia Gallegos, 3/5).

The Daily Beast: Talking About Sex Is the Only Way To Stop HIV

[The United States has] been stuck at about 50,000 new infections each year for more than a decade. Compared with the challenges facing places like sub-Saharan Africa, our failure is particularly galling: we have plenty of drugs that work, the money and systems to administer them, and effective, if not particularly popular, ways to interrupt the spread (condoms, clean needles, abstinence). So why aren’t we doing better? The answer is blindingly simple: sex. Almost all HIV in the U.S. is spread by sexual intercourse, yet when faced with this fact, we act like a bumbling junior-high-school kid hearing about the birds and the bees for the first time. As a result, we have before us an unabated 30-year epidemic of a sexually transmitted disease (Kent Sepkowitz, 3/5).


This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Gonorrhea bacteria - Photo CDC

New drugs needed to combat drug-resistant gonorrhea, warn scientists

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Some cases of gonorrhea in the U.S. may soon be incurable unless new drugs can be found to combat emerging strains that are resistant to existing “last line of defense” antibiotics, scientists warn in an article in this week’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

“It is time to sound the alarm,” said Dr. Judy Wasserheit, vice chair of the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington, who wrote the article with Dr. Gail Bolan of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. P. Frederick Sparling of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill.

Gonorrhea bacteria - Photo CDC

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that can infect the genital tract, throat and anus.

There are more than 600,000 cases of gonorrhea a year in the U.S., making it one of the most common reportable infections in the country.

Untreated, gonorrhea can cause a number of serous complications, including infertility, a chronic painful pelvic condition in women called pelvic inflammatory disease, and ectopic pregnancy, a serious complication in which the fetus develops in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.

In rare cases, the bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and infect joints, heart valves and the brain.

The bacteria that causes gonorrhea, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, has a history of quickly acquiring the ability to resist antibiotics. In the 1940s it became resistant to sulfa drugs, in the 1980s to penicillins and tetracyclines, and by 2007 to flouroquinolones.

Today, treatment with a class of antibiotics called cephalosporins is considered the most reliable option, but resistance to this class of drugs is on the rise both abroad and in the U.S., raising concerns that doctors here will soon begin seeing cases they cannot cure.

Untreatable cases have not yet been reported in the U.S., but they have appeared in Asia and Europe and a worrying number of strains in the U.S. are showing signs of resistance to cephalosporins.

Resistance to one of the cephalosporins has risen 17-fold in the U.S. over the past few years, Dr. Wasserheit and her colleagues write, increasing from just 0.1 percent of cases in 2006 to 1.7 percent in the first part of last year.

Resistance has been increasing even faster in the western U.S., reaching 3.6 percent of all cases last year and 4.7 percent of cases among men who have sex with men.

Although higher doses may overcome the ability of these strains to resist cephalosporins for a time, Dr. Wasserheit and her colleagues write, urgent action is needed now to prevent the spread of these strains and to develop new treatments.

“There is much to do, and the threat of untreatable gonorrhea is emerging rapidly,” they conclude.

 To learn more:

  • Visit the National Library of Medicine’s Medline Plus information page on gonorrhea.
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Safe

Texting sex ed – NYTs

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The New York Times’s Jan Hoffman reports on efforts by health organizations and school districts to develop Web sites and texting services to provide teens with accurate information about sex.

Supporters of the initiatives say these new services allow students to get good information about sex anonymously. But there are also those who oppose these initiatives, writes Hoffman.

…proponents of abstinence-based sexual education argue that these digital services presume that sexual activity among teenagers is the norm, and do not spend enough time on alternatives.

“They are only focusing on the risk-reduction model,” said Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, which hopes to kick off its online service for teenagers next year.

Those who run digital programs say they simply want teens to have accurate information, to help them make good decisions. Even though popular culture is saturated with sex, facts and advice can be hard to find.

To learn more:

Some of the services discussed:

 

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HIV

Tomorrow, Oct. 15, is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day

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National and local health officials are encouraging King County Latinos to be tested for HIV as part of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, Saturday, October 15th.

It is projected that 1 in 50 Latinos will become infected with HIV in their lifetime, yet fewer than half of Latinos in the U.S. have been tested for the virus.

Among Latino men about 80 percent of infections occur among gay and bisexual men, with the largest number of new infections among gay and bisexual men under the age of 30, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Of these, 1 in 5 are unaware they carry the virus, the CDC says.

In King County there are more  750 Latinos who have HIV or AIDS. Of these, Public Health – Seattle & King Count officials say, 40 percent received a late diagnosis, meaning they were diagnosed with a immunodeficiency due to the infection shortly after their first positive HIV test result.

Many of these individuals could have been infected for years, unknowingly infecting others and missing the chance for early treatment.

“HIV medications work best when started early,” says said Dr. Matthew Golden, Director of Public Health’s HIV/STD Program. “The earlier we catch infection, the sooner people can get medication that will keep them healthy. And they can consistently use condoms to keep their partners from getting infected.”

In King County, HIV has a disproportionate impact on the Latino community, which makes up 6 percent of the population but 13% of people recently diagnoses with the infection.

To raise awareness in the Latino community Public Health – Seattle & King County and Seattle’s Latino LGBT organization Entre Hermanos have teamed up to launch a new campaign called, All Together: The Latino HIV Testing Campaign, or Todos Juntos: Campaña Latina para la Prueba del VIH.

As part of the initiative the campaign has released a new video, directed by local filmmaker Drew Emery, that features a broad cross-section of Latino and Latina community members speaking about the importance of routine HIV testing.

The CDC recommends that all adolescents and adults age 13 to 64 be tested for HIV, that people in high-risk groups to be tested at least yearly, and that HIV testing be part of standard prenatal and pregnancy testing.

A number of programs provide low-cost options to pay for HIV testing and treatment for people have HIV or AIDS.

Some of local testing locations with Spanish speaking staff include:

To learn more:
  • Go to Public Health’s HIV/STD Program website for more information about these clinics or SabiaUD.org for information in Spanish.
  • Or, to find confidential testing resources near you, visit hivtest.org, a fully English-Spanish bilingual site.
A Spanish version of the press release announcing the campaign is below:

Se pide que más latinos se hagan la prueba del VIH como parte de una nueva campaña y video

Lunes, 10 de octubre de 2011

El 15 de octubre es el Día Nacional Latino para la Concientización del SIDA

CONDADO DE KING, WASHINGTON — Entre Hermanos junto con Salud Pública de Seattle y el condado de King están lanzando una nueva campaña y video para el Día Nacional Latino para la Concientización del SIDA, llamado Todos Juntos: Campaña latina para la prueba del VIH. Dirigido por el cineasta local Drew Emery, el video muestra a un grupo amplio de la comunidad latina resaltando la importancia de la prueba rutinaria del VIH como una norma saludable de la comunidad.

Someterse a la prueba del VIH es vital si queremos reducir las disparidades de salud para los latinos relacionadas con el VIH y el SIDA. En la actualidad, los latinos representan 6% de la población del Condado de King, pero 13% de las personas con recientes diagnósticos del VIH.

“Este proyecto ya ha tenido una tremenda aceptación por parte de la comunidad. Es muy grande la fuerza que ha significado proporcionar un medio para que se escuchen las voces de la comunidad sobre un problema que les es importante”, afirma Marcos Martínez, Director Ejecutivo de Entre Hermanos, la organización latina homosexual, bisexual y transexual de Seattle.

El nuevo video se lanzará el 14 de octubre y estará disponible en los sitios Web de Entre Hermanos y Salud Pública. Estas dos organizaciones solicitarán a los miembros de la comunidad latina y a otras personas que compartan ampliamente el video a través de medios sociales como Facebook, Twitter, blogs, y correos electrónicos, con un mensaje personalizado como, “Yo me someto a la prueba del VIH con regularidad porque me preocupo por mi salud. ¿Te harás tú la prueba?”

“Sabemos que los medicamentos para el VIH actúan mejor cuando se empiezan temprano. Esto representa una oportunidad de hacer saber que las pruebas frecuentes nos ayudarán a diagnosticar el VIH antes”, dijo el Dr. Matthew Golden, Director del programa HIV/STD de Salud Pública. “Cuanto más pronto se descubra la infección, más pronto podrán obtener el medicamento que los mantendrá sanos. Y podrán usar condones constantemente con el fin de evitar que sus parejas adquieran la infección”.

Hay más de 750 personas en el Condado de King que son latinos y tienen VIH o SIDA, y alrededor del 40% de ellos recibieron un diagnóstico tardío, lo que significa que se les diagnosticó SIDA dentro de los 12 meses después del resultado positivo de su primera prueba del VIH.

Aproximadamente el 15% de las personas con VIH en el país no lo saben porque no se han sometido a la prueba recientemente. Cuando las personas no conocen su estado, aún sin ser conscientes de ello, pueden transmitir el virus a otras personas a través de relaciones sexuales sin protección o por compartir agujas. También es vital para las mujeres embarazadas se hagan la prueba, de manera que puedan evitar la transmisión del VIH a sus recién nacidos.

Existen formas económicas de pagar por la prueba y tratamiento de VIH cuando las personas tienen VIH y SIDA. Y existen más opciones de prueba del VIH que nunca antes, incluyendo lugares con personal que habla español como Consejo, Sea Mar, Entre Hermanos, Gay City, clínicas de Salud Pública y varias clínicas de salud de la comunidad. Visiten SabiaUD.org si desean obtener mayor información sobre estas clínicas. Si desea obtener información sobre recursos para someterse a pruebas confidenciales cerca de donde vive, visite hivtest.org.

Para unirse a la campaña o inscribirse para recibir el video de la nueva campaña cuando se publique, vaya a www.surveygizmo.com/s3/665665/All-Together-The-Latino-HIV-Testing-Campaign, o llame 206-205-6105 (ingles) o 206-322-7700 (español).

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Graph thumb

Campaign seeks to curb sharp rise in syphilis cases in Seattle and King County

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In response to an explosion of new cases of syphilis, health officials here have launched a media campaign to encourage gay and bisexual men to get tested for the sexually transmitted infection.

In the 1990s, the infection, which is caused by the bacteria Treponema pallidum, had almost been eliminated among gay and bisexual men in the county, but cases have soared recently, nearly doubling from 2009 to 2010, to 289 cases, and this year the number of cases is on track to double yet again.

Number of cases of early syphilis in King County, WA, by year and sexual orientation, 1994-2010

Gay and bisexual men–men who have sex with men or MSM– account for 90 percent of the new cases, according to Public Health – Seattle & King County, the campaign’s sponsor.

The new campaign, called “Syphilis is Back”, emphasizes that syphilis is easy to catch — but also easy to treat.

Syphilis is usually spread when a person comes into contact with syphilis sore, called a chancre, during vaginal, oral and anal sex. Because these sores can be hidden from view, it is often impossible to tell if a sex partner is infected.

In addition, the symptoms of syphilis can be easy to miss. The first symptom is a chancre, a raised, painless sore, which usually goes away in a few weeks.

Treponema pallidum -- CDC Photo

But even though the sore has gone, the infection persists and with time can have devastating effects on the heart, brain and other organs. Untreated infection in pregnant women can also have devastating effects on the fetus.

However, early infections can be easily treated with a single antibiotic injection.

The new campaign encourages sexually active gay and bisexual men to get tested for syphilis regularly and if they have any symptoms of the infection to be tested right away.

To learn more about the campaign, the signs and symptoms of syphilis, and local testing sites:

  • Go to Public Health – Seattle & King County Sexually Transmitted Diseases webpage which has additional information about STDs and information about testing sites.
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Health stories in the news

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Palliative care or euthanasia?

Some physicians will heavily sedate dying patients to ease their suffering even though the medications they use may speed their patients’ deaths, a controversial practice called “terminal sedation”, writes reporter Anemoa Hartocollis in an excellent article today’s issue of the New York Times.

Hartocollis writes:

Doctors who perform it say it is based on carefully thought-out ethical principles in which the goal is never to end someone’s life, but only to make the patient more comfortable.

But the possibility that the process might speed death has some experts contending that the practice is, in the words of one much-debated paper, a form of “slow euthanasia,” and that doctors who say otherwise are fooling themselves and their patients.

To learn more:

UW physician and researcher Dr. Walter Stamm dies

Chlamydia under the microscope

Chlamydia

In an obituary this week, veteran New York Times health reporter Dr. Lawrence Altman recounted the accomplishments and contributions of Dr. Walter Stamm, a UW physician and scientist “whose research spared many women from infertility and helped prevent, control and treat certain common infectious diseases.”

Altman writes:

Among his accomplishments, Dr. Stamm clarified the role of a bacterium, chlamydia trachomatis, in causing pelvic inflammatory disease that often leads to infertility among women . . . “Countless women owe their fertility to Walt Stamm and his colleagues in Seattle,” said Dr. Martin J. Blaser, an infectious disease expert who is chairman of the department of medicine at New York University and who succeeded Dr. Stamm as president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

To learn more:

PHOTO CREDIT: Dr. E. Arum, Dr. N. Jacobs/CDC

The high cost of end-of-life care

New York Times reporter Reed Abelson profiles Ronald Reagan U.C.L.A Medical Center, which, he writes, “has earned a reputation as a place where doctors will go to virtually any length and expense to try to save a patient’s life.”

As a result, according to one research group, Medicare pays about $50,000 to the hospital during the last six months of a patient’s life, spending weeks in the hospital under specialists’ care, compared to $25,000 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where doctors care is closely coordinated and are “slow to bring in specialists and aim to avoid expensive treatments that offer little or no benefit to a patient,” he writes.

But are the U.C.L.A wrong to treat their patients so aggressively?

Do the statistics obscure the lives they save?

To learn more:

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