Zika: Virus may be spread through sex

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January 29th, 2016

The virus has caused an epidemic in Brazil

Experts fear the Zika virus, which has been linked to brain damage in unborn babies, may be transmitted through sex.

Zika is known to be spread by mosquitos bites and has spread rapidly through Brazil and other South American countries since late 2015.

While it manifests itself as a relatively harmless fever in most patients, it has also been linked to a spike in microcephaly – a condition causing babies to appear to have shrunken heads.

Health officials across the world have warned pregnant women in affected South American countries to take precaution to protect themselves from mosquito bites, with some advising women to put off becoming pregnant.

However, two cases of the virus in medical literature suggest that Zika may also be spread through during sex, prompting experts to call for further investigation into the possibility.

The only known cases of the virus being detected in a man’s semen involved a 44-year-old Tahitian man who contracted Zika during a drink to French Polynesia in 2013, The New York Timesreported.

While his blood was clear, French investigators found traces of the virus in his semen and his urine.

The second case was that of Dr Brain D Foy, an expert in insect-borne diseases at Colorado State University, who unwittingly developed the virus after he travelled to Senegal to collect mosquitos for a study. Both he and his colleague who accompanied him fell ill with a fever when he returned to the US.

Days later, Dr Foy’s wife, a nurse, displayed similar symptoms including headache pains, a rash, and bloodshot eyes.

However, what had infected the three was unclear after the blood samples tested for malaria, dengue fever and yellow fever returned negative.

On the suggestion of another scientist, Dr Foy had the blood samples re-tested and found that he and his colleague, as well as his wife who had remained in the US, had been infected by Zika.

Dr Foy relayed his experience of the virus in the journal ‘Emerging Infectious Diseases’.

Research into Zika is further complicated by the fact that it does not infect common lab animals such as rats and mice, meaning controversial trials on monkeys may need to be used to investigate the condition.

Dr. William Schaffner, chief of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical School told The New York Times that while two suspected cases do not warrant a health warning from public health officials, he said: “it certainly should be studied.”

However, the World Health Organisation has sought to quell fears and said that

“Zika has been isolated in human semen, and one case of possible person-to-person sexual transmission has been described” but added: “more evidence is needed to confirm whether sexual contact is a means of Zika transmission.”

“The role of Aedes mosquitoes in transmitting Zika is documented and well understood, while evidence about other transmission routes is limited,” it said.

Health officials at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also said the two apparent instances are a “theoretical risk” and there is insufficient evidence to issue a warning about any concern that the virus may be spread through sex.

Dr Márcio Nehab, a paediatrician and infectious disease specialist at the Fiocruz research institute in Rio de Janeiro said that researchers should focus their efforts on mosquitoes.

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“We still need a lot of study to conclude that sexual transmission can happen because little is known about the Zika virus.

“At the moment, we have to care more about the known vector, which is the mosquito, as the virus transmission route,” he said according to MailOnline.

Men’s Health Thursday: When Having Sex Is Bad For Your Health

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January 25th, 2016

A lot of us look at all the positive things that comes with having good sex and barely worry about the negative things. If we do worry about it, it will be about coming too fast and not making a fool of ourselves. We should however worry about certain other important things such as headaches which may occur as a result of orgasms or an allergy to your own semen.

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Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? These things actually do occur even though they may be rare and far between. Here are three times sex could be bad for your health and what you should do if you ever find yourself in such conditions.

Depression
The feeling after sex should be one of ecstasy and serenity not depression. Some people however feel depressed after sex and this condition is known as post-coital dysphoria. The condition affects fewer men and an antidepressants prescription will do much to reduce the feelings of depression. The drugs however have side effects including delayed ejaculation and low libido. There may also be an underlying cause for the depression which may involve your partner and how you perceive your sexual life. If you suffer from this. You may want to consider discussing whatever sexual issues you have with your partner and solving them. This can help you both to feel happier and better satisfied.

Semen Allergy
Semen allergy may be accompanied with signs and symptoms which include a fever, runny nose, and upset stomach. The condition is known as post-orgasmic illness syndrome (POIS) and occurs when your body incorrectly identifies proteins in your own semen as an antigen or foreign invaders causing your immune system to attack them.

Furthermore, the vagina fluids secreted in women can also trigger an allergic reaction in men, though it is less severe. Also, a man can also develop an allergy to another man’s semen in much rarer cases.

The symptoms for semen allergy may occur immediately or days later. It is essential to see a doctor or immunologist to properly diagnose your allergic condition. However, a study in the journal of Sexual medicine suggests that anti-inflammatory medications when taken before and after sex can go a long way in calming the immune system to prevent any autoimmune reaction that can trigger the symptoms associated with semen allergy.

Headaches
It is estimated that about one in 100 people suffer headaches during or immediately after sexual activity. The research published by the American society of Headache also found out that men were more likely to be sufferers and feel the pain more than women. The headaches sometimes builds up in response to the intensity of the sexual activity or commences the instance orgasm occurs.
The cause of the headaches has been linked to the release of the hormone adrenaline which causes an increase in the blood pressure which may inadvertently, trigger a headache.
It is essential you see a doctor if the headaches occur suddenly, are severe and continues for a long while. Some of these headaches may be a precursor to more serious medical issues such as strokes or aneurysms. Your doctor will be in the best position to determine the best cause of treatment.

Urban myth’ that lesbian women don’t need pap smears is a health risk – study

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January 25th, 2016

University of Sydney study finds that lesbian women are being tested less for virus that can cause cervical cancer and sexually transmitted disease in general

5474Study co-author Dr Julie Mooney summers said the mistaken belief that, if women didn’t have sex with men, they did not need pap smears was a ‘real frustration’. Photograph: Voisin/Phanie/Rex Shutterstock

An “urban myth” that lesbian women do not need pap smears because they do not have sex with men means they are putting their health at risk, a study from the University of Sydney has found.

Researchers said lesbian women also generally tested less often for sexually transmitted infections than bisexual or queer women.

They said the findings highlighted the importance of targeting health campaigns to specific groups within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer [LGBTQ] community, rather than to that community as a whole.

Researchers analysed data from a survey of 379 women aged between 17 and 30 taken during the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2010 and 2012. The survey, which asks lesbian, bisexual and queer women about their health, sexual identity, sexual relationships and sexual practices, has been conducted every two years since 1996.

While queer women – those who did not identify as lesbian or bisexual in the survey – had the highest rates of illicit drug use, experiences of sexual coercion, and anti-LGBTQ discrimination, they were the group most proactive about their health, the researchers found.

While 58.3% of bisexual women reported being tested for sexually transmitted infections at least once, only 52.9% of lesbian women reported the same, the lowest of the three groups.

Only 65.2% of lesbian women had ever received a pap smear, compared with 70.8% of bisexual women and 79.4% of queer women, the study, led by Rada Germanos from the University of Sydney’s school of medicine and published in the journal, LGBT health, also found.

Pap smears are used to detect cervical cancer, spread by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 100 different types of HPV and some types, if left untreated, can cause cervical cancer. Most people with HPV don’t have symptoms and while the virus can go away on its own, it can persist and cause harm.

While women most commonly acquire HPV through sex with a man, it can can also be transmitted through genital skin-to-skin contact, or sex toys, making pap smears important for LGBTQ women as well.

Dr Julie Mooney-Somers, one of the authors of the study and a lecturer at the University of Sydney, said almost 60% of lesbian women surveyed had a history of sex with men, which was another reason they should be tested.

“It’s become a bit of an urban myth that women who don’t have sex with men don’t need pap smears, and this is one of the real frustrations about working in this area,” she said.

“Lesbian women also don’t usually need access to contraception so they’re not having those opportunistic discussions with their doctors about screening.”

LGBTQ women were also at higher risk of other cancers, such as lung cancer, due to more prevalent use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs, she said. But the impact of cervical cancer on this group was largely unknown, Mooney-Somers said, because women with cervical cancer were not necessarily asked about their sexual identity.

“The main message is that while we may be doing well around pap smears in general, some women are being left behind,” she said.

“We need to pay attention to them and the reasons behind why they’re not engaging and how we can better target them. Lesbian women may not relate to sexual health campaigns targeting LGBTQ people generally, just like we know some people with problem drinking may not think alcohol campaigns are talking about them.”

Hiranthi Perera, the manager of PapScreen Victoria, has conducted a survey of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people to analyse cervical screening behaviours.

While the results are still being analysed and are yet to be published, Perera said the aim would be to improve screening services.

“A common misconception is that this group don’t need cervical screening,” Perera said.

“This isn’t the case, as any person with a cervix who participates in any genital-skin to genital-skin contact, needs to have a pap test.”

All infectious diseases could become resistant to antibiotics says Cambridge expert

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January 20th, 2016

All infectious diseases could potentially become untreatable because of the rise of antibiotic resistance – not just gonorrhoea – according to a Cambridge sexual health expert.

Dr Caroline Cooper, associate specialist in sexual and reproductive health based at the Lime Tree clinic in Cambridge, said antibiotic resistance is a problem across the whole NHS, not just sexual health.

Her comments come after England’s chief medical officer reportedly warned Gonorrhoea could become “untreatable”.

According to the BBC, Dame Sally Davies has written to all GPs and pharmacies to ensure they are prescribing the correct drugs after the rise of a highly drug-resistant strain of the infection in Leeds. The strain, which is resistant to first-line antibiotic azithromycin, was first reported in Leeds in March last year but spread, with cases reported in patients from Macclesfield, Oldham and Scunthorpe.

Read more: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/infectious-diseases-resistant-antibiotics-just/story-28554208-detail/story.html#ixzz3xlI3AMQB
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Seminar held on sexual and reproductive health of garment workers –

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January 20th, 2016

Sexual and reproductive health of garment workers is of key importance and must be acknowledged and addressed, health activists said during a seminar held last week.

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The seminar “Media Sensitisation: Value Creation in RMG through embedding Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in factories and the need for positive marketing” was organised by the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation’s “Working With Women” project. It was held at BGMEA center last Wednesday.

“SRHR as a topic needs to come out to the public,” said Dr Nazneen Akhter, senior lecturer at North South University while presenting her keynote speech at the seminar.

She added: “We need to get rid of the jargon, and simplify it so that a garment worker can take ownership of the term and say that it is their issue as well.”

Along with Dr Naznee, Shariful Islam, founder of Bangladesh Brand Forum also presented the keynote paper in the seminar, followed by an open discussion session among journalists and hosts.

Engr Md Kawsar Ali, COO of Comfit Composite Ltd, shared his experience of the initiatives taken at his factory. Engr Kawser’s factory has set an exemplary record for volunteering to help SNV with their time on this project.

Members from Kawser’s factory, as well as Southeast Textiles Private Limited, another garment factory, were present during the SNV trainings, and also came forward to invest 60% in this project, according to a SNV representative.

“Often we see that due to lack of certain facilities available at the workplace, the workers become weak themselves,” said Kawser. “Then we lose them from the job market which in turn impedes on the growth of the entire industry.”

“The sector is already suffering because we’re losing a lot of potential workers,” he added, emphasising on the urgent need to address sexual and reproductive health needs of female garment workers, who make up the majority of the garment workforce.

Ashrafur Rahman Ranju, COO, Millennium Textile and Faruque Hassan, senior vice-president, BGMEA were also present at the seminar. Faruque shared remarks from BGMEA about the project and urged the journalists to promote good practices in the RMG sector in order to stimulate growth of the industry.

- See more at: http://www.dhakatribune.com/feature/2016/jan/20/seminar-held-sexual-and-reproductive-health-garment-workers#sthash.1Ppd85hL.dpuf

Syeda Samira Sadeque