Author: Shernide Delva
A recent study shows that a pill to prevent HIV protected 100 percent of its study participants. Not a single person contracted the potentially deadly virus in over two and a half years of observation. The research revealed that despite rising rates of STIs in the group, as well as a decline in condom use, the pill was able to protect everyone involved from HIV.
The study was conducted by doctors from the managed care company Kaiser Permanente in Oakland California. It consisted of 657 people who took the pill PrEP, a daily pill that known to treat and prevent HIV.
Lead Researcher Dr. Johnathan Volk of Kaiser Permanente said that the results are exciting:
“What our study shows very reassuringly is that PrEP works in a real world setting. HIV prevention in 2015 is very exciting because we have several tools that are available for reducing risk, and PrEP is one of those tools.”
The drug PrEP, which stands for preexposure prophylaxis, is more commonly known by its brand name Truvada. It has been on the market for HIV since 2004 but was not approved by the FDA for HIV prevention until 2012.
As of 2014, only about 3000 people had begun taking it even though the pharmaceutical company estimates close to a half-million Americans could be good candidates for the drug. The findings are significant because it is one of the first “real world” studies of PrEP use as opposed to clinical trials done in the past. In the study, 99 percent of those who participated were gay males.
While the drug seems to be well-known to the gay community, more work needs to be done to reach high-risk men and women, transgender women and injection drug users. Truvada can be used to protect drug addicts who share intravenous needles from acquiring HIV and of course anyone who engages in unprotected sex could benefit. Still, many people from these communities do not know about the drug or know very little.
“We want to make sure we’re reaching all individuals who are at risk for HIV,” said Volk. “When you look at who is getting infected with HIV, we still have work to do.”
Criticisms of Truvada
When the drug was first approved by the FDA, many were critical of Truvada as it felt it would give people a false sense of security and result in engaging in irresponsible reckless behavior. Some HIV/AIDS experts argued that it promotes irresponsible sexual practices and may be responsible for declining condom use and rising rates of other STIs.
Unfortunately, there concerns are valid. In Volk’s study, it was found that after six months on PrEP use, 30 percent of the participants had at least one STI, ranging from chlamydia to gonorrhea and syphilis. After 12 months, that percentage increased to 50 percent of participants.
“Not a single dude I know that is on Truvada is using condoms,” is a comment I ran over just while I was doing research. Apparently it is even common in the gay community for those who use Truvada to be called “Truvada whores.” Clearly, this form of treatment is controversial in the communities who benefit from it the most.
Nonetheless, Truvada is intended to be used along with condoms. It does not protect against other sexually transmitted diseases. Those for Truvada argue that people would not use condoms or protection anyway so the drug is doing more good than harm.
Conclusion from the Study
Volk is careful to note that he did not expect these results when originally planning the study. He explained that he would have expected an HIV rate of 8.9 cases per 100-person. Instead the HIV incidence rate was zero.
Still, he emphasizes that more research and studies are needed to confirm the results. He believes that this behavioral data is not rigorous enough to establish a causal link to Truvada use. The data does not assess the risk of the participant or their partners and it still does not take into account whether people are not using condoms if there partner is also taking the drug. There also is not a control group that assesses whether PrEP use did or did not change people’s sexual choices.
“Without that more nuanced understanding of when and how people are using condoms, it’s really difficult to make those determinations,” he said.
There definitely is a lot more to be looked at. Another criticism of the study is that it took place in San Francisco, an area with higher rates of HIV therefore higher rates of HIV treatment so the virus may not be detectable. Volk suggests his findings may not be applicable to other cities.
Regardless, Volk is excited about the results:
“It really extends the very impressive evidence we have from randomized controlled trials and demonstration projects and provides us with very exciting news: that this medication can be delivered effectively in a real world setting,” Volk concluded.
What do you think? Should a drug like this be heavily promoted? It is hard to tell where the results of this study will lead to. Still, the news is exciting for those wanting to know about methods prevent the instances of HIV/AIDS. It also affects the drug addiction community and could help lower the risk of contraction of HIV/AIDS from dirty needles.
Regardless, the most important way to take care of yourself is by finding ways to overcome your addiction and not making reckless mistakes in the first place. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-561-221-1125
Author: Justin Mckibben
Today I’m going to give you ‘The Talk’. Yes that talk. And it will probably get a little weird, but I promise it’s for a good cause and it will all be over soon. Let’s talk about sex, and the way your sex life is affected by addiction. I can already hear the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ now. But in all actuality, how many addicts can say that their sex life was never affected by their addiction to drugs and/or alcohol? Drug and alcohol addiction harms our livelihood and relationships in every aspect, and our sexual relationships are no different. Be it physical, mental, or emotional our sex lives suffer. So let’s get down to the ‘nitty gritty’ and talk about 7 ways addiction affects your sex life.
- Physical- Libido
One problem caused by addiction, or so I’m told, involving sex is the physical impact it has on the sex-drive. Especially for men erectile dysfunction is very common for males who have a history of substance abuse. Perhaps the most common drug used that has this affect is alcohol. At low concentrations of blood alcohol, social inhibitions are reduced, though in higher concentrations it can also inhibit performance. Men who take drugs are more likely to have performance issues in the bedroom – even years after they stop taking them. Whether man or woman, new research has overturned previous thinking that the body recovers in a matter of weeks, issuing a fresh warning to those who take illegal substances or even drink heavily, as alcohol is the worst offender of all. So even after getting clean, you still have a while before you can be of maximum performance.
One thing more addicts and alcoholics may not be as open about is the affect that addiction has on their self-esteem when it comes to sex. Drugs and alcohol tend to magnify our individual insecurities, and especially when combined with any number of the other side-effect on this list. Self-esteem is not typically a strong suit for addicts, and in a way recovering addicts perpetuate the self-esteem problem by either avoiding the conversation, or becoming sexually active in unhealthy ways, which later threaten their relationships or self-esteem in a vicious cycle.
- Sexually Transmitted Disease’s
Perhaps one of the more obvious problems related to substance abuse and sex is the spread of sexual transmitted diseases (STD’s). Addiction can sometimes result in hazardous exposure to blood and bodily fluids, and diseases can be transferred in this way, especially through IV users who inject drugs and share needles, including HIV. This can drastically effect your sex life when it damages your health and you are forced carry it into future relationships. Other times addiction leads individuals to behave in ways that put them at risk. Promiscuity or even prostitution are not uncommon among addicts and alcoholics in active addiction who have little or no control over what they do, or the dependence that they have on their drinking or drug use. It is one of the most terrible tragedies of addiction what addicts are sometimes subjected to in our addiction, and women are not the only victims in this case, but they are often the majority.
- Unplanned Pregnancy
Addiction and the possibility of promiscuity or prostitution also open the door for unplanned pregnancies. Many addicts and alcoholics find themselves in a position where they had at no point consciously planned on having a child, or even staying with the person they were sexually active with, but they are so heavily influenced and controlled by their using that they do not take the proper measures to protect themselves, and this can result in unplanned pregnancy. Unplanned pregnancy has a profound effect on not just your sex life, but your entire life in general. For some this only puts more pressure on the battle to stay clean, and sadly the child is not given a choice, and their life is effected no matter what.
- Relationship problems
For some, addiction can simply cause problems in their sex life based off of the issues that develop in the relationship itself. If they have a significant other and that person has given up on trying to trust them or help them, it drives a massive gap between the two people involved, and that tends to kill the mood fairly quickly. When fights out of fear, anger or frustration are a re-occurring situation in the home, it can remove all possibility for any form of a healthy physical relationship.
Isolation and anti-social behavior may in a way go along with self-esteem, or it may just be that you sit home alone and do drugs or drink and have no desire to go outside yourself and build a relationship with any type of potential lover. It is basically impossible for an addict, or anyone for that matter, to find an intimate partner from the habitat of their own basement or living room. It is important to step outside your house, outside a bar, or outside the drug dealers home and seek for healthy relationships. Sex does not always just show up knocking at your door, and when it does it is typically not the kind you are looking for, that is to say you have any kind of desire for a real relationship and not just a booty call, which leads to the next one…
- Emotional Availability
Now many addicts have a history in some way or another of relationship drama, and quite a few have actually experienced real loss of loved ones in their addiction. By allowing your addiction to both mentally and emotionally make you unavailable by numbing yourself to your feelings too long, it will have a more personal effect on your sex life. This does not mean that you will not have any sex either; it just means that the sex you do have will be meaningless and mundane in many respects. Sure, to some it seems like a perfect deal to be able to get the physical stimulation and personal pleasure out of the actual act, but then you have to consider deep down is that all you’re ever going to want? And does this run you the risk of becoming addicted to sex as an alternative to your drug addiction?
If you’re anything like me, emotional availability has been a tough part of addiction because I spent as much time as possible numbing myself to my feelings, that when I actually wanted to experience more fulfilling relationships I could only understand or contribute to a physical one. This became a problem that I was able to get a better understanding and work on in recovery, because I realized that not being emotionally available was against my newfound spiritual principles, and that in an effort to change and grow I must allow myself to love and be loved, regardless of fear or reservations, because in the end I cannot afford to be unattached and unavailable for my own life, sexual or otherwise. In the end, sex is about more to me than empty and efficient intercourse, it is another form of sharing yourself with someone you feel safe and protected with, and with someone who inspires you to grow, in more ways than one. Addiction has a habit of devastating every element of our lives it touches, and our romantic and intimate relationships are no exception. Sex, love, and emotional growth are all inhibited by the toll that drug and alcohol addiction takes on the mental, physical and emotional well-being of the individual trapped in the grips of this vicious disease. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
If you were unaware, like I was, there are multiple different sex addiction groups. So if you are having trouble with that area of your life you might want to check one of the many groups dedicated to helping you recover. But which one, right? Well that is why we are here. We can help you figure out which sex addiction group is for you.
First, there is Sexaholics Anonymous. Sexaholics Anonymous is the probably the most strict out of all the different sex addiction groups. It is also probably the most fundamentalist and conservative of all the sex addiction groups. Many of the members of sexaholics anonymous are also religious. Serious problems like pedophilia or incessant buying of prostitutes are the main concern at sexaholics anonymous. Other behaviors such as onanism, sadomasochism, sodomy, and a liking for gang bangs are also addressed. Sexual sobriety is defined not only as abstinence from all these behaviors but also as progressing victory over lust. The only acceptable expression of sexual impulses is through very vanilla and heterosexual relations with one’s legally recognized spouse. Meaning man and wife, missionary style, as said by the Holy Bible. Homosexual members are welcome but they have to commit to a life of celibacy.
If this doesn’t sound like the sex addiction group for you could try out Sexual Recovery Anonymous. This sex addiction group began around 1993. Sexual Recovery Anonymous is still pretty strict and still tries to uphold the ideals of marriage, family and the establishment. The mix of people at SRA is more diverse though. This sex addiction group has a strong female presence, a lot of African Americans, Asians and members of LGBT community. The talk is usually of inner children, mom and dad, incest, trauma, and therapy lingo. Higher powers are usually in the Buddhist, New Age, Yoga kind of frame.
Sex Addicts Anonymous is a serious sex addiction group that is well known for its Green Book. A distinguishing feature of SAA is the central importance of its “Three Circles” concept, which every member is encouraged to use as a tool to maintain sobriety. The Inner Circle contains all bottom-line behaviors that characterize your sexual addiction, including masturbation, prostitution, cruising, infidelity, leather bars, autoerotic asphyxia, glory holes, stalking, exhibitionism, child pornography, rape and so forth. The Middle Circle contains all those behaviors considered a grey area, to be monitored with the help of a sponsor. Obvious examples here include fantasy, objectification, euphoric recall, ritualization, preoccupation and any non-pornographic provocative images. The word “intrigue” has special meaning here—defined as lusting, flirting or taking a sexual interest in someone. The Outer Circle is where you would place all your top-line behaviors, those activities that cement your sobriety and affirm a healthy, happy life.
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous is where there is no definition already placed on what sexually sober means. However you choose to define your sobriety will work in this group. Where the other three groups are very strict, this group is loose.
Sexual Compulsives Anonymous is a place MEN to talk about high risk sexual encounters such as engaging in unprotected anal and oral sex despite the probability of contracting HIV. It also is a place to talk about arrangements typically found in bath houses, sex clubs, rest stops, bus stations, public urinals, and even Craigslist. And in opposition to no longer engaging in these behaviors they just change them usually into something as simple as masturbating in front of a computer.
So which sex addiction group is right for you? No one can know but you. If none of these work for you, you could try out AA or NA which usually can work for a whole slew of addicted behaviors.
In The News: Gonorrhea grows resistant to common drug treatment
According to the U.S Center for Disease Control over 700,000 cases of Gonorrhea are estimated to occur within the United States. Sexually transmitted diseases are a scary thing to think about and for many, taboo. There are some STDs that are incurable like HPV and genital herpes, but Gonorrhea is one of the STDs that are both successfully treatable and curable. Well, at least up until yesterday – kind of. Don’t panic, let me explain. As of yesterday anyone coming in contact with the std was most likely prescribed an oral antibiotic cefixime (widely known by its brand name: Supra) as a first line of defense. The CDC is no longer recommending that as a form of treatment against Gonorrhea.
Yesterday the U.S Center for Disease Control revised its guidelines for Gonorrhea after lab tests show that the disease was growing a bacterial resistance to cefixime. As of right now the last effective treatment would be the injectible generic antibiotic ceftriaxone, used in combination with another antibiotic – azithromycin or doxycycline.
The interesting part about this whole thing is that the change in the treatment guideline was done in order to preserve the last effective treatment option of using ceftriaxone with another oral antibiotic that is not cefixime. If the disease continues to grow a stronger resistance to cefixime and it’s used anyways then in some way it could learn how to become resistant to ceftriaxone as well.
Read what Dr.Gail Bolan, director of the CDC’s STD Prevention division had to say about it:
“The change in antibiotic treatment guidelines we are making today is a critical pre-emptive strike to preserve the last effective treatment option,” said Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the CDC’s Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention division.
“This will not solve the problem of drug-resistant gonorrhea once and for all, but it may buy us time to allow researchers and drug developers to develop new treatments,” Bolan told reporters in a telephone briefing.
This technique is used in the treatment of some other infections like tuberculosis in an attempt to make it more difficult for the bacteria to learn how to overcome the drugs. As of right now there are no cases of completely “untreatable” Gonorrhea in the United States but that there is evidence that its resistance to these drugs is growing stronger and stronger.
The best method of preventing a Gonorrhea infection is to remain abstinent from sexual intercourse and to consistently and safely use condoms. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause serious health problems, particularly for women, including chronic pelvic pain, life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, and even infertility. Infection also increases the risk of contracting and transmitting HIV.