joreth: (Bad Computer!)
There's a debate going on in the comments to this article I read and it's really pissing me off.

The article is titled "Is It Necessary To Always Tell Partners About Your STD?"

In this short article, the writer mentions a friend who has herpes who hasn't had an outbreak in 8 years but still tells all potential partners about it, even though her OB-GYN said she wouldn't have to as long as she isn't currently experiencing an outbreak. Then she references an advice columnist who answers a letter from a girl who said she contracted genital warts, called her past partners to notify them, then when she talked to her boyfriend about it, he said "oh, yeah, I was gonna say something about that ... sorry!" The writer takes the position in this example that the advice columnist was right to come down hard on the guy.

But then she points out that scary statistic that says 80% of women will probably catch HPV at some point in their lives, so if it's so common and we can't avoid it, she asks, are there ever any circumstances that justify not disclosing an STD?

Most of the responses are adamantly on the side of Always Disclose, but what is pissing me off is a vocal minority of responses that say "well, yes, you should always disclose, but don't be so hard on the people who don't.  After all, it's scary to disclose".

And this just infuriates me.

"If you disclose, you'll never get laid again"
"If you disclose, no one will ever date you and you'll live alone forever"
"If you disclose, there's a social stigma that makes people not like you and that social pressure is scary"
"If you disclose, you risk rejection"
"If you disclose, you might get your feelings hurt"
"If you disclose, you could destroy a budding relationship"

And I'm supposed to be sympathetic to people in this position, apparently.


Point 1) not all STDs are permanent.  Some are easily treatable with antibiotics and will go away in time, so this is hardly a life-long celibacy punishment.

Point 2) not all STDs result in death.  Some people are willing to trade the risk of exposure to certain STDs in exchange for what they perceive is a life-long or long-term relationship.  Plus, there is that 80% statistic, which means that some people out there have accepted that they will probably get it, so they just don't worry about preventing it.

Point 3)  There are dating websites out there specifically for people with STDs so that they can safely have sex without infecting someone else ... because their partner is already infected.

Point 4) There are things people can do to minimize the chance of infection while still maintaining a romantic relationship, including using condoms and medications for certain STDs, and limiting activity during the most contagious times.

Point 5) Non-disclosure to avoid destroying a budding relationship is hardly likely to yield better results than scaring off potential partners ... when you infect your new girlfriend and have her find out from her doctor that you lied to her and intentionally threatened her life, health, and fertility, all to get laid (as she will probably see it).

Point 6) I don't fucking care if you get your feelings hurt.  This is part of what being a grown up is all about, taking responsibility for your actions.  Some things are scary, sometimes we feel bad.  DEAL WITH IT.  This idea that we're supposed to cushion ourselves from ever feeling bad is completely ridiculous, unrealistic, and childish.  I have a news flash for you all ... YOU WILL SOMETIMES FEEL BAD.  Get used to it.

Now, this is a totally separate issue from needing to remove the stigma from having an STD (which contributes to people feeling scared) or creating better sex education for our society.  This is about someone who has chosen the path of least courage.  This is about someone who is choosing to protect their own ego or hurt feelings AT THE DIRECT EXPENSE OF THE LIFE OF ANOTHER HUMAN BEING through their actions (and by "life", I include the quality of life as well as the life itself - affecting someone's quality of life *is* affecting their life).

This is absolutely reprehensible to me.  The fact that someone might be scared is totally irrelevant.  I've been there, I've had to disclose, I've faced rejection, I've been rejected.  FUCK THAT.  Be a fucking grown up.  There is no excuse whatsoever that deserves my sympathy or compassion.

Having an STD, or any illness of any sort, earns a level of sympathy from me because of the difficulties faced with living with that illness, including public perception of said illness.

But the instant you knowingly infect someone with a potentially life-threatening illness (or even just an "inconvenient" illness) without giving them the information necessary to make an informed decision about their exposure levels, you lose not only whatever sympathy I might have had for you regarding your illness, but you lose all sympathy and compassion I have for any human just for being human.  This falls under the category of "evil", in my book.

Being "scared" does not give you a free pass.

Being a responsible, ethical, courageous person does not mean doing the right thing when it's easy.  It means doing the right thing when it's hard.  It means being afraid of being rejected AND DISCLOSING ANYWAY because it's the right thing to do.  Because if someone else had disclosed to you, then you wouldn't be in this position of potentially being rejected and feeling scared and alone in the first place.

I'm being told that, because it's so scary, that I should have some compassion for people who have to face that scariness and that I should understand why people might want to avoid disclosure.  I'm being told that not everyone is as courageous as me, and that it's not easy to learn to overcome one's fears.

FUCK THAT.  I know EXACTLY how scary it is, how hard it is, how isolating it is.  I was in that position.  And I overcame it.  The fact that some people are not as strong or courageous as I supposedly am is not a reason to allow our society to protect that cowardliness or to reward it by excusing poor behaviour.  When you done bad, you done bad.

And absolutely no reason or excuse justifies non-disclosure.  Ever.

Someone pointed out "misinformation", as in, the person doesn't understand that they are contagious and therefore doesn't disclose based on those grounds.

My rage at that person might be lessened, but not removed.

First of all, how many people do you know keep people at arms-length away before hugging when they have a cold?  They might not know exactly what's wrong with them, but they know a runny nose isn't normal and they tell people about it so that other people can choose to expose themselves to the cold virus, or the flu virus, or strep throat, or even non-contagious allergies, or not as they see fit.  People "disclose" all the time, even amid ignorance of the condition.  Yet, when it comes to STDs, people treat total strangers with more consideration than the people they want to be intimate with, by disclosing a cold but not an STD.

Disclosure and self-educating/self-education is all part of being a responsible and ethical adult.  Engaging in a sexual relationship requires being educated about the process.  Now, I might allow society, or their parents, or the church, or whatever, to share the blame in this case.  But that still doesn't absolve the person from not taking it upon themselves to learn about the activity they are engaging in.

Plus, if you're in the Abstinence-Only camp, then you're not supposed to be having sex at all, so you're a hypocrite on top of it.  But that goes back to what I prefaced this rant with - that education of the ignorant is a different issue and one I also address in other venues (such as the entire STI tag of this journal and the Safe-Sex sections of my poly lectures).

Several years ago, I began dating a guy, and I sat him down to have our Safe Sex, Sex History, & Disclosure talk prior to sharing in below-the-belt sexual activity, as is my custom.  He seemed like a reasonably intelligent person and earnest in his efforts to be responsible.  He had no problems with getting tested, with sharing his history with me, etc.  But then I started to talk about HPV, which, as my Constant Readers will know, is my little Pet Research Project, the STD I spend the most time on.  

He had no idea that HPV is what caused genital warts, or that other strains of HPV caused cervical cancer.  As I continued to talk, he got more and more nervous, until he told me the story of his most recent girlfriend.

He had been out of town for a while, long enough for he and this girl to break up and get back together.  When he came back into town, they started to have sex, and he was using his hands.  He noticed some small, hard bumps along the vaginal walls.  Naturally, he stopped what he was doing and asked her about it.  She said that, while he was gone and they were broken up, she slept with someone else and subsequently developed these little bumps, called genital warts.  But don't worry, she says, they're not contageous.  I'm taking these all-natural, herbal remedies that render them non-contageous and they'll go away soon.  Here's a pamphlet from my natureopath doctor.

Well, being a hippie-anti-Big-Pharma-conspiracy-theorist (which I didn't really understand at the time, or I would have never have dated him in the first place), he just accepted that her treatment was working, that her doctor had the right information, he didn't even read the pamphlet, and they had unprotected sex.

My jaw dropped.

I then had to explain to him (totally unable to keep the incredulousness out of my voice) that she was at her *most* contagious when the warts were present, but that she needed no symptoms at all to still be contagious, and that HPV is a virus that does not "go away" with herbal suppliments.  The only treatment is to have them burned or frozen off, just like regular warts (convenient, since they're the same virus), and, maybe, if she's lucky, the virus will become undetectable to our current testing methods approximately 2 years after her final outbreak (but you won't know it's your "final" outbreak until the next one doesn't come).  He was horrified.  He was mostly pissed at her for not researching it properly, but he was also upset at himself for taking her at her word and not educating himself about something that affects his own genitalia.  He blamed them both equally for his predicament.

Sure enough, about 2 years later, he developed warts.

As for me, I chose to maintain HPV Boundaries in place for the duration of our relationship and have since had only 1 abnormal pap smear in the intervening years (for which they followed up with an HPV DNA test, that turned out negative).

So, my point is that ignorance is not a valid excuse, because *I* am not ignorant and I asked him the kinds of questions that, even with his lack of knowledge, I was able to get his status that only a baldface lie could have hid.  I felt sympathy and compassion for him in his ignorance, but his willingness to discuss sexual safety, and my own self-education on the subject, prevented this from spreading any further.  

His ex-girlfriend, however, allowed him to have sex with her without disclosing up front that she had an STD, all mis-information aside.  If she had told him prior to their sexual encounter, perhaps with his blood flowing properly to all his organs instead of just one, he might have been clear-headed enough to do some independent research before allowing himself to be exposed to something he didn't really understand.  She intentionally engaged him in sexual activity and only disclosed after she couldn't hide it.  She might have been ignorant about the STD's contagion, but she was not ignorant about having it, and I believe she willingly hid this information out of a fear that he would reject her because of it, since they both claimed to be each other's "best friend" and they told each other "everything" (I knew both of them while they were dating).

And now *he* suffers through the fear of rejection and a limit to his dating pool because *she* didn't disclose to him.  Yet, even with his own ignorance on the subject, *I* do not suffer this same punishment because I questioned him, and I did so in a manner designed to bring us both to the same level of education on the subject, so only a lie on his part would have put me in his position.  Yet, he took the path of greater courage and disclosed the information when I removed his ignorance from him, thereby saving me from suffering the same fate.  For all his other flaws, I give him that.  He didn't, however, think to disclose his exposure in the first place - I had to ask the right questions, share the right information, for him to be aware that this was something he needed to disclose, which is part of the education problem that is a different subject, as I've repeatedly said.

Ironically, she once condemed me for having vengeful thoughts about someone who was harassing me, and for wishing harm to another human being, yet I never took any action against that other person, although I almost did.  

When I open myself up to another person, figuratively and literally, I take my responsibility for how my actions affect them very seriously.  I allow them the dignity to choose how their own life should look and what risks they should take, even if it means I risk losing the type of relationship I might want from that person.  My care and consideration is for the other person above my own desires, because what I desire above that is the happiness and safety of people I care about.  

I can't even fathom the idea of liking someone enough to want their bits and pieces inside of my own yet willfully endangering them without their input on the subject.  Part of the concept of "caring" about someone, or loving them, or even just liking them as a person is the idea that I care about their happiness and well-being too.  How can anyone rationalize "love" (or even like) co-existing with actively harming someone else?  And for the casual-sex crowd, I can't fathom allowing someone inside of me that I dislike enough to want to harm them by infecting them with an STD yet liking them enough to want those bits inside me in the first place.  Either they are a human being, deserving of being treated with dignity or respect, or they are not.  And if they are not, then why do they have access to my vulnerable parts in the first place?

And atheists & polyamorists are the immoral ones.  I've got your "immorality" right here, you fucking weak, cowardly hypocrites.
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)

"The Assembly Health Committee has approved SB 158 by a margin of 10 to 6. This legislation, authored by State Senator Patricia Wiggins, requires health insurers and health maintenance organizations to cover the costs of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine upon the referral of a doctor. ... The medical effectiveness of the existing vaccine suggests a corresponding 22% to 60% reduction in cervical cancer in the general population. Effectiveness should be highest for groups less likely to have been exposed to HPV, such as preadolescent girls and females without a history of sexual activity.

Wiggin’s legislation, which is sponsored by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, has already been approved by the State Senate."

joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
OMG did you know that millions of people are NOT DYING from vaccines every day!

Srsly!  And, like, most of them don't even experience the side effects that the vaccine companies WARN YOU ABOUT!

It's scary!  I mean, like these scientists are all like messing around with viruses and stuff and looking at them and analyzing them and cutting them up and rearranging them and doing spooky things with them!  They totally take them apart and then build these chemicals that trick your body into thinking it has the virus when it really doesn't so that your body makes its own ANTIBODIES against the viruses.

They actually put these chemical mixtures into your body at FRACTIONS of the potency of the REAL VIRUS!  And your body BELIEVES it and starts producing ANTIBODIES!!!!!  They're, like, building this microsopic army INSIDE you, using YOUR OWN IMMUNE SYSTEM!

And some people even have REACTIONS to them!  Really, I'm not making this up guys, they even ADMIT it!

It's totally freaky what science is up to these days.  I just had the Hepatitus B vaccine and I was told to expect soreness around the injection site and maybe even a light fever!  Then, they even said, right to my face, that I should call them if I got a fever over 99 degrees or if I was vomiting!  How scary is that!  I'm totally going to avoid dying of a virus that causes painful and prolonged liver failure, but I might get a fever instead!  That's just whacked!

What's even more crazy, tho, is that I'm totally not sick or sore or anything!  And that happens to thousands of people ALL THE TIME!

Dude, science is scary and has just manipulated my body into being all defensive and stuff against a deadly virus.  That's totally wierd!
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)

Just yesterday, an article came out announcing the results of a study that say Gardasil is effective for older women.  Not that we didn't already suspect this, but yay! 

Some important factoids from the article:

Gardasil shows 91% effectiveness in women age 25-45 who are not already infected, but that drops to 31% effectiveness when the women did not follow up with all 3 shots.

Merk will release the results of the 4-year study later this year, in an attempt to get approval for that age group and, hence, get it covered by insurance companies.

Merk is also still currently awaiting approval for boys ages 9-25, as per the study they presented in November of last year.
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)

Bioengineered plant makes antibodies against HIV
May 20, 2009 — 12:50pm ET | By John Carroll

A group of Swedish researchers say that they have developed a new HIV vaccine that can be produced in plants and has proven effective in mice.

"A major problem with the HIV virus is that it mutates rapidly and therefore exists in several different variants. In other words, it's not possible to create an effective vaccine that is based on the entire virus. Moreover, this would be far too risky. Instead, we have selected a protein, p24, that exists in all HIV viruses and looks roughly the same in the various virus lines," says Ingrid Lindh, author of the dissertation.

It's impossible to transfer a gene directly into a plant. But the researchers got around that obstacle by putting the gene into bacterium and then into a plant. Mice which consumed the plant material produced antibodies that protected them from HIV.

Their next step will involve adding new proteins and molecules into the mix to boost the efficacy of the plant-based vaccine and increase the probability of its success in humans. They also are seeking an ideal plant that could fit easily into a variety of diets and grow around the world. The carrot may be ideal.
joreth: (Nude Drawing)

It's been very frustrating reporting on all the latest HPV information because so many articles leave out just enough information to raise more questions than they answer.

But this one specifically addresses how HPV is possibly transmitted orally.

It has been an unanswered question whether HPV that causes throat and mouth cancers is transmitted through oral sex only or also through kissing.  According to this article, open-mouth kissing *does* pose a significant risk factor in the prevalance of HPV in oral tissue.

Now remember everyone, this is a very small study and still requires more research.  Also, although oral cancers have a lower success rate because of it's late discovery, the chances of getting oral cancer is *still* quite low, and you can reduce your risk by quitting smoking, even with the HPV-caused cancer.

But this article is right on the heels of another one that says girls are getting HPV prior to coitarche (like, age 4) and adjusted for the possibility of sexual abuse.

Which means that HPV is even more ridiculously easy to catch than even those of us who have been saying so for years ever knew.  Which, IMO, should remove it from the STD list, since it appears to be nearly as easy to catch as a cold.  Unfortunately, colds don't have a link to causing cancer, so this should still be taken seriously, but the stigma of having an "STD" really needs to be re-evaluated, particularly in light of recent evidence that shows this particular STD (and herpes too) can be passed to people through contact, but not necessarily sexual contact. 
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)
Dear Joreth:

Thank you for contacting me. I appreciate hearing from you regarding abstinence education programs and would like to respond to your concerns.

Federal funding for abstinence education programs was first authorized by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-193). This law defines abstinence education as a program that teaches the social, psychological, and health gains that can be achieved through abstention from sexual activity. Currently, 49 of 50 states sponsor various programs focusing on abstinence education.

The President’s budget for fiscal year 2009 requests $204 million for abstinence education through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for developing research-based standards for abstinence education curriculum and for ensuring the consistency of messages in all youth programming that addresses teen pregnancy prevention, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS prevention. This request is a $28 million increase from the fiscal year 2008 funding level.

You may also be interested to know that I joined a number of my colleagues in the Senate in sending a letter to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Human Services and Education. This letter urged the Committee to continue to support Community Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) funding. Abstinence education is an important primary health message and is taught to more than two million youth across the country and it is crucial that funding for these programs continue.

Each week, I hear from many Floridians expressing their thoughts regarding the effects of abstinence education programs on students in Florida. I appreciate your interest in this matter. As a parent and a grandparent, I too recognize the importance of this issue for Florida's parents, students, and teachers. We have a national obligation to see that all young Americans receive the preparation they need to succeed in life. I can assure you I will keep your comments in mind as we proceed with the fiscal year 2009 appropriations process.

Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. If you have any additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me. In addition, for more information about issues and activities important to Florida, please sign up for my weekly newsletter at


Mel Martinez
United States Senator
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang),25197,25451147-23289,00.html

"New cases of the sexually transmitted infection have halved in women under 28" in Australia
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)

Gene interference therapy is moving rapidly from basic research to application. The PLGA packaging these researchers chose is already approved as safe and non-toxic by the FDA, speeding the path to clinical trials for infectious agents such as HPV and HIV. ... This approach holds promise for global health and the ability of people to self–apply antimicrobial treatments. Woodrow said, "It is safe and effective and much easier than getting an injection of vaccine."

This is still several years off, but it's very exciting.  A very, very, basic summary of what's going on, is that these researchers figured out a way to program RNA molecules to run around a female's reproductive organs and basically interfere with the STDs (or whatever they program them to interfere with).  They run around the mucosal tissue and they hang out for 2 full weeks, cock-blocking viruses from inserting themselves into cells and reproducing.

It's way safer than vaccines (which are already really fraggin' safe) and takes advantage of a delivery method that has already been approved by the FDA.  So, all that needs to happen now is to prove that the drug agents themselves work reliably and don't cause harm to the person they're being introduced into.  The first step is animal testing, then, if all goes well, a couple of years study on humans.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)

Usually, when I see links to "Gardasil Causes Death!" articles, they link to something like or some obviously biased website with an agenda.  So when I saw a link to an article by WebMD that says "Gardasil Linked To Nerve Disorder", I perked up and paid attention.

Then I read the article.

This article makes the claim that some researchers are reporting an association between Gardasil and Guillian-Barre Syndrome, a particularly nasty, although very rare, nerve disorder.  The article then goes on to cite several quotes from the CDC and others that there IS NO LINK BETWEEN GARDASIL AND GBS.

This pisses me off.  This is a respectable website with usually trustworthy articles.  But here it uses shock tactics to frighten people into thinking there is a link between Gardasil and GBS when that information has not been proven.

Here's the summary.  Between 2006 and 2008, 53 cases of GBS were reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which is managed by the CDC and the FDA.  VAERS's job is to research whether these reactions are coincidentally timed to the vaccine they just took, or are caused by the vaccine they just took.  In EVERY SINGLE CASE, it was decided that the GBS was not caused by the vaccine.

Yet, this article follows up immediately with a quote from a researcher that says: The fact that so many cases occurred in the first few weeks after vaccination strongly suggests that “some cases are caused by the vaccine".

So, let's look at the data.  According to this article, the general population's chances of getting GBS are about 5 in 10 million.  According to this one study, the chance of getting GBS within 6 weeks after getting Gardasil are 30 in 10 million.  That's a 6-times increase.  That's pretty significant, although the chances still remain ridiculously low - way lower than even getting cancer caused by HPV (which is, admittedly, pretty low).

So, there appears to be an incidence increase after getting the shot, which suggests the shot has something to do with it, right?

Well, then the article goes on to quote the following inconsistencies:

  • Overall, the vaccine does not raise the odds of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a disorder of the peripheral nervous system, says Nizar Souayah, MD, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark.  “But there is clear evidence from our database of an increased incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome in the first six weeks, especially the first two weeks, after vaccination,” he tells WebMD.
  • the CDC says that “the data do not currently suggest an association between Gardasil and GBS.”
  • “The FDA and CDC have reviewed the reports of GBS that have been submitted to VAERS. To date, there is no evidence that Gardasil has increased the rate of GBS above that expected in the population.”
  • Gorson says much more study is needed before any conclusions regarding Gardasil and GBS can be made. Plus, the chance of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome, regardless of whether you’re vaccinated, is extremely low, he says

How can there be simultaneously "increased incidence" and "does not raise the odds"?

So, it's clear that continued study and research should be done on Gardasil, but no one who is in favor of the vaccine argues with that.  It wouldn't do us any good to promote a vaccine designed to prevent cancer only to have that same vaccine cause death in another way. 

But what pisses me off about this article is that, over and over and over again, the evidence strongly points to no link between Gardasil and GBS, but articles continue to get written with shocking headlines and contradictory statements.  If Gardasil really did increase your chances six-fold, then we should have seen an increase in the total number of cases that matches that increase.  Yet we haven't. 

Instead, what we have here is an article that says "Dude, Gardasil gives you GBS, some guys researched it!  The data doesn't support it, cases haven't gone up at all, and even the guy who researched it says your chances haven't gone up, but it's totally linked!"

We do know that certain illnesses can kick-start GBS, but we're not really sure *why* these illnesses kick-start it.  Apparently, certain vaccines can also kick-start GBS, or at least the article implied that a swine flu vaccine in 1977 did, but, again, no one really knows why.  So it's plausible that this vaccine could have something to do with GBS. 

What I want to know is, do people have a genetic pre-disposition for GBS and it ony sits around, quietly, until a trigger is introduced, like the flu or a surgery?  If that's the case, then, until we know exactly how this trigger works and we develop a way to shut off the reaction to the trigger, then avoiding Gardasil won't necessarily prevent GBS, it'll just wait around for some other trigger, like getting the flu, or having surgery for your cervical cancer that you didn't prevent because you avoided the vaccine.

And is it possible that this is another case of coincidental timing like the autism link?  Does GBS typically not show up until the age range that these girls just happen to be when they get this shot?

The bottom line is that there is *still* no conclusive data linking Gardasil to anything and the chances of developing GBS after receiving Gardasil are *still* absurdly low even if there was a link.  And ... we don't really know what that link could be - is it causal?  Is it correlation?  Is it a trigger mechanism for something already in place?

But even respectable, science, trustworthy sources are not immune to shocking headlines and "journalism" that includes missing facts, contradictory statements, and stories that imply something scary while the author sits behind his "both sides of the story" psuedo-impartiality.

If there is a link, by all means, research it, find it, report on it.  But please do not run a headline that says "Vaccines Cause Death!" and then follow it up with an article that does not actually support that claim.  That does nothing but cause panic and prevents people from getting the medical treatments they need and causes distrust of the medical community and provides fodder for the conspiracy theorists.

joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)

Merk, the people who brought us the HPV vaccine, has now recruited researchers to work on a chlamydia vaccine.  All attempts in the past have been unsuccessful, but Merk thinks they can change that with new information from animal testing studies.
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)

Anadys Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced that ANA598, the Company's investigational non-nucleoside polymerase inhibitor, demonstrated potent antiviral activity at all dose levels and was well tolerated in a Phase Ib study in which patients chronically infected with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) were treated for three days.

This is a rather dry and technical article all about a new drug that appears very promising, with few side effects, in treating Hepatitus C.  It will be a while before it's on the market, since these things take many years in the testing process to pass through FDA regulations.  But the drug makers are hopeful.

Down at the end, there's also a bit about what Hep C is.  It's a pretty serious virus, but passed through fluid transmission, so ... wear a condom and get tested regularly!  Plus, get the Hep vaccine!
joreth: (Rock Climbing)  (Tampa is the closest participant to me, but visit the main site for locations around the US near you!)

Dining Out for Life Tampa Bay is just around the corner...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

We at ASAP are so proud to be part of Dining Out for Life International. The success of this event generally lies upon getting the word out, as the amount of money raised depends upon how many people participate. Dining Out for Life is all about raising money to help our fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters who are infected with HIV/AIDS. This event truly shows the efforts of community coming together to meet a need. Join myself and a team of generous restaurants, ambassadors, volunteers and diners as we give the gift of life.

100% of the donations will stay here in Tampa Bay to provide direct client services to those affected and infected by HIV and AIDS. To "Dine Out" simply navigate to the Participating Restaurants area, find a restaurant you would like to visit, invite all of your friends, enjoy a night out and know that 25% of what you spend goes toward those that desperately need it. If you will not be able to join us and would like to contribute, or if you are interested in more information about the event please contact me at (727) 328-3268 or

Restaurant Locations - anyone have a preference? )


Apr. 16th, 2009 02:08 am
joreth: (Spank)

Some data on HPV in men!

This is an Australian study (and a small population size), so numbers may differ in the US, but it's important to see that, although the incident rate of cancer from HPV is relatively low, HPV still affects men.   Between anal cancer, penile cancer, and all the various oral cancers, HPV affects men too, and this is one of the few studies that focus on the male population.  With HIV-negative men carrying a mean average of 4 different strains of HPV concurrently, this is something we should be concerned about.

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  this is not just a woman's disease.  This affects everyone.  And even if it did only affect women, men are carrying it and passing it on.  Everyone needs to get vaccinated, not just the young girls, and we need more and better screening processes for men (and women too, but at least we have the pap smear).

Of course, once word gets out to the policy makers that *men* might be in danger, we just might see a bigger push for better testing methods, more vaccines, and more insurance coverage.  Oh yes, the double standard is alive and well, but this time we might be able to make it work for us instead of against us (us being everyone, not just women, because when we discriminate based on gender, everyone loses no matter which side appears to be getting shafted most).
joreth: (Super Tech)
It's STD Awareness Month and many cities are offering free or low-cost STD testing.  So check your local health clinics and Planned Parenthoods to see what they offer.

TAVARES - The Lake County Health Department will offer free information and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, starting today, as part of STD Awareness Month. Officials say chlamydia and gonorrhea are among the most commonly reported infectious diseases in the country. Nearly half of the new STD cases reported each year occur among people ages 15 to 24. The service will be offered from 8 a.m. to noon today at Women's Wellness Center, 9836 U.S. Highway 441, Leesburg. For more information, call 352-357-1668.

joreth: (Default)
Dear Joreth,

When I visit Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers, I like to ask the educators and nurses what they think is the most important thing we can do to improve reproductive health in our communities. After all, they're on the frontlines every day, so they know better than anyone.

Here's what they say: Expanding access to preventive care, including contraception and STD testing, will do more than anything else to improve reproductive health for young people.

That's why I'm so proud to announce Get Yourself Tested 2009, and why I want you to join in today.

Get Yourself Tested is Planned Parenthood's biggest effort ever to make sure everyone who should get tested for STDs has access to the services they need. In partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation and MTV, many of our affiliate health centers are offering low cost or no cost STD testing. Click here to learn more.

If you or someone you know is at risk for an STD, click here to find your nearest participating health center. Sexually active but not sure what tests you might need? We've created a simple online quiz to help you decide — just click here.

I want to make sure that everyone, especially teens, can get tested, get care, and get the information they need to protect their health. Along with contraception, it's the best way we can slow the spread of HIV and other STDs among sexually active people. Please visit to learn more — and share information about this important program with everyone you know.

Our affiliate health centers always strive to provide the best care regardless of the patient's ability to pay. This April, we are doing everything we can to make sure we encourage as many people as possible who may be at risk to come in and get tested. This is why Planned Parenthood exists — to protect and promote reproductive health for women, men, and teens.

If you or someone you know has been waiting for the right time to come in to a Planned Parenthood affiliate health center — the time is now. Click here to find the nearest participating health center. And even if you or those you know are not in need of care, there's plenty more you can do. Visit to find out how you can help, and stay tuned for more details throughout the month of April.

Thank you for supporting Planned Parenthood and all our efforts to protect and promote reproductive health for women, men, and teens.


Cecile Richards, President
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
joreth: (Nude Drawing)

So, not too long ago, I posted about how HPV is now the leading cause of oral cancers, primarily due to a drop in smoking making tobacco use a decreasing cause of cancer.  But this sort of implies that the total number of oral cancers is more or less stable and only the causes have shifted.

Well, a Swedish study says otherwise.

This is merely a preliminary study and more research with larger sample populations needs to be done, but it's implications are frightening.

Not only is HPV the leading cause of oral cancers, but oral cancers in general are on the rise in spite of tobacco use declining.  This means that the rate of HPV infections of oral tissue is even faster that we thought.

None of my research so far has given me hard and fast numbers as to the probability of catching HPV orally, which activities transmit it, nor how often that oral infection turns into cancer.  I can only get vague words like "low risk" or "moderate risk", which are highly subjective words.  Just how easy is it to catch HPV in oral tissue?  And does it transfer by giving oral sex to someone with HPV on their genitals or can it transfer by kissing too?  This information is just not readily available in the journals I have access to.

But, according to a study done in Stockholm, which they admit limits their results to Stockholm residents but claim that Stockholm is a representative city for Europe in general, the number of tonsil cancers caused by HPV in 1970 were only 23%, but the number of tonsil cancers caused by HPV today are a whopping 93%.  This makes HPV as the cause of tonsil cancer just as prevalent as HPV being the cause of cervical cancer.  And since tonsil cancer is on the rise in general, that makes for a shit-load of HPV-caused oral cancer.

This is not a woman's disease.  Because there is no regular screening in place for oral cancer, most oral cancers are not diagnosed until they are already well advanced, which lowers the survival rate.  And, the average age of HPV-postive tonsil cancer victims is ten years younger than those with HPV-negative cancer.  The good news is, however, that the cancers caused by HPV have a better prognosis than HPV-negative tonsil cancer patients.  According to this study, 81% of HPV-postive cancer patients have a 5-year survival rate, as opposed to 36% of the HPV-negative patients.

Once again, this article does not make any mention at all about how the HPV is transmitted to the oral tissue, or how easily.  It also doesn't say how common tonsil cancer is in general, so it could be that HPV-positive cancer is on the rise but only .01% of the general population gets it.  Personally, I'm inclined to believe (lacking any other data) that the rate of cancer from HPV in oral tissue is probably similar to the rate of cancer forming from HPV in genital tissue.  So until I see contradictory data, that's the hypothesis I'm running with.  Which means that the majority of HPV infections probably do not turn into cancer, but the number of infections that do is similar to the number of women who get cervical cancer from HPV.

But for those who have it, it's small consolation to tell them "well, you were statistically unlikely to get this, so sorry".

Fortunately, Gardasil, the vaccine, protects against the only strain this article mentioned, which is HPV-16.  Gardasil is also showing signs of protecting against 10 other strains that it was not specifically designed to protect against.  Apparently those other strains have something in common with the 4 included in the vaccine, that the vaccine is somewhat effective against them too.  This article even specifically claims that they expect to see a decline in oral cancers following the rise of vaccinations.

And, there is finally talk about vaccinating boys.  My inbox has been flooded with articles about this issue for the past week or two, but I haven't written about it because I get too pissed off every time I start.  Many feminists and those of an egalitarian mindset have made not-really-jokes that if men had to get pregnant, we wouldn't have this whole debate about abortions - they'd be legal and cheap and easy and only a small minority of people would be shouting about "life is sacred".

Well, the double standard certainly seems true in the vaccine debate.  The debate over giving Gardasil to boys is heated, and revolving around the efficacy of the vaccine, but no one anywhere seems to be concerned that this vaccine will make boys more promiscuous.  No one has made that complaint, no one is calling for a protection of boys' virtue, nothing.  The debate is based on the evidence of whether or not the vaccine is effective enough to be worth the cost, just as the debate should.

So, since I've already posted that trials have begun over giving the vaccine to boys, I haven't posted much about the debate itself, because it's not really much of an STD issue - at least, not any more than I've already said about the vaccine with regards to girls, the same issues apply.  I haven't posted because it's more of a gender issue, and I'm just so fed up with defending equal treatment for both genders that I can't quite stomach even getting into another rant about it.

So, the bottom line for this post is that HPV is proving to be a rising danger for both men and women, and for health issues other than cervical cancer.  The days of "well, the odds are that you'll get it eventually, so just don't worry about it" are coming to a close as we learn that more and more cases of cancer are caused by this once-thought "harmless", "easily-treatable", and "woman's issue" virus, and more and more medical researchers are pushing for better screening processes and proactive treatments like the vaccines.

It's about time someone started listening.  I've been yelling about this for about 15 years and everyone looks at me like "dude, what's the big deal?  So you get warts, that's just annoying.  So you get a virus, it doesn't *always* turn into cancer so relax.  And besides, it won't hurt me, I'm a guy".  It's certainly not an automatic death sentence, the vast majority of people survive this virus.  But it is also most certainly not "not a big deal".

As someone pointed out, the above article talks about a pretty small study, so here's another one.  This was done by John Hopkins University on about 300 people that seems to suggest that HPV is a "much stronger risk factor than tobacco or alcohol use".  Those who had HPV in the past had a 32-fold increased risk of throat cancer. 


A strange factoid is that smoking and alcohol are not additional risks, "suggesting that the virus itself is driving the cancer".

This article is unique in that it explicitly addresses the question of how HPV is transmitted, although it is still vague and doesn't give any hard statistics.  They know that oral sex is the "main mode of transmission", but this article specifically states that transmission from oral-to-oral (i.e. kissing) is unknown, but could not be ruled out.  Great.

This article also points out that it is unknown how well the vaccines prevent oral cancers, since they were specifically tested for cervical cancer, but the researchers still recommend that girls and boys get the vaccine.  This article also points out that this type of throat cancer is extremely rare. 

joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)

So, at some point in the past, I filled out one of the Planned Parenthood forms to send a pre-written email to various government officials complaining about the Abstinence Only program.  The other day, I got a response back from the office of Governor Charlie Christ.  It wasn't from him directly, but it claims to come from his office.  Here, I'll post it in full:

From: "Governor Charlie Crist" <>    
To: "Governor Charlie Crist" <>
Subject: Thank you for contacting Governor Charlie Crist
Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2009 10:53:24 -0400
Thank you for your recent e-mail to Governor Charlie Crist regarding the
federally-funded Title V, Section 510 Abstinence Education Program.
Governor Crist appreciates hearing your views and has asked me to reply
on his behalf.

Governor Crist believes in a comprehensive approach and supports
programs that emphasize personal responsibility and quality abstinence
education.  Abstinence education is only one of the strategies included
in a continuum of services provided by the Florida Department of Health
to protect the health and safety of Floridians, more specifically its
teenage population.  Teens in the state of Florida may receive services
through the state's Family Planning  program which provides a wide range
of family planning methods including abstinence only education.

The overall goal of the Abstinence Education Program is to prevent and
reduce teen sexual activity, teen pregnancy and births, and the spread
of sexually transmitted diseases by promoting abstinence as the expected
norm for unmarried teens.  As such, the Florida Abstinence Education
Program implements programs and services that stress abstinence until
marriage as the most effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies,
sexually transmitted diseases, and other health problems associated with
the early initiation of sexual activity.

The Abstinence Education Program has been well received in Florida since
its formation in 1999. As of June 30, 2008, the Florida Abstinence
Education Program has served more than 559,000 youth and 50,000 parents
and significant adults.  Additionally, the program averages in excess of
5,500 unique visitors per month to its "Great to Wait" website with more
than 160,000 unique visits having occurred since February 2006.  More
than 10,000 individuals and organizations have signed up for the
program's mailing list and 6,000 individuals have placed their e-mail
addresses on the program's e-mail distribution list.

The Executive Office of the Governor and Florida Department of Health
monitor changes in this program.  Florida's Abstinence Education Program
will continue to apply for Federal funding using the Title V guidance
offered, while ensuring all proposed programs are in keeping with the
needs of their local communities and the State as a whole.  All funded
abstinence programs in Florida are expected to address the risks
associated with early sexual activity, equip youth with the decision
making skills and support needed to make healthy, responsible choices,
and to focus on education and healthy relationships during their teen
years.  Additionally, the program equips parents and significant adults
with the information, skills, and resources necessary to support and
educate their children in decisions related to sexual activity.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact Governor Crist.  To
receive Governor Crist's weekly newsletter, "Notes from the Capitol,"
please visit and click on "Subscribe to Notes from the


Warren Davis
Office of Citizen Services


Notice how all his statistics could only say how many people have gone through the program?  Notice how there isn't a single statistic to show how many of those people remained abstinent once having completed the program, or how many of them didn't get pregnant or have an STD?  Notice how there isn't one single mention about the efficacy of this program?  Just that "people like it".

Yeah, well, people seemed to like hanging black men a couple hundred years ago too ... doesn't mean it was a good policy.

Now, please, don't confuse that statement with me attempting to compare the tragedy of slavery and racism to the Abstinence Only program, my only point is that "people like it" doesn't mean that something works.  And all the evidence so far shows that Abstinence Only not only doesn't work, but it's actively harmful because of its misinformation, lack of information, and the fact that teenagers are the least-likely demographic to refrain from doing something just because a grown up said "don't do that".  Facts?  What facts?  We don't need no stinkin' facts!

So, there is his email address if anyone wants to write in and tell him what a stupid policy this is.
joreth: (Kitty Eyes) - some really technical information about how HPV-16 (one of the two strains responsible for 70% of cervical cancers) causes oral cancers.  How "genital" HPV worked for oral cancer and which strains are connected to oral cancers came up in conversation recently, so I'm posting this link.  The bottom line is that HPV-16 causes a majority of cervical cancers and also causes oral cancers, although this article does not give statistics about how many cases of oral cancer are caused by 16, or how easy it is to transmit 16 orally.  It's just the biological breakdown of how 16 infects the oral tissue. - The first article I've seen that gives actual numbers regarding HPV-caused anal cancer.  More study needs to be done, but these findings indicate that women are much more successful at clearing an anal HPV infection and that HPV infections last significantly shorter time periods than cervical HPV infections (which makes sense, given the much lower numbers of anal cancer compared to cervical cancer).  The initial findings are such that it has been recommend that futher testing is necessary to judge the efficacy of anal HPV testing as a screen for anal cancer, and it might turn out to be inefficient, thereby removing HPV-testing of the anal area from standard screening practices.

HPV News

Mar. 16th, 2009 12:52 pm
joreth: (Super Tech)
There are a few articles that have made it into the news about HPV that I want to share, in the interest of being what seems to be the only online source for laymen to keep up with medical advancement.  They're not groundbreaking, society-changing news flashes, like the vaccine was, but they may eventually lead to one, and they're exciting even for their lack of flashy news coverage.

The first is that researchers have found a genetic component that makes people more or less susceptible to succumbing to HPV.  This is important for the future trend of customized healthcare.  Knowing that you are genetically likely to have your HPV infection turn into cancer if you get HPV would allow doctors to tailor your screening schedule to increase the chances that they'll catch it early, whereas people who have an increased genetic ability to fight the HPV infection so that it passes through the system harmlessly can rely on the once-a-year screening.

Cancer has always been a mystery to us.  Even when we know that certain strains are caused by viruses, or tobacco smoke, or whatever, we are still struggling to answer the question "why did this person get cancer and that person didn't?"  We know that at least 80% of women will have an HPV infection at some point in their lives, but the percentage of those women who actually get cervical cancer is small.  Unfortunately, even though it's small, it's still a crap shoot for which ones are which, so even though it's statistically small, it's still terrifying to those who can do nothing but wait to find out which camp they fall into.  Successful treatment of cervical cancer lowers the death toll even more due to regular pap smears, but why do some people get cancer from their cancer-causing strain of HPV and others pass the virus through their system?  According to this article, some women have certain gene variations that makes their bodies better able to mount an immune response to an HPV infection.  Knowing which of us has this ability and which of us don't can significantly improve the chances of those who don't.

Now, once you have HPV, there is a screening process to let us know that we have HPV, hopefully before it turns into full-blown cancer.  The FDA has just approved a new DNA test for HPV.  For a long time, the Pap smear was all the defense we had.  I don't know off the top of my head when we knew that cervical cancer was caused by HPV, but since HPV was so easy to catch, the medical community just assumed that, as women, we would eventually get it, so they just screened us for cancer as part of a regular maintenance checkup.  The Pap smear detected "abnormal" cells, which could range from just random wierdness in cells on the cervix to cancerous lesions, and everything in between.  The goal was to detect the abnormalities that would eventually turn into cancer before they turned into cancer.  And this process was, and is, pretty good.  Women in first world countries who get regular pap smears have a massively significantly higher chance of surviving cervical cancer than women in third world countries who do not get screened.

But, eventually, someone came up with a test to find out if those abnormal cells were, in fact, caused by HPV, as opposed to just general cell wierdness, and therefore likely to turn into cancer if untreated.  It is recommended that women over 30 get this test no matter what, but it has been my personal experience that doctors don't give the test unless you have any kind of abnormal results for your pap smear, but that they will automatically do the test when you get abnormal results.  We call this a DNA test, and it is, but it really can only tell us 1) do we have an HPV infection (if the answer is no, we assume it's something else) and 2) is our strain of HPV "high risk" or "low risk".  It does not tell us which strain of HPV we have, specifically.

But now, the FDA has approved a test that will identify, specifically, if your high-risk strain of HPV is 16 or 18, the two strains that are responsible for 70% of cancer cases and the two high-risk strains that are found in Gardasil, the only FDA approved vaccine (Gardasil does have competitors that are approved in other countries, but not here).

The company who manufactures this test say that it should be arriving in doctor's offices within the next 3 months.  The idea for this test is, like the genetic discovery, to customize our healthcare.  If we know for sure that we have one of these strains of HPV, even if we have not begun showing cellular breakdown, our doctors can recommend more frequent pap smears to keep an eye on the infection, thereby catching it even sooner than before, and it will also tell us if our body has been able to clear the strain entirely for those who test positive at first but test negative later.

And the final piece of news is about preventing an HPV infection all together.  Gardasil protects against 16 and 18, the strains responsible for 70% of cases of cervical cancer, and against 6 and 11, the strains responsible for 90% of the cases of warts.  A new vaccine, currently called V503, protects against all 4 of those, plus 5 more cancer-causing strains.  For those who had not learned how the vaccine actually works, this article explains very simply and succinctly.  The vaccine contains proteins that form a hollow sphere that resembles an HPV virus, but doesn't actually contain the virus itself, so you will not get HPV from this vaccine.  But because it *looks* like HPV, it forces our immune systems to create antibodies against HPV because our bodies *think* they're being attacked by HPV.  That way, by the time a real HPV virus comes in contact with our immune system, we already have antibodies in our system to repell the virus. 

This new vaccine is currently undergoing clinical trials, which means that it won't be available on the public market for a few years.  Like Gardasil, it will be initially targeted at women ages 9-26 because the the most HPV infections occur in women ages 15-25.  If you are a healthy, non-pregnant female age 16 to 26, with a history of no abnormal pap smears, you are eligible to participate in the study and the article gives a phone number to call for more information.  The study will give women one of two shots.  You will either get Gardasil or you will get this new vaccine.  Either way, you will get vaccinated against HPV (and for free, I might add).  It requires office visits every few months for 7-months up to 3.5 years that will include pelvic exams and HPV screenings.  If I were within the eligible age range, I'd *so* sign up for this!

joreth: (Kitty Eyes)
Here is a link to an article that goes into some very technical stuff about the latest research on how HPV actually turns into cancer.  It talks about how the virus interrupts a particular protein in the cell whose job it is to repair damage or initiate cell death in the event the damage is too great.  By interrupting this process, this allows the cell to continue replicating after being infected, thereby spreading the cancer to the surrounding tissue.

Knowledge of how these viruses work is what will enable us to more effectively target our treatment research.  This breakthrough is important, not just because it will aid in the treatment of cervical, vaginal, penile and anal cancers, but because it implies that other viruses are also responsible for tumors and cancers and can greatly increase our effectiveness at treating cancer and eliminating tumors and cancers entirely, not just cervical cancer.  The treatments that come out of research like this can potentially eradicate the cancerous cells before they become cancer and without such dangerous post-cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, and all with a higher success rate too.
joreth: (Dobert Demons of Stupidity)

Two articles this time for which my reaction is "uh, yeah!" - Recently, 2 Spanish teenagers were hospitalized just hours after receiving Gardasil in a new mandatory Spanish program.  Health personnel assumed it was a tainted batch of vaccine and immediately recalled every dose from that batch, but continued to administer shots from other batches.  A European-based investigative team concluded that both cases were completely unrelated to Gardasil, although they continue to investigate these illnesses. 

As this article also points out, there have been a handful of coincidental illnesses of women and teens who have received the shot, and every single case of "serious" illness as been ruled to be not related to Gardasil.  All cases that were determined to be the fault of Gardasil were nothing more than the expected side effects already warned of by Merk and healthcare personnel.  The European investigative team has conclusively declared that, in addition to Gardasil not causing these 2 girls' hospitalization, the benefits of the HPV vaccine outweigh the risks.  Not that this will hush the dissenters and conspiracy theorists, but it is yet one more pile of evidence on a mounting pile of evidence that claims Gardasil is safe and necessary in the face of nothing more than coincidental timing for the opposing side. - Researchers have discovered that school-based sex-ed that is "active" is more effective than "passive" school-based sex-ed in preventing STD transmission.  Well, duh.  And both are significanty more effective than putting your fingers in your kids ears and your hands over their eyes and shouting "lalalala!"

But, as is the case with evolution, it's not a single piece of evidence that makes the argument nor damns the opposition.  It's piles and piles of evidence all added together that make the case.  Here are a couple of more straws for the haystacks.
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)

And on the hopeful front for HPV, there is currently research being done on something called Listeria monocytogenes to deliver a tumor-specific antigen fusion protein. 

"Pre-clinically, bioengineered attenuated Listeria that secrete Advaxis' proprietary fusion protein have the ability to generate a robust immune response, break immune tolerance to cancer and produce an unusually strong and effective multi-level therapeutic immune response to existing cancer and other diseases. ... The Company's proprietary antigen fusion protein technology stimulates innate immunity: both arms of the adaptive cellular immune system, suppresses regulatory T-cells that inhibit many vaccines in the function of activated tumor-killing cells and has other anti-tumor effects."

What makes this so exciting is that this research is to develop a therapeutic vaccine (as opposed to prophylactic vaccines currently on the market) that would treat women who ALREADY HAVE cervical cancer as a result of HPV.  The limitation to the current Gardasil vaccine is that it doesn't do anything for women who have already been exposed to those strains of HPV.  Since older women are assumed to have more chance to be exposed, we are discouraged from getting the vaccine, if only because the FDA hasn't approved it so insurance won't cover it, making it cost-prohibitive to many of us.  The pap smear has been great for early detection of pre-cancerous cells once we already have HPV, and early detection is responsible for the high success rate in treating cancer and cervical dysplasia.

But for those statistically few women who do not respond to the treatment, or do not detect it early enough, this would be fantastic to be able to give them a shot that contains a vaccine that goes into the body and actively attacks the tumor cells as well as boosting the body's own ability to fight the cancer.

Yay science!

joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)

Although HPV is really my pet virus-research project, and I don't know the details of HSV nearly as well, I still come across news pertaining to the other STDs in my searches.  Today, I found word of a topical vaginal cream that prevents HSV transmission for up to one week after application in studies done on mice.

This is very exciting and very hopeful news.  It still needs to undergo human testing, and there is some concern that it will not be helpful at all (and possibly harmful) to pregnant women, but c'mon, a cream that women can put on up to a week before intercourse that prevents Herpes?!?  How cool is that?

And there is some possibility that it might help prevent HIV too! 

Yay science!  Now for the next stage in testing ... here's hoping it lives up to its potential!  Can you imagine a world where this cream works, it prevents HSV and HIV, and the carrageenan or SPL7013 works against HPV?  We are actually on the road to eradicating sexually transmitted infections, although it's still a long journey ahead.

joreth: (Nude Drawing)

A company in Australia, called Cellscreen, is currently working on a Home HPV test for women. They have undergone beta testing in Australia and are beginning the process for FDA approval in the US. The current most common method for detecting HPV infections in women in the US is the pap smear, which was developed in the 1920s and requires a tissue sample from the cervix, obtained by scraping the cervix with a spatula or brush. This is one of the most uncomfortable routine procedures women have to go through and many women avoid their annual OB/GYN visit because of the discomfort and the embarassment. 50% of cervical cancer patients have never had a pap smear. This procedure, however, has been highly effective in catching cervical cancer in stages early enough to respond to treatment. The downside is that it apparently has a 15-20% false negative rate (meaning that 15-20% of women who actually have the early stages of cervical cancer or dysplasia get a negative test result and leave without knowing they are infected), and according to this company's investor brochure (so take it with a grain of salt), some research indicates the pap smear has less than a 70% efficacy rate.

This new test, called the TamPap (short for Tampon and Papilloma), allows women to insert any brand of tampon they choose, remove it, then send it to a lab via mail, where a DNA test, which is more effective than the current pap smear test, is performed and the results sent back either by phone or mail.

"The presence of human cells on the tampon is confirmed by a beta-actin detection step. A PCR based DNA test can reliably reveal the presence of HPV and of any high risk HPV genotypes. ... HPV DNA is only prsent in small amounts. The DNA must therefore be amplified using standard DNA amplification processes to provide sufficient DNA to yield interpretable results. ... The Cellscreen screening assay uses biphasic real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to detect the presense of human papillomavirus DNA. This RT-PCR screening utilises a variation of SPF primer sets published a decade ago and Styo9 dye to show a simple positive/negative result. The typing process can then identifh which, if any, of the fifteen high risk HPV genotypes (namely 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 68, 73, and 82) and two moderate-high risk types (66 and 70) are present in a sample. This process can identify multiple HPV genotypes, if present in a single sample"

This test is designed, not to replace the pap smear, but to compliment it. The DNA test only tells the patient whether she has an HPV infection, but it does not detect the presence of cancer or lesions. If you have the ability to know that you have an active HPV infection, you can increase your watch for cancer, and if you know that you do not currently have an active HPV infection, you can decrease your watch to the suggested pap smear of every 2 years with more frequent DNA tests - providing there is a cost and time-efficient way to do that, such as this new home test provides.

The reason why this is such important news is thanks to our last president's goodbye to women. Medical practitioners are no longer required to give a pap test, or any other procedure, if it goes against their religious beliefs. As the company says in their press release, "The process also is complementary to the work of the medical practitioner who now is no longer required to perform an invasive and time consuming cervical scrape to test for HPV." The company is also designing their marketing techniques to reach those women who avoid their pap or OB/GYN visit entirely due to discomfort, or embarassment. This could significantly reduce the mortality rates (fortunately, already low in the US) of cervical cancer.

Some more information about HPV and cervical cancer:
  • In the US, 50% of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have never been screened and 10-20% have not been screened in the last 5 years. Additionally, 30% of women with cervical cancer were screened but returned a false negative result from their pap test.
  • Globally, HPV has a prevalence of around 9-13% of the total population (male and female), equating to approximately 725 million infected people. In the USA alone there are 6.2 million new cases each year, and 15-20 million American women are infected with HPV at any one time.
  • Young women in their early twenties pose the highest risk of infection. This decreases in women over thirty, but these older women tend to suffer more persistent infections and have increased chance of developing cervical cancer. A recent study has reported that women aged between 40-50 years who test positive for HPV have a greater than 20% chance of developing cervical cancer within 10 years
There are several HPV tests on the market at present with the most successful being the Digene Inc Hybrid Capture, 2-High Risk HPV DNA test, the only HPV test that has obtained USA FDA Approval, and the PapilloCheck and Amplicor tests in Europe.

The majority of the products that are in development and on the market utilize samples taken during a normal pap smear test where cells are taken from the cervix using a speculum and brush technique and the sample stored in a thin prep liquid based preserver and are only available through a medical practitioner (liquid based cytology).

Approximately 92% of the annual 60 million pap smear tests conducted in the USA today are completed using liquid based cytology. In Europe there are approximately 45-55million pap smear tests conducted annually which is expected to grow with the increasing emphasis on screening and prevention techniques.

Two self sampling HPV tests are also available ­ CerviScreen and Fournier's Feminine Multi-Test. The Digene HPV test is currently the only test approved in the USA for the detection of high risk HPV.

Other companies currently developing HPV DNA tests that are in development and expected to be released onto the market in the next two years are SensiGen, ValiRX and NorChip. Fournier's Feminine Multi-test is a self sampling test that utilizes a tampon like device to collect cells from the cervix. This test is designed to be undertaken in a supervised environment to achieve cell samples that are of a higher quality.

In comparison to other tests available in the market Cellscren's Tam Pap self sampling home based test has the following competitive advantages:·

  • The Tam Pap Test can successfully and simultaneously detect and genotype high risk strains of HPV (particularly 16 and 18) using a minimally invasive, private and painless technique, whereas other tests (including the only current FDA approved test) rely on pap smear type procedures to take cervical swabs and are more limited in the number of HPV genotypes they detect;·
  • The Tam Pap Test can also successfully detect low risk strains of HPV (including types 6 and 11) which can cause genital warts and other infections;·
  • The Tam Pap Test does not require the initiation of a pap smear to collect cells for analysis. The Tam Pap Test uses a simple tampon to collect DNA that can be 100% accurately analysed for the presence of HPV;·
  • The Tam Pap Test will be positioned in the market place for women as an affordable and cost effective test making it a practical alternative for women;·
  • The Tam Pap process can be implemented without access to a physician in areas where immediate availability is difficult to obtain;·
  • The Tam Pap process is secure and safe to use and will potentially promote increased levels of usage due to the important fact that privacy can be maintained
joreth: (Nude Drawing)

There has been a new link discovered between the Herpes virus and brain tumors.  Let me be perfectly clear here.  This does NOT, I repeat, NOT mean that herpes causes brain tumors.  At this stage, the relationship between the cytomegalovirus and the tumors is uknown.

What is known is only that in nearly two dozen samples analyzed, nearly all of them were " teeming" with CMV.  Researchers are net yet sure if the virus causes the tumors, or their coincidental presence merely enhances the progression of the tumors in some way, and the answer to this question will be a long time coming.

Cancer has been the big bogeyman for several eras.  It has eluded detection, treatment, and cures.  For a long time, no one knew what really caused cancer, why one person would get it and another person wouldn't.  The medical community has had some of these answers for a while now, but it still strikes fear into the hearts of the general public who does not understand science or who does not keep up with medical research, or who are forced to face their own mortality.  It still has an aura of mystery to it, why me, why mom, why now?

But with diligence, we are slowly unraveling the mystery.  We know the causes of several types of cancer, but we still don't yet know why some people manage to fight and win, and others succumb.  The article made a slight mistake, it cited only 3 types of cancer with known causes:  liver cancer (Hepatitis B), and lymphoma (Epstein-Barr virus), and the article points out only cervical cancer that is caused by HPV, although we now know HPV to be the cause of genital cancers in general, as well as many cases of head and neck cancers. 

This may sound frightening at first, that yet again we are faced with the possibility that a "sexually" transmitted disease that was once thought to be non-fatal, merely profoundly annoying, could actually be lethal.  But first, I'd like to point out that brain tumors are not actually all that common, and that the incidents of brain tumors have not increased with this discovery. 

Second, I'd like to point out how exciting this discovery is, because it, as the article says, opens up a whole new avenue of inquiry for one of the most intractable cancer which is almost always fatal.  With this discovery, medical science has a new direction to look in for prevention and treatment of an illness that, frankly, has been kicking our asses.  Not only does it shine light into the area of this particular study, but combined with the HPV-cervical cancer link (and subsequent links to all the other genital cancers and the now-leading cause of oral/throat cancers), it is forcing the medical science research community to overcome their bias against the virus-causes-cancer theories and it opens a whole new realm of possibilities for research for a lot of different illnesses that have been kicking our asses.  Although there are several different causes for cancer, including tobacco, pollution, radiation, etc., some continue to elude us and discoveries like these make it progressively more difficult to continue putting our fingers in our ears and singing "lalalala, it's not a virus, it's not a virus!"

This story also helps to remind us to have more respect for those STDs that are "just annoying" and the people who suffer from them.  We can't take a cavalier attitude about something that just happens to not be immediately fatal and we can't condemn people who suffer from illnesses because of a bias that says they're "dirty" or they "deserved" it because of their behaviour or to overlook their suffering because of the misassumption that the disease is "just annoying" (have I ever mentioned how much I hate the rationalization that any STD is "just annoying" simply because you don't keel over and die immediately?).  HIV is scary, but it's also pretty easy to avoid, now that we know so much about it. 

But HPV and herpes are not easy so avoid.  I put the word "sexually", from sexually transmitted disease" above in quotes because both HPV and herpes are so easy to catch that you don't really require sexual behaviour.  But up until recently, both viruses were not taken very seriously by society in general, because neither one killed, or so we thought.  Since the advent of the pap smear, the mortality rate of cervical cancer has dropped like a stone in a deep pool.  And that's fantastic.  But it's not the end of the story.  It could have been, but someone out there continued to research, continued to investigate, continued to say "that's not good enough, we should not have to live with the threat of cancer, no matter how small".  And now we have the vaccine.  And better diagnostic tools are on the way.

And now, we have learned of a link between CMV, a virus that is found in approximately 80% of the population (similar to HPV) and previously thought to be "harmless", and one of the most aggressive forms of brain tumor we know.  To say "well, the odds are high that you'll probably get it sooner or later, so just don't worry about it, there's nothing you can do anyway" is not only insensitive, it's also incorrect.  There is plenty we can do, including education and research funding, not to mention taking care of our own bodies and modifying our behaviour to minimize risk - although we can't live in a bubble, we don't have to throw all caution to the wind either.  There is already research being done into a vaccine and treatment medication for the tumors using the CMV research.  Science gives us hope.  I do not put my faith in science because I do not need to.  Rigorous research and testing provides answers ... slowly, cumberously sometimes, with plenty of false starts and blind alleys, but answers nonetheless.
joreth: (Bad Computer!)

"NEW YORK, Jan 9 (Reuters) - U.S. health regulators have again withheld approval for the use of Merck & Co Inc's (MRK.N) Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine by women aged 27 to 45, asking for longer-term clinical data, the drugmaker said on Friday.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended Merck submit data when a 48-month study on a test group has been completed. The agency also withheld approval in June on Merck's initial application that was based on data collected through an average of 24 months.


"Gardasil's efficacy drops sharply once females have been exposed to HPV and this is probably the genesis of the problem with the older female population that Merck has been pushing for in this new application," Sanford Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson said in a research note."

"In 2007, Merck released results of a study showing that Gardasil was effective at preventing infection by certain HPV strains in women up to age 45. The study showed a 91% reduction in cases of persistent infection, low-grade cervical abnormalities and pre-cancers, and external genital lesions caused by the four HPV strains, versus a placebo vaccine.

The study measured only incidents caused by the targeted HPV strains that weren't already present in women at the start of the study or during the dosing regimen. The vaccine is given in three doses over six months.

In comparison, an earlier study in females aged 16 to 23 showed Gardasil reduced these incidents by 96% versus placebo."

joreth: (Nude Drawing)
Visit for information about events in your local area:

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness month.  Come and learn about ways to protect yourself and loved ones.  Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando is collaborating with the Orange County Library System to discuss information about Cervical Cancer and ways to prevent it.  Gardasil, the HPV Vaccine, will be highlighted as well as ways to get the vaccine for FREE!

This event is free and open to the public.  For your convenience, there will be four different informational sessions at various locations throughout the county.


 Saturday, January 10th: Eatonville Branch at 11:00am

 Saturday, January 10th: South Trail Branch at 2:30pm

 Tuesday, January 13th: Alafaya Branch at 6:30pm

 Wednesday, January 14th: Southeast Branch at 6:30pm


For more information, please feel free to call Lisa at 407-246-1788 ext. 113 or visit


Visit the web address below to tell your friends about this.

joreth: (Nude Drawing)

A company named Guided Therapeutics has submitted the first of a three-part process to obtain FDA approval for a new cervical cancer screening device.  The FDA has already declared the technology to be "non-significant risk" by hospital institutional review boards.

Basically, the device is this little flashlight that you insert and shines light on the cervix.  It then reads the lightwaves that bounce back and based on the scans of these lightwaves, it distinguishes between healthy and diseased cervical tissue.  Unlike the PAP smear and the other HPV tests, it does not require a tissue sample or lab analysis and will give a diagnosis instantly.  It also has the potential to be significantly more accurate than either the PAP or the HPV tests, our two current screening methods and more than 3,000 women have tested the prototypes with absolutely no instances of significant or unexpected adverse reactions.

This is very good news and I hope the approval comes soon.  It would be such a relief to do away with PAP smears and to not be concerned that I don't have the money for the more expensive (and not often recommended) HPV test.
joreth: (Nude Drawing)

This is a great article about things you should do before you have sex for the first time - either your first time ever or your first time with this particular partner. This is one of those examples of things that all poly relationships require just to function at the basic level, but all sexual relationships of any model will be better for.

If you're not doing these things at the VERY least, you shouldn't be having sex at all. I don't care if you're poly, monogamous, swinger, "playing the field", or saving yourself for marriage. If your future includes any amount of sexuality with another person, you should be doing these things ... ALL of them, before engaging in any sexual act that can result in an STD or pregancy (and for those victims of Abstinance-Only Education, that means penis-in-vagina sex, oral sex, anal sex, and manual stimulation of the genitals):

(my personal comments are in italics and parentheses)

Ten Things To Do Before You Have Sex
by Karen Rayne

As a sexuality educator, I spend most of my time helping parents understand how to talk with their children and teenagers about sex, sexuality, gender, and all of the myriad issues that go along with those things. One question that parents often ask me is how to make sure their teenagers are ready to have sex. Putting aside issues of whether parents should have substantial input and control over their teenager's sexual activities, I found that parents were relying on goals that were far too vague. Parents want to make sure that their teenagers are mature enough, have good communication with their partners, understand the health and reproductive consequences, etc.

One parent lamented that she and her daughter had (what the mother thought were) great conversations about the need for all of these things, but that her daughter went ahead and had sex even though she never had good communication with her partner and ended up having unprotected sex. Was her daughter not listening to her? Pretending to go along and then choosing a different route? While those are possibilities, the more likely problem is that the daughter was not sure how to measure and assess her relationship to make sure that she had reached the goals she enthusiastically agreed with her mother were important.

And so, my list of ten concrete things that teenagers need to do before they have sex was born. Just to be clear, these are things to do before you have oral sex, sexual intercourse, or anything else that could get you pregnant or an STD.

1. Have an orgasm.
Yes, before you start having sex, you should give yourself an orgasm. It's important to know what feels good to you before you can show another person what feels good to you.

2. Know the other person's sexual history.
And I don't mean just vaginal intercourse for this one!
(A great reference guide to use is the Sexual Health And History Form)

3. Know the other person's STD status, as well as your own.
The only way to know this for sure is to be tested! And if you're both virgins, well, you're not going to be for long. You might as well get that scary first STD testing out of the way so you'll know what to expect next time around.
(this is why some poly people trade paperwork - it's not an assumption that your partner is dirty, it's merely a tool to make sure both parties have exactly the same understanding of the situation ... some STDs can be passed through skin contact, not penetration or fluid transfer, so you and your partner can technically be a virgin and still have an STD, and just as likely, you can not know you have one and wouldn't it suck to pass that on to your partner just because you didn't know?)

4. Talk about exactly what STD protection and birth control you will be using.
These two issues go hand-in-hand (for heterosexual couples), and it is the domain of both parties to be intimately involved.
(it's not any single person's responsibility - it's both/all of your responsibility, so make sure you both/all are contributing to your precautions)

5. If you are part of a heterosexual couple, talk about what happens if the woman gets pregnant.
Here are a few options to talk about, in alphabetical order: abortion, adoption, raising the kid alone, raising the kid together. With the understanding that reality is different than the theoretical, make sure you're both on the same theoretical page.

6. Have your best friend's blessing.
We can rarely see someone we're in love with clearly. It is often our best friends who can see our lovers and our potential lovers for who they really are. Listen to what your best friend has to say, and take it to heart. If it's not what you wanted to hear, give it some time. Wait a month. A good relationship will be able to withstand another month before having sex. Then ask a different friend, and see what they have to say.
(if your relationship is destined to last forever, waiting a month or two won't kill you!)

7. Meet your partner's parents.
At the very least, make sure you know why you haven't met your them. The best sex comes out of knowing someone well, and knowing someone's family is an important part of knowing them. (Even if they're really, really different from their family.)
(this is actually more important that one might think - we are all products of our environment and upbringing, and meeting the family and other friends contributes a lot of data to the whole picture of who your partner is)

8. Be comfortable being naked in front of each other.
You don't actually have to strip down in broad daylight to make sure you've reached this milestone, but it sure helps!

9. Have condoms on hand.
Make sure they fit right, that they're within the expiration date, and that they haven't been exposed to extreme conditions (like the inside of a really hot car). Condoms should be part of any respectful sexual relationship. There need be no assumption of hook ups outside of the relationship, just an assumption of good sexual habits being made and kept.

10. Make sure that your partner has done all of these things too.
Part of a happy, healthy sexual encounter is taking care of everyone's emotional needs and physical health. Both people need to pay attention to themselves and to their partner. That way each person has two people looking out for them. It's just the best way to do things.
joreth: (Nude Drawing)
Carrageenan is one of my pet subjects - a product I promote based on early research that seems to imply that it's a strong inhibitor for HPV.  You can read my previous posts by clicking on the sti tag over on the left sidebar of my journal or going to, and here are some links to the posts I make specifically about carrageenan: - The basic info for carrageenan - Updated info on the testing for carrageenan

In the last post, I talked about how carrageenan is actually being studied for its *anti-HIV* properties and its anti-HPV properties were sort of discovered in the process.  Since these trials are for anti-HIV properties, they are most likely ignoring or overlooking anything to do with HPV.  Since the anti-HPV properties have been noticed, I assume that *some* data is being collected, but I have no idea how much at this point. 

Out of the five products being tested at the time of my last article on the subject, BufferGel®, Carraguard®, PRO 2000®, C31G, and cellulose sulfate (2, 44), the cellulose sulfate (going by the name of CONRAD) failed its trials and I was rooting for BufferGel because it seemed to have the most amount of applicability.  It seemed to prevent against pretty much all types of STDs and served as a contraceptive, whereas all the others only prevented some STDs or didn't work as a contraceptive, or a combination.

Well, Carraguard has now failed its test as a preventative for HIV, sadly:

This does not seem to invalidate its anti-HPV properties (as I said, they're really focusing on the anti-HIV potential and no mention was made of HPV or HSV in this article), but since its primary purpose was to prevent HIV, and the anti-HPV effects were less important or secondary, Carraguard will probably not make it to market at all. 

I would like to think that the researchers would take a look at the anti-HPV and anti-HSV properties that Carraguard has and do some more testing with a focus on that direction, and then try to market it for those purposes, but, unfortunately, HIV is the big bogeyman right now, even though we have made enormous strides in the quality of life for HIV patients in recent years.  I fear that the pharmaceutical companies will think that there is simply not enough profit in marketing a topical gel that only covers HPV and HSV but not HIV, especially since Merk has publicly declared a loss of profits with Gardasil, and all pharmaceutical companies are reconsidering the profitability of all vaccines at the moment. 

Unfortunately, this might leave only the CAM (complimentary and alternative medicine) folks to pick up the slack - if they do at all.  I say "unfortunately" because CAM, by definition, does not have robust testing and evidence to support its claims ... even on the rare occasion that they're actually right*, and I would hate for a legitimate medicinal product to get lost in the CAM shuffle.

*Once a product achieves the robust testing and evidence to support its claims, it becomes "traditional" or science-based medicine and is no longer "complimentary / alternative medicine", by definition, so it's not that CAM is always wrong, it's that CAM either has A) no evidence to back its claims or B) has evidence to the contrary.  In the case of A, it can be further tested and proven effective, but that removes it from the CAM classification.
joreth: (Nude Drawing)

I've journaled about Carrageenan a few times, and how effective it seems to be at preventing HPV, even though it's still in trials, apparently, all signs very strongly point towards its effectiveness.  Now it appears as though there's another product being tested.  Where carrageenan just happens to be an ingredient already commonly found in lubes, this product is created and being tested specifically for it's anti-HIV, anti-HSV, and anti-HPV properties.

"Showing that VivaGel has activity against all major clinically relevant strains of HPV tested so
far, in particular those strains not covered by the current cervical cancer vaccines, further
strengthens the growing body of evidence demonstrating the efficacy of SPL7013 against several
important STIs."

The active ingredient, SPL7013, so far is inhibiting HPV-16 and -18, which are the two cancer-causing strains found in Gardasil, the Merk vaccine currently approved in the US, which make up 70% of the cancer cases.  It also inhibits the two warts-causing strains, HPV-6 and -11 that Gardasil inhibits.

PLUS it is showing signs of inhibiting HPV-31 and -45, which cause 4% of cancers. 

This is fantastic news, especially as we are starting to hear rumblings about vaccines becoming too expensive to produce for the vaccine companies to continue carrying.  If they start discontinuing vaccines because of the cost, we will need some other line of defense, and a topical microbe, particularly if it can simply be added to lubricants, is a very convenient method of application.

So, until VivaGel makes it to the market, everyone go out and buy some Carrageenan lube!

To Archive

Dec. 3rd, 2008 01:43 pm
joreth: (Nude Drawing)

As most of my readers should, by now, know, I'm quite the champion for the the HPV vaccination and vaccinations in general. So I often get a lot of cranks spreading fear and false rumors as to the dangers of vaccines. Of course there are some dangers with vaccines, the medical community and its champions have never denied that. But the risk/reward ratio makes them, not only worth the risk, but our duty as members of a society to accept the risk because the risk is actually very minimal. You're more likely to get struck by lightning on the way to the vaccination clinic than to die or contract autism from a vaccine.

So, now that other countries are introducing the HPV vaccines into their societies, some of which are making them mandatory, these kinds of claims are getting picked up all over the place. Which is annoying, but actually a good thing. Because it means that other countries, totally independent of the U.S. and totally independent of Big Pharma are having to investigate.

And guess what? They're all showing that the vaccines are not some scary evil plot by Big Pharma to kill off people (frankly, even if it was a plot to kill off young girls, it's a pretty sucky plot - even worse than the plot to kill Austin Powers by leaving him in a room with evil sea bass with lasers strapped to their heads), nor is it simple incompetence making an unsafe product in the rush to make a profit.,25197,24748394-23289,00.html In Australia, "Only three of the 25 evaluated schoolgirls had probable hypersensitivity to the quadrivalent human papilloma virus vaccine after 380,000 doses had been administered in schools," and such reactions were typical during any mass vaccination effort, regardless of what was being injected. "One study estimated that if 80 per cent of eligible US adolescent females were to receive a saline injection ... three per 100,000 adolescents would require emergency care for asthma or allergy within 24 hours of vaccination," the paper says.

Now, let's just say that all 25 girls who were suspected of being "hypersensitive" actually did have allergic reactions.  That's 25 girls out of 380,000.  Three hundred and eighty THOUSAND.  That's .00066% of girls.  In my last rant against the conspiracy theorists, I quoted some facts from the U.S. study, which estimated a .00022% chance of death with .075% experiencing minor side effects common with receiving a shot no matter what's in it.

As an evil plot, it's probably the lamest plot ever concieved.  As a study of incompetence, it royally fails on the dumbass scale.  The HPV vaccine is about as safe as vaccines can get, with risk levels lower than simply living, and the benefit is preventing cancer and all studies so far, no matter who conducts them, are pointing in this direction.

joreth: (Nude Drawing)

A new test created by Hologic for detecting the 14 types of HPV that cause cancer in women over age 30 has shown "100 PERCENT ACCURACY at detecting the HPV strain that poses the highest risk of cancer. Cervista showed 92 percent accuracy at detecting a second strain that is often linked to cervical cancer."

The proposed use of this test is as a general screen for HPV in combination with a pap test for women over 30.

And a competing company, AVC, has also come out with an HPV test:

(There was a conference in Europe today where a bunch of companies unveiled their latest findings, which is why I'm getting all these HPV updates today)
joreth: (Silent Bob Headbang)

I haven't been making posts for a couple of days, or responding to them, and it will be several more days before I have the time to really come back to LJ.  But I've been keeping an eye on the progress of the Merk vaccine, Gardasil, and the latest news is great news, so I had to share it as soon as possible!

"Finally, two years after it was approved for use in young women, a vaccine against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) has now been shown to be safe and effective in protecting young men as well. Merck's vaccine Gardasil cut infections caused by the four most dangerous strains of this virus by 45 percent and reduced the occurrence of HPV-induced warts by 90 percent, according to a new study involving more than 4,000 male volunteers age 16 to 26. The next step is for the Food and Drug Administration to give its blessing."

The FDA also approves the claim that Gardasil can prevent cancer of the vulva and vagina, in addition to its claim of preventing cervical cancer:
Unfortuantely, Merk lost the bid to market the vaccine to older women, although "off-label" is still an option (which means that you can talk a doctor into giving you something that isn't FDA approved for the category you fit into, but isn't banned either, though it will probably not be covered by insurance since it's not FDA approved to make the claim that it's good for you).

Some more articles about this are here: (ignore the idiot in the comments who claims that vaccines cause cancer and girls are dropping dead all over the place) - yet another article indicating that HPV is linked to oral cancers

And for the conspiracy theorists and people who fear the over-hyped claims of danger related to side effects from the vaccine: claims that Gardasil is "remarkably safe despite anaphylactic reactions". (The report that this article references is here: and goes over the pros and cons of giving the vaccine)


And here is a letter I'm sending to my friends and family to educate them a little about HPV and the upcoming vaccine approval for boys. Please feel free to forward this to your own family and friends. )

I may be updating this post when I have more time, rather than making a whole new post about the same stuff, just so ya know.

joreth: (Nude Drawing)

I have been in sort of an ongoing discussion with someone about how safe it is to have multiple sexual partners.  He insists on a very basic math formula that simply says "more people = more risk".  I maintain that there are several variables to the safety probability, and one of the most important variables is how well you know the other person and what their own criteria for taking on additional partners is.

In an open and inclusive poly network, where regular testing is done before a new partner is added, I maintain that more people does not necessarily = more risk, as long as those people do, in fact, require tests beforehand and do, in fact, notify all people when an incidence does come up. 

If you have 3 people in a group, he believes, this is inherently safer than having 5 people in a group because that is two more people who the group has to monitor to ensure they are following the safety rules.

However, if you have 3 people in a group, one of whom is prone to cheating or taking on partners without testing first, I state that this is inherently more dangerous than a group of 5 people who have shown a consistent pattern of testing and notification.  As the number of people rises, at least within a certain range, the risk level does not, in my opinion, significantly increase when all people consistently use regular testing and disclosure.

To illustrate my point, a couple of researchers actually wrote a book about it.  Well, they wrote a book about sexuality and within the book was a segment on HIV risk for a variable number of partners.   It's called With Pleasure: Thoughts on the Nature of Human Sexuality by Paul R. Abramson & Steven D. Pinkerton.  The premise of this math formula is that each person's HIV status is unknown and the partners are randomly selected from the population at large.

According to the calculations (which use math symbols that I can't enter here because I write in plain text editors), "the risk resulting from 100 protected [sexual] contacts is about the same as that arising from only 10 unprotected [sexual] contacts".  They go on to say:

"For sexually active individuals with more than one partner, the situation is slightly more complicated.  Although the probability of becoming infected as a result of sexual contact with any one of these partners can be calculated using [this equation], the rules of probability calculus prevent us from simply adding them together to arrive at the overall risk of infection. ...

As might be expected, the probability of infection arising from N one-night stands is greater than the risk from N contacts with a single partner (monogamy).  However, the difference is not nearly as great as one might suppose.  ... the relative risk reduction acheived by engaging in N sexual contacts with a single partner rather than N one-night-stands is greater in the high infectivity condition (a=0.01) and increases as the number of one-night stands gets large, but is less than 40% in any case.  In contrast, the relative risk reduction due to the consistant use of condoms is about 90% regardless of the infectivity or number of partners.  In other words, in this situation even the most dramatic change in the number of sexual partners - from 100 to 1 - provides LESS protection than does the simple expedient of always wearing a condom.

These results highlight the inadequacy of educational programs that focus on getting people to limit the number of sexual partners as a means of reducing HIV risk.  Although there are conditions for which this is sound advice (such as populations with a high prevalance of HIV and other STDs) the simple strategy of always using condoms is usually a superior means of reducing risk.  ...

Finally, to return to the question posed at the beginning of this discussion: is everyone at risk?  Obviously that depends on her sexual behaviour, including who she has sex with, what kind of sex, and whether or not her partners wear condoms for penetrative activities.  For the sake of argument, suppose the infectivity is 1 in 1,000 and she selects 10 male partners at random from a population in which 1 out of every 200 men is infected with HIV.  If she has intercourse 100 times with each of these men and never uses condoms, she faces an infection risk of 0.0047 (in other words, out of 211 such women, we would expect one to become infected with HIV as a consequence of her sexual behaviour).  If, instead, she and her partners used condoms for every act of intercourse, her risk would be reduced by about 90%, to 0.0005 (1 out of 2010)."

The part that really impacts the poly community is that all of these scenarios and formulas are done with choosing a partner totally at random from the entire population without knowing his or her HIV status.  With regular condom use, regular testing, and open and honest communication about status, the probability of becoming infected with HIV drops to a very small number close to zero.  With a known status of HIV-negative, and no exposure to HIV since testing, the probability drops to a small number close to zero even without the condoms. 

This, of course, only affects those STDs that are fluid-borne, like HIV.  The incidence of contact-borne STDs like Herpes is only partially reduced by condom use, not the 90% quoted above.  And for the untestable or hard-to-test STDs like HPV, I assume we cannot significantly lower the incidence rate by changing the variable from "unknown status" to "known status", but none of that was discussed.

Anyway, this book sounds pretty fascinating and I plan to pick up a copy sometime soon.  One of the other thoughts they propose in the book is that the primary purpose of sex has evolved to be pleasure and procreation is a by-product.  When I did a search for the title, I didn't find any negative reviews of the book, no blog entires claiming they're hacks and peudo-scientists, so I'm curious to see the research they used to reach this conclusion.  Here's the link to read what I quoted above and you can follow the links from there to purchase it:

STI Update

Oct. 1st, 2008 02:19 am
joreth: (Nude Drawing)

I found the coolest image on and I'm not putting it behind a cut because I think everyone should see it:

joreth: (Nude Drawing)

I just came across this PowerPoint presentation in my files.  I don't know why I didn't post it before, but I'm going to now.  It's a presentation that was given at the Merk convention just a month before they received official FDA approval for their vaccine, Gardasil.  The topic is an instructional for what a diagnostician should know about HPV.  It includes information like, what HPV is, how to recognize it, and how to deal with patients that have it.

Please view this and pass it along.  You are also welcome to download this and attach it to emails if you have people who still open these kinds of files in emails, but a link to it is considered "safer".

It's almost exclusively text, but I will warn you, about a quarter of the way through it are 3 or 4 explicit photos of what genital warts look like on various genital regions.  Not Safe For Work.
joreth: (Nude Drawing)

I'll post my reaction to this later, but now I'm sleepy.  But this is a hilarious and informative site.  It's delightfully awkward.  Spread the word, especially to young people!
joreth: (Default)

 The next installment of my HPV updates.

Previous installments that include a more detailed background of HPV and its treatments are: - HPV responsible for Oral Cancers - Carrageenan as an HPV preventative - Possible treatments of HPV in testing phases - Central Florida testing options - Better information for Central Florida testing options - A rant about conspiracy theorists that includes actual statistics for the possible health risks of the HPV vaccine

And now, the latest:

FDA grants fast review of Gardasil for adult women

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Merck & Co on Wednesday said U.S. regulators have granted a priority review for the company's application to expand marketing of its Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine to women aged 27 through 45.

The designation means that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to make its decision on the marketing application within 6 months, rather than within the agency's typical 10-month review period.

Gardasil, one of Merck's fastest-growing products, is currently approved for girls and women nine through 26 years of age. It works by preventing infection with four sexually transmitted strains of the Human Papillomavirus that cause most cases of cervical cancer.

Leerink Swann analyst Seamus Fernandez called the priority review a positive surprise. In a research note, he predicted a "straightforward" regulatory review of the expanded marketing application due to the lack of serious side effects among adult women receiving Gardasil in clinical trials.

Gardasil had fourth-quarter global sales of $339 million, helping to drive Merck's total global revenue from vaccines to $1.1 billion.

joreth: (::headdesk::)
Now, I understand that it's only a small portion of HPV cases that actually develop into dysplasia, and from there to cancer.  I understand that my chances of getting killed in a car wreck are higher than me dying from cervical cancer.  But try telling someone facing this problem "but you're in the minority of people who suffer from this, so it's not a big deal and I shouldn't worry about it".  You would deserve to get smacked.

So I spread this information about HPV because very few other people are.  If it were getting nationwide coverage like HIV or the flu during flu season even, this virus wouldn't need people like me spreading the word about it.  It's not intended to induce a panic because I feel I represent it fairly.  I don't run around screaming "Everyone who has sex is going to DIE from HPV!"  I present the facts using medical data from the CDC and other organizations whose sole purpose is to study this and notify the public.  Those facts include the numbers which clearly show that our species is not in danger of extinction due to this virus.  But it sure sucks to be one of the few to face this, especially when it is preventable and getting more so with new products like this vaccine.

And, of course, because I feel an obligation to spread this information, I get responses from the whacko conspiracy theorists.  Here's one email exchange.  Someone I emailed this to (part of a group mailing list) forwarded my email onto a friend of his.  Here is the friend responding to the guy in my group list:

> Why would I be suspicious of this report? Well, I do wonder who funded the
> study that came to these conclusions...y'all be sure to get your shots now,
> ya is the first of eight mentions of Merck: The only available
> vaccine against HPV, made by Merck & Co. Inc., is currently given only to
> girls and young women. But Merck plans this year to ask government
> permission to offer the shot to boys.
> How thoughtful of them...come on boys, now you too can have a good dose of
> mercury. I guess they weren't killing enough people by just giving it to
> girls...OK, maybe it was just that profits were not high enough.

The guy in my group's response:

> Good points Mike. I'll pass them to the girl who sent it to me. I was
> cognizant that it was practically a commercial for Merck. I would never
> even consider using their poison. I almost didn't forward it. It's not
> the kind of thing I usually send out. I thought, however, if there is even
> a chance that there is something to it......people should know about it. My
> subscribers are, like you, capable of doing their own critical thinking and
> research.

My response:

Oh for crying out loud, you can't possibly think that vaccines are responsible for illness instead of the other way around? I've been following the development of this virus and the treatments for it since the early 90s and the Merk vaccine is totally valid and could potentially be a life-saver. The anti-vaccination conspiracies are harmful to our society because it creates a society incredibly susceptible to all those viruses that used to completely wipe out entire populations. As for the mercury concern specifically, mercury was phased out of all pediatric vaccines years ago and the 2 or 3 vaccines that still contain thimerosal (which contains the mercury), the amount in one dose of vaccine is less than a single serving of several types of seafood. And the idea that mercury is responsible for autism has been thoroughly debunked a long time ago.

I suggest you do some reading on the fallacies of conspiracy theories. Here's some to get you started:

The guy's friend's response:

"If you prefer to keep your head in the be it."

So, it's bad enough I got an email response claiming that Merk is trying to kill little girls by poisoning them with mercury in the vaccine, but now some yahoo has posted a link that "explains" the "serious medical results and death being linked with them(not to mention much data related to health complications from many other vaccines)."
My response to that was:

"Before you get all conspiracy-theorist, try reading this:"

and, once I actually read the article, followed up with:

So you quote an article that admits the CDC dismissed the claims that the deaths were related to Gardrasil and were instead related to birth control pills (which have known consequences) and other medicines?

That reminds me of the article claiming the swingers convention were "inappropriate". One man was pissed off that the swingers convention happened in the hotel he was staying at with his family for vacation. He claimed people were walking around nude and participating in sexual activity in public and filed a report. The hotel staff, the layout of the hotel ballrooms, the security on active duty and the police investigator later all claimed that nothing actually happened.

Yet it made the news anyway.

"Headline News! Something was purported to happen, but evidence turns up that nothing actually happened. Just thought you all should know that nothing actually happened here"

There are often side effects with medicine, this is nothing new.  Merk, like all pharm companies, clearly explain the possible risks involved with taking their product and all the cases of illness fell within the expected side effects.

The only reason we don't have polio anymore is because of mass vaccination, and we are only one generation away from iron lungs and leg braces. Until we find cures for many of the diseases that can kill us, vaccinations are our best defense by preventing us from getting it in the first place. Gardrasil is not the end-all-be-all, but it's one step among many in the fight against cancer. And now we understand that it's not just cervical cancer, which is a small portion of the cancer cases (although try telling someone facing it that it's not a big deal since they're a minority), but it's also responsible for several other types of cancer.

This is also a big advancement because, only a few types of cancer have a "cause". We know that tobacco causes cancer, but not everyone who smokes gets it. Now we know that several other types of cancers are caused by a virus. The more we understand about cancer and the causes of each type, the closer we get to eliminating it, or at least reducing it to a non-life-threatening disease."

Here's what pisses me off about the article above.  According to this source - the source the "concerned" person is using to make his claim that the vaccine is harmful - 5 million people have taken the vaccine.  Let me repeat that.  5 MILLION.  Out of those 5 million, less than 5,000 have reported negative effects.  That's less than .1%.  I'll repeat that again.  POINT ONE PERCENT.  Out of those 4,500 people, 75% were for minor EXPECTED SIDE EFFECTS.  

So, out of 5 MILLION people, .075% of them had MINOR EXPECTED SIDE EFFECTS.  That's POINT ZERO SEVEN FIVE PERCENT people.  Out of those 5 million, .025% had more serious illnesses.  POINT ZERO TWO FIVE PERCENT.  

And out of those, 11 women have died. 

ELEVEN WOMEN OUT OF 5 FUCKING MILLION.  That's .00022% of all Gardrasil users.

And the CDC has ruled out Gardrasil as the cause in all of them based on the preliminary data.

If you take a group of 5 million people, group them however you want, I guarantee that more than 11 of them are going to die this year.

So, let's just say, for argument's sake, that the CDC is involved in a conspiracy with Merk that includes willingly suppressing information for money or outright attempting to kill people.  I'd have to say their plan is a pretty shitty one.  They only got 11 out of 5 million!  As mass murder attempts, or evil genocide plots, it ranks up there as one of the dumbest.  I think the guy who used a syringe to poison, what was it? cough syrup? in drug stores had a higher kill rate.  Hell, that poison pet-food scandal last year was far more successful!

Now let's just say that the government agencies aren't necessarily evil and out to kill the public, but they're sloppy with their security measures and they don't like to admit when they've made a mistake.  11 out of 5,000,000!  Those are way better odds than even pure chance!  I have a higher chance of actually contracting HPV and dying from cervical cancer!  There are risks involved in everything.  I am at higher risk of dying in a car accident than by this vaccine.  I am at higher risk of getting hit by lightning than this vaccine.  And this vaccine could potentially save my life ... or at least help me to avoid some rather unpleasant medical proceedures.

Please, people, do the math.  HPV is a serious virus, but careful regulation of your sexual practices and regular PAP smears will minimize your risk.  Support of research and vaccines and things like the carrageenan lubes will lower your risk even more.  I don't want to spread a panic about HPV, but even if some people do panic, all that will happen is they better regulate their sex life.  Spreading panic about things like vaccinations and medicines not only hurts those who refuse to vaccinate by allowing them to get sick with life-threatening illnesses, it also puts the general population at risk.  Having un-vaccinated people allows these viruses to be reintroduced to the society, where it can mutate and/or re-infect people after the vaccination has lost its potency or the immune system has aged to the point that the vaccination is only partially effective.

Your decision to not vaccinate affects MY LIFE TOO.  My decision to limit my sexual partners because of my fear of HPV affects only me and my potential partners - in a good way, or at the very least, in a neutral way.
joreth: (Nude Drawing)
Taken from [personal profile] serolynne's LJ and not hidden under a cut because it's important that everyone read it:
The HPV virus doesn't just affect the woman's body by increasing the risks for cervical cancers. But studies are starting to show that HPV is causative to oral cancer's in men (and presumably women too).. from yup, you guessed it.. oral sex. And it's now as common a cause as tobacco and alcohol.

Remember, when a woman has mild cervical dysplasia, she is very actively shedding the virus. If you give unprotected oral sex to her, you are basically bathing your mouth and throat in juices laden with HPV shedding. The mouth and throat are similar tissue types as the cervix.

I've long suspected this, and thus why I've always drastically altered my sexual practices when dealing with an active HPV infection.

Please pass this on to everyone you know, particularly those who participate in multiple partnerships, and feel free to repost in any forum or journal.

joreth: (Nude Drawing)

The topic of HPV and other STIs comes up quite often on poly forums.  I usually throw my two cents in, but it's been a few months since I did my own research, so I figured I should go out there and look at what new developments there may or may not be in HPV treatment and prevention.

Rather than re-quote all the basic stuff again, I refer you to my previous entry on the subject,, where I discuss how Carrageenan, a gel made from red algae and found in food and some sex lubes, was found to be a massively successful HPV inhibitor.

Check that out for the basic info.  From here, I will assume everyone has the same minimum level of knowledge about carrageenan that I do.

New stuff I found out on this round of research (and by "research", I mean a cursory google search while avoiding doing photography editing):

~ Sometime this year there should be the results of a phase-three test of women in Africa using a vaginal gel specifically designed for HPV prevention.
~ At the time of my last posting, they had only done petri-dish type experiments and had not had the opportunity to work on lab mice.  Now they have.  Their findings are very promising:  "the researchers next tested to see whether compounds used in vaginal products affect susceptibility to infection. They found that a widely used vaginal spermicide, nonoxynol-9 (N-9), greatly increased the rate of infection. They then tested 2 commercial carrageenan-containing lubricants and found that they blocked infection. Carrageenan prevented HPV infection in the presence of N-9 as well."

~ Carrageenan was most effective at acidic pH levels similar to those encountered in the vagina, the report indicates. Besides preventing the initial attachment of capsids to cells, carrageenan also blocked postbinding events.

~ A variety of consumer products containing carrageenan also successfully inhibited HPV infectivity, according to the results, although some products labeled as containing carrageenan had little effect.

~ In the new study, carrageenan blocked infection by HPV-16 and showed signs of inhibiting two cancer-causing strains that the vaccine doesn't address.

~ If successful, one or more of the five products entering phase III clinical trials (of HIV prevention) is likely to reach the market. These five products are: BufferGel®, Carraguard®, PRO 2000®, C31G, and cellulose sulfate (2, 44).  Carraguard prevents HIV, HPV, and HSV, but does not kill sperm.  BufferGel kills sperm, microbes that cause HPV, HSV, chlamydia and gonorrhea, and white blood cells that contain HIV.  Pro 2000 binds to HIV, gonorrhea and HSV.  Ushercell acts on a "broad range of STIs and appears to have a contraceptive effect.  C31G does not seem to have any anti-HPV properties.  (sounds like I'll want BufferGel to prove effective for HPV, because of it's combo contraceptive/STI prevention properties)

~ A Failed Candidate:  CONRAD halted its trial [of cellulose sulfate (CS), also known as Ushercell] after early results suggested that CS might be contributing to an increased risk of HIV infection among women in the study.  This site has the latest (as of this date) info on all the above products being tested!

joreth: (Polydragon)
This is an email I just received by someone who is a trusted source of information and involved in the medical research field. Since independent research is available online, I'm passing this on:

Hi! I'm sending this on to you because I thought you might be interested. I just found out about Herpes Whitlow, which is a herpes infection in the fingers. A friend of mine has HSV-2 in his fingers and recently passed it genitally to his sexual partner through manual stimulation (they were aware of, and accepted the risk before becoming sexually active). I believe herpes infections in the fingers are relatively rare; however knowing someone who contracted it this way makes it seem like a risk at least worth considering. I'm not trying to introduce paranoia or anything, but it may be worth considering when assessing the relative safety of manual stimulation. To me it just further enforces the
importance of testing and knowing one's sexual status, as not much is really truly "safe". There's a fair amount of information online if you're interested (including pictures), though I haven't really had the chance to comb through it (just grist for the mill right now).

I'm hoping this doesn't take on the aspects of the usual hoax email forwards with "A friend of mine knows this guy who has this cousin who's dog's last owner had a neighbor and it REALLY HAPPENED TO HIM", but it's still some information I thought was important to pass on.
joreth: (Nude Drawing)

What makes this exciting is that this product is already available in sex lubes!  Ask for it's name "Carrageenan" in the stores.  Thanks to

[personal profile] tacitfor the information:

Seaweed extract protects against cervical cancer: Algae compound surprisingly effective at preventing cancer-causing viral infection
News @ Nature
Narelle Towie

Just a tiny amount of a common food additive has been found, in lab tests, to guard against the virus linked to cervical cancer.

Scientists have discovered that carrageenan, a compound extracted from red algae and used as a thickening agent in everyday products such as toothpaste and yoghurt, is highly effective at preventing the spread of the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV). The cheap ingredient was found to be effective at a concentration 100 times lower than the best HPV inhibitor currently on the market.

"We were screening different compounds for potential HPV inhibitors in vitro, and carrageenan, which is an inexpensive, widely available product, came up as being extraordinarily potent," says Douglas Lowy, a researcher with the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

Carrageenan was already known to be an inhibitor against the AIDS-causing virus HIV, and is currently undergoing clinical trials for that.

The compound is also already used in a variety of sexual lubricants because of its gelling properties. Lowy and his colleagues, whose paper is published in the journal PLoS Pathogens1, found that some of these over-the-counter products are decidedly effective against HPV transmission in the test-tube.

Carregeenan, which is an inexpensive, widely available product, came up as being extraordinarily potent.

Douglas Lowy
National Cancer Institute, Maryland

"The exciting thing is it is already available in various lubricants," says Anne Szarewski, a clinical consultant for the Cancer Research UK Centre in London. The compound is easy to come by, and is classed as "generally regarded as safe" by the US Food and Drug Administration. "A topical microbicide may not actually be light years away from reality," says Szarewski.

But controlled clinical trials need to take place before any of the products could be recommended as HPV inhibitors, notes study leader Christopher Buck, also with the National Cancer Institute.

Carrageenan, Irish for 'moss of the rock', is produced by boiling red seaweeds found in abundance along the rocky coasts of North America and Europe.

Buck's team found that carrageenan acts like a border control, sticking to proteins on the human papilloma virus and preventing the virus from interacting with, or entering, the cells of the cervix.

It seems to have a protective effect with some other viruses too, including the cold-sore-causing herpes simplex virus (HSV), they report. But HSV has an extra protective membrane that makes it less susceptible to carrageenan; a dose a thousand times greater was needed to achieve equivalent protection against HSV as was achieved against HPV, the team says.

Another option for defeating HPV may be using a vaccine (see 'Cervical cancer vaccine comes closer to market'). But vaccines currently on their way to clinical use cost hundreds of US dollars, so are unaffordable in developing countries, where screening against cervical cancer is poor and many women die from the disease.

Double whammy

If carrageenan were added to an HIV microbicide, says head of the Indian Council of Medical Research N. K. Ganguly, it could form one of the best preventatives against sexually transmitted diseases available.
More than 5,000 women in South Africa are currently taking part in phase-three clinical trials of Carraguard, a vaginal gel containing carrageenan that has been designed to protect against HIV. These trials are due to end in 2007.

The team hopes that further trials will be designed to explicitly test the compound's effectiveness against HPV transmission. They are also working on developing a mouse model of HPV so that they can study it more closely in the lab.

1. Buck C. B., et al. PLoS Path. 2, e69. 0001 - 0010 (2006).

  • Desserts, ice cream, milk shakes, sauces — gel to increase viscosity
  • Beer — clarifier to remove haze-causing proteins
  • Pâtés and processed meat — Substitute fat to increase water retention and increase volume
  • Toothpaste — stabilizer to prevent constituents separating (Tom's of Maine uses this)
  • Fire fighting foam — thickener to cause foam to become sticky
  • Shampoo and cosmetic creams — thickener
  • Air freshener gels
  • Shoe polish — gel to increase viscosity
  • Biotechnology — gel to immobilize cells/enzymes
  • Carrageenan has also been used to thicken skim milk, in an attempt to emulate the consistency of whole milk. This usage did not become popular. It's used in some brands of soy milk
  • Diet sodas
  • Lambda carrageenan is used in animal models of inflammation used to test analgesics, because dilute carrageenan solution (1-2%) injected subcutaneously causes swelling and pain.
  • Sexual lubricant and microbicide

More about carrageenan: - really technical stuff ... on the molecular level even - more stuff with carrageenan in it - where to buy the Carrageenan sex lube - another place to buy the lube

lots of articles about the studies so far:
joreth: (Nude Drawing)

Every once in a while, I post on my various email lists information about local STD testing centers.  It's time for me to get tested again, so I'm making a post here too, even though many of you are not local.  As a sexually-active ethically-non-monogamous woman, I feel very strongly about STD testing, even though I have not always been diligent about testing regularly in the past.  So much of what plagues us in the STD arena is preventable and treatable that it is just dumbfounding to me that we still suffer from so many of these infections and diseases.  Most of those in The Squiggle (my romantic family) keep abreast of the latest information regarding STDs, like  [profile] smoocherie's website and I'm honored and privileged to be part of a network with such conscientious partners like  [profile] smoocherie and  [personal profile] tacit and all of their various sweeties.

I have been living in the Tampa area for the last 6+ years, so I was utilizing the Hillsborough County Clinc, which is quite reasonably-priced for all that they offer (  "Each client receives a thorough exam focused on spotting signs of STD infections. Testing is offered to all clients for HIV, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Chlamydia. Anonymous HIV testing is available if requested. Herpes tests can be done if lesions are present. Women are also tested for bacterial vaginosis, candidiasis and trichomoniasis. Testing and/or vaccination for hepatitis are provided for clients at higher risk for these infections" all for a low price of $30, which also covers treatment of any STDs found.  For an additional $30, a full PAP/Annual Gynecological Exam can also be done.  The down side is that it's on a first-come first-served basis with no appointments.  If you're not there by about 10 AM, you probably won't get seen.  They do, however, keep your records on file for quite a long time and automatically provide a copy of all the results for you to take home, which I show to my potential partners before breaking HPV barriers for the first time.

I just moved to Orlando a couple weeks ago, and I didn't want to have to drive all the way to Tampa, especially for such an early check-in time, so I started researching local clinics.  I found the Orange County Health Department has a comparable program to Hillsborough County, although their website is not as informative (  When I emailed asking for clarification, this is the response I received:

We have 2 programs through the Orange County Health Department which you may access and be tested for most of the items you are requesting.

 One program is our Women's Health Department.  In order to access services through this department you must be able to have children (no previous tubal ligation or hysterectomy) and desire to be on a form of birth control or be pregnant.

 If you are pregnant, you must go through our eligibility department and apply for medicaid.
If you would like a method of birth control, you may either go through eligibility or be classified as "full pay".  The charge for this would be approximately $70 and would include the following:
                                    Complete physical exam
                                    Thin prep pap smear with HPV DNA if indicated  (denotes Human Papilloma infection)
                                    Clinical breast exam  (no mammogram)
                                    Vaginal test for gonorrhea, chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis and any other vaginal infections present
                                    Visual exam for Herpes and genital warts
                                    Pelvic exam to determine evidence of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Blood testing would include the following:
                                    HIV  (confidential)
                                    Hepatitis B
The following would not be performed at either of our clinicis unless there was evidence of current infection:
                                    Hepatitis A
                                    Nongonococcal urethitis  (primarily seen in men)
You may access our Sexually Transmitted Disease clinic and have all of the above tests performed except the complete physical exam.  The charge for this would be approximately $45.
Pat Nolen
Women's Health Program Manager
Orange County Health Department
Orlando, Florida
407-836-2605 or 407-249-6232 ext 234

I included Pat Nolan's information because (s)he was so complete in the information I requested that I would like to pass along the name to anyone else who can't find what they're looking for on the website.

I was not nearly as impressed with Planned Parenthood, although I remember the one in California in the '90s being reasonable.  Each PP office pretty much runs itself, so there is no nationwide standardization for how things are done or how much it costs, or so they tell me.  More and more, I am finding PP clinics that do not accept donations (as I remembered them doing as a teenager) but charging nearly as much as a private physician.  Orlando's PP website is  I was unable to find any concrete information on their cost, but I seem to remember hearing that it was over $100.  If I find out otherwise, I'll change this post.  PP does, however, have a comprehensive page on HPV that I would like to pass along:

I think I will try the Women's Health program at the Orange County clinic and say I want the pill, although I have no intention of taking it, since it's only $10 more than I was planning to spend at Hillsborough and I'm way overdue for a physical and gyn exam.  Who knows, maybe I'll qualify for the cheaper rate?  Otherwise, $45 isn't bad for all the same stuff minus a physical, which is really just for my peace of mind anyway and not really STD related, and which apparently *still* covers the PAP and breast exam, for which Hillsborough clinic lacks in their STD program.  

I recommend utilizing the county services as long as they provide the services required so that the government will continue to fund these clinics for low-income people to take advantage of, and to pass the word along and encourage as many people as possible to get regular testing.  These STDs should not be as big of a problem in this day and age as they are, and really all it takes is a little education and some responsible maintenance.
joreth: (Default)

"A South African inventor claims to have found a solution to a common romantic moodspoiler -- putting on a male condom ... The wrapper is simply snapped open in the middle, and the two sides gripped to roll the condom directly over the penis, pulled off and discarded."

Being one of those who loses the mood with the break for a condom (and having way too many guys not spend the time to bring me back), this sounds like a wonderful idea to me!  The more practical bonus, however, is that it also reduces the STD risk, which occurs when someone starts to put the condom on the wrong way, then takes it off and puts it on the right way, which sort of defeats the STD prevention purpose of the whole thing.

I'm a geek

Nov. 6th, 2006 08:18 pm
joreth: (Nude Drawing)

So, I am such a huge nerd that, while updating my sexual history sheet, I decided to create a graphical representation of my sexual history.  It's not as detailed as I'd like, but I haven't decided how many more details I should represent.  So far, it's a bar graph/timeline that shows everyone in my history in chronological order and color-coordinated based on 4 categories:  1) casual/fuckbuddies/one-night-stands that do not include intercourse, 2) relationships that do not include intercourse, 3) casual/fuckbuddies/one-night-stands that do include intercourse and 4) relationships that include intercourse.  I thought about coding for specific activities (since they are included on the list), but the color coding or other forms of grouping would be complicated because of the large number of combinations of activities, if not number of activities themselves.  The timeline is broken up by my age in years, so it's hard to tell some of the chronology because some years I had several partners in one year, but they weren't all concurrent.  Problem is I'm so fuzzy on time, that I'm not sure how to clarify that because I can barely remember the year, let alone the month or date!  So I still have some work to do, but it's a good start.

But yeah, I'm a dork.


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