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University of Pittsburgh Research Assistant and Technical Writer

Sex ed isn’t serving young Black women

From the Philadelphia Enquirer

This story is part of Made In Philly, a series about young residents shaping local communities.

When Shanaye Jeffers was in fourth grade, she often skipped touch football and double-dutch jump rope at recess to read a book on puberty. In fifth grade, she jumped at the chance to do a school project on childbirth.

Most girls don’t know about the inner workings of their bodies, sexual-health experts say — especially black teenage girls, who often face stigma against asking questions at home and are poorly served by sex-education school curriculums tailored for a white majority.

“Sex ed is not serving young black women really at all,” said Jeffers, now a 28-year-old obstetrics and gynecology resident at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. She’s trying to change that. As Philadelphia site director for Daughters of the Diaspora, a nonprofit founded in 2012 to teach black teenage girls about reproductive health and self-esteem, Jeffers is working to give other girls the same knowledge and passion to take charge of their health that she had as a child.

Read the full article.

The power in knowing: Black women, HIV, and the realities of safe sex

From longreads.com

An invitation to appear in a PSA prompts Minda Honey to reflect on the responsibilities of safe sex, and her imperfect past.

I worried that doing the PSA would make me a hypocrite. Who was I to encourage others to engage in safe sex when there were times I hadn’t? I reasoned with myself that I’d read enough inspirational quotes on Instagram to know my humanity wasn’t a byproduct of my perfection but rather of my mistakes. So I decided to do the shoot anyway, because I was someone who knew what it was like to be so distracted worrying about the possible long-term consequences of my split-second decision not to require a condom that I couldn’t even enjoy the act itself. I was someone who’d felt bashful about asking to be tested because heaven forbid the medical professional I pay to look after my reproductive health, and who I was required to see once a year to re-up on my birth control pill prescription, know that I, an adult woman, was having sex outside of a monogamous marriage for purposes other than conceiving a child. I was someone who was tired of always being the enforcer in the bedroom. It made me feel like a finger-wagging mom-type: “Eat your Wheaties, do your homework, wrap it up!”

Read the full article on longreads.com.

April is STD awareness month: Good health means getting tested

If you are sexually active, getting tested for STDs is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. Make sure you have an open and honest conversation about your sexual history and STD testing with your doctor and ask whether you should be tested for STDs. If you are not comfortable talking with your regular health care provider about STDs, there are many clinics that provide confidential and free or low-cost testing.

Below is a brief overview of STD testing recommendations. STD screening information for healthcare providers can be found here.

  • All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
  • All sexually active women younger than 25 years should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. Women 25 years and older with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners or a sex partner who has an STD should also be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year.
  • All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B starting early in pregnancy. At-risk pregnant women should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea starting early in pregnancy. Testing should be repeated as needed to protect the health of mothers and their infants.
  • All sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Those who have multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently for STDs (i.e., at 3- to 6-month intervals).
  • Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent HIV testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
  • Anyone who has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV at least once a year.

You can quickly find a place to be tested for STDs by entering your zip code at gettested.cdc.gov.

Fighting HIV: Gaps in treatment, testing drive new infections

In a new report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday highlighted the gaps in access to treatment and testing resources that exists within the HIV care continuum. Those gaps have led to a halt in recent years to the progress made over the past two decades in reducing HIV infections.

An estimated 15% of people with HIV don’t know they have the virus, and that population accounted for 38% of all new infection, according to the study. Those who know their HIV status but are not receiving care make up 20% of people living with the virus but account for 43% of new infections.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said the epidemic could end over the next few years by expanding access to testing and consistent treatment.

“Together for Love: Stop HIV Stigma” event March 9

From Educating Teens About HIV and AIDS

About one in four people living with HIV in the United States are women and girls 13 and older.  Only about half of women living with HIV are getting care, and only four in 10 of them have the virus under control. Women face unique HIV risks and challenges that can prevent them from getting needed care and treatment.  Addressing these issues remains critical to achieving an HIV and AIDS-free generation.  This year we are making a special effort to ask Churches and Houses of Worships to join our effort.

On March 9, 2019, Educating Teens about HIV/AIDS Inc. will observe National Women and Girls HIV/ AIDS Awareness Day to bring attention to this important public health issue.   The purpose of the observance is to raise awareness of the impact of HIV and AIDS on women and girls. The 2019 theme isTogether for Love: Stop HIV Stigma.

Educating Teens’ Mother-Daughter Circle and Friends, invite you and your friends’ participation to help call attention to the impact of HIV on women and girls. This event will be held at the University Club; 123 University Place; Pittsburgh, PA 15213; 11:30 AM.  Please see the attached documents and respond by February 28, 2019.

Download the registration form for the Mother-Daughter Circle or call 412-973-9524 for more information.

CDC: Sharp increase in the number of babies born with syphilis in the United States

Recently, there has been a sharp increase in the number of babies born with syphilis in the United States. Protect your baby from congenital syphilis by getting tested for syphilis during your pregnancy.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

How common is CS?

After a steady decline from 2008–2012, data show a sharp increase in CS rates. In 2017, the number of CS cases was the highest it’s been since 1997.

Public health professionals across the country are very concerned about the growing number of congenital syphilis cases in the United States. It is important to make sure you get tested for syphilis during your pregnancy.

I’m pregnant. Do I need to get tested for syphilis?

Yes. All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis at the first prenatal visit (the first time you see your doctor for health care during pregnancy). If you don’t get tested at your first visit, make sure to ask your doctor about getting tested during a future checkup. Some women should be tested more than once during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about the number of syphilis cases in your area and your risk for syphilis to determine if you should be tested again at the beginning of the third trimester, and again when your baby is born.

Keep in mind that you can have syphilis and not know it. Many people with syphilis do not have any symptoms. Also, syphilis symptoms may be very mild, or be similar to signs of other health problems. The only way to know for sure if you have syphilis is to get tested.

Is there treatment for syphilis?

Yes. Syphilis can be treated and cured with antibiotics. If you test positive for syphilis during pregnancy, be sure to get treatment right away.

If you are diagnosed with and treated for syphilis, your doctor should do follow-up testing for at least one year to make sure that your treatment is working.

Find out more on the CDC Website.

What can Black youth teach us about HIV?

From hivplusmag.com

New research shows that young people living with HIV suffer fewer virus-related symptoms when they’re able to map out their own long-term health goals. Data also found that when this type of planning, referred to as end-of-life care, isn’t mapped out by the youth or a family member, young people living with HIV are more likely to suffer negative health outcomes.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, evaluated 105 mostly black adolescents (93 percent African-Americans) aged 14 to 21 and their families who received care from six U.S. hospital-based HIV clinics between July 2011 and June 2014. One-third of the family participants were also poz themselves.

Lead investigator Maureen E. Lyon, a clinical health psychologist at Children’s National Health System at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., tested an intervention known as Family Centered pediatric Advance Care Planning (FACE pACP). In one-hour sessions, one group of youths and their families went through advance care planning, while another group received traditional assessments.

Read the full article.

Help fight HIV in PA by providing your feedback

fight-hiv-in-pa-ad-image_correctionThe Pennsylvania Department of Health and the HIV Prevention and Care Project (HPCP) are looking for community members interested in HIV prevention, education, and treatment; We need people affected by HIV and AIDS to provide feedback regarding the state’s efforts in combating HIV/AIDS.

As part of the HIV Prevention and Care Plan, our goals include reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to care, improving health outcomes for people living with HIV, and reducing HIV-related disparities and health inequalities.

As a community member effected by HIV, your feedback regarding the plan will help provide a road map in meeting the goals set out by the State Department of Health and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Volunteering can involve reading a short paragraph and providing feedback or just completing a brief survey.

For more information, and to find out how to get involved, check out our Stakeholders Engagement Page on HIV Prevention and Care Project.

Your voice can make a difference!

The importance of proper condom use

From instinctmagazine.com

We’ve all been there: getting hot and bothered and oh-so-turned on and can’t wait to just go for it. Hopefully you reach for the box of condoms before you do anything. Using protection greatly reduces the chance of contracting STDs, and there are some nasty ones out there. But are you using the right size condom? Unfortunately, many sex-ed classes are severely lacking in teaching proper condom use which can lead to a whole slew of unpleasant things.

For many people, they will just grab the standard box of Trojans and call it a day. However, there is a variety of different sized condoms available to purchase, each with their own fit. Unlike some clothing, condoms aren’t a one-size-fits-all thing and it’s very important that people use the right size for their little (or big) man.

Read the article.