Having the basic knowledge of HIV has become crucial for everyone. Awareness often helps you take precaution. HIV or otherwise known as human immunodeficiency virus is responsible for causing HIV infection, a condition in which a person’s immune system gets weakened as the virus attacks and destroys the important cells in the body which fight infection and keep us healthy. Even though there is no complete cure for HIV, with proper medical care and lifestyle improvement, the infection can be effectively controlled.
It is noted that people in the US are more prone to HIV infection than others due to many factors as the choice of sex partners, risky behaviors, and lifestyle. At the first point, diagnosing the condition is crucial through the right methods.
HIV is primarily diagnosed by testing the blood or saliva of the patient for development of any antibodies to the virus. Once being infected, the body may take about 12 weeks to develop these antibodies, so the testing needs to be done accordingly to confirm.
Methods of diagnosis
At the latest, there is a test that checks for the ‘HIV antigen’, which is a protein produced by the infected virus soon after the infection. This is now considered to be the fastest and earliest method for diagnosing HIV. An early diagnosis can surely prompt people to take additional precautions to prevent any transmission.
ELISA stands for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, which is the most popularly used method for diagnosing HIV infection. If the test is positive, next the Western Blot Test may be administered to reconfirm the presence of virus. If you doubt you have HIV despite finding the ELISA test negative, you need to do the testing again in a couple of months to get reassured.
There are a few other tests which are approved for diagnosing HIV infection, and the results of these tests need to be reconfirmed by a doctor or medical professional.
- Home test – The only approved home test by U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is the ‘Home Access Express Test’, for which you can buy the kit from the pharmacies.
- Saliva test – In this, a cotton pad will be used to take saliva from the inner part of the cheek. It will be tested in a laboratory and it may take three days to get results. Even if the result is positive, it needs to be confirmed with a blood test.
- Western Blot — This is a secondary blood test, which is very sensitive and is used to confirm the positive results of an ELISA test.
- Viral Load test — This test is used to assess the volume of HIV in the blood. This test is used for early detection of HIV as well as during the treatment of HIV to analyze the progress of treatment. HIV gets detected by checking the DNA sequences which bind to those on the virus.
If you are diagnosed as HIV positive and start with the treatment, there are various types of tests administered by the doctors to determine the stages of the disease to implement adequate treatment modalities. The most common tests are CD4 count, viral load test, drug resistance test etc
Study Suggests Why Food Assistance for Homeless Young Adults is Inadequate
Though young homeless adults make use of available food programs, these support structures still often fail to provide reliable and consistent access to nutritious food, according to the results of a new study by a University at Buffalo social work researcher.
The findings, which fill an important gap in the research literature, can help refine policies and programs to better serve people experiencing homelessness, particularly those between the ages of 18-24.
“It may be tempting to think of food pantries, soup kitchens and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as the solution,” says Elizabeth Bowen, an assistant professor in UB’s School of Social Work and lead author of the study with Andrew Irish, a UB graduate student in the School of Social Work, published in the journal Public Health Nutrition. But these supports are not enough. “We’re still seeing high levels of food insecurity, literal hunger, where people go a whole day without eating anything.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as “multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.” Hunger is a “potential consequence of food insecurity [that] results in discomfort, illness, weakness or pain.” In Bowen’s study, 80 percent of participants were considered to be severely food insecure.
“There has been recent research about housing and shelter use for homeless young adults, as well as work on drug use and sexual risk behaviors for this same population, but I found that not much had been done on the issue of food access,” says Bowen. “It’s hard to even think about housing and health needs if we don’t know how people are eating, or not eating.”
It’s not surprising see a relationship between homelessness and food insecurity, but Bowen warns of oversimplifying what is in fact a more nuanced problem.
“This research is important because we’re establishing a clear indication of food insecurity in this population, which we did not previously have,” she says. “If we’re going to design programs and services that better address food insecurity, along with addressing housing, education and employment, we need to know about the access strategies: How and what are homeless young adults eating? Where are they finding food? What do they have to do to get it? And how does that affect other parts of their lives?”
For her qualitative study, Bowen conducted in-depth interviews with 30 young adults between the ages of 18-24 who were experiencing homelessness in Buffalo, New York.
“Working with this small group gives us insights into the lived experience,” says Bowen. “It’s a way of setting a knowledge foundation and understanding of the topic in the context of people’s lives, and what goes on with their health, housing, relationships, education and trying to get out of homelessness.”
In Bowen’s study, 70 percent of young adults were receiving SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps. But actually getting these benefits can be difficult.
SNAP covers dependent children under their parent’s benefits until the child’s 22nd birthday. But the program administers benefits based on the parents’ address and assumes that parents and children of a single family are living together.
“This is clearly a problem for young people experiencing homelessness since many of them are under 22 and obviously aren’t living at the same address as their parents,” says Bowen. “The young people in this case can’t get SNAP on their own because they’re already listed on their parents’ open application for those same benefits – and the burden of proof is on the young person to demonstrate they don’t live with their parents.”
Documentation is required as proof that the family is no longer together, according to Bowen, but in many cases getting the necessary paperwork is difficult because of strained family relationships.
“That’s one avenue for a policy change,” says Bowen.
But even with revised eligibility guidelines, food stamps sometimes are not enough, particularly for homeless young people who have no way to store or prepare food. Bowen notes that this problem would be greatly exacerbated by a change proposed in the 2019 federal budget to convert part of a household’s SNAP benefits from electronic benefits to a box of canned goods and other commodities.
Homeless young adults’ food access challenges are further compounded by the fact that young people are sometimes reluctant to use resources like soup kitchens, or have trouble accessing these places due to transportation barriers and limited hours. This finding mirrors prior research showing how young adults are not comfortable in places meant for the general homeless adult population, according to Bowen.
For instance, where shelter is concerned, an 18-year-old in the city of Buffalo is considered an adult and would go to an adult shelter, which can feel discouraging and unsafe.
“What I found in this study is that people were saying the same things about places to get food. They know about these soup kitchens, but the places feel institutional and stigmatized to young people,” says Bowen. “If we want to develop food programs to be engaging to young people we have to think about breaking down some barriers. For example, because of food insecurity among students, many college campuses are now offering food pantries. I would like to think about how to integrate food pantries and other services into places where young people are going anyway.”
How to Recognize and Help an Addict
It’s devastating to know a friend or a loved one suffers from an addiction. Before people get help, they often go down a long road of addiction prior to anyone, including themselves, noticing a problem. Consider the information and advice below if you know or suspect someone is an addict.
Addicts are excellent liars. It can seem disheartening to hear that you shouldn’t take them at face-value. However, listen to your gut. Your gut is telling you that something is wrong. Do not ignore this. They will tell you all the right things you’d like to hear. They will go into detail about where they were, why they did something and more. Everything will sound right to your mind. The very fact that you feel something isn’t right means more than likely something truly isn’t. Listen to what they say, and take notes because if they are addicts, they will slip up eventually. Don’t be the big-bad wolf that’s out to get them, but don’t be an enabler either. Enablers help them to stay stuck in their addiction by making excuses for them.
Addicts especially high-functioning addicts think that if they’re able to go to work, bring money home, do housework and other normal day-to-day life they do not have a problem with addiction. An addict is not just the junkie on the corner. Most addicts are high-functioning, which means they go under the radar for what passes as an addict to society. Because of this, and for reasons such as not wanting to face themselves, addicts will lie to themselves and the world. This is why most addicts are in denial. They might also reason that they don’t drink “enough” to be an addict. Make no mistake that alcoholism isn’t about the quantity of alcohol ingested. It’s about the mental obsession and physical craving of alcohol that makes someone an alcoholic. People who don’t drink for three of four months and suddenly “binge” can be alcoholics.
Things Don’t Add Up
It is often said that addicts lead double lives. This is true for anyone living in dysfunction. To the outside world, they have it together. Underneath that façade is a broken human being who uses alcohol, substances or anything else to get by. To make matters worse, this outward appearance can be further covered up, or justified, with a prescription medication. Abuse of a prescription medication is a serious concern. People often overdose on their pills or makeup excuses for why they need them even though they don’t have a legitimate need for them. This is why centers offer painkiller addiction treatment because it is a common phenomenon. It is also a growing phenomenon.
To the addict, you’re “mean,” “unreasonable,” and a few choice words when you confront them. Expect this upfront. It’s not a reflection of who you are as a person despite their best attempts to assassinate your character. What they say about you has everything to do with their dysfunction. More often than not, they will choose their addiction over you. Real help and real love mean saying, “I’m going to tell you the truth,” “I need to love myself before I can love you,” or “I don’t accept your excuse. You’re responsible for your behavior, and I refuse to be a part of your life until you take responsibility for yourself.”
You can’t force someone to get help, but you can stop enabling them. Don’t make excuses for their behaviors or addiction. Addicts have to want to get help before they do. Once you know there is a problem, stand your ground. Speak truthfully to the addict. Above all, love yourself because this has been and will continue to be incredibly hard on you. Understand that they have to learn to love themselves too.
Veterans: Take This Survey!
Learning about military-to-civilian reintegration requires asking the right questions of the right people. A novel, new study is seeking military veteran respondents to learn more about the way service impacts health, civic engagement, and socio-economic outcomes for military-connected men and women. The data collected through this survey are expected to help us answer questions such as:
• Do veterans feel welcome and interested in institutional service groups like the VA and informal groups like VSOs? Do those organizations serve their needs? How are prospective members welcomed and served?
• How does military service impact community involvement and political engagement?
• How does military service impact experiences on the job market (and is this effect conditioned by demographic factors?
• Does military service break the glass ceiling for service women?
The project was developed by an interdisciplinary research team with experience, training, and connections to the military community. Dr. Kyleanne Hunter is a Marine Corps Cobra pilot and political science researcher. Dr. Rebecca Best is an experienced security studies researcher with a focus on service women. Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas is a public health researcher and Marine Corps veteran. Each has specific training in community-based, participatory research and is invested in filling current gaps in what we think we know about the transition from service member to civilian.
Access the survey online here: https://udenver.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_572AiK5P3P75KQt
Lower Blood Sugar Levels with These 7 Superfoods
Being cautious about your health doesn’t have to be a dull and agonizing check off your to-do list. You can make it fun by trying new foods and recipes throughout the week. It’s not hard to cover all the basics, especially if you eat a variety of colors and flavors every day.
Lowering and stabilizing your blood sugar is an essential demand when you want to prevent diabetes from occurring or progressing. Add these seven superfoods to your meals, (or eat them as a snack through the week) and watch the level of your health transform with ease.
1. Sweet Potatoes
This rooted superfood is an excellent choice as a main dish, side dish and even a snack on a lazy day. They are packed with fiber, have a low glycemic index, and are easy to cook. The best way to prepare a sweet potato is to roast/bake it in the oven. They go great paired with leafy greens or even just topped with a dash of cinnamon (which is also a superfood).
Another rooted superfood is Turmeric. You might have heard of this spice when visiting restaurants with Caribbean or Indian cuisine. It’s said to have the best medicinal history of preventing disease and illness in many cultures around the world. Curcumin, the active ingredient in Turmeric, can prevent inflammation and the activation of cancerous cells.
Wild blueberries are one of the best power fruits to hit the list. Not only are they packed with soluble fiber, but they also offer a good source of insoluble fiber. Having both of these properties allows this superfood to flush out your system which, in turn, improves your blood sugar levels. Anthocyanins are one of the specific types of antioxidants found in blueberries giving them their vibrant blue color. You can find blueberries at your local grocery store and farmer’s market just about all year-round depending on where you live. Freeze them for smoothies, eat them for a snack, or add them to muffins and pancakes for breakfast.
Organic oats are another easy meal you can whip up to reduce your risk of diabetes. Oats pack large amounts of magnesium and fiber. These two components help the body produce insulin and adequately regulate your blood pressure. Oats are super versatile to cook with and easy to make on any day, making them fit well into any schedule. You can boil them for breakfast and add fruit, or add them to muffin and cookie mix. Surprisingly, there are recipes that use oats as an alternative to using flour.
While making dietary plans to lower your blood sugar, you should highly consider adding kale to your grocery list. This super leafy green is one of the best non-starchy vegetables available. It’s super nutrients build up your immune system, burn fat, and regulate blood pressure. It’s easy to add to a salad, eat with fresh fruit, or throw in your smoothie for breakfast.
Another versatile food to eat is the heart-healthy avocado! It offers the right amount of fats, improves cholesterol levels, and has enough carbs to keep you feeling full. You may think it’s a vegetable, but it’s technically a fruit. It goes great paired with strawberries or as a topper for toast. Cooking with avocado is a breeze. Plan to make pasta, guacamole, salads, and sandwiches with it. The only downfall to eating avocado is the painful wait for them to ripen. Worry not – placing avocados in a brown paper bag can speed up the process.
Last, but not least, on our superfoods list is the bold and bright cranberry. Most people only know about cranberries when it comes to holiday dinners, but there are other ways to indulge in this power-packed fruit. Since cranberries have high antioxidant levels, they reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
Much like the other foods listed, you can have this in salads, smoothies, or by themselves for a snack. The best part? You never have to feel guilty about munching on these tangy treats.
Common STIs and How To Avoid Contracting Them
Every year, an estimated 20 million adults in the USA contract some type of STI. While some STIs exhibit distinct symptoms, others might be completely unnoticeable. Whether they’re asymptomatic or not, any sexually active person will still need to be vigilant and informed when it comes to preventing the spread of STIs. With convenient, discreet, and affordable STD testing much more commonplace today, there’s no excuse for anyone to avoid taking charge of their own health and protecting others as well. Here are some of the most common diseases and how you can avoid contracting them.
HPV – Genital Human Papillomavirus
In the United States, about 14 million people get HPV every year, making it the most common STI. It’s so common that almost every sexually active person will contract it in their lifetime. There are over 40 different strains of HPV. Some strains can cause warts, while others can lead to cancer if left untreated.
HPV is spread by having oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone who has the virus. With most strains of this virus, you may not experience any symptoms and it may go away on its own. However, if it doesn’t go away, then it can cause problems.
Sometimes, HPV can cause genital warts. These warts can vary in size or shape. So, it’s recommended that you consult your doctor examine you if you notice anything that could be a genital wart. Some strains of HPV can cause cancer. It can take years, even decades, to contract cancer after getting the virus. You could get vaginal, anal, throat, tongue, penis, vulva, or tonsil cancer.
The CDC recommends that you get the HPV vaccine. Many people get this vaccine around 12 years old, but you can get it up until you’re 26 years old.
This STI is a bacterial infection. You can contract chlamydia by oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone who has it. Additionally, a pregnant person could pass the infection onto their newborn. Symptoms of this STI include:
- Unusual discharge from a penis or vagina
- Burning sensation during urination
Your doctor can provide tests to determine if you have chlamydia. If you do, you can treat it using antibiotics. It’s recommended that you get treatment as soon as possible as chlamydia can cause fertility problems in both genders.
An estimated 800,000 people deal with this STI every year. Gonorrhea occurs when bacteria infects the lining of a woman’s reproductive tract. It can also manifest in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus. You can contract this infection by having oral, vaginal, or anal sex with an infected person.
With this infection, you may face no symptoms at all. If you do have symptoms, you may experience unusual discharge from your genitals and pain while urinating. Men may experience pain in their testicles, while women may experience vaginal bleeding in between periods.
After diagnosis, you may be treated with two, different strains of antibiotics. Like Chlamydia, if it’s left untreated you may experience fertility issues in the future.
Unlike most STIs, there is no cure for genital herpes. Each year, around 800,000 adults contract the disease nationwide. This infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus or HSV. There are two strains of this virus – type 1 and type 2 and you can be infected by having any type of sexual contact with someone who carries the disease.
While some people experience mild symptoms, others are completely asymptomatic. Symptoms include having blisters around the mouth, anus, or genitals. These blisters will break open, causing pain and discomfort. The fluid inside of the blisters carry the herpes virus.
While it cannot be cured, your doctor can prescribe medicine to ease your pain.
How To Avoid STIs
There are multiple things you can do to prevent getting STIs. First and foremost, you need to ask your sexual partners to disclose their sexual history before you have sex with them. This lets you know if they’ve had any STIs and how many partners they’ve had intercourse with. Additionally, you can ask your partners to get tested for any STIs before you have sex with them.
Whenever you have sex, you should be using latex condoms. Using a condom every time you have sex can vastly reduce your chance of contracting an STI. The CDC has many tips on preventing STIs.
I Have an STI – What Now?
If you do contract an STI, go to your doctor’s office as soon as possible. If you can’t afford to go to the doctor’s, there are many places that offer STD testing. It’s important to get tested so that you can protect yourself from having health problems down the road.
Parental Medicaid Expansion Translates into Preventive Care for their Children
When low-income parents enroll in Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) state expansion program, their children have considerably better odds of receiving annual preventive care pediatrician visits, according to a new analysis by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins University.
This “spillover effect,” explained in a study published online today and scheduled for the December issue of the journal Pediatrics, demonstrates that the potential benefits of Medicaid expansion extend beyond the newly covered adults.
“These findings are of great significance given the current uncertainty surrounding the future of the ACA and Medicaid expansions authorized by the law,” said senior author Eric T. Roberts, Ph.D., assistant professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and Management. “Lawmakers crafting policy proposals that could curtail Medicaid benefits or eligibility should recognize that such efforts would not just limit the receipt of health care services by low-income adults, but also by their children.”
The ACA provided states the opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage to all low-income people at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. So far, 31 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid coverage.
Roberts and his colleagues identified 50,622 parent-child pairs from data collected in the 2001 through 2013 Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys, a nationally representative survey administered by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services that includes detailed information on family structure and demographics, including health insurance status and health care use.
They discovered that children of parents who had recently enrolled in Medicaid had a 29 percent higher probability than children of unenrolled parents of receiving their well child visit, which is recommended annually for children age 3 and older, and more frequently for infants and toddlers.
During the visits, the children are examined for growth and development and given immunizations, and their caregivers are guided on proper nutrition and child behaviors. Studies have shown that children who get well child visits are more likely to receive all their immunizations and less likely to have avoidable hospitalizations. The U.S. has persistently low rates of well child visits, particularly in low-income families.
“There are many reasons that parental Medicaid coverage increases the likelihood of well child visits for their children,” said Roberts. “It could be that insurance enhances the parents’ ability to navigate the health care system for themselves and their children, increasing their comfort in scheduling well child visits. Medicaid enrollment could be a sort of ‘welcome mat,’ in which eligible but previously uninsured children are enrolled after their parents gain coverage. It also could be that parental Medicaid coverage frees up more money to provide preventive services to their children, because even copays can be a deterrent to medical care among low-income people.”
Maya Venkataramani, M.D., is lead author on this research, and Craig Evan Pollack, M.D., M.H.S., is a coauthor. Both are from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
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