Archive for the 'Health' Category

A Minor Change to Help Children

by Jason Stotts

An interesting TED talk that argues we could improve the overall health of infants by doing no more than waiting to cut the umbilical cord for 90 seconds.

PSA: Cleanliness

by Jason Stotts

I really feel like I shouldn’t have to write this post, but I fear that all too many people don’t understand basic hygiene well enough that it’s warranted.

One of my readers pointed out that in a Savage Love podcast sometime back (Episode 188 at the 5:30 mark) a man had a question about his girlfriend who’s “lady parts” smelled bad.  He said that even after she got out of the shower, she still smelled bad and he thought that she didn’t even rinse her parts.  He thought that it should be okay to wash her “vagina,” but said he had heard that it was bad and so was calling Dan to find out the truth. Dan completely missed what the caller was actually asking, told him it definitely wasn’t a good idea to get soap into her “vagina,” and encouraged the reader to send his girlfriend to the gynecologist.  The problem is that these people were all talking at cross purposes because they were using language in a fuzzy way.

In terms of a woman’s lower genitalia, the outer part that you can see is the vulva and it includes the mons (pubic mound), the clitoris, the labia (inner and outer), and the perenium.  In the vulva there is an opening to the vagina, which is the canal through which babies pass and into which you put a penis.  The entire area is not the vagina, that’s as stupid as calling the entire front of the head the “nose,” since that part sticks out.

Do you see the problem yet? It’s true that you shouldn’t get soap inside the vaginal canal, but it’s not true that you shouldn’t wash your vulva.  In fact, you very much should be washing your vulva as otherwise dried urine, sweat, oil, and dead skin will accumulate and cause a bad smell, the same as it does with the male penis, especially on unmutilated men.  Failing to use the correct terms for the body can result in failing to understand proper medical advice.

I find it truly sad that people don’t even know the name for their body parts because of the christian fear of sexuality and hatred of the body prevents us from having proper sex education in schools and real discussions around these issues.

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

New HIV Vaccine

by Jason Stotts

A new study on HIV from Spain is getting some interesting results.  Although it is a very early trial, researchers have developped a vaccine that can help some to develop at least a partial immunity to HIV.

Spanish researchers found that 22 of 24 healthy people (92 per cent) developed an immune response to HIV after being given their MVA-B vaccine….

The injection contains four HIV genes which stimulate T and B lymphocytes, which are types of white blood cells.

Prof Esteban explained: “Our body is full of lymphocytes, each of them programmed to fight against a different pathogen.

“Training is needed when it involves a pathogen, like the HIV one, which cannot be naturally defeated”.

Overall, 92 per cent developed some sort of immune response. However, that is not the same thing as being protected from HIV infection: the response could be inadequate to provide protection. (The Telegraph)

This is very promising news indeed and I look forward to seeing what comes of it.

Dan Savage on STI’s

by Jason Stotts

I’m a big fan of Dan Savage’s podcast “Savage Love.”  While there are some things I find distasteful, he is a staunch democrat and very socialist leaning, on sexual issues we largely agree.  Even though we have differences, I think there is great value in his podcast and I recommend that people interested in good practical advice about love and sex check him out.

Recently he did a podcast (#256) about STD/STI’s with Dr. Anna Kaminski, one of the medical directors from Planned Parenthood. They took an objective look at the risk and dangers of many STI’s and they did it without the sort of moral hysteria that is all too common when people talk about these issues.  Indeed, I think that all too many people think of STI’s as a punishment for a moral failing instead of thinking of them as simply a medical issue.  Consider that we think of oral herpes as just “cold sores” and really no big deal, but we think of genital herpes as a disaster, the end of one’s sex life, and a recurring reminder of one’s shameful and base nature.  That’s a pretty strange position to hold for the same virus, depending on where you get it.  The strangeness of the position is further complicated by the fact that you can get “oral herpes” on your genitals and “genital herpes” on your mouth.  So, there really is no difference.

I heartily recommend that we open up discussions of STI’s and do so in a way that treats them as simply a medical issue and not as a moral failing.  I think we need to get more objective information out there on these issues and change the way they are talked about today.  One way to begin that process for yourself is to listen to episode #256 of Savage Love. Afterwards, consider how your own views on sexually transmitted infections is influenced by ideas from our culture on the shamefulness of sex and the disgustingness of the human body that has come to us from the christian hatred of this world.  This is the first step to freeing yourself from these misconceptions and beginning to think about these issues objectively.

Curing Cancer with HIV

by Jason Stotts

Science is doing amazing things recently (take that religion!).  They recently found a cure for HIV through stem-cell implants (1,2) and are looking into applying this breakthrough to more people to hopefully cure HIV once and for all.  Now, they’re starting to use a neutered form of the HIV virus to infect a person’s T-cells and cause them to actively attack a person’s cancer.  That’s right, they’re starting to use HIV to get rid of cancer.  Praise Science. (NYTimes – read the whole article)

PHILADELPHIA — A year ago, when chemotherapy stopped working against his leukemia, William Ludwig signed up to be the first patient treated in a bold experiment at the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Ludwig, then 65, a retired corrections officer from Bridgeton, N.J., felt his life draining away and thought he had nothing to lose.

Doctors removed a billion of his T-cells — a type of white blood cell that fights viruses and tumors — and gave them new genes that would program the cells to attack his cancer. Then the altered cells were dripped back into Mr. Ludwig’s veins.

At first, nothing happened. But after 10 days, hell broke loose in his hospital room. He began shaking with chills. His temperature shot up. His blood pressure shot down. He became so ill that doctors moved him into intensive care and warned that he might die. His family gathered at the hospital, fearing the worst.

A few weeks later, the fevers were gone. And so was the leukemia.

HIV Cure?

by Jason Stotts

The Huffington Post is reporting that a man who underwent stem cell treatment for leukemia has had his HIV cured as a result:

Doctors believe an HIV-positive man who underwent a stem cell transplant has been cured as a result of the procedure.

Timothy Ray Brown, also known as the “Berlin Patient,” received the transplant in 2007 as part of a lengthy treatment course for leukemia. His doctors recently published a report in the journal Blood affirming that the results of extensive testing “strongly suggest that cure of HIV infection has been achieved.” (link)

It’s interesting that often scientific breakthroughs are the indirect result of looking for something else.  I look forward to seeing where this research takes us and I hope that this will cause people to reassess their position on stem cell research and will open the path to unobstructed (by the government) research.