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Project Heavy Petting
Welcome! First I want to start by asking a question. When you hear HIV/STD/STI Prevention what safer sex options come to mind? ....... Condoms, Dental Dams, Insertive Condoms, Abstinence. Those are the ones that come to my mind. But what about a very, very important option that isn't talked about as much as I believe it should be: Masturbation!
All the years that I've worked in the HIV Prevention field I can't recall when masturbation was talked about as being a safer sex option. It's usually Condoms then Abstinence. But what about that void between condoms and abstinence? Masturbation, go ahead say it, Masturbation! I'll wait a few seconds for you to get all your giggles and laughs out... :-) Ok now on to what I'm calling Project Heavy Petting....
First off what exactly is masturbation? I asked a few of my friends what they thought masturbation was. And it's funny because out of the 5 friends I asked, not one of us came up with the same definition. We spent 3 whole days debating about it LOL. Imagine 5 people sitting at your local coffee shop talking about masturbation. Pretty funny thought huh. Unfortunately none of them would let me use their thoughts on the subject matter, and I respect that but let me tell you they had some pretty gnarly ideas and thoughts about masturbation. Masturbation is the self-stimulation of the genitals for sexual arousal or other sexual pleasure, usually to the point of orgasm. The stimulation may involve hands, fingers, everyday objects, sex toys or a combination. Oh and by the way this definition I got from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. So after a lot of researching and thinking and conversing, here is what I came up with as to how and why masturbation is ALSO a safer sex option that just doesn't get enough credit....
Non-Contact Mutual Masturbation: This is in my opinion the 100% safest sex behavior. Non-Contact Mutual Masturbation allows couples to enjoy each other and obtain sexual release as often as they need but without the inconveniences and risks associated with sex. By watching your partner masturbate you will find out the methods he or she uses to please her/him self, allowing each partner to learn exactly how each other likes to be touched (this definition also came from Wikipedia) a sexual act of masturbation in the presence of each other but NOT touching or assisting.
Contact Mutual Masturbation: A sexual act of one person touching another person to masturbate or assist and vice versa. Contact Mutual Masturbation allows you to practice what you've learned about your partner from Non-Contact Masturbation. This also allows the couple to develop a more satisfying sexual relationship and added intimacy and harmony.
So if these acts of masturbation are obviously healthy and overall very safe ways of engaging in sexual activity, why are they not talked about as much as they should be?
Terminology/Slangs: Here are a few names that masturbation is called. Ya'll get ready to laugh... Jerking Off/Jacking Off, Choking The Chicken, Spanking The Monkey, Wanking, Beating Your Meat, Pleasuring Yourself and Visiting Rosey Palm and her 5 Sisters...
Masturbation is a wonderful and beautiful thing that also has several added health benefits.
• Sex and masturbation can lower blood pressure.
• Climax from masturbation can make one feel relaxed and pleasant.
• Masturbation can relieve depression and lead to higher self-esteem.
• Masturbation leads to self-discovery.
• Masturbation can help one sleep better.
• Masturbation can provide pain relief.
• Masturbation changes conditions in the vagina, cervix and uterus, which can increase the likelihood of conception with sex.
• Masturbation can provide some protection from cervical infections by increasing the acidity of the cervical mucus, and helping to move debris out of the cervix.
• Masturbation may increase fertility during intercourse.
• Masturbation flushes out old sperm with low motility (ability to move actively) from the genital tract, the next ejaculation will contain more fresh sperm which has a higher chance of conception during intercourse.
• Ejaculation can help relieve swollen blood vessels in the nose, which can in turn help free the airway for better breathing.
• Masturbation and ejaculation both are important for sperm health and motility.
Philosophical arguments, religious views, and stigma in general are primarily the reason masturbation is not glorified as a safe sex behavior in today's generation. From the time I was a child till I was a teenager, my religious parents absolutely frowned upon masturbation. Stating that it was an abomination to god and that "god would rather you plant your seed in the belly of a whore rather than spill it upon the ground" this was the primary reason why I didn't start masturbating till well into my teenage years. But believe you me, masturbation in my opinion is the Cindy Birdsong of The Supremes, while Condoms are the Mary Wilson and Abstinence is the Diana Ross of The Supremes. Probably not a good choice of people to paint a mental picture for you but I hope you get the point. In my opinion Cindy Birdsong didn't get as much credit as she deserved, while Diana and Mary hogged the limelight. In all due respect, the Supremes are the top selling female group of all time and Condoms, Masturbation and Abstinence are the top selling tools to HIV Prevention of all time!!
DID YOU KNOW? A Bit of Useless Information...
• May is Masturbation Month
• Masturbate-a-Thon are global events that provide supportive, and encouraging environment where masturbation can be performed openly among young and old without embarrassment. Masturbate-a-Thons are often charity events that are "intended to encourage people to explore safe sex, talk about masturbation and lift the taboos that still surround the subject.
• A Study done by Readers Digest Magazine showed that 95% of men and 71% of women masturbated at some point in thier lives. 73% of men and 37% of women reported masturbating in the 4 weeks before the study, while 53% of men and 81% of women reported masturbating in the previous seven days...
• Supreme Court of Alabama upheld a state law criminalizing the distribution of sex toys.
• In the city of Charlotte, North Carolina masturbating in public is a class 3 misdemeanor.
Useful Masturbation Support Groups:
Rain City Jacks: http://www.raincityjacks.org/
Center for Sex Positive Culture: http://thecspc.org/
Gum Disease Linked to Risk of Oral Cancer Causing Virus
Aug 21, 2013
Gum disease and other dental ailments boost the risk of becoming infected with oral human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted virus that causes 40 to 80 percent of all throat cancers, according to the first study to find such a link.
Those who said they had poor oral health had a 56 percent higher rate of oral HPV infection than those who reported good to excellent oral health, researchers wrote in a study published today by Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Read on...Gum Disease and HPV
Check out this article from David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., for TheBody.com: 6 Factors to Consider Before Starting HIV Treatment. It's full of great info and presents many important issues to consider when thinking about treatment.
A topic of hot debate. What does 'undetectable' mean to you, and how does it impact your views on sexual safety and HIV-related stigma?
"Undetectable": Safe or Not?
By Dave R.
From TheBody.com August 28, 2013
Positive people, on effective treatment, with an undetectable viral load and healthy immune system, still don't know if they can or can't pass on the virus to their partners. New UK developments suggest that official conclusions may already have been reached.
Recently, the idea that people on HIV medication who are also undetectable (where your viral load is measured at less than 40-50 copies of HIV in every milliliter of blood) might also be non-infectious to others with similar tested levels and a healthy immune system, has naturally got everybody in that situation very excited. There is however, still no definitive proof and although we're assured that proof either way is being worked on, it's going to be some time before that news emerges from behind the locked doors of the research labs.
In the meantime, people with an undetectable status see proven non-infectiousness as a possible, instant solution to many sorts of stigma. If, after indisputable proof, it is widely reported that people on successful treatment are not in danger of passing on the virus, then there is no reason for every sexually active person on the planet not to get tested and if necessary treated because treatment will make you a safe person to have sex with. This is discounting other STDs of course but then you're just as much at risk as any sexual partner of contracting those. If successfully proved, people living with HIV will be seen as living with a chronic illness that is no danger to their partners, pretty much like diabetes patients, cancer patients and others. The world will change overnight, not only for positive people but for LGBT society as a whole. They won't be able to point accusing fingers at us anymore, claiming we're "unclean," "disease spreaders" and a "danger to society."
Read the full article here: Safe or Not?
HIV-Positive and As Sexy As I Want to Be
By Tyler Curry, HuffPost Gay Voices
Now, before we begin, you can go ahead and unravel that tight wad your panties have wound themselves into. This blog post is not intended to promote the transmission of HIV, and in no way is it meant to glamorize HIV/AIDS. Is it even possible to glamorize such an abysmal disease? I think not. But I have noticed that when an HIV-positive man takes a public stance without the "woe is me" pretense, that is the general dissent. Glamorizing HIV would be like trying to Photoshop a picture of the Holocaust: No matter how you manipulate it, the ugliness remains. However, I am not HIV itself, and it's time that people who are HIV-positive stop wearing the face of the virus as if it were their own.
Sometimes life can deal you a hand that can make you feel like you will never win. Being diagnosed with HIV is just one example. But unlike some other unfavorable traits that we carry in our deck, being HIV-positive can seem like the only card you have to play.
When I was diagnosed with HIV, all the characteristics that assemble the person I am, both good and bad, suddenly seemed to fall to the floor. For months it felt as if I was clutching this new card with an ugly plus sign close to my chest. The game of life continued, yet I found myself willingly sitting on the sidelines and foregoing any chance at making a play for happiness. Read full article here: As Sexy as I Want to Be
Source: HuffPost Gay Voices http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gay-voices/
How Do We Make Sure Gay Men Get Vaccinated for HPV?
, September 4, 2013
For young gay men in the U.S., overall prevalence of HPV (human papillomavirus) infection was 70%, while the prevalence of HPV 16 and/or HPV 18 -- the two HPV strains most commonly associated with anal cancer -- was 37%, according to a new study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. While HPV vaccination is commonly discussed for women, especially as prevention for cervical cancer, the truth about gay men, HPV and anal cancer is becoming clearer with more research.
The study followed 94 gay men in Seattle, between the ages of 16 and 30 years old, for one year. To check for HPV infection, the study participants were given three anal swabs: one at baseline, six months and 12 months. For men who had no infection at baseline, the incidence rate of any new HPV infection was 38.5 per 1000 person-month. Additionally, HPV prevalence increased for men who reported higher numbers of sexual partners.
Read the full article here: HPV Vaccinations in Men
Where do you stand on the barebacking risk debate?
Check out the following article which explores stigma, and common beliefs and myths related to barebacking.
Why We Need to Re-Assess Barebacking, Stop the Stigma and Be Honest About the Risk
June 17, 2013
As editor of a respected online magazine for people living with HIV, I made a choice, rightly or wrongly (probably the latter), so that in our magazine's first year or two we didn't cover barebacking. We thought it was too inflammatory a subject, thought it might encourage people to do it, thought that people would think we were irresponsible.
That changed in a big way when we featured Josh Landale, Josh Kruger, Michael Bouldin, Jake Sobo, Mark S. King and a handful of others for whom barebacking is either part of their lives or they have come to terms with it. Barebacking is, after all, increasingly a part of the lives of many gay men, and the practice inevitably raises difficult issues for all people living with HIV too, given that many have an undetectable viral load now. So, as a culmination of all of those things, our magazine covered barebacking issues frequently in the last twelve months. In fact, opinion pieces from barebackers, many poz, have been common in our pages.
Meanwhile our community's collective knowledge of the science of what is safe and what is not -- and we have covered that extensively too -- has progressed, so that informed voices outside the prevention community are able to offer the kind of nuanced messages and lead discussions that the prevention community itself is sometimes challenged to do.
As Scottish HIV expert Roy Kilpatrick says: "Individuals are often ahead of planners and providers, and are fairly savvy when it comes to working out ways of reducing risk." I tend to agree. And much of the most relevant and listened-to dialogue today is undeniably via social media, not through government funded campaigns.
Read the full article here: http://www.thebody.com/content/71844/why-we-need-to-re-assess-barebacking-stop-the-stig.html
This week at the NEON peer educator meeting, we were fortunate to have a discussion with Lori from the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the National Cervical Cancer Coalition. Lori talked to the group about HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) and HPV-related cancer in men.
HPV is often seen as a health problem affecting women, however, the majority of men and women who are sexually active will get genital HPV infection at some point in their lives.
HPV can cause genital warts, and although rare, can lead to more serious health problems like throat, oral, and anal cancer in men.
Education and conversations with other guys are important. Learn more about genital HPV here: http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV-and-men.htm
For information about HPV and the National Cervical Cancer Coalition: http://www.nccc-online.org/