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REDUCING HEALTH DISPARITIES THROUGH TECHNOLOGY | CREATED FOR STUDENTS BY STUDENTS

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Category: Women's Health Articles

by Ebony Baldwin

March 06, 2014

Are Sexual Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) still a taboo subject?

Sexually Transmitted Diseases, STDs, have become a topic of discussion that many people feel uncomfortable talking about and try not to think about them, hoping they will go away. As of now there are more than 25 diseases that are transmitted sexually. The organisms, which can cause these diseases usually, enter the body through mucous membranes—such as the surfaces of the vagina, urethra, anus, and mouth.

Listing of Common STDs

How are Sexual Transmitted Diseases (STDs) Caught?

Sexually transmitted diseases can be caught through intimate contact with someone who is infected, especially during oral, anal, or vaginal sex. However, some infections are also transmitted nonsexually. Sexually active college-age men and women are at the highest risk for contracting STDs. With that said, it is important for college students to use protection and get tested regularly.

Symptoms of STDs can be unnoticeable and can lead to more issues if not treated. As adults, it is our responsibility to stay educated on the topic of STDs and continue to utilize health institutions for help and guidance.

If that isn’t enough motivation for you, below are some examples of STDs and images of their effects. I hope this information gives you the courage to help spread the awareness of this issue and practice safe sex, as well as, getting tested.

Pictures of Common STDs

 

  

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by Victor Ajewole

February 16, 2014

Smart Condoms: Could These Be The Best Condoms Created to Date?

As we all know condoms do not prevent all sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexual transmitted infections (STIs) during sex. Well why not build a better condom.  Last November the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation received over 812 entries for the “Build-a-better-condom” competition.  A reported 11 entries received a grant of $100,000 to produce their condoms and hopefully bridge the gap for condom innovation. This is where tech meets health.

Over the course of a long history, the condom hasn't changed that much.


Talk about a smart condoms. Some of these entries range from polymer based composite materials to biologically engineering material for a “significant enhancement for male pleasure.” These “next-gen” condoms may be what consumers are looking for when taking safe sex more seriously.

Developer Lakshminarayanan Ragupathy from Trivandrum, India, has an entry named “The warm embrace”, which incorporates composites for high heat transfer, but also drugs that would enhance safety.  Not only is his design super thin and strong, it’s also very flexible.

Now here’s a question, how much would you pay for a condom that you couldn’t feel and worked 99.99% of the time?

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by Ebony Baldwin

January 16, 2014

5 Ways to Create a Healthy Lifestyle

With the New Year, I wanted to create a healthy lifestyle I could maintain throughout the year. It is important to set yourself up for success with a clear mind and body. With that said, I developed 5 easy ways to create a healthy lifestyle.

1. Exercise Daily
If you want to live well and live longer, you must exercise! Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Whether it’s going to a gym class on campus or going on a jog at your local park, there are plenty of ways to incorporate exercise in our daily routines. Try walking to class instead of taking the bus, or joining an intramural sport team. Studies show that just 10 minutes of exercise makes a difference—so do something!

2. Be a picky eater!
Set yourself up for success! Think about planning a healthy diet as a number of small, manageable steps rather than one big drastic change. 
Focus on finding foods you love and easy recipes that incorporate a few fresh ingredients.

Eat in moderation. Moderation means eating less than we do now.  It doesn’t mean you eliminate the things that you love.  Just try to eat more healthy things than unhealthy ones.  Also think smaller portions. For example, when dining out, choose a starter instead of an entree, split a dish with a friend, and don’t supersize anything.  When at home, use smaller plates, think about serving sizes and start small.

Eat breakfast! Eating fruits and whole grains in the morning can help jumpstart your metabolism and energy for the day.
Avoid eating at night! Try to set a time where don’t eat after. Eating late at during a time when you are less active, can cause weight gain and create unhealthy habits. Studies show that after-dinner snacks tend to be high in fat and calories. So avoid them! 

3. Get a good night’s sleep
Keep a regular sleep schedule. Set a regular bedtime and wake up at the same time every day.  Nap to make up for lost sleep, but make sure to be smart about napping. While napping can help you recharge, it can also create bad habits when it comes to your sleep cycles. Lastly, create a relaxing sleep environment.  Make your room more sleep friendly. Keep the noise down, keep your room cool, and make sure that your bed is comfortable! 

4. Keep Healthy Relationships
The healthiest people are those who have relationships with other healthy people. Healthy relationships reduce stress, unhealthy habits, and help motivate you to succeed and do better. Surround yourself with people who are going to uplift you and make you feel better about yourself.  Having a strong foundation is essential to life.

5. Give yourself a break!
Find fun activities for you to do to relieve stress! Go to the movies or go shopping. Create new hobbies.  Hang out with your friends. Do anything that makes you feel happy. It’s important for you to take a break from life’s stresses and create awesome memories.

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by Julian Cobb

October 21, 2013

Breast Cancer: Study Results, Causes, and Health Literacy

When thinking about breast cancer, many people automatically shift their focus to women. In particular, women within the African American community. Studies have shown that breast cancer is more common in white women than African American women. In all actuality, men are also susceptible to breast cancer. Just like women, men do have breast tissue, which has the possibility of developing breast cancer.

I was pretty surprised when I learned of this news. From my research, the exact cause of breast cancer is not known. Even though there is no exact cause, the risk of getting breast cancer increases with age. Factors such as family history and alcohol usage also increase the possibility of getting breast cancer. For males, the most cases for breast cancer have been detected between ages 60- 70. Overall, a male’s risk of obtaining breast cancer is only 1%. Though this percentage is fairly low, this doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility for men.

In terms of health literacy, everyone needs to be knowledgeable about breast cancer. Having this knowledge base can help improve the quality of life by recognizing the signs early and seeking treatment if necessary. Knowing that breast cancer is 100 times more likely in women than men, this encourages me to consistently check on the women in my life. It is my duty to ensure that they are going to get mammograms and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Just knowing about breast cancer isn’t enough. Being proactive in your efforts can help save lives.


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by Fatia Kasumu

April 20, 2013

Mass Media, Sex, and the HIV Chat

 

By the time I was 16, I was already aware of what condoms were, how they were used and who used them.  As a 20 -year-old graduating college senior, I look back on all I know about HIV. In order to address the discussion of HIV among teens, we must also talk about the sex discussion first because they are related. For one thing, I know that my parents had little to do with the discussion about sexually transmitted diseases. A curious kid at 16, I was also an avid ‘TV-watcher”. Like most of my African-American peers, we always discussed how tv shows like Flavor-of-Love, the Real World and Desperate Housewives influenced us on our view of sex. Because HIV is a sexually transmitted disease, there is much to be said about the virus.  My peers and I also know that TV, as a form of mass media sends messages to teens all across the world. Positive messages. Negative messages, perpetuating stereotypes and false information are what is shown to people everyday.  Mass media, as defined by sociology dictionary is forms of communication designed to reach a vast audience without any personal contact between the senders and receivers. Examples would include newspapers, magazines, video recordings, radio and television.

As a broadcast journalism major, I was taught that journalism, in lieu of mass media is the fourth estate. The first three estates being the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branch of the government. We are the gatekeepers of information. When I think of a gatekeeper of information, I think of a safeguard. A safeguard is someone who guards, protects and sensors something in a positive or negative way. During my teenage years, the only time I saw HIV awareness or discussion about HIV on TV was during World Aids Day and on December 1st, which is national HIV testing day. The media has more messages of free sex, sex with multiple sex partners and having sex with the absence of love, commitment or respect. There are more reality shows and sitcoms about those topics than shows that address safe sex, monogamy or abstinence. This poses as a threat to the teenage discussion of HIV because they are receive mixed messages that can lead to ignorance. For instance, some teens believe AIDS is the same as HIV, which is false. I’ve also witnessed a discussion at the university level where a student said, “ I need to take an AIDS test”, which is highly inaccurate. Where does the inaccuracy come from, one might add?   I am reminded of the huge responsibility TV plays in the discussion of HIV among teenagers. To me, there is no discussion of HIV. I do not feel that the TV industry does a good job of informing the public of the causes and symptoms of HIV/AIDS. For one, I believe that many teens do not know the difference between HIV and AIDS, and that discussion is where the media, as a fourth estate should start.

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by Dominique Scott

February 11, 2013

Philadelphia High Schools Promote Safer Sex

“What has the world come to?” is often a question that floats through my mind as I read the news. Being an African American woman in a predominately Caucasian class is unsettling when the teacher reveals a chart of health statistics and African Americans are highest at risk for practically every sexually transmitted disease. Black women were second in comparison to black men in terms of early death rate; however, African American women are the highest ethnic/ gender group overall to contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Why is this so? One reason that comes to my mind is that females are more likely to go get tested than males. Furthermore, why is the percentage rate of these diseases high in the black community particularly?


Unfortunately, most STDs are contracted and spread by our young people (teenagers & young adults). In my hometown, Philadelphia, STDs are spreading rapidly, especially in the public school system. The mayor, Michael Nutter, noticed the dangerous trend amongst these students and came to a controversial conclusion to disseminate condoms at public schools without parental consent. The majority of public high schools have condom dispensers located in a nurse facility to supply all students with free condom protection. When I was in high school, condoms then were available to students, but we had to have parental consent. This new policy may help solve the problem of the spread of STDs, but created another. Parents are now questioning why their children’s school is “giving them the right to engage in sexual activities”. For more information on this new policy, see http://sexetc.org/



I perfectly understand both sides of the argument. However, I believe that students will choose to have sex regardless of whether or not condoms are free or not (personal decisions). The school system is just educating kids to have safer sex if they are going to have sex at all. The choice to abstain from sexual activity is still available. However, sexually active teens and young adults in the Philadelphia area can http://takecontrolphilly.org/ to find where to go to get free condoms.



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In Partnership with: Poole College of Management, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Science Foundation, Penn State

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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