On BioScience and Life and Such

Posts Tagged ‘sexually transmitted infections’

Down Low Women, Milan Meeting Update II

In Uncategorized on September 5, 2008 at 2:12 pm

post to news.thinkgene.com

A follw up on this post.

Being a molecular biologist lab rat, I do not have much experience with clinical work. I have been perfectly happy to miss out on the ickier parts of human pathology, and this weeks meeting on sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) seem to have strengthened my conviction. Some of the images I have seen has made me think I will never have voluntary sex again, – man have they been gross…

However, well into the second day, I have been immunized and finally find myself able to take in some of what the speakers say. And just to modify the somewhat comic impression from the last post, I will present a couple of talks that touch upon serious issues. At the same time it’s all about sex which makes them interesting (even though I’ll never have it again).

A talk that should have been on the list in the last post was

The Prepuce: Fact and Fiction

Which concluded that the prepuce (aka foreskin) is considered beneficial by some and without importance by others. The speaker Derek Freedman (Ireland) posed the entertaining question: “Do we have sex with our penises or with our brains” when commenting on the possible loss of sensitivity when circumcised. Now, the serious part was when he asked another and much more important question:

“Why has it taken so long to discuss circumcision to prevent HIV-transmission, and why is it not implemented in prevention programmes when circumcision confers 60% protection rates…?”.

A thought provoking question I think, considering that such a (relatively) simple procedure could potentially save millions of lives.

Another talk that I learned a lot from, and that touched upon some very different, but equally important issues, was

Down Low Women – by J.Risser University of Texas

Did you know that in poor areas of Houston US there’s a 2,5 % incidence rate of HIV. Did you know that women in these areas expose themselves to extremely high risk because having multiple boyfriends provides them, not with necessities like food and clothes, but with cell phones or money for a professional hair-do.

I ask them to help me with my wants; my needs I can take care of myself.

They are consequently not prostitutes as such, but still behave like them to posess (in my opinion) meaningless status-items. In doing so they are putting themselves at very high risk of HIV and other STI’s, – since they’re not using condoms in fear of exposing the boyfriends to each other, and since they apparently need several boyfriends to satisfy these needs. Appaling facts, – absolutely appaling.  If I get the chance I am going to come back and blog more on Dr. Rissers research. Because, even though the facts are sad, the issues are fascinating.

No wonder sexually transmitted disease is hard to fight.


Meeting update, talks in the category: “Did he really say that …?”

In Uncategorized on September 3, 2008 at 5:26 pm

I am in Milan, a very Italian city with extraordinary shopping opportunities and quite a few cultural highlights (the last supper painting, the “duomo” and La Scala can be mentioned). I am attending the annual International Union against Sexually Transmitted Infections (IUSTI) meeting. Browsing through the programme I see that I have a lot to look forward to and a lot to learn this week. But, also looks like there will be room for some fun….

Although STI’s are a serious matter, a few of the talks have titles that sounds entertaining, which of course, makes them a must-hear, – which I am sure is (mostly) intentional. Some examples:

Best ones first:

How to catch the casanovas

Entertainment education for sexual and reproductive health

That last one I hope is not porn.

In the category “lost ?”


In the US !!??

Next category: still lost, but spatially defined:

Syphilis and Genito-Ulcer Diseases: Where are we now?

Well we’re clearly not in the upper part of the body are we….

And finally in the category, not lost, but still:

Chlamydia Screening in Europe: do we Know where we are going ?

And in the category of titles that just sound strange:

A quantified green tea extract in the treatment of external ano-genital warts

Vulvodynia: a brief overview

Putting sex back into STI prevention

“A brave new world?” – Experiences of STI testing, prescribing and
dispensing via the Internet

If this last title holds any truth, I am simply horrified by the prospects of STI dispensing via the internet…..

And finally, for the fashionable (very Milan’ish !!)

Designer genitals/genital adornments

Joking aside, this looks like it is going to be a very informative meeting. And, behind most of these titles are, even if they sound strange, serious issues like dealing with the continuing spread of sexually transmitted infections and how to eradicate the bugs causing them. The implications are no laughing matter as all HIV-patients and infertile couples (Chlamydia, Trichomonas, Mycoplasma ?) will tell you.