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Daily Nation : February 11th 2014
DAILY NATION Tuesday February 11, 2014 MEDICAL CLINIC to go glaucoma in the family, should go to an ophthalmologist for an eye examination at least once every year or every two years. This helps identify the disease before it progresses. Eye screening is not just for detecting glaucoma, but other conditions such as cataracts. Dear doc, Can glaucoma be prevented? Kim. Dear Kim, Unfortunately, glaucoma cannot be prevented, but its progress and loss of sight can be slowed if it is detected early and treatment sought before the fibers of the optic nerve are destroyed. Therefore, those at risk, especially those whose close family members have glaucoma, should have their eyes examined regularly, especially if they are above 35. Further, they should not ignore any symptom of eye problems. When detected early, glaucoma can often be controlled with medication, either in the form of pills or eye drops. If medications do not work your doctor might recommend a surgery. Do you have a health question? Write to us on email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for free medical advice. Young people stop protecting themselves as soon as they certify that their partner is ‘clean’, exposing themselves to great risk BY DR CORY COUILLARD @DrCoryCouillard email@example.com D espite condoms being one of the best ways to prevent pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as human papilloma virus (HPV) and HIV, their use is still relatively unpopular. And despite some success, low rates of condom use occurs, especially in rural areas and within adolescent marriages. This not only points to a lack of awareness and availability, but also people’s beliefs and attitudes towards them. According to The Lancet, the world’s leading medical journal, adolescents who use condoms face discrimination, stigmatisation and a lack of trust. Condom use often creates a perception that a potential sexual partner is “clean’” or “unclean” — so it is okay not to use a condom if a partner is deemed “clean”. The media is important in changing and improving these attitudes by pushing the message to “condomise”, get tested and to abstain. However, while education is vital, no education campaign will make a difference unless people change their behaviour. According to UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids, “focusing only on the individual psychological process ignores the interactive relationship of behaviour in its social, cultural and economic dimension, thereby missing the possibility to fully understand crucial determinants of behaviour.” This points out, in many cases, that motivations for sex are complicated, unclear and might not be thought through in advance. Behavioural change has been found to be most effective within the context of adolescent life skills education that is related to sexual behaviour and reproductive health. Condom use and safe sex practices are more common in non-steady sexual relationships versus long-term ones. Studies in Kenya and Zambia show that marriage increases the frequency of sex but decreases the use of condoms. Low use of condoms in marriage severely restricts a woman’s ability to protect herself from STIs. Adolescent married girls were found to have higher levels of HIV infection than non-married sexually active girls the same age — demonstrating that marriage is not protective in some settings and can actually increase the risk. Every year, one in 20 adolescent girls gets a bacterial infection through sexual contact, and the age at which infections are acquired is getting increasingly lower. There are more than 30 different sexually transmissible bacteria, viruses and parasites. They can lead to chronic diseases, Aids, pregnancy complications, 7 Attitudes still inhibiting condom use infertility, cervical cancer and death. The most common conditions they cause include gonorrhoea, chlamydial infection, syphilis, trichomoniasis, chancroid, genital herpes, genital warts, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and hepatitis B infection. In pregnancy, untreated early syphilis is responsible for one in four stillbirths and 14 per cent of neonatal (newborn) deaths. Up to 15 per cent of pregnant women in the region test positive for syphilis and interventions could prevent 492,000 stillbirths per year. The success of antiretroviral therapy in reducing illness and prolonging life has altered the perception of risk associated with HIV. A perception of low-risk and a sense of complacency can lead to unprotected sex through reduced or nonconsistent condom use. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “condoms, as a proven effective barrier method, can be used as a dual-purpose method for both prevention of pregnancy and protection against HIV and other STIs. For maximum effect, any barrier method for contraception or infection prevention has to be used correctly and consistently.” The most effective means to avoid becoming infected with, or spreading, a sexually transmitted infection is to abstain from sexual intercourse or to have sexual intercourse only within a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. Do you have a health question? Write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for advice.
February 10th 2014
February 12th 2014