FAQs

When used consistently and correctly, latex condoms are extremely effective. Most condom failure results not because of condoms break or leak, but because they are used incorrectly. More information about contraceptives and more education about how to use them increases the chance that contraceptives will be used correctly and consistently. Accurate information will help teenagers make responsible decisions about whether to have sex and about the most appropriate way to avoid STDs and unintended pregnancy.
The goal of reproductive health education is to promote young people's health. Good sexuality education focuses on both factual information and skills development in setting goals, communicating about whether to have sex, negotiating abstinence or contraceptive use, and resisting peer pressure. In many schools, reproductive health education focuses only on anatomy and physiology or population and neglects the important role of family life or relationships in sexuality education.
When used consistently and correctly, latex condoms are extremely effective. Most condom failure results not because of condoms break or leak, but because they are used incorrectly. More information about contraceptives and more education about how to use them increases the chance that contraceptives will be used correctly and consistently. Accurate information will help teenagers make responsible decisions about whether to have sex and about the most appropriate way to avoid STDs and unintended pregnancy.
Reproductive health education is very important to unemployed youth. There is a strong link between young people's economic well-being and their reproductive health. Out of school and street-involved youth may be less likely to seek information and services on their own and may be more susceptible to exploitation or being a sex worker.

When communities discuss youth issues openly for the first time, more support sometimes emerges for reproductive health programs than anyone would have imagined. People everywhere want young people to grow up healthy. They wonder what to do about the spread of HIV/AIDS, and they are often willing to discuss potential solutions when their opinions are heard.

Most of the opposition to reproductive health education comes from the fear that discussing sexuality will promote promiscuity among youth. Research shows that this is not true; but, it takes time and effort to encourage the public to examine their long-held beliefs and values. Educating the public about the positive effects of reproductive health education can help allay fears and build public support for adolescent reproductive health programs.

First, reproductive health programs can help teens remain abstinent by giving them accurate information about their own bodies, raising their awareness of sexually transmitted diseases, and helping them build the skills to resist peer pressure. Second, among youths that have had sex, information and access to contraceptives help keep young people safe from HIV, other STDs, and unintended pregnancy. Research shows neither that giving youth information on sexual health and /or providing them reproductive health services does not make it more likely that they will have sex.
Abstinence and contraception are the two best ways for youth to protect themselves and stay healthy. Telling young people about both acknowledges the challenges young people face growing up in today's complex world and helps youth act responsibly. Research shows that programs that teach both abstinence and contraception are more effective at reaching youth and promoting healthy behavior than are programs that teach abstinence only.
Reproductive health education begins with abstinence the only completely certain way for youth to protect themselves against pregnancy, STDs, and HIV/AIDS. To successfully practice abstinence, young people need skills, including decision making, communication, negotiation, and refusal skills. When abstinence is taught as the only option for young people, youth do not receive information and skills that will help keep them safe when they become sexually active. Without information, young people are less able to make responsible choices. 

Providing information about sexuality does not lead young people to experiment with sex. In fact, providing accurate information before young people begin to have sex has been shown to help teens abstain from sex. In the case of youths who are sexually active, accurate sexuality education helps them protect themselves against HIV/AIDS and other STDs by increasing the chances that they will use condoms.

A recent World Health Organization review of reproductive health education programs from all over the world found that the young participants were not more likely to engage in early sexual activity, nor did they show increased sexual activity compared to their peers. Studies consistently show that teens who receive accurate sexuality education are more likely to report using a contraceptive at first intercourse than are teens without sexuality education.

Young people often say they want to be able to talk with their parents about their reproductive health, and communication between parents and children is very important. Unfortunately, many adults do not know what to say or how or when to say it, and feel uncomfortable talking with young people about sexuality. As societies change, few families have the opportunity to utilize traditional sexuality education. A family's silence can give its young people the message that sexuality is bad and should not be discussed. With no other clear source of knowledge and values, young people often look to the popular media and their peers for information.

Sexuality education can create more opportunities for dialogue between youth and adults and help refute the myths about sexuality that young people often hear from the media and from their peers. Supplementing the education provided by the family can also help adults overcome the difficulties they face when they are the only providers of information and guidance.

Men need to consider the fact that their sexual activities can have a very serious bearing on the health of their sexual partners – male or female. Men who have unprotected penetrative sex (with men or women) outside marriage dangerously increase the risk of their wives, and through them their unborn or newborn children, getting STIs or HIV infection.

In the Indian context, women often have very little say in the matter of safer sex with their male sexual partners, including husbands. Men often through authority or ignorance take advantage of women’s vulnerability. If men learn to be responsible in their sexual behaviours, they can protect their own lives as well as the lives of their sexual partners and other loved ones.

Do you feel the need to get tested or treated for an STI? Please do get in touch with us for information on where you can get tested and treated for STIs. We will refer you to a doctor or primary health care centre nearest to your location. And your identity will be kept completely confidential.

As soon as any symptoms that can be associated with STIs appear, or if you suspect that you may have been exposed to an STI, you should immediately consult a dermatologist (skin specialist).

The doctor may prescribe some tests, which should be carried out at the earliest. It is also important to complete the entire course of medicines prescribed by the doctor and keep your follow-up appointments. If you don’t complete the treatment, many STIs can recur – more painfully so and cause serious complications!

Remember: The key to dealing with STIs is early detection and complete treatment. It is also
important to prevent re-infection with STIs. This will require prevention of both sexual transmission and non-sexual transmission

The predominant mode of transmission of both HIV and STIs is sexual (in that sense, HIV is also
an STI). The presence of certain STIs in a person is often considered as a marker for potential HIV infection as well. Many of the measures for preventing the sexual and non-sexual transmission of HIV and STIs are also the same.

In addition: Many STIs cause ulcers, blisters, sores and boils and most of these are located in / on around the mouth, penis, vagina or anus. During unprotected penetrative sexual acts, HIV transmission can take place more easily through these openings in the skin or mucous membrane present in these organs. Early and complete treatment of STIs is therefore desirable not only to reduce or prevent the harmful effects of STIs themselves, but also to prevent HIV infection.

In people already infected with HIV, STIs tend to compromise the immunity further, making it easier for HIV infection to progress in the body.

Symptoms of common STIs in men include: Discharge or pus from the penis or anus, Sores, blisters, rashes or boils on the penis or testicles, Sores, blisters, rashes or boils in or around the anus or mouth, Lumps on or near the penis, testicles, anus, Swelling on the penis or testicles, Pain or burning during urination, Itching in and around the genital areas – penis, testicles, thighs, anus

Some symptoms of common STIs in women include: Pain in the lower abdomen, Unusual and foul smelling discharge from the vagina, Lumps on or near the vagina or anus, Pain or burning during penetrative sex (vaginal), Itching in and around the genital areas – vagina, thighs, anus, sores, blisters, rashes or boils in or around vagina, anus or mouth.

For each STI there is a certain time period between infection taking place and its symptoms showing up. However, just like HIV infection can remain invisible for a long time some STIs can also remain dormant for a long time.

However, the person carrying these STIs can still infect others. Safer sex and other precautions
remain the best preventive measures.

Attention: Some STIs, particularly in women, can have symptoms inside the body, which cannot be seen. If left untreated, these STIs can cause serious complications like infertility. STIs also facilitate the entry of HIV into the body. So if you think you may have been exposed to an STI, you should go for its early detection and complete treatment

Do you feel the need to get tested or treated for an STI? Please do get in touch with us for information on where you can get tested and treated for STIs. We will refer you to a doctor or primary health care centre nearest to your location. And your identity will be kept completely confidential.

Yes, like HIV, many STIs can be transmitted non-sexually as well. STIs like Hepatitis B and C, herpes simplex virus, syphilis, gonorrhoea and many others can be transmitted through sharing of infected injecting instruments and infected blood and blood products. Some of these can also be passed on by an infected pregnant woman to her child during pregnancy or delivery. Safer sharing of injecting instruments and blood / blood products, and early detection and complete treatment of infected pregnant women help in preventing non-sexual transmission of STIs.

STIs like pubic lice can be transmitted through sharing of towels and underwear. Not sharing clothes and maintaining personal hygiene prevents non-sexual transmission. Hepatitis A can be transmitted through contaminated food and water. Maintaining personal and general hygiene, and food and water safety prevents non-sexual transmission of Hepatitis A.

As the name suggests, STIs are infections that are transmitted through sexual contact. Like HIV, many STIs are transmitted through unprotected sex.  Therefore these STIs can also be prevented in the same way as HIV – mutually faithfulness and monogamous sexual relationship with an uninfected partner, practicing safer sex with each and every sexual partner or abstaining from sexual activities.

However, what is safer sex with regard to HIV may not prevent STIs. For instance, sexual acts like body rubbing and deep kissing may not be risky in terms of HIV but can transmit certain STIs. Limiting the number of sexual partners and maintaining overall personal hygiene (including oral hygiene) are some of the ways to reduce the possibility of transmission of these STIs.

There are a large number of STIs known to medical science. Some of the common ones are Chlamydia, genital warts, gonorrhea, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, herpes simplex virus, pubic lice, syphilis, and trichomoniasis.

Good health is considered to be a state of “complete physical, mental and social well-being” and not merely the absence of diseases or infirmity.
“Physical wellbeing” means good health and hygiene for your genitals and related systems. “Mental well-being” means feeling okay about your sexual desires and needs and not guilty or depressed about them. “Social wellbeing” not having any attitudinal or communication challenges or dealing with them in the best way possible, and/or not being discriminated against because of any problem that may result from unsafe sex.
A combination of all these factors makes for a (sexually) healthy YOU!

HIV stands for “Human Immunodeficiency Virus” and AIDS stands for “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome”. In simple terms: HIV is a “virus” that makes the human body’s immune system weak or deficient, while AIDS is an “outcome of HIV infection”. However, being infected with HIV is not the same as having AIDS.

AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection and comes about only when HIV has made your body’s immunity (defense system) too weak to fight off other infections. It may take several years for AIDS to develop. The healthier your body and the better you take care of it, the longer it will take for AIDS to develop.

Proper condom usage involves the following:

  1. i) Checking the expiry date of the condom before use
  2. ii) Tearing one end of the condom pack and gently pressing the other end of the pack so that the condom slides out. Trying to pull out the condom from the pack with your fingers may tear the condom, especially if you have long nails

iii) Putting on the condom only when the penis becomes fully erect, and avoiding penetrating the penis into the partner’s body before the condom is put on

  1. iv) Before putting on the condom making sure that the lubricated side of the condom remains on the outside
  2. v) Pressing the tip of the condom with one hand while unrolling it on to the penis with another to make sure that no air remains trapped inside the condom. Air trapped inside the condom can make it tear during ejaculation
  3. vi) Unrolling the condom right down to the base of the penis before starting the penetration

vii) After ejaculation, holding the condom at the base and gently withdrawing the penis to make sure that the condom does not remain inside the anus, vagina or mouth

viii) Taking the condom off carefully and away from the partner’s body to avoid spilling the semen

vii) After ejaculation, holding the condom at the base and gently withdrawing the penis to make sure that the condom does not remain inside the anus, vagina or mouth

viii) Taking the condom off carefully and away from the partner’s body to avoid spilling the semen outside the condom

  1. ix) Tying up the condom with a knot, wrapping it up in a piece of paper and disposing it off into a dustbin

Warning: Used condoms should not be flushed down a toilet as they may block the pipe. They should not be thrown out on to the road or parks where birds or children may open them up and make a mess!

  1. x) Never re-using a condom. A fresh condom should be used for each sexual act

A person infected with HIV may look and feel healthy for many years, but can still pass on the virus to others. You cannot tell whether a person is infected with HIV just by looking at the person. The only way to find out for sure is through a blood test. If HIV is detected through the test, the result is said to be “HIV positive”. If not, the result is “HIV negative”. There are several types of blood tests for HIV, each with its own procedures and costs involved:

You should receive both pre-test and post-test counselling – the first to help you mentally prepare for the test and its result, and the second to guide you on what to do after the test result is available (irrespective of whether you test positive or negative).

Remember: An “HIV positive” result need not be the end of the world. There is help at hand to help you deal with the situation. And an “HIV negative” result need not mean you can throw caution to the wind and take risks that could lead to infection in future. It is important to listen to what the counsellor has to tell you to play safe and stay safe!

It is advisable to go to the nearest health care centre to get tested for HIV or any other STI. You can find the closest centre to you by searching on the TOMBEY website. You can also call us on 07046835377 or email us at tombey@hacey.org

A cure for HIV/AIDS has not yet been discovered and prevention remains a crucial weapon against HIV/AIDS. However, the days when AIDS was considered invariably fatal are on their way out. It is increasingly becoming possible to treat HIV/AIDS. In some cases HIV-infected individuals who went on to develop AIDS, when given proper treatment, recovered to the extent that the viral load (amount of HIV) in their body became negligible! This is why AIDS is no longer called the “end stage” of HIV infection. It is now referred to as a “late stage” of HIV infection.

In other words it is possible to live with HIV/AIDS. Hence an increasing use of the expression “people living with HIV/AIDS” or PLWHA.

HIV/AIDS treatment has broadly two components:

  • Treatment for HIV infection through anti-retroviral (ARV) therapy. If started at the right time and taken regularly, ARV therapy can reduce the viral load in the body to negligible levels. However, ARV therapy needs to be life-long. If it is stopped, HIV can regain its strength in the infected person’s body.
  • Early and complete treatment for the opportunistic infections that invade the body when a person infected with HIV develops AIDS. In India two of the commonest opportunistic infections are tuberculosis and diarrhoea.
    Attention: HIV/AIDS treatment should be taken only under the supervision of a certified doctor, after knowing fully potential side effects. The costs involved should also be clearly understood. Efforts are being made to reduce costs of medicines for ARV therapy and opportunistic infections, and associated diagnostics. Free or subsidized medicines and diagnostics are currently available only through select government hospitals.

What PLWHA need is not just treatment, but also self-care, care from their close ones and larger social support. A combination of care, support and treatment can remarkably improve the quality of life of PLWHA, something they deserve as much as people dealing with any other illness! So what constitutes care, support and treatment for PLWHA? Treatment for HIV and opportunistic infections associated with AIDS, yes. But also:

  • Provision of emotional, social and economic support – not only to PLWHA but also to their families, particularly children.
  • Maintenance of general health and wellbeing through nutritious food (that is in keeping with the person’s socio-economic background), exercise and rest, and stress reduction and management.
  • Prevention of opportunistic infections through general hygiene, safe food and drinking water, and safeguarding against air-borne infections and diseases like malaria.
  • Prevention of opportunistic infections is also possible by limiting the chances of HIV reinfection. For this what is needed are safer sex practices, safer sharing of injecting equipment and safer exchange of blood and blood products.

It is not necessary that care, support and treatment can be provided to PLWHA only in a hospital or hospice. Home-based care is also possible, where PLWHA can learn to take care of themselves in many ways.

For more information on HIV/AIDS care, support and treatment, please call or write to us

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