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STD Prevention for Travellers

July is peak season for vacationing. While on vacation, many of us find ourselves in a more relaxed state, enjoying tropical drinks, warm weather, and a slower pace. Unfortunately, this relaxed mind frame sometimes carries over to cause reduced vigilance about STD prevention.

It’s important that you make efforts to stay healthy while you are traveling. Here are some of the ways that you can work on STD prevention on vacation

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Four Reasons You Need to Get Tested for HIV Today

Affordable HIV testing services | TEST SMARTLY LABS

All too often, people only think about the fun part of having sex, not the repercussions. Engaging in sexual relationships comes with many responsibilities that people often fail to think about.

One responsibility that comes with sex is keeping yourself and others free from harmful diseases such as HIV. According to some reports, as many as 20 percent of the people who have HIV don’t know it.

Fortunately, people can pursue HIV testing to help combat the spread of this potentially devastating disease. Here are some reasons why HIV testing is so vital for safeguarding your health.

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STDs and Cancer Risk: How Does Sexual Health Affect Overall Health?

In 2012, President Barack Obama declared April as Cancer Control Month, a time to spotlight and celebrate the many advancements in cancer treatment, including important prevention efforts such as cancer screenings.

Although most people are very aware of cancer and its affects on people, many are not aware of how their actions and other aspects of their health can increase their cancer risk. When it comes to your sexual health and cancer risk, you should be aware that contracting an STD can increase your risk for many types of cancer.

Here’s the low-down on STDs and cancer risk.

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STDs & Pregnancy: How Your Sexual Health Affects Your Baby

When you’re pregnant, it’s important more than ever to take good care of your body. You’re providing the environment for your baby to develop, and it’s your responsibility to eat well, drink lots of water, abstain from drugs and alcohol, arm yourself against infections, and follow appropriate dietary restrictions.

One aspect of pregnant womens’ health that can sometimes get overlooked, however, is their sexual health. Pregnant women can get STDs or experience an inflammation of a previous STD, and the results can be life-threatening for both the pregnant mother and her child.

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STD Rates on the Rise Among Senior Citizens

STDs are often thought of as a problem for younger generations to deal with. After all, isn’t most unsafe sex practiced by young adults? Surely, older generations are more aware of the dangers of STDs and how to protect themselves from the spread of infectious sexual diseases.

It seems these assumptions aren’t true. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, STD rates among senior citizens are on the rise. In fact, their STD rates have increased enough to tie young adults aged 20 – 24 for the largest increase in STDs over 4 years. As senior citizens are living longer, healthier lives, their sexual activity has increased, leading to a rise in STD rates.

Are you a sexually active senior citizen? In addition to hepatitis C, there are a number of STDs your generation is spreading. Educate yourself on STD rates among your age group and learn how you can stop the spread.

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Why STD Testing is Important for Women

TEST SMARTLY LABS | Why STD Testing is Important for WomenIf you’re a woman who has never contracted an STD, you might wonder why STD testing is important for you. Even if you’ve only slept with a few trusted partners or one person, you can catch an STD without knowing it — even from something so innocent as receiving a kiss on the cheek. Many people are unaware how easy it is to contract an STD, especially from someone who hasn’t completed STD testing and isn’t aware that they have the STD in the first place.

When you consider that more than 110 million Americans have an STD and an estimated 19 million more are infected per year, STD testing doesn’t seem like an unnecessary step. The likelihood that you know someone who currently has an STD constantly rises.

Still, many women think that STDs can’t or won’t happen to them. Wondering why you should consider STD testing? Here’s why.

STD Testing: Why It’s Necessary for Women

Unknowing Carriers

You might think that STD testing isn’t needed because your sexual partner(s) will let you know if they have or have had an STD. But just because someone has an STD doesn’t mean that they know it — only STD testing will reveal the truth. Many STDs have few symptoms or symptoms that are easily confused with other infections, including:

  • GonorrheaGonorrhea symptoms include pain and burning in urination, yellow or bloody discharge, abdominal pain, or heavy menstrual flow. Without STD testing, symptoms of this STD are often confused with bladder infection.
  • Chlamydia: 3/4 of women who have chlamydia exhibit and experience no symptoms, which is why STD testing is vital. Those who do have symptoms may also confuse them with symptoms of a bladder infection — including abnormal discharge from the vaginal, a burning sensation during urination, and spotting between menstruation.
  • Herpes: Symptoms of this STD, including  sores or rashes on your vagina or back, vaginal discharge, headaches, fever, muscle aches, and pain while urinating, may come and go as the years pass. Still, even when you do not exhibit signs of herpes, the virus remains in your nerve cells and can ultimately increase your risk of contracting HIV — which shows why STD testing is so important.
  • HIV: Research has shown that 21% of people in the US who are infected with HIV haven’t undergone STD testing and are thus undiagnosed. HIV symptoms, such as extreme exhaustion, rapid weight loss, fevers, night swears, diarrhea, coughing, and yeast infections, may not appear for years. This means that HIV-positive people could be unknowingly spreading the disease to others.

With STD testing, you will know if you or your sexual partner(s) have contracted any diseases in the past, which will prevent you from further spreading the infection.

Affects of STDs

STD testing does more than prevent the spread of diseases — it can also help you get treatment more quickly, which can prevent your STD from resulting in a very serious health problem. From infertility to cervical cancer to death, there are many long-term medical affects of STDs that can be avoided with simple STD testing. These affects include:

  • Chlamydia: If chlamydia spreads to your uterus or fallopian tubes, it may cause pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. This disease is not easily cured and can permanently damage your fallopian tubes and uterus, leading to infertility, chronic pelvic pain, or even fatal ectopic pregnancy. After a positive diagnosis through STD testing, you can treat your chlamydia and prevent these outcomes.
  • Herpes: If you give birth vaginally when you have unknowingly carried the herpes virus, your baby could suffer blindness. STD testing is key when it comes to identifying and treating herpes.
  • Genital HPV: Some strains of HPV are linked to an increased risk of cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, and anal cancer, all of which have the potential to be fatal. When you and your partner receive STD testing, you can seek treatment for HPV if necessary.
  • HIV: When you contract HIV, your immune system weakens and makes you prone to contracting infections. HIV can lead to AIDS, a severe and often fatal autoimmune disorder. STD testing will help diagnose your HIV — and though there is currently no known cure for the disease, you can seek treatment to slow its progression.

These are just a few of the conditions that can result from STDs — there are countless other affects that could be treated or avoided by STD testing.

Get STD Testing Today

Ready to take charge of your health? TEST SMARTLY LABS offers comprehensive STD testing at many of its facilities nationwide. Click here to see if STD testing is available at the ARCpoint location near you.

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Trich, Less Well Known STD but Dangerous

Trich isn’t anything new. But you might not be aware of this sexually transmitted disease. It isn’t talked about nearly as much as the others. Its name isn’t as simple as HIV or herpes. But if untreated, it can be very dangerous.

It’s called “Trich”

It’s actually called trichomoniasis. There are 7 to 8 million new cases of trich each year (source), making it one of the most common STDs around. Only 30 percent of those who get this parasite through sex develop symptoms, which include

  • itching
  • burning
  • redness or soreness of the genitals
  • discomfort with urination
  • thin discharge with an unusual smell that can be clear, white, yellowish, or greenish

Dangerous for pregnant women

Pregnant-women-with-Trich-run-the risk-of-low-weight-babies.Women with trich become high risk in the event they get pregnant. Early labor, passing on an STD to the baby before or during labor, pneumonia may all occur. (source). Women with trich may also have babies with low birth weight.

Treatment for Trich

Though it’s dangerous when left untreated, trich is curable with antibiotics. If you’re suffering from trich, speak to doctor about treatment. Symptoms can be prevented. You just need to be proactive.

You may not have heard of it before but…

Though it’s not as commonly known as HIV, herpes, chlamydia or syphilis, trich is very real. If you’re sexually active, you need to get STD tested. There are so many risks you need to be aware of… it’s not worth the risk.

Need an STD testing partner? Our friends at TEST SMARTLY LABS offer affordable, confidential STD testing. Blood or urine tests can determine if you have an STD. Results returned quickly! Find the nearest TEST SMARTLY LABS to you!

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Rest In Peace, Spencer Cox

This week, the battle against HIV and AIDS took a major hit when activist Patrick “Spencer” Cox, passed away. Cox, 44, died of an AIDS-related illness in Manhattan.  He discovered he was HIV positive when he moved to New York in his 20s, causing him to shift his focus as an aspiring playwright and actor to fighting the deadly disease.

A voice for others

For nearly 25 years, Cox was a voice for those who suffered from the disease. At age 20 he joined the AIDS Coalition to Unlease Power, or ACT Up, an organization the works to get government and private institutions to do more for AIDS research, treatment, and prevention. He was part of the group that started Treatment Action Group, or TAG, that helps advancements in treatment.

The research Cox did, and his constant fight to create a better world for AIDS victims, drew the attention of his peers.

“He wanted the facts and was always very meticulous about getting good data rather than just screaming for getting something approved. It’s a great loss. He was part of a historic group of people,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (source).

“He saved the lives of millions, but he couldn’t save his own,” said Mr. Mark Harrington, the executive director of TAG.

Why Cox is an inspiration

Rather than sit and suffer in his own affliction, Cox dedicated his life to making things better for those with HIV or AIDS. And all the way to the end, Cox didn’t know what the future held, but he knew he had to live his life to the fullest.

“You keep going. You keep evolving. You keep progressing. You keep hoping until you die, which is going to happen some day. You make your life as meaningful as you can make it.” – Spencer Cox (source) 

Our hope is to one day see a world without AIDS. But until we get there, we’re on a mission to offer rapid HIV testing to prevent this virus from progressing into the deadly disease.




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World Aids Day is December 1


Worlds Aids Day is Dec. 1.

This weekend something quite amazing is happening. Countries across the globe are coming together to celebrate World Aids Day. Regardless of current politics and policies, this global health initiative is having countries band together to raise awareness of HIV and Aids. While those of us in the United States plan to recognize this awareness day, what’s awesome is that it’s a movement that’s also happening across the sea, too.

World Aids Day Movements

The first Worlds Aids Day was in 1988 – it was the first global health initiative of its kind. Global leaders recognized the threat, danger and severity of the HIV virus on all continents and came together to start an annual event geared toward raising awareness of HIV, encouraging screening and promoting health. Today, the same mission occurs as many countries are gearing up to promote HIV awareness this weekend.

View the UK’s website for World Aids Day

Read how China celebrated World Aids Day in 2011

View how Ubuntu, Africa is celebrating World Aids Day

Check out the Avert website to learn AIDS statistics from around the world.

Worlds Aids Day in the U.S.

Most of us who grew up in the United States are familiar with the red ribbon campaign. In addition to showing support through the red ribbon, there are many ways to get involved this year. Aids.gov is a great site that offers helpful tools for anyone wanting to get involved in the cause this weekend. Visit the site to see how the White House is getting involved, read the latest policies regarding AIDS, see photo galleries, blog, connect on social media and more. There are even AIDS awareness events taking place on Dec. 1.

Visit AIDS.gov

You and HIV and Aids

We’ve spent the past couple of months highlighting celebs with HIV and Aids. Some of them have unfortunately passed away due to the HIV virus progressing to Aids; others have successfully managed to treat and tame HIV symptoms. The problem with HIV is that many who have it do not realize they are infected. This leads to transmission and even more lives at stake. Those who do have it need immediate treatment, medicine has revolutionized the way the HIV virus is treated.

This weekend, on World Aids Day, make a commitment to get tested for HIV. New rapid HIV tests, like the ones at TEST SMARTLY LABS, can even provide results in 20 minutes. While nobody wants to think about requesting such a test, it could seriously end up saving your life. There’s no better time to make the leap and call. Any of our TEST SMARTLY LABS locations are ready to help you.

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Greg Louganis | Celebs With HIV

Greg-Louganis-HIVWhen you hear HIV or AIDS, there is an instant fearful reaction.  You think suffering, sadness and death.  It’s just how we’ve been trained to think about this disease.

Former Olympic diver and four-time gold medalist Greg Louganis thinks a bit differently.  He takes 10 pills a day, tries to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle and takes blood tests every night to monitor his immune system.  Louganis has been infected with HIV for over 20 years and rocked the 1994 Olympics with the admission that he was gay and suffering from the disease.

Louganis Keeps Going

It would be easy for someone to shut down, emotionally, knowing they have HIV.  For a time, Louganis hit that wall.  He was stealing pain medication from his father.  His abusive partner had died from AIDS-related causes.  He was depressed.  He seemingly found solitude from his mother Frances, who died in 2004.

It was her death and a DUI in 2006 that caused Louganis to wake up.  He’s now in a happy relationship and Louganis’ disease does not prevent him from living the way he wants to live.

An Inspiration to Gay Athletes

If the stresses of HIV aren’t enough, living as a closet homosexual was incredibly tough of Louganis.  As tough as this was, however, his admission inspired other athletes to break their silence, like boxer Orlando Cruz. These men broke barriers for the gay community.

“Greg coming out made a huge difference to the gay community,” says Fawn Yacker, project director of the Last Closet, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that aims to make pro sports more welcoming to gay athletes. “He was such a household name that it may have been a shock at first, but the reaction was, ‘Wow, I liked that guy, and he’s gay.’ It started a conversation.”

Just Keep Going

If Greg Louganis has taught the world anything, it’s that you can keep moving forward, even with a disease like HIV.  Perhaps people think that Louganis and Magic Johnson are still alive because they have money.  This may be true, but what they have that everyone else can have is the support from family, friends, and peers.  He continues to inspire gay athletes across the world to feel comfortable in their own skin.

In any challenge you face or illness you encounter have the spirit of Greg Louganis, and know you can keep going forward.


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