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health | wellness

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World AIDS Day 2017: 9 facts about HIV/AIDS everyone should know

World AIDS Day has been designated every December 1 since 1988 as a way to draw awareness of the disease and mourn the 35 million people who have died from it.

The event has since shifted to focus on successes in the global fight against the disease and the importance of continuing these efforts for the 36.7 million worldwide who are living with HIV/AIDS.

Yet, as recently as 2012, more than a third of Americans incorrectly believed the virus could be transmitted by sharing a drinking glass with an HIV-positive person, swimming in the same pool as someone infected or even just touching the same toilet seat.

So, even though HIV and AIDS are common terms, myths and confusion clearly remain. So what is HIV, what is AIDS, and what do we know about prevention and treatment?

Here are nine vital facts to know about HIV and AIDS and how to prevent and treat both:

1. HIV is a virus. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks the cells in the body (CD4, or T cells) that help the immune system fight off infection. People infected with HIV can become increasingly more susceptible to infections if the virus goes untreated and impairs those immune cells. Like the virus that causes the chicken pox, HIV remains in the body.


CDC: Blacks with HIV less likely to receive consistent medical care

Stigma still fueling rising rate of HIV among blacks 

Despite progress, Atlanta’s HIV epidemic is worse

2. AIDS is a medical diagnosis, given when an individual  has the HIV infection and either a low count of immune cells, an opportunistic infection or both. AIDS is actually the third stage of HIV infection, with the first being exposure to the virus.

3. Known most commonly as Chronic HIV, the second stage is the most critical for treatment. Although exposure to the virus can immediately create flu-like symptoms in some people, many are unaware they have been infected. HIV can be asymptomatic (with no symptoms) for years, but the virus is still attacking the body's immune system even if the person doesn't feel sick. The CDC recommends antiretroviral treatment for anyone with HIV, which will both minimize the damage to the person's immune system and also reduce the chance of transmission.

4. Transmission is most common among two very specific activities: sexual contact and needle/syringe sharing. Less commonly, infants born to HIV-positive mothers who did not receive HIV treatment, either through shared blood during pregnancy or while nursing after birth.

5.Casual contact – social kissing, hugging, sharing toilets or plates – will not transmit HIV. And while it is possible to get the virus from a reused or improperly sterilized tattoo or piercing needle, or from contaminated ink, there have been no known cases of anyone in the U.S. getting the disease that way. Likewise, mosquitos or other insects cannot transmit HIV.

6. Early treatment and antiretroviral treatment has proven successful in making HIV a chronic condition, instead of the once fatal diagnosis when World AIDS Day began. Yet one in seven Americans who have HIV don't know it. That's why everyone between 13 and 64 should be tested for the virus at least once. People with higher risk factors may need more frequent testing, which they can discuss with their doctor.

7. Despite improvements in treatment for HIV, there is still no cure. Researchers are working to develop a vaccine that would train the body's immune system to fight the virus and prevent it from taking hold. There is also PrEP – or a combination of HIV drugs known as pre-exposure prophylaxis – that can be taken daily to prevent the virus from establishing a permanent infection. It is not 100 percent effective, although it does reduce the risk of infection by more than 90 percent among those who take it properly.

Furthermore, the CDC released a statement recently disclosing that, when HIV patients have viral detection low enough (of 200 copies/ml), the virus cannot be transmitted.

"Across three different studies, including thousands of couples and many thousand acts of sex without a condom or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)," the statement continues, "no HIV transmissions to an HIV-negative partner were observed when the HIV-positive person was virally suppressed. This means that people who take ART daily as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to an HIV-negative partner."

8. With the advances in treatment and prevention, HIV/AIDS doesn't generate the headlines it did a generation ago. An estimated 37,600 Americans became infected in 2014, an 18 percent drop nationwide from 2008. Despite that improvement, two populations experience a greater burden of new HIV cases: African-Americans, who accounted for 45 percent of all new infections, and people in the southeastern U.S., who account for roughly half of new infections.

9. Taken together, the facts around HIV/AIDS means one of the most important factors in effective treatment and prevention of the disease is knowing your HIV status. That requires a test, and World AIDS Day is a good reminder to get one scheduled. Hospitals, community health clinics and many doctors offer HIV tests, or you can visit GetTested to find the closest site for free and confidential testing for HIV, syphilis and other diseases. Those without online access can text their ZIP code to KNOW IT (566948).

Tattooed seniors answer question: What happens when you're older?

People often wonder before sitting down to get a tattoo what it will look like down the road.  

>> MORE PHOTOS: Incredible seniors who prove that age is just a number

Below are photos collected from social media of seniors who wear their tattoos with pride:


<iframe src="//" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe><script src="//"></script>[View the story "Senior citizens show off their body art" on Storify]


WHAT is Movember?

Movember is a movement committed to changing the face of men’s health by challenging men to grow moustaches during Movember (the month formerly known as November) to spark conversation and raise funds for prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.

Donate Now


Movember started in Melbourne, Australia in 2003. It is now seen around the globe every November 1st – 30th, with campaigns in 21 countries.


To create conversations about men’s health and to find breakthrough solutions that produce tangible improvements in the lives of those dealing with prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.


Men (also known as Mo Bros) sign up online. Start clean-shaven on November 1st then donate their face for 30 days by growing and grooming the best moustache they can muster, raising funds and awareness along the way.

Women, (also known as Mo Sistas) play a key supporting role by signing up as team captains, recruiting Mo Bros, helping to raise funds, and also encouraging the men in their life to action when it comes to their health.


Funds raised are committed to combatting prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems and have supported over 800 men’s health programs to date.

Specifically:Prostate Cancer - Men living with and beyond prostate cancer have the treatment and care needed to be physically and mentally well.

Testicular Cancer - Men living with and beyond testicular cancer have the treatment and care needed to be physically and mentally well.

Mental Health – Men are mentally healthy and take action to remain so. Those who experience mental health problems take action early and live lives free of stigma and discrimination. 


About The Movember Foundation

The Movember Foundation is the leading global organization committed to changing the face of men’s health.   The Movember community has raised $559 million to date and funded over 800 programs in 21 countries. This work is saving and improving the lives of men affected by prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.   The Movember Foundation challenges men to grow moustaches during Movember (formerly known as November), to spark conversation and raise vital funds for its men’s health programs. To date, 4 million moustaches have been grown worldwide, but we won't stop growing as long as serious men’s health issues exist.

Donate Now

PSA: CATCH Healthy Habits

The Atlanta Regional Commission, Area Agency on Aging, CATCH Healthy Habits   Program brings adults age 50 + and children ages 5-10 together to learn about making healthy food choices and to enjoy fitness activities.

 Improve your health and the health of a child in your community!  CATCH Healthy Habits Program is seeking volunteers age 50+ for 8 week nutrition and fitness summer camp program.

 Volunteer training takes place on May 22 and May 23. Summer camp starts June 3, through July 31, 2013.

 Serve at YMCA's, recreation and community centers in Metro-Atlanta.

 To volunteer or receive more information, visit the CATCH Healthy Habits website, or contact Mary Newton at 404-463-3119 or


Chicks Fight Back KISS 2013


Get Ready To Defend Yourself! 

This event is designed to get you out of your chair and on your feet.  The 90 minute seminar is conducted by Chinese Shaolin Center Atlanta – that has a primary location in Marietta with satellite locations at Georgia Tech, Conyers, Dawsonville, Monroe, Norcross & Rome.  You will learn hands on training that can prevent you from being a victim. Chicks Fight Back was designed with women in mind and we invite you to bring your daughter, neighbors…and men, send your wives or girlfriends too.

Wear comfortable shoes and clothes because you will work hands-on with the Black Belt instructors from the Chinese Shaolin Center to practice what you’ve learned.

 Thursday April 18 // 7:00PM - 8:30PM

Renaissance Waverly Hotel at Cobb Galleria2450 Galleria Parkway - Atlanta, GA 30339 (Get Directions) FREE PARKING

Learn from:

The Masters at Chinese Shaolin Center

  • Awareness
  • Prevention
  • Risk Reduction
  • Risk Avoidance
  • Self-realization of your own power

See a short video introducing Chicks Fight Back,AAAAFIvhljk~,Nz7UFI321EYSAUsYGYx5WAk9m9XiXaY8&bctid=1593903210001

Hosted by: News/Talk WSB’s Belinda Skelton and KISS 104.1’s Art Terrell Sponsored by:

Take A Loved One to the Doctor Day

When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you feel like doing good. And we all know that when you know better, you do better. Join KISS 104.1 for  The Tom Joyner Take A Loved One To The Doctor Day ... September 29th -  in Riverdale at the City of Riverdale Town Center 7210 Church Street from 10am - 4pm. Free health screenings including: Diabetes Hearing Vision Blood Pressure Height and Weight Visit the KISS Kafe which will have: Healthy Cooking  Demonstrations Food Sampling Stop by and meet KISS 104’s Sasha the Diva who will be broadcasting from 12noon-4pm The Take A Loved One to the Doctor Day campaign is designed to: Reduce the health disparity between black America and the general population. Improve access to culturally relevant health care information. Better educate members of the African-American community regarding the benefits of prevention and treatment of serious diseases. Create accountability overall that engages listeners to take a more active role in encouraging loved ones to seek health care.

America's top 10 fattest and leanest cities

Are biodegradable heart stents safe?


 A stent that helps keep clogged heartarteries open, then resorbs, appears safe, according to a new study.

The study was small, with 50 patients. The follow-up lasted 10 years.

The results are called ''excellent'' by researcher Kunihiko Kosuga, MD, PhD, director of cardiology at Shiga Medical Center for Adults in Moriyama City, Japan.

One patient died of heart-related causes during the study follow-up. Rates of major complications, including heart attacks, were similar to those for metal stents in use now.

The research is published in the journal Circulation.

The biodegradable stents will eventually replace the current metal stents, Kosuga predicts. A U.S.-based expert says the study findings are positive. However, he doesn't expect the new stents to be on the market anytime soon. "The timeline for U.S. approval would be at least five or six years," says Kirk Garratt, MD, an interventional cardiologist and clinical director of interventional cardiovascular research at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

Other companies are already developing biodegradable stents.

Stents 101

More than a million procedures using heart stents are done annually in the U.S. To open the vessel, doctors perform angioplasty. They insert a balloon-tipped catheter into the artery. A stent is collapsed to a tiny diameter and put over the balloon.

When the catheter gets to the blockage, the balloon is inflated to open the vessel. The stent expands and locks into place. The scaffold it forms holds open the vessel.

Clots can form in the stent. Most metal stents are coated with drugs to reduce the risk of clots.

Patients are also typically put on aspirin and take a blood-thinning drug, such as clopidogrel (Plavix), for a time, then typically remain on aspirin for life.

Biodegradable Stents: Study Details

Kosuga's team followed 44 men and six women. The average age was 61. Together, they got 84 stents.

The new stent is made of a cornstarch-based material called poly-l-lactic acid. It completely resorbs in about three years, the researchers found.

The researchers looked for adverse events, such as clots within the stent area. They looked at re-narrowing of the vessels and deaths from heart disease and other causes.

Among the results:

  • The survival rate was 98% for heart-related death.
  • The survival rate was 87% for death from all causes.
  • Half the patients did not have a major cardiac complication.
  • Four patients had heart attacks.
  • One year after getting their stent, the affected blood vessel had re-narrowed in 16% of patients.
  • Two definite clots were found within the stents. One was related to a drug-coated stent implanted close to the biodegradable stent.

Keiji Igaki, PhD, invented and developed the new stent. He is a co-author on the study, but he had no input on the data analysis.

Biodegradable stents are already used in nine European Union countries and Turkey to treat peripheral artery disease. No countries yet have approved the resorbable stents developed by Igaki for heart arteries.

Biodegradable stents cost more, Kosuga tells WebMD. "The cost of manufacturing is about 10% higher than that of the metallic stent," he says.

Biodegradable Stents: Perspective

"These stents actually look safe," says Vincent Bufalino, MD, a spokesman for the American Heart Association and director of cardiology at Advocate Cardiovascular Institute in Chicago. The new report, he tells WebMD, ''gives us some comfort and a long view of these patients."

However, he says, the rate of re-narrowing found, 16%, is about twice that of metal drug-coated stents.

If the biodegradable stent becomes available, it could reduce the need for the blood-thinning drugs used now, Garratt says.

With the metal stents, "we think the blood clot risk falls off fairly steeply after two or three years. It's not clear if the risk ever goes to zero," Garratt says.

Garratt has served as speaker for Abbott Vascular and for Boston Scientific, which also makes heart stents.

SOURCES:Nishio, S. Circulation, April 16, 2012.Kunihiko Kosuga, MD, PhD, director of cardiology, Shiga Medical Center for Adults, Moriyama City, Japan.Kirk Garratt, MD, interventional cardiologist. clinical director of interventional cardiovascular research, and associate director, cath lab, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York.Vincent Bufalino, MD, spokesman, American Heart Association; director of cardiology, Advocate Cardiovascular Institute, Chicago.

© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


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