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Educational Information on Tuberculosis (TB),
Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD's),
Tobacco, and HIV/AIDS
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB most commonly affects the lungs but can also involve almost any organ of the body. A person can become infected when someone who is infected with TB coughs, sneezes, shouts, or spits. Tuberculosis is transmitted primarily from person to person by breathing infected air. Anyone can become infected with TB, but certain people are at higher risk: alcoholics and intravenous drug users, individuals who have a close relationship or proximity with high risk individuals, homeless or transient, persons who have been recently incarcerated, people with diabetes, certain cancers, and HIV infection. TB can be tested through a skin test and chest X-rays. Tuberculosis is treated with a combination of medications and usually lasts for many months and sometimes years. Untreated tuberculosis can be fatal. For more information, go to Medicinenet.org/tuberculosis.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
HIV is transmitted by sexual contact with an infected person when the mucous membrane lining the mouth, vagina, penis, or rectum is exposed to contaminated body fluids. HIV can also be transmitted by injection or infusion of contaminated blood, contact with an HIV contaminated needle or through transfer from an infected mother to a child before or during birth, or through the mother’s milk. When initially infected with HIV, many people have no noticeable symptoms however within a few weeks, fever, rashes, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue and various other symptoms may appear, generally lasting from a few days to 1-2 weeks. The advanced stage of HIV infection is called AIDS. Common symptoms are weight loss, fatigue, recurring fever, diarrhea, anemia, and thrush (a fungal infection of the mouth or vagina). If infection is diagnosed, blood tests should be done regularly. Treatment options of HIV/AIDS include antiretroviral drugs, which must be taken consistently for the rest of their lives. To prevent the transmission of HIV, abstinence, the use of a latex condom, avoidance of unsterilized needles, and/or wearing latex gloves when touching body fluids are recommended. For more information go to www.natip.org/index.html
Nicotine is a drug which is addicting and affects the chemistry of the brain, central nervous system and the mood and temperament of the nicotine user. There are over 4000 chemicals found in tobacco smoke including cyanide, formaldehyde, acetylene (the fuel used in welding torches), tar, ammonia and poisonous gases nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide. A low tar cigarette can be just as harmful as a high tar cigarette. Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death in our society. The amount of nicotine absorbed by smokeless tobacco is 2-3 times the amount delivered by one cigarette. Besides lung cancer, tobacco use also causes increased risk for numerous cancers, heart disease, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and strokes. For pregnant women, risks include spontaneous abortion, pre-term delivery and low birth weight. Nicotine replacement therapy, including nicotine patches, gum, lozenges and medications is often successful to quit the habit but should be used with a cessation program. You should check with your doctor first. For more information, go to QUITLINEIOWA.ORG.
Hepatitis C is a disease caused by a virus that infects the liver. In time, it can lead to permanent liver damage as well as cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure. Hepatitis C is spread by contact with an infected person’s blood. The use of unsanitary equipment when getting a tattoo or a piercing or sharing needles increases your risk of contracting the virus. Symptoms of hepatitis C include feeling tired, joint and belly pain, itchy skin, sore muscles, dark urine, and jaundice. Hepatitis C is diagnosed though blood tests. There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C but you can reduce your risk of becoming infected by not sharing needles to inject drugs and make sure the practitioner sterilizes the instruments and supplies if you get a tattoo, have your body pierced, or have acupuncture. If you have hepatitis C, you can help prevent spreading it to others by not sharing needles or other equipment such as cotton, spoons, and water. Keep cuts, scrapes, and blisters covered to prevent others from coming in contact with your blood and other body fluids. Do not donate blood or sperm. Wash your hands and any object that has come in contact with your blood thoroughly with water and soap, and do not share your toothbrush, razor, nail clippers, diabetes supplies, or anything else that might have your blood on it. For more information go to Webmd.com/hepatitis.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
A sexually transmitted disease is any disease transmitted by sexual contact; caused by microorganisms that survive on the skin or mucus membranes of the genital area; or transmitted via semen, vaginal secretions, or blood during intercourse. They include AIDS, Chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, syphilis, yeast infections, and some forms of hepatitis. Many STD’s have symptoms that look the same however each disease needs its own test and treatment. You can have more than one STD at a time and it is possible to catch the same infection over and over. Minors do not have to have their parent’s permission to be tested or treated. Latex condoms when used correctly can help prevent infection. One should not use Vaseline, baby oil or anything with oil in it because it can weaken the condom. Even if a woman is using the birth control pill, she and her partner must still use a condom to protect themselves from STD infections. For more information on sexually transmitted disease go to www.thebody.com