Condom Homework Increases Compliance, Comfort and Consistency

condomsA new and successful strategy for combating the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV was revealed today at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in Boston.

The idea is based upon the decades old premise that practice makes perfect!.

In the study entitled “A novel, self-guided, home-based intervention to improve condom use among young men who have sex with men.  The men were given a “ditty bag” full of eight different types of condoms and five different types of  lubricants, taught how to apply the condoms correctly, and then assigned homework. The men were expected to try out at least six condoms solo, paying particular attention to their own pleasure and which condoms they liked best.

The purpose of this study was to test of feasibility and efficacy of this intervention and to promote positive condom attitudes and to reduce risk behaviors.

30 volunteer subjects were recruited from a Midwestern University and its surrounding community. A pre-test questionnaire was administered.  A post-test questionnaire was given at Day 15 and an additional follow-up questionnaire at Day 45.

condom-safe-sexIt’s such a simple idea, but nobody has every structured an approach like this,” said William L. Yarber, professor in the Indiana University School of Public-Health. “These are pilot studies. But even with small samples, the results are really good. Men become more motivated to use condoms; they use them more correctly and consistently. They also appreciate learning that there are different condoms available.”

A pilot study, published in the Journal of Men’s Health in 2011, focused on heterosexual men. The new study, focuses on young men who have sex with men, or MSM.  It will be published in the Journal of American College Health, MSM aged 18 – 29 are diagnosed with HIV more than any other group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, half of all new HIV infections in the U.S. are among MSM between the ages of 13 and 24 years. College-aged MSM are more likely than older MSM and men who only have sex with women to be infected with HIV.

This is an important group of men to reach,” says  Roberta Emetu, who coordinated the research project.  “The men who experienced this intervention became better in their condom use. They not only used them more often but used them correctly. We saw an increase in motivation to use them.”

condom_thumbs_upWhen pre-test and post-test responses were compared, significant post-intervention improvements were found for beliefs and application of condoms, self-efficacy, condom attitude, motivation to use condoms, and consistency of condom use for insertive penile-anal intercourse.

Yarber and his colleagues have documented for more than 10 years how merely wearing a condom is not enough to provide effective protection against STDs and unwanted pregnancies. Condoms need to be used correctly, yet fit-and-feel issues can result in erection difficulty, loss of sensation, removal of condoms before the intercourse episode ends, and other problems that can interfere with their correct use.

These findings suggest that this intervention could be applicable to college-aged MSM, and could be a great resource or model for other public health condom interventions.

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Sexy Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem that affects more than 1.7 million Americans each year.  It is the leading cause of death and disability in children and young adults worldwide and is responsible for more than 52,000 deaths, 275,000 hospitalizations, and 80,000 cases of long-term disability in the US alone.

Caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury, a TBI disrupts the normal function of the brain. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild” – a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe” – an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury.  Contrary to most media portrayals, the leading cause of TBI is not injuries sustained during war or football, but road traffic accidents.

Despite significant efforts over the past 20 years, there is still no approved treatment to reverse the damage caused by TBI. However, there is a growing body of research to suggest that the sex hormone progesterone may be a powerful neurosteroid that can protect against the effects of TBI.

Discovery of progesterone’s neuroprotective properties began with the observation of a gender difference in response to experimentally induced traumatic brain injury (TBI). After noting anecdotal reports that female rats recover better than male rats following TBI, researchers conducted studies which showed that the hormone might account for this discrepancy in outcomes.

And while progesterone initially may seem like an unusual choice as a neuroprotective therapeutic agent, there is abundant evidence suggesting that this is a normal role of this steroid hormone. In addition to its well-known effects on the reproductive system, progesterone is a potent neurosteroid.  Progesterone receptors are abundant and widely distributed in the central nervous system. Moreover, unlike other sex steroids, progesterone is not only synthesized in the gonads and adrenal glands, but also produced by glial cells in the brain and by Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system.

BHR Pharma, based in Herndon VA, has developed BHR-100, a novel intravenous formulation of progesterone for treating TBI.   The company’s Phase III multi-center SyNAPSe clinical trial is currently underway and has enrolled 500 of the 1,180 patients suffering from severe TBI needed.

BHR Pharma, is also studying BHR-310 (intranasal progesterone powder) a ready-for-use, nasal spray TBI treatment.  The compound is being developed so that it may be administered to wounded warriors at the site of injury, without the help of medically trained personnel. Studies of progesterone for TBI show that the earlier progesterone is given the better the chance to prevent further damage and improve recovery. A simple nasal spray device would therefore allow the progesterone to begin working before patients are admitted to a hospital.

The FDA has granted Orphan Drug designation to BHR-100 and the drug is on a Fast Track status designed to accelerate its potential approval.  SRxA’s Word on Health will continue to follow these developments and bring you news as it breaks.

Turning up the AC for the ACC (and the MRS)

While most of Washington, DC is still trying to figure out how to stay cool during this early summer heat-wave, your Word on Health bloggers are packing their bags and temporarily moving north. The reason?  Well, this week SRxA and two of our preferred partner organizations: TREAT Education and LifeSciencesPress are involved with major medical meetings in New York and Chicago. The Big Apple is the venue for the 2011 American Cough Conference (ACC)- the nation’s leading educational program for health care professionals involved in the management of patients with cough. The meeting will provide a state-of-the-art, academic update on cough,  which, you may be surprised to learn, is one the most common reasons patients worldwide seek medical attention.

The American Cough Conference will be chaired by one of SRxA’s Clinical Advisors – Peter Dicpinigaitis, MD. Dr. Dicpinigaitis is Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, and Founder/Director of the Montefiore Cough Center, one of the few specialty centers in the world exclusively committed to the evaluation and management of patients with chronic cough. He will be joined at the meeting by an extensive international faculty representing the Who’s Who of cough and approximately 150 attendees from around the world.

Meanwhile, in the Windy City, Dr. Judith Farrar, Editor-in-Chief of LifeSciencesPress, will act as Executive Director of the Midwest Reproductive Symposium (MRS). The MRS is an annual educational program, chaired by SRxA Advisor, Dr. Angeline Beltsos,  that discusses issues relevant to reproductive medicine.

Internationally recognized as a program of excellence, the MRS provides the most up-to-date information on clinical and research topics. Sessions and workshops during the 2-day program are designed for maximum interaction. A Reproductive Endocrinology Fellows Poster Session and a Nurse Practicum Day precede the meeting.

Word on Health will be at both meetings and will, of course, bring you exclusive coverage in the coming days. In the meantime if you’re a health professional and interested in attending it’s not too late to register.