Left : The SKYN® Ultra Lubricated is the first and only polyisoprene condom made with 40% more lubrication. The polyisoprene material provides a softer, more natural feel than latex and combines the strength of premium latex with the sensitivity of an ultra thin condom. Long-lasting, UltraSilky™ Lubricant enhances the experience. Right: If you ever wondered how condoms are tested or manufactured before hitting the shelves of your local supermarket or drug store?  You can view the video and find out.

by David Cohen

With a big increasing in Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's), and in syphilis cases that have been documented across the country among gay and bisexual men, you might be interested in finding out that men who have sex with men accounted for 63% of primary and secondary syphilis cases in the United States. Gay often are diagnosed with other bacterial STDs, including chlamydia and gonorrhea infections.

Gay and bisexual men can be infected with HPV (Human Papillomavirus), the most common STD in the USA, which cause genital and anal warts, and can lead to the development of anal and oral cancer. Gay men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than heterosexual men while HIV-positive men are even more likely to develop anal cancer.

For many years people didn't dare talking about sex or STD's as an on going conversations around the dinner table or among friends or family.  Talking about sex was a big tabu and not is a natural part of life,and not a comfortable subject to approach your friends with.

But with the liberation of 50 shades of gray, the approach to the “big talk” should be easier and less embarrassing today.  So how do we start a conversation, and should we wait and hope for the best when it happens?

The best advice is to make sex an ongoing conversation with everyone, especially with youngsters. This is one “mystery” we don’t want to solve alone. Here are some facts, figures, and few simple guidelines to help all of us get through with it.

  1. Everyone must be able to talk, and more importantly to listen! We must keep the channels of communication open and try to be understanding. This will make this confusing situation easier on all of us.
  2. Many people will never ask any question about sex, so it’s important to encourage the conversation and talk about the values of sex, and  about the outside influences which make things go way easier.
  3. By sharing our own feelings and values, we can make people to think, and then to open up  to share their feelings …while we  give them an open ear and listen closely.
  4. We should balance our approach with positive information. Talk about sex in a natural and healthy way, and make sure to address the value of good sex as the core to any loving relationships and intimacy, and how wonderful it can be in anyone's life.

Now that all of that is behind us, how do we talk or bring the use of protection into the conversation?

The best way is to talk about  the facts – and nothing but the facts. So here are some facts that might be of help to all.

  • According to the World Health Organization, there is no evidence that sex education encourages sexual experimentation or increased activity. On the contrary … if any effects of sex education were observed, almost without exception, it is the postponement of sexual intercourse and/or effective use of contraceptives.
  • When used consistently and correctly, a latex condom is the most effective barrier contraceptive available today. However, condom failure is often due to improper use. To help solve this problem, LifeStyles has introduced the new SKYN Condom with unique packaging that ensures proper use, for an easy-on correct fit.
  • The fact is, sex education provides everyone with correct information so they can make informed decisions. And, while abstinence is a sure way to prevent STDs, LifeStyles Brand SKYN latex condom is the best protection when having sex

More facts on STD's and STI's
  • One out of 4 women and one out of 5 men have no knowledge about their sexual partners’ history.
  • Two-thirds of 1,000 women age 18 to 60 knew nothing or very little about STIs (other than HIV/AIDS) in 1995.
  • The highest at-risk groups are adolescents, gays, African American and Hispanic women.
  • There are over 15,000,000 new cases of STI's a year.
  • Over 70,000 Americans have a viral STI–like genital herpes, HIV/AIDS, or Hepatitis B.
  • Individuals under 25 have two-thirds of the STI cases in the U.S.
  • 1 out of 4 teens will contract an STI.
    Rates of curable STI cases in the U.S. are the highest in the developed world.
  • There are 150 STI cases per 100,000 in the U.S. versus 3 cases per 100,000 in Sweden.
  • Over 70,000 Americans have viral STI–like genital herpes, HIV/AIDS, or hepatitis B.
  • Viral STIs such as HPV, herpes, and hepatitis B are lifelong infections.
  • Many people experience no noticeable symptoms initially, but can still pass on the infection.
  • Women are up to 5 times more likely to become infected and suffer more serious consequences.
    Over 20,000 new cases of HIV/AIDS are diagnosed each year in the U.S.
  • 62% of those cases reported before 1996 have died (319,000 Americans).
  • Women now represent 30% of new HIV/AIDS cases reported.
  • 75% of the cases are from heterosexual sex.
  • 3 out of 5 Americans with HIV were infected as teens.
  • HIV infection rates are 10 times higher when STIs are not treated properly.
    Sexual habits reinforce the need to use condoms.
  • Age of sexual maturity is decreasing; age of marriage is increasing.
  • More sex, more partners, more risk.
  • 46% of teens (14-18) have had intercourse.
  • 50% breakup rate means reentering the dating scene to deal with new health challenges

For more information visit  www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/STD.htm and www.lifestyles.com/pledge.php



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