By Bruce J. Little
Having low self-confidence is a major obstacle in life. So, when you don’t believe in yourself, then it’s harder for others to believe in you. Sometimes you’ve got to be your own unicorn cheerleader!
Going for a job interview? If you are not confident that you’ll be able to do a good job, it can affect your chances of getting the gig. Want to ask that sexy guy out on a date? If you don’t believe that you’re good enough for him, then he probably won’t think so either. Here are some tips on how to boost yourself healthily to get closer to being able to get the things that you want in life:
- Avoid negative and critical people. It can be funny to listen to guys throwing shade (being critical) about others, but it’s only a matter of time before they throw that shade at you and that can be like being crushed under a gazebo gurl! Surround yourself with people that build you up and not people that break you or other people down. That negative energy can kill your self-esteem. Detox your crew. Anyway, crumpled bitchface causes wrinkles.
- Don’t diss others either. Don’t waste your time criticizing or talking crap about others; it just smears you with the same stinky brush (even if it is true). If you focus on negative things, then you will get more negative things. Focus on positive things and positive people, and then that’s what you’ll get more of. Encourage other, and they’ll encourage you. Bitchy guys are funny but nobody trusts them.
- Get fitter. You don’t need to have a gym contract. There’s loads of free info on the net on how you can do simple exercises in the comfort of your own home (Google callisthenics). It’ll make you feel better about yourself, and the regular rush of endorphins from the exercise is a natural high. It’s not about looking like a fitness model, but about loving yourself enough to take care of your body.
By Justice Edwin Cameron, Constitutional Court
This year we mark the world’s thirtieth World AIDS Day. From 1 December 1988, every year, the world has observed a special day for this terrible, potentially deadly, deeply stigmatised disease that afflicts some 40 million people across the world, mainly on our continent, Africa.
World AIDS Day 1988 was marked in deepest gloom. Just two years before, I had, myself, been diagnosed with HIV. It was a ghastly shock. There was no cure and no treatment. AIDS was invariably fatal. I would not live till 40; not live to see a democratic, non-racial South Africa; never find love; not live to fulfil my ambition of becoming a judge under a just constitution.
Then came hope. By the ninth World AIDS Day, in 1996, there was treatment. Fantastically expensive, but effective. A combination of three or more anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs had been shown to stop the deadly virus in its tracks. Many at death’s door turned back to face into the light and sunshine of health and vigour and replenished energy.
I benefited. Eleven years after diagnosis I fell terribly ill with AIDS. This was 1997. I was able to start taking ARVs. Their effect felt miraculous. Within two weeks, I knew that my life had been given back to me. I would live. I would work. I would be able to enjoy every capacity of life that had seemed denied to me.
But there was a huge problem. Africans – poor Africans – poor black Africans – poor black heterosexual Africans – were excluded from this joy. The drugs were unaffordably expensive. Not because of production costs. No – they were expensive because the big pharma companies that owned the patents were determined to make billions from them.
To confront this moral outrage, Zackie Achmat started the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in 1988. The TAC won that war. Within four years, the drug companies slashed prices radically so that poor people everywhere facing death from AIDS could benefit from treatment.
But a worse nightmare awaited. President Mbeki’s AIDS denialism. What was behind it? Intense shame. Shame that the only mass heterosexual epidemic of HIV was on the world’s only black continent – Africa. President Mbeki refused to accept that HIV was a sexually transmitted virus. Worse, he refused to accept that ARVs were the way to beat this virus.
Horrified by this lapse into stigmatised unreason, I joined the TAC’s brave fight for treatment access and against the President’s deadly denialism.
That battle, too, the TAC won. It fought for and gained perhaps the most important court victory in our 23 years of democracy. The Constitutional Court, before I joined it, ordered President Mbeki to start making ARVs available.
It was a stunning victory. Reluctantly, foot-draggingly, President Mbeki’s government carried out the Court’s order – but it did so.
Today, South Africa has the world’s biggest publically-provided ARV treatment programme. Very nearly four million of us owe our lives to a simple, daily dose of ARV tablets with relatively few and rare side-effects.
Depression is the most common psychiatric illness worldwide, with the average person having a lifetime risk of about 10% of having a depressive episode (1). It is also one of the most underdiagnosed psychiatric conditions, especially in men.
However, research has shown that people with HIV have a much higher risk of developing depression, about 2-3 times higher (2), with some studies showing rates higher than 50% (3), of people who have HIV also having depression.
So what does this mean for you? If you have HIV you stand a greater risk for developing depression due to a number of factors. However, depression is treatable, and so the sooner you recognise the symptoms, the sooner you can get help.
So what are the symptoms of depression? Depression is more than just a low mood, or feeling sad. It effects just about every aspect of our lives, and that’s why its so important to get treated if you do have depression. Below is a list of symptoms that may indicate depression. Some of these you may not have even noticed in yourself, but may have been pointed out by a friend or co-worker.
In light of the AIDS Impact Conference in Cape Town, BioSURE positions itself as the easiest and only regulated HIV Self-Test on the South African market.
Dr Michael Evangeli from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London, spoke at AIDS Impact, an international conference on HIV and AIDS, in Cape Town on 15th November. He presented several findings from a study into the pre- and post-test experiences of people who test HIV-positive from an HIV self-test.
The presentation at the meeting coincides with the launch of National HIV Testing Week, which Terrence Higgins Trust are marking by opening a pop-up self-test HIV shop in Hackney. Prince Harry is a passionate advocate for HIV testing and attended the opening of the pop-up shop and acted as shopkeeper, handing out BioSURE tests.
“So the instructions are idiot-proof, for people like myself?” asked Harry when presented with the BioSURE test. It’s well-recognised as the easiest self-test to perform.
Available legally in the UK since April 2014, HIV self-testing kits enable an HIV test to be performed by an individual without professional support, usually at home. Their availability may overcome some barriers to HIV testing such as inconvenience and concerns about confidentiality, helping to address the large numbers of people who are infected with HIV but don’t know they are.
“At BioSURE, we have used our innovative HIV Self-Test as a significant tool in normalising the conversation about HIV and testing generally. Self-testing allows people to take responsibility and ownership of their HIV status. We wouldn’t dream of telling people with whom, how or when they choose to have sex and yet, until now, they have been separated from knowing their own status by a healthcare professional. Self-testing is just another testing option for those it suits and BioSURE HIV Self-Test is simple, convenient and discreet,” explains Brigette Bard, BioSURE founder and CEO. “We passionately believe that self-testing can help to reduce HIV infection rates.”
Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, designed and delivered a pilot study between June and August 2016, providing free blood self-testing kits for target populations of men who have sex with men and Black African men and women. They used online advertising on Facebook, Twitter, dating apps and the THT website. The study whose findings are being presented in Cape Town, involved interviews with HIV-positive men who have sex with men.
Results from the interviews revealed that participants were positive about having tested at home and knowing their HIV status. They all reported previous negative experiences of testing in clinics in the past, for example, feeling judged. Participants experienced apprehension and anxiety about taking the test, even though all had been tested for HIV before.
All participants took the self-test alone, at home, although they would now give advice to others who thought they might be HIV-positive not to test alone. Participants reported attending a clinic for confirmatory testing within hours although some were frustrated that healthcare professionals did not know about self-testing.
Conclusions drawn from the evaluation at Royal Holloway show that there are real benefits to having the option to test at home but there’s a need for further education and training on self-testing for clinics and GPs.
By Bruce J. Little
Having shingles is no joke. It’s caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, and even if you’ve already had chickenpox, it doesn’t mean you’re safe from ever getting shingles.
Once you’ve had chickenpox the virus stays in your body forever and if you are elderly, your immune system becomes weak, or you get very stressed, the virus can get reactivated, which can cause a case of shingles. Luckily, it’s easy to treat, and you can get treated for shingles at a Health4Men Clinic near you, for free.
What is shingles? At first, it appears as a rash on an area of your skin. It can appear as a patch or a band around one section of your body, but it doesn’t appear all over the body as chickenpox does. It rarely crosses the mid-line of the body i.e. the blisters occur on one side or the other but not both The rash gradually becomes a series of red blisters and these eventually dry out and then flake off. Shingles can be very painful and can also be accompanied by itching, tingling, headaches and swollen glands under the arms and around the throat. Some people also develop sores on their genitals. You should go to your nearest doctor or clinic if you have any of these symptoms.
If you have a weak immune system or you are HIV-positive and are not receiving ARV treatment, you may be more vulnerable to reactivation of the chickenpox virus,which causes shingles.
You can get shingles if your immune system is weak and you are exposed to someone who has the chickenpox or shingles virus. When someone has a shingles skin rash, especially if blisters are present, then that person is very contagious to anyone who has never had shingles or chickenpox before. The fluid in the blisters contains a large amount of chickenpox virus which is transmittable.
Most cases of shingles go away by themselves after about three weeks, but pain medication and antiviral medication can help to speed up the healing process and make it a lot less painful. Proper treatment also lowers the risk of residual pain which sometimes occurs even after the rash has healed.
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