Thursday, April 24, 2008

Genital Herpes: Know the FACTS

By: Ordella Hawkins, MSN ARNP - UCF Health Center Women's Clinic Practitioner

Herpes Simplex: Getting the Facts
In the United States, approximately 60 million people are infected with genital herpes, 50 million with HSV-2 and 10 million with HSV-1. HSV-1 can also cause sores on the mouth or lips which are called cold sores or fever blisters, and is responsible for five to ten percent of genital herpes cases, most often as a result of oral-genital contact.

Genital Herpes Symptoms: More than Just Blisters
Genital herpes symptoms vary from person to person, although they usually include the formation of painful lesions, or ulcers. Even before the first lesion develops, people may experience itching or burning in the genital area, or pain in the legs or buttocks. Women may experience vaginal discharge. Abdominal pressure is also common. Other symptoms that occur during the first outbreak can include fever, headaches, painful urination, or swollen inguinal lymph nodes (those in the genital region). The initial outbreak is usually the most severe, with subsequent outbreaks being milder; in some cases blisters don't even form. The virus is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, and easily transmitted during sex. It causes blisters and sores on the genitals, around the anus and often down the buttocks and thighs. People often assume that herpes sores and blisters must be present for the disease to be transmitted. Unfortunately, this just isn't true: seventy percent of all infections occur during outbreaks without any visible symptoms. Even though symptoms are not visible, the virus is still present both on the skin and in bodily fluids.

How Infection Occurs
The herpes virus can pass through a break in your skin during vaginal, oral, or anal sex. It can enter the moist membranes of the penis, vagina, urinary opening, cervix, or anus.
Once the virus gets into your body, it infects healthy cells. Your body's natural defense system then begins to fight the virus. This causes sores, blisters, and swelling.
Besides the sex organs, genital herpes can affect the tongue, mouth, eyes, gums, lips, fingers, and other parts of the body. During oral sex, herpes can be passed from a cold sore around the mouth to a partner's genitals or vice versa. You even can infect yourself if you touch a sore and then rub or scratch another part of your body, especially your eyes.

Subsequent Outbreaks
After the initial infection, the virus goes into remission. It withdraws into nerve cells at the bottom of the spinal cord and lies dormant until the next outbreak. Most people experience three or four outbreaks of the virus every year. Outbreaks vary in severity—some lucky people have outbreaks so mild that they don't even notice any symptoms—and usually last a week.

Taking a Herpes Test
Herpes infections should be documented by blood testing or viral culture. A negative culture does not necessarily preclude infection. Type-specific and non-type specific antibodies to HSV develop during the first several weeks post-infection, and persist indefinitely. Antibodies are typically present in 50% of patients at 3 weeks, 70% of patients at 6 weeks and 95% of patients at 12-16 weeks.

Intercourse, Abstinence and Herpes Prevention
During an outbreak of genital herpes, the best way to avoid transmitting the disease is to abstain from sexual contact of any kind until the infection runs its course and the virus returns to a state of dormancy. All forms of sex, including oral sex, should be avoided until the lesions have shed their scabs and the skin beneath has completely healed. Limiting sexual partners also reduces the chance of transmission.

Herpes Prevention and Condoms
The correct and regular use of latex condoms can greatly reduce the risk of both transmitting and contracting HSV 2. A condom should always be worn during sex if either partner carries the virus, whether it appears to be active at that time or not. Although the use of latex condoms can reduce the risk of transmission, a condom will only protect against infections on the penis and vagina. No condom will prevent exposure to lesions on the thighs or buttocks, for instance.

Herpes Prescriptions: Episodic and Suppression Therapies
There is no cure for genital herpes, but there are treatments for its symptoms. Herpes prescriptions are used in two ways: as episodic treatments and for long-term suppression therapy. Episodic therapy treats individual outbreaks of HSV 1 & 2, decreasing the pain and duration of the viral outbreak, and significantly shortening healing time. Episodic therapy works best if medication is begun as early as possible during the outbreak.

Suppression therapy is helpful for individuals who experience frequent outbreaks. A smaller dose of medication is given than for episodic therapy, as the medication is taken over a longer period of time. This ensures that, should an outbreak occur, the medication is already present in the body. Suppression therapy has been proven to drastically reduce the frequency of outbreaks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Urinary Tract Infections

By: Kelly Roberts, MD - UCF Health Center Doctor

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) are one of the most common reasons that women come to the health center. It is estimated that 20% of women will have a urinary tract infection at some point in their lifetime. Many women have multiple urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria enters the bladder, which normally does not contain any bacteria. A UTI is considered “simple” if only the bladder is affected. On the other hand, if the infection spreads to the kidneys, a much more serious condition called pyelonephritis is present.

Symptoms of urinary tract infections include pain or burning on urination, frequent urination, feeling the need to get to the bathroom urgently, and blood in the urine. It is also common to feel bladder pressure or lower back pain. The diagnosis of a simple UTI can often be made based on your symptoms alone. If the diagnosis is unclear, however, your medical provider will often require a urine sample for testing. If a urine sample is needed, it is very important that you follow the collection instructions closely; otherwise, the test may be difficult to interpret. Proper collection involves wiping the opening to the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside world) with three separate cloths, allowing a few drops of urine to fall into the toilet, and then collecting the remainder of the urine.

The treatment for a simple Urinary Tract Infection is a course of antibiotics, typically 1 to 7 days in duration. The antibiotics (such as Ciprofloxacin and Bactrim), will kill off the bacteria in the bladder. Sometimes your medical provider may also prescribe a medication which does not cure the infection, but can quickly decrease the symptoms of the urinary tract infection. This medication may turn your urine orange or red. It should not be used longer than two days as you want to be certain that the antibiotics are working and that the symptoms have resolved with in two days.

Some individuals have frequent urinary tract infections. If you have UTIs occurring more than 4-6 times per year, I recommend at least one evaluation by an urologist (a specialist who works with the urinary tract system). If the urinary tract system is normal, preventative treatment with regular antibiotics can be considered.

It is very important to treat urinary tract infections quickly. If left untreated, a simple UTI may progress to a kidney infection (pyelonephritis). Signs of kidney infection include fever, vomiting, upper back pain, and malaise (generally feeling sick). If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see your medical provider promptly, as a kidney infection can be very serious and sometimes requires hospitalization.

Urinary tract infections occur when bacteria travel up the urethra to the bladder. Sexual intercourse may promote this migration. The frequency of UTIs can be decreased by frequently and completely emptying the bladder. Cranberry juice, if consumed on a regular basis, may also reduce your risk for recurrent UTIs.

For more information, check out this link:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

What Do I Need To Know About My Medications?

By: Ted Luna, PharmD - UCF Pharmacist

The National Council on Patient Information & Education (NCPIE) reports that up to 50% of all prescriptions fail to work because they are used improperly by patients. As a result, preventable medicine-related illnesses annually account for over $75 billion in doctor’s visits, unnecessary new prescriptions, increased emergency room visits and absences or loss of productivity at work.

When you receive a new prescription, the pharmacist is required by law to verbally counsel you about your prescription and also provide you with written information about the medication.

The pharmacist may provide you with information such as:

· The name and description of the drug
· Directions for taking your medications
· Duration of therapy
· Common adverse effect and drug interactions
· Proper storage of your medicine
· Action to take in case of a missed dose
· Any other special precautions/directions as deemed necessary in the pharmacist judgment.

Here at the Health Services Pharmacy, and at our new location Knight Aide Pharmacy (next to the UCF Arena), our pharmacists are committed to providing you the best customer service. We enjoy educating our patients about their prescriptions and we encourage their questions and comments. Whether it’s about prescription medications, over-the-counter products, dietary supplements or any other health care products, our pharmacists stand ready to assist you with product selection and to answer all of your questions.

Please come by one of our pharmacies and experience the Health Services Pharmacy & Knight Aide Pharmacy difference.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By: Charlotte Hewkin - UCF Victim Advocate

UCF Victim Services will host a movie night with a discussion panel at the Tower 1 building on April 15th, 2008, from 6 to 9 PM. The movie, “Raw Deal: A Question of Consent,” has received several awards, including an award from the Sundance Film Festival. If you ever had any doubts about consent, this is the movie to see.

UCF Victim Services Mission Statement:
To provide free confidential options, advocacy and education to all members of the UCF community who may be victims or survivors of crime, violence or abuse, on or off the UCF Campus.

Advocates are available 24/7 by calling 407.823.5555. Ask for an advocate and give only a first name and a safe contact number. You will be called back within a few minutes.

Our office is located in the University Tower Building, 12201 Research Parkway, Suite 450, Orlando, 32826. Website:

Getting help after a Sexual Assault:
Talk to someone -a family member, friend, advocate, counselor. Advocates may be contacted immediately after an assault.

Reporting to Law Enforcement: If the person decides to report, the following is a list of suggestions that may help the investigation:

  • Do not attempt to shower, bathe, douche, or clean the affected area(s) where the rape occurred, this will destroy valuable evidence.
  • Seek medical attention. This includes a rape examination (Rape Kit).
  • Regardless if the person changes their decision to prosecute, medical attention is still necessary.
  • A free rape exam is available to all victims of sexual assault even if you don't want to report to the police.
  • Remember, an Advocate is available to provide you with support and options 24/7.

Reducing the Risk for Rape:

  • Know your sexual limits and communicate them firmly and directly. If you say NO, say it like you mean it. Don’t give mixed messages. Back up your words with a firm tone of voice and clear body language. Passive body language CAN be misinterpreted. Don’t assume your partner will automatically know how you feel.
  • Don’t assume that a person wants to have sex just because they drink heavily, dress provocatively, show interest in dating you, or agree to go to your room.
  • Don’t assume that just because a person consents to kissing or other sexual contact they are willing to have sexual intercourse.
  • Don’t assume that just because someone has had sex with you in the past, they are willing to have sex again.
  • If you are raped, it is not your fault. The rapist is entirely and solely to blame. Remember that acquaintance rape is a crime. It is never acceptable to use coercion, threats, or force in sexual situations, no matter what the circumstances.