WHAT is genital herpes?

Genital Herpes is an infection caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV). Type 1 HSV causes oral herpes, involving the lips and mouth. Oral herpes could manifest as cold sores or fever blisters. Type 1 HSV can also cause genital herpes but most cases of genital herpes are caused by type 2 HSV.  Oral herpes, which is very common, and which could spread to just about anyone, does not have the negative sexual implication like genital herpes. There are many children with oral herpes.

How does the infection spread?

Kissing and oral sex transmit the type 1 virus. The type 2 virus is usually transmitted by vaginal and anal sex, and can be spread from one person’s genitals to another individual’s mouth, causing oral herpes. HSV-1 can likewise cause genital herpes. Since the virus can’ survive on non-living surface, one cannot get the infection from a toilet seat or hot tub, etc. The infection is not life-threatening but HSV infection makes it easier for HIV to enter the individual’s body and which could lead to AIDS.

Who gets infected?

In the United States, roughly about 20 percent of all people 12 and older have HSV-2 infection and 90 percent of these cases do no even know they have it. The infection is more common among women, because of the anatomy of their genitals. Twenty five percent of women have the infection compared to 20 percent of men. Multiple sex partners increase the risk of infection. As far as oral herpes is concerned, about 50 to 80 percent of adult Americans have oral herpes. About 30 to 50 percent of newly infected pregnant mothers transmit the HSV-2 to their newborns.

What are the signs of herpes?

The classical signs and symptoms are: cluster of small vesicles (fluid-filled) blisters that break, resulting in painful sores that heal and crust over a period of days. These lesions may be found on the vagina, penis, vulva, scrotum, urethra, anus, thigh and buttocks. Some of these sores may be mistaken for razor burns, or pimples, jock itch, ingrown hair, vaginal yeast infection, or bug bites. Many people with the infection do not have symptoms or sores. If they do, the symptoms disappear after the infection has set in but may recur from time to time. Some people may have only two “outbreaks” in their lifetime, unless re-infected with a new sexual contact.

How can one reduce the risk or prevent infection?

1. The use of condom or “dental dam” during sex is one way, so long as the “latex protective gear” covers the area which sheds the virus. Those with sores on the genitals should avoid sex, and those with oral sores should not have oral sex. Even if there are no symptoms, HSV-2 infection is very contagious.

2. Since those with a history of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are more likely to have genital herpes, ask your partner, as delicately and as sensitively as possible, if he/she has ever had STD. It can be an awkward situation but it is most important for the partners to be honest with one another.

3. Sexual history is important because those with multiple partners are more likely to have the infection, albeit without obvious sores or symptoms. Limiting the number of sexual partners is essential.

4. Do not have sex with a person who has sores on the genitals.

5. Abstain from receiving oral sex from someone with sores on the mouth.

6. Illicit drugs and/or alcohol impair judgment, so do not have sex while intoxicated.

7. To reduce STD sex therapists recommend mutual masturbation (avoiding genital-genital or oral-genital contact) for those who want a safer form of sexual intimacy, until the individual finds a life partner and live a clean, monogamous life.

A comedian once said, “The difference between love and herpes is that herpes is forever.” While we do not totally agree with his characterization of love, HSV infection is indeed a life-long condition that does not have a cure. It comes and goes. It is best to avoid HSV. But not LUV.

Slimming teas: A fraudulent claim

What are slimming teas?

Slimming teas was a term designed by unscrupulous manufacturers who claim that drinking them would lead to loss of weight.  These teas are marketed as a diet aid for weight control, victimizing the public, all in the name of profit.

How did this all start?

The same unsupported claims have been around for centuries, where herbal teas were described to have properties that cause loss of weight thru their effect on the metabolism, appetite, and by directly dissolving fats. Chinese, Mongolian and Italians have long believed herbal teas were effective for weight control. African herbal teas are advertised similarly, with the added claim that they reduce water retention and “cleanse the system of toxins.” Like some Chinese teas, these African teas have senna leaves in them, which have some purging effects. Those who also cut down on food (calories), while drinking tea, lose weight. It’s not the tea; it’s the calories.

Are these teas effective as a diet aid?

The claims that herbal teas or teas in general cause loss of weight, and therefore, effective as diet aids, are false. There is no scientific basis to show that these teas contain any ingredient that would significantly curve or suppress the appetite, or cause so much increase in metabolism to lead to weight loss. If one drinks teas only as a way to lose weight (without reducing the amount of food they eat), the only thing the person will lose is money, not weight. The pocket would be lighter.

However, if one drinks tea often daily, without sugar or cream in it, and drinks it as an alternative (as a substitute, NOT in addition) to high calorie snack, or, if one drinks tea for breakfast and lunch, instead of eating those meals (which some people do to control weight), obviously this will lead to less calorie intake and therefore cause weight loss. This same good effect could also be achieved by eating apples, or other fruits for breakfast, and raw vegetables for lunch, and have a moderate dinner. This is the healthier way to diet. To this, of course, one has to also do daily regimented exercise routine to be healthier.

So does drinking tea alone not control weight?

Most definitely, not. If you are overweight and continue to eat the same amount of calories, drinking teas, herbal or not, even a gallon a day, will not lead to weight loss.  In order to control weight properly and safely, the calories must be reduced and physical exercise (calorie loss) increased.

Does cutting down on rice lead to weight loss?

Yes, cutting down on carbohydrates, like rice, bread, cakes, ice cream, sweets can lead to weight loss fast, because these are sugars that have high glycemic index, and easily add pounds to the body. Totally eliminating rice 3 meals a day, for instance, will dramatically cause weight reduction, provided the rest of the (total) foods ingested daily do not exceed 1000 calories. Tough? Yes, but this is the safer and lesser expensive way to control weight and be healthier compared to spending your hard earned money for appetite suppressant drugs, or the so-called miracle diet pills or potions that are actually very dangerous. Eat proteins instead of carbs.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States. Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com

Dr. Philip S. Chua
Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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