ifIknew is a health initiative for young adults that uses a multi media approach, including social media and in person programs, to address the contemporary issues that impact the well-being, self-image, careers, and relationships of people in their 20's and 30's.

If I Knew is a prevention education project that raises awareness about risky behaviors that can profoundly impact lives.

Filtering by Category: Issues

FAQ: How do I know if I’m ready to have sex?

Only you can decide when you’re ready to have sex for the first time. Though peers or pop culture may tell you that it’s no big deal, sex can come with major physical and emotional consequences. This is why you’ll often hear, “Don’t have sex until you’re ready.” But what does this really mean? How can you tell if you’re ready or not?

Here’s a list of 10 important questions to ask yourself if/when you’re considering sex:


All in all, if you aren't sure whether you're ready for sex, then you're probably not. Even if you’ve had sex before, it doesn’t mean you have to keep having it either. The decision to have sex should never be based on fear or pressure. There are many other ways of sharing and showing feelings for another person if you decide to wait.

FAQ: What do I do if a friend is sick from drinking?

At a recent after-prom party in Dallas, an 18-year-old died from apparent alcohol poisoning. This type of tragedy is entirely too common. It’s important to think ahead about what you might do if a friend (or even a stranger) gets so drunk that you need to make the decision to call for help. Know the warning signs that someone is at risk and needs serious medical attention beyond having someone “hold their hair back.” These are the general guidelines offered by health professionals. Firstly, make sure the person doesn’t drink any more alcohol, and try to prevent him or her from wandering off alone. Impaired judgment can lead someone to get hurt, engage in risky sexual or violent behavior, or just plain embarrass him or herself-- with permanent documentation thanks to camera phones and Facebook. Also, make sure he or she does not get behind the wheel of a car!

A person doesn’t necessarily need to be throwing up or passed out to need medical attention. Worrisome signs to look out for include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Stumbling while walking or trouble maintaining balance without help
  • Trouble making eye contact
  • Feeling excessively cold or warm
  • Shortness of breath
  • Erratic, withdrawn, or aggressive behavior
  • Queasiness, vomiting, or dry heaving
  • Unconsciousness

If a drunk person throws up, it often means that the stomach is too irritated for food and water. If the person is willing to drink water, it can help him or her stay hydrated. However, remember that this doesn’t help make a person sober more quickly (neither will coffee, eating food, or taking a cold shower). Only time will allow alcohol to work its way out of the body. Once a person is already intoxicated, food may actually make him or her feel sicker or cause choking.

If your friend wants to lie down, make sure he or she is lying on his side or stomach. If someone vomits while on his or her back, it can cause choking and death. It’s important for a responsible (preferably sober) person to stay awake and watch the individual for several hours, making sure he doesn’t roll on his back and occasionally checking that the person is conscious. Someone who is unconscious will not respond to gentle shaking or being spoken to, and may have shallow, slow breathing.

If there are signs that someone is having trouble breathing, is severely ill, has mixed alcohol with other drugs (including prescriptions), or is unconscious, call for an ambulance as quickly as possible. Alcohol poisoning is a real possibility and time is of the essence. If you are unsure, always err on the side of caution. Many university campuses have their own emergency medical services that you can call, but otherwise, call 9-1-1.

Remember, it is dangerous to leave drunk friends to fend for themselves or ignore warning signs. Even if you’re afraid of getting into trouble, your safety (and that of your friends) should be the first priority.

One key strategy for safety is to make sure there’s at least one person in your group who is completely sober who can make decisions in case someone gets dangerously drunk. Drinking impairs judgment, and so if you have been drinking too, alcohol might cloud your ability to make the right call.

If you have a friend who is repeatedly drinking to the point of being unable to care for him or herself, perhaps it’s time for a new approach. Do you like spending weekends cleaning up vomit, trying to stop bad behavior, and worrying for others’ safety? You may want to bring it up with your friend, privately at a time when he or she is sober. Tell your friend how you feel about this behavior. Convey concern, but try not to preach. Offer your support, and encourage the friend to get help.

For more tips on talking with a friend about his or her drinking, click here.

For general information about alcohol, click here.

FAQ: How did AIDS really start?

Scientists still are not exactly sure how AIDS began to infect humans.  Most researchers say that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is related to a similar immunodeficiency virus found in monkeys.  There are many different theories about how the virus might have transferred from monkeys to humans (if you're interested in specifics of the origins of HIV, read here).

The first recognized cases of AIDS were diagnosed in the early 1980s among gay men in New York and California and later in injection drug users.  By 1983, infections were reported in American women and children.  It wasn't until the next year that scientists discovered that HIV causes AIDS.  By 1990, about 8 million people were infected.

In the last two decades, scientists have discovered that different drugs can slow down the progression of the disease.  These drugs can be very expensive and patients in poor areas of the world often do not have access to them, but they enable some HIV positive people to live longer today than ever before.  The United Nations estimated that there were 33.3 million people are infected worldwide in 2009.

Still, there is no cure or vaccine, so prevention is the key.  HIV can be spread through sexual transmission, through blood, and from mother to child.  In each case, there are ways to prevent or eliminate HIV risk.  For more on prevention, link to our prevention article.

If you're interested in more, check out this AIDS Timeline link.  For more on prevention, click here.

Sleeping Smart

Next weekend, Daylight Savings Time will steal an hour of sleep from most of us. So Monday is perfect timing for National Sleep Awareness Week. Sleep shortage is both common and unhealthy.  In a recent survey, the Centers For Disease Control found that almost 5 percent of people were so tired they had dozed off behind the wheel in the last month. For adults, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Kids need more (10-11 hours). Some of the top tips for getting enough sleep are:

  • Establish a regular bed and wake time
  • Establish a consistent, relaxing bedtime routine that doesn’t include starting at bright TV or computer screens.
  • Create a dark, quiet, comfortable environment for sleeping
  • Avoid nicotine altogether and avoid caffeine close to bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol. It may help you fall asleep, but it tends to disrupt sleep during the night.
  • Exercise regularly (but not within 3 hours of bedtime)
  • If you think you need a sleep aid (prescription or over-the-counter), discuss it first with a healthcare professional.

For more information about getting the Z’s you need, visit the National Sleep Foundation website.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Well, to start, a live woman's hips are generally wider than her head. Obviously, this picture is the result of some serious Photoshopping.

This photo appeared in a Ralph Lauren advertisement in 2009.  The picture was so shocking that it started discussions about whether digitally altered fashion photos harm women by promoting standards of beauty that are simply unattainable by natural, non-computerized means.

Some governments have discussed banning digitally altered images or requiring the addition of warning labels, much like the government requires for cigarettes or alcohol.  Some people argue that fashion photography is not supposed to show us something attainable.

What do you think?  Are these images dangerous?  Do they contribute to body image or eating disorders, or do they play upon ideas we already have?  Can or should they be regulated, or is it our own responsibility to be able to detect what's real and what's robot?

Sound off in our comments section!

FAQ: Where Can I Get Tested for HIV?

Thankfully there are so many places now to get tested and advised about what to do if you test HIV positive. Most doctors’ offices (or clinics and GYN’s) simply and routinely offer testing as they do for any number of medical conditions. There also specific clinics that will do confidential testing free of charge or for a minimal fee.  Click on this link to find one close to you. Go get tested if you have any doubts. And go again in 6 months to make sure. Better to know and deal with it early, then worry yourself needlessly and perhaps get sick, hurting yourself and others.