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 Tag: FAQ

Q & A: I want to get my tongue pierced! Are there any negative side effects that I should be aware of?

The tongue is almost constantly in motion, and it is located in the mouth, which is a hotbed of bacteria. These two environmental factors sometimes jeopardize healthy healing. Fortunately, there are ways to greatly reduce the risk of infection. Check out the piercing studio before getting pierced. Studios which are members of the Association of Professional Piercers are held to very high standards of cleanliness, whereas many body art studios are often unregulated.  Check that they have an autoclave and ultrasonic cleanser for sterilizing instruments and that the piercer is skilled and experienced at this craft. Also, avoid going to a shop that uses piercing guns, which are much more difficult to clean and inflict greater tissue damage!

After you get pierced, you will probably be advised to avoid playing with the piercing, to wash your hands before touching it, to rinse your mouth a couple of times a day with diluted mouthwash or sea salt water for one minute, and most importantly, avoid oral sex (think HIV prevention) and open mouth kissing until the area has fully recovered.

FAQ: How do I know if I have a drinking problem?

Maybe friends or family members have told you they’re concerned. Or maybe you've recognized that your drinking might be a problem. If you are concerned, read the following statements and keep track of how many times they sometimes apply to you. Drinking Patterns

  • You sometimes intend to "just have a drink" but end up drinking more then you planned.
  • It is difficult for you to stop drinking after you've had one or two drinks.
  • When you drink, you frequently wind up drunk.
  • Even after your friends say they've had enough alcohol, you want to continue drinking.
  • You turn to certain “drinking buddies” or to a specific environment when you drink.
  • You crave a drink at a specific time every day, like after class or after work.
  • When you’re out with friends, you sneak a few drinks without their knowledge.
  • A significant part of your day is spent obtaining, consuming, or recovering from the effects of alcohol.
  • You sometimes have a drink to help you fall asleep.
  • You sometimes stay drunk for several days at a time.

After Drinking

  • The day after drinking, you have trouble remembering what you did the night before.
  • You sometimes feel guilty about your drinking.
  • Most of the time, you have a hangover or headache after you've been drinking.
  • When you’re sober, you often regret things you said or did while you were drinking.
  • After drinking, you have experienced severe anxiety, shaking, or visual or auditory hallucinations.


  • Drinking has caused you to be late for class or work.
  • Your performance at school or work has suffered because of your drinking.
  • You have gotten into an argument or a fistfight while you were drinking.
  • You found yourself arguing with someone you like for no really good reason.
  • Your drinking has led to financial problems.
  • You have neglected your classes, job, family or other obligations for two or more days in a row because you were drinking.
  • You have been arrested for intoxicated behavior or driving under the influence of alcohol.

Drinking and Emotions

  • When you’re in a social situation and no alcohol is provided, you feel "out of place."
  • You use alcohol as an escape when you’re angry, disappointed, or otherwise upset.
  • Your personality is altered when you consume alcohol.

Family and Friends

  • Your family or friends have expressed concern about your drinking.
  • You get irritated when your family or friends want to discuss your drinking.
  • You have lost a friend or created a rift with a family member based on their feelings about your drinking.

You've tried to change

  • You've promised yourself to slow down or stop drinking, but you can only keep the promise for a few days or weeks at a time.
  • You have tried switching from one kind of alcohol to another in an effort to cut down or remain in control of your drinking, or to try to avoid getting drunk.

If 4 or more of these statements apply to you, you may have a problem with alcohol or have the potential to develop one. Examine your habits honestly. Patterns of heavy drinking can lead to a more serious problem down the road. You can reduce your drinking with some of the ideas listed below.

If 5 or more of these statements apply to you, there’s a strong chance that you frequently misuse and abuse alcohol. Now is the time for you to change your drinking patterns and behaviors. Because of the brain development occurring in teenagers and young adults, you could be at high risk for having these habits develop into set patterns.

Visit our “Get Help” tab for resources.

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.

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.