ifIknew

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: FAQ

Q&A: "It seems like everybody but me is having sex and I am getting a lot of pressure to do it, too."

There are many people who feel like you do – that everyone else is doing it but not them. Married people think that singles are doing it more while singles think that married couples are. And in college it must be that simply everyone must be doing it all the time because everyone knows…. Go Ask Alice, an online health information service from Columbia University, cited a recent study on a number of American campuses that “80% of students had zero or 1 sexual partner the preceding year.”  Furthermore, “students in this study perceived their fellow students were more sexually active than they actually were. In fact, 59% of students reported having no sexual activity within the past 30 days.”  This relied on the respondents to define for themselves what “sexually active” was.

If you are considering having sex with someone, check out our video to keep yourself physically protected from HIV.

Q & A: “Why do people even do drugs or drink at all?”

That’s a great question!  A few reasons: wanting to blow off steam, a way to have fun, wanting to fit in, low self-esteem, boredom, and trying to run from feelings. People want to be accepted – but by whom?  People from high school whom you may never see again after graduation?  (Click here to see what was going on in high school for one our speakers, Francine, when she started using drugs to feel better about her social situation at school. Why fit in when you were born to stand out?  On one level, people are people.  We all go to the bathroom.  We all put on our pants one leg at a time.  We tend to get in trouble when we think we are better or less than others.

How can we tackle fitting in, boredom, self-esteem and feelings?  There are three things we need to help us, according to bloggers from the Search Institute:  We all need a mentor, a passion, and a voice. Mentors, or allies, are people who are good listeners.  They can see situations as they are a little more clearly than we can.  They will also like us enough to tell us the truth if we get off center.

If you don’t want to be bored, find something that you love to do (your passion).  It could be computers, fantasy games, art, music, sports, dancing, or writing, to name a few.  When you do what you love, you’ll find people that you like and who share similar interests – and you’ll fit in!

Finally, take your passion and share it with the world.  We all need to have our voice heard.  Let’s say your passion is the guitar.  You can join a band, play at a senior center, or post on YouTube.

Another good tip is to have a goal in mind.  What do you want to be when you grow up?  How will your choice to do alcohol or drugs affect that goal?

To help you with your decision not to get chemically high, but to be in social situations where others are, here are some tips.  Rehearse what you will say before you go to a party where there might be drinking (or drugs).   Just saying “No, thanks. I’m good,” should be enough.   You could also try blaming your parents - “They’d kill me if they found out” or an upcoming ‘drug test’.  Remember, it is a free country to choose to leave or to stay and stay straight and not have to do what everyone else might be doing around you.  For more tips on staying ‘above the influence’, click here.

Q and A: When and how do I bring up the idea that we should both get tested for STD’s?

When and how do I bring up the idea that we should both get tested for STD’s and share the information with each other when we are starting a relationship? The beginning of a relationship is the best time to get to know someone before you decide whether or not you want to have sex with him or her.  We all show up in relationships with our “game face” - meaning that we don’t let the other person see all of our goofy traits and habits in the beginning.  If you wait and get to know the person, you’ll see who he or she really is.  Then you can decide from there if you want to have sex.

Sex is a very grown up activity with very grown up consequences.  We feel very strongly that if you can’t have an open and honest conversation with your partner, then you probably shouldn’t have sex in the first place.  If you wait and get to know the person, and that person is trustworthy, then you’ll hopefully know what he or she has been up to for the past few months.

Testing should be brought up during the first conversation about sex.  It’s a serious topic but it’s also okay to keep the conversation casual.  “I read so much in health class about STD’s that I think we should get tested before we go any further.”  If the person respects you, then he or she will go along.  Some people may be defensive about getting tested.  How will you handle it if he/she refuses to get tested?  That would send up a warning signal in my head.  If your partner is not willing to protect you, is that really the person you want to give your body to?

Some STD tests are fairly immediate such as Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Herpes.  However, the HIV test is not.  It tests for antibodies that fight the HIV virus, which can take a few months to show up.  So, the test results that you get from an HIV test show what the person was doing 2-3 months before the test, not last week or last night.  A person can contract and spread HIV within 24 hours.  Click here for testing sites.

Once you do get tested, you still should use a condom.  If you have sex with someone unprotected, you‘re sharing the germs of every person that person has had sex with unprotected.

Finally, before you have sex, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I want to have sex?
  • Whose idea is it to have sex?  Do I feel pressured?
  • Do I think that he/she will leave if I don’t have sex?  What if I have sex and the person still leaves?
  • Do I know this person well enough to trust him or her?
  • What are some possible consequences to having sex?  Am I ready to deal with them?

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.

Consequences

  • 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:

http://www.avert.org/ready-sex.htm

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.