home
RSS
March 5th, 2010
03:19 PM ET

"i know" about HIV

By Caitlin Hagan
CNN Medical Associate Producer

With social media you can invite friends to your birthday party, keep up with your favorite celebs, and figure out whom you're hanging out with tonight, all at the same time. But did you ever think you also could use social media to stay healthy and even HIV-free?

Now you can. "i know" is a new campaign just launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its goal is to create an open, frank conversation about the dangers of HIV, especially among African-African young adults. According to the most recent census data, nearly half of all new HIV infections contracted each year occur in African-Americans, with more than a third of those happening in teenagers as young as 13 to adults as old as 29.

"There is a sense of urgency that we have got to work with young people to bring this HIV epidemic to an end," says Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC's National Center of HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.

And yet despite those statistics, HIV remains an undertalked about subject within the African-American community, in part because of a fear of disclosing promiscuous behavior or sexual orientation, says the CDC.

That’s something they hope their "i know" campaign will change. Jamie Foxx and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges have joined the campaign and a Web site, a Facebook page and a Twitter feed have been set up to help foster conversation.

"We can break the silence," says Foxx in a new "i know" public service announcement. "Talk about using condoms. Talk about getting tested."

In a sense, the campaign is racing against time. Not only do more African-American youth contract HIV than their White or Hispanic peers, they tend to be the most unaware of their HIV status. The CDC says the rate of undiagnosed HIV infection among blacks is nine times higher than among whites of the same age. As a result, many black young adults learn they're HIV positive well after they've been infected, when it may be too late to treated effectively. That delayed diagnosis has serious consequences: 20 percent of HIV positive black youth see their disease progress to AIDS within a year of their diagnosis compared with 14 percent of their White peers.

"The impact among young African-American adults has been devastating," says Foxx. "We need to do something, all of us, especially young people."

But although young African-American men have the highest rate of HIV infection among any other race or ethnicity, and young African-American women have higher infection rates than young women of other races, concerns about HIV within the African-American community have been declining. A Kaiser Family Foundation study from last year found that from 1997 to 2009, the number of young African-Americans who said they were "very concerned" about contracting HIV decreased 14 percent. Yet, according to the CDC, 63 percent of the youth who died from AIDS in 2006 were African-American.

"This is part of a wider trend," explains Fenton. "We have more effective treatments for HIV now...so the face of AIDS is no longer the death and desolation it was in the ‘80s."

"People feel like this is no longer a threat but the reality is, we're seeing higher and higher rates of HIV, particularly among the African-American community."

To become a part of the "i know" campaign, check out the Web site website [www.actagainstaids.org],  Facebook page [www.facebook.com/iknow],  Twitter feed [twitter.com/iknow_talkhiv] or sign up for regular text messaging from the campaign.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


March 5th, 2010
11:27 AM ET

Unhappy? Maybe it’s too much small talk

By Elizabeth Landau
CNNHealth.com Writer-Producer

Small talk is part of everyday life, but it’s the substantial, meaningful conversations that may make you happy. That’s one possibility suggested in a new study examining how conversation connects to happiness.

Researchers, led by Matthias Mehl at the University of Arizona, looked at the different types of conversation that happy and unhappy people participate in. The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, was somewhat small, involving 79 undergraduates, but meshes well with established ideas that happiness and social life are intertwined.

Experts found that the happiest people in the study engaged in only one-third as much small talk as the unhappiest participants. Happy people tended to have twice as many substantive conversations, and spent 25 percent less time alone, than the unhappiest participants.

These insights fit with what psychologists have seen previously: that loneliness predicts depression, and that feelings of social connectedness are important for happiness, said Susan Turk Charles, psychologist at the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in the study.

Substantive conversations create a feeling of belonging that leads to happiness, she said. Conversely, people who suffer from depression tend to withdraw from others.

The method that the researchers used was creative, Charles said. Instead of bringing people into a lab, as traditionally done in these sorts of studies, they had participants wear a recording device for four days, picking up conversations that they had.

The Electronically Activated Recorder sampled 30 seconds of sound every 12.5 minutes, giving researchers a broad range of conversations to examine in terms of “small talk” vs. “deep conversation.”

The bottom line is that maintaining friendships can help with emotional well-being. Friends buffer negative events and provide support, Charles said. Don’t be too busy to have a meaningful conversation, she said.

“It really is important in your life. It should be something that you prioritize just as much as you prioritize, maybe, working on your career or getting that project finished,” she said.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

Advertisement
Advertisement