Students inquire after discharge, HIV test methods

Student Health Services

I am a male and I often experience what seems to be some type of "semen" discharge during a bowel movement. Does this sometimes happen normally or do I need to see a doctor?

The fluid you describe is probably prostatic fluid or fluid from the seminal vesicles in the area of the prostate. Bearing down to have a bowel movement could potentially cause a small amount of fluid. Also, the passage of a large bowel movement presses on the prostate gland and could result in a small discharge of prostatic fluid. If there are other symptoms such as pelvic pain and fever, this could signal a prostate infection.

Discharge out of the penis, burning with urination, and a history of unprotected intercourse are the signs of a urethral infection (tube from the bladder to the end of penis), which should be seen by a health care provider.

So . a small amount of discharge is probably not worrisome and a variant of normal. When associated with other symptoms (pain, fever) it should be checked out.

I hate water, milk and most fruit juices. In fact, I only drink cola and cocktails. Is this healthy?

No, this is not healthy. Caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics which cause you to pee out more than you've taken in. This can be hazardous in different ways. You can easily become volume depleted (dehydrated). Signs and symptoms are dizziness, fainting, headache, nausea and vomiting. When it is severe, it can lead to cardiac rhythm abnormalities.

The minimum recommendation is 64 ounces of water per day this means some type of non-caffeinated beverage. If you are ill, working out, or live in the desert your fluid needs are increased. You put yourself at risk for dehydration. Also, Arizona has a high rate of kidney stones, which can be complicated if people are not adequately hydrated. Have you tried Gatorade? I can't imagine someone "hating" water and it might be something you have to force yourself to do drink 64 ounces of water!

Men and women are also building bone stores, even in college years, and need 1,000-1,200 milligrams of calcium per day to pre

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vent osteoporosis later in life. It needs to come from some dietary source but not necessarily milk.

How reliable is the six-month window period between exposure to HIV and seroconversion? Why isn't the Western Blot or an actual culture of the HIV virus used routinely to test for HIV? Wouldn't these tests be more accurate and save more lives than the ELISA test, which has been known to give wrong results?

The estimated six-month window is approximately 99.5 percent accurate in picking up seroconversion with the tests currently available. The development of antibodies takes about six to eight weeks after infection.

A screening test for any disease needs to be easy to perform, inexpensive and a highly sensitive test. With a highly sensitive test, you miss fewer cases of true disease but may have a higher rate of false positives.

The ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) is the screening test used to screen large groups of people at variable risk and to screen the blood supply. If it is positive repeatedly, a more specific and expensive test the Western Blot is used to confirm HIV infection.

More specific tests for HIV can pick up HIV infection prior to antibody development, but these are expensive and cross-react with other viruses. You can culture the HIV virus (grow it in a laboratory), but it is very expensive and a great hazard to lab personnel and will probably only be useful for research purposes.

The Student Health Center provides confidential HIV testing for $16. Confidential testing is where test results are printed with the person's name, but are not released with usual medical records to life insurance companies, etc., without special permission.

Anonymous testing offered at various sites in Tucson is used to obtain statistical information and is never associated with a patient's name even with a positive test but treatment center information is given.

However, if a person with a positive HIV test seeks medical care, it must be reported by law to the Public Health Department.

As of yet, there is no cure for HIV. The testing protocol used now allows testing of high- and low-risk populations and minimizes the risk of missing a true positive HIV infection in the population and/or blood supply.

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