Video game boosts sex health IQ and attitudes in minority teens

A videogame designed by Yale researchers to promote health and reduce risky behavior in teens improves sexual health knowledge and attitudes among minority youth, according to a new study. The findings validate the value of the videogame as a tool to engage and educate teens at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), said the researchers.

“We saw significant and sustained positive changes in terms of attitudes about sexual health and sexual health knowledge,” said Lynn Fiellin, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine and in the Child Study Center.

Adolescents are significantly affected by HIV and other STIs, yet many lack access to sexual health education that could minimize their risks, said the researchers, who note that videogames offer an accessible, portable tool for promoting health and reducing risky behavior among teenagers, particularly minority youth who are disproportionately impacted.

Led by Fiellin, the research team recruited more than 300 students, ages 11 to 14, from afterschool and summer programs in the New Haven area for the study. For six weeks, the youth either played the intervention game PlayForward: Elm City Stories, or one of several unrelated videogames on iPad tablets for up to 75 minutes twice per week. Designed with teen and expert input, PlayForward is a serious role-playing videogame that engages youth with a variety of challenges and choices in fictional yet realistic life situations.

During the one-year study period, the students were assessed for a range of outcomes, including sexual health attitudes, knowledge, intention to initiate sex, and sexual activity. Compared to youth who played the non-intervention games, the PlayForward teens demonstrated improvements in both sexual health attitudes and knowledge at the end of 12 months. For example, the PlayForward group was more likely to accurately respond that it was true that a girl can get pregnant the first time she has sex.

While the groups of teens did not differ in their intention to initiate sex or be sexually active, the findings are significant and important, said Fiellin: “It was proof of concept. To our knowledge, never before has a videogame intervention been developed with such extensive input from its target audience, and tested through rigorous scientific methods over a long stretch of time, demonstrating that kids will engage in a game with serious content and learn things that impact the way they think and potentially what they do.”

Fiellin and her colleagues plan to refine and further disseminate the game content with the goal of influencing youth behavior. They have received additional funding to modify the PlayForward game to focus on other health outcomes in adolescents, including smoking and electronic cigarette use prevention and the promotion of HIV/STI testing.

The findings are published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

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Materials provided by Yale University. Original written by Ziba Kashef. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Study provides evidence for implementing this approach broadly

A study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine provides real-world evidence that implementing a combination of proven HIV prevention measures across communities can substantially reduce new HIV infections in a population.

Investigators found that HIV incidence dropped by 42 percent among nearly 18,000 people in Rakai District, Uganda, during a seven-year period in which the rates of HIV treatment and voluntary medical male circumcision increased significantly.

The HIV prevention strategy whose impact was observed in the study is based on earlier findings by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and others demonstrating the protective effect of voluntary medical male circumcision for HIV-uninfected men and of HIV-suppressing antiretroviral therapy (ART) for halting sexual transmission of the virus to uninfected partners. The strategy is also based on studies showing that changes in sexual behavior, such as having only one sexual partner, can help prevent HIV infection.

“Before this study, we knew that these HIV prevention measures worked at an individual level, yet it was not clear that they would substantially reduce HIV incidence in a population — or even if it would be possible to get large numbers of people to adopt them,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH. “This new analysis demonstrates that scaling up combination HIV prevention is possible and can turn the tide of the epidemic.”

NIAID co-funded the research, and NIAID investigators oversaw all laboratory operations. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funded the provision of combination HIV prevention, including ART and circumcision services, during the period observed in the study.

The newly reported research involved nearly 34,000 people ages 15 to 49 years residing in 30 communities that participate in the Rakai Community Cohort Study (RCCS) conducted by the Rakai Health Sciences Program in Uganda. With funding from NIH and others, this program promoted HIV testing, ART and voluntary medical male circumcision to study participants. Every one or two years from April 1999 until September 2016, participants were tested for HIV and surveyed about their sexual behavior, use of HIV treatment, and male circumcision status. The authors of the new paper analyzed these survey data under the leadership of M. Kate Grabowski, Ph.D., an assistant professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and an epidemiologist with the Rakai Health Sciences Program.

The investigators found that the proportion of study participants living with HIV who reported taking ART climbed from zero in 2003 to 69 percent in 2016. The proportion of male study participants who were voluntarily circumcised grew from 15 percent in 1999 to 59 percent in 2016. While levels of condom use with casual partners and the proportion of people reporting multiple sexual partners remained largely unchanged, the proportion of adolescents ages 15 to 19 who reported never having sex rose from 30 percent in 1999 to 55 percent in 2016.

As an apparent consequence of these increases, particularly in ART use and voluntary male circumcision, the annual number of new HIV infections in the cohort fell from 1.17 per 100 person-years in 2009 to 0.66 per 100 person-years in 2016, a 42 percent decrease. Person-years are the sum of the number of years that each cohort member participated in the study. The researchers calculated the annual number of new HIV infections using data from nearly 18,000 of the almost 34,000 total participants.

In addition, the proportion of cohort members living with HIV whose treatment suppressed the virus increased from 42 percent in 2009 to 75 percent in 2016, showing the feasibility of meeting the goal of the UNAIDS 90-90-90 initiative to achieve 73 percent viral suppression.

“These findings are extremely encouraging and suggest that with sustained commitment to increase the number of people who use combination HIV prevention, it may be possible to achieve epidemic control and eventual elimination of HIV,” said David Serwadda, M.B.Ch.B., M.Med., M.P.H., co-founder of the Rakai Health Science Program and Professor at Makerere University School of Public Health in Kampala, Uganda.

HIV incidence dropped the most — by 57 percent — among circumcised men, likely because both their own circumcision and ART taken by their female sexual partners living with HIV protected these men from the virus. HIV incidence declined by 54 percent among all men but by only 32 percent among all women. According to the investigators, this difference probably occurred because a greater percentage of women living with HIV than men living with HIV took ART, and because nearly two-thirds of men chose the extra preventive benefit of circumcision. The researchers suggest addressing this gender imbalance by influencing more men living with HIV to take ART and by giving HIV-uninfected women HIV prevention tools that they can control unilaterally, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The scientists anticipate that the RCCS will add PrEP to its combination HIV prevention package as the study continues.

“We expect that this multifaceted approach to HIV prevention will work as well in other populations as it has in rural Uganda,” said Dr. Grabowski. “Our results make a strong case for further expanding ART and male circumcision for HIV prevention in Rakai District and beyond. Additional proven HIV prevention interventions, such as PrEP, should be added to the mix to reduce HIV infections in women and other high-risk groups.”

The Rakai Health Sciences Program is an independent research organization whose collaborators include the Uganda Virus Research Institute of the Ministry of Health in Kampala; the NIAID Division of Intramural Research-supported International Center for Excellence in Research in Rakai; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention partnership with Uganda (CDC-Uganda); Makerere University and Johns Hopkins University.

The RCCS and the new analysis were funded by NIAID, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), all part of NIH; as well as by the World Bank, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Johns Hopkins University Center for AIDS Research and PEPFAR.

New insights into sex determination

Nagoya University-led study shows for the first time germ cells have an inherent property to feminize the body in teleost fish, medaka.

The gender of living organisms is determined either by genetic factors and/or by environmental factors. Interestingly, however, a team of researchers led by Nagoya University previously found that the occurrence of more germ cells — biological cells capable of uniting with one from the opposite sex to form a new individual — in female medaka (teleost fish) gonads is essential for female differentiation of gonads. When germ cells are removed in medaka, XX (female) fish show female-to-male sex reversal, while XY (male) fish with excessive germ cells, which is usually associated with egg production, exhibit male-to-female sex reversal.

“This finding implies that, in addition to the most well- known role of germ cells developing into eggs or sperm and produce the next generation, germ cells have a unique and surprising potential to change their surrounding environment,” says Toshiya Nishimura, first author of the current study. “However, the molecular basis of, and the stage of gametogenesis critical for, feminization remain unknown.”

This question set the researchers to delve deeper into the topic. In their latest study, they generated three different medaka mutants to demonstrate that the feminizing effect of germ cells is not a result of the progression of gametogenesis or a sexual fate decision of germ cells. They found the different stages of germ cells in XX mutants have an ability to feminize the gonads, resulting in the formation of gonads with ovarian structures. In addition to normal ovarian development, the increased number of gonocytes (fetal and neonatal germ cells) is sufficient for male-to-female sex reversal in XY medaka.

What these results mean is that the mechanism underlying the feminizing effect of germ cells is activated before the sexual fate decision of germ cells and meiosis, probably by the time of gonocyte formation in medaka. The study was published in PLOS Genetics.

“Our analyses using medaka collectively also suggest that germ cells acquire the feminizing effect before committing to gametogenesis, while male germ cells undergo a quiescent state before the initiation of spermatogenesis,” corresponding author Minoru Tanaka says. “Why do male germ cells need to be quiescent? One possible answer for the biological meaning of the quiescent state of male germ cells may be to prevent the gonad from being feminized until masculinization of somatic cells is established.”

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Materials provided by Nagoya University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Seeking Participants For Sex Studies!

If you’re reading this, odds are that you love learning about the latest sex research. But really, who doesn’t? Have you ever wanted to go beyond reading about it, though, perhaps by taking part in an actual sex study (or two)? If so, check out the Sex Studies page, which is updated regularly with calls for participation from sex scientists across the globe. Ten studies have already been added since the beginning of this year alone!

Feel free to participate in as many or as few studies as you would like. However, please be sure to review the eligibility criteria first to ensure that you’re a good fit for a given study before signing up. Current participation opportunities cover a diverse set of topics from how people communicate during kink and BDSM sexual encounters to their attitudes toward casual sex to their experiences using online dating and hookup apps.

Any help you can provide by taking part in one of these studies and/or by spreading the word about these research opportunities (e.g., sharing the Sex Studies page on Facebook or tweeting a link to it) would be greatly appreciated and will help to advance our understanding of human sexuality.

If I may (selfishly) call your attention to one research opportunity in particular, I am still recruiting participants for a survey about sexual fantasies and would greatly appreciate your participation. This survey has been underway for quite some time, but I’m trying to collect as large of a sample as possible. If you’ve already taken part, thank you! To learn more about this study, please click here.

Thank you for your contributions to the science of sex!

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (facebook.com/psychologyofsex), Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit (reddit.com/r/psychologyofsex) to receive updates.

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How Is Porn Use Linked To Relationship Satisfaction? It’s Complicated

It’s easy to find articles in the popular media talking about how porn ruins relationships. Many scientific studies have made this claim, too. However, there’s a problematic assumption embedded in most of these writings, which is that porn affects all people the same way. That’s not a very good assumption to make.

When it comes to something like porn, different people are going to be affected by it in different ways because of their unique psychological profile. Some of us are predisposed to view porn (and its effects) in a negative light, whereas others are predisposed to view it in a positive light. A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research offers support for this nuanced view of the effects of porn on relationships.

In this study, researchers analyzed data from an existing dataset of 3,313 heterosexual couples from the United States. Participants were age 33 on average, most were White, and about one-third were married. All participants were living together with their partners.

As part of this study, participants were asked about their frequency of porn use in the past year, their acceptance of pornography, their level of attachment anxiety (i.e., fear of being abandoned), and their degree of relationship satisfaction. This is what they found:

· Among men who were highly accepting of pornography, they were more satisfied with their relationship to the extent that they themselves used more porn. By contrast, for men who were less accepting of pornography, using more porn was linked to lower relationship satisfaction.

· For women who were highly accepting of pornography, their own use of porn was unrelated to how they felt about their relationship; however, for women who were less accepting of pornography, using more porn was linked to being less satisfied with one’s relationship.

· Partner porn use was linked to lower levels of relationship satisfaction; however, this association was weaker for those who were accepting of porn use and stronger for those who were not accepting of porn use.

· Among men who were more anxiously attached (i.e., guys with more fear of being abandoned), using more porn was linked to higher levels of relationship satisfaction. By contrast, for women who were more anxiously attached, using more porn was linked to lower relationship satisfaction.

This research is limited in that it didn’t define what “pornography” was and, as such, did not consider whether the effects might be different for different kinds of porn—however, this is a limitation of almost all porn research and one that should be addressed in future work. Also, this research is correlational in nature, meaning we can’t make inferences about cause and effect.

That said, these results suggest that if we want to understand the implications of porn for relationship satisfaction, we would do well to consider the roles of gender, pornography acceptance, and attachment style. These factors appear to filter the lens through which both own and partner porn use are viewed, which is likely to have big implications for how we look at porn use (our own and our partner’s) and its effect on our relationships.

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (facebook.com/psychologyofsex), Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit (reddit.com/r/psychologyofsex) to receive updates.

To learn more about this research, see:  Maas, M.K., Vasilnko, S.,A., & Willoughby, B.J. (2018). A Dyadic Approach to Pornography Use and Relationship Satisfaction Among Heterosexual Couples: The Role of Pornography Acceptance and Anxious Attachment. The Journal of Sex Research.

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How Many Americans Didn’t Have Sex Last Year?

Most people have sex at least once in their lives. For example, in a longitudinal study of over 20,000 American adolescents who were surveyed repeatedly over a 15-year period, just 3% of them reported never having had vaginal, anal, or oral sex at any point. However, just because someone does it once, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will remain sexually active throughout their lives.

For a variety of reasons, many people go through long periods of sexlessness, and a new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior offers some insight into just how common this is. This study is the subject of my latest column over at TONIC and it’s based on 14 years of data from the U.S. General Social Survey.

What the authors of this study found is that approximately 1 in 7 men and 1 in 4 women said they didn’t have any sexual partners in the past year. In addition, 1 in 11 men and 1 in 6 women said that they hadn’t had any partners in the past five years. As you can see, some people went for very long stretches of time without being sexually active. However, it’s important to note that “sex” wasn’t defined in this study, so we don’t necessarily know what people were counting when they answered these questions.

With that said, I should highlight that the people who weren’t having sex weren’t any less happy than those who were sexually active. In other words, sexlessness doesn’t necessarily mean being unhappy. When you think about it, there are a few good reasons for this, not the least of which is that some people may be sexless by choice (e.g., asexual persons). Also, just because you’re having sex, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re having good sex (quality is more important than quantity, after all!).

To learn more about the link between sex and happiness, as well as some of the factors associated with sexlessness, check out the full article here.

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (facebook.com/psychologyofsex), Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit (reddit.com/r/psychologyofsex) to receive updates. 

To learn more about this research, see: Kim, J. H., Tam, W. S., & Muennig, P. (2017). Sociodemographic Correlates of Sexlessness Among American Adults and Associations with Self-Reported Happiness Levels: Evidence from the US General Social Survey. Archives of sexual behavior46(8), 2403-2415.

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Changes In Americans’ Attitudes Toward And Experiences With Infidelity In The Last Two Decades

Are Americans today more or less likely to cheat on their spouses than they were in the past? And how have their attitudes toward infidelity changed—have they become more or less tolerant of this behavior? A recent study published in the Journal of Family Psychology offers some insight into these questions.

In this study, researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder analyzed nine waves of data from the U.S. General Social Survey, a nationally representative survey that is conducted most years. In total, they looked at the responses of 13,030 Americans collected between the years 2000 and 2016. Participants were asked about their attitudes toward sex outside of marriage, as well as whether they’d had extramarital sex in the last year and in their entire lifetime (note that only married participants answered the latter questions).

They found that the number of Americans who said that extramarital sex is “always wrong” declined over time, while the number who said it was “wrong only sometimes” increased. While statistically significant, these changes were rather small—we’re only talking changes in the range of 2-4 percentage points.

It’s also worth noting that, at each time period, at least 75% of respondents said that infidelity was “always wrong,” which tells us that most Americans continue to be very disapproving of sex outside of marriage. Only a small number have grown more accepting in recent years.

That said, men and people who had cheated previously were more accepting of infidelity than women and people who hadn’t cheated before; however, the vast majority of persons in all of these groups disapproved of the behavior. So, overall, Americans in general don’t appear to be cool with the idea of cheating.

As for how many people had actually cheated, the lifetime prevalence for married men was 21.4%, whereas for married women it was 13.4%. In addition, 4.1% of married men and 2.0% of married women reported cheating each year on average. This gender difference is consistent with previous research and is often interpreted through an evolutionary lens (specifically, the idea that men are likely to experience more reproductive advantages from having a large number of sexual partners than women).

The annual rate of cheating did not change over time; however, there was a slight decrease in the reported lifetime prevalence of cheating, which declined by about 1.5 percentage points over the 16 years of the study. The authors suggest that one potential explanation for this is the declining marriage rate, which may be producing a selection effect that is reducing the odds of experiencing infidelity—although if that’s the case, it’s not clear why the annual rate of cheating didn’t change significantly as well.

While these findings offer some insight into some of the changes in Americans’ attitudes toward and experiences with infidelity, keep in mind that they’re limited to the context of extramarital sex—plus, the questions didn’t specify what “sex” was, which means people may have intentionally chosen not to count certain activities (e.g., oral sex). Further, the General Social Survey doesn’t distinguish between infidelity and open marriages, so both get lumped together, which means these results might be overestimating the prevalence of infidelity.

Stay tuned for a follow-up post about this study in which we’ll consider the fascinating question of who married Americans are cheating with—is it with people they know or is it with strangers? Also, do men and women cheat with different types of partners? I’ll have the answers next time

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (facebook.com/psychologyofsex), Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit (reddit.com/r/psychologyofsex) to receive updates. 

To learn more about this research, see: Labrecque, L.T., & Whisman, M.A. (2017). Attitudes toward and prevalence of extramarital sex and descriptions of extramarital partners in the 21st century. Journal of Family Psychology.

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How to Achieve Tru Weight Loss

The thermogenic effects that many weight loss supplements have on your body can help you lose weight at first, but do not have the same lasting power as others, such as is the case with TruVision weight loss supplements. It does not matter your BMI (body mass index), the truFIX supplement is made to act in a way which helps to balance your blood chemistry. It can result in stable and good health. You’re more easily able to develop steady and reduced BMI because cholesterol is improved in the process.

The weight loss supplement leads to cleansing the liver and maintain sugar levels. For your blood chemistry to be restored, you need a cleansed liver, right sugar levels and increased body energy which is as a result of TruFix.

Not a Diet Pill

The Tru weight loss strategy does not work as a diet pill. It is a weight loss combo and a healthy body balancing supplement. You will not see results in a fortnight; it is made to adapt and respond to your body over time in a natural way. You do not gain the weight gain fortnight hence you should not lose it within a fortnight if you are looking for a natural way to lose weight.

TruVison products aren’t supplements which will make your weight loss process easy. For success, you should put in some forms of dedication and work hard to lose the weight, like healthy eating choices and being active. For a successful routine, it is recommended for you to include TruFix in the program.

TruFix

It is a healthy supplement which is an excellent combination of the best natural ingredients which are potent in enhancing the blood chemistry. The ingredients include mineral plant extracts which give the pill the blue color. It has also been shown to be highly effective in dissolving fats, lowering blood pressure as well as balancing the blood chemistry.

If you combine the green and blue pill in the combo, you will achieve great in reducing body fats and food cravings. You also enjoy the benefits of detoxifying your body through taking the supplements on a regular, recommended basis. Regulation of appetitive can be achieved due to the combination of ingredients in the weight loss combo. You always enjoy a healthier body upon using these supplements.

Traditional meals can help in weight loss, but they act in an unhealthy manner which ends up forcing the body in shedding weight off. The process can lead to depletion of organ tissue as well as lean muscles. Unlike traditional meals, the healthy supplement work in tandem with your body. There are no low-calorie foods such as the one in most low-quality weight loss supplements.

The Combined Formula

Tru weight loss involves the complete set of TruVision products, as well as healthy meal plan and exercise routine. The combination of these things can provide your body with the required nutrients which you can use to achieve balanced blood chemistry. The weight loss strategy also helps in the modification of your diet which allows you to enjoy healthier and beneficial changes. The thermogenic product can help you to lose weight while preserving your lean muscles, helping you look slim and healthy.

Signs of Progress

After you start noticing changes in your lean muscles where you start reducing visceral fats, your blood chemistry will as well improve. Users also start noticing a reduction in weight along with fat around their breast tissue. The TruFix targets visceral fats along the area leaving you with subcutaneous (superficial) fat. You may as well notice a reduction of few inches along your waist.

Eliminate Unhealthy Visceral Fat

Having visceral fat along your waistline is not healthy. The problem tends to occur even in people who do not appear overweight. The fats reduce energy levels as well as speeding up the aging process. Vital organs such as the liver can end up being overworked due to the presence of visceral fats. The fats are also associated with health complications such as diabetes and heart diseases. The healthy fats are also known to contribute to some forms of cancer.

Using Tru weight loss strategy allows you to fight the fats and regain the healthy life. The combo is formulated to help you lose weight in a healthy way where you can enjoy the healthy life. The combo has been balanced to assure you the best results.