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The Overblown Stigma of Genital Herpes

lead_largeThe Overblown Stigma of Genital Herpes

For many people living with this common disease, the most debilitating symptoms are shame and isolation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one out of six people in the United States aged 14 to 49 have genital herpes caused by the HSV-2 infection (the herpes simplex virus often responsible for genital herpes). The overall genital herpes statistic is probably higher, the CDC stated, since many people are also contracting genital herpes through oral sex caused by HSV-1 (the kind of herpes usually responsible for cold sores). Taking that into account, genital herpes statistics are usually quoted at closer to 25 percent for women and 10 percent for men, but most of these people don’t even know they have it.

In terms of a person’s health, genital herpes is usually nothing to worry about. According to the National Institutes of Health, many people with genital herpes never even have outbreaks or their outbreaks decrease over time (one or two outbreaks a year is not uncommon). The virus can lie dormant in your system for years without coming to the surface. The initial outbreak is often the worst, occurring a few days to a couple of weeks after being infected. Symptoms may include a fever, headache, and muscle aches for a few weeks. But for the most part, outbreaks consist of painful fever blisters or sores on or near the genitals (or, in less common cases, sores appearing elsewhere) for a few days, as well as burning, itching, swelling, and irritation that may be triggered by stress or fatigue. The virus never goes away, and some take antiviral medicines to relieve or suppress outbreaks.

The only times that having genital herpes can be dangerous are when having sex with someone who has HIV (since it can increase your chances of getting HIV) and during pregnancy. A genital herpes outbreak during the third trimester of pregnancy and during delivery may be deadly for the baby if he or she contracts it from the mother (neonatal herpes, it’s called), but it’s incredibly rare (one per 3,000 to 20,000 live births) and preventable with medication and a C-section, according to an article published in American Family Physician.

Genital herpes is contracted during sexual contact, usually spread through fluids on the genitals or mouth. You can only get genital herpes from someone who already has it, can get it during just one sexual encounter, and can get it with or without a condom. Condoms merely lower your risk, according to the CDC. You can even get it if the other person doesn’t have symptoms, since the virus sheds about 10 percent of the time for asymptomatic HSV-2 infections, according to a 2011 study published in the Journal of American Medical Association.

Film and TV no doubt keep the stigma alive. Almost every Judd Apatow movie includes a joke about herpes.

Herpes has a unique stigma among sexually transmitted diseases. HIV/AIDS is stigmatized, but few laugh at people who have it because it’s a serious illness.HPV can lead to cancer, on occasion, and women get tested regularly for it, making it no joke to most. Chlamydia, syphilis, crabs, scabies, and gonorrhea are sometimes the target of jokes, but these STDS are typically curable, so people won’t have to endure the annoyance for too long. Genital herpes, though, isn’t curable, is thought of as a disease only the promiscuous and cheating-types get, and is a popular joke topic.Despite the fact that herpes has been around since the time of the Ancient Greeks, according to Stanford University, the widespread stigma seems to be just decades old. Herpes is the “largest epidemic no one wants to talk about,” Eric Sabo wrote in the New York Times. Both Project Accept and HSV Singles Dating blame an antiviral drug marketing campaign during the late 1970s to mid-1980s for herpes’ stigma. But it’s difficult to pin down exactly when and why our negative associations started.

Regardless of where the stigma came from, film and TV no doubt keep it alive. Leah Berkenwald pointed out in an article for Scarleteen that almost every Judd Apatow movie includes a joke about herpes. Living Sphere has a large list of films, TV shows, and books that mention genital herpes, with many of the films and TV shows poking fun at people who have it. Sometimes the jokes directly suggest people with genital herpes are whores or cheaters or they indirectly make the connection, such as the classic Hangover line, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Except for herpes.” The prevalence of these jokes can keep people with genital herpes from opening up.

Jennifer Lemons, a 42-year-old writer and comedian from Richmond, Virginia, isn’t offended when she hears herpes jokes, but says she used to be more sensitive before she got the facts. She’s come to peace with her genital herpes, which she was diagnosed with three years ago, after feeling shame about it. Once she realized how common it was and how you can get it after just one sexual encounter, she began sharing those facts to combat herpes jokes.

“If people had all the info, it wouldn’t be funny anymore,” Lemons said. “You have to figure, if indeed the stat is one in four, and you’re telling a joke at a party where there are 20 people, there are probably a couple people there who are not calling you out, but whose feelings are hurt.”

“They begin thinking of uncomfortable conversations with people they’ll have to have and whether they’ll pass it along to the next person.”

Lemons approaches her romantic life pragmatically: “If you don’t like it, don’t date me,” she’ll say to guys. Lemons was married and her then-husband considered and researched the condition before agreeing to date her. She never gave it to him, since they used condoms, took medicine, and avoided sexual contact during her outbreaks—which for her usually occur on her back and waistline.

Not every guy Lemons dated has been cool with it, though. She always discloses the condition on the second date, after realizing she likes the guy enough to go out again. One guy Lemons dated said he was okay with her herpes, but it became obvious after the first time they had sex that he was inspecting her genitals and “disguising it as foreplay,” Lemons said.

“I finally asked, ‘Find what you were looking for?’” Lemons said. “I was a little angry and hurt and he was really embarrassed. He did admit that he was looking for signs based on what he’d read on the Internet… It was obvious he wasn’t ready for a sexual relationship with me.”

Others have dealt with their diagnoses much more harshly than Lemons. An entire spectrum of diagnosis responses can be found in a Topix.com forum that was posted in 2009 and still receives comments to this day. The boy who posted it, then 16, was having trouble accepting his diagnosis and was looking for advice. The next five years of responses include people sharing advice and their own stories, as well as people threatening to spread the disease or saying it’s a curse from God for sinful promiscuity. One girl asked, “What’s the point of living?” Many expressed a desire to be loved and accepted and the fear that they’ll never experience those joys again. Some couldn’t accept the permanence of it. One girl waited until marriage to have sex and got it from her husband and another got it after being raped.

Dr. Christopher Lewis, a family medicine doctor in the Austin, Texas area, has diagnosed genital herpes many times and has seen a variety of responses from patients, ranging from “it makes sense” to “my life is over.” Denial and anger are at the top of the list of initial responses.

“It could be a very confusing time period for them,” Lewis said. “They start thinking back to all the sex partners they had to see who they could’ve gotten it from. Then there’s a level of fear and guilt that ‘Maybe I gave it to someone else and don’t realize it.’ Then they begin thinking of uncomfortable conversations with people they’ll have to have and whether they’ll pass it along to the next person.”

All of this insecurity is over a skin condition that doesn’t show up most or even all of the year.

There are many dating sites for people with genital herpes, a Herpes Resource Center Hotline (for counseling and information) and in-person and online support groups. Aimee Wood, a psychotherapist in Philadelphia, has been running one of these support groups since fall 2011.

Every other week, between six and 10 people crowd in a room with Wood to discuss the trials and tribulations of their herpes diagnosis. Topics range from how to respond when hit with a herpes joke (give the facts if you don’t want to out yourself, Wood advises them) to forgiving the person who gave it to you (though very few know who they got it from). Disclosure is a frequent topic of discussion in the group.

“We discuss the pros and cons of disclosing too soon versus too late, and it’s clear that there’s a fine line between waiting until there’s a little bit of a rapport so they can see you as a person, and having sex,” Wood said.

Wood’s patients rarely have issues when disclosing to family and friends. One girl’s father struggled to accept it and would make snarky comments and even blame her for having it. But nine times out of 10, Wood said, friends and family are supportive and sympathetic. The most common struggle among her patients is navigating romantic situations (which many delay or avoid altogether).

Another common struggle among her patients is maintaining their sense of self-worth.

“We do a self-esteem exercise with a crumpled $20 bill, where I ask clients to go around the room and beat it, write on it, and stomp on it, while still keeping it intact,” Wood said. “Then I ask them how much it’s worth. Still $20, they’ll say.’”

All of this insecurity, discouragement, rejection, tears, anger, counseling, suicidal tendencies, humiliation, shame, and isolation is caused by the stigma of a skin condition that usually doesn’t show up most or even all of the year and can be contracted after having protected sex one time. Can the stigma of genital herpes really survive the facts? Peckham and Lemons don’t think so.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JON FORTENBURY is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. His work has appeared in USA Today College and Forbes.

In Love With the Cocoa

Posted by D. Mylan Roland

In Love With the Cocoa

Who doesn’t love the cocoa when it comes to this delicious product item? If you thought you knew what it’s all about, we have even more healthy updates to share about this delicious spread.
Here are some Facts and Information about Nutella that you didn’t know.

1 – World’s Nutella Day

In 2007, two Italian bloggers decided to show his love for hazelnut cream in a different way. For this, they established the February 5 as World Nutella Day (Nutella Day). On that date, the goal is to eat Nutella, share recipes with the product, view photos dishes done with it and celebrate everything else that is related to sweet.

O dia 5 de fevereiro é o dia da nutella
February 5th is the day dedicated to nutella
2 – Nutella is the true coffee of Champions

According to the Guinness record, the company held a breakfast held in 2005 in Germany, to mark the 40th anniversary of Nutella. The event broke the record of Biggest Breakfast – in all, 27,854 people gathered to share the meal which included bread, orange juice and Nutella, of course.

3 – Nutella is a sales success

A Nutella jar is sold every 2.5 seconds around the world. And a body responsible for counting the US population, records that a baby is born every 8 seconds. Just do the math.

4 – Nutella around the world

This title is not only because the hazelnut cream is a bestseller and can be found in 75 countries. The fact is that the amount of Nutella sold in a year is enough to cover more than a thousand football stadiums.

5 – Everyone loves Nutella

In 2009, the Nutella fanpage on Facebook gathered more than 2 million fans, which guaranteed him the 3rd place of the most tanned pages on the social network. The fanpage lose only to Coca-Cola and the Barack Obama. The profile is no longer on top of Facebook, but currently has more than 17 million fans.

6 – Napoleon and Hitler were responsible for vitiating the world Nutella

In 1806, Napoleon tried to stop the British trade as a way to win the war. The result was that the continental blockade caused the price of chocolate to increased absurdly. Thus, the Italian confectioners of the Turin area began adding chopped hazelnuts to chocolate so that it yielded as much as possible. This mixture was named “gianduja”.

A century later, the chocolate was again a very expensive and scarce commodity in Europe due to the Second World War. Then, an Italian confectioner called Pietro Ferrero appealed again for hazelnuts for in 1946, creating the “Gianduja cream” that would be renamed “Nutella” in 1964.

7 – The origin of the name Nutella

The gianduja – which was the cream that led to Nutella – has its name from a character in the Commedia Dell’Arte, a typical Italian theater movement. According to tradition, Gianduja was a Piedmontese character always smiling, who walked around town carrying a “Duja” which in Piedmontese dialect means “pot”. The main function of Duja was storing wine, but there are those who believe that the pot has also been used to store the hazelnut cream. The Gianduja character illustration even appeared in the first ads of Nutella.

8 – Nutella and the curious tasting

Before long, the product became so popular in Italy that traders started offering tastings of Nutella to any child who appeared with a piece of bread. The action became known as the “tasting” and was a successful marketing strategy. Needless to say everyone was addicted to delicious hazelnut cream.

 

NEW VIDEO RELEASE Stingy With My Kutty Kat Video from Joseline and Stevie J

joseline and stevie

 

Nice moves! Oh, I wasn’t hardly talking about miss Joseline, I was talking about that slick-slime slithering snake Stevie (All those “S” fit perfectly – oops, there’s one more I won’t mention).

Stevie J. you deserve and encore’. I guess you had to clean up that image as best as you could. No worries, The Sparkle Page won’t tell a soul! In fact, with all that body-ody twerking around in the video, I be your bejeezus no one even cares.

We’re not the experts on music over here, so we’ll just remain nicely strapped in our own lane when it comes to the professional dish on the vid. I will say this, Mrs. Hernandez-J speech pathologist has really paid off.

Really now, Sparklers? Here’s a question for you guys and dolls:

If Joseline would have stayed in school, what would her profession be today?

….We’ll wait!

Continue reading NEW VIDEO RELEASE Stingy With My Kutty Kat Video from Joseline and Stevie J

5 Indications That She’s A Keeper

THE BEST VIEW

Many guys often celebrate the idea of being sought after by several ladies at a time. They shun love and dating in order to keep up with appearances and hold on to their distance from a good woman that’s staring them right in the face.

You gentleman may think that it’s great having more than one, but this is a clear sign of holding onto your youth. Do we want to dig further? Maybe on the next topic we will discuss why some men still act like boys and how it’s affecting our males, the fathers of our identity, our protectors, our leaders of the free world.

Okay, I digress…Now, where were we? Ah yes, here are ways that real men can consider whether or not she’s a keeper in the following:

1 – This is obvious, but it holds true that a good woman ♥ is EXCLUSIVE. She will rarely entertain outsiders if she is truly into you.

2 – Good women ♥ SHARE IN YOUR DREAMS. She’s a keeper when she invests time into your dreams all the while, continuing to build her own. Now, of course this doesn’t apply to bums with low ambition.

3 – Good women ♥ season with salt. ENCOURAGES AND EMPOWERS YOU. She always tells you the truth and won’t feed your ego, sometimes to a fault with more lies. It may not be something you want to hear but it may be something you need to hear. She’s trustworthy.

4 – Good women ♥ are INTO YOU AND NOT WHAT YOU HAVE OR CAN DO FOR THEM. She is vested in you for the long term in solidarity and truth; her affections are not based on wavering admiration that is here today and gone away tomorrow.

5 – Good women ♥ will take the time to LEARN YOU. Know what your likes and dislikes are. They are willing to please you. It is a sure thing that she’s a keeper when she reserves her body for you and nothing compares to sex combined with feelings and emotions with someone.

Everything That Glitters

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NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 09: Natalie Joos(shoes detail) is seen outside the Diesel show on September 9, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images)

We bet you’re probably wondering why anyone would name a BLOG The Sparkle Page … With a name like that, we’d be limiting all sorts of people, huh? No. Think again! Anyone who has not followed our page for a significant amount of time would more than likely assume it’s because of an affinity to cute shiny objects, or because everything that glitters IS GOLD in our world; or perhaps, our beauty and worth aren’t found at the MAC counter, or the hair salon or in the latest pair of Christian Louboutins. Hush hush, yes; we said it and YES, we know. This is a Vanity Blog!

Guys and Dolls, we are artists. Creative strategist and very sensitive about the craft. [Sound familiar?] Maybe, (insert emphasis) …our shine comes from somewhere deeper inside, pure, authentic and real. It doesn’t need any gloss or polish or bling to make it SPARKLE!

Moving right along, we decided to go ahead and give blogging another try. After all, what has anyone really go to lose? Who knows, this could just be the answer that we need. – Hey, wipe that smirk off of your face! Often times, you may think to yourself what do I really have to write about or say… It’s even possible that you question whether or not any one would even care to hear what it is you would have to say…or read, for that matter! Taking a page out of the “D-e-f-e-n-s-i-v-e Playbook”, we are well aware that we really don’t know anything; but, people want to pay to know whatever it is we know. Life is good.

Do you all hear that? (Incoming) Sounds like a huge storm cloud of D-o-u-b-t. We’re just going to step aside before getting hit. Whatever the case may be, we’d never have known if we didn’t just start somewhere. Thus, The Sparkle Page is formed. Someone should probably put it out there, there’s no particular strategy. Our page consists of what is called Lifestyle slash Vanity Blogging (Not in the vanilla kind of way…Okay, never mind) By definition, lifestyle is the way in which one chooses to live their life. Vanity is pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements, etc.; character or quality of being vain. Therefore, in public opinion, we’re just going to ”Forest Gump” the entire thing – keep going until we run out of words to say.

Further explanation needed you say?
How about you just stay tuned with highlights and updates of The Sparkle Page? We are looking forward to your feedback and continued support as we press forward to greatness.

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Technically Single

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Seriously? Okay, what would’ve been great just now is if the dot on the “eye” (i) of the title-words “technically single” above us had a cute little heart over it. But, that’s just how differently the mind can work when it comes to details, besides the creative graphics would not allow such sophistication on such a basic header. So, we’re moving on…

Ultimately, talking about how one is technically single, simply implies that life doesn’t end after divorce…right? The technicality is this; once someone has been married and then divorced, they technically possess more experience than the average single female out here trying to entice a man with her womanly-wilds on “FLEEK”-mode.  Nevermind, just forget it; it seems like instead of understanding, at the very best, you’re all just going to Laugh at My Pain (in my best Kevin Hart voice). Here’s the thing, looking this great and being at the 40 threshold is both a blessing and a curse.  Granted, youthful by design; (Suddenly, you hear the voice of mother teasing in the background saying…”Yes, I know, you’re FOREVER 21”) companionship doesn’t get any easier to find the older you become and especially when you’ve given your heart away once before. Mother never was a liar!

Listen up! You’d have to admit, any woman having been a daughter, mother, wife, student, sister, best friend, girlfriend, an ex… has had a wealth of lessons, a lifetime of hurt and happiness that the ordinary “single woman” simply has not yet sampled. You may as well say it’s almost like being overqualified to be “single”. So, exactly what does happen when one is overqualified for the single life? Can you say, D-E-N-I-E-D? Try being approached by eligible singles looking for an overnight scenario, quick romp, or to possibly string you along and pose as a lifetime partner, when in actuality they are just not interested in the long haul commitment. Nor mature enough to be dedicated to the intricate process of truly getting to know someone. Oh please, surely the male readers are sitting back boasting about now. Can’t you just imagine the little giggles going on inside of their brains saying “Maybe, QUITAR (1)that’s because you’ve never dated ME” ?Newsflash, we’re especially referring to you!

Now, we’re not getting off on any rants or gender- bashing or anything. However, there is still firm belief  there are some Great, GREAT men out there.