Archive for the ‘diseases’ Category

The following is the letter to the TOI editor that mr vidyaranya bellur emailed, but unfortunately the letter was highly edited and published on 28/01/08. since he had emailed a copy to me, i thought of publishing it here unedited so that it might interest my readers and they may write their comments on this:




Your news item “Sweden to study belching cows TOI dt. 23-1-08” is not only hilarious but epitomizes height of senselessness on part of research funding agencies. Cows every where have been nurturing from time immemorial on naturally grown greens and have been yielding milk that is nourishing human kind ever since civilization. Also, it is a well known fact that cow dung is an excellent manure that enriches the soil solely because it’s herbivorous nature. We may recall here how processed meat & bone were fed to these poor herbivorous animals which resulted in spread of mad cow disease in Europe which in turn lead to the butchering of thousands of innocent cows.

Now we hear of this crazy research being carried out on these poor bovines’ belchings which is supposedly contributing to the emission of green house gases! Instead, I strongly suggest the funding may be diverted to measure the emissions under the pants of junk food eaters where the results would indicate the contribution of human methane levels that would far exceed those of bovines’ belching!

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully,


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December 1st is celebrated as World AIDS Day to spread awareness to people about the disease AIDS and how people can help prevent it, how we can reduce the stigma attached to it through disseminating information.I thought I would take this opportunity to explain to my readers what exactly AIDS is and what HIV is and what people should know about this malady.

HIV is a virus – Human Immuno Deficiency Virus – that reduces the strength of the immune system, the defense mechanism of our body to fight diseases. An analogy would be how a nation is exposed to enemy attack if its defenders, the army, become weak.

AIDS is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The HIV starts attacking the body’s immune system cells. You have all heard of white blood cells in our body that are the fighter cells against diseases. One type of such fighter cells are CD 4 T-cells. Normal CD4 counts in adults range from 500 to 1,500 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. As HIV virus start killing these CD 4 Cells, their number starts reducing in the body making our body vulnerable to catching infections very easily. Once this count decreases to a level of about 200 cells or less, the person is said to be suffering from AIDS.

It may take years before a HIV infected person becomes an AIDS patient. It sometimes takes 10 to 15 years for the disease to manifest fully. Till such time, the person may not even be aware of the infection. The virus resides and spreads through body fluids like blood, seminal fluid in men and vaginal secretions in women.

The HIV virus spreads through sexual contact between two persons, one of them being infected. outwardly the infected person may look as normal as anybody else. we would not know their background or sexual habits. Hence it is extremely dangerous to have sex with an unknown person or to have one night stands or to have multiple sexual partners. Since social stigma is heavy upon this issue, many a times, the infected persons would hide the fact from their partners and stealthily spread the disease. HIV can spread through infected blood transfusion or sharing of injectable needles among drug abusers or it can transfer to a new born child from an infected pregnant mother, either before delivery or during delivery or through breast feeding.

Other than the above modes, HIV does not spread through body contact like shaking the person’s hand or by hugging or by sharing bed clothing’s or even utensils in the kitchen. It also does not spread through mosquito bites or any other insect bites.

There are medicines that can control the progress of the infection, i.e., further spreading of HIV to other Cells. There are many people who are infected with HIV, but are on medication and who are leading a normal life. But they need to take extreme care of health and hygiene not to subject themselves to any kind of infections. We have even heard of cases of two HIV infected persons marrying each other and continuing the medication very strictly, thus improving the quality of their life. A person on medication needs to regularly undergo blood testing wherein a CD 4 cell count is done to monitor its number and also a load testing of the Virus in blood. The medicines are to be taken life long. The available treatment now is the Anti Retroviral Therapy or ART. The medicines are very costly and they are being distributed to the persons infected at a subsidized rate by our government.

Once the immune system becomes weak, there are many opportunistic diseases like, TB, Meningitis that affects the brain, Pneumonia that affects the lungs and oral candidiasis that attack the person’s body and that can lead to various complications in other organs too and thus an AIDS patient meets his death. As of now, there are no medicines that can cure AIDS.

You can browse the Net for further detailed information on HIV and AIDS. Please spread this awareness and help prevent AIDS.


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There seems to be lot of confusion in everybody’s mind about imparting sex education at schools and colleges. By the term ‘sex education’ people seem to think it is all about ‘sexual intercourse’ education! No, it is not that. Sex education is all about imparting knowledge on human sexuality. Sexuality is the femaleness and the maleness of individuals. Sexuality is part and parcel of the individual’s personality. From the time a child is born, it is assigned a gender as male or female. This knowledge dictates the person in every kind of behaviour that he/she indulges in. This behaviour is culture specific. However, there is a minority population in any society where the gender identity is not very clear to the individual. He or she does not believe in the biological gender assigned to them and they firmly believe in their mind and heart that they belong to the opposite gender. It is these people who sometimes go to the extent of changing their gender through surgery and then they are called the trans-gendered people. But those who have not changed their gender physically, but subscribe to the other gender psychologically, who resent vehemently their gender assigned to them by nature and by the society, are the ones who belong to the third sex and are fighting for their constitutional rights. I will discuss about them in a separate post.

Coming back to sex education, everybody needs to be equipped with the knowledge of the different changes that occur in a female or male, physically and psychologically, over a period of time through the whole length of human development, from childhood through old age. This knowledge helps a person, specially the pre-teens (also referred to as tweens – as they are in the in between stage of childhood and adolescence) and the teenagers, who are in between the stages of childhood and adulthood, to better deal with their emotional and physical changes. Otherwise, they are vulnerable to confusions, developing myths and mis conceptions about their sexuality and this wrong information creates lot of anxieties and psychological disturbances. The knowledge about their sexuality also equips persons to prevent any kind of sexual abuse taking place. Because of ignorance so many gullible children are taken for a ride and their innocence abused. And many try to experiment with various kinds of sexual behaviour that may put them into deep trouble later on.

Sex education needs to be imparted in educational institutions, not by a Biology Teacher or a Moral Science Teacher, but by a sensitive professional, like a counsellor, who can understand the needs of any particular age group and cater to those needs with authentic information and sensitize them about the physical, psychological and emotional dimensions of human sexuality. A separate meeting with parents is as much required to brief them about the need for sex education to their children and alleviate their own fears and anxieties.

I believe that knowledge is power and when imparted in the right way, it can enhance the respectful way people would treat the other gender and reduce exploitation of males/females as mere sex objects.

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this was my comment on premarital sex and virginity on voices of youth page (i have made slight alteration)


virginity before marriage is insisted keeping in mind the gulliblity of the young and the immature. in the name of progressiveness many young people throw all care and responsibility to the wind and have casual sex thinking that they would very soon marry each other and hence it is ok to sleep together. but how many promises are kept after the act??? and how many hearts broken after the act? how many abortions underwent? and how many cases of depression seeking psychiatrist’s help? and how many completed or attempted cases of suicides after the act because promises could not be kept up and the young girl is unable to face the society?

so in order to reduce such incidents, in the interest of the youth, it is safe to have sex within the institution of marriage. and some young people are of the opinion that sex is a very important aspect of marriage and hence the need to find out the compatibility factor before one marries. like all other compatibility factors, sexual compatibility in a marriage also needs understanding, cooperation and patience. it can be more pleasurable when done under the secure relationship of a marriage than under an insecure relationship. outside of marriage, it is more an impulsive act that can lead to many regrets later on.

hence, youth, think hundred times before you act and be aware of the consequences and your responsibilities. and be sensitive to your partner’s emotions when she refuses to give in to your request for sex.

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yesterday was world epilepsy day – a day to bring awareness to public about epilepsy, a neurological disorder wherein there is a disturbance in the normal electrical activity of the brain. this disturbance causes seizures (‘fits’ in lay person’s language). it may affect the consciousness or the behaviour or the sensory perception of the affected person. the type of seizure, its manifestation varies from person to person. it can be fully cured by a very strict regimen of medication for about 3 to 5 years, depending on the individual case.

there is a big social stigma attached to this disorder and hence many a times the disorder is hidden by the family members and not given the required treatment. lay people are sometimes taken aback by the affected person’s behaviour as they do not have knowledge about this condition. this makes them develop certain myths and misconceptions about this condition and hence a stigma gets attached to the condition.

as a mental health worker i would like to inform you all that epilepsy is not to be feared or hidden from society. the condition generally occurs during childhood, but it can manifest at any age during adulthood too. the causes of seizures may be infections, like, encephelitis, brain injury due to fall or motor accident, high fever (febrile fits), in some people even head bath with hot water or it can occur due to any structural abnormality in brain that has occured during the developmental stage of the brain. it can just be a single episode of seizure in a person’s lifetime or many such episodes can occur, when it is called epileptic seizure.

it is very important to get the person the due medical attention. the condition should never be neglected or ignored. left untreated, it can cause further damage to brain cells or can even cause gradual impairment of intellectual faculties like perception, understanding, memory or thinking. family physicians, pediatricians or neurologists can treat this condition. diagnostic procedure like EEG (Electro Encephalogram) can determine the specific area of abnormal electric activity in the brain. CT scan or MRI can detect any abnormal growth like tumours in the brain. treatment and dosage depend on the age, family history, probable cause and the pattern of seizures. duration of medication is usually for 3 to 5 years.

there are people who have fought this condition bravely, kept it under control and have made huge achievements in life. Mr. Jonty Rhodes, world famous cricketer of south africa, is brilliant on the field and is a good batsman. our own bangalorean, Mr. K.C.Janardhan, is a world famous calligrapher (handwriting expert) whose services are used by many Management Institutions abroad and in India. thus people with epilepsy are as normal as any of us and may exceed us in many capabilities. it is the obligation of every one of us to render them support, encouragement and accord total respect to them as a productive member of our society.

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