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August 2, 2007

Are the Headlines Hijacking Your Sex Life?

Could sex make you depressed? Do STDs cause cancer? Not if you know the whole story behind the headlines. Here's the truth about the latest sex scares.


Photo Credit: E. May/Getty Images

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THE SCARE: A rare and aggressive HIV strain is reported in New York. —The New York Times, February 12, 2005
THE DETAILS: A man is diagnosed with a rare strain of multidrug-resistant HIV that progresses rapidly to AIDS; the announcement sparks panic about a "superbug" epidemic.
THE TRUTH: You shouldn't be any more alarmed about HIV now than you were before, says Howard Grossman, M.D., executive director of the American Academy of HIV Medicine. "'Superbug' implies that nothing is going to stop it," he says, but condoms do help protect you from this, as they do with other HIV strains. More reasons not to panic: Although the case was reported seven months ago, this new strain has been found in just one person to date. Officials sounded a similar "superbug" alarm in Vancouver in 2001, and doctors did find drugs to effectively treat those involved, says Dr. Grossman. But treating the disease doesn't mean erasing it, so don't let your guard down.

THE SCARE: Sex addicts are more likely to be depressed. —The Boston Herald, June 12, 2005
THE DETAILS: A new study suggests that people who have a dependence on sex are roughly four times as depressed as the rest of the population.
THE TRUTH: These findings were for people actually addicted to sex, not just frequent shaggers. Sex addicts, explains study author Douglas Weiss, Ph.D., use sex to self-medicate and can't be emotionally intimate during the act. Just liking sex a lot does not translate to depression — in fact, it does quite the opposite, says Dr. Weiss: "Great sex is great for you."

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