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By Ian Anderson (President, Smart + Strong)

Bill author Representative Lela Alston (D-Phoenix).
Bill author Representative
Lela Alston (D-Phoenix)
An inmate in Missouri was recently charged with a felony for "knowingly endangering" someone after he smeared his feces all over his cell. The felony was because the man had hepatitis C and there was a fear that the folks cleaning up his mess could potentially contract the virus. As hep C is mostly spread through blood-to-blood contact, this charge is ridiculous and underscores the problems with criminalizing sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Now we have news out of Arizona that Representative Lela Alston (D-Phoenix) has authored a bill (HB 2218) that would make it a felony to intentionally expose others to STIs. There are so many problems with this bill that I'm having a tough time on where to start.

These are the eight STIs covered in the bill: human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), chancroid, chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale, lymphogranuloma venereum, syphilis and trichomonas.

Where did this list come from? It's a hodge podge of STIs with major omissions like hepatitis B. So if you pass along gonorrhea you go to jail, but no worries if you have human papillomavirus (HPV)?

Here's another doozy. As defined by the bill, exposure would include sexual intercourse or sodomy; selling or donating one's own tissue, organs or bodily fluids; and sharing hypodermic needles or syringes. Would anyone care to try cataloging the various diseases you can pass along via this catch-all list of activities? Hepatitis C comes to mind when I see needles and syringes on the list. And what does donating tissue have to do with exposure to STIs?

And what about the total lack of accountability on the sexual partner that is being exposed to this select list of STIs? How about learning a little bit about your anticipated partner before jumping into the sack? Or at the very least use some protection?

In today's society, it appears it is just fine to absolve yourself of any accountability. Instead, ask your local politicians to draft up a law that removes the feces from the wall for you.
By Kate Ferguson (Editor-in-Chief, Real Health)

Trust and HonestyHow much trust should you give a person at the beginning of a relationship, especially since you can be misled?

I used to think that when I entered a relationship, the way to handle trust was to give it until the person did something that proved to me he or she couldn't be trusted. So I'd keep getting burned all the time. I'd trust the person, thinking this was the way not to bring previous baggage into the relationship, but that person wouldn't have done anything to prove he was worthy of me placing my trust in him. In hindsight, the process now seems backward.

Also linked to trust, honesty is a huge issue in relationships. Just how honest should we be? And how much honesty is too much in a relationship?

Unlike trust, honesty is an issue which calls for us to make critical judments based on the nature of a specific set of circumstances and variables. Trust has more to do with absorbing and relying on a certain set of beliefs which we take on faith. It is based on an inner certainty and outer predictability, two factors basic to trust which a respected psychologist named Erik Erikson proposed was how infants learned to first establish this feeling.

His example was universal. Trust is a child's first social achievement, when he or she is unable to see its mother yet remains unperturbed. The child trusts because it is certain of its mother's presence--the outer predictability. Without this certainty, says Erikson, the feeling of trust cannot exist. It is the same dynamic in a love relationship.

But back to honesty. More subjective, due to a certain set of circumstances, being honest is often a  value judgment that we make. To be honest means preparing for certain consequences. When we are either honest or dishonest, other people are often affected by what we choose to disclose--or not. the rightness or wrongness of our choice, however, may be excused or explained. Sometimes, it is a matter of diplomacy. We may choose to lie to spare someone pain.

If you think about it, we can trust someone who we know has been dishonest. Why? Because we trust that they are not always liars. And, when they do lie, we feel they must have a very good reason. Our basic ability to trust them, then, is not affected.

Honesty is not a state of being. Really, it is an act which may be selfless or selfish. We may wish to disclose certain facts to a partner or wish to have him disclose certain facts to us for many reasons. These facts may or may not be relevant to our relationship with that person. Our desire for honesty may simply be motivated by selfishness; we simply want the satisfaction of knowing the truth.

If we are the ones who disclose because we say we want to be honest, there are reasons for that which may not be totally altruistic. Maybe we're trying to lay a guilt trip on someone or simply dumping emotional baggage from a previous relationship on the new person who came into our life.

Before being honest in this way, however, ask yourself these questions: What is it that I need to be honest about and why?

By Kate Ferguson (Editor-in-Chief, Real Health)

Imagine if all it took to lose weight was hitting a dance party often enough to melt off the pounds--with the appropriate tweak to your diet, of course?

Zumba logoAt first, I didn't know what Zumba was. My sister told me about it just before the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday. She had a promotion DVD that featured the Zumba dance party. So one evening after I got home (late again) from the office, I decided to try it. I knew I had to get cracking and get back into my exercise program. From what I could see of my stretched-to-capacity clothes, I needed to drop some weight ASAP.

What my problem was (and is) is late hours at the office and getting home too tired to think about working out. But when I popped in the Zumba dance party DVD, hit play and heard the music, suddenly I wasn't tired anymore. Just watching the people on the CD made me want to join the party, so I did.

Today, I'm still learning more about Zumba. For example, what shoes to wear. Did you know that you should wear cross training or aerobic-type shoes for Zumba dancing? They have the correct cushioning and medial lateral support needed for knee stability and to avoid knee ligament injuries when you're doing activity that puts stress on this body part. (Some Zumba dances have lots of side-to-side movements.) Zumba shoes should have low traction rubber for easy sliding and turning, according to the Zumba Fitness website.

In simple terms that means put on the right shoes before you try Zumba. According to the website, running shoes won't work because "they use a heavy tread on the bottom and are designed for forward movement." I learned this the hard way when I used my jogging sneakers and started to get knee pain from some of the moves. Lucky for me, I found a pair of still-usable cross trainers in my closet.

And imagine, you can burn hundreds of calories in a Zumba class. According to the site, the number of calories each person burns per class varies, depending on their body type, how much fat vs. muscle they have, how much effort they put into their Zumba dancing and how full and complete their dance movements are. (Naturally, I give it my all.)

Wii logoBut the cool thing about Zumba is that the whole DVD is such fun that the workout is over before you know it. I know I sound like an infomercial, but the Zumba experience isn't like a workout at all. There's also a Zumba video game for those with Wii, Xbox, and PS3. Plus there's an aquatic fitness version of the workout--for you pool lovers. (Summer's coming!)

And last, but not least, there's a Zumba workout designed especially for kids. With childhood obesity rates soaring, I think this is a great way to get children moving.

But later for the kiddies and back to me. Zumba got me back into loving my workouts. It's easy; it's fun and it helps you burn calories so you can lose weight while you dance.

What's not to like about it?
By Ian Anderson (President, Smart + Strong)

Is former second baseman Roberto Alomar HIV positive? If so, did he hide his status to engage in unprotected sex with his wife? Yes or no, congratulations are still in order for becoming the newest member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. He was elected to the Hall of Fame after being picked on a whopping 90 percent of the ballots (75 percent is needed to get elected).

He was a 12-time All-Star, won a record 10 Gold Gloves at second base, hit .300 and helped the Toronto Blue Jays win titles in 1992-93. ESPN also called him smart, graceful and acrobatic on the field.

All of the stories about Alomar's induction also cover the players who didn't get in this year because of their ties to the "Steroid Era." These are the players with big numbers and even bigger muscles.

"We are asked to consider character when casting Hall of Fame votes, and I don't believe those who used performance-enhancing substances meet that standard," Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle said in an e-mail to ESPN.

The only blemish mentioned on Alomar's record? He had an incident in 1996 where he spit on umpire John Hirschbeck. It received a lot of play in the media at the time and was amicably settled in a very public display early the following baseball season.

What is missing from most of the reports I've read so far is any mention of his more recent problems. The one where his wife accused him of hiding his HIV status in order to have unprotected sex with her.

Nothing has been proved when it comes to the case. But as Yahoo! contributor Ron Hart wrote: "The facts include that Alomar has denied the allegations, though did settle one out of court and [did] not countersue for slander...all of which would give anybody pause..."

So at a time when HIV-positive people like Willie Campbell are getting jailed for spitting on people, which has virtually zero chance of spreading the virus, the Hall of Fame voting committee is more worried about who did and didn't use steroids.

On the one hand, it is encouraging that Alomar's HIV status didn't factor into the committee's decision and the media reporting of it. On the other, you have to wonder what will happen if it turns out he is HIV positive--and if that was his status when he had that little spitting incident.


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