HBO are not alone. In fact NBC is even more dedicated in searching for “illicit” use of their materials. How short sighted!
Saturday, September 30, 2006
Friday, September 29, 2006
President Bill Clinton addressed the British Labour Party Conference this week. Some saw it as a farewell gesture to his old friend Tony Blair. Some, like Ann Treneman writing for The Times, took the opportunity for some snide mocking. But even she noticed the “exotic” reference to ubuntu. As she put it, “Not since Timann and Pumbaa sang Hakuna Matata in the Lion King have we fallen quite so in love with an African word.”
Most commentators saw the ubuntu reference in a more positive light. The BBC, even with some ribbing, took time to explore it, giving a definition and a quote:
The word comes from the Bantu languages spoken in southern
Africa- and is related to a Zulu concept - umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu - which means that a person is only a person through their relationship to others.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in his book No Future Without Forgiveness, says: "Ubuntu is very difficult to render into a Western language ... It is to say, 'My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in what is yours."'
We also noted the BBC’s conclusion:
We expect to hear more from ubuntu in the future.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
In a related JAMA editorial, physician W. Keith Henry and colleagues write that the study results are stimulating and suggest that researchers should seek to identify nonviral factors that might trigger the decline of CD4+ T cells.
Predictive Value of Plasma HIV RNA Level on Rate of CD4 T-Cell Decline in Untreated HIV Infection.
Benigno Rodríguez, MD, et al.
Link to JAMA Article
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
So why are we talking about it, you ask? The nagging doubt is why is it such a big deal --- not that you cannot say, "cock" on a Disney show (though come to think of it . . . .) No, we are wondering about the notion of "wrapping the rascal" as a matter of what --- good taste? modesty? decorum? personal space? But it was, at the end of the day, acting. If the unseen penis has to be covered (for whatever reason) what is the hope for eroticizing the condom.
Well let's not make a mountain out of a molehill. Now there's an unfortunate metaphor. But it does illustrate our ongoing proposition. How we all (society) think about sexual expression does in a circular fashion influence how we all think about sex. I was amazed to hear a therapist explaining that it is not unusual these days for young men to think they have small penises. Yes we know that size has always been an issue --- whether or not you believe it matters. But not that long ago erotic material (ok porn --- if you must) depicted a wide range of body types, which also reflected penis size. Now,
If true, there is an upside to this. Erotic material could make the condom an erotic part of sex rather than a pseudo medical prophylactic which intrudes into the natural flow of things.
People still argue this cannot be done. The French (and other Europeans) as well as the Brazilians seem to take this as a matter of course. The
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Andrew S Furber (
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Monday, September 25, 2006
AIDS treatment resolution withdrawn at WHO meeting because of
According to the AP/International Herald Tribune, at the World Health Organization's Asia-Pacific conference in
New Zealand Health Minister Pete Hodgson, chair of the meeting said the U.S. "position is that if they have needle exchanges, then people will use needles more and use intravenous drugs more," adding, "I think it is demonstrably wrong.
“The CDC should be commended for trying to increase the number of people tested for HIV, but eliminating the only safeguards that guarantee that testing is voluntary and informed does little to ensure that people will receive the care they need,” said Rose Saxe, a staff attorney with the ACLU AIDS Project. “Studies have shown that patients who are tested without consent are less likely to get the follow-up care that is critical to maintaining good health.”
“Receiving an HIV diagnosis is a significant life-changing event. In addition to having to learn to live with a life-threatening disease, people with HIV deal with the continuing stigma that comes with having HIV,” added Saxe. “Without pre- and post-test counseling requirements, we risk losing a critical opportunity to educate people about HIV and how to prevent the spread of it.”
Of course these arguments bolster the myth at Pre-test and Post-test counseling are really happening as the previous policies recommended. As we have illustrated many times and as health care professionals all no the treatment/prevention combination was happening rarely if at all. And, if fact, the new recommendations not only allow but encourage prevention interventions. Is this another example of us failing to respond to HIV as a disease rather than a moral issue?
Sunday, September 24, 2006
I thought you might like to see a sketch from the 1960’s stage show Beyond the Fringe. It is fascinating because it features the ooh so young Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Dr. Jonathan Miller.
It is even more fascinating because it pokes fun at post-war attitudes. We were wondering why it is that it was OK. Whereas now we have to be “patriotic” and “support” the war (without of course referring to it as a war). Somebody suggested the major difference was that everyone then had felt intimately attached to the struggle. Even young men in the 1960s had been born into the aftermath when the whole community paid off the costs --- overtly and willingly. After all George Bush’s hero Winston Churchill had said, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” Somewhat different from the notion that if we (ie. The brave young men and women who have gone for us) fight them over there we won’t have to do it here. Or that while our “war” is going on we are the economy is booming and we have tax cuts! Churchill also pointed out that “The British nation is unique in this respect. They are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst.” Of course that was back in the 1940s. Then, I think he meant being frank rather than spreading fear. Doubtless, the next generations will pay for what we have done (the deficit alone will see to that) but I doubt with the same pride! History will tell --- even if as, the President has implied he won’t be around to worry about it
Saturday, September 23, 2006
AA Gill who is now a contributor to Vanity Fair is one of my favorite columnists. You know who he is: the guy who was “thrown out” (with Joan Collins) by Gordon Ramsey. He has an acerbic wit (as opposed to Ramsey’s fluid vernacular) and he is not afraid to mock the Welsh!
"It’s so rare that the right-wingers ever bother to create something cultural, but it’s always interesting to see what they think is edifying, entertaining and informative TV. Then they make The Path to 9/11, and you’re eternally grateful that they can so rarely be bothered. Leaving aside the childish name-calling, the witch-hunt, the finger-pointing and the sheer invention of this banal, partisan rant, what’s particularly repellent is the vile, racist Wagnerian sentimentality and licensed thuggery. There is a complete absence of any interest in why there is a jihad against the West. It’s simply cowboys and Indians; Indians are savage because they’re Indians; men in turbans are frightening, soulless, unthinking, suicidal maniacs because they’re men in turbans. Trying to understand them would be like trying to understand malarial mosquitoes. Hating
is, by its nature, beyond explanation or understanding, and is probably inhuman. America
The one thing Blair, Bush,
, Bin Laden and Disney all agree on is that the war on terror is at bottom about competing values. As an advertisement for the values of a pluralistic, democratic, open and decent society, The Path to 9/11 was embarrassingly ghastly. Just as television, it’s laughably nasty." Clinton
Friday, September 22, 2006
As reported on the NBC Nightly News (Thursday) and in various newspapers today, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has changed its recommendations for testing. This is from their statement
“CDC's recommendations urge providers to include HIV testing as routine part of their patients’ Healthcare . Routine HIV testing ensures more people learn whether they are infected with HIV, allowing them to benefit from earlier access to treatment, and reduce the risk of infecting their partners.”
"Key differences in the Recommendations for patients in all Healthcare settings are:
- HIV screening (another term for broad-based testing) for patients in all Healthcare settings after the patient is notified that testing will be performed unless the patient declines (opt-out screening).
- HIV testing of people at high risk for HIV infection at least once a year.
- Screening should be incorporated into the general consent for medical care; separate written consent is not recommended.
- Prevention counseling should not be required with HIV diagnostic testing or as part of HIV screening programs in Healthcare settings.
Additional key differences in the Recommendations for pregnant women in Healthcare settings are:
- Including HIV screening in the routine panel of prenatal screening tests for all pregnant women, unless the patient declines (opt-out screening).
- Repeat screening in the third trimester in certain jurisdictions with elevated rates of HIV infection among pregnant women.
The Recommendations emphasize the importance of voluntary testing. Various constituencies have expressed concern that eliminating the recommendation for separate informed consent for an HIV test could result in some patients being tested for HIV without their knowledge. Others have asserted that requiring separate, written informed consent is a barrier that makes HIV screening difficult to conduct in heath-care settings, and that removing this requirement would make widespread HIV screening feasible.
Concerns have also been expressed over the lack of HIV prevention counseling in conjunction with HIV testing. CDC continues to support prevention counseling as an intervention to help people reduce their risks for HIV, but recognizes it can become a barrier to HIV testing in busy Healthcare settings. CDC still recommends that patients receive information about HIV testing, HIV infection, and the meaning of test results."
They note that there been a number of high profile cases where people have been prosecuted for passing on HIV, with sentences ranging from a small fine to imprisonment. But in August 2006, a gay man being accused of 'recklessly' passing on the virus to his partner became the first person in
Thursday, September 21, 2006
She noted that the existence of drug therapies have given people the idea that the AIDS epidemic is over. She also continued the message she presented at the Walk: 50% of new infections in people who are less than 25 years old.
"Young people aren't getting the message anymore that AIDS kills".
"Unlike government services it does not come with restrictions; so we can do the work we need to do, not the work we are told to do. "
[Some ACTIVISM at last! Well at least a nod to their Mission Statement]
We are told that the
Lets hope this heralds an effective, visible embrace of their PREVENTION
Bill Gates: Helping to treat Aids is not enough, we must urgently find ways of preventing it
In an opinion piece in today’s (Sept 21) edition ofThe Independen, a London Newspaper, Bill gates explains graphically why treatment alone is not enough for dealing with the AIDS Pandemic. He also specifies how activists should use their influence and also tells us what individuals can do. This is certainly worth reading. Follow the link
The "harsh mathematics" of the HIV/AIDS epidemic suggests that "for each person who starts getting treatment today, 10 more people will need treatment tomorrow"
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
This question is raised by Rachel Burr’s article in the current New Scientist.
As an anthopologist She studied street boys in
Perhaps the most interesting of their strategies t for coping with institutional life was the practice of tattooing each other.
The boys improvised. They used a mix of blood, ink and dirt, introduced under the skin using shared, dirty needles
It was deemed by the authorities that children do not get AIDS. Requests by her and an American Aid Worker that the boys should be tested for HIV were refused.
They were finally tested a year after I left
. Out of the 180 boys I had studied, 162 tested positive for HIV Vietnam
She has been criticized by the anthropology community for choosing to be involved. She was told by a senior academic that she was becoming an activist. As an anthropologist, he said, that in itself bordered on the unethical.
Some have accused anthropologists who become involved with the communities who inform their work of neocolonialism
Rachel Burr is an associate lecturer at the Open University,
Published July 2006 by
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
At an emergency meeting in Johannesburg last week, the World Health Organization, the South African Medical Research Council and African health officials agreed a plan to screen for XDR-TB in other African countries to see just how widespread it is. Until now,
Oh, but that’s only
Monday, September 18, 2006
Cognitive dissonance occurs when someone’s beliefs or knowledge disagree with each other or with the persons behaviors. Leon Festinger spelled out the theory of cognitive dissonance in 1957. When there is a conflict between thought and behavior, there is motivation to reduce the conflict (dissonance) through changes in beliefs or behavior.
Even in 1988, Elliot Aronson, writing in his book The Social Animal, looked at the implications of trying to persuade people to use condoms. This typically involved the "vivid descriptions of the dangers of unsafe sex and the ravages of the disease. The assumption was that arousing a great deal of fear will induce people to change sexual behavior”. He gave the example of an attractive woman being shown as saying, “I love sex but I`m not willing to die for it." He warned that this approach might be ineffective or, worse, counterproductive. So, he says
If the cognitive association between death and condoms is too powerful, the thought of using condoms may be so noxious as to diminish the pleasure associated with sex. Under these circumstances, a great many individuals will block all thoughts of death, disease, and condoms out of their minds, adopting a posture of denial. But they won’t stop having sex. Thus they will convince themselves that "It can't happen to me," or "I 'm not attracted to the kind of person who would have AIDS," or "I can spot a person with AIDS just by looking at him"
We are all familiar with the even more current rationalization!
Does that mean we should give up on providing information? No! People still need and informed choice. But we should not assume that the information alone will change behavior.
Aronson --- way back then --- was already pointing out the need to design the message to overcome whatever it is that sexually active people find unattractive about condoms.
We don't seem to have tried very hard.
[The Social Animal (5th edn. 1988) Elliot Aronson WH Freeman:
In its 16 September2006 edition a New Scientist piece tells us that
“the celebrated experiment demonstrating the electrical nature of lightning [has] just gone electronic”
Meaning that Benjamin Franklin's 1752 paper describing how he conducted lightning with a kite is one of hundreds of landmark scientific papers now available in an electronic archive compiled by the Royal Society in London. The papers date back to the first scientific journal, Philosophical Transactions, published in 1665. They also include Edmund Halley's description in 1705 of the comet named after him; and details of the DNA double helix published in 1954 by James Watson and Francis Crick and many more.
Be quick! Access is Free only for two months from 14 September,
This is the Link: Royal Society Archive
Sunday, September 17, 2006
I didn't know my grandfather. He died before I was born. It is one of the things I remember about my mother. There was a sadness in her eyes when she acknowledged how much she missed him. When I got older she told me that it was her one regret in life that I never knew him. He was a coal miner. He did not die in any disaster but it was mining which took his life too young. I have always associated this with the Alex Glasgow song Close the Coal House Door: (It won’t be the same reading the words without hearing his
Close the coalhouse door, lad. There's blood inside. , Close the coalhouse door, lad. There's bones inside.
Blood from broken hands and feet,
Blood that's dried on pit-black meat,
Blood from hearts that know no beat.
Close the coalhouse door, lad. There's bones inside.
Close the coalhouse door, lad. There's death inside.
It seems particularly poignant to me that we could apply the same sentiments to the HIV/AIDS closet that was written about yesterday.
Close the closet door, lad. There's HIV inside
-----------------------There's Hepatitis C inside
------------------There's the Super Virus inside
----------------------There’s Crystal Meth inside . . . . .
For all those who have decided this is all just not worth thinking about, I dedicate these few verses from Louise MacNeice’s poem
It's no go the merry-go round, its no go the rickshaw,
All we want is a limousine and a ticket for the peepshow.
Their knickers are made of crêpe-de-chine, their shoes are made of python,
Their halls are lined with tiger rugs and their walls are heads of bison.
It’s no go the picture palace, it’s no go the stadium,
It’s no go the country cot with the pot of pink geraniums
It’s no go the Government grants, it’s no go the elections,
Sit on your arse for fifty years and hang you hat on a pension.
It’s no go my honey love, It’s no go my poppet;
Work your hands from day to day, the winds will blow the profit.
The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall for ever,
But if you break the bloody glass you won’t hold up the weather.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
RAVES FROM LULU'S
The Headmaster was putting together a piece on cognitive dissonance. So I have quickly slipped in to head him off --- who knows if we delay him long enough it might even fade away. No! I forgot that is the strategy of the Prevention Players --- keep silent and the critics will go away.
I suppose exploring why and how we adjust our thinking to accommodate risky behavior is more than interesting. I think it was Elliot Aaronson (the Social Psychologist) who quoted George Bernard Shaw’s way of dealing with his father's alcoholism
"If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance."
If you are going to indulge in risky sexual behaviors, then it helps to have a whole range of justifications --- which may or may not have any basis in reality. The extreme is the notion that HIV does not even cause AIDS. More subtle is to turn the risks into familiars rather than demons by giving them cute names - Bare Backing, PnP (Party and Play together with "party favors"), Conversion parties etc.
The problem with this whole game in particular as with "Gay-ed" HIV in general is that we have allowed it to be about sexual behavior (if not sexuality) rather than letting the focus be Infection. Aren't we now trapped in a new closest of our own making? We cannot confront the issue of people putting others at risk (a life and death risk at that) because we have let the spreading of a virus become bound up with who we are.
I am tired of hearing that HIV+ people have already suffered enough and that we cannot stigmatize them. If we apply this philosophy to resistant TB, as well, then God help us. It's kind of ironic for those who have been around since the early days that they tried sohard to debunk the myth of The Gay Plague. Now, to foster a sense of personal self esteem (so they say) and to preserve a “community”, we want to bring it back. A friend who trained at Seattle Counseling Services (for Sexual Minorities --- to give it the name it used to flaunt my dears!) tells a sad tale. He was attracted to working there not only because of its high professional standards and its community involvement but, also, because it made a distinction between sexual orientation and the illnesses (diseases and dis-ease) which visit people. He received a recent funding solicitation from the current Director which had the strong implication that it is being gay which makes you sick. Today I wont even comment on SCS’s abandonment of their heritage of community involvement. (Won't Tina be please that we didn't mention her ---- even if this is still about Lifelong too) Just for those who want to paint this as “personal” attacks or “anti gay” community propaganda, let’s acknowledge that some people seem to be doing it right. I am thinking of the Seattle LGBT Community Center. They seem to be doing a pretty good job --- even on a shoestring budget. But then, they seem to be prepared to stick their necks out and respond to community needs rather than transforming into a career enhancing pseudo mental health agency.
Lets finish my rant with thoughts of old friends, particularly a psychologist from the
It's a funny old world we live in. You're lucky to get out alive
Friday, September 15, 2006
14 September 2006
UK Gay website Puffta believes that more than twice as many gay teenagers may have contracted HIV this year than in 2005.
Simon Johnson, editor of Puffta.co.uk, said: “It’s well known that sex infections have been rising faster and faster. Many gay teens are still not taking precautions, and we’re extremely worried that this year’s figures will be truly shocking.
The 2005 Puffta Sex Survey revealed almost half of gay teens had regular unprotected sex, with over a third not knowing their HIV status. This year’s survey aims to find out if attitudes towards unsafe sex have changed and if gay teens have any other secrets.
This year marks the third year of the annual Puffta Sex Survey with it asking even more questions, including when gay teens first had sex and who with and if they have ever been paid for sex. An estimated 3000 gay teens are predicted to take part in the survey.
A friend passed on this item to us. It is a useful piece because it reports an important indicator. But, he did not give the reference for the actual article describing the Puffta Sex Survey. That may give an out for the doubters:
a. we made it up.
b. it applies to the
so who cares. UK
Critical appreciation is great. Barefaced denial is non-productive. If in doubt check up yourself.
The escape clause --- It dosen't apply to us --- it's them. Of course, if it were an African sample you could shove it immediately. But Europeans --- that's closer to home.
Maybe we should say it yet again
HIV/AIDS IS A WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC.
That leads nicely into the poor soul who dealt with the Seattle Super Virus News by diminishing the significance of the stats to say,
"Well really, it's only four cases."
Is this the begining of a new chapter?
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The headline above is a Quote from Public Health. We would urge all doubters to read the public health reference (Epi-Log Newsletter) at this link
Meanwhile back to the real story:
We are still asking: Why is the significant information not prominently available? A small technical piece sandwiched between news of Vibrio parahæmolyticus infections (from raw oysters) and the reported diseases statistics hardly constitutes getting the word out. Those at risk should be aware of this without having to search it out. It is PUBLIC Health.
These contribution are significant and are reposted from the Comments sections., where they might be overlooked (by our mythseeking experts!):
"As a virologist at the UW I can say that the numbers that are published relate to those people who are tested. I predict that in five to eight years we will have an explosion of 'sickness' in the community. Many of these people will have been exposed to the super-virus, and at the very least, their immune systems will have been compromised by the repeated interaction with other infectious diseases. The CDC confirmed today
9/13/2006, the first two cases in Washington State of West Nile virus in humans. A man and his wife cointracted the virus (via mosquito) in . This is important as another step in the medical saga of infection." Pierce County
"Another comment - we have ALL been working since the 1990's on STI co-infection. Public Health may not have a mandate to inform as part of prevention. But most of us take it that study, and publication is just PART of our role as educators and researchers. Prevention includes informing, talking and making people interested in STI."
A series of studies, many conducted at the
All the more reason to use condoms, whatever the problems.
Behavioral interventions, such as condom use and suppression of viral shedding with antiviral agents, can prevent transmission. Thus, diagnosis is a key factor in slowing the spread of genital herpes..
---------- and every other STI that can be spread through 'shedding'.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Today's Kaiser Daily HIV/AID Report has a short item titled Reuters Examines How Some New York City Public Bathhouses Serve as Venues for Awareness of Safer Sex. The "some" may be misleading because there are only two 24hr bathhouses left. They have become "a place where a captive audience can be taught about safe sex." They note, that twice a month volunteers from the Gay Men's Health Crisis visit both bathhouses to distribute condoms and pamphlets on safer sex. Patrons are also given condoms when they sign in. The article quotes John Riley of ACT UP New York as saying, "At least bathhouses are public and a place where you can educate people about disease prevention."
The actual Reuters report by Matthew Verrinder is rather less focused on prevention. Its title says it all
NY`s gay baths become sex clubs of last resort.
The report ends
Unprotected sex "seems to be coming back into vogue," he said. "There's a lot of advertising for it in magazines and demand for it in the personals. I don't know why you'd put your life on the line."
Click here to read the full Reuters Article
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I hope you have not already forgotten that we are gathering impressions of people’s reactions to the Condom. This study has no grant writing, no research assistants, no support from the Foundations, and certainly no Pharmaceutical money. It only has YOU and your ideas.
We said a sentence (even one word) will help but that doesn’t stop you from letting your ideas flow --- that is quite safe. Either use the comments box or for privacy, if you prefer, you can mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org