Monday, April 30, 2007

Serosorting

Sabin Russell, Medical Writer for the San Francisco Chronicle (April 27, 2007) in

Sexual practices shifting, S.F. studies find

On what he calls “a homegrown version of HIV prevention known as "serosorting" “ which has increased dramatically among gay men in San Francisco, Serosorting is choosing to have unprotected anal intercourse only with partners of the same HIV status -- uninfected men having sex only with HIV-negatives, while infected men seek out only HIV-positive partners. He notes this evolved in the gay community without the kind of institutional support given to programs encouraging condom use and reducing the number of sexual partners.

According to a study by published in the American Journal of Public Health, Dennis Osmond and colleagues at UCSF, 27 percent of gay men in San Francisco practiced serosorting in 2002, compared to 19 percent in 1997. 40percent of men ages 18 to 29 reported serosorting in 2002.

"There seems to be a tendency favoring serosorting over condom use, especially among younger men," said Osmond.

The Chronicle article makes the point that if both partners know their infection status and disclose it honestly it would reduce infections but because of “the uncertainty, the practice is considered a sexual behavior that potentially puts the uninfected at higher risk”.

Higher-risk sexual behaviors have increased in the gay community, Osmond found, with the highest risk concentrated among men ages 30 to 50.The article notes that “despite the trend toward serosorting,” the percentage of men reporting unprotected anal intercourse with a partner of different or unknown HIV status rose to nearly 15 percent in 2002 from 9 percent in 1997. [We feels justified in suggesting this may be because of . . . rather than despite . . .]

Changes in Prevalence of HIV Infection and Sexual Risk Behavior in Men Who Have Sex With Men: San Francisco, 1997-2002
Dennis H. Osmond
et al
American Journal of Public Health, 10.2105/AJPH.2005.062851
AJPH First Look, published online ahead of print
Apr 26, 2007

Link to AJPH abstract

Link to San Francisco Chronicle Article

Abstinence

The New York Times Editorial (April 28, 2007)

The Abstinence-Only Delusion

points out that reliance on abstinence-only sex education as the primary tool to reduce teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases — as favored by the Bush administration and conservatives in Congress — looks increasingly foolish and indefensible.

At least nine states, by one count, have decided to give up the federal matching funds rather than submit to dictates that undermine sensible sex education. Now there is growing evidence that the programs have no effect on children’s sexual behavior.

A Congressionally mandated report issued this month by the Mathematica Policy Research firm found that elementary and middle school students in four communities who received abstinence instruction — sometimes on a daily basis — were just as likely to have sex in the following years as students who did not get such instruction. Those who became sexually active — about half of each group — started at the same age (14.9 years on average) and had the same number of sexual partners. The chief caveat is that none of the four programs studied continued the abstinence instruction into high school, the most sexually active period for most teenagers, so it is not known whether more sustained abstinence education would show more effectiveness.

Supporters of abstinence-only education sometimes point to a sharp decline in teenage pregnancy rates in recent years as proof that the programs must be working. But a paper by researchers at Columbia University and the Guttmacher Institute, published in the January issue of The American Journal of Public Health, attributed 86 percent of the decline to greater and more effective use of contraceptives — and only 14 percent to teenagers’ deciding to wait longer to start having sex. At the very least, that suggests that the current policy of emphasizing abstinence and minimizing contraceptive use should be turned around.

Link to Mathematica abstinence report

Explaining Recent Declines in Adolescent Pregnancy in the United States: The Contribution of Abstinence and Improved Contraceptive Use
John S. Santelli et al

American Journal of Public Health January 2007, Vol 97, No. 1, | 150-156
AJPH First Look, published online ahead of print
Nov 30, 2006

Link to AJPH abstract

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Kohler - Existential Dilemma commercial


Steve Bell - The Guardian

BILL MAHER - NEW RULES 4/27

Ooh, Vicar!

Pass the fish knives

Would you believe, in this day and age and after all the House of Windsor's recent follies, there have been wide spread reports that Prince William and his girlfriend, Kate Middleton, broke up in part because of her mother’s so-called middle-class behavior, including using the word toilet for bathroom.

It is being claimed that this started with the revelation that Kate Middleton has coal-mining roots --- Christopher Wilson wrote his piece Kate, the coal miner's girl in the British tabloid the Daily Mail (December 22, 2006).

Link to Daily Mail article

And we were all told that Britain is now a class less society. It harkens back half a decade:


How to Get On In Society

Phone for the fish knives, Norman
As cook is a little unnerved;
You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes
And I must have things daintily served

Are the requisites all in the toilet?
The frills rounds the cutlets can wait
Till the girl has replenished the cruets
And switched on the logs in the grate.

It’s ever so close in the lounge dear,
But the vestibule’s comfy for tea
And Howard is riding on horseback
So do come and take some with me.

Now here is a fork for your pastries
And do use the couch for your feet;
I know what I wanted to ask you –
Is trifle sufficient for sweet?

Milk and then just as it comes dear?
I’m afraid the preserve’s full of stones;
Beg pardon, I’m soiling the doileys
With afternoon tea-cakes and scones.

Sir John Betjeman

There is a link to the BBC’s A Better Class of Language where you can hear John Betjeman himself - Pass the fish knives – read his poem. 1954 and we thought it would be out of date by now!

Link to BBC audio of Betjeman

Some of us grew up believing the British Royal Family have such high standards and traditions to maintain. Nowadays there is more cause to think. We are watching Showtime's series The Tudors. Does it impact the House of Windsor, I wonder? It must also make the moralists of the Anglican Communion shudder somewhat. Not only are they reminded of the Church of England's questionable "moral" origins but also they are faced with poor little Thomas Tallis in bed with a man. Does that mean than the Southern Comfort brigade will ban Tallis's music from Episcopal Churches?

Talking about the Episcopal Church, there is something they should be proud of (but don't hold your breath). The Associated Press has reported that Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop wants he and his partner to be among the first gay couples in New Hampshire to officially unite under the soon-to-be-signed civil unions law. Robinson's partner of 18 years, Mark Andrew, 53, is a state health care administrator. They live in Weare, a small town west of Concord.

Robinson says his long journey to where he is today began as a boy in Kentucky when he found he was not attracted to women. As an adult, he spent two years in therapy seeking a "cure" for his homosexual urges.

"I think this moves us one step closer to the American promise to all its citizens of equality under the law," he said. "New Hampshire understands fairness and has acted on that value,"

Robinson predicted gays would have full equality in 20 years, and he attributed the gains to gays being open about their homosexuality.

"Fifteen to 20 years ago, most Americans would have told you and been reasonably honest that they did not know a gay or lesbian. Now, there's not a family left, or a co-worker, that doesn't know someone."

Morland - The Times

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Tobacco Trap

Bill Moyers Journal | Guest: Jon Stewart | PBS

Marcel's Molecules

If you followed Top Chef or are just interested in molecular gastronomy this piece in the current issue of Wired is for you.

Tasty Molecules From a Top Chef

Foam, isomalt, and sodium alginate aren't usual ingredients in a reality TV show soufflé. But they got Marcel Vigneron to the finals of Top Chef this past season. Ultimately, the 27-year-old's innovative cuisine didn't win, but it spoon-fed molecular gastronomy to the masses.

Link to Wired article

Link to Wired slideshow

Guilty

John Tierney, in his New York Times BlogTierneyLab, reports (April 27, 2007, 9:00 pm)

Dr. Hurwitz Convicted on 16 Counts of Drug Trafficking

After deliberating for seven days in federal court here, a jury late this afternoon found Dr. William Hurwitz guilty on 16 counts of drug trafficking. Dr. Hurwitz, whose legal battles over his opioid prescriptions made him a hero to some chronic-pain patients, was not convicted on the other 29 counts against him.

He will be sentenced on July 13 for writing prescriptions of OxyContin and other opioids to drug dealers and addicts. But his prospects are certainly better than they were after his first trial in 2004, when he was convicted on 50 counts related to drug trafficking, including several with mandatory 20-year sentences for causing bodily injury or death. He was sentenced to 25 years following that conviction (which was overturned on appeal, resulting in a retrial that lasted more than a month).

The counts on which he was convicted today each carry a 20-year maximum sentence and no minimum requirement, giving Judge Leonie M. Brinkema great discretion in sentencing. She could sentence him to as little as the time already served by him, two and a half years, which would be longer than the prison terms of some of his patients who were caught peddling the drugs he prescribed to them.

Link to tierneylab blog entry

Friday, April 27, 2007

Censorship?

We were asked why the You Tube videos are sometimes removed. Is it censorship? When a video is no longer available we do not remove it so that anyone interested gets the opportunity to see what is being taken down and by whom.

Usually, it is not "censorship" but the insidious "copy right" enactments which so often show the short-sightedness of the corporate world.

Two of our favorite publications are New Scientist and Wired.

We like to refer readers (with links) to Wired because it is such a well produced magazine and gives a thorough oversight of the contemporary technological world not to mention current pressing issues and plenty of humor. Extracts never do it justice but fortunately the entire piece is usually available on their site. That's great but buy a (very cheap) subscription if you want the added pleasure of graphics and the feel of the hard copy.

In contrast, the New Scientist (very expensive subscription) has the policy of closing most of their articles. This is sad since young readers who cannot afford some $140 per year are put off. Cannot hard science learn from the wi-fi world?

We don't want to say that we are cavalier about copy right but it is frustrating in a blog to have to include mindless editorial chaff to justify including extracted items. Add to that the fact that our creative talents do not measure up to our intellectual strivings and you may understand why we "highjack" (as the little friend from Seattle Public Health described it). At least the outcome is original --- or so we would like to think.

Big Primpin' in Tokyo

The current edition of Wired reports in

Japanese Schoolboy Watch - Big Primpin' in Tokyo

They're known as gyaru-o — "male gals" — and they're turning heads on the streets of Japanese cities. Tanned, fabulously coiffed, and usually hetero, these foppish hipsters can be found cruising the Shibuya boutiques, spending as much time and money on their appearance as any trendsetting schoolgirl. Here's a look at one gyaru-o's futuristic beauty regimen. The on-line article also lists the 6 must – have accessories

Link to Wired article

Syphilis

Michael Carter, writing for Aidsmap (April 27, 2007) in

Majority of US syphilis cases are now in gay men

reports almost two-thirds of syphilis cases in the United States in 2003 were in gay men and other men who have sex with men, according to a study published in the June edition of the American Journal of Public Health. A fall in the incidence of syphilis of over 50% amongst heterosexual men and women between 2000 and 2003 was more than offset by a significant increase in the incidence of the infection amongst men who have sex with men.

Syphilis causes genital ulcers and can facilitate the transmission and acquisition of HIV infection. It can also act as a marker for risky sexual activity, although the infection can be readily transmitted during sexual activities, such as oral sex, which do not involve a significant risk of HIV transmission.

During the 1980s, there was a 54% increase in the incidence of primary and secondary syphilis in the United States, with African-Americans disproportionately affected by the disease. It is thought that the increase in syphilis during the 1980s was tied to the increasing use of crack cocaine and prostitution by some users to fund their habit. By the mid-1990s, however, the incidence of syphilis in the US had fallen sharply, and in 1999 a national syphilis elimination plan was published.

This trend has since reversed, with an increase in every year since 2001 in the incidence of primary and secondary syphilis. The US is not alone in experiencing a re-emergence of the infection, with outbreaks of syphilis reported across the UK and Europe, often focused on gay men, since the late 1990s.

Thanks to continual falls in the incidence of the infection through the 1990s, fewer cases of syphilis were recorded in the US in 2000 than in any year since 1941 when surveillance started.

This trend was reversed, however, between 2000 and 2003 when a 19% increase in the incidence of the infection was recorded. When the investigators analyzed the data in more detail they noted that new cases of the infection continued to decline amongst women, but were increasing amongst men.

The investigators also noted a shift in the geographical distribution of the infection. Although rates of syphilis fell by 20% in the Midwest and 16% in the South, they increased by 300% in Northeastern states and by 170% in the West.

The investigators calculated that in 2000 only 441 cases of syphilis were diagnosed in gay men. By 2003, however, this had increased to 4,387 cases, representing 62% of all syphilis cases in the US. Yet, between 2000 and 2003, the investigators calculate that there was a 50% decrease in syphilis incidence amongst heterosexual men and women.

They note that in 2006 a revised syphilis eradication plan, specifically mentioning gay men, was published in the US. Traditional measures of syphilis control, most notably contract tracing, have proved less effective for men who have sex with men. Key recommendations for controlling the infection in gay men include:

  • Gathering robust data about the incidence the infection in men who have sex with men.
  • Using the internet to engage men who have sex with men and to facilitate partner notification.
  • Enhanced syphilis education in the community and in sexual health clinics.
  • The use of outreach to improve awareness of the infection.

  • Improving access to syphilis testing.

“mobilizing the MSM community to take an active role in these efforts is crucial for their success.”

Reference

Trends in Primary and Secondary Syphilis Among Men Who Have Sex with Men in the United States
James D. Heffelfinger et al

American Journal of Public Health, 10.2105/AJPH.2005.070417
AJPH First Look, published online ahead of print
Apr 26, 2007


Link to AJPH abstract


Link to Aidsmap report

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Rarely does anyone in this country die of AIDS anymore

Dad, isn't that an aweful lot of people?
Don't worry son. They are a long way from here.
Dad, isn't that what thay are saying about Iraq . . . ?

Prevention working . . .

Michael Carter, reporting for Aidsmap (April 26, 2007) in

Single session of cognitive therapy can lead to sustained fall in risky sex in MSM

relates that a single session of cognitive counseling can achieve a swift and sustained decrease in HIV risk behavior amongst gay men who present for multiple HIV tests, according to a study conducted in San Francisco and published in the April 15th edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

Personalized cognitive counseling, delivered by trained cognitive behavioral therapists has been shown to be an effective way of reducing HIV risk-taking. However, the cost of employing mental health specialists to deliver this service would be prohibitive. Therefore investigators from the University of California and San Francisco Public Health Department wished to see if it was possible, effective, and acceptable to provide this intervention using so-called paraprofessionals – individuals educated to bachelor degree level, with a recognized certificate in HIV pre-test counseling, who had also received specialist training and support regarding personalized cognitive counseling.

Standard HIV pre-test counseling was provided to all the men. However, the men who were randomized to the personalized cognitive counseling arm of the study also received 50 minutes of time with a counselor who used a questionnaire to explore self-justifications for risky sexual behavior. This questionnaire included a list of 33 possible self-justifications, and the men were asked to rate how strongly the thought had occurred to them. After completing the questionnaire, the men were asked by the counselor to narrate events before, at the beginning of, and during the latest sexual encounter when they had had risky sex. On completing this narrative, the counselor and participant discussed any identified self-justifications, and a plan to address these in the future was developed.

A 60% reduction in the instance of risky sex was seen after six months amongst the men who received the cognitive counseling. Furthermore, the men in the cognitive counseling arm reported significantly less risky sex than men who only received standard pre-test counseling.

Reference

Brief Cognitive Counseling With HIV Testing To Reduce Sexual Risk Among Men Who Have Sex With Men: Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial Using Paraprofessional Counselors.
Dilley, James W MD et al
JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 44(5):569-577, April 15, 2007.

Link to JAIDS abstract

Link to Aidsmap report

Patently Bad ideas

Wired reports on Scott Seegert, who combed through the more than 7 million inventions filed with the US Patent and Trademark office to find the dumbest, dude-liest schemes ever proffered. He compiled his favorites in a new book, It's a Guy Thing: Awesome Innovations From the Underdeveloped Male Mind. This is one example. Visit the on-line article to see some others.

Penis Exerciser (1995)

Bet your health club doesn't have one of these. To stay, um, functional as you age, use your male organ to repeatedly push up the bar attached to the metal box. You can pump up the difficulty by adjusting the fulcrum. Be very careful not to pull any muscles.

Link to Wired article

On screen violence

The New Scientist (April 21, 2007) editorial raises the question

In denial
Why are we so reluctant to accept that on-screen violence is bad for us?

The editorial begins with a startling statistic --- by the time the average US schoolchild leaves elementary school, he or she will have witnessed more than 8000 murders and 100,000 other acts of violence on television. If the child also has access to violent computer games or films, or cable TV, these figures will be far, far higher. Anyone who claims that art reflects society might want to take a good hard look at their neighborhood.

Yet every time a study claims to have found a link between aggression, violence, educational or behavioral problems and TV programs or computer games, there are cries of incredulity, even (ironically) anger. People seem to doubt that such a link exists, or think the evidence is generally weak.

The vast majority of researchers see a clear link. So why the denial? The editorial argues that criticism of a multibillion-dollar business is bound to provoke a sharp rebuttal. Scientists have pointed out the similarity to the Tobacco industry's handling of adverse research.

The editorial is clear:

The issue is no longer whether there is an effect, but what it means to each of us, and how much we care. Like cigarette smoke, screen violence will not affect us all. It is neither a necessary or sufficient cause of violent behavior. The effects are subtle and it will remain impossible to pin any specific act -- such as the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech University -- to a single media experience.

Link to New Scientist editorial [subscription required]

Link to mindscience.org

Link to tvtroubles.com

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Family Guy - Best of Brian

Driving to distraction

The New Scientist (April 21, 2007) in

If you're driving stay off the phone

warns people who use their cell phone while driving often claim it is no worse than chatting to someone sitting in the passenger seat. Suzanne McEvoy has news for them: it's twice as bad.

Two years ago, McEvoy and her colleagues at the George Institute for International Health in Sydney, Australia, revealed that drivers using a phone are four times as likely to have a crash that puts them in hospital as someone who is not, even if the phone is a hands-free model (New Scientist, 16 July 2005, p 4).

The finding drew flak from those who said that talking to a passenger was probably just as distracting, so they have followed this up with a survey in which they asked 274 drivers admitted to a Perth hospital what may have distracted them in the five minutes before their accident.

The results, to be published in Accident Analysis and Prevention, show that driving with one passenger makes an accident 38 per cent more likely, while traveling with two passengers increased the likelihood of an accident by a factor of 2.23. Those who were using a phone while driving with no passengers were 4.10 times as likely to crash.


Link to New Scientist report

Another Telling Bone story

Martin Gardiner writes that he was wondering about phone phobia - as one does - so he visited changethatsrightnow.com, the website that offers advice on how to "live free of fears, phobias and anxiety attacks".

The site defines phone phobia as "a persistent, abnormal and unwarranted fear of telephones". It goes on: "To learn more about our 24-Hour Phone Phobia Program, please call us at 1-800-828-7484

From New Scientist (21 April 2007)

Peter Brookes - The London Times

Bush vs. Bush

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tick - Tock, Tick -Tock

From the Desk of Lady Constance

Hello Darlings,

Well I for one thought I agreed with those who were saying that the boys ranting about poor little Tina last week were being sooo unfair. I am sure she feels a little under confident about her achievements and needs a spot of limelight to compensate. It must be that she and the other poor dears at Lifelong are achieving all sorts of great things behind the scenes. They must do with all that money. I know they say she is never in her office. But that’s how a good leader operates--- out there in the field, making it happen. After all she has an executive assistant to drive “:the Desk of Tina “ when she is out. I am sure they must be doing all kinds of prevention work --- it’s just that we don’t know about it.

Of course it's difficult, even for a retired politico, to get one’s share of the sunshine amongst all those boys. I wonder how the leadership thing really works for her. I sympathize when she's dealing with board members who write things like:

We live in a very blessed time. Rarely does anyone in this country die of AIDS anymore--at least those with access to health care. I have been involved with this work since 1984 and can tell you that today is truly miraculous.

I think it is this kind of myth making that makes the boys at Lulu’s rant and rave. I have to agree. And if that didn’t convince me they reminded me that the clock is still ticking and it’s a bit like the Louis MacNeice line

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

The AIDS Clock

Link to the AIDS CLOCK



The Pain Killer Trial

John Tierney in the New York Times (April 24, 2007) Health Section: Findings

At Trial, Pain Has a Witness

Continues to cover the retrial in Alexandria, Va. o f Dr. William E. Hurwitz, for drug trafficking. We hope as a legal principal and as a moral issue that Dr. Hurwitz is vindicated.

Meanwhile John Tierney offers illustrations which highlight the core issues:

A hostile witness, Dr. Robin Hamill-Ruth, is one of the experts who paid by the federal prosecutors to analyze Dr. Hurwitz’s prescriptions for OxyContin and other opioids. Dr. Hamill-Ruth, who noted that she never prescribed the highest-strength OxyContin tablet, said some of Dr. Hurwitz’s actions were “illegal and immoral” because he prescribed high doses despite warning signs in patient behavior that the opioids were being resold or misused.

Then, during cross-examination by the defense, Dr. Hamill-Ruth was shown records of a patient who had switched to Dr. Hurwitz after being under her care at the University of Virginia Pain Management Center. This patient, Kathleen Lohrey, an occupational therapist living in Charlottesville, Va., complained of migraine headaches so severe that she stayed in bed most days.

Mrs. Lohrey had frequently gone to emergency rooms and had once been taken in handcuffs to a mental-health facility because she was suicidal. In 2001, after five years of headaches and an assortment of doctors, tests, therapies and medicines, she went to Dr. Hamill-Ruth’s clinic and said that the only relief she had ever gotten was by taking Percocet and Vicodin, which contain opioids.

Mrs. Lohrey was informed that the clinic’s philosophy “includes avoidance of all opioids in chronic headache management,” according to the clinic’s record. The clinic offered an injection to anesthetize a nerve in her forehead, but noted that “the patient is not eager to pursue this option.” Mrs. Lohrey was referred to a psychologist and given a prescription for BuSpar, a drug to treat anxiety, not pain.

“You gave her BuSpar and told her to come back in two and a half months?” Richard Sauber, Dr. Hurwitz’s lawyer, asked Dr. Hamill-Ruth. Dr. Hamill-Ruth replied that unfortunately, the clinic was too short-staffed at that point to see Mrs. Lohrey sooner. Under further questioning Dr. Hamill-Ruth said that she was not aware that BuSpar’s side effects included headaches.

During his testimony, Dr. Hurwitz explained “Ultimately, pain is what the patient says it is,” contrasting his approach with what he called the traditional “Father Knows Best” approach of old-school doctors.

After the closure of his practice in 2002, he said, two of his patients committed suicide because they gave up hope of finding pain relief.

The most moving testimony came from Mrs. Lohrey and other patients who described their despondency before finding Dr. Hurwitz. They said they were amazed not just at the pain relief he provided but at the way he listened to them, and gave them his cellphone number with instructions to call whenever they wanted.When she lost her health insurance, she said, Dr. Hurwitz continued treating her at no charge, and helped her enroll in a program that paid for her opioid prescriptions. After Dr. Hurwitz’s practice was shut down, she could not find anyone to treat her for seven months. Eventually, she found a doctor willing to prescribe small numbers of low-dose Percocet, but she said she was not getting enough medicine to consistently blunt the headaches.

“The last two weeks, I was pretty much in bed and sick with the headaches and the nausea and the whole nine yards,” she said, explaining that she had deliberately undergone the two weeks of pain in order not to use up any of her pills.

“I had to save up medication,” she testified, “so I could be here today.”


Link to NY Times article [registration required]

Senior HIV Survivors

Science Daily in a story adapted from a news release issued by Ohio University in

Surge In Senior HIV Survivors Prompts New Treatment Studies

reports many patients diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s and 1990s have survived and now are entering their golden years. AIDs cases among the over-50 crowd reached 90,000 in 2003, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will account for half of all HIV/AIDS cases in the United States by 2015. Consequently, health care providers and social service workers are pioneering new areas to treat the growing number of HIV-positive older adults.

Timothy Heckman, an Ohio University health psychologist, has been on the forefront of research involving HIV-infected older adults. He recently received a $1.5 million, four-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Nursing Research to nationally test the effectiveness of a telephone support group for older adults with HIV.

Seniors often feel embarrassment or out-of-place among what is usually a gathering of young people at traditional AIDS support groups. The seniors have different needs, which may not be met, or they may be uncomfortable talking about issues, such as sex, among younger people.

Other Ohio University research, led by Heckman, has found that seniors living with HIV also report problems such as suicidal thoughts, depression, stress and ignoring other age-related health issues. He and two graduate students presented these and other related findings at the annual conference of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, held in Washington, D.C., last month.

Link to .Science Daily article

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bill Maher - New Rules - Earth Day

Love Thy Neighbor


The 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff report in

International Study Shows Widespread Dislike For Gay Neighbors

that an international study of attitudes towards gays shows large number of people still do not want gay neighbors. People in Northern Ireland showed the most distain for having a gay neighbor. 36 percent of those questioned said they did not want a gay or lesbian living next door.

The study, "Love Thy Neighbor: How Much Bigotry is there is Western Countries", was co-authored by Prof. Vani Borooah of the University of Ulster and Prof. John Mangan, a professor of economics at the University of Queensland in Australia.

It was based on statistics from the Human Beliefs and Values Survey, conducted in 24 Western countries between 1999 and 2002.

In Italy opposition to gay neighbors stood at nearly 29 percent, despite a recent separate poll that showed a majority of Italians believe same-sex couples should have domestic partner benefits. The disparity between the two sets of numbers shows that people tend to support gay rights in the abstract but are not as supportive when confronted in their own neighborhoods.

The research focused primarily on Europe and Australia. In the Republic of Ireland, 27 percent said they did not want a gay neighbor. In Austria and Greece it was 26 percent.

Nearly 25 percent of Australians do not want gays living next door.

Overall the most welcoming country was Sweden where 6 per cent said they would object to having gay neighbors.

Link to.365gay News article

Link to World Values Survey site

Saturday, April 21, 2007

"I can't recall" x 74 times

Catweazle - The Telling Bone

UK Gay Men's Sex Survey II

Michael Carter reporting for Aidsmap (April 20, 2007) in

Poly-drug use common amongst gay men in UK

explores another aspect of the 2005 Gay Men’s Sex Survey, Consuming Passions - drug use.

He points out that although there has been concern, bordering on hysteria, about the use of crystal meth by gay men in the United Kingdom, the survey found that only 3% of gay men had taken the drug in the last year and that only 0.3% (49 men) took the drug on a weekly basis. Furthermore, the study found that users of methamphetamine, in common with gay men who used other recreational drugs, were users of several recreational drugs, or poly-drug users.

Men with the greatest numbers of sexual partners, according to the study, were the group most likely to express concern about their recreational drug use, with men who use ketamine, GHB, methamphetamine, or crystal, and crack cocaine the most likely to express concern.


Smoking

The survey found that approximately 40% of gay men were smokers, and, compared to a recent UK government household survey, gay men at all ages were more likely to smoke than their heterosexual peers. This difference was particularly marked for men in their late teens, and in their early middle age.

Particularly high levels of tobacco consumption were reported by HIV-positive men, with 48% saying they smoked and 36% smoking ten or more cigarettes per day.


Drug and alcohol use

Unsurprisingly, alcohol was the most widely used drug, consumed by 92% of men participating in the study at some point during the previous year, with just over two-thirds reporting that they drank weekly.

After alcohol, poppers, which are legally available in the UK, were the drug most widely used, with 39% of men reporting some use, and 12% saying that they used them weekly.

Cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine were used by 17 - 18% of men in the previous twelve months, but only by 7%, 3% and 2% respectively on a weekly basis.

Ketamine was used by 9% of men at least once in the previous year, and by 1% of men weekly. Speed was also used by 1% of men weekly, but by 7% of men at some point in the year before.

Use of tranquilizers and GHB was reported by 4% of men in the previous year, with 1% saying they used either weekly. Both LSD and methamphetamine were used by 3% of men at least once in the year before the survey, but only 0.3% used either of these drugs on a weekly basis. Only 1% of men used either heroin or crack cocaine, with very small numbers reporting weekly use.

The authors of the report comment: “While crystal may have particularly spectacular addictive qualities it remains hard to see why it occupies such a large part of current drugs debate, except by reference to faddishness, and the tendency to generate moral panic among both the HIV sector and media.”


Poly drug use

With the exception of alcohol, the majority of men who used one drug also used at least one other. No drug, other than alcohol was exclusively used by more than 1% of gay men.

In particular, the study found that the users of less popular drugs – such as methamphetamine – were poly-drug users. Of the 3% of men who used this drug, 75% said they also used ecstasy and cocaine, two-thirds reported the use of poppers, Viagra and cannabis, half said they used GHB and speed, a third LSD, 25% tranquilisers, 20% crack cocaine and one-in-eight, heroin. Given this extent of poly-drug use, the investigators write, “ ‘crystal user’ is not a particularly helpful term.”



Drug use and HIV status

HIV-positive men were more likely to use every drug, with the exception of alcohol. HIV-negative men showed greater use of every drug than men who had never tested for HIV.

Drug use and sexual activity

An association was found between drug use and numbers of sex partners. Men who reported having over 30 partners a year had the highest consumption of every drug except alcohol. Although only 1% of men with between 12 – 29 partners reported use of methamphetamine, this increased to 4% for men with 30 or more partners. However, it should be noted that the number of such men in the sample was extremely low.

Men who thought that they had above average attractiveness were more likely to use every drug than men who rated their attractiveness as average or below.


Reference


Consuming passions: findings of the United Kingdom Gay Men’s Sex Survey 2005.
Hickson, F et al.

Sigma Research, 2007.

Link to Sigma Research

Link to Aidsmap report

Friday, April 20, 2007

Gonzales next?

Raves from Lulu's

Well, Linda is opening yet another bar on Capitol Hill. This time it's in the "jinxed" restaurant on 15th. Judging by the work going on it's already been transformed. We all agreed that if she can't turn it around then no one can! Even her detractors (jealous?) grudgingly admit that she makes thingS happen. There is a nice piece with a flattering picture on the Seattle Weekly site (Linda expands her empire)

What a contrast to the Lifelong Aids personality cult. AlsoIn this weeks edition of the Seattle Weekly there's a full page letter From the Desk of Tina Podlodowski --- but this a paid advertisement. It's about the fundraiser Dining Out For Life. Who could object to that? Not us. It's for Chicken Soup Brigade and that's an organization which has always done great work. We couldn't help feeling that its amalgamation with Lifelong would result in it's being used as a front for the short-comings of the rest of the bureaucracy that is Lifelong. You know the kind of thing --- we feed the sick, so how can you complain at us selling out on Prevention?

The "From the desk of . . . " reminded us yet again, if Tina is playing at corporate executives maybe she should institute a business plan. As someone said, she could always ask Linda for advice.

Maybe we are misunderstanding the personality cult and that she just thought the letter would bring replies-- you know --

Dear Desk,

___________________________________



The writing is on the wallWhat writing ? What Wall? asks Tina

UK Gay Men's Sex Survey

Michael Carter, reporting for Aidsmap (April 19, 2007) in

Inconsistent condom use by UK's gay men, with many putting themselves or others at risk of HIV

looks at the results of the 2005 Gay Men’s Sex Survey, Consuming Passions, which has been published by Sigma Research.

Approximately 50% of sexually active gay men in the UK had unprotected anal sex in the last year, according to the survey. The survey also revealed that over 40% of gay men in the UK are unaware of their own HIV status and most sexual encounters occur between men who have not disclosed their HIV infection status.

The study showed in no uncertain terms that a significant amount of sexual activity was taking place that involved a very real risk of HIV transmission. Specifically, it was shown that approximately one-third of HIV-positive men (rising to over 50% of men with large numbers of partners) had had unprotected insertive anal sex with a man who was either HIV-negative or of unknown HIV status; that almost 20% of HIV-negative men had had receptive unprotected anal sex with a man of unknown HIV status, as had approximately a fifth of untested men (rising to 30% of untested men with the greatest numbers of partners.

Some myths about the causes of sexual risk taking were dispelled by the survey. There has long been an assumption that gay men have low self-esteem, partly related to feelings about their attractiveness, leading to risky sex. However, few men in the survey reported rating their attractiveness as below average, and HIV-positive men were the most likely to rate their looks as better than the norm.

Large numbers of gay men remain untested for HIV, with 44% of those completing the survey saying that they had never had an HIV test. Of the men who reported testing negative, 56% had done so in the last year. Although only 7% of the entire sample said they were HIV-positive, this rose to 12% when the investigators restricted their analysis to men who had had a test. Some of the HIV-positive men had been living with the infection for 20 years, but approximately 50% of all men with HIV had had their infection diagnosed within the last five years.

Unsurprisingly, HIV prevalence was highest amongst gay men in London, (12% versus 4% elsewhere in the UK), but the proportion of men recently testing positive was similar across the country at approximately 4%. Although younger gay men have often been viewed as a group particularly vulnerable to HIV infection, the study revealed that the age group with the highest proportion of infections in the last year was 35 – 39.

Over half of gay men reporting anal sex report inconsistent or no condom use

Insertive anal intercourse was reported by 74% of men. Of these men, 48% said they always used a condom, 39% said they sometimes used a condom, and 13% said they never used a condom. Of the 70% of men who reported receptive anal intercourse, 46% said they always used a condom, 40% said they sometimes used a condom, and 14% reported never using a condom.

When asked directly about their condom use for anal sex, 39% of the entire sample reported inconsistent use for insertive anal sex, and 38% of all men said that they sometimes or never used condoms for receptive anal sex.

Although HIV-positive men were the group most likely to report any condom use, they were also most likely to report inconsistent condom use.

Unprotected sex with men of different or unknown HIV status

The overwhelming majority of HIV-positive men (79%) said that they had had no unprotected anal sex with men who they knew to be HIV-negative, however, 46% reported having anal sex without a condom with men who were also HIV-positive, and 43% said that they had had unprotected sex with men whose HIV status they did not know.

Only 4% of HIV-negative men said that they had had unprotected sex with a man they knew to be HIV-positive, although approximately a third of HIV-negative men reported risky sex with a man whose HIV status they did not know. Of the untested men, only 1% reported unprotected sex with a man they knew to be HIV-infected, with over a quarter saying that they had anal sex without a condom with a man whose HIV status was unknown to them.

Despite these efforts to minimize the risk from unprotected anal sex, the survey did show that significant numbers of men were engaging in sexual activity that could involve the risk of HIV transmission: 29% of HIV-positive men (rising to over 50% of men with 30 or more sexual partners) reported unprotected insertive anal sex with a man of unknown HIV status in the last year; 19% of negative men reported receptive anal sex with a man of unknown HIV status in the last year; and, 19% (rising to a third of the those with 30 partners or more) of untested men had receptive anal sex without a condom in the previous twelve months with a man whose HIV status they did not know.

Condom failure

The survey also sought to establish the proportion of men who had experienced condom failure (for example, slippage or breakage) in the last year. Of the men who had used condoms, 13% said that they had failed in some way. Condom failure was significantly associated with inconsistent use. Other factors associated with condom problems were anal sex for 30 minutes or more; the use of either no lubricant or saliva or a non-water based lubricant; using an inappropriately sized condom; younger age; lack of an education post 16; lower annual income; being a practicing Muslim,;having sex with men of unknown or different HIV status; having 30 or more sexual partners a year; and drug use

Attractiveness

Low self-esteem has for many years been seen as one of the reasons why gay men take sexual risks. Some health promoters had expressed concern that men who have a poor perception of their attractiveness are likely to engage in HIV risk behaviors.

However, the survey found that most gay men (51%) thought that they were as attractive as men of the same age, and that 37% thought they were either somewhat more attractive than the average or much more attractive than average. Only 12% of men thought they were either less, or somewhat less attractive than average.

The study found that HIV-positive men were more likely than either HIV-negative or untested men to rate their attractiveness as higher than average. Furthermore, HIV-positive men who thought of themselves as attractive were more likely to have unprotected insertive anal sex with men who they knew to be HIV-negative or whose HIV status they did not know. Unsurprisingly, the survey also found that men who rated their attractiveness highly had the greatest number of sexual partners.

Where now?

The authors recommend that interventions should be targeted at so called naïve risk taking – men having unprotected sex with men whose HIV status is unknown. Men with large numbers of sexual partners should be a special focus of such interventions.

Health promotion campaigns should also be targeted at men who know that their partners are of a different HIV status, particularly if they have large numbers of partners.

Reference

Consuming passions: findings of the United Kingdom Gay Men’s Sex Survey 2005.
Hickson, F et al.

Sigma Research, 2007.

Link to Sigma Research


Link to Aidsmap report