Category Archives: Science

Papal Rectal Cranial Inversion

It's gratifying to see a scientific journal with the intellectual heft of The Lancet taking on the pope and his recent idiotic rantings in Africa and how condoms "contribute to HIV/AIDS":

Pope_condom_hat "Whether the Pope's error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear. But the comment still stands and the Vatican's attempts to tweak the Pope's words, further tampering with the truth, is not the way forward. When any influential person, be it a religious or political leader, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record. Anything less from Pope Benedict would be an immense disservice to the public and health advocates, including many thousands of Catholics, who work tirelessly to try and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide."
 

But they're being nice. Or tactful. Or something. I'm sorry, but is it really "unclear" if his intent was to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology? Really? Unclear to whom? 

Note to Galileo: About 1.7 million people, mostly women, in sub-Saharan Africa became infected with the HIV virus in 2007, bringing the total number of infections in the region to 22.5 million, according to the latest report by UNAIDS, the United Nations program that deals with HIV/AIDS. That’s two-thirds of the global number of people living with the virus.

The pope's comments are nothing short of an outrage, and frankly are as much a "crime against humanity" as any genocide. Medieval rot.

Of course, it wouldn't be the first time…and the Vatican's record on astronomy would be enough to give anyone pause when it came to listening to papal science (which, interestingly, if you Google "papal science" the first thing that comes up is Paypal. Somehow perfect.) 

"Papal science"…Is that an oxymoron? Or just a moronic?

Crimes Against Nature

One of the most common slurs aimed at Gay folk is the "crime against Nature" accusation…the idea that homosexuality doesn't occur "naturally." Now, of course, we all know that's a bunch of heteronormative bunkum…Gay penguins, Lesbian seagulls, Bonobos (known taxonomically as Pan paniscus, or the "diminutive Pan"), dolphins ("birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it!")…all you have to do if you're looking for instances of homoeroticism in Nature is look for it and be willing to actually see it.

Apu - Eight is Enough! On the other hand, am I the only person in the room who is mildly disturbed by these stories of multiple births (eight at last count in California, to a woman who apparently already had six children…and they are questioning whether fertility drugs were involved. Well duh!…ya think!?) and, this morning, a 60 year old woman who gave birth. Now…I'm going to be 59 myself this year, and I can tell you, the idea of getting up for middle-of-the-night feedings, to say nothing of diapers, is the very last thing I would welcome. The story mentioned that this 60-year-old woman had turned to fertility drugs after decades of attempting to conceive… ahem… naturally. In my humble opinion, these aren't births…they're litters.

No one is supposed to question the aching desire of these women. Nevermind how self-centered and entitled it all is. My favorite part of all of these stories is how the mother in question always manages to see herself and her conception as something for which god needs to be involved and thanked, completely ignoring the fact that none of it would have happened without the science of in vitro fertilization. One wonders how many of these women who see their wombs as "miracle sites" would in the next breath condemn evolution. Or the women who, with multiple embryos crowding their otherwise unfertile wombs, decline what the doctors refer to as "selective reduction", i.e. selective abortions of some of the embryos for the health of the remaining embryos, citing "god's will," as though god had anything to do with the multiple embryos science placed in her. If god had anything to do with it, then perhaps the very idea that someone, after decades of infertility, might figure out the message that perhaps she isn't supposed to conceive.

And I have to wonder: did anyone bother to tell these self-absorbed "aching wombs" that, in the United States alone there are more than 129,000 children in foster care in need of a loving families and mothers?

And what doctor gave this woman fertility drugs? Where is the oversight? This woman is not married, already has 6 children, lives with her mother and her excuse for having fertility treatments – and therefore eight more children – is that she just wanted one more girl? She was lonely!!?? These are not Barbie Dolls, they're human beings. Babies. Yeah…that's the answer: Collect them all!

That's what I call "a crime against Nature."

And another question: How many of these multiple birth families end up needing public tax monies (paid by Gay people who are, in some states, forbidden to adopt) to manage their families?

Martin Delaney

It is with profound sadness that we pass along Project Inform's announcement of the passing this morning of their Founder, Martin Delaney. He was 63 years old.


PHOTO: Martin Delaney

Martin Delaney,
Founder, Project Inform

 

When the full history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is written, there can be no doubt that Martin Delaney will rank as one of the greatest contributors to ending this great human tragedy. Those of us living with HIV, and all of us who care about people living with HIV, mourn the loss of this great leader, lifesaver and wonderful human being.

Delaney’s activism is legendary. He was a David among many Goliaths. He has assured that government, researchers and pharmaceutical companies understand and respond to the needs of HIV-positive people. He heavily influenced the development of the strong arsenal of medications we now have to prolong life for millions of people worldwide.

Personally and through Project Inform, Martin Delaney educated or counseled tens of thousands of HIV-positive individuals and their caregivers about how to treat HIV. A day does not pass in the life of this agency that a person living with HIV or a supporter tells of a life lengthened or saved as a result of Marty’s efforts.

Intellect, activist, diplomat, mentor, friend — each of us will remember Marty for the great attributes he brought to his lifesaving work. He will be missed terribly.

We will provide information as quickly as we are able about the date of a public event to memorialize Marty. Emails of support can be sent to support@projectinform.org and cards can be mailed to Project Inform, 1375 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.

The 2009 National LGBTI Health Summit: The Call

Rainbowpin

Announcing a Call to Action

 Please join us for

LGBTI Health Through the Life Course

The 2009 National LGBTI Health Summit,

in conjunction with the BiHealth Summit

August 14 – 18, 2009 in Chicago

 Chicago_skyline1

About the Summit

The 2009 National LGBTI (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex) Health Summit is an event dedicated to preserving and improving the emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual, psychological, environmental, and social health and wellness of LGBTI people, a population that continues to experience significant health disparities because of its members’ sexual orientations and/or gender identities.

We welcome all individuals who support the health and well-being of LGBTI people as well as all members of the community (no previous health experience necessary) to explore what it means to be a healthy LGBTI person, living in a healthy LGBTI community.

 

We invite you to spend a few days in Chicago working intensively with colleagues from all over the nation and world who are grappling with similar challenges, and engage in deep thinking and extended discussion about innovative programming related to the theme of “LGBTI Health Through the Life Course.”

We are especially excited to be holding this summit in the year marking the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the event frequently cited as the beginning of the LGBTI rights movement. The Stonewall Riots was a series of spontaneous, raucous demonstrations against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn of New York City. in response to a government-sponsored system that persecuted homosexuals, and started the modern gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

This summit is different from traditional health conferences. Our LGBTI Health Summits (previously in Boulder, Colorado; Cambridge, Massachusetts; and most recently in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) have been described as nurturing retreats, exciting and intense think tanks, and an event of great enlightenment. Participants come away with a renewed passion for the cause, energized and inspired to tackle the problems confronting LGBTI health and wellness.

The Summit is a chance for all participants to reach out across differences in sexual and gender identity, ethnicity, race, age, and socioeconomic status and begin to work toward common goals. We avoid a focus on celebrities and big names, and we take plenty of time to relax, have fun, and make meaningful contact with other participants.

 

Uncle_sam_pointing_finger We Need You

The Summit needs the input of those who face daunting questions and formidable challenges as well as those who have succeeded in creating effective programs and campaigns related to LGBTI health and wellness. We welcome activists as well as researchers, doctors as well as holistic health practitioners, religious and spiritual leaders as well as sex workers. Most of all, we request the participation of ordinary LGBTI-identified people who will share their valuable experiences, questions, and energy as we build a movement around community health and empowerment. We welcome all individuals who support the health and well-being of LGBTI people and all members of the community (no previous health experience necessary) to explore what it means to be a healthy LGBTI person, living in a healthy LGBTI community.

Registration and a call for abstracts will be announced in the first quarter of 2009. In the meantime, you can stay abreast of our work by contacting Cat Jefcoat at CatJ@howardbrown.org or Jim Pickett at JPickett@aidschicago.org. We will be disseminating information about the Summit widely as details are finalized. Please stay tuned.

Thank you, and see you in Chicago, August 14 – 18, 2009!

The Chicago Host Committee of the 2009 National LGBTI Health Summit

National Latina/o AIDS Awareness Day

Aids_latino_awareness Today the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) honors National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD). Held annually on October 15, the final day of Hispanic Heritage Month, NLAAD helps raise awareness about the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS in Latino communities throughout the United States and its territories. “The importance of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day cannot be overstated,” says NMAC Executive Director, Paul Kawata. “Like all minority communities, Latinos have experienced increases in HIV infections related to a myriad of social determinants, including lack of access to health care, education and housing.” Indeed, updated HIV incidence data released by the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in August revealed that Hispanics accounted for 17 percent of new infections in 2006, even though they represent only approximately 13% of the U.S. population.

NMAC’s encourages everyone to visit the NLAAD website to find out more about local events honoring the day. NMAC has assisted in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS in Latino communities in several ways. The opening plenary of the agency’s annual United States Conference on AIDS, held this past September 18-21 in Fort Lauderdale, FL, focused on the Latino AIDS crisis. Facilitated by Univision and the Kaiser Family Foundation, with support from the Latino Commission on AIDS, the plenary featured a special screening of the first HIV/AIDS-related Spanish language public service announcement (PSA) targeting Latinos called “Soy” ("I am"). The PSA will debut on Univision and its affiliatestoday. (For more information about Soy, go here.)

Aids_virus “We are dedicated to attaining better data to assess the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Latinos communities, particularly in Puerto Rico,” says Ravinia Hayes-Cozier, Director of NMAC’s Government Relations and Public Policy Division. “The revised CDC numbers are a great place to start in this discussion, but did not include Puerto Rico. This represented a rather major elision, in light of the 11,000 people known to be living with HIV/AIDS on the island. NMAC was further disheartened to learn that the CDC recently announced that it will not be funding Puerto Rico to use the new HIV tracking technology that generated the updated data in the first place.”

To ensure that all Latino communities are included in future HIV incidence and prevalence reports, NMAC and its People of Color AIDS Partnership partners – including Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, The Balm In Gilead, The Black AIDS Institute, BIENESTAR, National Association of People with AIDS, National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, and National Native American AIDS Prevention Center – are working on a paper about the AIDS epidemic in Puerto Rico for release in 2009.

For more information visit www.nmac.org or click on any of the related links provided above.

I’ll Get You…and your little veep, too!

Muthee_2 Vice Presidential pretendee/nominee Sarah Palin credits and praises a Kenyan Minister named Thomas Muthee with helping her to achieve the Alaskan governorship through prayer. It turns out the Muthee also hunts down witches and makes Rev. John Hagee, to say nothing of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., look positively normal. At a speech at the Wasilla Assembly of God on June 8 this year, Palin described how Muthee had laid his hands on her:

As I was mayor and Pastor Muthee was here and he was praying over me, and you know how he speaks and he’s so bold. And he was praying “Lord make a way, Lord make a way. And I’m thinking, this guy’s really bold, he doesn’t even know what I’m going to do, he doesn’t know what my plans are. And he’s praying not “oh Lord if it be your will may she become governor,” no, he just prayed for it. He said “Lord make a way and let her do this next step. And that’s exactly what happened.”

She might also have enlisted him in some good old witchhunting. After founding the Prayer Cave in 1989 in Kiambu, Kenya, Muthee reportedly says that he spoke with God and was called to the United States where he would be embraced by Palin and her church. While in Kenya, he says that he discovered that the community was inundated by witchcraft: “We prayed, we fasted, the Lord showed us a spirit of witchcraft resting over the place.”

He even identified one witch known as Mama Jane, who ran a competing “divination” center called the Emmanuel Clinic. He declared that she was responsible for a rash of car accidents and led a crusade against her — a movement that would trigger calls for her to be stoned to death. She was eventually arrested and then fled the area.

It is certainly an example of “small town values” but perhaps not the quite type that the campaign is Aaa_wickedwitch looking for. On the other hand, something like 80% of U.S. voters say they believe in Angels. So it’s only a quick hop, skip and a jump to witches, I suppose. Halloween is right around the corner…and let’s not forget that “witches” and “witchcraft” was an early way of the monotheists to crack down on…and mass murder, the Old Folk Ways, and that many of these were strong women, and faeries…

A Loss to Literature

Thomasdisch_2It is sad to report the loss of yet another elder of the community, novelist, poet, librettist…a literary and visionary mind, he was, in fact, a prolific writer in many genres, Thomas Disch.

Disch was an American science fiction author…he preferred "speculative fiction"…and poet. He won the Hugo Award in 1999, and he had two other Hugo nominations and nine Nebula Award nominations to his credit, plus one win of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, a Rhysling Award and to Seiun Awards, among many others. His latest book, to be published posthumously, The Word of God: Or, Holy Writ Rewritten, is written in the first Dischwordofgod person, voice of God. When asked, he said this device "enabled him to speak nonsense and it would be true."

Disch was born in Des Moines, IA. In the 1960s, his work began appearing in science-fiction magazines. His first novel, The Genocides, appeared in 1965. He soon became known as part of the New Wave, writing for New Worlds and other avant-garde publications. His critically acclaimed novels of that time included Camp Concentration and 334. In the 1980s, he moved from science fiction to horror, with a series of books set in Minneapolis: The Businessman, The M.D. and The Priest.

Brave_little_toaster_1Perhaps his most widely read and affecting work was The Brave Little Toaster: A Bedtime Story for Small Appliances, in which a small toaster, a clock radio and an electric blanket come to life. Written as a children’s book, the New York Times’s Anna Quindlen quite rightly recommended, "By it for your children; read it for yourself." Made into a Hyperion (Disney) film with Jon Lovitz in 1987 it was an instant classic.

In America, Disch’s poetry remained little known until a 1989 mid-career retrospective collection, titled Yes, Let’s. A book of new poetry, Dark Verses & Light, followed in 1991. In 1995 and 2002, Disch published two collections of poetry criticism. He continued to regularly publish poetry in magazines and journals such as Poetry, Light, Paris Review, Partisan Review, Parnassus: Poetry in Review and even Theology Today (perhaps an odd choice for a long-lapsed Catholic). His "How To Behave When Dead" prescribes proper etiquette for the buried.

Near the end of his life he stopped submitting poetry to literary journals unless the journals asked for his contributions. He preferred to publish his poems in his LiveJournal blog account. In an interview just ten days before his death, Disch said, "I write poetry because I think it is the hardest thing I can do well. And so I simply enjoy the doing of it, as an equestrian enjoys spending time on a good horse. Poetry is my good horse." He wrote a series of poems on grammar and antagonized science fiction writers for encouraging people to believe in things like UFOs.

Disch partner of 30 years, poet Charles Naylor died in 2005, and he had recently suffered a crushing series of personal setbacks. He was reported to have been depressed for several years, badly hit by the death of Naylor, as well as fighting attempts to evict him from his rent-controlled apartment, that had, unbelievably, recently burned. His upstate New York home had also been flooded and he suffered from diabetes and sciatica.

Disch, who had proposed a calendar that commemorated famous self-annilators (like Sylvia Plath on February 11) took his own life on July 4th.

How to Behave when Dead

A notorious tease, he may pretend
not to be aware of you.
                        Just wait.
He must speak first. Then
you may begin to praise him.

Remember:
sincerity and naturalness
count for more than wit.
His jokes may strike you as
abstruse.
          Only laugh if he does.

Gifts?
They say he’s mad for art,
but whether in the melting
elegiac mode of, say, this
Vase of Poppies
or, turning the mirror
to his own face, a bronze skull
gorging on a snake —
that is a matter of taste.
In any case, the expense
is what he notices.

What to wear.
              Some authorities
still insist on black.
But really, in this modern age,
your best is all that is required.

       — Tom Disch

Anal Health

72cover_2 A year ago, White Crane health columnist, Jeff Huyett, wrote an important piece on anal health and HPV-related cancer in Gay men in an article HPV…Yes! I’m Talking to You! This is a problem that is not going to go away on its own, and as usual, unless Gay men take care of themselves, no one else will.

Now AIDSMEDS.com (an excellent health resource) has a piece about further science and treatment options for Gay men. A leading HIV specialist and two HIV-positive men who’ve survived anal cancer argue that anal Pap smears are lifesavers…for Gay men as well as women.

Until 50 years ago, cervical cancer was the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the United States. It now ranks 15th. Experts credit a simple procedure called a Pap smear—in which a doctor swabs the cervix and sends the sample to a lab to check for abnormalities—for the plummeting death rates. Now some treatment opinion leaders are saying that Pap smears around back may help protect against anal cancer, notably among HIV-positive men and women who may already be facing a higher risk of this potentially fatal disease.

Don’t die of ignorance…love your sexlove yourself…check out AIDSMEDS.com.

Uncommon Sense…

Aids_virus

Killer Gay Sex!

by Tony Valenzuela

The clueless tabloid and public health hysteria over man-on-man sex may be hindering HIV prevention efforts. From an imaginary "super strain" of HIV to the sci-fi MRSA superbug: What is it about Gay sex that makes U.S. health officials want to play Chicken Little with AIDS prevention and public safety?

In February 2005, a New York man with a multidrug-resistant strain of HIV and a crystal meth dependency became the source of the most reported AIDS story of the decade, but he had never, until now, spoken about his trying ordeal.  A slew of chilling claims was made about this man – that he carried a new, more virulent strain of HIV dubbed a "supervirus" that progressed from infection to AIDS in as little as two months; that his meth-induced promiscuity would instigate a deadly epidemic potentially undoing a quarter century of progress against HIV; that he signified what many in the Gay community had been dreading would occur, given that Gay men—stubbornly, recklessly—refused to give up their uniquely nefarious brand of promiscuity.  It is, then, no less remarkable that these allegations that gripped the world with renewed fears of Gay plague proved comprehensively false, yet the cycle of alarm that equates Gay men with disease—as seen once again this past January in San Francisco with a drug-resistant "Gay staph" scare—continues unabated to this day.  By the time the man with the "supervirus" disappeared from the headlines, those still paying attention would learn he did not have a never-before-seen strain of HIV nor did he set off a new epidemic.  Instead, he carried a very rare and difficult-to-treat multidrug-resistant virus that is today fully suppressed as he adheres to a complicated regimen of antiviral medications.

In Paris, the same year the "supervirus" story broke, the late Gay-rights pioneer and scholar Eric Rofes declared to an audience of international activists, "The pathologizing of Gay men’s communities and cultures and spaces is the most powerful challenge we face to promoting Gay men’s health."  Three years later, this man’s story lays bare how far too many who work and report on Gay health narrowly imagine the sex lives of Gay and bisexual men inside a realm of disease and dysfunction. 

This article continues at Poz.com