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CDC Report: AIDS Is a Black – and Poor – Disease – New America Media

Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

In America, "HIV clearly strikes at the economically disadvantaged in a devastating way," Dr. Kevin Fenton of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) said in a statement at the recent biennial international AIDS Conference. At the conference, the CDC released a study revealing a strong link between low socioeconomic class and HIV/AIDS, finding that although "Blacks are 12.8% of the U.S. population, they represent 45% of all people infected each year with HIV." And the link between oppressed groups and HIV risk just get worse from there. Black women, the study found, "represent 66% of all new HIV cases each year among women," and "although Black teenagers are only 15% of U.S. teen population, they account for 68% of all new AIDS cases among teens." And for gay and bisexual men, 46% of Black men have contracted the virus, compared to 21% of gay and bisexual men who are white.

Contrary to what some would like to believe, biology isn't to blame for this; social stigmas and prejudices are.

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Little Women: Early puberty and what it means for girls

Posted: August 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

No one denies children are entering puberty at younger and younger ages but, predictably, many deny the obvious ways to prepare them before and help them through the transition. As Melanie Abrahams writes, "In the spirit of 'protecting girlhood,' there’s been a lot of brouhaha over naming the culprit of early physical maturation of girls, with both obesity and environmental factors under scrutiny. But instead of pointing fingers, we need to face the facts and focus on the changing needs of girls in our lives and around the world." She goes on to offer suggestions few others have the ovaries to do.

"One of the most obvious things we need to offer to girls is early, age-appropriate, and comprehensive sexuality education. Regardless of when they hit puberty, children should know about their bodies and their rights. … Further, early puberty illuminates the crucial need to fight child marriage on a global scale." Amen at that! "[We can't] afford to simply stick our heads in the ground."

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Sex after 50 | Life and style | The Guardian

Posted: August 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

According to some reports, STI rates among elders has doubled. Sadly, many use this as an excuse to express sex-negative prejudice against older people. As Pamela Stephenson Connolly writes, "the prominence and style of these articles underscores the sexual ageism that pervades our society." Of course, a number of those articles are in The Guardian, a point notably missing from Connolly's article (in The Guardian).

Nevertheless, she makes some good points: "We should be encouraging elders, including those facing challenges of illness and disability, to voice their sexual concerns without fearing our prejudice and guilt. … Perhaps the best form of safe sex for older people is exactly what one would advocate for younger people if one could get away with it; out with abstinence preaching and in with promoting fabulous eroticism in all its many, non-penetrative forms."

Must we really "get away with it," or are concerns about young people simply the other side of the same ageist coin?

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Pump Up the Vole-ume: Talking Oxytocin | Scarleteen

Posted: August 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Heather Corinna tackles pseudo-science head-on with a very thorough literature review of oxytocin, the supposed love-and-bonding chemical that conservatives love to tout as "evidence" of the importance of abstinence-only sex education, anti-choice programs, and any number of other politically-driven agendas. Morally-minded policy-makers do this despite the fact that researchers whose studies they cite strongly object to their interpretations, and get increasingly frustrated as the media lazily parrots the policy-makers' soundbytes.

As Heather writes, "A lot of the popular claims about oxytocin, like so many made about sex or love, are exclusively or primarily about heterosexuality and binary sex or gender, both of which we know—thanks, science!—aren't binary at all. […H]ow much or how little oxytocin impacts those things, how it impacts them, for whom and in what situations, clearly varies widely." The truth is simply not as black-and-white as conservatives would have you believe.

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Ask Men survey gives us hope, defies beer ad stereotypes…mostly (via Em & Lo)

Posted: August 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

According to a new online survey conducted by AskMen.com, Cosmopolitan's sister magazine, 68,000 out of 100,000 men would take a male birth control pill if one became available. That's 68%, which is surprisingly high. And that's encouraging, precisely because the audience of the unscientific online survey are the male counterparts of Cosmopolitan stereotypes: vacuously-minded and viagra-enthralled masculinity.

Em & Lo, who noted the survey results, said they "are pleased to report that our worst fears were not realized." Figleaf, who picked up the story, said, "for this answer on this survey, I think [the Ask Men audience is] actually a bonus rather than a liability. […] Ordinarily that’s precisely the demographic skeptics point to while claiming that R&D on male contraceptives is a waste of time." And y'know, we gotta agree with 'em both.

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Law.com – Atlanta Lawyer Takes on Botched Circumcision Claims Nationwide

Posted: July 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

"I didn't set out to be a circumcision lawyer; it just sort of happened," said David J. Llewellyn of his legal practice suing doctors, hospitals, and medical supply makers around the United States. Llewellyn recently won a $10.7 million default judgment "against Mogen Circumcision Instruments, claiming one of its devices severed the head of the boy's penis during a bris, a Jewish ceremony for a male infant," Katheryn Hayes Tucker reports.

"The circumcision of infants is the American sickness, and unfortunately, we're spreading it around the world because of a small group that's pushing it," Llewellyn said. He recalls his early days fighting the practice, being routinely confronted with jokes and questions like "what does it matter?" The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) remains neutral on the matter, claiming "most of the complications that do occur are minor," and advising parents to "determine what is in the best interest of the child." But how, I wonder, are parents to know?

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The Work of SANGRAM: Sex Workers Claiming Their Rights | RHRealityCheck.org

Posted: July 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

We don't always know much about the people we want to help; that's why it's important that we listen to them just as much, if not more, than we talk to them. Meena Seshu, co-founder of SANGRAM, a rights-based organization that helps vulnerable groups in India to mobilize and protect themselves against HIV/AIDS, discovered this when she first spent time with sex workers. She found that when she cleared her vision from the clouding of her background, she saw a community of women who knew how to manage themselves, their families, and their clients. They didn't need to be taught anything – all they needed were the proper tools, and they could manage the epidemic as well. This experience lead to the creation of SANGRAM's bill of rights – which includes "People have the right to say YES or NO to things that concern them," and "People have the right to reject harmful social norms." A bill of rights exceptional not only for HIV/AIDS vulnerable populations, but for everyone, everywhere.

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Federal judge blocks elimination of domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian Arizona state employees | San Diego Gay & Lesbian News

Posted: July 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Arizona, in its shining, enlightened governance, has been temporarily blocked from enacting "a provision eliminating domestic partner health benefits for gay state employees…while retaining spousal health benefits for heterosexual workers" introduced in September "as part of a last-minute budget deal." In his ruling, Judge John W. Sedwick wrote, "there is 'an inherent inequality' in allowing some employees to participate fully in the State's health plan, while expecting other employees to rely on other sources, such as private insurance or Medicaid."

State attorney Charles Grube argued "maintaining the same benefits for gay employees that their heterosexual co-workers will continue to receive would endanger other state services." Y'know, just like how the Catholic Church can't offer benefits for anybody if gays can marry.

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The Anti-Lesbian Drug – Newsweek

Posted: July 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Bioethicist Alice Dreger, who raised concerns of a pediatricians' female genital mutilation practice, partnered with American University philosophy professor and gay rights activist Anne Tamar-Mattis against what they call the "FIRST EXPERIMENT TO ATTEMPT PREVENTION OF HOMOSEXUALITY IN WOMB" (sic) by pediatric endocrinologist Maria New.

As Sharon Begley reports, Dreger "blew the whistle on the controversial practice of giving pregnant women dexamethasone [dex] to keep the female fetuses they are carrying from developing ambiguous genitalia." While Dreger may have made a leap, dex isn't FDA-approved, so "medical societies have signed on to a statement recommending that prenatal dexamethasone therapy…'continue to be regarded as experimental, and be pursued only' in research settings." Maria New's "aim seems to be to…make life easier for" patients. I think that could be achieved better with social acceptance of intersexuality than with drugs.

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Why Condoms for Kindergartners Makes Sense – Newsweek

Posted: July 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

A new Massachusetts school policy "left intentionally open-ended, allows any student who is considering sexual activity to request condoms from the school nurse. That student would first get counseling—including abstinence education," Kate Dailey writes. Predictably, the policy faced "scorn and derision" after it hit mainstream news thanks to "moral hand-wringing of well-meaning but uninformed parents and pundits," like Kris Mineu, president of the Mass. Family Institute, who called it a "theater of the absurd."

"Theoretically," Kate writes, "yes, a 6-year-old could walk in and request condoms. The chances of that happening, of course, are slim—but if a 6-year-old were asking about sex, wouldn't a little counseling from a medical professional be in order? […C]ondoms don't make kids have sex. Hormones make kids have sex. Peer pressure makes kids have sex." Outright denial isn't going to change the fact that "kids develop on different timelines, and kids date outside their age range."

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