Tag Archive: HIV

This one goes out to all my male readers, because I have a conundrum and I want your input.

When I was younger, I never really had a philosophical or moral “problem” with male circumcision.  It was just a personal or religious decision made by the parents of a male child based on what seemed right to them. In the long run, it posed no serious medical risk and didn’t seem like a big deal.

However, having immersed myself in a lot of random, sex-positive literature, I’ve found that there is a large community of people who are strongly against male circumcision, citing reduced ability for men to self-lubricate, lessened sensitivity, hygiene issues, and a sense of bodily violation by men who were circumcised.  Thus, while I don’t fault people for circumcising their kids (after all, they probably aren’t versed in the theoretical or medical arguments that led me to oppose the practice), I feel like the better option is to leave what nature created alone, and would suggest as much to people who were on the fence.

But Carnal Nation brought up an interesting question regarding circumcision in Africa, where HIV prevalence is so high.  Apparently, the WHO recommends circumcision as a means of reducing HIV transmission.  I am sketchy on the science of this, but you can read more about the general dialogue here.  The good thing is, most African men are getting circumcised later, around age 15 or so, when they have the agency to decide for themselves about the procedure.  But I imagine they have very little information on the subject, and have simply been told that it will prevent them from getting AIDS.  Does this present a moral hazard- making kids feel even more invincible against the disease by circumcising them?  And what about their own sexual and hygiene needs?  Is the potential for preventing AIDS worth trading off the general health benefits of having the foreskin?

Granted, it is AIDS.  And AIDS is a scary disease, and a prevalent one, so I am inclined to think the trade is worth it.  But something inside nags at me….

Your thoughts?

Also, for guys who are comfortable sharing- are you happy, upset, or ambivalent about being circumcised?  Has it affected you in any significant way?  Looking forward to your input.

Stay cool, queer kids.


Once upon a time, there was a country named Thailand.

And in the 80’s, Thailand found out it had a problem…

In 1984, the first case of AIDS was reported in Thailand, and with the abundance of sex trafficking across the Thai border and a lack of information about the disease, the country was rife for an epidemic.

BUT INSTEAD, the Thais got creative.

Condoms became an advertising campaign.  You could get them with your coffee, at the grocery store, at school, from traveling health groups, and pretty much anywhere else you turned.  There were condom balloon-blowing competitions held as school fundraisers, a Harvard MBA turned superhero-icon spokesperson known as “Condom Boy,” and even t-shirts with condoms in the shape of the olympic logo with the slogan, “Weapons of Mass Protection.”

And from this, something really awesome happened.  Not only was a serious epidemic averted, but a new idea for sex education was born- one that didn’t shy away from touchy subjects or try to gloss over serious issues.  Which is why I think this exhibit at the National Science Museum of Thailand is freakin’ fantastic.

“Teenage boys gape at a coloured photograph of a vagina, while girls give embarrassed smiles as they watch a cartoon that showed penises ‘talking’ about masturbation. Young girls crowd around a display panel about love and relationships, as a boy embraces a female mannequin with all his might in order to measure the strength of his hug. “

By embracing the various conceptions of sex, rather than avoiding it or censoring specific kinds of sex (see Rubin’s “The Charmed Circle” ), kids can better understand sexuality and make healthier decisions about their own practices.

And it hasn’t stopped with just this exhibit.  Thai sex ed in general is getting more and more progressive.  Anothergreat article about engaging students in honest dialogue about sex is available here:  http://ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=13448

So my question is, why is it so impossible to get this kind of forthright and legitimate education here in the supposedly more developed and socially responsible United States?

Ireland ala Gays

Just a quick news post for you guys today:  Ireland just voted to approve same-sex civil partnerships.  Whoot!  Equality for the Irish.  It still has to be approved by President Mary McAleese, but her acceptance of the bill is pretty much seen as a forgone conclusion. If you’d like the full story, check it out here: http://www.gcn.ie/feature.aspx?sectionid=14&articleid=2775

In other news, antibodies found in Donor 45- an older African American man being treated for HIV- have been noted to disable a large portion of the active strains of HIV.  When combined with one of the current antibodies in marketed anti-retroviral drugs, these two antibodies are able to combat 91% of all known HIV strains.  Scientists have a long road to travel in getting this antibody into vaccine form, but if they can do it, it could mean an incredible reduction in the number of transmissions and diagnoses of AIDS.  For the whole scientific spiel, check out the Wall Street Journal article.

Stay queer, kids.

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