Study: Simple Changes To Dating Sites Could Lower STD’s, HIV

Simple Changes to Dating Websites Could Decrease Spread of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

A study released today recommends eight ways to reduce transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among men who meet male sex partners online.

Owners of popular dating and “hook-up” websites and users of those websites, along with HIV and STD program directors, agreed that a few simple measures could have a major impact on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Among the online measures supported by a majority of those surveyed:

• Including “safe sex” as a profile option and allowing users to search for partners by such characteristics
• Providing directories of STD testing locations
• Sending automatic reminders to get an HIV/STD test at regular intervals chosen by users
• Having chat-rooms and other areas for HIV+ men looking for other HIV+ men
• Providing e-cards to notify partners of a potential exposure to STDs
• Posting videos that show men discussing safe sex, HIV status, and related issues
• Providing access to sexual health experts

“Finding sex and love online is here to stay,” said Dan Wohlfeiler, one of the study’s authors working with the California HIV/STD Prevention Training Center for this project. “This shows how we can work with the website owners to turn the internet into a force for the health of their users.”

In California, gay and bisexual men who were diagnosed with syphilis or gonorrhea most frequently reported the Internet as where they met sex partners.

More than 3000 users, 82 state and local HIV and STD Program directors and 18 owners of dating and “hook-up “ websites completed the survey.

Jen Hecht, Education Director at STOP AIDS Project and co-author, said “Since all three groups agree these strategies are important, can be done, and would be used, we need to be getting them online now.”

The study also found a number of strategies with less support. Website owners expressed skepticism about health department staff going online to notify users that they might have been exposed to an STD. In contrast, a majority of HIV and STD prevention directors and users thought this strategy was important. The authors are planning follow-up meetings with owners to further understand their concerns.“We have rising rates of STDs among gay and bisexual men and turning that around means everyone needs to take responsibility for their sexual health,” said Bill Smith, Executive Director of the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD). “This study shows how public health professionals, as well the users and owners of sex seeking websites, can band together to make a real difference in securing the sexual health of gay men.”

The study, entitled “How Can We Improve HIV and STD Prevention Online for MSM” funded by amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, was co-authored by H. Fisher Raymond and Willi McFarland at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. The results have been posted today at http://www.stopaids.org/online.

Words of Wisdom

 

Court Orders Prison to Keep ACLU Client Out of Solitary

Raistlen Katka much improved after being returned to general population; Suit over unconstitutional conditions will continue

HELENA, MT — District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock has ordered the Montana Department of Corrections to refrain from placing teenage prisoner Raistlen Katka in administrative isolation and from imposing behavior modification plans on him until his release or February 2012 trial.

 

“The Court does this for a couple reasons. First, it is clear that Plaintiff is doing well under the current specialized treatment plan,” wrote Sherlock in his decision, adding that he has concerns that Raistlen could suffer irreparable harm (up to suicide) if placed in solitary confinement again.

 

“Since we were able to secure his release from solitary confinement last year and get him mental health treatment, he has done far better than he did under the prison’s ‘behavior management plans.’ He’s earned his GED and is learning a vocational skill,” said ACLU Legal Director Betsy Griffing of Raistlen’s current conditions. “He was prohibited from receiving real educational instruction and vocational training in solitary confinement.”

 

The ACLU of Montana filed a lawsuit against the state of Montana and the Montana Department of Corrections in 2009 over the illegal, inhumane and degrading treatment Raistlen was subjected to by being placed in solitary confinement when he was a juvenile and when it exacerbated his mental illness. Those conditions violated the Montana Constitution’s right to human dignity, and were particularly objectionable because they were imposed on a minor child with mental illness.

 

Raistlen was Tasered, pepper-sprayed, deprived of human contact, punished by torturous ‘behavior management plans,’ stripped in view of other inmates and traumatized to the point of attempting multiple times to kill himself.

 

Raistlen has a history of childhood abuse, and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses. His incarceration in the Montana State Prison’s restrictive “Special Housing Unit” began in March 2009 when he was just barely 17 years old. In the ensuing year his condition seriously deteriorated.

 

The ACLU was finally able to secure Raistlen’s release from solitary confinement, mental health treatment and a return to the general population after several more suicide attempts.

 

Though the most pressing goal of the ACLU’s litigation – to ensure that Raistlen would be removed from inhumane conditions – has been achieved, the lawsuit will continue.

 

“This lawsuit is for Raistlen, but it’s also for all the other adolescent and mentally ill prisoners subjected to these harsh, punitive conditions. MSP’s use of solitary confinement and BMP’s violates contemporary correctional practices as well as Montana’s constitutional guarantees,” said ACLU cooperating attorney Andree Larose. “As a society, we must be concerned not only about whether the treatment of inmates is humane, but also about what long-term effects such inhumane treatment has on these prisoners. When we ignore the core humanity of a prisoner, we not only violate the Montana Constitution, we make our community less safe in the long run.”

 

Colbert’s SuperPAC

…made the New York Times today. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, Stephen Colbert, of Comedy Central’s Colbert Report has formed a SuperPac:

 Citizens for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow may be a running gag on “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central, but it is spending money as it sees fit, with little in the way of disclosure, just like its noncomedic brethren.

Comedians, including Mr. Colbert in the last election, have undertaken faux candidacies. But his Super PAC riff is a real-world exercise, engaging in a kind of modeling by just doing what Super PACs do.

And he has come under some real-world criticism for inserting himself in the political process so directly. Mr. Colbert, who lampoons conservative talk show hosts by pretending to be one, is now making fun of Super PACs by actually forming one. His committee spent money on advertising in Iowa during the run-up to the Ames straw poll, which took place Aug. 13. It’s as though Jonathan Swift took his satirical suggestion about Irish babies one step further and actually cooked one.

At first blush, it seemed to be one more skirmish in the culture wars: East Coast funnyman uses his fan base to pay for satirical commercials, implicitly demeaning the Ames straw poll in specific, and Iowa in general. Mr. Colbert suggested that all the soft-money ads with their soft-focus shots of rural tableaus were exposing the children of Iowa to “cornography.” But the folkways being criticized belonged to the Beltway, not the Corn Belt.

“I am much taken by this and can’t think of any real parallel in history,” said Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution. “Yes, comedians have always told jokes about elections, but this is quite different. This is a funny person being very serious, actually talking about process. What comedian talks about process?”

That’s what makes this guy one of my heroes…

While most of the rest of the news media continue to cover the coming election with long-running tropes — whose horse is ahead and who has the most loot? — Mr. Colbert has taken the equivalent of a political homework assignment and sprinkled a little silly sauce on top, and people seem happy to dig in.

Read the rest here.

Good Advice

~ Still need to learn how to do this better…

Seven Ways To Save On HIV Meds

Mark S King over at My Fabulous Disease has some excellent ways to save on medication costs for HIV+ persons. Excerpt:

With all the doctor appointments and wellness activities we engage in, living with HIV/AIDS can be a full-time job. And the truth is, it doesn’t pay very well. We’ve all been feeling the pinch of tough economic times. So I hope you’ll find some savings in this new video blog, “7 Ways to Save Money on Meds.”

Jason King, a pharmacy specialist and patient advocate at AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Ft Lauderdale, was kind enough to give me a tour of their “Out of the Closet” thrift store and then sit down to discuss ways to save money that your pharmacist might not be telling you.

Really Helpful Stuff. Read the rest.

2011 GAY/BI HIV+ Men’s Health Retreat

 

To register, click here.

 

 

Michele Bachmann, (Submissive) Theologian?

Michele Bachmann has championed the “Christian” cause, sprinkling her speeches with scripture and holy buzzphrases. But one in particular caught my ear.

During the Iowa Republican Debate, Bachmann was asked about whether she would be submissive to her husband. She slipped right out of her earlier statements (and any fundamentalist credibility) when she basically said, “in our house, submission means respect”.

But what did Paul mean when he wrote, “Wives, submit to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord” in his letter to the Colossians? Or Peter, when he wrote “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands…” in the First Letter of Peter?

It comes from the tradition which Paul amplified in his letter to the Ephesians:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (NIV) Ephesians 5.22-24

Pretty clearly not simple, mutual respect. Maybe another translation will help. Let’s try the King James:

22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Nope, still clearly hierarchical. Paul is speaking from a clearly patriarchal tradition here- one where the husband is the head of the family, the boss, the Pope, the King- those are the images he uses here.

And they are meant very specifically and clearly: wives are the subjects of their husbands, as the church is subject to Christ. As a serf is subject to a king. Not partner, not even helpmate. Subject.

Not that I think this is right, proper or correct. My understanding of Christian scripture is quite different- and I take an anthropological/interpretive approach- not a fundamentalist one. But if you’re going to proclaim to have fundamentalist Christian leanings- you have to be consistent. The first century church was a product of its time- patriarchy was all the rage- and I think we’ve evolved beyond it. Well, mostly. But if Michele Bachmann is going to quote scripture, she can’t just pick and choose what it means. She can’t back off of it and maintain any integrity with/for her Christian base.

But she did. And she has. And the media is letting her. CBS News:

AMES, Iowa – Appearing on “Face the Nation” Sunday, Rep. Michele Bachmann stood by her comment in Thursday’s Republican debate, insisting that when she said wives should be submissive to their husbands, she meant that married couples should have mutual respect.
In 2006, Bachmann said her husband had told her to get a post-doctorate degree in tax law. “Tax law? I hate taxes,” she continued. “Why should I go into something like that? But the lord says, be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.'”
Asked about the comment by CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell Sunday, Bachmann reaffirmed that to her, “submission means respect, mutual respect.”
“I respect my husband, he respects me,” she said. “We have been married 33 years, we have a great marriage…and respecting each other, listening to each other is what that means.”
O’Donnell asked Bachmann if she would use a different word in retrospect.
“You know, I guess it depends on what word people are used to, but respect is really what it means,” Bachmann replied.
“Do you think submissive means subservient?” O’Donnell asked.
“Not to us,” Bachmann said. “To us it means respect. We respect each other, we listen to each other, we love each other and that is what it means.”

Look at the story she uses to illustrate her point: Marcus Bachmann told her to get a degree in something she hated– and she did it because- according to a fundamentalist interpretation of scripture- she is his subject. She must submit to him. She later rejected this, saying it equals respect.

Well, maybe in the way a serf respects the King who holds power over him/her. But let’s keep looking. Hey! Maybe the dictionary will mention respect.

submissive
sub·mis·sive
–adjective
1.inclined or ready to submit;  unresistingly or humbly obedient: submissive servants.
2.marked by or indicating submission: a submissive reply.

Okay, that didn’t do much for her case, either. Hey, maybe the Greek will help! What was the word in the Bible the writers actually used? Maybe that means respect…

 “In the first instance, then, hupatassomai does not mean so much ‘to obey’—though this may result from self-subordination—or to do the will of someone but rather ‘to lose or surrender one’s own rights or will.136 In the NT the verb does not immediately carry with it the thought of obedience … 137

The idea implicit in the term is “to place under” (in the active voice).138 As it is found in our text, the idea would be, “to subordinate oneself” or “to place oneself under.” In general terms, submission is the placing of oneself under the one to whom we submit. Since we are commanded to submit ourselves one to another, we are to place all others above ourselves. (source)

Whoops. Even worse.
Sorry, Michele. Looks like if you want to maintain scriptural consistency- and your fundamentalist/evangelical/christianist street cred, you’re going to have to say submit, subject to, submissive, surrender.

Presidential words, indeed.

NYT sums up Montana Politics

…and does a pretty good job:

But the biggest question is whether anger — at Washington, at the parties, at the economy — can be in fact transmuted to hope for a better way, or whether anger just makes for more anger in a rolling cascade.

“United we stand, divided we fall — and we’re falling,” said DeAnne Asher, 64, who was chatting with friends on a recent morning in Lincoln, in the state’s wooded western half. Ms. Asher, who said she mostly voted Republican, does not plan to support Mr. Tester, but does not see voting for Mr. Rehberg either at this point. The entire system, she said, is broken.

“I’m fed up,” she said.

Full story here.

Bachmann Staffer Arrested For Terrorism

Denny Rehberg’s role model, Michele Bachmann, besides being an habitual liar, seems to be headed for a little Bachmanngate…. From The Atlantic:

The evangelical organizer who helped Michele Bachmann win the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa Saturday was previously charged with terrorism in Uganda after being arrested for possession of assault rifles and ammunition in February 2006, just days before Uganda’s first multi-party elections in 20 years.

Peter E. Waldron spent 37 days in the Luriza Prison outside Kampala, where he says he was tortured, after being arrested along with six Congolese and Ugandan nationals for the weapons, which were described variously in news reports as having been found in his bedroom or a closet in his home. The charges, which could have led to life in prison, were dropped in March 2006 after a pressure campaign by Waldron’s friends and colleagues and what Waldron says was the intervention of the Bush administration. He was released and deported from the east African nation, along with the Congolese. On Saturday, Waldron told The Atlantic in Ames that he was a staffer for Bachmann and responsible for her faith-based organizing both in Iowa and South Carolina. But he also declined repeatedly to give his name.

Oh, and it gets much more interesting. Full Story here.

But before you think you’ve got it all figured out- think again. Andrew Rice gives us even more:

Peter Waldron, an evangelical minister who told the publication that he is doing outreach on Bachmann’s behalf to the born-again community, spent more than a month in Kampala’s Luzira Prison in 2006, and possesses a resume more in keeping with a spy novel than a presidential campaign. Among other things, the Atlantic item reports, Waldron is now promoting an autobiographical movie on his website that asks, teasingly, “was he a businessman, a preacher, a spy?” Franke-Ruta adds that “one man who knew Waldron in 2004 told The St. Petersburg Times in 2006 that Waldron had told him he used to work for the CIA.”

I bring this up because I happen to be that man who knew Waldron.

Saying that I “knew” Waldron is putting it a little strongly: I met him in 2004 in the course of writing an article on the evangelical movement in Uganda, where we both lived at the time. The piece was published in The New Republic, and is now regrettably behind a paywall. (Update: Link here. Thanks to TNR and Ben Smith.)

To summarize, it was in part an examination of Muslim-Christian relations in the country and also a profile of Martin Ssempa, a popular, controversial and publicity-savvy Ugandan preacher who seemed emblematic of the a wave of fervent Christianity that has lately been sweeping Africa. Ssempa invited me to his church on the campus of Makerere University one Sunday, where he was joined by a curious guest: Waldron. The American’s role in the story was cut down a bit in the editing process, but since the question of how he presented himself at the time now seems important, I’ll reproduce below what I wrote about him in my first draft of the article, back when our interaction was fresh on my mind.

Looks like this guy represents something we’ve all come to see in Bachmann’s campaign- denial of the facts/reality in favor of extremist ideological fantasy. Rice sums it up perfectly:

When I look back now, my impression of him remains now what it was then, which is that he was a particularly flamboyant example of an archetypal character: the American who goes to Africa, a continent where a little money and a lot of talk can buy substantial power, in search of a position of influence.

It eluded him in Uganda, but maybe now he’s found it back home, with the Bachmann campaign.

I wonder how long Denny’s pal is going to be able to take this. And whether Rehberg will have the wits to distance himself from Bachmann… Anyway, his full article here.