HIV/AIDS

Buck Angel's picture

Buck Angel's Women's HIV/AIDS Prevention PSA

Hi.  This is my Public Service Announcement on the importance of safe sex and the prevention of HIV/AIDS.  Playboy playmate,fitness expert and HIV/AIDS educator Rebekka Armstrong speaks about how she got infected with AIDS and how you can prevent this from happening to you! 

See more about Rebekka Armstrong at www.rebekkaonline.net.

Here is a list of great HIV/AIDS resources:
http://www.thebody.com/index.html
http://www.poz.com/
http://www.projinf.org/
http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu/

- Buck

Clarisse Thorn's picture

[litquote] Sex workers and whore stigma in southern Africa

I read a lot when I was in Africa. One of the most interesting books available was Catherine Campbell’s Letting Them Die. (Another of my favorite books, Elizabeth Pisani’s The Wisdom Of Whores, is available for free download during the month of December 2010. I encourage you to grab it while it’s available for free! But this post is about Campbell’s book, not Pisani’s book.)

Letting Them Die describes a community HIV/AIDS project that took place in a South African community called Summertown (not the community’s real name). It is really an exceptional description of the difficulties inherent in the promotion of sexual health. It’s also got a lot of interesting discussion and commentary on sex work and whore stigma, and the experience of sex workers who were interviewed for the study.

I want to emphasize right now that I don’t always agree with the writer’s approach, though I always find it interesting. This is a loaded topic, and I am very aware that there are issues with the following quotations. However, I think there is a lot of wisdom as well. Quotations follow:



A key reason why people agreed to discuss their stigmatized work so openly in the baseline interview study lay not only in their growing fear about the epidemic, but also because, in setting up the interviews, much emphasis was laid on the fact that the interviewers regarded sex work as a profession like any other, and had no desire to criticize or judge anyone for their choice of work. [page 81]



How do people deal with having a spoiled identity, the stigma of a shameful profession? … One way was through a series of justificatory discourses. Predominant among these was the discourse of “having no option”.

S: “I give my clients respect by telling them I don’t like doing this job. I tell them I only do it due to poverty.”

W: “This is a job that lowers our dignity. We discuss this often, that we should look for other jobs. But the truth is that there are no alternatives.”

Virtually every woman said she had been “tricked” into starting the job. They all spoke of having been recruited by friends, who tempted them away from their rural homes with stories about jobs in Johannesburg, without telling them the nature of the work. They spoke of arriving and initially refusing to sell sex. Eventually they had been forced into it by a combination of hunger and the lack of transport money to return home.

arvan's picture

Lovely French Condom Ad

I love advertising, sometimes.  Sometimes.

Clarisse Thorn's picture

News Flash, Pay Attention: HIV Is About Sex

Today is World AIDS Day. I don’t think about HIV as much as I did a few months ago, when I was still in Africa and my job was to help with the epidemic. But today, I’m thinking about it, and I have something very simple to say:

HIV is about sex.

One of the big lessons I learned about HIV in Africa is that many, many people will do amazing mental and rhetorical backflips to avoid talking about how HIV is actually spread. It’s astonishing. You’d think that when talking about HIV, you’d have to talk about sex; you’d be wrong.

In the areas where I worked, a massive percentage of people were infected with HIV. In a number of places it was about 25%. In some populations, it was more like 40%. Think about those numbers for a second — and remember that many people who had contracted HIV had already died. In other words, uncountable numbers of people had already died of AIDS-related causes, and among the people who remained alive, the percentages still got as high as 25% and 40%.

And yet I got the message over and over and over that we mustn’t talk about sex! For example, I was told by some school authorities that I could not give safer sex information to their students because that might “encourage the students to have sex”. In other words: God forbid we tell students where to get condoms and how to use them, because that might encourage them to think sex isn’t wrong and dirty. What the authorities were really telling me is that it’s more important that we continue to stigmatize sexuality, than it is to protect people from HIV.

arvan's picture

HIV prevention for sex workers by sex workers in Kenya

NAIROBI, 11 August 2010 (PlusNews) - By night, Viviane Muasi, 25, is a sex worker in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, but when not canvassing for clients, she spends much of her time convincing other sex workers to test for HIV and use condoms.

Muasi, a sex worker for nine years, is a peer educator with the Sex Workers Outreach Programme (SWOP) - a project run by the University of Nairobi and Canada's University of Manitoba.

"Initially when I came to Nairobi, I was employed as a house-maid," she told IRIN/PlusNews. "I was being paid little, so another woman introduced me to sex work and told me I could make more money."

For us, by us

Through the SWOP programme, Muasi and her fellow educators have enabled more than 3,000 of their Nairobi peers to get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

"We know each other and where they [the sex workers] live, so you just visit them at home and ask them to create time and go to the clinic," Muasi said. "They now have skills to negotiate condom use with their clients... we don't want to be infected and we also don't want to infect anybody.

"At first, the police would just round us up and force us to go for [HIV] tests; many commercial sex workers used to hide," she added. "But today, because the call to test comes from one of their own, they have embraced it."

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Literary Quotation: Gay alcoholic heartbreak, breakup, and HIV

(Posted at Clarisse Thorn: Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism)

I’m going to start posting literary quotations that strike me. This one is from Augusten Burroughs’ sweet memoir, Dry. I post it for no reason other than that it made me sigh.

On my bookcase at home, there’s a photo of Pighead trying on a leather jacket I bought him one Christmas. I can be seen behind him in the mirror taking the picture. I’m wearing a ridiculous red Santa hat and my wire-framed nerd glasses. In another picture, I’m swimming in some motel pool in Maine. It was the Lamp Lighter Motel, I remember. It was fall and the pool was freezing cold and had orange leaves floating in it. Leaves and beetles. This was one of our first road trips. We’d known each other for about a year. I remember that after getting out of the pool, we went back to the room and I took a hot shower. When I came out, we ended up fooling around on the bed. We stayed in bed for two full days, leaving only at night to get prime rib or spaghetti at the only restaurant in town that served water in glass instead of paper.

Back in Manhattan, I told him one night, “I think I’m in love with you.” We were leaning against the railing of the esplanade at Battery Park City, watching the planes circle in their holding patterns above us. For New Yorkers, planes circling above at night replace stars, in terms of romance.

Serena Anderlini's picture

Serena's comment to Oregon Post's Review of Brent Leung's House of Numbers

Read review and comments to this brave documentary about the importance of dissidence in the production of scientific knowledge.

 
Brent's work is very important as it alerts an entire new generation to the scientific problems research on AIDS has not resolved yet, with the first voice admitting this the French scientist who discovered HIV back in the 1980s, Nobel Laureate Luc Montagnier.  I am a university professor and educator and I have researched and written extensively about the AIDS controversies, analyzing the cultural/political context in which official AIDS science was produced, and the likely effects that this context had on the results.  Science happens in culture and is affected by it, it is not neutral or universal, never has been, if we think of how hard it was for Galileo to affirm something simple like the concept that the Earth moves back then when the powers that be had an investment in the opposite theory.  The problem with AIDS science is that people get upset about it because it affects them intimately, having to do with what they do, or think they can do, in bed.  What about separating the two problems?  Asking the government to mandate that scientists officially run again the laboratory experiments said to prove that HIV causes AIDS, and in the meanwhile continuing to use condoms when doing something that would otherwise result in the exchange of deep fluids when unknown risk factors are involved?  This is what I propose in my latest book, Gaia and the New Politics of Love (2009). 
 

I plan to organize a screening of Leung's documentary on my campus, so students learn more about the importance of maintaining the space open for free speech and knowledge that represents dissenting viewpoints.

With much respect and admiration for Leung's brave work. 
 
Serena Anderlini-D'Onofrio, PhD
author of Gaia and the New Politics of Love: Notes for a Poly Planet (2009)
and of Eros: A Journey of Multiple Loves (2007)

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Clarisse’s Advice Column arises again! Masculinity & African activism

I’ve been getting a lot of very encouraging email lately; here’s some excerpts from an exchange I found particularly interesting. Posted with permission:

Hi Clarisse,

A friend showed me your blog and I just wanted to say that I think you’re fantastic.

I’m a student at Reed College in Portland, Oregon and I recently facilitated a Feminist Student Union “SexualiTea” — a discussion topic with, yeah, tea — on masculinities in society and at Reed and I used your article Questions I Want To Ask Entitled Cis Het Men, Part 3: Space For Men along with the Every Girl / Every Boy poster at the beginning to spark thoughts for the group. This event was a huge success! We had over 50 people in attendance, including 10 or 15 men. It was a really honest, vulnerable, productive, and holistic conversation. We talked about gender binary pressures as children; how can personality traits be de-gendered so that a male who takes pride in being strong isn’t intrinsically stream-rolling women as equally strong leaders or pushing them into an opposite weak category; a transman brought up what behaviors he had to lose as the result of transitioning and changing his presented gender — “I was told I’d have to tone down or lose my crude, perverted, and loud sense of humor because as a man I’d be seen as a Really Big Creep and not just a rugby dyke”; etc. The men were really forthcoming and aside from a minor terrible moment that I was able to turn around as the faciliatator (“so having seen Jackson Katz speak about gender violence, I would be interested in hearing any personal stories about rape from the women in the room” “actually, rape is a large enough burden to bear without having to educate men about rape, in public, whenever rape is brought up as a topic presumably by someone who’s never experienced it. I’d suggest reading up on your own and educating yourself and listening with respect if and when a survivor decides to tell you about their experience.”) — but really, the biggest obstacle that came up was the dynamic of female feminist students purporting 2nd wave views who obliviously steamrolled the conversation, spoke the loudest, the most frequent, tried to control the conversation with an specific end goal in mind, and took up the most space. It almost seemed like the end question for me on this topic wasn’t how to get men to be in these spaces to critically examine masculinities and let male sexualities flourish because many men were not hesitant to show up and take part and really try their best, but how to hold mainstream, second wave feminists accountable for their own oppressive dynamics and how to get them to relax, ease up, open up some space, cede some old ideology?

arvan's picture

Another trial for HIV transmission in Montreal: PolitiQ demands government action

In Montreal this December, a case of HIV transmission between two gay men went to trial.[1]  Beyond the doubtful aspects of the case, PolitiQ – Queers Solidaires denounces the scandalous practice of revealing the name of the accused to the press despite his right to medical confidentiality and the presumption of innocence.  This public tarring is not worthy of a democracy and raises questions on journalistic ethics.

Any form of criminalization of exposure to or sexual transmission of HIV is counterproductive and impedes efforts to encourage testing, reduce prejudice against HIV-positive people, and protect public health [2].  This is exactly why the World Health Organization, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) [3], and the International AIDS Society are firmly opposed to criminalization, in particular where proof of transmission (which requires phylogenetic tests which are not always reliable [4]), clear fraud, and lack of consent are not established. We may certainly condemn malice, an active desire to harm.  But how can we criminalize behaviour of shared responsibility, mutually agreed upon, knowing the risk?  It is incomprehensible that individuals are being charged today for sexual exposure to or transmission of HIV, when nobody responsible for the contaminated blood transfusions in the 1980s and 90s was ever criminally convicted (despite some 1,200 people infected with HIV and 12,000 with hepatitis C in Canada) [5], all the more so that it is now established that people living with HIV who undergo effective treatment have their risk of transmission vastly reduced or eliminated [6].

arvan's picture

Maasai warriors take on AIDS

It is not easy to tell morans to leave their girls, because they pass time talking about girls and sex, but today they know that condoms can protect them against HIV

 

MAGADI, 29 December 2009 (PlusNews) - Attempts to promote HIV awareness among Kenya's Maasai community have often foundered on the community's unwillingness to accept externally driven change; but a new initiative is using Maasai 'morans', or warriors, to spread the word.

"The Maasai are very traditional people and the best way to reach them is to go in without trying to dilute their culture - we give them free space to learn by using cultural systems to integrate reproductive health education," said Peter Ngura, programme manager for a nomadic youth project of the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), a health and development NGO.

"We train 'morans' as peer educators and use them to reach out to their fellow 'morans' because these are the only people culture allows them to interact freely with," he added. "'Morans' will only listen to their 'moran' chiefs and this is the reason they are the people we train to train their fellow 'morans' who are under their command."

'Morans' form an age set of male youths aged from the mid-teens to the mid-twenties; they have a duty to protect their community and livestock assets, and during this phase they are encouraged to have multiple affairs. 'Morans' spend much of their time in the bush, where they are largely isolated from the rest of their community, only interacting with girlfriends, elders and chiefs who visit them to impart traditional Maasai wisdom.

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