Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Human Papaya Virus

The Human Papilloma Virus is sexually transmitted and small enough to pass through the pores of a condom. So if you are sexually active, you're probably going to be exposed to it sooner or later. I read a study done at UofT that something like 3 out of 5 men on UofT campus was a carrier. This is a disease that I'd really rather avoid and the reason we all need to go and get PAP tests every year and why we should all make it our business to get our hands on the vaccines that would be available if it weren't for asshole, right-wing, bigot scum like the AFA.

This is a clipping poached from Dan Savage's column Savage Love:

STRAIGHT RIGHTS UPDATE: As I mentioned a few months ago, a vaccine for two of the most common strains of HPV, the virus that causes genital warts, is currently moving through the federal approval process. HPV can also cause cervical cancer in women, and the cancers caused by the virus kill 4,000 American women every year. Who could possibly be against the introduction of a vaccine -- one that has proven 100 percent effective in clinical tests! -- that will save thousands of women's lives every year? Those "culture of life" assfucks, that's who.

"A new vaccine that protects against cervical cancer has set up a clash between health advocates [and] social conservatives who say immunizing teenagers could encourage sexual activity," The Washington Post reported last week. Doctors want teenage girls to receive the vaccine as a matter of routine when they hit puberty, something the religious right opposes. "Because the vaccine protects against a sexually transmitted virus, many conservatives oppose making it mandatory, citing fears that it could send a subtle message condoning sexual activity before marriage. ... 'I've talked to some who have said, "This is going to sabotage our abstinence message," ' said Gene Rudd, associate executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Associations." (To his credit, Rudd said he would want his daughters vaccinated.)

The right's abstinence message has bigger problems than this vaccine. Studies have shown that young men and women are still having premarital sex -- no shit -- despite the billions of dollars the Bush administration has poured into abstinence education. A study conducted at Texas A&M University found that kids who've been subjected to abstinence-only sex education, the right's preferred brand, have more sex than kids who aren't subjected to abstinence-only sex education. So what the right is saying is this: We're willing to kill American women in order to avoid "sabotaging" our ineffectual abstinence-only message. Nice.

Who ultimately gets to determine the government's position on the HPV vaccine? Thanks to George W. Bush, the Christian fundies do. From The Washington Post: "The jockeying [around the HPV vaccine] reflects the growing influence social conservatives, who had long felt overlooked by Washington, have gained on a broad spectrum of policy issues under the Bush administration. In this case, a former member of the conservative group Focus on the Family serves on the federal panel that is playing a pivotal role in deciding how the vaccine is used."

W stands for women -- that's what he told us when he ran for president. But, hey, it wasn't a lie. George W. Bush never said anything about standing for live women.

I've said it before, straight folks, and I'll say it again: The right-wingers and the fundies and the sex-phobes don't just have it in for the queers. They're coming for your asses too.


sly said...

oh jenni! only you would post "and their coming for your asses too!"

in other news, what's with guys not wanting to wear condoms? since when are condoms a discussion question?

Jennifer said...

You know Sly, I read this comment just as I was about to hop in the sack and I thought I'll just respond to it in the morning. I went to bed, I got the covers all organized the way I like them, I snuggled down and then I laid there and tossed and turned seething about these boys who don't want to wear condoms. WHAT THE FUCK IS THEIR PROBLEM!? Jesus!
I know I've been really emphatic lately, but people who eat endangered species, Christian fundamentalists and people who don't use condoms are probably the people in this world that I have the biggest problem with.
But I have the solution. First let's explore the problem. I'll throw out a typical scenario. A guy and a girl are at a bar. They notice eachother, start talking, make out a bit and decide that tonight is their lucky night and they are going to have some casual sex. (I'm fine with this so far, it's not my first choice of ways to end a Saturday night, I'd rather eat a greasy breakfast at Sneaky Dees any day rather than go home with some greasy guy, but if that's your bag, then go forth and fornicate.)
So the next thing that happens is that you get back to his place or your place, you fall in the door making out, or you go in and make some more drinks, whatever. By the time you get around to the part where someone is actually going to get penetrated you both have a lot invested in the situation. The crucial moment arrives and you pull out the condoms from your purse or bedside table. The boy says no, I don't really like condoms, it spoils the mood or I don't like the way it feels or some other lame-ass line, you:
a) stand up for yourself and insist on a condom, you only play safe after all, no glove no love
b) well, you already have all the STDs, so you figure it doesn't make a big difference either way, you agree no condom
c) you say, well, you just told me that you are a dirty bastard who is carrying a bunch of STDs already, so I'm not going to have sex with you at all, he says, no it's ok we can use a condom and you point out that if he's been going around not using condoms then he probably carries a few STDs like Crabs, Herpes, and HPV, 2 of which can't be cured and all of which you can get even when you are using condoms.
d) tell the guy you just found out that you are HIV positive and you and your friends were out at the bar that night celebrating

What do you think the solution is?

If you guessed c) you were right. See, it was a bit of a trick a) looked like the right answer. Most girls are prepared to stick up for themselves so far as to insist on a condom to have sex with Mr. I-Don't-Use-Condoms, but it takes a lot more courage to give the guy the boot. Why isn't it taboo to say I don't like condoms? If we let them, these guys will keep going around only using condoms with women who absolutely insist on it and not with anyone else. If you send these disease vectors a message and say not only no glove no love but also your lack of attention in health class (unless they went to Catholic school where their aim is that everyone get pregnant and get AIDS) is going to cost you a lay, the guy might actually learn after a few times. See stupid boys may not be motivated by an F in Health class, but they sure as heck learn quickly when the carrot is hot sex - look how many of them know how to use a computer, do you think they learned so that they could do their taxes, I don't.
If we all took a firmer stand and turfed Mr. I-Don't-Like-Condoms out of the bed and told him to take a hike, then we'd probably encounter him a lot less in the future.
Next time that happens, just call me on your cell phone and pass the phone to the guy, I'll explain the situation to him in terms he'll never forget.

Jennifer said...

I changed my mind, what's his name and address? I'll sort it out, I'll go over there with a biohazard suit on and cut is dick off!

Jennifer said...

By the way, I'm putting a bio-hazard suit on my birthday list, you guys can all chip in, it's in August.

Jennifer said...

Bah! This is still bothering me!
Look what else I read tonight, more Dan Savage, I love that man, check it out:

Am I My Brothers Keeper?

By Dan Savage
I was cruising for sex online and made a date to meet up with two guys for anonymous play. When we arrived at the one guy's apartment, he asked us if we would fuck him bareback. I said no, but the other guy said he would. The bottom then asked us if we were both negative, and we both answered yes. Here's the problem: The other guy (not the bottom) had the appearance of someone taking HIV meds. He looked very positive. I asked the bottom if he was negative. "Definitely," he said. "I just got tested." I told him I would only fuck him with a condom, but he then asked the other guy to do him bareback and come in his ass. I again interjected: "I always play safe," I said. I was hoping the bottom might give it some more thought, but he kept on asking the other guy for his load. At that point, I told them both I couldn't stay and got dressed. On my way out, I tossed a condom on the couch and said, "Just in case you change your mind."

I knew I had to remove myself from the situation, because I don't believe in taking part in unsafe play, but I was reluctant to be assertive. They were both adults and could make their own decisions. And yet I wondered whether I should have been more forceful. Did I do right, should I have done more or should I have just butted out and left them alone without a word?

-- My Brother's Keeper?

You could have done more, MBK, much, much more -- and we'll get to exactly what in a moment. But first I'd like to address some of the other issues raised by your letter:

First, that bottom boy -- that stupid, stupid faggot -- can't "definitely" know he's negative. He could have been infected too recently for his last HIV test to come back positive. And judging from his behavior -- inviting multiple strangers over to fuck him and then begging them to come in his ass -- odds are good that he's carrying around a number of other sexually transmitted diseases even if he isn't HIV-positive.

Second, you say the other top "looked very positive." I don't want to give my readers the impression that HIV-positive guys all look a certain way. There are already too many gay guys out there eyeballing guys, deciding they look "clean" and then engaging in unprotected sex. Listen up, you stupid, stupid faggots: Not all positive guys "look" positive. If that were the case, only batshit-crazy "bugchasers" would ever get infected. However, some poz guys on meds suffer from physical side effects that are instantly recognizable -- primarily "facial wasting," or lipoatrophy. Guys with facial wasting (i.e., deep grooves where their cheekbones used to be) do indeed "look very positive."

Third, hooking up with strangers for anonymous sex qualifies as "taking part in unsafe play," condoms or no condoms. For some guys the thrills of anonymous sex are worth the occasional STD or the small chance of being a victim violent crime. But let's not be naive, my fellow homos. Anonymous sex is risky sex.

OK, MBK, let's get to your specific question: Could you have done more? Let's take a quick look at what you did do: You used a lot of "I" statements -- "I told him I would only fuck him with a condom..." " 'I always play safe,' I said..." "I told them both I couldn't stay..." -- then you tossed a condom on the couch and left.

Ah, "I" statements. Therapists and counselors love 'em because they come in awfully handy in couples counseling, for instance, or family therapy. "I" statements are useful whenever people are discussing explosive subjects with people they hope to maintain a relationship with. "I" statements are so sensitive! And so nonjudgmental! But in the situation in which you found yourself, MBK, "I" statements are so fucking useless.

When total strangers are about to do something dangerous and self-destructive, feel free to liberally use "you" statements. Who cares if you pissed off that stupid, stupid bottom by saying, "You shouldn't let guys fuck you in the ass without using condoms, you stupid motherfucker!" It's not like you were going to see him again, right? If that didn't work, you could have said, "You would be an idiot to let someone come in your ass just because he tells you he's negative." "You are going to get HIV doing shit like this." And there's always that ol' conversation starter, "What the fuck is wrong with you?"

The above "you" statements are all for the stupid, stupid bottom, of course. Here's one you should have used on the other top: "You look like you're positive. Are you lying about your HIV status?"

When I wrote a couple of months ago that positive guys didn't have an absolute right to expose other people to HIV, guys -- positive and negative -- wrote in to say that it was solely the bottom's responsibility to protect himself. We should all assume that each new sex partner is positive, these apologists wrote, and if one guy lets another guy fuck him in the ass without a condom he has no one but himself to blame if he gets infected. It's in the spirit of "assume everyone is positive" that I believe you had the right -- no, the responsibility -- to share your assumption about the other top's HIV status. After all, you would have only been assuming the guy is positive (something we should all do) and by example encouraging the stupid, stupid bottom to make the same assumption.

Had you said, "You look like you're positive," MBK, your anonymous play would most likely have degenerated into a shouting match about HIV meds and their side effects, the morality of barebacking and sexual autonomy. And so what? You were already on your way out the door, right? You were never going to see either of these guys again, right? So what did you have to lose? If you had risked being judgmental and assertive and dropped the wimpy "I" statements in favor of some confrontational "you" statements, the ensuing shouting match could have been just the wake-up call the stupid, stupid bottom needed.

Or not. Some gay guys are web-surfin', crystal-abusin', load-takin', slow-motion suicides completely beyond help. Even so, gay guys who aren't suicides and/or sociopaths have to open their mouths and confront stupidity when and where we encounter it. At the very least, MBK, ethical gay guys have to be every bit as vocal as the gay sociopaths and their apologists who masquerade as HIV-prevention educators. By doing so, we can help to create a healthier community.

Conversely, if every gay guy who's confronted by stupidity (that bottom boy) and criminal indifference (the top who was willing to come in him) makes a bunch of cringing "I" statements as he backs out of the room, things are going to continue to get worse.

Finally, MBK, your concern that being assertive and judgmental would somehow deny these guys the right to make their own decisions is ball-less bullshit. Even if you had confronted them both and screamed your head off, they could still have made up their own minds once you left.

Speaking of ethical gay guys: The producers of the International Mr. Leather Contest (IML), which is being held in Chicago this weekend, are going after crystal meth dealers. "As Chicago prepares to welcome the world," the notice on their Web site reads, "the producers of International Mr. Leather want to tell some people to stay home. We have no use for crystal meth at any of our functions. Dealers: If you show up anyway, we will not kick you out. We will call the police."

That's so judgmental, so intolerant -- and so fucking right on. Mad props, as the kids say, to IML's producers.