Briefly, HIV News Update
The Bay Area's 2,114 black same-sex couples represent 2.5 percent of all black same-sex couples in the U.S., according to a first of its kind study released Oct. 5 by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The study, Black Same Sex Households in the United States, was compiled using census data and is the largest set of data available on same-sex couples. It examined eight categories, including age, education, income and military service. In announcing the findings, the Task Force and the National Black Justice Coalition said the study was full of surprising trends. For example, black lesbian couples are raising children at almost the same rate as black married couples, and black same-sex couples raise children at twice the rate of white same-sex couples. "For all these reasons, black same-sex couples have more to gain from the legal protections of marriage, and more to lose if states pass amendments banning marriage and other forms of partner recognition," the report concludes. The full study and details on Bay Area figures can be found online at www.thetaskforce.org.
San Francisco Chronicle 10/07/04
On November 5, the Texas Board of Education approved four high school health textbooks that promote sexual abstinence. Only one of the four textbooks includes a mention of condoms. By state law, sex ed curriculums must include information about contraception. Board members said the textbooks meet standards because contraceptive information is included in separate supplements or in the teacher's edition.
Not surprisingly, for several years, Texas has been among the top five states for teen pregnancies, according to CDC figures. Surveys indicate, a wide majority of parents support a strong abstinence message to teens in sex education. When he was governor of Texas, George W. Bush pushed for an abstinence-based sexual education curriculum.
Additionally the board asked for a change in the definition of marriage because one member said new language was needed to replace what she felt were code words promoting a homosexual agenda. The board approved the definition, "Marriage is a life-long union between a husband and a wife."
A recent cost analysis of post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for social exposure concluded that PEP following (social) exposures could be a cost-effective complement to existing HIV-prevention efforts in most cities across the United States. The cost analysis results were published in AIDS. The cost was based on serving 20,000 people per year for a cost of $22 million. PEP includes treating individuals with antiretrovirals immediately after a possible high-risk exposure to HIV. It should be started within 72 hours of the exposure. Currently PEP is only available to health care workers and other occupational exposures who receive needle sticks on the job. The study was conducted by Steven D. Pinkerton; Jeffrey N. Martin; Michelle E. Roland; Mitchell H. Katz; Thomas J.Coates; James O. Kahn.
The CDC sent out notice that a new report by the Chicago Department of Public Health shows that about 14 percent of primary and secondary syphilis cases reported there between 2000 and 2002 were transmitted through oral sex. Roughly 20 percent of MSM with syphilis in Chicago indicated only oral sex exposure. Of the MSM exposed to syphilis through oral sex, 54 percent were already HIV-positive, 32 percent were unaware of their status, and 14 percent were HIV-negative.
While the risk of transmitting HIV through oral sex is much lower than through anal or vaginal sex, oral sex is a high-risk activity for syphilis. Many people falsely believe that unprotected oral sex is a safe behavior and fail to use condoms or dental dams. Authors stress the importance of alerting people to the risk of syphilis transmission through oral sex, the role of syphilis in facilitating HIV transmission, and its possible role in HIV disease progression.
CDC -- MMWR 10/22/04
Editor's Note: Recent studies have shown as high as 7% of HIV+ MSM had no other risk than oral sex. Resolute! reminds all readers that low risk is not no risk and that latex barriers and lots of lube in all forms of sex are still your best bet for not giving or receiving HIV and other STDs.
A superhero with HIV has joined the long-running Green Arrow comic, the first major comic book series to deal with HIV. Mia is a teenage runaway who discovers she contracted HIV during time spent as a homeless prostitute. The DC Comics character adopts the name Speedy and becomes a crime-fighter. "Mia is coming to terms with it in the way most young people are," said writer Judd Winick. "Young people, for good or for bad, are still pretty fearless."
The latest issue shows Mia becoming the lead character's sidekick after discovering she is HIV positive. "It's not as a death wish, but she can't fool around anymore," said Winick. "This isn't about an abbreviated life span. It is about life having focus." Winick said he wanted to approach HIV from the point of view of other young people. "She seems to be unafraid of death, she's mostly feeling like no-one is ever going to love her." As Speedy, she will later join the Teen Titans comic book series alongside Batman's sidekick Robin, Cyborg and Raven.
This article was provided by PWA Coalition Colorado. It is a part of the publication Resolute!.