This morning, The Guardian newspaper published a commentary (We can’t wait for equality) that I had written about the role of the sexes (or the genders, if you’re coming over all PC) in the HIV epidemic. My point was that in most of the world, HIV is a man’s disease. The original version (and the version the editors sent to me for checking) contained the following sentence: “In all of Asia, Latin America, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, most HIV-related risk comes with a penis.” In the published version, this appeared as “In all of Asia, Latin America, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, most HIV-related risk comes from sexual relations.”
That’s not strictly true. In many countries, HIV is driven largely by drug injection, and most injectors are men. But it also misses the point. It is not about “sexual relations”, it is about the risks that men choose to take when they have sex. Suggestions for a politer way to say “penis” are very welcome.