Archive for March, 2008

Catholics proclaim being faithful kills (31/03/08)

I’m not easily shocked. Really. But I have to say that the hairs rose on the back on my neck when I saw this: A catholic NGO, calling itself Human Life International, has put up three of these billboards in Tanzania. It’s president, Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, crows about this achievement on a Catholic web […]

When you need to know who Daddy is department (31/03/08)

A while back, I posted a link to BioRad’s unlikely but delightful PCR test anthem, “When you need to know who Daddy is”. Those tests are strictly for lab nerds. More recently, though, supermarkets have started stocking do it yourself paternity tests. It wasn’t ever going to be long before enthusiastic you-tubers had a go […]

Tree-huggers learn from junkies: needle exchange goes green (31/03/08)

Needle exchange usually gets a pretty bad press. So I was surprised, as I wandered by accident into the greenosphere today, to find that harm reduction models could save the world. Colin Beavan draws a parallel between injectors and consumers. You can’t break an addiction to consumer goods any more easily than you can break […]

Excuse my French (30/03/08)

Some readers may have had yesterday’s literary post zoned out by the language police. By happy coincidence, Blog Around the Clock drew my attention to the cuss-o-meter, and I ran The Wisdom through it. Just 16.6% of my posts are grubby, which shows there’s lot more science than sex on this blog. I note, though, […]

The New York Times’ HIV vaccine fantasy (30/03/08)

Working with HIV can get dispiriting at times. We have some 70 million prevention failures to our credit so far; those will always attract more attention than the unquantifiable millions of infections which we have managed to prevent, by providing a safe blood supply, clean needles for injectors, decent STI treatment and condoms for people […]

500 years of fucking in print (29/03/08)

London’s a great city to walk around; reading an anthology of London poetry before embarking on another epic city walk, I came across a couple of gems from the Scottish poet William Dunbar. Here’s Dunbar’s description of courtship, in a modern translation: “His pretty beard was combed and trimmed, but it was spattered with broth, […]

Slavery and the sex trade: more common sense. (28/03/08)

Between the downfall of New York governor Elliot Spitzer and the renewed debates about whether the US should use PEPFAR money to strong-arm opposition to prostitution, we’ve been buzzing a bit lately about the conflation of the sex indsutry and human trafficking. A Crime So Monstrous, a new book by Benjamin Skinner, is adding to […]

Instant guide to sex scandals, US style (28/03/08)

As the US tabloids trawl New Yorks’s cleavages for signs of Spitzer, I offer this cheat sheet from Matt Bors. (Click to enlarge.) If I had Matt’s graphic talents, I’d want to do one for politicians in other countries, too. Because let’s face it, there are whole categories missing that are of prime importance to […]

Saving souls not lives: missionaries in Ukraine (28/03/08)

I’m not a regular reader of the Mission News Network, but I couldn’t help snapping to attention when they re-drew the global HIV map: “Parts of the former Soviet Union are starting to see infection rates surpassing those of Africa,” they declared, singling out Ukraine. Last time I looked, around 1.4% of adults in Ukraine […]

Are Australian men rotten lovers? (27/03/08)

In the prologue to my soon-to-be-published book The Wisdom of Whores, I give an example of the different ways nerds like me look at cause and effect in health. When I was writing it, I made up an example out of the air — something that I thought that people would relate to and be […]

Cheap travel for mountaineers and HIV-positives in India (27/03/08)

India’s sprawling railway network will from next week allow HIV-infected people to travel half-price, the Economic Times reports. Since it’s India, there’s red tape to go with the red ribbons — the discount is only for second class travel to and from approved HIV treatment centres and people “have to produce (a) certificate in prescribed […]

The 10 stages of HIV (26/03/08)

Last night I waded in to an interesting discussion about Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss at the (always interesting) Dana Centre. One woman observed that the selective memory loss that goes with Alzheimer’s could be a blessing, because it allowed people to wipe away recent bitterness and return to happier stages in their relationships. Interesting […]

Importing HIV: does it matter? (26/03/08)

For 15 years, the United States has tried to bar its doors to immigrants with HIV. Like most decisions related to HIV in the States, that one was motivated more by political expediency than by common sense. It seemed to play to fears that if immigrants with HIV came to the States, they’d start spreading […]

Vancouver’s needle exchange is homeless (25/03/08)

Drug use and homelessness go together in many cities around the world. The Canadian city of Vancouver, for many years a shining example of sensible drug policy, is no exception. Now, however, it’s the city’s much-vaunted needle exchange programme that is being thrown onto the streets according to Cindy Harnett of the Times Colonist. The […]

Happy (safe) Easter (22/03/08)

Easter and the spring equinox. In the Christian parts of the northern hemisphere this time of year is all about sex and death. Here’s some advice on how to enjoy the one without courting the other. I’m heading for the hills for a couple of days, and will be resurrected next week. To those who […]

Should professors be human, too? (21/03/08)

Professors are baring their souls and tastes on line, Stephanie Rosenblum of The New York Times reports with some incredulity. She rightly questions whether sharing your taste in music and your cat snaps with students really makes you a better teacher. “Sam Gosling, a psychologist and an associate professor at the University of Texas at […]

Stating the obvious department: HIV kills voters (20/03/08)

Three years of research, 400 pages of text, a 52-page introduction, and we learn that politicians and other voters are dying from HIV in Africa. The Institute for Democracy in South Africa has recently published a massive tome, The Political Cost of AIDS in Africa which “reveals that the fledgling multi-party democracies in parts of […]

Zapatero y Felipe: enhorabuena! (20/03/08)

I’ve been slow to congratulate Jose Luis Zapatero on his success in Spain’s elections earlier this month. Zapatero has been a fierce defender of gay rights in the face of back-door action by the opposition to roll back gay marriage. For the Spanish speakers among you, this video reveals why. Thanks to Texma for forwarding. […]

HIV spreads in those slutty phases: new evidence from a UK study (19/03/08)

In a fascinating new paper published in the wonderful, open-access Public Library of Science, Fraser Lewis and colleagues shed a little more light on how HIV spreads. They show that, at least among gay men in the UK, HIV propels itself in bursts, exploding quickly through a whole cluster of people and then tailing off. […]

Intentionally spreading HIV: Britain clears up the confusion (18/03/08)

Some US States may be adding “sex offender” to the charge sheet of HIV-infected people having unprotected sex, but Britain is heading in the opposite direction. At least I think so. New guidance issued by the Crown Prosecution Service suggests that people can’t be convicted for one-off acts of risk or folly. The original law […]

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