Archive for the ‘Ideology and HIV’ Category

Proud to be American? (01/10/09)

The US voted for hope. It (we, I) voted for change. It (we, I) got a president who suggested sensible things like basing health policy on good science. The US even got some senators who followed through with funding for programmes that would teach young people that if you want to have sex and not […]

Is AIDS a mass murderer? Not in Germany (09/09/09)

I’ve been roused from my long summer torpor by a row over a German ad that tries to make Hitler the face of AIDS. Predictably enough, activist groups immediately yelled “stigma”! What we should be yelling is “dinosaurs!”. In Western Europe, AIDS is no longer the “mass murderer” the ad claims. In fact, it is […]

Getting to the bottom of HIV’s silly season (28/07/09)

It’s usually safe to take time off in July to move house — in a previous existence in the newroom we used to call the European summer the “silly season”. In the weeks I’ve been painting walls, unpacking boxes and not blogging, we’ve had some HIV silliness, but some good sense too. The IAS conference […]

Gay abandon: the right to debate but not to hate (10/07/09)

The day before the UK release of Bruno, Sasha Baron Cohen’s swish along the catwalks of homophobia, the UK’s House of Lords voted to allow Brits to criticize homosexuality. Gay groups are painting this as a victory for homophobia. Christian groups say it is a victory for free speech. I say, on balance, that it […]

Easter Greetings to the Vatican (10/04/09)

When the New Statesman New Scientist asked me for my idea of God, I described God as a ventriloquist’s dummy, worked by puppeteers in the religious bureaucracies. But in this video Canadian director Patrick Boivin delightfully makes puppets of the puppeteers also: Thanks to Paul Canning for pointing me to Patrick’s work. Readers might want […]

Vaccinating against election fever (08/04/09)

For the last 10 days, I’ve been watching Indonesia gear up for parliamentary elections, which take place tomorrow. My expectations of politicians are lowest around this time, but even I was cross to see the country’s health minister undermining kids’ well-being in a bid to rack up the votes. When I was here six months […]

Is the Pope a Catholic? He’s certainly not a scientist… (18/03/09)

I, like many who’ve written to me, am speechless with rage at the Pope’s first direct pronoucement on condoms. (Well, not quite speechless. I had a little vent about it in today’s Times.) To oppose condoms on dogmatic grounds is one thing. That’s the Pope’s job, if he considers it his job to defend Catholic […]

Catholic compassion: a 9 year-old must have twins (08/03/09)

You’d think the Catholic Church would be ecouraging people to sign up to its shrinking flock, not turning them away. But no, they’re now excommunicating people for saving children’s lives. Here’s the story, as reported by The Irish Times: a nine-year old girl in Brazil is repeatedly raped by her step-father. Remarkably, she becomes pregnant […]

Swapping one prejudice for another (29/01/09)

New HIV-infections among gay men are rising everywhere they are measured, with the sole apparent exception of Sydney. That’s in part because Sydney has not dropped the ball (and the budget) on prevention. It hasn’t swallowed the “Treatment IS Prevention” mantra that seems to be behind the rise in many other places. If we want […]

Signing your life away: absurd defences against an absurd law (05/01/09)

As Canada prepares its first murder case against a man who had sex without telling his partners he had HIV, support groups are urging infected people to prepare the sexual equivalent of pre-nuptual agreements (shall we call the pre-fucktuals?) The wonderful Xtra gives us strategies for putting the lid back on the can of legal […]

In the company of bigots: US opposes gay rights at UN (19/12/08)

The death rattle of the Bush administration puts it, once again, in the company of great defenders of human rights such as Russia, China and Saudi Arabia. This time, it breathes its sickness on gays. The US is one of nearly 60 countries which stamped its feet in opposition to France’s declaration (made in the […]

So we CAN treat our way out of this epidemic. Or can we? (26/11/08)

Many people, including the head of the WHO’s HIV division Kevin de Cock, have observed that “we can’t treat our way out of this epidemic”. Today, The Lancet publishes a paper by many people, including the head of the WHO’s HIV division Kevin de Cock, claiming that we can, in fact, treat our way out […]

Cry the beloved country: microchip madness from Indonesia (25/11/08)

Two wrongs don’t make a right. And Papua’s “plan” to implant HIV positive people with microchips is definitely wrong. As the Jakarta Post pointed out yesterday (in a profile that called me a “raging dinosaur” — a compliment, I think) I was wrong to dismiss Indonesia’s “anti-pornography” bill as so silly it would never get […]

The US moves forward, one prejudice at a time (08/11/08)

Tuesday evening. I spent it with baited breath sitting at the bar in Baltimore airport, surrounded by boys with buzz-cuts and camouflage who were headed for Iraq. They seemed strangely unconcerned by the drama that was unfolding in red and blue on the screens in front of us. I, for my part, nearly missed my […]

Indonesia goes over the edge (31/10/08)

I don’t usually mind being wrong. Really I don’t. But today it hurts. Indonesia has passed a bill that makes it illegal to bathe in rivers or wiggle your hips while dancing. The news reached me at exactly the time I was on air on one of the country highest rated TV shows, talking about […]

Halleluliah! (not). Faith healing could spread HIV (02/10/08)

Christian fundamentalism and HIV seem both to be on the upswing in Uganda. I’ve remarked before that enthusiastic support for abstinence-only programmes has undermined previously successful HIV prevention efforts in the country. But now it seems over-zealous preachers are threatening the success of treatment efforts, too. Robert Ochai, director of the trailblazing AIDS support organisation […]

Epidemiology and the wrath of God: Nigerian nightmare (22/08/08)

HIV research nerds like myself collect information from people at risk because we want to make things better for those people (by providing better prevention services, e.g.), not because we want to make things worse. But what happens when that information gets used as a weapon against the very people we want to help? It’s […]

Thongs of Praise: Knickers to abstinence (30/07/08)

The Daily Christian proposes that you Earn Your Right to Wear White. You can do it for just US$ 8.99. This next-to-nothing knickers are sure to ward off over-enthusiastic boyfriends with their trenchant message: I’m wondering whether the Daily Christian’s aestehtics might achieve what their messages don’t. They suggest you “Size up for a looser […]

Condoms = death, part 2 (16/07/08)

Bush may be quacking around with a limp, but the fundamentalists that support him are squeezing all they can out of these last, lame-duck months. For me, the first sign that US Christians were prepared to terrorise people into dropping contraception was this poster in the Tanzanian capital Dar Es Salaam. But it now looks […]

Psycho alert (and a mea culpa) (12/07/08)

If you live your life among people whose lives, jobs or natural curiousity open their minds to the world, it is easy to forget how rigid some people are in their views. Today, I was sent a shocking reminder of the vitriol that comes with a small mind; it made me understand why some of […]

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