Thursday, March 01, 2007

Linkage: HIV, HPV, Don't Ask Don't Tell and More

Good Vibrations is going phthalate free! The company has decided to stop producing toys with potentially toxic plastic softeners. Adam and Eve made the same decision a month or so ago. California Exotics has produced a list of all their phthalate-free products, and Doc Johnson (although stubbornly asserting that there's nothing wrong with a little bit of phthalate now and then) has begun labeling their safe toys as phthalate-free. Bravo to the sex toy industry for stepping up on this one. Sex toys in Europe are regulated by the government, but I'd much rather have the industry police itself. Can you imagine if the FDA was given any power over sex toys? We'd soon be resorting to vegetables (which must be what folks in Alabama do, right?).

From RH Reality Check, the HIV epidemic hits home:
Imagine that you live in a country where HIV infection rates are on the rise. In your nation's capital, one out of every 20 people is HIV positive. In some socially marginalized communities, nearly half of people are HIV positive.

In this place, about half of all people who need to be taking HIV medication to stay healthy are unable to access medication on an ongoing basis, and some have died while on waiting lists for drugs. Hundreds of thousands of HIV positive people pass through prisons and jails each year, and no effort is made to coordinate education, prevention or social services for them.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports on two new HIV drugs. One of the drugs is the first to work on the body's cells rather than the virus itself -- it blocks the point at which the virus gains access to the cell. Not surprisingly, there are debates going on about the long-term effects of the drug -- similar drugs that have undergone testing previously have led to increased blood cancer rates and liver toxicity. Tests for Merck's new drug haven't demonstrated any of those effects yet, though, so this drug seems to have a lot of potential.

Also from the New York Times, a study tracking the prevalence of HPV in women found that about 25% of women are infected with some strain of the virus -- and among women ages 20-24, the number rises to almost 45%. Do I even need to say it? If you're eligible, go get vaccinated.

Again from RH Reality Check, Marylin Keefe discusses aspects of the HPV vaccine issue that are getting overlooked in all the arguments about parents' rights and promiscuity -- for example, the fact that none of that matters if no one can afford it:
There are nearly 17 million uninsured women in the United States, a number that grows daily. Many women—especially in the 19-26 year old aged group, don't have any type of insurance—public or private. At $360 for the vaccine, it is certain to be out of reach, even if they can even find a health care provider who offers it.

Massachusetts Rep. Marty Meehan introduced legislation that would reverse the military's discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. One hundred six Democrats and three Republicans co-sponsored the bill, with the general rallying cry that discriminating against LGB folks is bad for the country's defense. I suppose that's a good way to get the bill passed, but "Yeah! Let gay people into the military so we can send them off to fight in unjustified wars!" is something I have trouble getting behind.

And let's finish things off right: I don't watch America' Next Top Model, but judging from this photo, maybe I should start... just for the record, I think the photos of Jael that have turned up are very tasteful. And hot. Photo below the fold!


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