Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A new strain of HIV - what it means to you

[This article first appeared in City Brights - reposted by permission]

The announcement that a new HIV virus has been discovered alarmed many relatively-unflappable people. Does this announcement change safe sex recommendations? To answer that question, first we'll cover The Background. Afterwards, stay tuned for What Are You Gonna Do About It? Finally check out Sext: Acronym Stimulation For A New Generation.

The Background:

A new version of HIV was identified in a 62 year old woman from Cameroon. She tested positive for HIV in 2004, has no evidence of disease, and, because of some irregularities in her HIV viral load tests, had her blood examined by researchers. This new HIV is believed to come from gorillas (not chimps, who are believed to be the originators of our "standard" HIV virus). The woman from Cameroon denies any history of contact with apes, or handling/eating any bush meat. "Bush meat" is an African phrase for eating monkey - a practice I saw often when I worked at the Schweitzer hospital in Gabon, including the time I was offered a monkey entree by a local restaurant's waitress. While no one knows for sure how a virus jumps from ape to human, I can promise you that killing and dressing a monkey involves significant blood exposures.

There are already 3 known versions of HIV - why the flap about this 4th one? To begin with, no one can answer basic questions, such as: 1) will our current tests reliably identify it? [the test did in this one woman, but no one knows yet if it will consistently identify the infection in others] 2) will this version of HIV make you sick/cause AIDS? 3) how many people have it already? and 4) would our current medicines be effective against it, if need be? No one knows.

Right now, there are only two things known for sure - first, that the virus can replicate in human cells. And second, the fact that the woman got on a plane one day, and was in France the next, demonstrates how very easy it is for viruses (including H1N1) to fly the friendly skies. The time from mutation to migration is awfully tiny these days.

So What Are You Gonna Do About It?

What's a reasonable person to do with this kind of news? Other than hide under the bed, that is?

This kind of news is a great reminder for us all to reaffirm healthy sexual practices. You know the drill: consistent condoms and barrier methods, fewer partners, and more sober sex. And then maybe even take safer, healthy sex to a new level. What kind of new level? That's where a 7-foot plush penis comes in (ahem). Byron, the Healthy Penis, is one of our local sex-celebrities (sex-lebrities?). His job? To give us all a "heads up" about the importance of getting checked for syphilis, and the role of syphilis in the spread of HIV.

The author

Go to www.healthypenis.org for info about when/how/who should get checked, as well as some graphic - and by that I mean graphic-novel type graphic - descriptions of symptoms you can watch out for.

Besides the syphilis angle, there's more news on the advanced-safer-sex front (...or back, depending on your preference). In the same edition of the journal Nature that reported the new HIV virus, other researchers reported that herpes virus continues to help spread HIV long after the herpes sores have healed. Treating the herpes doesn't make any difference in HIV transmission. Immune cells stay in the area, lurking under the surface, long after the blisters are gone. HIV uses those same immune cells to hitch a ride into the body. Gonorrhea and chlamydia have both long been known to increase HIV transmission rates, so ask your doctor whether it's worthwhile screening for them, even if you don't have symptoms. Heck - it's like these germs are working together. Yet another reason to "prick" up your ears about healthy sex these days. While both syphilis and herpes can be spread in areas that condoms don't cover, the take home message is the same - condoms are your friend. Now and forever. A-men.

Sext: Acronym Stimulation For A New Generation

So does all this news mean your sex-positive attitude is starting feel, well, kind of wilted? If so, check out this chortle-worthy article at eSarcasm, titled 25 More Sexting Acronyms Parents Need to Know. As the authors put it (tongue firmly in cheek - their own, we presume), "The problem with any list like this is that it's just not comprehensive enough. There are in fact at least 25 other commonly used abbreviations that enable your teens to have 100 percent safe sex via their cells. And we can't have that." My favorites on the list? Number 15: "SC" (translation: still chafing); number 20: "HPIMPNSIM" (translation: I have a popsicle in my pants. No, seriously - it's melting); and number 25, "HWH?" (translation: Herpes? What herpes?).

With all these STD developments in the news, now's a great time to embrace...your health. Pass the news along to friends and loved ones - let's treasure our wellth.

War on Twitter over Miley Cyrus shows sex-based marketing trick

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The Twitter natives are restless over the Miley Cyrus issue, where the teen pop star appeared on the Teen Choice Awards Monday and sang and danced to a stripper poll. I gave my take on her "performance" and wondered just how far she would go in promoting the sexual side of herself here:

But on Twitter, Cyrus' controversial dance has been the focus of a "hashtag war" pitting #WeLoveMylieCyrus against #WeHateMylieCyrus factions. What do they write? Here's a taste:

MoNiCa_90 @mileycyrus #WeLoveYouMiley #WeLoveYouMiley #WeLoveYouMiley #WeLoveYouMiley #WeLoveYouMiley #WeLoveYouMiley #WeLoveYouMiley #WeLoveYouMiley less than 20 seconds ago from web

But since the hastag doesn't go to Mylie's Twitter profile it's not directly benefiting her follower count, but indirectly?

Yes. Now, the #WeLoveYouMiley warriors are winning big time, as the #WeHateMylieCyrus hashtag is not within the top trends on Twitter as of this writing, yet the "love" one is.

Meanwhile what's Mylie doing? Well...

Drinkin' a pink lemonade listening to its 5 o'clock somewhere :) http://mypict.me/k3FW

While this may seem meaningless, it's not, and only a fool would ignore it. Marketers should pay attention to how the actions of one person communicated on television are amplified online to the ultimate benefit of that person, in this case, Miley Cyrus. There's a formula at work here that's repeated again and again and it does involve sex. How far this approach will go is anyone's guess, but I can say this: it's now all too mainstream.

Glen Beck's "Obama racist" rant cost him ad revenues (YEAH!)

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Ha! Color me "happy" to learn that Fox News' blowhard Glen Beck, whom I just referred to as part of the "Couch Potato" conservative sect plaguing America with their unique brand of homespun stupidity, is losing major advertisers in the wake of his "Obama is racist" rant and the end of last month on the July 28 episode of "Fox and Friends."

There, Beck said that President Barack Obama was a "racist" who had a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture." It was that blast which costs Beck money according to TV Newser and the Huff Post today.

It's a sure sign that the conservatives' baseless attack on President Obama's not working and major image-sensitive companies don't want to be associated with it. Beck's, considered a major right-wing spokesperson, lost Geico Insurance, Proctor and Gamble, and Lexis-Nexus'owned Lawyers.com.

The drive to have companies run away from Beck was established by the organization ColorofChange.org which launched an online petition letter campaign focused on the distribution of this document:

To President/CEO & Board:

I want to alert you to the fact that Glenn Beck--whose show you sponsor on FOX--is using his platform to make outlandish accusations about the President and to advance baseless theories that prey on race-based fears.

He is claiming that President Obama is a "racist," that he has a "deep-seated hatred for white people," and that he is attempting to use our government to deliver "Obama-brand reparations." The claims are ludicrous, and the rhetoric is racially divisive and pollutes our public discourse.

I presume your company does not want to enable such rhetoric, nor have your products or services associated with the kind of views and tactics espoused by Beck. I urge you to immediately cease all advertising on the Glenn Beck Program on the FOX News Channel.


[Your name]

Today, ColorofChange's James Rucker issued this press release on the Geiko news:

GEICO Car Insurance to Pull Advertisements Away from Glenn Beck Program

Insurance Company Joins Lawyers.com, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance and SC Johnson in Distancing Themselves from FNC Anchor

OAKLAND, Calif.--Adding to a growing list of advertisers distancing themselves from controversial Fox News personality Glenn Beck, GEICO has pledged to re-direct their advertisements away from Beck's program on the Fox News Channel. The decision by GEICO comes on the heels of announcements made last week that LexisNexis-owned Lawyers.com, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance and SC Johnson were distancing themselves from Beck after the news host called President Obama a "racist" who "has a deep-seated hatred for white people."

"On Tuesday, August 4, GEICO instructed its ad buying service to redistribute its inventory of rotational spots on FOX-TV to their other network programs, exclusive of the Glenn Beck program," said a spokesperson for GEICO Corporate Communications in an email to ColorOfChange.org. "As of August 4, GEICO no longer runs any paid advertising spots during Mr. Beck's program."

"We applaud GEICO and all of the other companies who have stepped forward to pull their ads from Glenn Beck," said James Rucker, executive director of ColorOfChange.org. "Beck's rhetoric is dangerous to the fabric of our democracy, and we are heartened that so many big companies feel the same way. We won't stop here -- we're going to continue our fight to see that as many of Beck's advertisers pull their support as possible."

Two weeks ago, ColorOfChange.org called on its 600,000-plus members to sign a petition urging companies who advertise on Glenn Beck to cut off their advertising support of his work. More than 75,000 members responded to the call by signing a petition directed at advertisers.

Last week, ColorOfChange.org received confirmation from LexisNexis that they pulled their ads from Beck and have no plans to advertise on the program in the future. Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance and SC Johnson called the Beck advertising placements an error that they would correct.

The ColorOfChange.org email urged members to go visit http://www.colorofchange.org/beck/, where they could send letters to executives of target companies. With more than 600,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the largest African-American online political organization in the country.

According to TV Newser, Fox reports that the companies who jumped ship were moved to other Fox programs but that was before the Geico news and ColorofChange is not finished with its work.

Stay tuned here for more on this amazing effort.

Miley Cyrus' stripper pole dance at Teen Choice Awards: my poll

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When I learned that teen star and Twitter mogul Miley Cyrus had literally done a number on a stripper pole at the Teen Choice Awards Monday night, two thoughts entered my mind: first, who convinced the 16 year old to do it, second, does this mean a sex tape's in her future too. I say and write that because I learned she and her father Billy Ray Cyrus came up with the dance production idea. So if her dad's cool with his daughter dancing around that pole at her age, the sky's the limit, right?

Miley Cirus and pole at Teen Choice Awards

Look at how much buzz this act has created for her. In an era where the next ultimate media-based tease is right around the corner, drawing all of us to some news or celebrity website, here's Miley picking up traffic from searches for "stripper pole" in addition to those terms that are to be expected like "Teen Choice Awards". But unless you doubt Miley's turned the corner and so in the moment of what she's doing she's either got no idea of how far she's come or has every idea of how far she's come, she invoked the name of that ever-loving past queen of the flash no-panties shot, Britany Spears in her Twitter updates when she tweeted...

For all the people calling me the "next Britney" THANK U. I couldn't ask for a better compliment :)

Now, with those short shorts, boots and moves, Cyrus did stake her claim as the next Britney, which is why I openly wonder how far she's going to take this over the next 10 years? Moreover, as Miley's seen as teen influencer, what does this say for the trend in the overall habits of teenage women today? Have we so desensitized sex that we should expect to see teen women taking pole dancing courses as a substitute for physical ed? And if that's the case, are we preping them for future employment as strippers?

What's going on here?

I feel like I'm walking a tightrope between being a schoolmarm who wants to take the spiked punchbowl away and a modern member of our media-driven society who likes that someone like Miley keeps pushing the edges of taste and sensibility. But to what degree and when does it stop? The whole hyper exposure movement has placed extreme pressure on our culture's ability to accept and reject sexually suggestive actions such that we have Miley doing things on camera before millions that she would have gotten kicked out of school for doing before a small class of people at a dance-off.

Does that make any sense at all?

All I ask is how far are we taking this and is it ok? So, I ask you now in my poll:

create audio polls & quizzes on pollsb.com

Now, me? Ok, I had little problem with Miley's act, I'm just concerned she's going the sex tape route to megastardome. What say you? Or maybe you're the type that just doesn't care and wants Rome to burn as long as you get your work done and you're not impacted. Or perhaps you want Mileu to apologize for the act? Whatever the case, share your view. One thing's clear, Miley started the Tuesday after her show with not a care in the world, tweeting...

Good morning people! Doo da friggen doo LIFE IS SO GOOD :) I laughed so hard I literally threw up! Hahahahhahahahahaha34 minutes ago from UberTwitter

Meanwhile, dogstar7, one of my regular YouTube commenters observed:

Miley Cyrus has been sexually exploited by her father, Billy Ray (one-hit-wonder) Silas for before she reached puberty. The Vanity Fair pictures were a national disgrace, yet her career continues to be supported by Disney, one of America's premier entertainment corporations.

The huge Media conglomerates of the World are merely concerned with inducing the masses to part with their escapist dollars and cents, nothing more.
Our moral decline as a society means nothing to them.