Over the past three years, I’ve noticed something about my sex life. For a host of reasons that this column will be exploring, I’d all but stopped using condoms. This set-in most clearly during a recent out-of-town trip when a guy who’s Manhunt profile lectured others about “wrapping it up” spit on my hole, shoved it in, and fucked me raw. I was absolutely ecstatic. In that moment – caught off-guard by expectations and overcome with pleasure – I realized just how much my desires had changed.
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Something essential has faded from discussion of the world’s most lethal sexually transmitted epidemic: Sex.
That’s a shame. Only by understanding how illness spreads can the world hope to prevent it. It’s not possible to understand how HIV spreads — why in some places one in four adults have the virus, and in others one in a thousand do — without understanding how variations in sexual behavior inhibit or accelerate its path through societies.
Dramatically fewer black high school students are taking part in sexual behavior that puts them at risk for contracting HIV than they were 20 years ago. However, those students still engage in more risky behavior than their white and Hispanic counterparts.
Meanwhile, teens overall continue to engage in risky behaviors at rates that have declined only slightly over the past two decades, according to an analysis released Tuesday by U.S. government researchers.
Just a few months ago, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a leading firebrand of the global AIDS movement, Stephen Lewis, said at a conference that the money given to Africa by the U.S. global AIDS initiative called PEPFAR and by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria amounted to “partial reparations” to the continent. Africa, he noted, was giving the world thousands of health-care workers whom it had educated, saving the West billions of dollars annually.
In his remarkable speech, Lewis, co-director of AIDS-Free World, said the payback was for multiple reasons: “From slavery to today’s extractive industries of minerals and oil, Africa is financing the world. The modern world’s economy was built on Africa’s human and natural resources, and it depends on them to this day. . . . We owe Africa what we give to Africa. And a hell of a lot more to boot.”
A study of sexual and romantic relations at a high school found students connected by long chains, rather than in a tight network with a core group of a promiscuous few. Sharing of partners was rare, but many students were indirectly linked through one partner to another and another. The unexpected result could help shape strategies for combating sexually transmitted diseases among young people.
“Study: Teenage ‘virginity pledges’ are ineffective” and the subhead, “Youths who promise abstinence are also less likely to use protection.” The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a “virginity pledge,” but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.
In the 1990s, Uganda was globally seen as the African role model in the fight against AIDS. But, as recently released figures from the Uganda Aids Indicator 2011 show, it is currently the only country in East-Africa where HIV infections are on the rise. What is happening?Uganda received worldwide praise in the late 1990s when it managed to lower HIV infection rates from around 15 to 6 percent. But as the recently released figures from the Uganda Aids Indicator 2011 show, the HIV prevalence rate in Uganda increased from 6.4 percent to 6.7 percent last year and over 500,000 more Ugandans became infected with the virus over the past five years. Surprisingly, an estimated 43 percent of those new infections occur among people engaged in monogamous heterosexual relationships. It is not the young or the poor, but the married couples in urban areas who are most at risk.
The year 2011 concluded with the convening of the International Conference on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This was where medical experts and health officials from all parts of the continent and some international players like former President George Bush (whose administration launched the PEPFAR initiative) took stock of the state of the “War Against AIDS”.