On BioScience and Life and Such

World AIDS Day 2008: Down Low Women

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2008 at 9:03 am

post to news.thinkgene.com

This post is an update from this previous posting and published as a part of Bloggers Unite World AIDS Day effort.

I recently attended a meeting on sexually transmitted infections (STI) and a talk that I learned a lot from, and that touched upon some very important issues, was

Down Low Women – by J.Risser University of Texas

Did you know that in poor areas of Houston US there’s a 2,5 % incidence rate of HIV. Did you know that women in these areas expose themselves to extremely high risk because having multiple boyfriends provides them, not with necessities like food and clothes, but with cell phones or money for a professional hair-do.

I ask them to help me with my wants; my needs I can take care of myself.

They’re not prostitutes as such I guess, but still, in order to possess (in my opinion) meaningless status-items, they are having unprotected sex with multiple sex-partners (more partners = more perks). And like prostitutes, they are putting themselves at very high risk of HIV and other STI’s. A reason for not using condoms is

fear of exposing the boyfriends to each other

Appalling facts, – absolutely appalling. No wonder sexually transmitted disease is hard to fight when even in our developed society where basic needs are covered, the hunt for status-icons drives people to such extreme risk behavior.

I encourage everyone to look into Dr. Rissers research. Because, even though the facts are sad, the issues are fascinating, and doing things to change this behaviour (in the first instance by encouraging condom use) can make a difference.

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  1. This is a socioeconomic issue. Basically, these people are stupid and poorly educated. Thus, they do stupid things like [see above].

    Rather than expecting stupid people to make smart, future-oriented decisions, the solution that would work best would be to indoctrinate them that condom use is not optional. It won’t “feel” right to not use a condom.

    This is exactly how we are taught to wash our hands and brush our teeth in school. We don’t trust ourselves to wait until we’re adults to enforce that all make an intelligent, future-oriented decision on impulse because that doesn’t work.

    So, condom use should be taught early in school and it should be mandatory. It’s a public health risk to trust ALL people to do so otherwise.

  2. Yah, that’s not nice or politically correct, but it’s the truth, and everybody does stupid things sometimes.

  3. One thing I find hard to understand is why the men aren’t insisting on condoms when they have sex with these women, – if they are fooled by assurances of faithfulness from these women then they are the stupid ones (in addition to being uneducated).

  4. Interesting how you focus entirely on these women in your post. How about the men? Without their desire for easily accessible unprotected sex, and willingness to pay for it in one way or the other, there would be no problem.

  5. Andy. You are right on the men aspect, altough I believe that treating a man’s “desire for easily accessible unprotected sex, and willingness to pay for it in one way or the other” will be extremely hard 🙂 In this post I focus on the women since it is referring to Dr. Risser’s talk (and research) which was on the women. But, if I find any research on the men I will certainly post on that to.

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