On BioScience and Life and Such

Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

Down Low Women, Milan Meeting Update II

In Uncategorized on September 5, 2008 at 2:12 pm

post to news.thinkgene.com

A follw up on this post.

Being a molecular biologist lab rat, I do not have much experience with clinical work. I have been perfectly happy to miss out on the ickier parts of human pathology, and this weeks meeting on sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) seem to have strengthened my conviction. Some of the images I have seen has made me think I will never have voluntary sex again, – man have they been gross…

However, well into the second day, I have been immunized and finally find myself able to take in some of what the speakers say. And just to modify the somewhat comic impression from the last post, I will present a couple of talks that touch upon serious issues. At the same time it’s all about sex which makes them interesting (even though I’ll never have it again).

A talk that should have been on the list in the last post was

The Prepuce: Fact and Fiction

Which concluded that the prepuce (aka foreskin) is considered beneficial by some and without importance by others. The speaker Derek Freedman (Ireland) posed the entertaining question: “Do we have sex with our penises or with our brains” when commenting on the possible loss of sensitivity when circumcised. Now, the serious part was when he asked another and much more important question:

“Why has it taken so long to discuss circumcision to prevent HIV-transmission, and why is it not implemented in prevention programmes when circumcision confers 60% protection rates…?”.

A thought provoking question I think, considering that such a (relatively) simple procedure could potentially save millions of lives.

Another talk that I learned a lot from, and that touched upon some very different, but equally 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 are consequently not prostitutes as such, but still behave like them to posess (in my opinion) meaningless status-items. In doing so they are putting themselves at very high risk of HIV and other STI’s, – since they’re not using condoms in fear of exposing the boyfriends to each other, and since they apparently need several boyfriends to satisfy these needs. Appaling facts, – absolutely appaling.  If I get the chance I am going to come back and blog more on Dr. Rissers research. Because, even though the facts are sad, the issues are fascinating.

No wonder sexually transmitted disease is hard to fight.