Recent posts

Upgrade Down Under: Australian Boys Will Get Free Gardasil Vaccinations

After years of only vaccinating young women and girls, the Australian National Immunisation Program will begin covering Gardasil for 12 and 13 year-old boys. The Gardasil vaccine protects against four strains of the Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) – two that cause 70% of cervical cancers and two that cause 90% of genital warts. The types that cause cervical cancer can also cause penile and anal cancers in men, but because those cancers are rarer than the cervical types, girls have been prioritized for vaccine delivery. However, many public health advocates have argued for giving the vaccine to boys not only because sexually active men can get genital warts, but also to prevent them from spreading the cancer-causing strains to young women. Will other countries follow suit? Continue Reading →

Syphilitic Reflections on the 20th Century

At times, working on a long-term STI research project, it is easy to become embroiled in the minutiae of the day-to-day. When times like this strike, it is crucial to remember the bigger picture. From a less cosmic perspective, some historical appreciation of our place in sexual health is often required, both as a reflection on how much has been achieved and a reminder of the forces that continue to influence this work. Above is a graph to which I turn when such a reminder is necessary – it depicts syphilis diagnoses in genitourinary medicine clinics in the UK from 1931–2004. A favorite of epidemiologists working in sexual health, this graph appeared in lectures in various subjects throughout my studies; it was used as a tool to prompt students to consider transmission dynamics of STIs and the many factors that influence these. Continue Reading →

Australia’s Chlamydial Pursuits

As a researcher working in sexual health, I try to keep an ear to the ground with regard to developments in the STI realm. Regardless of one’s personal or professional interests, however, it is difficult to ignore the spotlight that has been shining on chlamydia in recent times. From posters on public toilet doors, to plotlines on Australia’s second-favourite evening soap, one can certainly argue that chlamydia is Australia’s STI du jour. As I am currently devoting my professional life to chlamydia-specific research, I must disclose that the chlamydia fervor is subsidizing my lifestyle. But aside from funding my penchant for fine cheeses and late-night Etsy binges, there are a number of reasons why chlamydia is deservedly the focus of national attention. Continue Reading →

Want To Donate Blood? Make Sure You Don’t Look Gay.

Blood banks in the US will not accept blood from men who’ve had sex with men in order to try to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS (despite the fact that the blood is tested before it officially can be used). Not only does this practice prevent potential donors from giving blood, it also allows for arbitrary and idiotic discrimination, as in this case of an Indiana man who was rejected because he “seemed” to be gay. This discriminatory policy costs hospitals healthy blood, and individuals their dignity: regardless of one’s sexuality, to have one’s appearance used against you is wrong. Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Follow Jeana, the author of this post, @foxyfolklorist. Continue Reading →

Gonorrhea Gone Bad – and Resistant!

As if there weren’t enough reasons out there to convince you to practice safe sex – add this one to your list: a new strand of gonorrhea-causing bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics is now on the loose. Yikes! This new strain of bacteria was discovered in Kyoto, Japan by scientists and ABC News reports that,  ”the new strain of Neisseria gonorrhoeae has genetically mutated to evade cephalosporins — the only antibiotics still effective against the infection.” Continue Reading →

New HIV Vaccine Research from Australia

New research on HIV antibodies could bring science closer to an HIV vaccine, report Australian researchers.  Professor Stephen Kent and colleagues at the University of Melbourne recently published their study, which demonstrated significant changes in HIV infection when antibodies were introduced. They hope that if these antibodies could be delivered prior to HIV infection, it could prove to be a successful vaccine. Learn about MSP posts as they happen by following us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. You can also follow Kate McCombs, the author of this post, @katecom or make friends with us on Facebook. Continue Reading →

Review of Jonathan’s Engel’s “The Epidemic”

As promised, here is my review of The Epidemic:

The Epidemic: A Global History of AIDS promises two things in its title: to explore HIV/AIDS both from a global and from an historical perspective.  This promise of comprehensive coverage is met with aplomb as Engel takes us on a dizzying tour of the trajectory of HIV/AIDS.  Starting with its alleged origins in Africa, he traces the vectors of the disease into the gay population in the U.S., on to IV drug users, then back across the ocean to talk about how it currently affects the developing areas of Africa and Asia.  Along the way, he discusses the politics, civil rights issues, and how the disease actually works.  Engel approaches issues from all angles, making sure all dissenting opinions and seemingly crackpot theories are mentioned.  He debunks myths, gives proper credit for important advances, and attempts to keep a neutral tone while discussing these hot-button issues. Continue Reading →

Condom Sign in India

While in Shillong, Meghalaya (a state in the north-east of India), I saw this sign in the middle of a bustling marketplace:

I saw a handful of signs like this around the city, but I don’t know where local folks can get condoms, so is the message really doing any good? Follow us on Twitter @mysexprofessor. Follow Jeana, the author of this post, @foxyfolklorist. Continue Reading →

Medicare To Cover STI Testing

According to this article, medicare may begin to cover STI/STD testing for the elderly. This is a great step towards a more inclusive view of sexual health, as the elderly population is often overlooked when it comes to sex. Though it may be hard for some of us to believe, old people get their groove on too and are just as susceptible to sexually transmitted infections! The new coverage would include tests for hepatitis B, syphilis, and some others, and may also include sexual health counseling. Learn about MSP posts as they happen by following us on Twitter @mysexprofessor or make friends with us on Facebook. Continue Reading →