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Archive for February, 2007

Pot-smoking eases foot pain, HIV patients report

Posted by pozlife on February 13, 2007

          Bush administration not impressed
          SAN FRANCISCO (AP) | Feb 13, 12:22 PM

Smoking marijuana eased HIV-related pain in some patients in a small study that nevertheless represented one of the few rigorous attempts to find out if the drug has medicinal benefits.
The Bush administration’s Office of National Drug Control Policy quickly sought to shoot holes in the experiment.
The study, conducted at San Francisco General Hospital from 2003 to 2005 and published Monday in the journal Neurology, involved 50 patients suffering from HIV-related foot pain known as peripheral neuropathy. There are no drugs specifically approved to treat that kind of pain.
Three times daily for nearly a week, the patients smoked marijuana cigarettes machine-rolled at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the only legal source for the drug recognized by the federal government.
Half the patients received marijuana, while the other 25 received placebo cigarettes that lacked the drug’s active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol.
Scientists said the study was the first one published that used a comparison group, which is generally considered the gold standard for scientific research.
Thirteen patients who received marijuana told doctors their pain eased by at least a third after smoking pot, while only six of those smoking placebos said likewise. The marijuana smokers reported an average pain reduction of 34 percent, double the drop reported by the placebo smokers as measured with a widely accepted pain scale.
“These results provide evidence that there is measurable medical benefit to smoking cannabis for these patients,” said Dr. Donald Abrams, the University of California, San Francisco professor who led the study.
Many critics of smoked marijuana agree THC has promise as a painkiller, but they argue the smoke itself is harmful.
“People who smoke marijuana are subject to bacterial infections in the lungs,” said David Murray, chief scientist at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Is this really what a physician who is treating someone with a compromised immune system wants to prescribe?”
Murray also questioned the statistical relevance of study with just 50 participants in the test.
Dr. Mark Ware, a researcher at McGill University in Montreal conducting similar tests, defended Abrams’ study as sound and statistically reliable.
The study is one of the few human tests in a research field nearly devoid of federal funding.
“This is a valid medicine and I want safe access to my medication,” said Diana Dodson, a 50-year-old grandmother of five who participated in the test in 2004.
California and 10 other states have passed laws legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, but the federal government considers it a dangerous drug, like cocaine or heroin. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that state laws do not protect users from the federal ban.
To conduct the test, Abrams needed authorization from eight academic and government agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The study cost about $1 million and was paid for by the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, which has sponsored several smoked marijuana tests.

Source: Southern Voice Online


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Viagra & PNP

Posted by pozlife on February 12, 2007

There are recreational drugs, such as pot and alcohol, and then there are what I call “wreck-reational” drugs such as crack and crystal methamphetamine. The latter has become somewhat of a plague in the gay party scene and a ubiquitous shadow in gay online pick-up sites where users are often looking to PNP (party and play) or “ski.”
Like all club drugs, crystal has a cute nickname — “Tina” — and has a powerful allure. Users can dance or socialize for hours without feeling fatigued and it greatly enhances one’s sex drive. The downside is that users can stay up for days, become irritable and the toxin is highly addictive. Another side effect is stupidity, as users are prone to post “covert” online ads in flat, sun-drenched sandbars like Miami Beach looking to “ski.” Yeah, that ought to fool the cops!
Male consumers of crystal meth often have a difficult time maintaining erections. Enter Viagra, the miracle drug that not only helped Bob Dole, but currently keeps drug-crazed nights from becoming dull. Today’s modern druggie can now inflate, mate and gyrate with ease, all while enjoying meth’s speedy euphoria.
This drug combination has led to a spike in HIV-infections. One study of gay men in San Francisco showed that 36 percent of all Viagra users combined its use with other drugs, including meth. Five other studies of gay men found an increase in unprotected anal sex with a partner of unknown or serodiscordant HIV-status among Viagra users, with users twice as likely to almost six times as likely to engage in this high risk behavior.
In reaction to this phenomenon, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the self-described largest AIDS healthcare, prevention and education provider in the United States, has filed a lawsuit against Pfizer Inc., the manufacturer of Viagra.
AHF claims that Pfizer is marketing Viagra as a recreational drug to younger men who do not suffer from erectile dysfunction. The healthcare group points to an ad campaign that asks, “Want to improve your sex life?” They also highlight ads placed in major daily newspapers that show virile middle-aged men smiling under headlines such as, “What are you doing New Year’s Eve?” and “Be this Sunday’s MVP.”
“Pfizer’s direct to consumer marketing of Viagra as a drug to enhance sexual performance is primarily aimed at men who don’t necessarily suffer from a clinical diagnosis of erectile dysfunction, and we believe it is not only irresponsible, but also illegal, especially in light of the drug’s known use as part of a ‘circuit party cocktail’ of drugs that is fueling the spread of STDs and HIV,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
I can certainly sympathize with AHF’s worthy goal of lowering the HIV infection-rate, but I think they are terribly misguided with this lawsuit. First, so what if Viagra is marketed as a recreational drug? Pfizer has afforded your average Homely Joe the ability to perform in bed like porn icon John Holmes. This is great news and reason to celebrate! Why should a person have to have a diagnosis of E.D. [erectile dysfunction], before he can enhance his sex life and that of his partner?
Let’s face it, the use of Viagra today is similar to cranberry juice, some people drink it because of its health benefits — it is good for the bladder — while others imbibe because it tastes good. Personally, I think the FDA should drop all pretenses and allow Viagra to freely market to younger 40-something men who do not have E.D., but can use a boost in bed.
Of course, there is the potential for abuse by Viagra users who mix it with crystal meth. But, whatever happened to people taking personal responsibility for their choices and actions — including the consequences? Pfizer is not forcibly placing the little blue pill in the mouths of drug abusers with instructions on how to ingest methamphetamine.
In a free country, people must be allowed to make mistakes — even if they are fatal. It is insulting to gay men to suggest that they are so weak and infantile that they can’t stay away from this deadly drug on their own volition. The message sent by AHF’s lawsuit is that gay men need a busybody Nanny-state to limit risks and keep them safe. While they are at it, why doesn’t AHF sue the maker of small sugar spoons because they are used to cook meth?
AHF was on the right track when they ran an ad campaign with the tagline: “Viagra + Crystal Meth = Rx for HIV Infection.” In combating this scourge, education is the answer. If you inform gay men that a drug will likely cause a loss of job, partner, teeth and even life, most will stay away. While this lawsuit is well meaning, it is unnecessarily hard on Viagra, while we should instead be hard on ourselves for not speaking out more forcefully against this destructive poison.

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Gay Fetish of the Christian Right

Posted by pozlife on February 5, 2007

Does the Christian Right ever get tired of complaining about and condemning homosexuality? The Christian Right has fetishized homosexuality: a fetish is an object that one obsesses about and treats as a symbol for a whole (with a foot fetish, the foot stands in for a whole woman). For the Christian Right, homosexuality “stands in” for all of modernity.

Katy McKy explains at The Raw Story that the “sin” of homosexuality is very important because it’s a sin that they can complain about with being concerned that they might commit it themselves:

[I]f one is straight and frames homosexuality as sin, it’s the sweetest sin, for it’s not one’s sin. This gives homosexuality an infinite shelf life. It’s never grows stale, for whereas it demands change of others, it requires no personal change. No sacrifice. So long as one is straight and heterosexuality demarcates purity, one is permanently pure.

Homosexuality is a better sin to complain about than sins like gluttony or pride because everyone might be guilty of sins like those. Homosexuality, however, can always be framed as a sin which others commit. Even if one represses same-sex desire, one isn’t “really” homosexual unless they engage in same-sex activity — and, even then, they can repent and feel clean. Homosexual activists, however, can forever be chastised and condemned:

On a personal level, the gay moral fetish distracts from Biblical adherence. As long as Rush Limbaugh rants about queer folk, he’s distracted from returning to his first wife, as the Bible demands. As long as [Janet] Parshall squawks about Brokeback Mountain, she won’t have to forsake her family and her fortune, as the Bible also demands. […]
The homo-fetish also serves an ancient purpose. It’s no longer safe to publicly articulate racial hatred. But there remains a deep desire to define and elevate oneself by what one isn’t. With God’s green light, the fundy Right references gays everyday. However, with only 3 gay references in the Bible, and a hundred times that number of warnings against wealth, the arithmetic suggests that the real work of being a Christian is casting off wealth. Jesus told one story about a man going to Hell. That man was a rich man, a man who lived on the sweet side of a wall while a poor man suffered on the other.
But walking away from wealth would be Hell on Earth for those that love manna more than their fellow man.

The Christian Right needs homosexuality because they need some group to attack as part of their effort to restore the social, cultural, and political dominance of conservative Christianity in America. It’s not longer socially acceptable to attacks Jews, the previous scapegoat for Christian conservatives who hated everything modern. Gays, however, can be and are attacked in just about all the same ways that Jews used to be.

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HIV-positive former CFLer tells his side of the story from the witness stand

Posted by pozlife on February 2, 2007

Tim Cook, Canadian Press

Published: Friday, February 02, 2007

REGINA (CP) – An HIV-positive former Canadian Football League linebacker took the witness stand Thursday and tried to refute the testimony of two women who accuse him of knowingly exposing them to the virus that causes AIDS.

One-time Saskatchewan Roughrider Trevis Smith testified he never had sex with a Regina woman after he found out he was infected and only had protected sex with the other woman from British Columbia.

In the latter case, he told provincial court Judge Kenn Bellerose that he informed the woman he had the disease about nine months after his positive test.

It’s a revelation that flies in the face of a list of admissions entered into evidence at the start of the trial. In the list, defence lawyers made “a general admission that Mr. Smith did not inform his sexual partners that he was HIV-positive.”

A visibly angry Crown attorney, Bill Burge, pounced on Smith’s story.

“Mr. Smith, I suggest you never told (the B.C. woman) you were HIV positive during the time that you were having sexual relations with her,” Burge charged.

“Yes I have,” Smith retorted.

“I suggest to you, sir, that you had unprotected sexual relations with (the B.C. woman),” Burge continued.

“Then no. I’m not going to say I did, cause I didn’t,” Smith responded.

Smith, who is originally from Alabama, was charged in the fall of 2005 with two counts of aggravated sexual assault for allegedly having unprotected sex with the women without informing them of his condition.

Both women have testified that they had sex with the married father of two after he found out he was infected in November 2003, and that he didn’t use a condom.

On the stand, Smith appeared to struggle with keeping straight all the dates that have been testified to so far.

The woman from Regina testified earlier this week that she heard rumours Smith might be HIV-positive in the summer of 2005 when she was trying to rekindle a casual romance she had once had with him.

He denied the rumours, she said, and they went on to have unprotected sex on three separate occasions.

But Smith testified that he only saw the woman four times in 2005 and they never had sex.

“Out of the blue, she makes a complaint about you?” Burge asked.

“Yes,” Smith responded.

The woman from B.C. testified that she and Smith carried on a long-distance relationship that lasted more than three years.

In August of 2004, she testified that she found a pamphlet called “Living with HIV” among Smith’s things. She said she didn’t confront him with it at the time, but in the weeks that followed he told her he didn’t have the disease.

Smith said this is when he told her he was infected.

“I told her I had it,” Smith said. “She was crying . . . I said I was nervous too.”

The woman testified that they went on having unprotected sex until May of 2005, when she said she found out Smith had HIV through one of his other girlfriends.

Smith admitted that the two were having sex, but said they always used a condom.

Both woman say they have since tested negative for the disease.

Burge tried to attack Smith’s credibility by using evidence already entered at trial.

Smith testified that he didn’t see the B.C. woman in 2003, but Burge showed him several hotel receipts from that year the woman had saved from their encounters.

Smith remember being at the hotel in question with the woman, but maintained it wasn’t in 2003.

A health nurse testified that, in November 2004, Smith told her he was no longer having sex with the woman from B.C. and that they were just friends.

But Burge showed Smith a plane ticket the player had used to visit the woman in the weeks before the meeting with the nurse and reminded him that he and the B.C. woman had sex during trips to Mexico and Las Vegas in the months that followed.

Smith agreed there was sex on the two trips they took, but maintained it was protected.

After being cross examined, Smith returned to his defence lawyer’s table, removed his tie and unbuttoned his collar.

Another of Smith’s girlfriends, who can’t be named under a publication ban, took the stand to say that she had sex with him both before and after his positive HIV test. After, she said, Smith always used protection.

But under cross examination, the woman revealed that they did not start using protection until the summer of 2004 – more than half a year after his test – when she got a call from a woman saying Smith had given her HIV.

© The Canadian Press 2007

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