Tuesday, November 24, 2009

R. Kelly on Tour!

R. Kelly is back bitches! His official album release party will happen this Saturday, 11/28/09, in Miami. He's currently out on the road for the "Ladies Make Some Noise Tour." Seriously.

Here's some video of Kells getting ready for his show in my old hood, the ATL. He likes to hang out back stage while the lights are still out so he can "Get [his] adrenalines going." I'm devastated to report that Texas gets no love on this tour. I would've driven to all the way to Houston to see my Kells.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The War's Still On

No, really. Thanks to Quaker House for these photos of banners painted by military wives in anticipation of their husbands' return from the field.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

If You Get in Bed With the Devil Don't be Surprised When Satan Fucks You in the Ass

(image credit)

Following up on Monday's article about big pharma's backhanded price increases ahead of the healthcare reform bill, the Times published an editorial today that takes the Senate Finance Committee and the Obama administration to task for their willingness to get in bed with big pharma and act all surprised that now they're getting fucked by them.
The administration got political benefits from the deal: The drug industry has not opposed health care reform as it did in previous years and has actually run commercials supporting it. But the deal looks mostly good for the drug companies. They stand to gain tens of millions of newly insured customers who will be able to buy medicines.
Well, duh. People with health insurance pay lower prices than people who don't for all healthcare services, so providers--doctors, or, in this case, drug companies--have to raise the price overall to make sure they get their money's worth and make their shareholders happy. When medical care is provided by a for-profit system, the priority is on making money, not on getting people the fucking care or drugs they need.

This sure makes Canada's system seem attractive.

Monday, November 16, 2009

NY Times: Drug Makers Raising Prices To Fuck Newly Insured Americans

The New York Times reports today that in anticipation of the health care overhaul drug manufacturers are up to their old tricks by raising drug prices for consumers. What better way to get theirs from the Americans who will be newly insured and, all of a sudden, have prescription drug coverage?
"A Harvard health economist, Joseph P. Newhouse, said he found a similar pattern of unusual price increases after Congress added drug benefits to Medicare a few years ago, giving tens of millions of older Americans federally subsidized drug insurance. Just as the program was taking effect in 2006, the drug industry raised prices by the widest margin in a half-dozen years."
But before you get mad and write your Congressman, keep in mind how thoughtful the drug companies are to keep coming up with new ways to tweak their medications to keep them under patent and how helpful they are to educate the hell out of us with all that drug advertising we see nowadays:
"But drug companies say they are having to raise prices to maintain the profits necessary to invest in research and development of new drugs as the patents on many of their most popular drugs are set to expire over the next few years."

So price check now, dear readers, and see how your bottom line changes in the next few months with this handy Go-To Guide to Sex-Related Medications:

Yasmin: $76.99/mo
Ocella (Yasmin generic): $59.34/mo (!)
Yaz: $85.60/mo
Valrex: $364.87/mo (!!)
NuvaRing: $77.35/mo
Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo: $67.99/mo
Tri-Lo-Sprintec (OTCLo generic): $55.99/mo
Plan B One Step: $49.99/dose
Viagra: $155.99/10 tablets
Cialis for Daily Use: $133.97/mo

I'll check back with these meds in a month or two and see if the prices have gone up. But Jesus H! The last time I took birth control (oh, Yasmin, I'm still not over you) I paid a just $15 a month with my insurance plan's mail-order drug program.

If the prospect of hundreds of dollars more per year for sex drugs rubs you the wrong way, make an appointment to get an IUD already. You can do yoga on the front lawn! You can finish a book! You won't get your period for 5 years! Think of how much money you'll save on tampons. But seriously, the IUD is the most cost-effective method over time so, as the commercial says, "If your plans DON'T include another baby, consider a contraceptive called Mirena!"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Q: Condom Broke: Do I have herpes?
A: Dunno yet

Learn more about herpes here.

Dear GTG,

Ugh. I'm sure this is not what you really want to wake up too, but I need someone to comfort me/ inform me of my options right now...

Well... this is totally out of character for me, but last night I had some casual sex. I went off the pill a few months ago and I wasn't really planning on having sex too often so a condom in theory would have been enough. Well, just my luck the condom broke. I managed to get the morning after pill on a sunday in VERY conservative Lubbock, so I gave myself a pat on the back for that. But I'm still really freaked out by the chance of STI's/STD's. I know you have to wait awhile for HIV to show up on a test, but how long does it take for other STI's to show up? Would it be stupid to set up a doctors appt on monday?

thanks for being there for me. jesus. I'm freakin out.


Dear Patti,

That sucks, but don't freak out yet. If you have contracted any bacterial stuff (chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis) tests should be positive fairly soon after exposure, like 12-14 days, but the viral stuff (hpv, herpes, hiv) can take longer to show up on tests. Keep your spidey sense turned on for any symptoms (be on the lookout for sores) but don't freak out. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are curable, and herpes often doesn't even have symptoms. HIV is scary but the risk of contracting it from a single sexual encounter is low. So don't panic.

I would make an appointment for about a month from now and try not to freak out until then. If you were using a condom for some of the time you were having sex, that reduces the risk somewhat.

To get tested in Lubbock, go to the city health department STD clinic--you can find info about their office and other places in town to get tested here. They may tell you to come back in another few months for follow up testing, but they're the experts so see what they tell you.

Let me know how it goes.

Go-To Girl

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Annals of Obvious:
Comprehensive Sex Ed Works

I barely slept last night so I don't even have the energy to be snarky or clever or even intelligent on this one, really. If I were, I'd do another brilliant point-counterpoint. But I can't. I'm so tired of study after expert panel after conclusive research report demonstrating that abstinence education does not work. But according to the Washington Post, the CDC assembled a panel of experts to look, once and for all, at the comprehensive vs. abstinence education question. And Jeezum Motherfucking Crow, guess what they found:
Sex-education programs that encourage teens to delay sexual activity and teach them about contraception cut risky sexual behavior, increase condom use and lower the chances of getting the AIDS virus and other infections, a panel of independent experts concluded in a report released Friday. (emphasis mine)
I mean, for fuck's sake. Can we please stop listening to the gumdrop brain idiots over at the Abstinence Clearinghouse and the National Abstinence Education Association? They do not know what they are talking about. I'm serious.

Here's what Leslee Unruh, the baby-selling, adoption-pushing*, completely fucking nuts president of the Abstinence Clearinghouse had to say about the study:

“These results present a different picture than the study’s published conclusions, especially for school-based CSE. Policy makers deserve accurate information regarding the lack of effects of these condom-centered programs. Moreover, the emotional health of our children is as important as their physical health and condom education fails youth in both of these areas. Abstinence education protects both.”

There is no condom for the heart, dontcha know.

*see page 3 of the linked PDF.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Hey Virginia, Maryland and DC People:
Free At-Home Chlamydia Test!

(photo from iwantthekit.org)

For real! I stumbled upon this the other day and wanted to make sure those friends in my old haunt(s) knew that they could get, for free, a kit that allows you to collect a specimen at home for a chlamydia test.

Chlamydia, while not my favorite sexually transmitted infection (syphilis, I'll always love you best), IS the one of the leading causes of infertility in women.

From the CDC:

In women, untreated infection can spread into the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This happens in up to 40 percent of women with untreated chlamydia. PID can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding tissues. The damage can lead to chronic pelvic pain, infertility, and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus).
Scary, huh? Even worse: according to MMWR 58(14), in 2007, only 41% of sexually active women were screened for chlamdyia; in the South only 37% were screened.

Get your FREE test here.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Slate: Dystopian Sex Nightmare
In China America

Slate has a great piece about how "millions of Chinese citizens don't know how to have sex without getting pregnant." (Thanks, M) The story reads like a sex educator's dystopian nightmare, where China's billion people are running around fornicating with no inkling that penis-goes-in-vagina, that condoms-go-on-penis, or that semen-makes-babies-inside-woman.*

The article highlights stupid questions kids ask (Can kissing get my girlfriend pregnant? Is oral sex going to kill me? Why didn't he call?) as though being Chinese predisposes teenagers to confusion about sex. Newsflash: confused teenagers everywhere ask those questions. Just look at Go Ask Alice!

China's women famously have approximately 13 million abortions each year--and that's just the number of abortions performed in registered clinics. 10 million doses of "abortion inducing" drugs are sold each year and many speculate that millions more abortions happen in "unregistered" clinics. Acupuncture abortion, coming to an American woo-corner near you?

The article gets really interesting when it transitions to a description of what is actually taught in schools in China:
Today in Beijing, schools offer sex ed in junior high, but there's no standard for what should be taught or how, and teachers have little incentive to emphasize the subject. After all, safe sex isn't going to show up on the national university entrance exam that students spend years cramming for.

Broadly speaking, students learn about reproductive anatomy. They learn they're not supposed to have sex, and that if they do, they must take precautions. And that's that—no guidance about which precautions.

"There's nothing from the schools about relationships. Nothing about pregnancy," said Lily Liu, who heads the China operations of Marie Stopes International, an NGO that runs reproductive health clinics. Condoms? Liu laughed. "No condoms, of course," she said.

Junior high schoolers [are] learning "how to be a man and how to be a woman" in sex ed classes. Would a girl who's taught to be soft and quiet be able to demand that her boyfriend use a condom? Would a girl who insists on using birth control be perceived as a "proper" woman? (emphasis mine)

Sound familiar? It should. I'm no expert on China so maybe things are really different there, but this sex educator sees a reflection of the American dystopian sex nightmare--a generation of young people denied information and resources that can prevent negative consequences of sex. That, my friends, is the true goal of "abstinence" education.

The Texas Freedom Network did a groundbreaking piece of research last year about abstinence curricula used in Texas public schools called "Just Say Don't Know." Can't stand to read it? Don't blame you. But watch the videos. The statements offered by the "coach" are taken, verbatim, from well-known abstinence curricula. The dialogue in the video below comes straight out of Pam Stenzel's "Sex Still Has a Price Tag."

But even in China, as in Texas, is the light at the end of the tunnel (though I don't use bananas):
As a student at one of China's best universities, Liu enjoys many advantages. One is that she attended a sex ed workshop during freshman orientation, where she practiced putting a condom on a banana.
*the article doesn't address what I assume is total radio silence on the fact that some people are gay.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Hurry Up And Wait:
Herpes Vaccine Trial Ending?

(image credit)

Herpes is so hot right now. All the cool kids have it and, really, it's not a big deal.* Unlike gonorrhea and chlamydia, it can't cause infertility over the long term; it doesn't eat your brain like syphilis, and it doesn't kill you like HIV or (occasionally) cause cancer like HPV. Really, herpes is the most friendly of the sexually transmitted infections. Of course, gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis are all curable with antibiotics if you get off your cookies and get tested already.

But as one of the lame, unpopular kids who doesn't have HSV-1 OR HSV-2, I am chomping at the bit to get the Herpevac vaccine, the clinical trial for which ends this month. This latest trial is a Phase 3 trial, which means the vaccine works and they are further investigating it. Here's the description from the NIH Clinical Trials database:
This study is a double-blind, randomized, controlled Phase III trial to assess the prophylactic efficacy and safety of gD-Alum/MPL vaccine in the prevention of genital herpes disease in young women who are herpes simplex virus (HSV)-1 and -2 seronegative. The primary efficacy objective is to evaluate vaccine efficacy in the prevention of genital herpes disease caused by HSV-1 and/or HSV-2 between months 2 and 20 in healthy adult women who were initially HSV-1 and HSV-2 seronegative. The secondary efficacy objectives are to: evaluate vaccine efficacy in the prevention of genital herpes disease caused by HSV-1 and/or HSV-2 occurring between the months 7 and 20; evaluate vaccine efficacy in the prevention of HSV-2 infection between months 2 and 20; and to evaluate vaccine efficacy in the prevention of HSV-2 infection occurring between months 7 and 20.
What they don't say is whether they are going to actually expose women to the herpes virus (presumably, that would be unethical) so I'm not sure how they could guarantee that the vaccine works if the women haven't been exposed. I guess they just assume the women in the trial are high risk enough or that herpes is prevalent enough that they will, at some point during the 20 months of the study, be exposed to the virus just by having sex.

So I don't know what's going on with this vaccine, but there are little bits of news that vaccines are being developed by companies and researchers at universities so maybe we'll know soon.

*Herpes IS a big deal if you transmit it to your baby during childbirth, and it can kill infants. But this rarely happens in the US. It may also increase your risk for HIV infection, because sores can leave skin broken and susceptible to the virus. But in most people who know they have herpes and who undergo treatment, the infection is completely manageable.