September 8th, 2010
When I was a kid, we would sometimes play a game called “telephone” that went like this:
…the first player whispers a phrase or sentence to the next player. Each player successively whispers what that player believes he or she heard to the next. The last player announces the statement to the entire group. Errors typically accumulate in the retellings, so the statement announced by the last player differs significantly, and often amusingly, from the one uttered by the first.
Well it seems to me that there is a game of telephone going on in the mainstream (and other) media in which each retelling of the story gets further and further from the truth. The headlines are the most glaringly obvious:
The UPI article, the most recent, tells us about a study at Ghent University
A significant number of new HIV infections occur through high-risk behavior between young white homosexual men, researchers in Belgium say.
It follows the rather breathless report from Pink News:
According to new research published today, reckless sexual behaviour among a subset of young gay men is fuelling the HIV epidemic in Europe and the UK.
According to open access journal BioMed Central (BMC) Infectious Diseases, a considerable number of new HIV infections in Belgium, where the study was conducted, were occurring as a result of high-risk sexual contact between young, white gay men.
Well there is a story that comes out of the Ghent University study, and it does discuss gay white youth. But the story coming from the study is hardly what you’d think reading the later reports. Here’s what happened:
Researchers at Ghent University in Belgium looked at regional HIV infection to see if they could identify trends. They looked at 506 patients who seroconverted in Belgium between January 2001 and March 2009 and analyzed them by race, sex, transmission cause, and HIV strain.
Sixty percent of those who seroconverted had HIV-1 subtype B and were mostly young gay Belgian men. In addition, this group also had statistically high levels of other STIs, including syphilis and chlamydia.
The other forty percent had other strains of HIV (18 variations identified) and were 60% African and 33% Caucasian. These transmissions were predominantly through heterosexual sex or intravenous drug use.
They also looked at the specific genetic attributes of various infections and found “clusters”, individuals with virtually the same virus. Among gay men (subtype B), clusters were small (3 to 10), but one cluster of 57 patients was found. Fewer clusters were found among non-B strains.
The conclusions from this study were that there are two distinct methods of HIV transmission in Belgium and that these two populations have little overcross. Young gay men who become infected get the virus from other local young gay men while Africans and other non-gay patients came to be infected through travel or migrated to Belgium with the virus.
Accurate reporting on such issues is important. Headlines declaring that “white gay men” are fueling an HIV epidemic only serves to further stereotypes about gay men in general. But more importantly, they distract from populations that could believe themselves to be outside that demographic and can impact the allocation of resources where they are most needed.
In Belgium, high-risk taking MSM (specific young white gay men) constitute the most important source of local onward HIV transmission in their region, and this is where prevention efforts should be focused. This study even argues for “a debate on the appropriateness of systematic treatment of MSM meeting some of the characteristics associated with a higher chance of being a transmitter.”
But in the United States, the subpopulation most highly impacted by local onward HIV transmission are African Americans – mostly gay but also heterosexual. There are various reasons why blacks are disproportionately impacted; but one big contributor was the flawed focus of early prevention efforts. By narrowing resources and prevention messages to white gay men and virtually ignoring minority populations, there was a false impression created that HIV/AIDS were a white gay mans disease.
We must be diligent to both provide the resources necessary for care and targeted prevention messages in the black community (and all communities impacted) and to derail any confusing and contradictory messages – like this one – that could be counter-productive.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.