Thursday, September 24, 2009

Condoms as metaphor

By Carl

It's taken thirty years, countless dead and infected, and a worldwide push, but it looks as though the very tricky and difficult
HIV virus may be giving up its secrets to science:

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- An experimental vaccine prevented HIV infections for the first time, a breakthrough that has eluded scientists for a quarter century.

A U.S.-funded study involving more than 16,000 volunteers in Thailand found that a combination of ALVAC, made by Paris- based Sanofi-Aventis SA, and AIDSVAX, from VaxGen Inc., of South San Francisco, cut infections by 31.2 percent in the people who received it compared with those on a placebo, scientists said today in Bangkok. Neither vaccine had stopped the virus that causes AIDS when tested separately in previous studies.

The finding represents a revival in a campaign that appeared to stall just two years ago when use of Merck & Co.’s experimental Ad5 vaccine boosted some people’s chances of infection in a study. The latest result will transform future research, said Mitchell Warren, director of the New York-based AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition.

31.2% is something, certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it means there's clues in there for a truly preventative vaccine or combination of vaccines.

I'm old enough to remember when sex could be had without any ill effects except maybe guilt. Syphillis and gonorrhea both seemed to be curable, and AIDS and herpes were on a distant horizon.

I've often wondered if the spread of AIDS, HIV, and even herpes was responsible, in part, for the rise of conservatism in this country. After all, when we could ball freely, we tended to be a little more open to new ideas as well as new experiences.

Once sex was clamped down upon, it seemed like everyone's rectums got a little more retentive, a little more conservative. Wearing a condom became a metaphor as well as a reality, forcing people to think back inside the box (um, pun not intended. Mostly.) because outside, alone, naked, was scary and a little dangerous.

Freedom became something negotiable, to an extent. You could be free, but you had to be ultravigilant, and once you had to be ultravigilant, that required an effort and efforts mean people will look for easy ways out.

Like the fox and the grapes, people began to look at sex as if it wasn't important, that sex was OK if it was readily accessible but to actually go out and pursue it became a matter of work. And who wants to work at sex?

So we saw a rise in monogamous relationships, but we also saw a rise in values that hearkened back to the Fifties, to a time when, yes, people had sex, lots of it, but no one talked about it, so everyone assumed no one else was getting any.

I dunno... just a thought.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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