Health

Independent: Studies show gay men are more likely to take recreational drugs

The findings of the two studies were consistent with the “hedonistic” lifestyle commonly associated with the gay social scene, David Allison, spokesman for the gay rights organisation Outrage! said. “The gay scene has always been linked with clubbing and drugs have always been available,” he said. “A lot of young gay people start clubbing on Friday and carry on until Monday morning. The need to do something like drugs is spurred on by the existence of hedonistic gay bars and nightclubs.”

As well as the social environment, drug-taking may be linked to the fact that young gay people are frequently under more pressure in terms of their sexuality than their heterosexual counterparts, Mr Allison said.

 ”I think it’s fair to say that most young gay people are under a lot more pressure than your average straight person and taking drugs will be a form of escapism.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/studies-show-gay-men-are-more-likely-to-take-recreational-drugs-735177.html

GlaxoSmithKline = Aids Profiteer

AIDS drug patents and prices kill people with HIV

Coinciding with the opening day of the legal action against the South African government in Pretoria – bought by GalxoSmithKline and 41 other pharmaceutical companies – British protesters will picket the GSK plant in west London today, 5 March 2001, from 8-10am.

GSK is the world’s largest drug corporation. It is leading the fight to enforce patent rights and price fixing for anti-HIV drugs, by preventing the South African government from importing cheap generic versions and making them available to people with Aids.

“The outcome of this court case will affect 32 million HIV sufferers in poorer countries, who cannot afford these exorbitant-priced drug therapies”, according to Peter Tatchell of the gay rights group OutRage!, which is backing Monday’s protest.

“GSK says that under its Accelerated Access scheme it has cut the price of HIV drugs by 85 per cent. But this scheme applies only to Africa and even the reduced price of $1500 a year is too expensive for most people in Third World countries”.

“A victory for GSK and the other pharmaceutical giants will make cheap anti-HIV drugs illegal and condemn millions of people to a painful, slow death”, says Tatchell.

“GlaxoSmithKline’s multi-billion pound profits are obscene. The argument that they need these mega profits to fund research is false. GSK made a profit of $7.6 billion in 1999, but invested only $3.75 billion in research that year. Meanwhile, 2.5 million people in the developing world die needlessly of Aids every year”.

DfEE Sex Education Guidelines

The Government’s new guidelines on teaching sex education are being criticised by OutRage! as “weak and insufficiently inclusive”.

The guidance to teachers is set out in an amendment to the Learning and Skills Bill. It gives prominence to teaching about “marriage and permanent relationships”.

“The guidelines are not inclusive enough. They do not oblige schools to provide pupils with gay sex education and safer sex advice. To safeguard their well-being, gay students need specific, affirmative information about homosexuality and HIV prevention. The guidelines do not require schools to provide this information. That is a weakness”, said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!.

“Instead of the reference to marriage, we would prefer neutral guidance stating that teaching about sex and relationships should emphasize the importance of mutual consent, respect, fulfilment and commitment.

“This formulation would cover everyone — married and unmarried, gay and straight, and those inside and outside traditional family relationships.

“OutRage! supports the principle of legally-binding guidelines to compel schools to provide open, honest, nonjudgemental information about homosexuality and gay safer sex. Without this legal requirement, most schools will continue to evade their responsibility to safeguard the emotional and physical health of lesbian and gay students. Because gay issues are viewed as a political hot potato, teachers will err on the side of caution and neglect the needs of gay pupils.

“Some teachers are themselves homophobic, whilst many others feel uncomfortable or ill-equipped to talk about homosexuality.

“To ensure impartial, effective education on gay issues, teachers need to receive specialist training on how to discuss homosexuality and gay safer sex in the classroom”, said Mr. Tatchell.

Excerpt from the Draft Guidelines
1.30 It is up to schools to make sure that the needs of all pupils are met in their programmes. Young people, whatever their developing sexuality, need to feel that it is relevant to them and sensitive to their needs. The Secretary of State for Education and Employment is clear that teachers should be able to deal honestly and sensitively with sexual orientation, answer appropriate questions and offer support. There should be no direct promotion of sexual orientation.
1.31 Sexual orientation and what is taught in schools is an area of concern for some parents. Schools that liaise closely with parents when developing their sex and relationship education policy and programme should be able to reassure parents of the content of the programme and the context in which it will be presented.
1.32 Guidance issued by the Department (Social Inclusion: Pupil Support Circular 10/99) dealt with the unacceptability of and emotional distress and harm caused by bullying in whatever form – be it racial, as a result of a pupil’s appearance, related to sexual orientation or for any other reason.

Alan Milburn (Health Secretary) and Baroness Jay (Minister for Women and a former health minister) have formally complained to Mr. Blunkett about the requirement for teachers to promote marriage in schools; and Chris Smith (Culture Secretary) has also contacted Mr. Blunkett to raise concerns that the Government is replacing Section 28 with a clause putting a legally-binding duty on teachers to promote heterosexuality.

In Scotland Donald Gorrie MSP, Local Government Spokesman for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has rejected calls that the Scottish Executive should follow the example of Westminster. — “It is wrong for a few bishops to be involved in drafting the actual wording of a Bill with Ministers. Who have the bishops consulted? … When it comes to Section 28 it is the views of young people that we should be listening to. They are more relevant to the issue than a small group of bishops.”

Merck concedes Animal Research delayed Protease Inhibitors for HIV

The pharmaceutical giant Merck has conceded that development of a potent protease inhibitor drug for the treatment of HIV was halted in 1989, after the company tested the drug on rats and dogs and they all died.

There is, however, no evidence that the drug would necessarily have had the same damaging effect on people with HIV, given the huge physiological differences between humans and other species. (Penicillin, for example, kills guinea pigs but cures people.)

Merck’s current protease inhibitor, crixivan, did not begin clinical trials until four years later, in 1993. Meanwhile, worldwide, tens of thousands of people with HIV had died.

Merck also acknowledges that animal studies were not needed in the development of protease inhibitors. The drugs were computer-designed and safety-tested using cell cultures and biochemical assays.

These admissions come in a letter from Merck’s Vice-President, Bennett M. Shapiro, published in the December 1997/January 1998 edition of the British HIV magazine, Positive Nation.

Shapiro’s letter was in response to an article in the November 1997 issue of Positive Nation by Peter Tatchell. In the article, Animal Magic is Science Fiction, Tatchell alleges that animal-based HIV research is scientifically flawed and has undermined the development of a cure and a vaccine for HIV.

In a letter in the February 1998 issue of Positive Nation, Tatchell debunks Merck’s defence of its animal research work.

Animal research delayed protease inhibitors for four years

Peter Tatchell argues that animal experimentation is undermining the fight against AIDS and jeopardising the lives of people with HIV.

The development of live-saving protease inhibitors was delayed for four years by the pharmaceutical company Merck because the drugs killed laboratory dogs and rats, according to the Washington Post Magazine, (1-May-1997). During those four years, tens of thousands of people with AIDS who would have benefited from protease inhibitors died needlessly. Many would now be alive if Merck had not engaged in animal research and made the false assumption that data gathered from other species can be applied to humans. This scandal is further evidence that animal experimentation is hindering the fight agains AIDS.

People and animals have vastly different physiologies. Scientific results gathered from animal studies cannot therefore be generalised to humans, as the following two examples illustrate. –

  • Strychnine is harmless to monkeys, but lethal to humans.
  • Penicillin kills guinea pigs, but not people.

HIV is a uniquely human disease: it doesn’t affect any other species the way it affects humans. The surest way of discovering a vaccine and a cure is by researching the interaction of HIV with the human immune system, not the immune systems of animals.

This recognition is now prompting some AIDS activists to argue that experiments with other species are holding back the development of safer, more-effective anti-HIV drugs. One of Britain’s top researchers, Prof. Robin Weiss, has expressed serious doubt that information gathered from studies of laboratory animals can help illuminate the mechanisms by which HIV sabotages the immunity of humans. Another senior AIDS doctor in Britain has described the millions of dollars spent on animal research as “almost criminally negligent” because it is diverting resources away from more promising avenues of molecular-level research with human cells and the HIV virus.

A similar view has been expressed by Dr. Albert Sabin, the inventor of the first oral polio vaccine. He was quoted in London’s Independent on Sunday newspaper as saying, “what has been demonstrated up to now in animals does not have any relevance.”

In the United States, Prof. Patricia Fultz, who was a senior scientist in the CDC’s chimpanzee AIDS research programme, admits she now has doubts that experimentation with other species can help us understand or treat HIV in humans, (as reported in Science magazine, 13-October-1995).

The director of AIDS research at Duke University, Dani Bolognesi, has had second thoughts too. Writing in the June 1994 Journal of NIH research, Bolognesi argued that animal studies do not provide a reliable indicator of how HIV affects people and how the disease can be conquered. “No animal models faithfully reproduce human immune deficiency virus-type (HIV-1) infection and disease in humans,” wrote Bolognesi. “Animals are not optimal models.”

The fact is that all the current and forthcoming anti-HIV treatments were developed as a result of human-based cellular research, which showed us how HIV locks onto and penetrates human cells, and the mechanism by which HIV produces new infectious virus particles within these human cells. None of these breakthroughs was achieved by research with other species.

Indeed, a significant human-based breakthrough in AIDS research, made in Britain in 1989, was partly funded by the animal rights charity The Dr. Hadwen Trust for Humane Research. This discovery of how HIV enters human cells might not have been achieved, according to the research team headed by Prof. Jonathan Weber at St. Mary’s Hospital in London, if they had concentrated on experiments with chimpanzees and other animals, as did many of their medical colleagues.

So far as drug toxicity is concerned, the unreliability of safety-testing HIV drugs on other species has been confirmed by a seven-year study involving 84 laboratories worldwide, coordinated by the University of Uppsala in Sweden. Known as the Multicenter Evaluation of In vitro Cytotoxicology (MEIC) study, it shows that human cells are 22% more accurate in predicting toxicity than whole live laboratory animals. This makes testing new anti-HIV drugs on animals redundant. Human cell test give faster, more-precise results.

Moreover, because humans and animals react differently to drug therapies, there is the risk that animal testing might result in dangerous or ineffective anti-HIV drugs being approved and in less than fully efficacious doses being prescribed. Let us never forget the scandals of Opren, Thalidomide, and AZT, which were declared “safe” after extensive animal research.

Most Homophobes are Gay – 20 MPs challenged

Antigay mps challenged to ‘take the test’

Research shows that most homophobes are gay

New research by U.S. psychologists suggests that 80 percent of men who are homophobic have secret homosexual feelings. These findings have prompted the gay rights group OutRage! to invite 20 prominent homophobic MPs to have their sexuality tested.

In tests by Prof. Henry E. Adams of the University of Georgia, homophobic men who said they were exlusively heterosexual were shown gay videos. Four out of five became sexually aroused by the homoerotic imagery, as recorded by a penile circumference measuring device, (a plethysmograph).

Prof. Adams’s research was published as Is Homophobia associated with Homosexual Arousal? in the prestigious U.S. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, (1996, Vol. 105, no. 3, pp. 440-445).

OutRage! has written to a cross-section of 20 homophobic MPs, challenging them to take Prof. Adams’s test, to dispel suggestions that their antigay voting record might be evidence of repressed homosexuality.

The MP’s OutRage! has written to are:

  • Matthew Banks,
  • Henry Bellingham,
  • Rhodes Boyson,
  • Sebastian Coe,
  • Terry Dicks,
  • Nigel Evans,
  • Michael Forsyth,
  • Harry Greenway,
  • Edward Heath,
  • Michael Heseltine,
  • Peter Lilley,
  • Tony Marlow,
  • James Molyneaux,
  • Fergus Montgomery,
  • Ian Paisley,
  • John Patten,
  • Michael Portillo,
  • John Redwood,
  • Richard Shepherd,
  • David Wilshire.

All these MPs voted against an equal age of consent in 1994.

Prof. Adams says his research shows that most homophobes “demonstrate significant sexual arousal to homosexual erotic stimuli”, suggesting that homophobia is a form of “latent sexuality where persons are either unaware of or deny their homosexual urges”.

These findings support the theories that homophobia (fear of gayness or support for antigay discrimination) is often indicative of repressed, self-loathing, homosexual feelings; and that many homophobes subconsciously use antigay attitudes as a smoke-screen to disguise their own homosexuality.

Aversion therapy – letter to the Royal College of Psychiatrists

To: The Secretary,
Royal College of Psychiatrists,
17 Belgrave Square, London SW1.

9-July-1996

Dear Vanessa Cameron,

We are writing to express our concern at the long history of psychiatric abuse suffered by lesbians, gays and bisexuals. For most of this century, the psychiatric profession labelled us as “mentally ill” and “pathological”. Because we were deemed to be sick, we were pressured, and sometimes forced, to undergo psychiatric treatment in a bid to make us heterosexual.

This treatment consisted, most notoriously, of aversion therapy: the administration of electric shocks or nausea-inducing drugs, coinciding with the showing of homoerotic images. These attempts to cure homosexuals were common until the mid-1970s. They caused untold suffering and harm to many gay and bisexual people.

Aversion therapy is still used occasionally today. John Beckett, a naval weapons engineer, was offered aversion therapy by the Royal Navy when it was discovered he was gay. The fact that there are still apparently psychiatrists who are willing to administer this barbaric psuedo-medicine is scandalous.

It is time the Royal College of Psychiatrists took official action to stamp out lingering homophobia vithin the profession. Specifically, we urge the Royal College to:

  1. Renounce the practice of aversion therapy and apologise to the lesbian and gay community for its usage.
  2. Instruct your members to halt the use of all therapies that attempt to cure homosexuality and urge them to root out homophobic bias in their dealings with patients.
  3. Produce an up-to-date report on how the various schools of psychiatry currently view homosexuality and the different forms of treatment they offer to allegedly dysfunctional lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
  4. Call on the government to establish a network of specialised NHS counselling services to help gay and bisexual men who have been sexually and emotionally damaged by aversion therapy.
  5. Support the campaign to compensate aversion therapy victims.

Yours sincerely,

OutRage!

AIDS Research wasted on animal testing

by Peter Tatchell

As Hollywood is pressured to choose between AIDS research and animal rights, Peter Tatchell argues that animal experiments are scientifically flawed and unethical.

AIDS awareness and animal rights are the two biggest Hollywood causes célèbres. Now stars are being told they can’t be in favour of both. AIDS activists claim there will be no progress in the fight against HIV without animal testing. They are demanding that Hollywood ditches its support for animal rights.

This has led a minority of celebrities, like singer Melissa Etheridge, to abandon their endorsement of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which campaigns against vivisection.

But the choice offered by AIDS activists is a false one. It is possible to support the rights of both animals and people with AIDS. Indeed, several dissident chapters of the AIDS activist organisation, ACT UP, backed the recent March For The Animals in Washington DC, as did the London-based queer rights group, OutRage!

In a letter read out at the March by rock star Chrissie Hynde, OutRage! declared: “We do not believe that the oppression of queer people can, or should, be remedied by the oppression of other peoples or species”.

The defenders of AIDS-related vivisection respond by arguing that finding a cure for HIV is so important that it justifies inflicting pain on animals. However, if cruelty is excusable for the greater good, then surely it would be also justifiable to experiment on humans. Obviously it is not!

The truth is that vivisection –not animal rights– is undermining the fight against AIDS. It is diverting resources away from more promising avenues of investigation. If we want to know how HIV affects humans, we need to study human physiology (not that of other species).

Confirmation that research findings with animals cannot be generalised to humans (and vice versa) is well established: there has been only one case of HIV causing AIDS-like illness in chimpanzees, and SIV (the monkey immune deficiency virus) doesn’t produce AIDS in people.

Common sense says that the most likely way to discover a vaccine and cure for HIV among humans is to research the interaction of HIV with human cells and the human immune system.

Since 1992, several of the world’s top scientists –including Professors Robin Weiss, Albert Sabine and Jonathan Weber– have warned that AIDS studies using animals are unlikely to be of much relevance to the conquest of HIV in people. They complain that the millions of pounds squandered on studies with other species would have been far more usefully spent on research with humans.

All the major advances in understanding HIV have been made without the need for vivisection. One of the very important insights into the way HIV penetrates the cells of the immune system was part-funded by an animal rights group (the Dr. Hadwen Trust). Using human cell cultures, this discovery at St. Mary’s Hospital, London, was made by researcher who are critical of vivisection on scientific grounds. Head of the research team, Professor Jonathan Weber, believes that their breakthrough may not have come about if, like many other scientists, they had focused on studies with non-human species.

ernatives to the use of animals in HIV experiments –such as human cell, tissue and organ cultures– increasingly offer fast and accurate results. Computer modelling has also made a big contribution to the development of new HIV treatments.

Once the provisional safety of a new anti-AIDS drug is ascertained, Professor Weber supports carefully controlled human volunteer trials. These can involve the administration of tiny, harmIess doses and the monitoring of their effects by means of blood samples, lasers, biopsies and ultrasound probes.

These techniques are a more reIiable indicator of a drug’s safety than experiments with animals. Tests with rats and mice, for example, failed to predict some of the adverse side effects of the two main HIV treatments, AZT and ddI.

Despite AIDS activists’ berating Hollywood stars with claims that animal research is necessary to save lives, there is not a single significant breakthrough in AIDS research that can be attributed to animal experimentation. Vivisection is, in fact, a disreputable, unethical pseudo-science that is hindering our understanding of AIDS and how to defeat it.