Saturday, May 03, 2008

Unbearable brunt of baring

I ADMIRE, for a change, the politically incorrect spokesperson of the Cebu Archdiocese, Monsignor Achilles Dakay.

Just when the furor over the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) “surgery scandal” seemed to abate, Dakay barged in again and ruffled a lot of feathers by stating that the “main issue” was not the medical professionals’ lapse of ethics but the patient’s homosexual act.

“We are asking everyone not to forget or to bypass the main issue: The wrong act of a guy with another man,” quoted Dakay as saying during a Radio Veritas interview. “People are not talking about what happened before the operation—the homosexual act that was done very badly.”

As expected, the bias and judgment read into Dakay’s pronouncement—against the victim, against homosexuals—whipped up another tempest. On top of the social and sexual discrimination suffered by “Jan-Jan,” the alias given to the VSMMC patient, gay rights activists have pointed out his third-time victimization at the hands of this perception, aired publicly by the preternaturally unflappable monsignor but privately expressed by many.

Being blamed for “inviting” the YouTube “rape” adds to the trauma of the abuse made public via Internet and TV replays. A friend recently reacted with derisive amusement to a lead that “Jan-Jan” had been “raped.” His “what?” expressed the depths of his incredulity that the patient would resort to this tactic to swing more sympathy, or the resolution of his P6-million suit for damages from the medical team and the hospital, in his favor.

But besides betraying the predictable lie of his perceptions—both of his person and the Church that he represents—Dakay’s sentiments point the public to a more productive line of scrutiny: the issue of safe sex.

Rough sex leads to more than tissue damage and an emergency surgical procedure, as traced in the history of the spread of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids).

Although “Jan-Jan” was the first to publicly bring the sobering consequences of rough sex to Cebu, it must be disabused that his sexual preference is to blame. Rough sex can be done by homosexuals and heterosexuals.

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causing Aids is mostly spread through sexual contact. According to many Aids/HIV fact sheets, the biological probability of transmission is higher in anal than in vaginal intercourse.

While “insertive” is less risky than “receptive” anal sex, medical authorities still caution that the partner doing the insertion can also become infected.

Rough sex and rape cause lesions, which increase the probability of HIV transmission. “Barebackers”—homosexuals and heterosexuals that refuse to wear a condom during intercourse—are public health hazards.

There is also increasing evidence that the male-to-female transmission risk is higher in young girls aged 16 years and younger than in older women approaching menopause. Experts theorize that there is “higher biological vulnerability” due to immaturity of the genital tract, specially the cervix.

A person with mouth abrasions or gum disease faces a small chance of being contaminated with HIV through oral sex.

Studies have also shown that HIV risk increases with substance abuse, particularly intravenous drug use and alcohol intake. Drugs and alcohol impair a person’s ability to decide and negotiate for safe sex, which makes one more at risk of acquiring or transmitting the virus.

“A sober barebacker is far less risky than a meth barebacker, who will have sex for days on end with multiple partners,” longtime activist Peter Staley was quoted by New York Magazine in its June 5, 2006 article, “Aids in New York: A Biography.”

“And the sex is rougher. There is more tissue damage.”

The Church has its reasons for desiring that its flock sticks to the straight and narrow. But staying away from rough lovin’ is also sound for your health and your partner’s. 09173226131

* Published in Sun.Star Cebu’s April 26, 2008 issue

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