Monday, 10 October 2011

Gonorrhoea and the Coming Legal Battle

The announcement today by the UK Health Protection Agency that we may be heading to a point when gonorrhoea is incurable unless new treatments can be found. For now, they say, doctors must stop using the usual treatment cefixime and instead use two more powerful antibiotics.

So, from a health perspective that's bad. But as we saw last week in Middlesbrough, the transmission of HIV continues to result in criminalisation and imprisonment.   If other STIs cease to be treatable, it would be a logical (if mistaken) extension of the law to criminalise these patterns of behaviour.

It also adds weight to HIV campaigners who have been critical of the growing acceptability of bareback sex - which takes place in a narrative of few deaths.  Ahh they say, just wait until the magical HIV drugs stop working, then you'll regret it.  As yet another drug becomes useless, and the possibility of an STI once more becoming incurable, the prospect of death once more walking the corridors of bathhouses, saunas, sex clubs and the haunts of millions of human beings who choose to fuck raw seems more plausible.  The greatest tool that safe sex campaigners have is when we start dying.  It's a terrifying possibility but I'm not yet convinced that the behaviour of those who choose and celebrate bareback will change their behaviour.  They are not crazy or especially kinky, they are rationale human beings making an informed decision.  Today is another bit of information to add to the scales of decision making but the scales are along way from tipping the other way.

Read the full story here.

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Elly said...

a man was jailed for transmitting herpes to his (ex)girlfriend wasn't he?

I understand your support of 'barebackers' but I would like to say again that a) most people who have sex without a condom are heterosexual so it's not a big radical gay idea.

and b)if HIV drugs became useless I would hope people would consider using condoms! The disease has not become 'harmless'!

Chris Ashford said...

Hi Elly - you've been quiet recently ;-)

On a) absolutely, take your point. The trouble is that it's a queer idea rather than a gay one, and more importantly, bareback sex has been constructed as a male with male issue and not a heterosexual one, but that can be contrasted to the issue of HIV transmission which has been focussed upon heterosexual encounters as far as the law is concerned (as we see one again in the recent case) so it's a complex picture.

The second bit is absolutely my point. It would become a rationale argument and thus yes, of course the majority of folks would choose condoms over bareback.

Elly said...

Thanks that makes sense.

You didn't update for a while so I forgot to check - now there's lots of juicy stories to think about!

Chris Ashford said...

LOL. Excellent :-)

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