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The Advocates: Bringing Safety Back


A new website breaks the rules to educate and titillate

I was to shocked to read the report out of Washington, D.C., suggesting that the number of AIDS cases there among African-American men is 12 times the national average and the rate of HIV infection is higher than in some parts of Western Africa. So you can imagine my pleasure when I first logged on to, a community-based prevention program and website developed to stop the spread of HIV among D.C. men who have sex with men. What makes this website so special is its provocative approach to prevention. The creators have jettisoned the traditional clinical safe-sex language in favor of sex-positive talk and some steamy NSFW (read: not suitable for work) images while also providing some very useful information. DCfukit also provides sound advice on its blogs, links to gay-friendly medical care and HIV testing, and condom and lube kits (complete with how-to photos for proper condom usage) that are distributed to area clubs and the DC Center. This group certainly got my attention, and that's one of the first steps for any successful prevention campaign.

Where There's No Smoke...
The FDA says "safe" e-cigarettes are just smoke and mirrors

Studies have long shown that more gay men and lesbians smoke than straight people. And we all know how difficult it is for most of us to ignore a trendy new accessory. So the e-cigarette -- a battery-operated gadget hyped as the safe alternative to regular cancer sticks because it turns nicotine into vapor without burning tobacco -- seemed perfect for the gays. That is, until the Food and Drug Administration recently announced that the vapor the e-cigs emit actually contain toxic chemicals, including diethylene glycol -- a chemical used in antifreeze. "There is concern about the safety of these products and how they are marketed to the public," said Margaret A. Hamburg, commissioner of the FDA, in a statement released by the agency. Granted, Hamburg's point is a little vague, but I'm willing to go out on a limb and say flat-out that these shiny new playthings simply aren't safe. If you're looking to a healthy alternative to smoking, quit the stuff altogether.

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