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Opinion May 31

Posted: May 31st, 2013 | Editorial, Featured |

Editorials

Prevention is better than a cure

LGBT services and Men’s Health Month

By Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest

When gay men seek HIV testing, Planned Parenthood is not often the first name that comes to mind. The reproductive and sexual health organization is most commonly associated with birth control for women, but more gay men than ever before have been seeking care at Planned Parenthood due to its LGBT-friendly health centers. Planned Parenthood is one of the largest providers of testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in San Diego County.

According to the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, rectal or pharyngeal gonorrhea infections in San Diego County men have nearly doubled since 2008. Primary and secondary syphilis increased 146 percent in San Diego County from 2003 to 2010, with gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) accounting for 91 percent of cases in the county in 2010.

The County of San Diego recommends that sexually active MSM be tested for syphilis (and other STIs) every 3 – 6 months. However, only 39 percent of MSM reported a syphilis test in the past year. As a result, many syphilis cases are not identified until the early latent stage after which they have already passed the infectious period and may have unknowingly transmitted syphilis to others.

Since the most common STIs have no major warning signs, the only way to be certain you are not infected with an STI is to get tested and treated.

Planned Parenthood health centers offer many free or affordable services for men:

• STI testing and treatment (including rapid HIV testing)

• colon, prostate and testicular cancer screenings

• erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation services, including education, exams, treatment and referral

• checkups for sexual health problems

• condoms

• jock itch exam and treatment

• urinary tract infections testing and treatment

• general health care and routine physical exams.

In addition to providing many much needed sexual health checkups, Planned Parenthood embraces many of the same causes important to the LGBT community and shares many of its political allies and foes. Its local affiliate – Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (PPPSW) – supported LGBT youth last year by participating in the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) Awards sponsored by Project Youth and the North County LGBTQ Resource Center, and Jennifer Coburn, director of communications and marketing as well as chair of the LGBT task force at PPPSW, emceed at the 2012 North County LGBTQ Resource Center Gala.

“We’ve always been there for each other politically,” Coburn said. “Now we hope to better serve the community doing what we do best: providing confidential, low to no-cost care.”

Routine visits with a health care provider can help prevent serious illness. They can also diagnose and treat common conditions that affect men. For Men’s Health Month, schedule an appointment with your local Planned Parenthood for STI testing and treatment, sexual health checkups and cancer screenings. Use the Planned Parenthood health center locator at planned.org to find the nearest center that offers the services you need.

 

Private Manning was never a SF grand marshal

By Zoe Dunning

In regards to Bradley Manning and the recent controversy surrounding his consideration as a SF Pride Community Grand Marshal (GM), let me clarify a few misconceptions:

Private Manning was never a SF Pride Grand Marshal. Therefore his “selection” was neither revoked nor “reversed.” He did not meet the criteria for nominations as a Community GM and therefore should never have been considered: he is not local, and it is questionable to many whether he “has made significant contributions to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community.” The public announcement of his selection was premature and in error, as acknowledged by the board of SF Pride.

Even if his nomination met criteria, his selection is questionable. Something went terribly amiss in the mythical “Electoral College” voting process, whereby former GMs nominate and select a Community Grand Marshal. I and several other former GMs were never given the opportunity to vote in the Electoral College. The voting process was either carried out with poor controls and oversight – or even worse, manipulated – resulting in Bradley Manning receiving the most votes.

Beyond the technicalities and deficiencies in the selection process, there is the question of whether someone like Private Manning should become a “public emissary of Pride.” Manning is currently in prison, having pleaded guilty to 10 counts of misuse of classified information he felt “should become public.” A unique aspect of the military is that your life is entrusted to your shipmates and their lives are entrusted to you.

A pilot landing on an aircraft carrier relies on the 19-year-old in the arresting gear room to set the cable at the proper tension so the plane stops before the end of the flight deck. An Intelligence Officer relies on those handing classified information to protect that data and its sources so as not to endanger anyone. This model of interdependency does not leave room for individual determinations of what “should become public.” Lives are at stake.

There will be a large contingent of Manning supporters marching in the [SF] Pride Parade and they have every right to participate. But, for the reasons stated above, I and many others would find it an undesirable precedent for Bradley Manning to become a Community Grand Marshal.

—Zoe Dunning is a retired Navy Commander and was a lead activist in the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” She is a former Pride Grand Marshal and currently serves as the first vice chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party. Her editorial first appeared in the newspaper Bay Times.

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