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Wednesday Watercooler


Tonight’s music video is “Beauty In the World” by Macy Gray.

HIV researchers are calling for the decriminalization of sex work, according to an article published today in The Verge.

Currently, 116 countries around the world have laws against prostitution, reports Reuters. ‘These additional layers of stigma and criminalization that make it such that governments don’t want to engage, and that’s a loss to all of us,’ says Stefan Baral, a physician epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University. The researcher was among those who presented their work last night, and called for increased support for sex workers. More specifically, however, his study discusses the lack of research on male sex workers and HIV.

‘When you think of a sex worker, the most common picture that comes to mind is a female sex worker,’ says Baral. This is problematic because ‘we end up in a dynamic where we know very little about male sex workers.’ His study shows that part of the problem surrounding past interventions is that researchers have often tried to target male sex workers by targeting the larger population of men who have sex with men. But male sex workers often don’t identify as either sex workers or gay men, Baral says — largely because of the combined stigma of these labels — so a lot of the interventions that target both groups never reach them. ‘Often what’s happened is that people want to oversimplify and generalize the epidemic,’ Baral says, but the reality is that different subpopulations require different forms of interventions. “We need to accept that.’

[…] In addition to discussing barriers to interventions, her study makes use of mathematical models to demonstrates which interventions are likely to lower HIV infection rates in female sex workers. Among her team’s conclusions is the idea of combining methods like pre-exposure prophylaxis — also known as the anti-HIV pill Truvada — with early HIV treatment. Such a tactic “could reduce HIV infection rates among sex workers by up to 40 percent.” This finding, she explains, might be linked to the fact that Truvada is taken orally, which means it can be used without a partner’s knowledge. ‘Female condoms are, to a certain extent, user controlled, but you still need your partner’s agreement. And male condoms rely heavily on male involvement,’ she says. Truvada, on the other hand, ‘can be taken covertly’ if need be.

Bonus: What Google Autocomplete Thinks About Religion, from Addicting Info.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and