by Larry Palmer
In this issue I would like to report back to you,
the Gay community, the results of the blood-drawing effort. The response to this blood-drawing project has
been much better than any past attempts at this kind of
effort. The openness and support of the Austin-Travis
County Health Department and the Gay Nurses Alliance has
made this possible. We, from both sides of this project,
have been overwhelmed!
The turn-around time for your results have been improved by more than a week by the second week of drawing
blood. I give you an example to show you how this is
accomplished: the Gay Nurses Alliance draws the blood
specimens on Saturday night at some location within the
gay community. I myself take the specimens to the state
lab early Monday morning to be run, and results are returned to the Austin/Travis County Health Department by
Wednesday afternoon. The results can be obtained by
calling: -47^-6581, Extension 307 or 309. Other questions
or complaints can be referred to the VD counselors at
EXT. 23U, or to myself at 837-^25 after 5 pm weekdays,
and anytime Saturday or Sunday. The results by any other
process takes 10 days and up to two weeks in most cases.
So getting your blood drawn at any of the locations
covered Friday nights is a better deal than going down
to the VD Clinic yourself.
VD TEST RESULTS ARE IN
We, with the volume of testing we are doing are,
in fact, coming up with a few positive tests. The confidential nature of, and respect for all persons involved,
in every level from testing to reporting is good to
remember. Everybody should be glad to know this so they
can be treated—free, and confidential as well. Many
people are aware of the possibility of exposure to
syphilis by usually anonymous contacts, and get periodic
blood tests at 3 month or 90 day intervals. Such a
practice of being retested on a continual basis is very
wise—especially if you are sexually active with more ;
than one person, or if the person you are involved with
is sexually active with others.
NOT EVEN YOUR LOVER KNOWS
I don't want to open the door of moral judgment; my
report is not concerned with this. This process is not
intended to separate lovers, cause ill or mixed feelings
in any involved persons. All your special considerations
can be worked out if you cooperate. Chances are, if you
are contacted by the Health Department, you were exposed
to a positive case and need to be treated. Everything
being confidential, none of the Health Department personnel can tell you who named you as their contact. I myself
would like to see this super-charged issue, or if you
will, explosive issue, defused. We don't punish people
for getting a common cold, mumps, measles, chicken pox,
or even hepatitis (which can also be sexually transmitted).
We only think it's funny if someone we know gets VD. Well,
I don't think it is so funny. For your sake, or your
lover's, the disease should be treated.
One thing to remember is that not all positive results
mean that one does have syphilis. Let me explain. I was
one of the positives on the first list of the bloods
drawn, but I" wasn't the only positive on the list. With
a past history from 197U, I always will be run with a
4 CONNECTIONS December 1979/January 1980
false-positive reading, simply because I had the disease
qnce. I want to remind you that if you ever have had
syphilis, PLEASE let us know when you had it, and your
telling us will save you from being treated for a false-
positive. I look forward to the day vaccines are fully
developed and used, and society quits punishing people
for communicable diseases. In the meantime, if you come
up with a false-positive, only further lab testing will
indicate a new infection.
I am a gay nurse. I was a gay patient.
"I" pronouns are hard for me to use, and laying
cards on the table, even harder. A sexual gamble with
a 20$—that's right, a 20% increase in syphilis rates
in Texas from last year to this year—makes a more
likely bet. A skin rash, stage two in syphilis symptoms, may be mistaken for some other kind of skin rash.
In 197^ I was treated by my private doctor for a soap
allergy. Later on, on my own, I correctly diagnosed
myself with a blood test; I had syphilis. The reason
I am concerned, as president of the Gay Nurses Alliance
is that I have had a personal experience with this
disease, but more than the disease I am concerned
with. People's attitude toward venereal disease is very
important. I was in a hospital twice last year: eight
days for hepatitis, and four months later for surgery
for another medical problem—so you might say. I learned
much as a patient that I never knew as a nurse. Experience has helped me to understand health care from
SERIOUS SETBACK FOR HOMOSEXUALS IN NORWAY
(IGNA) The Norway Committee for Criminal Law, evaluating existing penalty codes and ruling out bills in consideration, has made a negative decision on a bill to
give homosexuals judicial protection from discrimination.
For years Norwegian gays have been struggling to
obtain legal defense from discrimination. Both gay organizations and individuals made great efforts to reach
On the last Gay Liberation Day in Norway there were
demonstrations by gays in the capital demanding gay
rights and they were extensively carried by the press.
Most people thought a gay rights bill would be
enacted, especially since a bill that outlawed discrimination against persons because of religious, racial or
ethnic reasons was passed by the committee.
Proponents of the anti-gay discrimination bill contend
it was not passed simply because two elderly, permanent
members of the committee, both well-known lawyers, stated
it would violate freedom of speech. Two specialists, one
a sexologist and one a lawyer who testified before the
committee, strongly disagreed. The legislation will now
be taken to the Ministry of Justice.