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Steamy new book documents same-sex behavior among animals
OTTAWA, Canada—A provocative new book about gay
animals is challenging the belief that homosexuality is an
aberration of nature, the Ottawa Citizen reported.
"Biological Exuberance," a ground-breaking review of
homosexuality in the wild kingdom, documents hundreds
of cases of mammals and birds enthusiastically engaging in
sex and long-term relationships with members of the same
sex. The list of gay creatures, according to author and biologist Bruce Bagemihl, would fill Noah's Ark: apes and
monkeys, dolphins and whales, giraffes, zebras, warthogs
and woodpeckers. Lesbian gulls mate for life and raise
chicks together. Male manatees splash around in group
orgies. In all, the book notes 471 species, including fish and
insects, that exhibit varying types of same-sex behavior.
The 751-page work, which took nearly 10 years to research
and write, not only challenges the notion that homosexuality is unnatural and simply doesn't occur among animals—
it contends many animals engage in homosexual sex for the same reason people do—they
enjoy it, the newspaper reported. The book also explores the debate about the origins of
homosexuality—genetics versus environment, biology versus culture and nature versus
French doctors urge World Trade Organization to help fight AIDS
PARIS—The French medical charity Doctors of the World urged countries meeting at
the World Trade Organization summit on Dec. 1 to allow Third World states to import and
produce anti-AIDS drugs cheaply without fearing trade sanctions, Reuters news service
reported. The charity argued that production costs for AIDS drugs were only a fraction of
their normal cost. But, it added, "without an international campaign, only a small minority of the total of 33.6 million people suffering from AIDS have the right to treatment.... At
the start of this new WTO negotiating round, we demand that existing... rules allowing
developing countries to produce and import medicines be applied without the threat of
trade retaliation." But poor nations shy away from doing this under the threat of trade
sanctions by the United States and West European countries, another French medical charity, Nobel Peace Prize-winning Doctors without Borders, charged last week.
New Russian AIDS drug may replace AZT, to be produced in 2000
MOSCOW (AP)—A new Russian AIDS drug that could be substituted for the commonly prescribed AZT will be produced beginning next year. Like older anti-AIDS drugs like
AZT, phosphazide slows the replication of the HIV virus, which causes AIDS. But it is
believed to have fewer of the side-effects of AZT, which can cause anemia and nausea. The
new drug has met with cautious optimism among Canadian experts who carried out laboratory tests on it in 1997. Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Russian Center for the Prevention
and Treatment of AIDS, said that phosphazide was licensed in Russia in October and will
be produced starting early next year.
World AIDS Day marked by events, setbacks around the globe
Several events were held around the world to mark World AIDS Day on Nov. 30 and
Dec. 1. Among them:
• In Paris, Dr. Luc Montagnier and Dr. Robert Gallo, two scientists who were once
locked in a bitter dispute over who first isolated the HIV virus, shared a stage. Montagnier,
of the Pasteur Institute, warned that an effective AIDS vaccine could be 30 years away
unless governments change their approach and encourage wider research. "Nobody yet
has a miracle solution, but there are many clear ideas on vaccines, and governments must
enable these to be developed. If we concentrate on just one theory and that fails—what will
we do then?" Gallo, director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of
Maryland, was more optimistic that an effective vaccine can be found, and dismisses talks
of a period of up to 10 years between its discovery and marketing.
• In Los Angeles, Southern California activists held a rally focused on the issue of free
condoms in gay bars. The Hollywood-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation has launched a
petition drive aimed at putting a measure on the West Hollywood ballot requiring some
bars and alcohol-serving restaurants in that city to hand out city-purchased condoms. Bar
owners already are complying with a voluntary city-sponsored program to distribute
250,000 condoms, said David Cooley, owner of the Abbey restaurant and bar." Are we now
going to have condom police checking the businesses?" he said. Foundation President
Michael Weinstein contended that the voluntary distribution has been spotty.
• In Beijing, the first nationally televised advertisement promoting condoms for AIDS
prevention were pulled from Chinese television because they violated a ban on advertising
sex products. The advertisement aired Nov. 27 and 28 on China Central Television's
Channel 1. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce banned the ad Nov. 30.
The condom ad had been seen as a breakthrough in efforts to reach large numbers of
Chinese and confront traditional taboos against discussing sex and contraceptives.
—From staff and wire reports