on the part of
cost him his high
and the chance to
be a teenager.
ALL THE NEWS FOR YOUR LIFE. AND YOUR STVtf.
FEBRUARY 4, 2000
Oral sex poses 'significant' risk for HIV
CDC study released Tuesday shows
7.8 percent of participants infected
through oral sex
by LAURA BROWN
Oral sex "contributes significantly" to the spread of HIV,
although the practice is "too often regarded as posing little or
no risk," according to a study presented Tuesday at the seventh
C onterence on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, held
in San Francisco.
Almost eight percent of newly infected gay men in a recent
study contracted HIV through oral sex, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while 85 percent
said they had oral sex without a condom because they believe
it has little risk of transmitting HIV
"For some, oral sex is equated with safe sex. However for
the individuals in this study, and for countless others, this false
assumption has led to tragic lifelong consequences," said Dr.
Helene Cayle, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV,
STD & TB Prevention.
The study brought mixed reactions from those on the front-
lines of public discussion of HIV—vindication from some, fear
and frustration from others.
Andrew Sullivan, the former New Republic editor and
author who has written about his belief that he became HIV-
positive through oral sex, said he isn't surprised by the new statistics.
"When I told people that's how I got infected, I was treated
with at best mild disdain and at worst with mocking disbelief,"
Sullivan told Houston Voice.
"But I honestly never had unprotected anal intercourse
before my infection, and the most I ever did was unprotected
oral sex, and then not even to ejaculation. People don't want to
hear this, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.
"I think it's still a very small risk, but over time, small risks
become bigger risks. The odds mount. I just hope people will
believe some of us now," Sullivan said.
While everyone should be aware of the risks they are taking,
a new focus on the dangers of oral sex could have an unintended backlash on gay men weary of constantly having to
struggle with safer sex issues, warned Jeff Graham, executive
director of AIDS Survival Project.
"It is important to point out to people that they do need to
take [the new oral sex study] into account when they are considering how much risk they are willing to [take] for contracting
HIV, but the bottom line is that it is unprotected anal sex and
injection drug use that are fueling the epidemic," Graham said.
Oral sex may be the cause of infection for 7.8 percent of the studies participants, Graham noted, but that means that the vast majority, more than 90 percent, contracted HIV from other modes.
"My fear is that if people point their fingers at oral sex, some
'People don't want to hear this, but that doesn't mean it isn't
true.... I just hope people will believe some of us now.'—
Writer Andrew Sullivan, who soys he was infected with HIV
through oral sex.
people will take that as an excuse to engage in high risk behavior all the way around" because of a fatalistic attitude that
everything is dangerous and AIDS is therefore somehow
unavoidable, Graham said.
5s- Continued on Page 15
Rallying for Equality
Some 70 people gathered in downtown Houston Jan. 28 to rally against Exxon Mobil for the
company's refusal to odd sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy and for ending
domestic partner benefits for gay employees. Today is the start of a long fight. This battle will
not be done overnight,' said Sean Carter, president of the Houston Gay & Lesbian Political
Caucus. After the rally, protesters marched several blocks to Exxon Mobil's headquarters, which
company officials closed early and ringed with police for the event. Organizers plan another
protest Feb. 29 to launch a boycott of the company. (More pictures, Page 14)
KKRW apologizes owr
by MATTHEW A. HENNIE
A I Ibuston radio station issued a terse on-
air apology to City Councilwoman Annise
Parker Tuesday, though station officials have
vet to talk with Parker directly about the
derogatory comments a radio jock directed
towards her late last month.
And station officials took no action against
Keven Dorsey, producer of "The Dean and
Rog Show" on KKRW 93.7, for calling Parker
a "dyke" and "carpet muncher" during a Jan.
Parker, the City Council's only openly
gay member, has called Dorsey's comments
The comments came during a discussion
about Parker's involvement with the
Westheimer Street Festival. lX>rsev has taken
part in the festival for several years; last month
city officials denied a permit for the annual
gathering, which draws some 300,000 people
to a 10-block strip of Westheimer.
The two-term city councilwoman has said
the (estiva! has grown too large and must
address public safer)' concerns if it continues
at its current location, which is in a rm
In Dorsey's apology, ordered bv station management, he said the possibility of Ihe
not taking place "is a matter very close to me."
"I apologize for anv remarks that may have
offended her or anv member i
munitv," Dorsey said in the taped apology,
which aired at 6:15 a.m.
The apology which lasted less than 30 seconds, was sandwiched between the end of a
> Continued on Page 14