National Briefs

Posted on 28 Dec 2006 at 6:13pm
By Staff and Wire Reports

Penis-shaped cartoon characters effective in getting men to get tested for syphilis

SAN FRANCISCO An advertising campaign featuring cartoon characters shaped like male genitalia encouraged more men to get tested for syphilis in San Francisco, according to a new study.

In the neighborhoods where the Health Penis ads ran on billboards and bus shelters, men who saw the comic strips were most likely to have been tested for the sexually transmitted disease, according to researchers from the city’s Department of Public Health.

The health department sponsored the humorously risque ads between 2002 and 2005 to combat rising syphilis rates among gay and bisexual men.

Between 40 and 60 percent of survey respondents who were aware of the ads said they had been tested in the previous six months, department researchers reported in the online journal Public Library of Science Medicine.

The campaign’s success has inspired Santa Clara County, Palm Springs, Seattle, Philadelphia and Los Angeles to use similar ads.

Lawrence, Kan., officials may establish city registry for gay partnerships

LAWRENCE, Kan. City officials are considering creating a city-maintained registry that would legally recognize gay partnerships.

Supporters said the registry would not automatically give gay and lesbian couples the legal rights afforded to married couples, but the registry would serve as a legal recognition of the couple’s relationship.

“It would indicate that the city is welcoming and supportive of its gay community members,” said Maggie Childs, who heads the Lawrence chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition, which asked Lawrence Commissioner Mike Rundle to set up the registry. “In my mind, the primary benefit is symbolic.”

Kansas voters approved a state constitutional amendment almost two years ago that banned gay marriage in the state.

City commissioners haven’t yet scheduled a hearing on the registry.

Poll shows N.H. residents oppose gay marriage, are supportive of civil unions

CONCORD, N.H. New Hampshire residents oppose gay marriage but look more favorably on civil unions.

Fifty-five percent of the 600 people interviewed opposed allowing gays to marry, compared with 35 percent in favor. Ten percent weren’t sure.

Asked their opinion of civil unions, 44 percent favored allowing it. Forty percent opposed civil unions and 16 percent weren’t sure.

Research 2000 conducted the telephone poll for the Concord Monitor from Dec. 18-20. The margin of error was plus or minus four percentage points. Those questioned identified themselves as regular voters.

Two proposals for the next legislative session would extend the legal rights that married couples have to gay couples in civil unions.

School officials consider ending blood drives after gay student banned from donating

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. A gay student prevented from donating blood because of his sexual history has stirred debate among Santa Cruz school officials over whether to continue hosting campus blood drives.

Ronnie Childers, 17, student body president at Harbor High School, said he volunteered at a blood drive at school earlier this month for five hours and waited in line for three more before being turned away. “I was turned away because of my sexual contacts,” Childers said. “The reasoning behind me not being able to give blood is ridiculous. … It made me feel like an outcast.”

According to U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, a man who has had a sexual encounter with another man since 1977 is ineligible to donate.

Santa Cruz city schools officials said they were reconsidering whether to have blood drives on campus if students were required to divulge information about their sexual activities.

“As the blood supply has become so politicized over time we need to check our policies,” Santa Cruz City Schools Trustee Cynthia Hawthorne said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, December 29, 2006.

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