Give a lot of head? Check yourself for cancer

Oral bottoms might need to be in tune with their health after reading this. The New York Times posted Monday that “throat cancers caused by a virus transmitted during oral sex have increased significantly in the United States in recent years, researchers reported on Monday.” Buzzkill, but worth knowing:

“This is the first definitive evidence that these changes at the population level are indeed caused by HPV infection,” said Dr. Maura L. Gillison, the senior author of the new study and the chairwoman of cancer research at Ohio State University.

The research is published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Dr. Kevin J. Cullen, director of the Greenebaum Cancer Center at the University of Maryland, said the study was well done. “It’s very clear that this is becoming a major epidemic,” he added.

He said his own research team had found similar increases in throat cancers in Baltimore during the last 30 years. Researchers think the trend may be attributable to increases in oral sex, particularly among younger people who think it is safer than intercourse.

Dr. Gillison said the increase in throat cancers was not a cause for panic because they still are not common. There are fewer than 10,000 cases a year. Most people with HPV do not develop cancer.

So, as Gawker put in their post, “if you suck a lot of dick, either get vaccinated or spend the rest of your life worrying that every “lumpy, swollen lymph node” and “lingering sore throat or earache” might be blowjob cancer.”

We’re still waiting word on any similar trends in butt-munching.

—  Rich Lopez

‘An affront to human dignity’: Gay UT employee denied bereavement leave to mourn partner

The Daily Texan has an update on the push to add domestic partner benefits for employees at the University of Texas at Austin. University President William Powers Jr. has established a working group to look at implementing soft benefits, which include sick, bereavement and parental leave for faculty and staff, as well as housing for hall coordinators and graduate students:

“The fact that we don’t have domestic partner benefits puts us at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting students and staff, and that’s an issue that we need to get solved,” Powers said. “It’s still a work in progress, and there are a lot of players involved. The University would be better if we make substantial progress in treating people equally, regardless of sexual orientation.”

But right now, the University has little in its official policy to account for the needs of GLBT employees and their partners, and the resources they receive are not comparable to heterosexual staff members. Last week, a Pride and Equity Faculty Staff Association board member’s partner died of pancreatic cancer, said Lindsey Schell, the chair of the Domestic Partner Benefits committee for PEFSA. Not only could the staff member not insure her partner while she was alive, UT’s current bereavement leave policy prevented the staff member from taking paid leave to mourn. The incident was “an affront to human dignity,” Schell said.

She said PEFSA and other stakeholders are working with the president’s office and human resources to determine the most effective way to incorporate soft benefits into existing UT policy without violating state codes and laws. All Ivy League universities offer benefits, as do peer institutions such as the University of Michigan and Ohio State University. Many of these institutions are in states with insurance codes and Defense of Marriage Act laws similar to those in Texas.

For more on DP benefits at UT, including what you can do to help, check out the Pride and Equity Faculty Staff Association’s website.

—  John Wright