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Sexual Health: Intersections in politics and society

ucyow3c18 November 2014

pencil-icon Written by Michael Espinoza, PhD candidate, UCL Institute of the Americas

HIV virology testing form“By then, it was too late to hate him [for being gay].” – a self-described ‘former gay-basher’ reveals how he unknowingly befriended a gay man.

This testimonial, part of a research project by Dr Richard Mole (UCL School of Slavonic Studies and Eastern European Studies), shows how a lack of human understanding can dictate how people relate to others whom they perceive as ‘different’. The difference in this instance involved sexuality and its relation to sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The first presenter was Professor Jonathan Bell (UCL Institute of the Americas), whose paper was titled The Economic Closet: healthcare, sexuality, and the politics of respectability during the AIDS crisis.

Professor Bell discussed how healthcare politics in the 1980s saw gay rights leaders face two difficulties – one was the struggle against private health insurance companies and the other was the attempt to “adapt the socially-regressive and gendered New Deal safety net to their needs”.

Not only did they have to accept that HIV positive gay men “had to be classified as disabled and unable to work to be entitled to welfare”, they also had to fight against profit-driven private health insurance companies who sought to portray HIV positive gay men as unproductive citizens who have “sexually promiscuous lifestyles” in order to deny their claims.

(more…)

Let’s talk about Natsal

uclektm28 January 2014

If you were to sum up the results of the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), it would go something like this: gay marriage is fine, cheating is bad and sexual behaviours can be hindered by bad health.

Natsal infographic (http://www.natsal.ac.uk/)

Natsal infographic – number of partners
(Credit: http://www.natsal.ac.uk/)

You could also explain the results much more eloquently, as did Professor Dame Anne Johnson (UCL Infection & Population Health) in her Lunch Hour Lecture, ‘Studying sex comes of age.’

Statistics are tricky. In theory, they should confirm what we already know empirically, but often they still manage to surprise. In this regard, I found Professor Johnson’s talk a mixed bag of expectations met and surpassed. (more…)