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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Getting recharged with ‘The Normal Heart’ in the fight against HIV

After watching the Philippine production of ‘The Normal Heart’, John Silva recalls having lived in New York City with his lover in the beginning of the epidemic; and how he ended up looking after friends infected by HIV even when their families refused to do so. “In a way, the play, its rant, its polemics, is dated today. And it has to do with the likes of Larry Kramer, ACT-UP, and the sprouting of numerous AIDS organizations… which did turn the crisis of several years into some glimmer of hope,” Silva says.

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By John Silva

The Normal Heart, which had a weekend run at the Romulo Auditorium in the RCBC building, was a non-stop intense play chronicling the beginning of the 1981 AIDS epidemic in New York and in the rest of the country (USA).

The main character is Ned Weeks (Bart Guingona), pretty much a biographical rendering of the acerbic and confrontational Larry Kramer who wrote this play and who around that period begins to form the AIDS organization (ACT UP) and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) to help people being struck by the virus, to demand the Reagan Administration fund the identification of the virus, and find a cure.

In the ’80’s, a gay lifestyle was very evident in the city. Lower Manhattan is a gay ghetto, there’s Fire Island for summer weekends, and the whole flourishing culture is about uninhibited, open and lots of sex, closely identified to gay identity.

The virus, yet unnamed is unknown as to how it infects and spreads, and Ned’s friend Doctor Emma Brookner (Roselyn Perez) who’s been diagnosing hundreds of AIDS patients can only advice unequivocally that gays abstain from sex for a while. She prods Ned to get that almost laughable message out.

Ned’s organization is stocked with a variety of gay activists. There’s Tommy (Red Concepcion), the Southern queen who constantly tries to patch the yelling matches between the haranguing Ned and the diplomatic Bruce Niles (TJ Trinidad) who is the group’s president. There’s Mickey Marcus (Nor Domingo), a city employee who writes brochures on explaining various community ills but is anguished for not knowing what’s killing gays.

Ned’s personal life includes a strained relationship with his straight brother Ben Weeks (Richard Cunanan) who is as affable and understanding of gay people as best he can. But the overly militant Ned demands much too much and things sour.

In the midst of all the rancor at the office, Ned is smitten with Felix Turner (Topper Fabregas) the adroit New York Times fashion reporter. We assume they have great bonding together until Topper must reveal that purple spot on his foot, the AIDS giveaway then.

The reigning Mayor of that period was Ed Koch, a bachelor and reputed to be gay, which as we all know about closeted gays, are the worse to get sympathy from. His gay assistant/spokesperson Hiram Keebler (Jef Flores) has to face and get a lot of shit from Ned and the group for the mayor’s intransigence.

As the group’s membership grows, getting the publicity and a little more money, there’s a growing antipathy to Ned’s in-your-face approach which leads to his being expelled from the organization. His doctor friend gets rejected yet again from the National Institute of Health to study the virus; and the once lively Felix is morose, gives up and dies.

Death has, in the end, that redemptive quality. Tragedy brings hope and as the cast readies for its exit bow, statistic flash on the screen behind them showing the exponential growth of the AIDS infection here. It’s now 22 infections a day, a 500% growth from just five years ago, and its happening to our young.

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Normal HeartOne marvels at the ability of seven men and one woman to recreate those hellish days with the same intensity and pathos that I recall very well having lived in New York City with my lover Jonathan in the beginning of the epidemic. There were the sketchy reports only in the gay papers, to watch out for purple lesions and night sweats. We hadn’t a fig of a clue how to protect ourselves then, though Larry Kramer’s shrill voice and Village Voice writings along with a few others pointed to the gay bathhouses as the culprits. We were wholly ignorant in reaching out to AIDS victims that when my best friend Juan Carlos got sick and we visited him at Bellevue Hospital, we entered his room with face masks and his bed area was under a plastic tent which only nurses and doctors could enter. When Juan Carlos was later brought back to their apartment by his lover Antonino to die, I thought him very brave to cuddle Juan Carlos in his arms that last night, singing tearfully to him over and over again the song Hindi Kita Malimot (“I Will Not Forget You”). All I could muster then was to stroke Juan Carlos’ cadaverous arm with my little finger being frightened, useless and heartbroken.

In a way, the play, its rant, its polemics, is dated today. And it has to do with the likes of Larry Kramer, ACT-UP, and the sprouting of numerous AIDS organizations throughout the country which did turn the crisis of several years into some glimmer of hope. Compassion and support for people with AIDS grew, the virus’ sexual transmission would be confirmed, and massive sex education and behavior modification occurred. A “cocktail” to stave the virus was found and has helped many people to live with HIV.

Despite the powerful dialogue and the forceful performance of each actor, the despairing angry tone of this piece which first showed in 1985, has been significantly muted by the advances of gay rights in the past three decades. In fact, I was watching this play which, a week before, had the United States pass gay marriage laws throughout all 50 states. In the olden days, when a person was sick with AIDS, his family would often find out too late that he was gay and had a lover . Depending on parental compassion, the lover would have little to no access to his sick friend. The Normal Heart is, therefore, a historical tribute to those who went out on a limb.

Maybe it was the large gay audience and maybe it is, happily, the times that when affectionate embraces and kisses occurred, there was not a peep, a nervous cough, or even squirming in the chairs. I’ve seen and heard the squeals and guffaws of movie audiences during a gay kiss. It most probably was the compelling performance played by the actors that immersed us in Ned’s and Felix’s lengthy and intense kisses. It felt so real.

When it opened off-Broadway, some of the critics thought the content too “pamphleteering” with cut-out characters and little depth. This Manila rendering triumphed over that stridency and managed to give each actor a depth and nuance that made contretemps and shouting matches their very own. Bart Guingona (Ned) was a consistent ranter with a belligerence so true to Kramer’s form. The characters of the rest of the cast, based somewhat on real-life characters but not as publicly known, had to be “created” and each one shone in very gripping moments. Take Nor Domingo’s (Mickey) befuddled character figuring out what AIDS is about. In a very profound moment, he lays the contradiction of being gay centered on a sexual identity and celebrating it while a disease was directly attacking that identity fought for so long.

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TJ Trinidad playing Bruce Niles, the prudent activist, was not just a flat one-dimensional foil to Ken’s unbridled manners; he gave the audience an important lesson in moderation and skill, and in every battle one gauges the next steps and move onward. We may owe Ned/Larry big time, but the Bruce Niles in every organization ensures its steady and continued existence.

Normal Heart in ManilaI was enchanted with Topper Fabregas’ character Felix. I probably think and live my life like him. A realist who can inject gay sensibilities and culture on the stodgy pages of New York Times at a time when that paper only printed the word “homosexual” – not “gay” – until 1985. Felix believably seduces Ned the whiner without being coquettish. When he is dying on the floor and eating junk food, he bitterly convinces me why he is getting off the merry-go-round of life. It must be terribly excruciating being a reporter for all that life-affirming culture and fashion facing a seemingly abrupt ending. But Felix’s efforts at having his paper tackle AIDS would pay off and today, this venerable paper that I subscribe to online still influences the world with a strong gay bent too.

Red Concepcion’s Tommy provides bemused relief to the otherwise serious tone of the play. He’s no gay jester, but with that Southern nasal accent reminiscent of Truman Capote, he plays peacemaker, mending fences between Ned and Bruce, and at one point warns (a warning to all social change organizations) that we won’t advance further if we keep fighting each other.

Roselyn Perez as Dr. Brookner is the anchor in those tempestuous times. She has to see the sick. She has to be thorough in her diagnosis and when she does, she has to tell it like it is. And she is shaken up every time, especially in those days when she could just confirm but not know how the virus got there. When asked by Ned, “…even kissing?” She answers in the affirmative because there’s suspicion in the sexual terrain and that’s all she could go by. There’s a riveting soliloquy at some point, exhausted by government’s rejection yet again for her proposal looking into AIDS. She would have enough of the indifference and let them have it. The audience was stunned at her righteous vehemence.

I reserve my final plaudits for the secondary character Ben Weeks played by Richard Cunanan. Much as the appearances of Bart (Ned) and Richard as stage brothers invite doubt, a minute into their dialogue and we are suspended in judgment as Richard plays, so very hard, to prove his love for Bart who officiously rejects it. Richard uses his girth to acting advantage pulling off the nice bearish straight brother who’s got his limits. But, and this is his acting prowess playing, he manages to insinuate a deep love for his brother without saying it. It’s in the gestures, shoulders raised, hands gesticulating, and that sonorous calming voice way before and way after the requisite brotherly hugs.

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When Ken painfully recounts the number of friends that have passed away in the midst of mass indifference, from the government to gays in denial, echoed by the others characters, that brings it back for me to an abnormal period in my life. I had headed the first Asian AIDS organization in San Francisco (GCHP) in 1987 at a time when the infection rates were increasing. And Asian Americans (including Filipinos) in their last stages were in hospitals and hospices. These were very painful times, with parents and loved ones coming to the bedside and learning only there and then that aside from the illness their sons were gay too. They would alternate between regretful, unending sobbing, to being stoic and spent. Sadder were those, and they were many, whose families abandoned them upon hearing their plight. Some of them who did not want a scandal, threw money at me, told me to make sure he was taken care of and disappeared.

It was the frequency of seeing clients we delivered food to, fed, cheered up, cleaned their apartments, and handle their affairs and then see them take their final breaths. First there were just a few, then a bit more and I remember saying to myself that at just age 35, I was cradling and saying many goodbyes and crying over too many bodies. It was a very hopeless period and, burnt out, I lasted not too long. I had witnessed not just heartless parents and siblings but churches who bluntly pointed at their sinful promiscuity rather than giving succour. I had to flee north and sought solace in the country. I hadn’t the rage of a Kramer.

At the end of the play, when the screen flashed the infection rates in the Philippines with a trend to an epidemic, I looked at the audience and the inspiring actors and was somewhat relieved that there will be a cadre of enlightened and compassionate people who will plan the next round of stopping this epidemic. In our days, there were fewer than the numbers in the theater and very much frightened over this unknown plague. We can do it and we have this stage production to thank and be recharged for the enormous task ahead.

The Philippine production of ‘The Normal Heart’ was staged from July 3 to 5 by the Necessary Theatre and Taal Vista Hotel, with special arrangement from Samuel French Inc., New York, New York. The artistic team was led by Bart Guingona (director), Baby Imperial and Coco Anne (set design), Mark Philipp Espina (projections), and Don Taduran (graphic design). The production team was composed of Dodo Lim, (producer), Mariko Yasuda (production manager), and Ronah Rostata (stage manager).

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

10 Running mistakes to avoid

Here are just 10 common running mistakes that you don’t want to be making.

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Running can be a great way to stay fit, but it’s important that you’re running correctly. Mistakes could inhibit your performance – or worse cause you to have injuries.

PHOTO FROM PIXABAY.COM

Here are just 10 common running mistakes that you don’t want to be making.

Wearing the wrong footwear

Running in normal sneakers isn’t recommended. Such shoes aren’t designed to support your ankles and knees when running for long periods and could lead to injuries such as sprains and strains. For this reason, it’s always worth investing in a pair of specialist running shoes. While some running shoes can be very expensive, there are more affordable brands out there.

Running on the wrong surfaces

You should also be careful of running on the wrong surfaces. Uneven surfaces such as sand or gravel can increase the chance of an injury, because it puts more strain on your ankles. Sticking to pavement and flat surfaces can prevent an injury from occurring.

Running with an injury

If you suffer an injury while running, don’t continue to train while injured – even if you do have a race coming up. You could make the injury worse and what could be a minor injury could end up turning into a major long-term injury. Allow yourself a rest and see a doctor if you have any concerns. You may be able to speed up your recovery by looking into sports medicine procedures. Always take advice from a professional sports therapist.

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Running too far, too soon

Taking on too many miles too soon could result in an injury. If you’re training for a long run such as a marathon or a half marathon, build yourself up slowly over a period of several months to a year. This gives your body time to adapt. Mentally, you’ll also find it easier to push your distance up from seven to eight miles rather than one mile to eight miles.

Skipping the warm-up

Warming up is essential before a long run. A few small exercises can help to get blood flowing to your muscles and can help them to be more supple for the run ahead – this can prevent cramping. Static stretches aren’t really recommended for running. Try jogging lighting on the spot, doing jumping jacks or performing lunges – these will loosen up and warm up your muscles, making you feel more ready for the run ahead.  

Wearing too many layers

A lot of people make the mistake of layering up too much before a run. This is particularly the case in the winter when it can be very cold and difficult to motivate oneself without a few layers. However, these layers could cause you to overheat too quickly. While you can take them off, you then have to carry them around with you – which is extra unnecessary weight to lug around and tire you out. Invest in a lightweight running jacket that will offer the warmth you need all in one layer. This will be much easier to take off and carry with you if necessary. Gloves and a hat could be useful for keeping your hands and head warm, while a pair of merino wool socks will keep your feet warm without becoming too sweaty.

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Not eating the right foods

It’s important to follow the right diet when training for a big run. Cut back on junk foods and try to increase your healthy sources of carbs – including whole-grain pasta, oatmeal and bananas. Other foods like dark chocolate, peanut butter and coffee can provide energy. On top of eating the right foods, it’s important that you know when to eat. Don’t eat immediately before – unless you want to get a stitch. Instead, aim to eat a meal an hour or so before. During a long run, you should aim to consume no more than 100 calories every hour. Refuelling after a long run is very important, so prepare yourself a large protein-heavy meal afterwards.

Not drinking enough water

Staying hydrated is also important when running – fail to drink enough water and you could find yourself cramping up. Every 15 to 20 minutes, you should aim to drink six ounces of water to keep your body hydrated. You can buy water bottles specifically designed for running that can be conveniently carried in a holster. Long runs will have lots of places along the way to top up.

Not protecting your nipples

‘Runner’s nipple’ is painful and not very pleasant. You’re unlikely to experience it on a short run, but on a long run, you could find that your clothing starts to rub and cause irritation. There are lots of ways to prevent runner’s nipple such as using tape or adding petroleum jelly.

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Tensing your upper body

A lot of people get cramped shoulders when running. This can be the result of unconsciously tensing up. Try to pay attention to your upper body when running and don’t let your arms or shoulders tense up. Relax your shoulders and run with open hands rather than clenching your fists.

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NEWSMAKERS

Many teens are victims of digital dating abuse; boys get the brunt of it

More than one-quarter (28.1 percent) of teens who had been in a romantic relationship at some point in the previous year said they had been the victim of at least one form of digital dating abuse.

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A new research is illuminating how dating violence is manifesting online. “Digital dating abuse” as it has been termed, uses technology to repetitively harass a romantic partner with the intent to control, coerce, intimidate, annoy or threaten them. Given that youth in relationships today are constantly in touch with each other via texting, social media and video chat, more opportunities for digital dating abuse can arise.

A researcher from Florida Atlantic University, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, conducted a study to clarify the extent to which youth are experiencing digital forms of dating abuse, as well as to identify what factors are linked to those experiences.

Research on this phenomenon is still emerging; indeed, this study is the first to examine these behaviors with a large, nationally representative sample of 2,218 middle and high school students (12 to 17 years old) in the United States who have been in a romantic relationship.

Results of the study, published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, showed that more than one-quarter (28.1 percent) of teens who had been in a romantic relationship at some point in the previous year said they had been the victim of at least one form of digital dating abuse. These included: whether their significant other looked through the contents of their device without permission; kept them from using their device; threatened them via text; posted something publicly online to make fun of, threaten, or embarrass them; and posted or shared a private picture of them without permission.

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In addition, more than one-third (35.9 percent) had been the victim at least one form of traditional (offline) dating abuse (i.e., they were pushed, grabbed or shoved; hit or threatened to be hit; called names or criticized, or prevented from doing something they wanted to do).

Interestingly, males were significantly more likely to have experienced digital dating abuse (32.3 percent) compared to females (23.6 percent), and more likely to experience all types of digital dating abuse, and were even more likely to experience physical aggression. No other differences emerged with respect to demographic characteristics such as sexual orientation, race and age.

“Specific to heterosexual relationships, girls may use more violence on their boyfriends to try to solve their relational problems, while boys may try to constrain their aggressive impulses when trying to negotiate discord with their girlfriends,” said Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., lead author and a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice within FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry, and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. “It’s unfortunate to be thinking about dating abuse as we approach one of the most romantic days of the year, Valentine’s Day. However, it is clear that digital dating abuse affects a meaningful proportion of teenagers, and we need to model and educate youth on what constitutes a healthy, stable relationship and what betrays a dysfunctional, problematic one.”

The researchers also found a significant connection between digital and traditional forms of dating abuse: the vast majority of students who had been abused online had also been abused offline. Specifically, 81 percent of the students who had been the target of digital dating abuse had also been the target of traditional dating abuse.

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Students victimized offline were approximately 18 times more likely to have also experienced online abuse compared to those who were not victimized offline. Similarly, most of the students who had been the victim of offline dating violence also had been the victim of online dating violence, though the proportion (63 percent) was lower.

A number of risk factors were significantly associated with digital dating abuse. Students who reported depressive symptoms were about four times as likely to have experienced digital dating abuse. Those who reported that they had sexual intercourse were 2.5 times as likely to have experienced digital dating abuse. Most notably, those students who had sent a “sext” to another person were nearly five times as likely to be the target of digital dating abuse as compared to those who had not sent a sext. Finally, those who had been the target of cyberbullying also were likely to have been the target of digital dating abuse.

Hinduja said: “Gaining a deeper understanding of the emotional and psychological mind-set and the situational circumstances of current-day adolescents may significantly inform the policy and practice we need to develop to address this form and all forms of dating abuse.”

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LIVING HISTORY

Rainbow’s beginning

You know why LGBTQIA Pride is observed in June? It’s all because of an uprising that happened in June 1969 in a somewhat nondescript bar in New York City, Stonewall Inn.

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You know why LGBTQIA Pride is observed in June? This is because of the uprising that started in a bar in 1969: the Stonewall Inn, which is located in the Greenwich Village of Manhattan, New York City.

That uprising is widely accepted to have helped in paving the way for the modern fight for LGBTQIA rights. And so it can be said that at Stonewall Inn, the rainbow started – well – rising.

Now, this is worth emphasizing: The struggle for human rights of the LGBTQIA community did not just start in 1969 in New York City.

In the Philippines, for instance, often-repeated is the claim that prior to the colonization of the country by the Spaniards in 1521, the natives already had “babaylans” (roughly: shamans/spiritual leaders) who, at times, were males who lived as females (not always; but some were). These people had positions of power, respected for traversing realms/realities. Not surprisingly, therefore, and even if the term re “LGBTQIA” still did not exist in those days, these people ave often been used as examples of how “accepted” gender-non-conforming people were in the past; until they were demonized by West-introduced dogmas (e.g. Christianity).

Now, this is worth emphasizing: The struggle for human rights of the LGBTQIA community did not just start in 1969 in New York City.

In the West, social reformer Jeremy Bentham is largely considered to have written the first known argument for homosexual law reform in England sometime around 1785, when the legal penalty for “buggery” (anal sex) was death by hanging. Too bas his essays were only published in… 1978 (!).

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Then there’s France, which – in 1791 – became the first nation to decriminalize homosexuality.

The LGBTQIA movement as we know it now is (very) anchored in the West – e.g. because of the anti-LGBTQIA sentiments in Victorian England (around 1890s), English socialist poet Edward Carpenter started a concerted effort to campaign against discrimination; and movements were also started in Germany at the turn of the 20th century. Heck, even one of the very first “homosexual organizations” in the US – called ONE Inc. – pre-dated the Stonewall uprising, having been founded in 1952; while the Mattachine Society was established in 1950. There was also a lesbian organization, Daughters of Bilitis, established in 1955. And still in the US, there was a 1962 gay march held in front of the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, which some historians consider as the actual “beginning of the modern gay rights movement”.

Suffice to say, though, before the Stonewall uprising, LGBTQIA Americans already faced an anti-gay legal system. In fact, in the 1950s and 1960s, very few establishments welcomed gay people. And those that did were often bars, although bar owners and managers were rarely gay (at the time, the Stonewall Inn was supposedly owned by the Mafia).

Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s. And on June 28, 1969, a police raid was done at the Stonewall Inn.

But the officers lost control of the situation because the patrons fought back.

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The tensions between New York City police and LGBTQIA patrons and then residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next days as the abused eventually held a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against the police raids and, yes, State-sanctioned abuses.

Within months since the uprising, LGBTQIA organizations (to emphasize: THAT WERE MORE POLITICAL) were founded across the US. And a year after the uprising, in June 1970, the first pride marches took place in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Police raids on gay bars were routine in the 1960s. And on June 28, 1969, a police raid was done at the Stonewall Inn.

The Stonewall National Monument was established at the site in 2016.

Today, LGBTQIA pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June.

On June 26, 1994, ProGay Philippines and Metropolitan Community Church helmed a march in Quezon City. Dubbed as “Stonewall Manila” or as “Pride Revolution”, it was held in remembrance of the Stonewall Inn uprising, and coincided with a bigger march against the imposition of the Value Added Tax (VAT). With this, the Philippines gained the distinction of being the first country in Asia and the Pacific to host a Pride-related march.

Pride now marks that uprising that happened in a somewhat nondescript bar, Stonewall Inn.

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Health & Wellness

Young men unaware of risks of HPV infection and need for HPV vaccination

The US Food and Drug Administration has expanded the use of HPV vaccine to people between the ages of 27 to 45. Originally, it was prescribed for those between the ages of 9 to 26.

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Photo by M.T ElGassier from Unsplash.com

Young sexual minority men – including those who are gay, bisexual, queer or straight-identified men who have sex with men – do not fully understand their risk for human papillomavirus (HPV) due to a lack of information from health care providers, according to Rutgers researchers.

A Rutgers study published in the Journal of Community Health, examined what young sexual minority men – a high-risk and high-need population – know about HPV and the HPV vaccine and how health care providers communicate information about the virus and vaccine.

About 79 million Americans alone are infected with HPV, with about 14 million becoming newly infected each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As a sexually transmitted infection, HPV can lead to several types of cancer, including anal and penile cancer, and is particularly concerning for sexual minority men due to the high prevalence of HIV and smoking in this community and the low HPV vaccination rates overall among men.

“Particularly in light of the decades-long focus on gay men’s health care as HIV care, there is a missed opportunity for HPV prevention in the community,” said study co-author Caleb LoSchiavo, a doctoral student at the Rutgers School of Public Health.

The researchers, who are members of the Rutgers School of Public Heath’s Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies (CHIBPS), analyzed interviews with sexual minority men in their early 20s in New York City and determined they knew little about HPV infection — including transmission, signs, symptoms and cancer risk — and vaccination.

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They also found that the men did not prioritize HPV vaccination due to the incorrect perception that HPV is an issue that exclusively or primarily affected women.

“Everyone who is sexually active – regardless of gender, sexual orientation, partners’ genders, relationship or marital status – should talk to their doctor about receiving the HPV vaccine to prevent a future generation who may develop HPV-related cancers, such as cervical, oral and anal cancer, as we have seen emerging in Baby Boomers and Gen-Xer s,” said Perry N. Halkitis, Rutgers School of Public Health dean, CHIBPS director, and PI of the study.

The US Food and Drug Administration has expanded the use of HPV vaccine to people between the ages of 27 to 45. Originally, it was prescribed for those between the ages of 9 to 26.

In the study, researchers found that health care providers rarely discuss HPV and the HPV vaccine with patients who are young sexual minority men, and when they do, their communication is often inadequate in conveying potential risks of HPV and benefits of vaccination.

“Clinicians have a direct role in expanding the availability of LGBTQ-competent healthcare,” said lead author Jessica Jaiswal, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama, and CHIBPS affiliate. “By learning about sexual minority men’s diverse health needs and routinely offering the HPV vaccine, we can move toward a health promotion model and not only a disease prevention model.”

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Health & Wellness

Gay and bisexual men have higher rate of skin cancer

Rates of skin cancer were higher among gay and bisexual men compared to heterosexual men, but lower among bisexual women than heterosexual women.

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Photo by leo abdelnaby from Unsplash.com

In the largest study of skin cancer rates among gay, lesbian or bisexual individuals, investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital report important differences in skin cancer prevalence among sexual minorities. Rates of skin cancer were higher among gay and bisexual men compared to heterosexual men, but lower among bisexual women than heterosexual women.

These findings, which were possible because of the sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) module built into a national system of surveys, have implications for patient education and community outreach initiatives focused on reducing skin cancer risk. They also have implications for the design of future nationwide surveys. Results are published in JAMA Dermatology.

“It’s absolutely critical that we ask about sexual orientation and gender identity in national health surveys; if we never ask the question, we’d never know that these differences exist,” said corresponding author Arash Mostaghimi, MD, MPA, MPH, director of the Dermatology Inpatient Service at the Brigham. “This information helps inform the nation about how to allocate health resources and how to train providers and leaders. When we look at disparities, it may be uncomfortable, but we need to continue to ask these questions to see if we’re getting better or worse at addressing them. Historically, this kind of health variation was hidden, but we now recognize that it’s clinically meaningful.”

Mostaghimi and colleagues leveraged data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), using data collected from annual questionnaires from 2014 to 2018. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) uses the BRFSS to collect information about risk factors and behaviors among adults. About 450,000 adults are interviewed by telephone by the BRFSS each year. Beginning in 2014, the BRFSS began using the SOGI module to include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. This module was administered in 37 states.

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Mostaghimi and colleagues compared skin cancer rates among heterosexual men to rates in gay or bisexual men and compared rates among heterosexual women to lesbian or bisexual women. Rates of skin cancer were 8.1 percent among gay men and 8.4 percent among bisexual men, statistically higher than the rate of 6.7 percent among heterosexual men. Skin cancer rates were 5.9 percent among lesbian women and 6.6 percent among heterosexual women, which was not a statistically significant difference. However, the rate of 4.7 percent among bisexual women was statistically significantly lower than heterosexual women.

The authors note that the data are based on self-reported skin cancer diagnoses, which have not been confirmed by a physician. The SOGI module was also only implemented in 37 states, so may not be generalizable to all states.

The BRFSS survey did not collect information about risk factors for skin cancer, such as UV exposure, Fitzpatrick skin type (a measure of skin color and susceptibility to sun burn), HIV status and more. However, smaller studies have reported higher usage of indoor tanning beds among sexual minority men, a known risk factor for skin cancer.

The CDC recently considered stopping implementation of the SOGI module for future BRFSS surveys, a move Mostaghimi feels would hinder efforts to support this population.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to look nationally at data about skin cancer rates among sexual minorities. Eliminating SOGI would prevent us from better studying this vulnerable population over time to see how rates may change from year to year,” said Mostaghimi. “As a next step, we want to connect with sexual minority communities to help identify the cause of these differences in skin cancer rates. This is work that will need to be done thoughtfully but may help not just sexual minorities but everyone.”

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

5 Slot games based on movies that are simply awesome

Today, slots have only gotten more appealing and exciting over time. There is practically every type of slot machine under the sun available today but some of the most common and most used slot machines are those that are based on movies.

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Gamblers love slots- and it’s evident! You may or may not know this, but approximately 70 percent of all casino revenue is acquired from slot machines. The slot machine boom began in the early 20th century with the ever famous Liberty Bell. After this, slot machines could be found practically everywhere from saloons and bars to all the well-to-do entertainment hotspots.

Today, slots have only gotten more appealing and exciting over time. There is practically every type of slot machine under the sun available today but some of the most common and most used slot machines are those that are based on movies. 

These slots are exceedingly fun to play because they incorporate components from the movies into the game. As such, with these machines, you can expect to interact with your favorite characters, plots, props and even specific scenes from these movies. Movie-themed slots also contain an array of prizes and bonus games that ensure that you are fully entertained right up to the last whistle. 

Today, slots have only gotten more appealing and exciting over time. There is practically every type of slot machine under the sun available today but some of the most common and most used slot machines are those that are based on movies. 

If you are a lover of slots, here are five slot games based on movies that are simply awesome.

The Terminator 2 slot machine

The Terminator movies have been a staple in pop culture years. As such, to say that the Terminator 2 slot machine holds up well would be a bit of an underestimation. Owing in part to the pristine and detailed 3D graphics, this is one of the most exciting and satisfying slot machines that you will ever play.

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The original Terminator movie, released in 1984 was a smash hit in its heyday and with actors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, the sequel (Terminator 2) did the unimaginable by expanding and improving on the original. In Terminator 2, Schwarzenegger stars as a T-800 robot programmed by the opposition to defend a 10-year-old John from the threat of the T-1000, a much more advanced terminator machine.

As was the norm with movies made in the 90s, you can expect a huge range of special effects that make the slot game even more eye-popping. Terminator 2 was regarded as one of the best action and sci-fi movies ever made, and the slot machine named after it is no different. With the slot’s 243 pay lines, the Terminator 2 slot is easily one of the easiest to play in the market.

The Dark Knight slot machine

There are countless die-hard Batman lovers out there, so it made sense to create a slot game based on one of the most epic Batman movies, The Dark Night. The symbols in the slots are based on some of your favorite characters from the movie including Batman and of course, the Joker. Best of all, this five-reel slot game provides players with a progressive jackpot feature.

The Dark Night slot machine offers punters with excellent graphics and sound ensuring that everyone has a gripping and enthralling gaming experience. Though this slot machine does not have any pay lines, it provides the standard 243 ways to win. Because of the limited betting options, this is one of the most unique movie-themed slots out there.

The Scarface slot machine

Just like the movie, the Scarface slot machine has a cult following. With big characters such as Chi-Chi,Manny, Elvira, and of course, Tony Montana serving as symbols, the slot is almost as popular as the movie. Not only does the Scarface slot machine take you back on a journey of some of your favorite scenes from the classic film, but it also allows players to win the jackpot, which stands at 10,000 coins.

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This slot machine features 5reels with 20 pay lines and Tony Montana is at the helm of it all. The coin values of the slot range from $0.01 to $0.50 while the betting range starts from $0.20 to $100.00. The bonus games are one of the reasons that this slot machine is so popular with gamblers.

As well as allowing you to walk away with easy money, the slot machine also allows players to unlock bonus levels that task players with the responsibility of helping Tony Montana fight off rival drug dealers, just like he did in the famous scenes. The machine also has an autoplay feature that allows punters to pick between line bets and coin values.

Man of Steel slot machine

If you are obsessed with super heroes, then you will love the Man of Steel slot machine. Based on the 2013 box office hit by the same name, the game boasts comprehensive, vivid and attention-grabbing graphics and music. You will encounter all the primary beloved characters from the movie in the slot including Superman, Perry white, as well as Martha and Jonathan Kent.

This 25 to 50 payline slot comes with 4 bonus features that consist of shifting wilds, the World Engines bonus, Battle for Earth free games and Krypton free features. With this slot machine, any spin can trigger the jackpot game, which increases your chances of winning any one out of the 4 progressive jackpots.

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The Jurassic Park slot machine

The Jurassic Park slot machine has been a fan favorite since its release in the 90s and even today, it continues to thrive. There are many reasons why the Jurassic Park movie made such an impact. Its appealing storyline, lovable characters and remarkable graphics and stunts are just a few of these reasons.

Like numerous Jurassic Park fans out there, Kate Huber, chief editor at NJGamblingFun states, “although Jurassic Park debuted back in 1993, the truth is that it has never been far from my memories. For me, Jurassic Park is the type of film that stays with you for a lifetime, no matter how much you watch it. The fact that I can sit down and play the Jurassic Park slot machine is something I never tire of. To be honest, playing this slot makes me feel like a kid again!”

With the Jurassic Park slot, you get to relive the excitement of this dinosaur filled film all over again. The graphics in the slot are second to none and the parallax scrolling ability helps to create an even more immersive experience for punters. The game has a five-round free spin component based on various dinosaurs from the movie.

Movies and slots machines make an excellent combo.

Final Thoughts

There are many different types of slot machines that you can play but some of the best ones are the ones based on movies. Movies and slots machines make an excellent combo. Movie-themed slot machines were created to cash in on the immense popularity of some of the world’s biggest and best movies.

It doesn’t matter what your favorite genre is, whether science fiction, action, drama or family movies. If you love it, there is probably a slot machine out there themed after your favorite movie.

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