Friday, August 18, 2006

I always suspected that techno was bad for me...

I have a morning routine. I get out of bed, stumble to the kitchen for a glass of water and then sit down at my computer and check my email and the weather report. The Weather Channel is linked to my MyYahoo! home page, as are a few newspapers, Yahoo Maps, Movie Showtimes and yes, my Daily Horoscope.

If I have the time before I need to leave for work, I'll check out the news headlines. Today, I had the time and the headline "Researchers link music tastes to HIV risks," caught my attention. I have an acute fear/respect for AIDS likely due to losing a friend, a coworker at my first job, to the disease back when I was still in high school. Therefore, in spite of the wacky headline, I was going to take the time to read it.

The article opens with the sentance, "US boys hooked on gospel, techno and pop are more at risk of HIV infection than devotees of other musical styles, including "bling, bling" hip hop, according to a new study." I found it odd that Michel Comte, a reporter out of the AFP office in Toronto, decided to aggregate gospel with techno and pop but what the hell... I'd already started reading the story.

Evidently, Miguel Munoz-Laboy, a researcher at Columbia University, has isolated supporting evidence that musical taste provides clues to rates of HIV infection. The researchers interviewed boys aged 16 to 21 about their listening tastes and attitudes toward condom use and sexual activities. According to the article, the study focussed on three neighborhoods in New York City. At present, New York City has the highest AIDS case rate in the country, with more AIDS cases than Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and Washington DC combined. In fact, HIV is the 3rd leading cause of death in those below the age of 65.

The study by no means implied that listening to certain types of music causes HIV infection but it did clearly illuminate links between genres and risk factors. "We often blame youth for their behavior without understanding it," Munoz-Laboy said. "(But) there is a complex story about sexuality, masculinity and culture here." The behavioral analysis divided participants into two musical groups: hip hop, reggae, rap and rhythm and blues; and rock, heavy metal, pop, techno, electronic and gospel. Munoz-Laboy conceded that, "Kids would be appalled that we grouped them this way but this is how they mapped out in the mathematical analysis."

The researchers found that young men who listened to hip hop music were more likely to have vaginal intercourse and have more partners; but, boys with strong church ties or who were active in New York club scenes took the most sexual risks. "Boys who listened to hip hop had more sex and more partners, but it did not impact condom use," said Munoz-Laboy. Comparatively, "those who are part of religious culture or the club scene used condoms inconsistently."

Take that, George Bush and all the other hymn-slinging, abstinence-only advocates. Give the kids in the choir some damn condoms!

Now, on to the public service announcement portion of this blog post.

If you are sexually active, get yourself tested not only for HIV but for other common, yet sometimes symptomless, sexually-transmitted diseases like Hepatitis C. Free and confidential STD testing is offered in New York City, along with most other cities across the country. You really do owe it to yourself and to your partners to get tested.

Moreover, unless you are in a relationship AND you are 100% positive that you are both healthy and sexually monogamous, use condoms. Yeah, I know... most condoms suck. They are thick, smell and the manufacturers generally take a one-size-fits-all approach to the male anatomy. However, if you extend your search beyond the drugstore, you'll find condoms with greater sensitivity, no smell and in styles and sizes to fit everyone plus... with equal or higher rates of effectiveness.



Blogger Eeeeekkk said...

Little known fact: a new study indicates that kids who listen to electric jugband music are 48% more likely to receive oral sex from someone dressed in a giant chipmunk outfit. Think about it!

9:31 PM  
Blogger MKM said...

Huh... 48% more likely than whom? I think there may be a proximity to Disneyland correlation involved.

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Martine said...

How lucky we are that Bush's forefathers settled in your country not ours.

11:55 PM  

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