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ucsf.edu network pattern

Today’s post was suppose to be about HPV and the spreading of the virus via oral sex…and whether this link could lead to the end of oral sex. I wanted to address HPV after seeing this story on Dominica News Online, with a link to the complete article on Jamaica Observer.

Instead, midway through reading the article, I came across this paragraph:

“Thirty-seven-year-old Wayne W, who has been married for nine years, said he has never cheated on his wife. However, there are times when he is so stressed that he will visit his girlfriend, who is also married, and they will have guilt free oral sex.”

While I am happy to see an article address HPV, especially among men and the importance of men to take an active role in understanding the virus and how it can cause various forms of cancer, my concern for the moment has to be on this relationship.

STD prevention messages keep pushing the “Be Faithful” approach with public health experts’ conceptualization of being faithful as a 1-1 relationship. However, for many people, including in the relationship described above, partners are saying that they are faithful…to their wife, their girlfriend and whoever else they are having oral or vaginal or other sexual relationships with.

I’m always intrigued by what gets someone “so stressed”  that the only way to get relief is to be with someone other than your wife or central partner. A previous article on Jamaica Observer referred to this pattern as a mental illness. Is it?

Much has been written about sexual network pattern and HIV transmission in Southern Africa. In fact, there is major debate about whether this behavior greatly increases the spread on HIV. Across the Caribbean, we see similar sexual network patters. What we do not see/hear about are behavioral research on why this pattern exists and how it is operationalized within out culture. STD transmission is very complex, and extrapolating what happens in one context to another is rarely advised. What I would like to see is more focus on understanding what facilitates these network patters across the region. Are there patterns a matter of proximity? What role does migration play in sexual networks?  What can be done to mitigate the participation in multiple and concurrent partnerships?

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Image courtesy: http://fandom4saa.wordpress.com/An article in the UK’s Daily Mail is reporting on the alleged rape and attack of two British Charity workers on St. Lucia. This news also comes on the heels of investigations into reports of rapes and sexual assault from U.S. Peace Corps volunteers. When incidents such as these happen, countries are quick to protect their political and financial interest. Often, one of the first questions asked is ‘how will this affect tourism in the short term and in the long run?’

However, more questions needs to be asked of the culture in which women–whether nationals or foreigners–are victims of rape and sexual assault. And, we need to focus more on understanding why young men commit such crimes. Over the years, I’ve seen a rise in wanting to blame ‘society’ and ‘media’ without really knowing what implications these terms have on male socialization. Much have been written about hyper-sexualization of Caribbean men.

Our region has among the highest rates of sexual assault in the region. I’m sure any reported number is lower than actual happenings simply because many of these incidents go unreported. According to a Kaieteur News Online article on a UNIFEM report released last year,

“Sexual violence against women is high across the Caribbean, with all CARICOM countries showing higher than the global average per capita rates. This is according to United Nation Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).”UNIFEM disclosed that crisis centres report significant under-reporting of all forms of sexual violence as victims lack confidence in the administration of justice. “Women victims did not expect police sympathy and would only report with great reluctance.””

What is the best way to go about gathering data on the determinants on rape and sexual assault across the region? Considering that many cases are not reported, what can be done to inform and educate women-and men-about the impact of such abuses on the individual, family and community lives as well as on the population level? What types of interventions (structural?) might be implemented to decrease the prevalence and incidence of sexual assault and rape in our society?