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name that acronym: NPR, HPV, STI, HIV/AIDS

January 9, 2007

Two quick items relating to sexual health and media:

The first is a new NPR show still in preliminary stages. NPR loves to create podcasts and I, in turn, love to listen. They are making weekly 15-minute podcasts they are calling Rough Cuts – snippets from some pilot segments of a new show. Listeners are supposed to leave their reactions and suggestions in the comments section of a blog, linked from the NPR website. They haven’t yet named the show, but the motto is “Nothing is assumed.”

The most recent podcast, which I listened to this morning, deals with HPV – what it is, how it’s contracted, and how to get tested for it. The difference between this show and another, we are told at the end, is that the producers looked for nontraditional guests for talking about particular topics. In this case, the interviewer spoke with two women’s health advocates, both who have experienced HPV firsthand (as opposed to speaking with a doctor or a public health expert). Both women work for organizations whose mission is to research and educate on HPV and cervical cancer.

The podcast is pretty short and definitely worth a listen, and I think for a ‘rough cut,’ it’s pretty good – they talked at length about how little most women seem to know about HPV, and that a startling 95% of cervical cancer cases originated with HPV. I found it surprising that while they mentioned the new HPV vaccine, they did not address the political issues and arguments around it in any kind of detail, which to me are the most interesting – after all, what good is a vaccine if right-wing fundamentalists refuse to allow it to young women for fear that it will turn them into sluts overnight? (oh, I love abstinence-only education).

I should say that I love the idea of talking to nontraditional experts about issues like this. These women are more than qualified to talk about HPV, perhaps even more so than a doctor. I also like a show that attempts to not make assumptions. It has potential to be a bit less staged and more accessible than your typical NPR fare. I’m not sure what the topics of the upcoming podcasts will be but I am certainly looking forward.

The other quick piece is that NYC Mayor Bloomberg is spearheading a plan to make NYC-brand condoms in a variety of colors, with the condoms and packaging corresponding to different subway lines! I think this is really fantastic. Safe sex + NYC merchandise, all in one package. As Gothamist points out, NYC has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the country. This is a much-needed project, and it seems like they’re going about it through “marketable” means. (Thanks to Gothamist for linkage).

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