Friday, August 15, 2008

UCSF Must Correct 'Flesh-Eating Gays' Story
in German Arabic Magazine

Remember the worldwide dissemination of lies, hysteria and homophobia stirred up back in January when researchers and the press office at the University of California at San Francisco were pimping their studies about gay men and drug resistant staph infection? If you were half paying attention to gay or health news web sites earlier this year, you know that much alarmism and stigma toward gay men was generated by UCSF's mishandling of scientific data and research.

The Australian, a daily paper down under, summed up in a single headline what many people around the planet assumed was the case from all of UCSF's misinformation: "Flesh-Eating Bug Spreads Among Gays."

Well, the stupidity of UCSF's actions and words have come back to haunt German gays today. From the UK's Pink News web site this afternoon:

A German Arabic language magazine is being investigated by police after it published an article claiming that shaking hands with gay men can transmit disease.

Al-Salam magazine printed an article entitled "A flesh-eating bacteria and sexual abnormality', which says that gay men carry deadly diseases and that Muslim men should not shake their hands as 'one never knows what kind of bacteria and germs are found on them."

The article is accompanied by graphic photographs of skin diseases.

Al-Salaam is free and distributed to restaurants and cafes around Berlin.

The article was reported to police by the Lesbian and Gay Association of Berlin-Brandenburg (LSVD), who are now investigating the issue.

LSVD spokesperson Alexander Zinn told"We have reported it as a crime to the police and it is now being examined to determine whether it should be dealt with as defamation or incitement." . . .

Damn, if we had comparable media laws in the USA, dozens of domestic publications and media outlets, starting with the SF Chronicle, would face investigations from the cops, something gay health advocates such as myself can only dream about!

Changing USA's media laws aside, I am sending this post over to the UCSF gay liaison and several of the university's top public relations officers, with a note asking them to reach out to the gay German group LSVD, and work with them to correct the defaming reporting in the Al-Salaam publication. I will be contacting Barbara French, head of UCSF's public information office, Wallace Raaven of the media office, and Shane Snowden, the LGBT health advocate for the university.

I believe the vast public relations and gay resources UCSF has at its fingertips, should make very public effort to tamp down the lies being spread in German-Arabic publications about gay men and drug resistant staph infections.

Gay men and our health advocates at UCSF need to spring into action when medical misinformation is spread through the press, whether media in the USA or elsewhere on our very small planet.

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