Friday, June 29, 2007

We're checking IDs at the door

Based on the fact that this blog has the following words:
sex (28x) Orgasm (3x) Porn (2x) Gay (1x)

Like Babeland (thanks again Dallas) we are rated NC-17

I guess it doesn't matter that it didn't find all the other really dirty words like "anal" and "leatherdaddy" and "Plan B" and "kink" and "Rupert Murdoch.", on the other hand, is rated G. because the word sex appears once. huh?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Press the space bar! Yes! No Stop!

Game makers, La Molleindustria, are making some interesting games. Well, one very interesting, and the others...well, I haven't decided. If Operation Pedopriest is a baby jesus buttplug, then Queer Power and Orgasm Stimulator are a couple of bachelorette party gifts.

Operation Pedopriest

Despite being hard on the eyes, this game makes it's point - secrecy is not going to solve anything. Based on the Vatican's "secret procedures" to catch "pedopriests," the maddening game playing experience serves only to frustrate and disgust the player. But make no mistake, this is a serious game, albeit with little wide-eyed children. Ian Bogost digs a little deeper...thanks Ian....I agree, although fascinating, this is pretty much a lose-lose.

Queer Power
Umm...this one might have kept my attention for a full twenty seconds if I had played the two player version. Basically, the intro text, "...enjoy a trip into the odd world," was a bit off putting, but switching whenever you want between that's a nice touch. The idea is to sex up your partner (changing genders whenever you want) until one partner comes. The sound effects make it worth a try.

Orgasm Stimulator
Fake an orgasm and don't let your partner know they suck in bed. Pfft!!

The sound effects make this one not worth a try.

Update: Molleindustria has posted notice that they have removed Pedopriest after an order from the Italian Parliament cited a law stating that it is illegal to depict sex with children. New and interesting reviews are surfacing all the time.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Trojan too sloppy for conservative-owned TV

Thanks to Babeland and NSRC for keeping us in the loop on this one. The new Trojan condom ads are not being aired on CBS and FOX because they are "inappropriate" and focus on pregnancy prevention rather than STIs. As far as I can tell, the ad doesn't address STIs or pregnancy - just not wanting to sleep with "pigs."

Sign this Planned Parenthood petition asking CBS and FOX to reconsider their stodgy position. Then send it to friends.

Here's another one, just for fun.

Update: The pig ad does run on Myspace however, which is funny considering it is also owned by Rupert Murdoch and friends.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ask the Experts -National HIV Testing Day

National HIV testing day is June 27th. The Kaiser Family Foundation and will host an "Ask the Experts" webcast to discuss the revised HIV testing recommendations, public education campaigns, and new data from NASTAD.

When: Tuesday, June 26th, 3PM ET
Where: On their website
Who: There will be four panelists -
  • Jill Braden Balderas, M.P.H. - Managing Editor for - Moderator
  • Murray Penner - Deputy Executive Director, Domestic Programs NASTAD
Ask questions before the program starts (or during if you get a late blooming idea) by emailing Ask @ Kaisernetwork dot org.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Socialverse - potentially yelp meets SL

Socialverse is a new networking tool that is not quite be off its feet yet, but I see some potential for creativity. Basically you've got an avatar who can roam through several cities on earth. Businesses, schools, hospitals, etc., which exist in real life, are located along the streets and these can be reviewed/updated/slightly modified by anyone.

My idea was to explore if Socialverse could be a place where public health clinics and testing sites list them selves and then are open to public review just like the rest of the businesses. Of course there's Yelp for this as well, but the map integration is nice. If you go up to a business, perhaps a representative could (sometimes) be there to tell you more about it using the chat function?

Socialverse is in beta (very much so), so there are issues. Mainly, things needs to be able to be individualized. I couldn't tweak my avatar much or change my clothes. Also, a lot of the buildings look the same. There would have to be a critical mass contributing to the building of cities to really get this going. Also, the purpose is a bit nebulous. Would I go here to find out about cafes in my neighborhood, or to chat with other avatars also wearing blue jeans and white t-shirts?

Here is a basic demo:

When I mentioned my clinic idea to Chad from Socialverse he said: "If you have any suggestions for features that you think of, particularly those that could be of benefit for clinics, please let me know and we'd be more than happy to work with you or anyone else in your industry to try and implement them. We have created Socialverse to be very flexible as to what it can support, including a complex "class" based system of "things" and "places". For example, in Socialverse a "clinic" is a class. And we can custom tailor each class to fit the particular informational and service needs of that class or industry."

I guess we can wait and see.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Television touches (briefly) sex in Second Life

I'm handing over some giant bravery points to Bonnie Ruberg of Bonnie's Heroine Sheik and Jean-Ann Mills from The Electric Sheep Company for standing their ground on the Morning Show with Mike and Juliette (a Fox News affiliate), who are really good at acting like virtual sex is the weirdest thing since jam on pizza.

The show touches on the issue of rape in virtual worlds as well as some details about virtual privates and doin' it.

Watch the Video

Monday, June 11, 2007

Games for Change & Interactive Nights Out

I've been reading Ian Bogost's live blog from the Games for Change Festival, taking place in New York yesterday and today.

Day 1
Day 2

Being in the sexual health/STD & HIV prevention world, I'm naturally searching for games and ideas with that sort of slant. This live blog is super helpful for getting an idea of the gaming-for-social-good groups and what their collective thoughts/disagreements look like.

Update: my other reliable videogame resource is also writing about this. Please see Sexy Videogameland and Gamasutra for more thoughtful coverage of Games for Change.

On a semi related note: earlier today I was forwarded this link (thanks Rachel) to a program/game called Interactive Nights Out 1 and 2. The synopsis begins as follows:

"Interactive Nights Out 1™ (INO1™) helps 17-25 year-olds make informed choices about HIV/AIDS, STDs, pregnancy, relationships, alcohol and other drugs. Players become the lead character in both male and female-centered movies, make choices for the characters, and witness the consequences of their decisions."

Has anyone played this yet? The mega roadblock for me is that you have to buy a license. The conditions of use are a bit stiff at $3,200. The idea seems to be that an organization buys it and installs it on a common computer at a convenient location for youth?

Adult Industry Medical - Testing the talent

An excerpt from a casting call for their new site reads:
"* 4 hour shoot at $1200
* Male / male bondage, S&M, and sex
* Heavy leather and rope restraints
* Anal sex (w/ condom), blow jobs, adjusted to comfort level
* Dominant / submissive role play
* We require valid AIM (Adult Industry Medical) tests of all our talent. These test for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and HIV. Talent must re-test every 30 days. [I added the link]."

Read more about what is required/recommended of adult industry performers here (pdf). Or check out the list of available tests, prices etc. The tests can be paid for with paypal, a slip generated and brought to participating clinics, and results handed over by secure internet connection or phone. This is a lot cheaper than (see comments) which takes a large cut from their testing fees. Read Wired's coverage of the service too.

The general rule for performers seems to be HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea testing every 30 days, and syphilis, herpes, TB, giardia, vaginosis, etc. every 6 months.

It's unclear how strict testing is enforced and I'm sure that it varies from agency to agency whether it's paid for or not.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Linden Labs and Second Life - Scapegoated

Second Life, SL for short, is under fire once again for providing a platform for people's fantasies (thanks to PixelPulse, GamePolitics, Bonnie and Regina for info). Familles de France have sued the Linden Labs, and in response a statement was issued listing their intended self policing ideals.

So from now on (yeah right) there will be a new age verification system, and "real-life images, avatar portrayals, and other depiction of sexual or lewd acts involving or appearing to involve children or minors; real-life images, avatar portrayals, and other depictions of sexual violence including rape, real-life images, avatar portrayals, and other depictions of extreme or graphic violence, and other broadly offensive content are never allowed or tolerated within Second Life."

Statement goes on to say:

"Please help us to keep Second Life a safe and welcoming space by continuing to notify Linden Lab about locations in-world that are violating our Community Standards regarding broadly offensive and potentially illegal content. Our team monitors such notification 24-hours a day, seven-days a week. Individuals and groups promoting or providing such content and activities will be swiftly met with a variety of sanctions, including termination of accounts, closure of groups, removal of content, and loss of land. It’s up to all of us to make sure Second Life remains a safe and welcoming haven of creativity and social vision."

Is sexual expression not part of creativity and social vision? pfft.

There is definitely conduct/content that can offend and hurt other players in real life. SL is not utopian, but how can anyone expect it to be? It is built and expanded by players from around the world. So what should members of Familles de France do when they stumble upon a leather vested avatar enjoying the virtual whipping of a life time? Duck into a virtual church perhaps?

And I admit I'm not involved in Second Life, so I'm curious...consenting situations aside, can avatars escape unwanted touching and abuse on this game's platform or can your character become under the control of others? I know some games work this way and rapes and other assaults have happened. Does SL operate like that? You tell me.

Update: I found a great blog about virtual laws. Here is some excellent commentary on this sticky SL issue.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

inSPOT adds FL, NYC, MN, Seattle and Toronto

We've been busy at ISIS that last few months replicating inSPOTs, our peer to peer online partner notification system for STIs and HIV.

New to the list are Florida, New York City, Minnesota, Seattle and Toronto.

For those of you unfamiliar with inSPOT, the service has two main features.
1. If you test positive for an STI or HIV, you can send an e-card, anonymous or not, to your partner(s) who you may have exposed.
2. The e-card recipient is linked directly to a map of local clinics and detailed information about the infectious agent that they may have been exposed to.

What does it take to make an inSPOT you ask?
  • We verify every clinic's hours of operation, location, services, fees, populations served, insurance details and tests offered by phone to make sure that it is up to date and reliable for e-card recipients (or anyone who uses inSPOT to locate a clinic).
  • We create a custom map searchable by zip code/postal code, county/province and by region.
  • We compile an area specific resource list for each new area.
  • Other tech-y details of course
Will the list keep growing?
  • There are 5 more in the pipes. Your area may be next.
It is important to understand that the e-cards can be used by anyone in any jurisdiction. For the recipient not located in a city/state there are alternative ways to find clinics in your area.

In CA, the California Family Health Council (CFHC) list title X clinics searchable by zip code. Title X is the only federal program devoted to provision of family planning and reproduction health care. Title X clinics provide patient education and counseling; breast and pelvic exams; STD, HIV and cervical cancer screenings; and pregnancy counseling and diagnosis.

For STI testing outside of CA, if title X status doesn't matter to you, or if you rather talk to a person call the CDC hotline:

(800) 342-2437 or (800) 227-8922 for English,

(800) 344-7432 for Spanish or

(800) 243-7889 for TTY service.

The wait isn't that long and I got three reliable clinic referrals when I called.

For HIV testing: is the CDCs HIV testing clinic finder. Searchable by city, county, state, zip code, and type of testing offered (oral, anonymous, confidential, free). Very comprehensive.

Friday, June 1, 2007 - hookup insurance? is hooking up with online dating sites to provide negative test result verification. Well, so far, the list of participating sites isn't that impressive (Atomicmen being the biggest). While the move to do this among dating sites is good, there are some definite issues. It is also a bit disappointing that the group taking this plunge seems to vilify, if only slightly, anyone who may already be positive, with the prominent text: "Show You Tested Negative for HIV and Optionally Other STDs." It also offers zero mention of window periods.

Here's what signing up was like for me:
1. First join a lesser known hookup site (ha!)
2. Register at (which includes downloading and faxing a HIPAA form).
3. Find a suitable place to get tested (you can use their search tool, or see a private doc).
4. If you choose one of the Labcorp testing sites, pick which tests you want. Here's the kicker for the insurance-less:
Full panel: HIV, herpes, Hepc, chlamydia, gonnorhea, syphilis $369!!Or you can choose specific ones. Syphilis alone is the cheapest at $32, chlamydia/gonorrhea is $174. And so on...
5. Then sign another HIPAA form releasing to receive your test results. (It's okay for minors to use the service, but an adult is supposed to sign the form, electronically though).
6. Enter credit card info, billing address.
7. I didn't go any further...but you get the point. A lot of steps.

Here's the list of steps in their words.

So what is promised after your test results are faxed back to
1. Positive results are not kept or posted anywhere. A nice list of resources are given.
2. Negative results receive a badge (including test date) that can be posted on a very select list of dating sites, or a social networking site that accepts html (I'm assuming that it is a basic html badge).

So, my two cents are:
Can the badges be stolen, doctored and repasted elsewhere?
Why not encourage HIV+ folks to test for STDs?

I would love to hear comments about this from readers...

Update: Atomicmen has gone out on a limb to try something that some of us in public health have been asking for for a long time. Checktonight is imperfect, but Atomicmen's attitude and willingness to improve is on target:

"...CheckTonight ... is willing to work with Atomicmen on making the site more friendly so any feedback is welcome. I appreciate all feedback and knowledge and would encourage anyone to help in the education of those who are not understanding of anyones "fears", but that door swings both ways. I think that direct reaction to something with out investigation can also be fear based and should allow for the passing back and forth of ideas to make sites like CheckTonight more approachable to those who seem offended. Andrew at CheckTonight is willing to work with organizations to make his organization more open and honest in it's presentation..."