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Electronically Transmitted STDs

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December 26, 2005

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Sometimes it's not a story that's funny but where one reads it that proves amusing. Sometimes one just knows that no matter how unbiased the delivery of information, the target audience will easily read into it to support political or moral slants.

Take for example a story originally from AFP (Agence France-Presse) that I found on Aljazeera.net (12/16/05) that described the launching of a website www.InSPOTLA.org by LA County Health Authorities in California. The site allows you to send an e-card to up to six current or former sex partners informing them that you've contracted an STD and encouraging them to be tested as soon as possible. The e-disease greetings come with clever taglines like, "You're too hot to be out of action" and "It's not what you brought to the party, it's what you left with."

The article continues with statements from various officials explaining that face-to-face communication is preferable but many people can't handle doing it, so the online option is better than no notification at all. It also gives some statistics, including that about 60 000 of the approximate 10 million residents of LA County have HIV and a quarter of them do not know about it. A similar site was launched in San Francisco in 2004 and has about 750 visitors everyday sending out around 500 electronic STD postcards each month.

Although there has been controversy in the past accusing Aljazeera of creating propaganda against the US and its allies, the article was presented without comment, just the facts. Nevertheless, a story like the one above doesn't need any elaboration for it to portray the "decadence and immorality" of Western culture. One can almost hear the laughter and jeers, "Oh, those crazy infidels, spreading STDs like spam." I guess that if you can't take a joke you shouldn't be one.

I think that LA County should get Meg Ryan to star in a public service announcement to promote the site. Her box can flash, "You've got mail and maybe syphilis."

Posted by Will Peters at December 26, 2005 1:43 AM

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