Tuesday, September 21, 2010



I’ll admit it, the first time I saw these bizarre photographs, I imagined an ad posted in the "Casual Encounters" section on craigslist: "Hi! I'm a bisexual, radioactively-enhanced Arachnid-American stud looking for freaky but open-minded humans. Let's have some hot 'n' sexy interspecies fun!"

From doing further research I learned they're posters for a safe sex campaign. (No, not in the United States, silly; it's in France. What's the chances of something this controversial and overtly sexual getting a green light here?) The subtext, of course, is: Be careful choosing your sexual partners because you never know what vermin you might pick up. Ewwwwww. O.K., it's not subtle, but it's clever and I think it's necessary because, unfortunately, too many people are still stupid, callous, and irresponsible:

DARMSTADT, Germany (AFP) – An HIV-positive pop star who infected a former sex partner with the virus walked free Thursday after a German court handed her a two-year suspended sentence.

The court in Darmstadt, western Germany, convicted 28-year-old Nadja Benaissa, a member of girl group No Angels, on one count of grievous bodily harm and two counts of attempted bodily harm.

The singer had confessed to having unprotected sex and keeping her virus secret but denied intending to infect anyone during a trial that has sparked a media frenzy in Germany.

The glamorous half-Moroccan singer made an emotional apology during closing arguments, telling the court: "I am sorry from the bottom of my heart. I would love to turn back the clock, but I can't."

Benaissa was charged with grievous bodily harm, which could have led to up to 10 years behind bars, but both the prosecutors and the defence argued for a suspended sentence as she had admitted to the crime and said sorry.

Medical experts determined she had almost certainly infected one of her ex-boyfriends with the HIV virus, as they both had a strain of the virus that is relatively rare in Germany.

The case prompted a debate about trial by media and presumption of innocence in a country that partly for historical reasons is highly sensitive about privacy.

Respected news magazine Spiegel described the trial as a "witch hunt" and AIDS organisations expressed their concern that HIV carriers would feel pressured to take sole responsibility for safe sex.
Maybe I'm wrong, but if I know that I'm HIV+ and I make the decision to have unsafe sex anyway, then I'm a murderer. It's playing Russian Roulette with a loaded gun and pretending it's not dangerous. However, as reprehensible as this woman's behavior was, it's not uncommon. That's why I think these controversial posters aren't a bad idea. It might educate some people, even if it's accidental.

Sure, the vulgar imagery is offensive; I'll admit that. Still, it's not as offensive as willingly infecting your partner with a disease because you have the moral values of a cockroach.