3 min

In brief

Vancouver and national news

A KING AND THE QUEEN. Vancouver gay icon Bill Monroe graced the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association conference May 15 with his appearance as Queen Elizabeth II (right). He chatted it up with Hanns Ebensten, a pioneer of organized gay travel. Monroe celebrated his 70th birthday just prior to the festivities; Ebensten his 80th birthday. Some 210 gay and lesbian travel professionals from around the world descended on Vancouver May 13-16 for the conference-a significant increase from last year's c Credit: Rick Smith


For the first time ever, a number of teaching associations from across Canada and the Lower Mainland are working together to support anti-homophobia education-if only for one week.

It’s a great start, says organizer James Chamberlain, who successfully lobbied the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) and the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) to endorse motions encouraging their members to recognize the week leading up to Jun 2 as anti-homophobia week. The CTF and the BCTF will now join the Vancouver school board, the Surrey Teachers’ Association and the Gay and Lesbian Educators of BC (GALE) in providing reading materials, posters, discussion topics and other resources to teachers, librarians and administrators who want to recognize the week in their schools. Chamberlain says he chose those dates because the Quebec government recognized Jun 2 as its National Day Against Homophobia last year, and plans to do so again this year.

Homophobia “is the last acceptable form of discrimination in far too many schools,” Chamberlain says, “and that needs to change.”



San Francisco researchers recently detected a drug-resistant strain of syphilis in gay men. Health officials there say they documented eight cases of syphilis in gay men that were resistant to azithromycin, one of three drugs commonly used to treat the disease. The men were later successfully treated with doxycycline or penicillin. But in light of the study’s findings, at least one San Francisco clinic has now dropped azithromycin from its treatment options in most cases of primary and secondary syphilis. Five of the eight men documented were also HIV-positive.

In related news, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced Apr 29 that it thinks clinics should stop using fluoroquinolones as the primary treatment for gonorrhea among gay and bisexual men, because the disease is becoming increasingly resistant to that type of antibiotic. According to a recent CDC study conducted in 23 US cities, the percentage of resistant gonorrhea cases among gay and bisexual men nearly tripled between 2002 and 2003. Cipro (cirprofloxacin) and Levaquin (levofloxacin) are both fluoroquinolones. The CDC recommends that clinics switch to ceftriaxone and spectinomycin to treat gay and bisexual men with gonorrhea.



A new HIV test approved last month in the US produces results in just 20 minutes. The test is called OraQuick HIV and it uses saliva rather than blood to test for the virus. Like the traditional blood tests, it too looks for antibodies to see if the body is fighting the virus. While some HIV specialists are hailing the faster results as a potential incentive for more people to get tested, some are also concerned with the test’s accuracy. Other fast HIV tests have been recalled in recent years after they failed to detect HIV.

In 2002, the BC Centre for Disease Control issued a public warning after quick HIV tests used in three Vancouver clinics seemed to yield false negative results. OraQuick is not available in Canada.



Cirque du Soleil will reportedly pay a record $600,000 to settle Matthew Cusick’s HIV discrimination complaint. Cusick filed the complaint last year, after Cirque executives fired him for being HIV-positive on the eve of his Las Vegas debut.

“This is a huge victory for working people with HIV because it tells employers that there’s a steep price to pay for HIV discrimination,” said Hayley Gorenberg, one of the lawyers who sued the Cirque on Cusick’s behalf.

Cusick, who has been training as a gymnast since kindergarten, says getting fired by the Cirque was one of the worst days of his life. “This kind of discrimination tears people’s dreams and careers apart,” he told reporters, adding that he hopes the settlement provides a powerful tool for others facing HIV discrimination.

Under the settlement agreement, Cirque du Soleil will host annual anti-discrimination training workshops for all of its employees worldwide and adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward discrimination based on HIV and other disabilities.



To join, to lobby, to question, you can start here:




To ensure you are on the voters list: 1.800.463.6868 or