A wave of anxiety swept through parts of the community last week when police discovered several sticks of dynamite behind one of Vancouver’s best-known gay clubs. But Insp Dave Jones says the Odyssey’s clientele, and the gay community more generally, was not being targeted. The dynamite found its way to the back alley behind the club “by happenstance,” he says, “not by design.” A dumpster diver discovered the dynamite in the lane behind Harwood St and carried it over to the lane behind Hornby St on Mar 10. He then ran into a Downtown Ambassador and showed him his find. The ambassador promptly called the police, who sent the bomb squad to defuse the explosive device. The dynamite was dangerous, Jones says, particularly because it was old and could have been set off by a hard kick-but it wasn’t planted. It didn’t even have a timing device, he notes. Police defused it without incident and no one was injured.
PG PRIDE PROCLAMATION
Prince George’s queer youth have won a significant battle against their city council. Last August, council refused to proclaim Gay Pride Day, offering the community a watered-down Come As You Are Day instead. YouthQuest PG promptly filed a human rights complaint against the city. According to BC Human Rights law, municipalities can only refuse to proclaim Pride if they stop making all other proclamations as well. After several months of mediation, council finally agreed last week to proclaim Gay Pride every year for the next three years and to fly the Pride flag from city hall on Pride weekends. It also agreed to hear a YouthQuest presentation on the local gay community’s issues and needs. “I’m very happy with the outcome,” says YouthQuest PG chair Shawn Peters. “Now we can start being treated equally.” City hall also plans to proclaim a special, one-time Pride Days proclamation Apr 5, in honour of reaching this resolution. That’s great, says Peters; it will be just in time for PG’s Gay Prom.
ANAL PAP TESTS
It’s time gay men started getting regular Pap tests to screen for early signs of anal cancer, some US doctors and researchers recently told the New York Times. “This is something we really need to be paying attention to,” says Joel Palefsky, a professor of medicine at the University of California in San Francisco. “We’ve decided, as a society, that it’s important to test for and treat cervical dysplasia before it turns into cancer. And we should also be testing for and treating anal dysplasia in high-risk populations.” Research shows that men who bottom for anal sex are 30 times more likely to get anal cancer. And the risk is even higher for HIV-positive men. Palefsky recommends anal Pap smears every two to three years for HIV-negative gay men, bisexual men and men-who-have-sex-with-men, and annual tests for HIV-positive men in those categories. Anal cancer can be fatal if it’s not detected and treated early.
MARRIAGE COMMITTEE IN TOWN
The parliamentary committee exploring same-sex marriage is coming to Vancouver. The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights will be travelling across Canada in April to gauge public opinion on the matter. First stop: Vancouver, Apr 1. To make a presentation e-mail JUST@parl.gc.ca or fax 613.992.9069 immediately.
AIDS VACCINE DISAPPOINTS
The long-awaited results of VaxGen’s first human-tested AIDS vaccine are in-and they’re disheartening. The vaccine only reduced the rate of HIV infection by 3.8 percent in the 5,400 high-risk men and women who participated in the US, Canada and Europe. VaxGen started its trial of AIDSVAX in 1998, amid much skepticism in the global AIDS community. Some said the vaccine would have little effect because of the disease’s many different strains. But VaxGen executives aren’t giving up their search for an effective vaccine. And, they say, this vaccine may be effective for blacks and Asians in North America and Europe, but it’s too soon to tell. Sixty-seven percent of the blacks and Asians who volunteered for the trial were less likely to get AIDS. But the sample was too small to draw any clear conclusions, since only 498 blacks and Asians participated. VaxGen is still conducting other vaccine trials in other countries. And other companies are testing different vaccines.