JULIE TURKEWITZ: Now that the bill that contained a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” failed to garner the votes it needed in the U.S. Senate, what’s next? It seems likely we’re going to see more silence, confusion and repression in the military, more HIV infections and more STDs. And that’s just for starters.
While those who oppose repealing the 17-year-old ban have made a lot of noise about the negative effects a policy change could have on troops in combat, none have mentioned that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ has terrible health consequences for gay service members, and as a result, for the U.S. as a whole.
Most military members see military doctors. If they can’t be open about their activities, they can’t seek solutions when problems arise.
Infections go undiagnosed. Service members—and those they have sex with—go untreated. And broader public health efforts to stop the spread of STDs are undermined.
“It’s like trying to take care of a patient with chest pain without being able to ask him whether he smokes, or has a history of heart disease, or has ever had a heart attack in the past,” said Dr. Kenneth Katz, who treats large numbers of service members in San Diego. “It’s not good medicine.”
Katz believes this “violates their constitutional rights. But it also, in very real ways, threatens their health—and that of the community at large.”
TO READ THE FULL REPORT, CLICK: What Politicians Aren’t Saying: Health Hazards of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’
Julie Turkewitz, a remarkably talented photographer, writer and multi-media artist, writes a blog for Housing Works in New York City, the largest community-based and minority-controlled AIDS service organization in the U.S. Now 20 years old, it saves lives, providing housing, medical and mental health care, meals, job training, drug treatment, HIV prevention education, and social support to more than 20,000 homeless and low-income New Yorkers with HIV and AIDS. To help pay for its services, spread the word of its mission, and employ graduates of its job training program, Housing Works operates a chain of upscale thrift shops, and is probably best known for its tiny Bookstore Café in Soho, just off Houston Street. The literary hub and concert venue draws incredible singers, authors and other artists, all seeking to help Housing Works fulfill its selfless mission.