how to avoid the word, "gay," even if it's your subject

After more than twenty years, we still can't talk or write in a straight-forward manner in this country about a disease which has taken the lives of millions around the world. Why? Because we still can't relate to sex or drugs as adults, and because we still think the disease belongs to the other.

But the people who compose the fundamentalist base of the administration in Washington now are taking seriously their mission to recreate the dark ages, or worse, and their impact will be disastrous. Ironically, considering the stright American world's continued indifference to the threat of the disease, it seems that AIDS is now supposed to be treated by scientists as if it had nothing to do with anything but non-reproductive, heterosexual, marrried, abstemious couples (or possibly singles who remain perfectly chaste and drug-free all their lives).

Scientists who study AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases say they have been warned by federal health officials that their research may come under unusual scrutiny by the Department of Health and Human Services or by members of Congress, because the topics are politically controversial.

The scientists, who spoke on condition they not be identified, say they have been advised they can avoid unfavorable attention by keeping certain "key words" out of their applications for grants from the National Institutes of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those words include "sex workers," "men who sleep with men," "anal sex" and "needle exchange," the scientists said.

Following so many other threats originating in the Bush White House, this is just another augury for the virtually certain decline of American science under a repressive, brainless, xenophobic regime.

The pernicious effect of the political scrutiny of science and medicine will be to discourage certain projects altogether and to distory or adulturate those that somehow survive.

[Dr. Alfred Sommer, the dean of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University] said that if researchers feared that federal support for their work might be affected by politics, whether it was true or untrue, it could take a toll. "If people feel intimidated and start clouding the language they use, then your mind starts to get cloudy and the science gets cloudy," he said, adding that the federal financing of medical research had traditionally been free from political influence.