Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Accountability and an olive branch

Dr. Gary F. Clark has written a comment on yesterday's blog article on "Accountability and World AIDS Day 2006." His comment is so important that I am responding in a new article so that I can address his points more fully. Dr. Clark says:

I agree that the issue of accountability applies to both sides of this issue. However, rather than being divisive and aggressive, perhaps an olive branch would be more effective. Stressing overlap[p]ing interests is often much more effective than emphasizing differences. The key goal must be to cure AIDS, but first that will take real understanding.

. . .

In summary, rather than citing differences, maybe AIDS activists can come together with everyone in the world by emphasizing that we are all humans that are negatively impacted by these disease states. And that fighting with each other is not the right answer!
My first response to Dr. Clark's comments was somewhat defensive. Being divisive is not such a good thing in my world view. A moment or two of thinking about the matter, however, led me to opine that we are already divided on the issue of HIV and have been since the beginning of the epidemic.

We, meaning Americans here but clearly applicable in other societies, have always viewed the epidemic as something that happens to the less-worthy "other." It has always been a dividing point between us and them, whoever "them" might be at any point in the epidemic.

Dr. Clark points out that "we are all humans." Oh, very yes! I recall a speech I made in San Angelo soon after I first came to Texas AIDS Network in which I talked about my sense that the AIDS epidemic was casting a very harsh spotlight on the cracks in the foundation of our society. Since AIDS seemed most to affect those whom we Americans were most willing to throw away--gay men, people of any color besides white, children, women--it seemed to me that the AIDS epidemic gave us the perfect opportunity to repair those cracks. Since HIV is an equal opportunity virus, I said, we need to rethink the divisions that hold us apart and realize that we are all affected by AIDS in one way or another. Therefore, I said, it behooves us to let go of those divisions and begin to work together to end the epidemic as well as the divisions.

Lo, these many years later, the divisions still exist. Rather than taking the opportunity to repair those cracks, we've used the HIV epidemic to widen them. And, while my comments regarding the World AIDS Day 2006 theme of accountability were not intended to be divisive, they were certainly intended to be aggressive.

I'm getting older by the minute and tireder. I am tired of the rhetoric about gay people and those who would use that rhetoric to hinder effective HIV prevention. Get over it already. I am tired of the lies that are told about condoms in the misguided hope that young people will cross their legs and remain abstinent. The result is that they are crossing their fingers instead of their legs--and putting themselves at greater risk for disease and pregnancy. I'm tired of ignorance about science in our country. And, while I'm making that point, could I just ask: How is it that the science that tells us to take an aspirin to help prevent heart disease is better than the science that prevents cervical cancer? I'm tired of the hypocrisy that claims to hold to a particular moral philosphy and then violates that philosophy in word and in deed. Did "do unto others" suddenly change from "as you would have them do unto you" into "as much as you can get away with"?

I'm tired of these things, but I'm not so tired that I wouldn't sit down with folks and talk about ways to move forward on treating and preventing HIV. What I am too tired to do is to allow them to change the subject to a side issue that isn't about HIV at all but rather looks at some other agenda. If we can't talk about the same subject, we're not talking at all.

Dr. Clark is absolutely right, of course. His recommendation has been my philosophy and my practice for years. The only problem is, I can't seem to get some folks to take that olive branch. Isn't it time we held them accountable for that?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Accountability and World AIDS Day 2006

According to Gretta Curtis of Christian Today, the theme for World AIDS Day (December 1) 2006 is accountability:
The theme of accountability, with the slogan 'Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise', was chosen in consultation with civil society campaign groups to stress the critical need to meet current commitments to increase the global response to AIDS and bring universal access to treatment, care and prevention by 2010.

Curtis' article explores the theme in some detail, providing an international context for the concept.

The concept of accountability is a complex one. It is certainly au courant in the US, being used in one way or another in just about every political campaign we see these days. I'd like to see some exploration of the concept in terms of the current HIV epidemic in Texas.

Can we look for accountability from those who:

Yes, I'd like to see some real accountability in our fight against HIV. Wouldn't you?

Return to work studies

The current issue of WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation (Volume 27, Number 3, 2006) is a special issue called : HIV/AIDS and Employment: The Continuing Challenge. According to Medical News Today:

Persons living with HIV/AIDS, often diagnosed in the first few decades of their lives, may now face decades more of life while managing the illness. Increasingly, the population of persons with HIV/AIDS consists of women, persons of color, and persons who have poor social supports and limited education and financial resources. In addition, many persons with HIV/AIDS may be challenged with mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness and other co-morbid conditions. Not surprisingly, people with HIV/AIDS struggle to overcome significant challenges that affect their abilities to live independently and return to the workforce.

The collection of articles in this issue of WORK explores all of these matters and more. Unfortunately, only the article abstracts are available on line. Ordering the full issue will set you back almost $250, but you can recommend that your local library acquire it or get it for you on
interlibrary loan.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Parazapper zapped by FDA

The Parazapper is a fraudulent device that has been marketed as a cure for athelete's foot, diarrhea, HIV, and just about any other illness that can attributed to bacteria, fungus, or critters invading the body. It has been around, either on the market or touted as a do-it-yourself cure, for years. In essence, a parazapper is a metal rod connected by wires to a battery. You use it to zap yourself and the critters that have invaded you, thereby effecting a cure.

I'm not even going to bother with the usual blather about "no scientific evidence," yadda yadda. This product is just pure cr@p. People who market it are preying upon sick people, trying to take their money while promising them the impossible.

I was surprised to find a notice in my mailbox today that the FDA had had to send a warning letter out to a company that was actually marketing this product. Not surprised that the FDA sent the warning, but that there was actually a need to. Do Americans have so little understanding of science that they are gullible enough to buy this stuff?

Texas observes NLAAD, October 15

The fourth annual observance of National Latino AIDS Awareness Day (NLAAD) will take place on Sunday, October 15, 2006. Sponsored by the Latino Commission on AIDS, NLAAD is designed to develop awareness, promote prevention and build leadership around HIV/AIDS issues in Latino communities nationwide.

The following is a list of NLAAD-related events taking place around Texas, provided by (but not endorsed by Texas Department of State Health Services, HIV/STD Program, and published in the Texas HIV/STD E-Update).


The C.A.R.E. Program and the Mission of Restoration Program will sponsor an NLAAD event in East Austin. The event will take place at the Mission of Restoration Drop-In Center, 749 Montopolis Dr., on Friday, October 13. The event will feature HIV testing, counseling, referrals, and information along with drug counseling and referrals, blood pressure/blood sugar tests, and general health information. All services are free. Call 512-247-2222 for more information.

The Texas Department of State Health Services' (DSHS) HIV/STD Program will observe NLAAD with a presentation on HIV-related initiatives along the Texas/Mexico border on Tuesday, October 17 from 10-11:30am in room K-100 (auditorium) at the DSHS main campus, 1100 W. 49th St., in Austin. Scheduled presentations include the Cross-Border HIV/AIDS Multisectorial Policy Group, the Paso del Norte Study of risk behaviors and disease prevalence among IDUs, and the Migrant Clinicians Network. All are welcome to attend this presentation. Call Greg Beets at 512-533-3025 for more information.


The Coastal Bend AIDS Foundation (CBAF) is partnering with the Valley AIDS Council (VAC) Clinic to launch a social marketing campaign to educate Latino/Chicano communities in the Coastal Bend Area about the risk of HIV/AIDS. The campaign also seeks to encourage people to get tested for HIV and to access HIV care services if needed. VAC staff will use the local English and Spanish language media to promote the campaign. Appearances are scheduled on local channels KIII (ABC) and KORO (Univision). The campaign message will be critical to normalizing the presence of HIV as a community problem for the Hispanic/Chicano community. Local HIV/AIDS statistics and trends will be provided and prevention messages will be connected to CBAF’s prevention efforts in Molina, a predominately minority neighborhood on the Westside of Corpus Christi. Testing will be provided at this location from 1-6pm. Testing will also be conducted at CBAF offices on 400 Mann Street, Suite 800, in Corpus Christi from 9am to 5pm. For more information, please call 361-841-2001.


The Dallas County Health & Human Services Department (Mobile Medical Clinic) will co-host two functions to commemorate NLAAD in collaboration with multiple Dallas County community-based organizations. On Sunday October 15, the department will offer HIV/STD education and HIV/syphilis testing in collaboration with Resource Center of Dallas at Kaliente's (parking lot), 4350 Maple Av. at Hondo Av., from 7-11pm. On Monday October 16, the department will provide HIV/STD education and HIV/syphilis testing in collaboration with AIDS Interfaith of Dallas at the Mexican Consulate Office of Dallas, 8855 N. Stemmons Fwy., from 10am to 3pm. For additional information, please contact Monica Tunstle Garrett, Dallas County Health & Human Services, at 214-819-2132.

On Sunday, October 15 from 10am to 2pm, Dallas area HIV-related organizations will commemorate NLAAD with an outreach event at Bachman Lake, located at Bachman Lake Drive and Northwest Hwy. Participating organizations include the Latino Commission on AIDS, Greater Dallas Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse, Valiente DFW LGBTQ, Mosaic Family Services, Inc., Dallas Legal Hospice, and AIDS Arms, Inc. Trained volunteers will be utilizing the OraQuick Advanced HIV Antibody Test, which provides clients with results in as little as 20 minutes. For additional information regarding this event, please contact Efren Garcia at Greater Dallas Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse, 214-893-5458.


Planned Parenthood Center of El Paso will conduct HIV awareness and testing events on Wednesday, October 11 from 9am to 1pm at the El Paso Mexican Consulate and on Monday, October 16 at El Paso Community College, Valle Verde Campus, from 10am to 2pm. The goal of these events is to reach as many Latinos as possible in the border area to raise consciousness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Latino community. Other agencies have been invited to participate in this event, including La Fe, Thomason General Hospital, the Binational AIDS Committee, and other local ASOs. Entertainment and Mexican folkloric dances will be part of the program. For more information, contact Tony Ramos at tony.ramosATppcep.org.

Aliviane, Inc. in El Paso will be providing confidential HIV screenings and Texas A & M University Prevention Resource Center will be providing information on HIV/AIDS, STDs and Hepatitis A, B, and C. This event will take place Friday, October 27 from 9-11am at Socorro Ramirez Community Center (Sparks Center), 106 Peyton Road in Horizon City. For more information, contact Emma Munoz, Aliviane, Inc., at 915-782-4042, or Susan Hernandez or Juan Garcia at the Texas A & M University Prevention Resource Center, 915-860-9528.


Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) hosted “Carnaval de Salud” on Saturday, October 7 from 8am to 12pm at 1101 S. Main St. (at Rosedale) in Fort Worth. This wellness event, part of the sixth annual observance of Binational Health Week, included HIV prevention activities. The goal of this event was to provide the Hispanic community with free information on public health as well as screenings for cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV and syphilis. Call 817-321-4700 for more information.

La Gran Plaza Health Fair will take place Saturday, October 14 from 10am to 3pm at the OK Corral Night Club, 4200 South Fwy., in Fort Worth. The goal of this event is to provide the Hispanic community with free information on public health as well as screenings for cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, HIV and syphilis. Please call Santos Navarrette at 817-321-5333 for more information. TCPH will also conduct HIV and syphilis screening at the OK Corral on Saturday night from 9pm to 1am. Please call Brian Barron at 817-321-4863 for more information.


St. Hope Foundation will provide HIV testing for NLAAD on Sunday, October 15 from 12-5pm at Club Carnaval, 8150 Southwest Fwy., in Houston. For more information, contact W. Jeffrey Campbell at 713-778-1300, ext. 230.


Special Health Resources for Texas, Inc. (SHRT) will provide education, counseling, and testing in Tyler on Sunday, October 15 at La Michoacana, 310 N. Beckham, from 10am to 4pm, and in Longview on Monday, October 16 at La Michoacana, 1419 S. Green St., from 10am to 4pm. For more information, contact Ernesto Guevara at 903-234-8808, ext. 246.


Health Horizons of East Texas will conduct a community education and awareness event on Thursday, October 12 at 6pm at 2604 Stallings Drive in Nacogdoches. Free HIV testing will be available. Free HIV testing will also be available on Monday, October 16 at 412 North Street, Suite F. For more information, call toll-free 800-745-8240.


Ector County Health Department will conduct an NLAAD event on Thursday, October 12 from 5-1pm at LULAC’s “La Raza,” located at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin campus at 4901 E. University. For more information, call Jackie Venske or Lynn Gorton at 432-498-4141.


The San Antonio Prevention Collaborative (SAPC) will be hosting the following NLAAD-related activities:

Thursday October 12
6:30pm: Procession of Hope, San Fernando Cathedral (meet at Main Plaza)
9-12pm: HIV Testing, food, activities, door prizes at Bermuda Triangle, 119 El Mio

Friday October 13
8:30-10:30am: HIV testing and food at University Health System/FFACTS Clinic 527 N. Leona

Saturday October 14
10am-2pm: HIV testing, music, activities, and door prizes at Good Samaritan Center, 1600 Saltillo
7pm-12am: HIV testing and door prizes Stewart Center 1711 Guadalupe St.

Sunday, October 15
12-4pm: Free HIV testing and prizes at “Festival de la Salud,” Alamodome

The SAPC has joined forces to offer HIV screenings to the population in the San Antonio area that might not otherwise access testing sites due to stigma and denial. The collaborative is comprised of Avendida Guadalupe, BEAT AIDS, Good Samaritan, Community Clinic/Project Save, Mujeres Unidas, Hope Action Care, San Antonio Metro Health District (SAMHD), and the University Health System. The SAPC feels that offering a wide range of events in a health fair setting will help reduce the stigma associated with this pandemic. For more information, contact George Perez (SAMHD) at 210-207-8071 or Yvette Moran (Mujeres Unidas) at 210-738-3393.

The San Antonio AIDS Foundation will offer HIV testing from 8am to 6pm on Monday, October 16 at 818 E. Grayson St. For more information, please contact Vanessa Gonzales at 210-225-4715.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

International Carnival of Pozitivities, Fourth Edition

Welcome to the Fourth International Carnival of Pozitivities. The first Carnival was hosted by Ron Hudson at 2sides2ron in July. In August, Brad at AIDS Combat Zone hosted the second Carnival. Last month's host, Richard Kearns, published the third Carnival at AIDS-write.org. This October edition of ICP is hosted here at Texas AIDS Blog by . . . well . . . me.

We are fortunate to have an ever-growing number of participants in the Carnival. This month we are pleased to welcome several new blogs and bloggers to the dialogue about AIDS and the people and communities that are affected by HIV/AIDS. In addition to several contributors from the US, we have contributions from central Asia, southern Africa, Canada, and Mexico. The topics covered by these articles show the diverse responses to the epidemic around the world at the same time they reveal the commonalities of people, places, and problems.


In many parts of the world, people affected by AIDS have no voice with which to speak to their families and community much less the world about their fears, their suffering, their hopes. This is due in no small part to the strong stigma attached to being HIV-positive, which stifles their voice and condemns them to silence. It is also due to the lack of tools to help project one's voice to those who need to hear it.

Cristi Hegranes writes in "El banco" about the day she took five women to a bank in Chiapas, Mexico, to open their first bank account with their first earnings. As Hegranes' post shows, having a voice is important on many levels:

"maria antonieta, “tonita,” was first. she is so quiet. sitting right next to her i could barely hear her speak. i think she was nervous b/c she doesn’t have a permanent address and she was using a copy of the gas bill from our office as proof of residence. she was asked a million questions, each reply came in a whisper until she was asked for her occupation — “SOY UNA PERIODISTA,” she bellowed. when asked for her place of employment she whipped out her new press pass and declared just as loudly “EL INSTITUTO DE PRENSA PARA MUJERES DE MEXICO.”
The Press Institute for Women in the Developing World trains women to become reporters, focusing on six core themes, including AIDS, violence against women, reproductive rights, poverty, political oppression and community development. Those who have something to say about AIDS need a voice; having voice, the benefits accrue to them as well as to their audience.

Blogswana describes itself as "Botswana, AIDS and Blogging." Brian has an August post in Blogswana which incorporates Ron Hudson's "En-COURAGE-ment to Blog for HIV/AIDS," and makes the case for using the voice that we have:

The act of speaking out in your own voice requires courage and strength of character and a strong desire to be heard. For many living in the world [of] HIV/AIDS, our voices have been silenced by fear, anxiety, social stigma and threats of death or injury. Now more than ever, we need to speak out and let the world hear our voices.
Not so long after that, Brian posted a lengthy list of "Botswana Blogs," several of which focus on AIDS. Given the tools, it's clear that there is great courage in the HIV/AIDS community.

In yet another take on "voice," Jody Kuchar writes about "AIDS WALK 2006" in Gray Matter Flatulence. She writes first about her participation in AIDS walks in Milwaukee and the vicious tactics the "Christian right hate groups" used to intimidate walkers and disrupt the event. Kuchar talks about her reaction to these tactics--anger, not fear--and her decision to put her time and energy into volunteering at a hospice. Still she questioned her decision:

Whenever my husband and I went to serve dinners or help at hospice, we did do good work and were appreciated for it. But it was silent work - we educated no one, we did not alleviate intolerance or hatred.
Now living in Indianapolis, Kuchar is once more determined to make her voice heard: She will walk in AIDS Walk 2006.

Life after AIDS

By now, most of the world has come to the realization that there really is life after HIV and even life after AIDS. Given the fairy tales found in some pharmaceutical advertising and the distortions of media reports, it is no wonder that many have no clue what that life is like.

Ron Hudson has an "official" contribution to this month's Carnival, but I couldn't pass up his poignant description of "Clearing Out Your Closet." When he first sent me the link to the article, I thought it was going to be an essay about clearing out the mental clutter that keeps us from focusing more clearly on the task before us (which shows you what I need to be doing). Instead, it is a reminder that we all must cope--somehow--with life after AIDS.

Written for this past World AIDS Day, Ron's post is a different take on "the Day" and what it has come to stand for. Positive, proactive, inspirational slogans do help motivate us to keep going, to keep doing the work that we do in prevention, care, policy. All the slogans cannot, however, cover up the underlying grief and loss that we all must feel when World AIDS Day rolls around, when we open the doors to the closets of our memory and do as Ron did:

I sat on the bed and watched. He opened the door to your closet and started removing the clothes that hung there, one hanger at a time. He would hold the shirts to him, breathing in deeply to find a hint of your smell.
AIDS still kills. Part of the horror is that some of us have to keep on living with the loss.

The Dreamer writes about a different way that those living with HIV must cope with that life. "Mangled in the Medical Machine - 2" is the second part of a three-part series on the nightmare that comes with needing surgery when you are HIV-positive. His blog, appropriately enough, is called Nightmare Hall.

The Dreamer chronicles in vivid detail his medication regime and the effects it has on his HIV disease as well as the debilitating side effects. As the side effects get worse, it is his chronic pain which begins to take over as a major health concern.

By June of 2005 my doctor decided to take me off all meds for an extended [trial] period since my counts [had] remained excellent for so long. The neuropathy [had] grown almost unbearable and my left leg was withering away faster than ever to [where] I was losing my balance and now the right leg began wasting faster and faster....In July my weak leg gave out under me and I fell backward fracturing my spine to boot.
The tendency in the healthcare system to blame every illness on HIV rather than look for other causes, the truly experimental nature of HIV treatment for individuals, the increasing need to know one's disease and to reverse patient-doctor roles by becoming the one who is knowledgeable about treatment options--these, too, are part of life after AIDS.

High Fiber For The High Fiver is LWood's blog, a delightful take on living with HIV and, as he says, "the way I like to play with labels." I won't give it away, but "Happy Valentines Day (non negatively)" will make you smile.

Routine Testing

The CDC has finally stopped teasing us and issued its recommendation that HIV testing should become a routine part of health care. While I've had my own (cautious) thoughts on the subject, two of our contributors this month chime in with their own thoughts.

Nels Highberg's blog is called A Delicate Boy . . . In the Hysterical Realm. In "Testing, Testing . . . ," he pushes the "on" button and starts listing his concerns about routine testing. He moves from lack of consent to skewed counseling to increased stigma, the latter, I might add, despite the CDC's professed belief that a policy of routine testing will reduce the stigma surrounding testing. Highberg continues with concerns about insurance, criminalization, and--my own hobby horse--the overburdened, underfunded system that provides care for those living with HIV. As Highberg says of AIDS service organizations:

They don't get the money they need to do they work they want to do. And these new guidelines mention nothing about increased services.

Walter Senterfitt, in a guest post at AIDS-write.org, gives us "CHAMP HHS Watch--A Test of Our Commitment: What would it really take to fix HIV testing?" Senterfitt tosses out a breathtaking array of facts and research findings, all to say "The fix is not in." His argument carefully grants some validity to CDC's proposal for routine testing at the same time he places that proposal in the context of a long line of failed panaceas proposed by the CDC and points out some serious gaps in the proposal.

Senterfitt's own proposal? Comprehensive operations research on the effectiveness of these guidelines at the same time they are being promoted and implemented. He asks:

wouldn’t it be great it we could turn this next period of predictable resistance and confusion over implementation into a real dialogue among the feds, the docs, the healthcare execs, the community-based organizations serving high-risk communities and the people living with hiv to come up with a comprehensive plan to offer real treatment and real prevention for everyone in at country with, or at risk for, hiv[?]
Brian Finch gives us "Nearly all HIV infections come from undiagnosed people" from his blog, Acid Reflux. In this post, Finch is looking at the role that the "unknowing" play in expanding the epidemic in the US. He adds some thoughts on the Canadian context and extensive quotes from an article about sero-sorting among HIV-negative gay men in Australia. Finch's post argues that:

Understanding who is more likely to transmit HIV helps us make our minds up on some of the contentious issues in HIV prevention like universal testing and sero-sorting, and the wisdom of criminalising HIV transmission, which tends to penalise people already aware of their HIV status.
Prevention Messaging

The lion's share of funding for HIV/AIDS in the US seems to be spent on medical research and treatment. The pittance that is spent on prevention is shrinking both in proportion and in absolute dollars. These facts alone suggest that is becoming increasingly important to make sure that our prevention messages are crystal clear and effectively targeted.

In the Blog to end AIDS, Akira Ohiso looks at Ian Daly's "Whatever Happened to Safe Sex?" Ohiso reports Daly's conclusions, that "denial, fatalism of our current world climate, misleading media information, and the Bush administration's misdirected abstinence education assault" did in safer sex. Ohiso's own opinion:

. . . , the most egregious reason for the rise in STDs and HIV/AIDS is the religious ideological abstinence and anti-condom message of the Bush administration. The Bush administration and his right-wing gang will support millions of dollars in abstinence education, while cutting spending on prevention programs, fully knowing that prevention programs are much more effective.

Ron Hudson's official entry for this month's Carnival from his blog, 2sides2ron, is "Instructions on How to Use a Condom." As with the earlier essay on clearing closets, I was somewhat nonplussed. What on earth, I thought, was Ron going to say about condom instructions? Was this post even necessary given the abundance of information on the subject.

As it turns out, yes, the post was necessary. As Ron points out, in the context of the ongoing War on Condoms, a free and independent voice is needed to provide life-saving information to those who have been deprived of it or given misleading information. Ron's concern, too, is global: "I hope that this information reaches you in countries that have been forced to accept policy that has failed in the US as well."

Ben posts on neweurasia.net news of a regional HIV/AIDS conference. The existence of neweurasia.net provides another outlet for voice in a world where voice is frequently stifled as a matter of policy. This post focuses on the broad regional interest in HIV/AIDS and a shared concern that prevention funding be adequate to continue trends which, when compared to Russia and the Ukraine, are only "comparatively good."


Our last contribution, "Can," is from Rick Reilly. While this article, originally published in Sports Illustrated, is not a blog post per se, it gives a message that we can all use: Can! (Not can't). Read the article, watch the video (with plenty of tissues handy), and imagine: CAN!

And that concludes ICP-4. If you liked it, please consider linking to it from your site. The next edition will be published on or about November 10. To submit a blog post for inclusion, fill out the submission form on the ICP web site.


  • "Doctors are not gods, merely highly paid troubleshooters of wetware." -- The Dreamer
  • "I just don't think out culture should sugar-coat the realities of [HIV] disease. It kicks ass and hard and you better believe it." -- Ron Hudson
  • "I bought into our society's message that gay equaled AIDS." -- Nels P. Highberg
  • "AIDS seems to be a disease of 'those people' again." -- Nels P. Highberg

*Yes, I know that "nobody says 'word'" anymore. Meh.