Syphilis infections in B.C. have hit a 30-year high, due to a sudden increase of more than 30 per cent.
While the majority of infections are among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, infections among women 15-49 years old increased by nearly 40 per cent.
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) recorded 919 new cases of the sexually transmitted infection last year, including two cases of congenital syphilis in newborn babies, who can acquire it from their mother during pregnancy or birth.
The bacteria can be passed to anyone through oral, vaginal or anal sexual contact and through skin-to-skin contact with a lesion or chancre.
In response to the increase in infections among women, B.C. will temporarily screen all pregnant women for syphilis around the time of childbirth. Women are already routinely screened during the first trimester of pregnancy.
“This is an interim measure in response to an outbreak and aligns with actions taken by other provinces to prevent a serious infection that can harm both mother and baby,” said Dr. Mark Gilbert, medical director for Clinical Prevention Services at the BCCDC.
Alberta and Manitoba have each reported more than 10 cases of congenital syphilis in the past year and have also adopted screening in early and late pregnancy.
Left untreated during pregnancy, syphilis can lead to low birth weight, deafness, deformity, premature birth and stillbirth.
In sexually active adults, possible symptoms of an infection include a hard, painless sore on the genitals, mouth or anus, a skin rash on the back, chest hands or genitals, fever, swelling of the glands and fatigue.
Some people show no symptoms of infection.
Using condoms during sex will reduce the chances of acquiring or transmitting an infection, but it can be transmitted through contact with parts of the body not protected by a condom.
Pregnant women and people most at-risk of syphilis infection should be tested, especially if you have multiple sexual partners or show any symptoms, according to the BCCDC.
BCCDC also operates a discreet testing service for STIs called GetCheckedOnline, which allows uses to register and then deliver a sample directly to a lab for testing. Users can be tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis and hepatitis C.
Portrayed with a Red Arrows aerobatics team’s poster, British High Commissioner Susan le Jeune d’Allegeerschecque, Consul General Nicole Davison and guests had just seen the real Royal Air Force jets fly past them. PNG
STRAIGHT ARROWS: A key factor in aerial combat — literally a matter of life and death — is to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Having the sun behind you helps, too. Full marks, therefore, to the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows aerobatics team that was scheduled for a Coal Harbour flypast at 1700 hours recently. With the declining sun glistening on their red-white-and-blue tail fins, the team’s BAE Hawk trainer jets skimmed over at 5 on the dot. As they banked and climbed away, workhorse aircraft — de Havilland Beaver and Otter float planes — resumed their everyday takeoffs and landings.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, Chief Constable Adam Palmer, Bard on The Beach artistic director Christopher Gaze and others watched the proceedings from the Pan Pacific hotel’s eighth-floor deck. They were guests of British High Commissioner to Canada, Susan le Jeune d’Allegeerschecque, formerly ambassador to Austria, and Vancouver-based consul-general Nicole Davison. “The Red Arrows are the best ambassador our country has,” said le Jeune d’Allegeerschecque, whose married name is more common in Brussels than London. As those two cities duke it out over Brexit, the fast-flying Red Arrows might remind Gaze and especially British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Hamlet’s “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” Ditto for that soliloquy’s humbling conclusion: “And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.”
HAPPY ENDING: Cultural organization heads sometimes roll amid a blizzard of finger-pointing, trustee bickering and other nastiness. Not at the Vancouver International Film Festival where eight-year executive director Jacqueline Dupuis announced in July that she’ll leave at year’s end. Looking as relaxed and, dare one say, glamorous as in 2011, Dupuis launched the 38th annual festival by escorting director Atom Egoyan to a screening of his Guest of Honour feature film and to a gala later. Although called “a masterful piece of subtly sophisticated filmmaking” in the VIFF program, showbiz bible Variety deemed the Egypt-born Torontonian’s picture “hopelessly muddled … overplotted and under-reasoned, hysterical and stiffly earnest.”
CONSONANTAL DRIFT: If asked to define modern-day political equivocation, habitual phrase-tangler William Spooner might have replied with a self-defence tip: “Trust in judo.” Then again, his spoonerism of voters’ “elementary affluence” would entail a mere vowel movement.
MORE AID: Dr. Peter Jepson-Young succumbed to HIV/AIDS in 1992 at age 35. CBC-TV’s weekly Dr. Peter Diaries detailed his then-almost-inevitable approach to death. Founded that year, the Dr. Peter AIDS Centre and related foundation began caring for those still living. A decade later, Nathan Fong recruited fellow chefs to launch the annual Passions gala that reportedly raised a record $220,000 recently. Executive director Scott Elliott said the centre now helps clients deal with hepatitis C and supports older ones “isolated and not participating in health care.” It will soon offer twice-weekly programs for female HIV/AIDS patients, he said.
DIRTY DISHES: Wearing a whistle-clean apron, Dirty Apron co-founder David Robertson marked the cooking school’s 10th anniversary by launching his second cookbook, Gather. Some of the 100,000 folk he’s reportedly taught filled the Beatty Street joint to buy the book and sample such dishes as sake-braised pork belly, seafood and chorizo belly and Robertson’s sensational Thai-style coconut-lemon grass braised beef short ribs.
TAIPEI TIES: There were complaints when electioneering defence minister Harjit Sajjan attended a recent gala honouring China. Not so when San Francisco-based Taiwan Tourism Bureau director Linda Lin inaugurated Maggie Sung to head our town’s new information centre for the island China claims to own. The ceremony followed Vancouver’s recent 100-event TaiwanFest that began celebrating Taiwanese culture in 1991.
BED BUDS: As the huge IDS design exhibition ran downtown, furniture designer-manufacturer Kate Duncan and curator Amber Kingsnorth staged their own fifth annual show titled Address. It occupied five-times-larger premises at Malkin Street’s Eastside Studios. As well as mature and emerging exhibitors from Pacific Northwest states and Alberta, the event welcomed newcomers from Saskatoon, Toronto and Texas. Port Alberni-raised Duncan exhibited a solid walnut bed and side tables tagged at $30,000. Calgary native Kyle Parent added a $2,100 bedspread from his ktwpquilts.com concern.
GO EAST, YOUNG WOMAN: Vancouver’s creative activities are enhanced — some say dominated — east of Main Street. The 23rd annual Eastside Culture Crawl alone will include 500 artists, artisans and designers Nov. 14-17. The latter include interior designers Annaliesse Kelly and Madeleine Sloback who, although business competitors, share chic Pender Street premises. They mount thrice-yearly exhibitions there, most recently by Mexican-born painter Miriam Aroeste and Okanagan-raised photographic artist Sandra Lowe.
TOP HAT: California-based Canadian Paisley Smith wore a simulated oil-pipeline helmet to promote her “immersive” VIFF film, Unceded Territories. Screening in a Vancity Theatre kiosk to Oct. 2, it addresses climate change and Indigenous civil rights with animated interpretations of works by Cowichan/ Syilx artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun whose usual headgear is a four-feathered straw fedora.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Crown yourself inventively for Mad Hatter Day Oct. 6.
Backed by a blow-up of Duomo di Milano cathedral, Ross Bonetti increased the La Dolce Vita flavour of his Italianate Livingspace store’s expansion party by straddling his two classic Vespa scooters. Malcolm Parry / PNG
CHAMPS NIGHT: Chaired by Michelle Collens and Tewanee Joseph, the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame’s recent gala was replete with memories. It couldn’t be otherwise with inductees like the 1968 New Westminster Salmonbellies lacrosse team, 1975 NFL Super Bowl winner Roy Gerela and 1977 Vancouver Whitecaps coach Tony Waiters. Also inducted were 17-season Vancouver Canucks Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
When seen in this column in 2002, the twins displayed deft passing skills. Not with the puck but with bottles of wine that then-Canucks GM and former part-time bartender Brian Burke had them serve at a benefit for Canuck Place children’s hospice. Back at the gala, rugby-star inductee Kelly McCallum heard honorary co-chair Marvin Storrow call her sport “a game of skill, not for me.” Then again, 1934-born Storrow does play hard, skilful tennis four times weekly.
MORE TWINS: Shanghai-born siblings Jim and Pat Carney shared an 84th birthday May 26. They’ll celebrate again June 28 at Pat’s induction into the Order of British Columbia. The honour likely acknowledges her years as an MP, cabinet minister, senator and best-selling author rather than early-career slogging as a Vancouver Sun reporter.
MILES AHEAD: At the Polygon Gallery, Rogers Group of Funds chair Phil Lind presented a $5,000 emerging-artist prize to movie maker Jessica Johnson. It recognized her Scotland-set 14-minute documentary, Hazel Isle. Lind also fronted a reception for regional film and television producers on Vancouver Art Gallery’s rooftop patio. No one present, especially departing VAG director Kathleen Bartels, quibbled with his assertion that “Vancouver has the best artists in Canada — by 10 miles.”
SPACEMAN: The Armoury district’s free-standing Livingspace store always had room aplenty for swish European furniture. There’s even more now that building owner Ross Bonetti has expanded the fifth floor to accommodate specific-brand showrooms. As usual, Bonetti pulled out all the stops — and his two La Dolce Vita-style Italian Vespa scooters — for a recent relaunch party. He rides the mint-condition 1969 and 1971 Sprint models around town, but not astride both as he demonstrated with them parked. Ever the showman, perhaps he’ll master Ben Hur-style riding for his next event.
PICTURES FOR PETER: Eighteen artists, from Thomas Anfield to Elizabeth Zvonar, didn’t stint when donating works for live auction at the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation’s recent Art For Life event. Twenty-four others gave to its silent auction. With supporters filling Pender Street’s The Permanent hall, foundation executive director Scott Elliott reported $185,000 being raised.
TRANSFORMER TODAY: Imagine the wonderment of coastal longhouse dwellers when performers manipulated carved-cedar masks so that the creatures they depicted seemed alive. Something similar pertains at Sarah Macaulay’s First-off-Scotia gallery where long-established artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun’s first sculpture is displayed. The mask-headed work echoes figures in Yuxweluptun’s large paintings that fetch over $100,000. Step in front, though, and the mask becomes a confusion of multicoloured pieces. The spooky change represents “the process of what drugs do, and this can happen to you,” said Yuxweluptun, who named the $45,000 sculpture Opioid Ovoid Humanoid. There’ll be four more, he added.
SUMMER WINNERS: The 11-day Indian Summer Festival will begin with its usual Roundhouse Community Centre party July 4. Revving up for that, organizers Sirish Rao and Laura Byspalko staged an Odlum Brown-sponsored banquet that reportedly raised $100,000 with the slogan: The Future Is Asian. That’s the title of a new book by geo-strategist Parag Khanna, who addressed attendees. His assertion is supported by the multinational Standard Chartered Bank’s 2017-to-2030 projection for global economies. It foresees China’s GDP rising to $64.2 trillion, India’s to $46.3 trillion and the U.S.A.’s to $31 trillion. Meanwhile, Canada, France and the U.K. lose their global top-10 positions.
ROUNDER BOUT: Old-time Howe Street flickered again on Hornby Street recently. That was when Neil Aisenstat opened Hy’s Encore restaurant’s upper room to those attending a wake for 1988 Promoter of The Year Harry Moll who died at age 83 on April 25. Although most old Vancouver Stock Exchange habitués arrived on foot, Tevie Smith pulled up in his somewhat symbolic “termite taxi,” a junk-festooned 1947 Chrysler “woody” sedan with 300,000 miles on the clock and two rescue dogs on its duct-taped seats. As for the chi-chi era, wake attendees Sonja Chopty, Renata Hofer (who flew in from Zurich), Margaret McFaul and Beverley Robinson recalled partying in the Moll-launched Sneaky Pete’s, Charlie Brown’s and Sugar Daddy’s nightclubs. Moll’s 1994-divorced wife Suzy was unavoidably out of town but still speaks warmly of him.
THE DRILL: Regarding the old stock exchange’s freebooting mining promotions, a contemporary of Moll’s once said: “Sometimes we drill the ground, and sometimes we drill the sky.”
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Canadians and Americans wrangling over the North Pole’s ownership might recall that cheeky London journalists long ago determined principal-resident Santa Claus’s citizenship. A bewhiskered, overstuffed fellow who feasts on cookies and works one day a year would be a fellow Brit, they said.
Now in its 27th year, The Wellness Show is once again offering up experts to help you do a better job at almost everything; from getting off carbs, getting your morning off to a good start, and, well, getting it on.
Bringing that bit of Buddhism to the bedroom is University of B.C. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology professor and psychologist Dr. Lori A. Brotto, who is also the author of the book Better Sex Through Mindfulness.
Brotto’s book and Wellness Show presentation is the culmination of 15 years of incorporating mindfulness into her sexual health research and clinical work with patients.
“It is just a powerful strategy for teaching people to be in the here and the now,” said Brotto.
“So many people with sexual problems talk about a disconnect with their body.”
Brotto’s accessible and interesting text — the book is not an expanded academic paper — moves between hard research, anecdotal examples and practical exercises to help make the sexual experience more enjoyable and engaging for women.
Of course the big O (orgasm not Oprah) is a major player in the conversation about better sex.
“In every study we have done there’s been a significant improvement in ease of reaching orgasm and intensity. It makes a lot of sense,” said Brotto.
“What is orgasm? It is extension of arousal. Because in mindfulness you are really paying attention to the body sensations and really paying attention to when arousal is increasing and mounting and where in the body the arousal is. It’s completely logical then that orgasm would be a natural result of that.”
If you have been awake at all in the last few years you will have undoubtedly heard about mindfulness. The practice has surpassed its spiritual realm and set up shop in the mainstream.
“It (mindfulness) is not just something Buddhist monks do in a cave,” said Brotto.
“It’s hot Western health care, big time. Not just mental health care but also medical health care. Cancer agencies run mindfulness groups because of the data showing mindfulness slows tumour progression. Healthy heart programs run mindfulness groups because of the affects of mindfulness on regulating heart patterns and arrhythmia, etc. So it has hit big time.
“I think one of the big strengths is that it isn’t just a passing fad because the science really stands up to the claims,” added Brotto.
“We have strong data that shows how it works and why it works and also where in the brain it works, too.”
You know what else works? Talking about sex. But sadly we don’t do it enough as women. There still seems to be a shyness or shame factor that stops women from seeking out conversations about sex.
Brotto says data shows men who develop erectile dysfunction do not hesitate to ask their family doctor what’s up with their non-performing penis. She says, after all, “we live in a culture that prizes men’s erections.”
One of the reasons women may balk at talking with their doctor about bad sex is that women often just accept it.
“I think women do need to be a bit more intolerant of difficulties at least as far as talking to health care providers and saying: ‘is this normal? Is there anything I can do? Or should I just accept it?” said Brotto.
“We have so much more comfort having sex than we have comfort talking about it.”
Brotto hopes her book and public appearances will nudge women towards more open dialogues about sex and female sexual dysfunction. It really can be a big factor to enjoying a healthy, happy life, she says.
“The sex conversation is critical, because sex isn’t just this isolated thing that people do recreationally. It is so heavily intertwined with sense of self, mood and relationship satisfaction, fundamentally self esteem,” said Brotto.
“We know countless studies have shown that when there are problems sexually all those different domains start to take a toll as well. It is a fundamental aspect of quality of life, and so in the same way we take very seriously our physical health we have to pay attention to sexual health, too.”
While Brotto is encouraging more women to talk about sex, she says health professionals may not be giving enough attention to the topic of female sexual dysfunction. But she hopes that as more women take ownership of their sex life and ask questions more doctors will look for answers, and conversations will occur.
“But what we are not seeing though is an improvement in doctors talking about it. Doctors getting trained in it,” said Brotto.
“Accessibility to treatment that’s what we’re not seeing. So that will probably be a downstream affect but definitely the conversation around this and also around agency is important. Women saying: ‘I value my sex life. It’s important to me.’ And consent and conversations around pleasure are very important. That is where things like the #metoo movement have really benefited that conversation.”
Brotto hopes attendees of her lecture at the Wellness Show, and those who pick up her book, will benefit from her research.
“Sexual desire, all of the science has taught us it is responsive,” said Brotto.
“It’s something that can be cultivated. It is something that can emerge. It’s not that you are born with a set level of desire and you’re just sort of stuck with that for the rest of your life and so if it goes down you just have to learn to live with it.”
Brotto says we need to get through our heads that desire, like happiness, can be cultivated. So if we really pay attention in the moment in a non-judgmental fashion we can make our desire more responsive to our environment.
Brotto is just one of 100 or so guest speakers/chefs/fitness demos that are on hand for show goers. The Convention Centre floor is also teeming with around 250 vendors.
Chief Constable Adam Palmer congratulated Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia on her Pacific Autism Family Network luncheon reportedly raising $719,000. Malcolm Parry / PNG
PRAISE WHERE DUE: Attending the 20-year-old Odd Squad Production Society’s first open house, Vancouver Chief Constable Adam Palmer praised the independent charity’s membership of serving and retired police officers. “You focus on things that really matter in our society,” he said, citing as “brilliant” a resource program titled Understanding Fentanyl that the squad produced and supplied to all B.C. schools. “You do fantastic work, with more to come, and you have 100 per cent support from the Vancouver Police Department.”
Odd Squad co-founder Sergeant Toby Hinton said that volunteer members “work tirelessly on the streets — for nothing. We are very much involved with (drug-abuse) prevention, and will stay focused on that.” Meanwhile, “Our educational work with the kids is going on like crazy. The future is bright for us.”
MAKING CHANGERS: Chief Palmer was out and about again at the Pacific Autism Family Network’s $175-ticket luncheon. The evening-gala-like event reportedly raised $719,000 for an organization that Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia founded and that has husband Sergio Cocchia as president and board chair. At the luncheon, Game Changer awards were made to the Presidents Group, the RCMP and the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Association. The network’s integrated Hub facility in Richmond serves autism patients and their families. A video message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau thanked 1,000 luncheon guests for being there “tonight.” Those present included B.C. Chief Justice Robert Bauman, former B.C. finance minister Carole Taylor and Lt.-Gov Janet Austin, who spoke warmly of the Cocchias. Premier John Horgan was expected but detained, not that skipping lunch would harm anyone growing in office.
THE … WINNER: In a medium that usually jams words together, CKNW’s Charles Adler has wrested radio’s longest-pause title from CBC’s As It Happens co-host Jeff Douglas.
ROBINSON REDUX: Once familiar around town, Holly Robinson Peete sat as an “honorary game changer” at the autism luncheon’s table. As the yet-unmarried Holly Robson in 1987 to 1992, she played the role of undercover cop Judy Hoffs in the city-shot television series 21 Jump Street. At the luncheon, she accompanied autistic son R J Peete, who will soon be 21 himself. Extolling Vancouver to magazine writer John Lekich in 1987, the multilingual Robinson Peete said: “There are so many naive American who don’t even know there’s civilization here.” Not that that perception has changed entirely.
POWER ON: That would be a red dress according to Lisogar-Cocchia, Robinson Peete and Taylor who were all so-attired at the autism luncheon.
NO-MEAT MEET: Zoe Peled’s limbs, neck and chest are the backdrop for fruit-and-flower tattoos, but the Vancouver Vegan Resource Centre founder says more are unseen. Most evident, though, are the sentiments she showed to produce a holiday party for Animal Justice, a 10-year-old, Ottawa-based non-profit organization of animal-advocacy lawyers. Executive director Camille Labchuk greeted 150 guests, shared vegan fare and said that four animal-supporting bills are before parliament now.
Guests were intrigued by the quicksilver antics of 14-year-old Kingston Zoom Walters, a.k.a. King Zoom: The Vegan Kid. The subject of a second book by writer-illustrator-mother Gillian, Walters recently joined American actor and animal-activist James Cromwell to address a Utah gathering and reportedly save 100 turkeys from Christmas tables. Aware of some animal-rights organizations’ combative protests. Walters says: “My mom reminds me that, when we are talking to pre-vegans, we must always come from a place of compassion and model non-violent communications.” Smart kid.
UP PARRYSCOPE: Downtown’s 105-year-old Sinclair Centre could use a good scrubbing.
TIME WAS: AIDS was still a whispered word in 1990 when Ani Feuermann invited female friends to an awareness lunch at Cafe Veneto. Some of them likely wore bijoux from Feuermann and husband Daniel’s Cartier store. The event caught on. Such early attendees as Jill Lyall, Joan Gusola and Julia Molnar joined current supporters when executive director Lisa Martella fronted the Loving Spoonful feeding agency’s recent World AIDS Day luncheon at the Terminal City Club.
Once an inevitable terminal ailment itself, HIV/AIDS has been controlled enough for attending artist Joe Average, 61, to say: “I’ve had it longer than I haven’t had it.”
FAIR ENOUGH: A bilingual article in Toronto-published Fête Chinoise magazine is resonating in Richmond. Its five pages have Jennifer Lau write about Fairchild Group founder and Aberdeen Centre owner Thomas Fung under the headline (and Fairchild motto) Spirit of Enterprise. The $350-million media-and-real-estate firm’s name reflects an admonition by Fung’s father, the Sung Hung Kai Finance firm founder, to treat everyone fairly. According to Lau, Fairchild’s Chinese-language title merely means “New Era.”
FAIRER YET: Mega-tycoon Henry Ford named his Michigan estate Fair Lane and a series of Ford cars Fairlane to commemorate his maternal grandmother’s birthplace in Cork, Ireland. Ford established a new era, too, when his Model T put America on wheels.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Unlike Harbour Air’s seaplane fleet, Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden discourages twin otters.
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