Liberace, Behind the Candelabra, airs June 8, 2013 here in Canada, on the HBO network. Michael Douglas plays the lead role of the piano virtuoso and entertainer Valentino Liberace, Matt Damon plays his hired lover Scott Thorson, with appearances by Rob Lowe, Dan Aykroyd and Scott Bakula. A star, internationally renown for both his talent, his bubbly and cheerful on stage personality, Liberace was the highest paid entertainer from the 1950’s to the 1970’s.
Xan Brooks, who interviewd Douglas for the The Guardian had this to say about his performance “Douglas conjures the man in all his camp and trashy glory; his teeth a-dazzle, his eyes like glass beads. It is a peach of a role and he gobbles it whole.”
What has Twitter Fans and Blog authors busy is the rather candid sexual confession Michael Douglas makes regarding his health, and his fallible conclusions of in discussing sexual disease prevention and cures.
Michael goes on to disclose a personal reported as saying that his stage four throat cancer was a result of having contracted HPV earlier in his life, through cunnilingus also known as oral sex (giving face) to a female lover. What is interesting about his revelation is that it brings to light a silent disease that may affect more people than commonly known.
“Approximately 79 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. About 14 million people become newly infected each year. HPV is so common that nearly all sexually-active men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives.”
Incredible really, when you think about that statement. The disease is so popular that virtually every sexually active adult will contract one strain of the virus during their lives. Wow. How did this virus get spread so far and so fast? Part of this answer surely rests in the lack of proper screening and testing for the virus. Standard STI tests cover HIV, gonnorhea, chlaymdia, syphillis, Hepatitis A and B. There are further tests that can be ordered based on a patient indicating risk or symptoms, the above though are standard tests across North America at any government approved clinic.
So HIV affects 1.1 millions people a year, and is called an epidemic, while HPV affects 80 times the amount of people is largely goes without any attention or call for improved screening and cures for the low risk strains that cause warts and high risk strains that cause the majority of cervical cancers and throat cancers.
An obvious short-term goal, in the overall solution includes inclusive standardized testing for the virus.
The status quo on STI tests cover HIV, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis, Hepatitis A and B. There are further tests that can be ordered based on a patient indicating risk or symptoms, the above though are standard tests across North America at any government approved clinic. HPV however has no standardized tests, for men or for women, although there is a test for women over 30 that involves cervical screening, and PAP smear results can often indicate a change related to an infection.
“HPV tests are available to help screen women aged 30 years and older for cervical cancer. These HPV tests are not recommended to screen men, adolescents, or women under the age of 30 years. There is no general HPV test for men or women to check one’s overall “HPV status.” Also, there is not an approved HPV test to find HPV in the mouth or throat.”
While I think it commendable that Douglas steps into the media attention with this disease and raises awareness, his comments in regards to lifestyle having little affect the virus, attributing it instead to something outside his control (his son going to prison for selling crystal meth); shows that the man is unwilling to accept responsibility and face the possible shaming attached to having a sexually transmitted disease, and not taking better care of his health.
It is well known that Michael Douglas lived an indulgent lifestyle not just in women, but in food, smoking and alcohol; all of which are known to cause the infection to grow and turn carcinogenic. It is also well known that HPV is transmitted through skin to skin contact, and can include oral sex between homosexual partners, and having more unprotected oral sex with anyone is a bad idea. Contrary to his endorsement, HPV transmission does not “giveth and taketh away”…
“And if you have it, cunnilingus is also the best cure for it… It giveth and it taketh.”
(The Guardian Interview)
If you have HPV or has a partner with HPV, being responsible means, you practice barrier-method sexual contact to keep from passing it to other partners because there are over 100 different strains of the virus. Living with both low risk and high-risk strains of HPV can be very uncomfortable and challenging for those who have it. It can cause small irritancies, like warts, to cervical cancer in women, and has Michael Douglas knows all too well, it is further known to develop into throat cancer
In spite of millions of dollars raised for preventative research, to date there is no commercial cure for HPV virus, Herpes Virus, or HIV viruses. The latter of which the beloved showman, Liberace passed away from, and brought a great deal of light and exposure to HIV / AIDS in the gay community, at a time, when homosexual men in America were very much “closeted” if they were in the spotlight, or high profile men of distinction.
The movie airs this weekend on HBO. Be sure to check it out.
Written By: Tonnya Roberts Marisse
Sources / Supporting Links / Works Cited (If none, please type “none”): References Center for Disease Control & Prevention; Sexually Transmitted Diseases – Gential HPV Infection http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm CDC. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data – United States and 6 U.S. dependent areas – 2010. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2012;17(No. 3). Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/resources/reports/. Published June 2012. (Accessed June 25, 2012). Brooks, Xan, (June 2, 2013) The Guardian, Michael Douglas on Liberace, Cannes, cancer and cunnilingus: The actor talks about marriage to Catherine Zeta-Jones, his role in Behind the Candelabra and why he’s fortunate to be alive http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2013/jun/02/michael-douglas-liberace-cancer-cunnilingus