Connect with us


Clinic to tackle sex addiction



“It was a constant circle, I was caught in a loop and I couldn’t get out of it,” declared one man of the tight compulsive grip of sex addiction in his life.

“You just have to have it, you just have to hunt it, no matter where, and no matter how many times I had it that night, I thought I’ve just got to have it again,” said another.

But then “it’s hard to even recognize sexually addictive behavior in the gay community,” said a third, “because it’s all so sexualized,” as others agreed, chiming in, “our culture is a very sexually charged culture” and “the gay lifestyle has so much to do with sex” and “look at the straight world where there’s no bathhouses.”

Each of these men were among those at a Whitman-Walker Center lecture held on Dec. 15 by Alexandria-based gay psychotherapist David C. Bissette, who warned the nearly 20 men that while cessation of sexually compulsive acts — for example, excessive time spent online searching for sex or looking at pornography, acting out sexually in public and risking arrest, engaging in unsafe sexual practices such as barebacking — was best, at a minimum steps to reduce harmful effects from such behavior was imperative for continuing such behavior can court disaster.

But the very label of “sexual addiction” is problematic for clinical professionals, some of whom accept it — such as the man who coined the term itself in 1983, Patrick Carnes, with a doctorate in counseling who now heads the Gentle Path program, a treatment for what he terms “sexually addictive disorder” at the Pine Grove Behavioral Center in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Carnes’ approach is spelled out in detail at his web site,, where he offers an online screening test titled “Am I a sex addict?”

Other experts are doubtful that such a condition can actually be defined, and the term isn’t yet recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of therapists everywhere. Along with other controversial diagnoses, however, such as those relating to certain gender identity issues, sexual addiction (or SA for short) is now being debated for a future revision of the DSM.

For Dr. Bissette, however, the condition exists and he offers treatment for it, as will the Whitman-Walker Clinic, which will offer two services: one a sexual compulsion psychotherapy group run by Clinic staffer Randy Pumphrey and the other a peer-led support group, run something akin to a 12-step program.

But critics charge that the label of SA is often just a dodge invented to shield people like Tiger Woods from the full consequences of his marital misdeeds or that it is a lip-smacker packaged for TV voyeur-viewers and offered for prurient delectation such as on VH1’s recent show “Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew.” Dr. Drew Pinsky that just ended the show’s first season last Sunday night.

Some critics of the diagnosis also link it to traditionalist Christian groups that seek to promote conversion of people from gay to straight sexual orientations, and groups such as James Dobson’s Focus on the Family often conflate homosexuality itself with SA. But another point of view in this “contested terrain” of diagnosis and treatment is found at the Sexual Recovery Institute, which clearly states that it does not view homosexual relationships as a sign of SA.

And one observer has pointed out that “healthy sex” is subjective, so the diagnosis of SA typically relies on the patient simply feeling ashamed of his or her behavior. The diagnosis is incidentally overwhelmingly male in its application. In one observer’s view, everyone is apt to feel ashamed at times in a world pockmarked with taboos and guilt. If we’re afraid of lust, in other words, and being discovered to be sexually abnormal, does that mean that we really are?

Bissette can be reached at his Alexandria office at 703-705-6161 or at Dr. Pumphrey can be reached at the Whitman-Walker Clinic at 202-939-7679 or at [email protected]. To learn more about the peer-led support group, contact Whitman-Walker Center staffer Steve Geishecker, a licensed social worker, at 202-939-7674 or at [email protected].



Gilead awards $5 million grant to HRC’s HIV and health equity programs

Money to support efforts to end the epidemic and combat stigma



Human Rights Campaign headquarters in D.C.(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Human Rights Campaign was awarded a $5 million grant from drugmaker Gilead Sciences to expand the organization’s HIV and health equity programs, supporting efforts to end the HIV epidemic by 2030 while combatting stigma in Black and Latino communities.

Funds will be used over the next three years for the HRC Foundation’s HIV and Health Equity Program, its Historically Black Colleges and Universities Program, and its Transgender Justice Initiative, HRC said in a statement Wednesday announcing receipt of the award, which extends Gilead’s $3.2 million grant to the HRC Foundation in 2021.

The organization said its HIV and Health Equity Program plans to develop a “benchmarking tool for institutions that provide HIV services, helping better evaluate the quality of care and measure racially and socially inclusive approaches” while defining “best practices, policies and procedures to optimize HIV service provision for BIPOC LGBTQ+ communities.”

HRC President Kelley Robinson said, “Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, racism and anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination have created dangerous hurdles for those seeking prevention or treatment.”

“With the generous support of Gilead Sciences, we’ll be able to continue providing critical
resources to help overcome these hurdles, especially focusing on Black and Latine communities in the U.S. South,” Robinson added. “We’ll also be able to expand our efforts, as we seek to remove institutional barriers often unknowingly created by HIV service providers. We must decrease the disparities that place an unnecessary burden on Black and Latine LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV.”

Gilead Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs and General Counsel Deborah Telman said the company “is committed to advancing health equity, particularly in Black communities and other communities of color that are disproportionately affected by HIV.”

“This grant will build on the impactful work HRC has done with community partners and HBCUs to increase awareness of HIV treatment and prevention options and reduce health disparities, combat discrimination and fight stigma,” Telman said.

Continue Reading


New CDC data shows HIV infections dropped, but mostly among whites

Socioeconomic factor into disproportionate rates



Data published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a significant decline in new HIV infections, but suggests the impact of prevention efforts was far less substantial for Black and Latino populations.

From 2017-2021, as rates of HIV testing, treatment and the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication rose, new cases dropped by 12 percent overall and by as much as 34 percent among gay and bisexual males aged 13-24.

The numbers show a “move in the right direction,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a press release.

However, when broken down by race, the CDC found new infections were down by 27 percent and 36 percent, respectively, among Black and Latino populations, compared with 45 percent of whites.

Similarly, by 2021 about one third of those who are considered eligible were taking PrEP for HIV prevention, but the CDC noted this number includes “relatively few Black people or Hispanic/Latino people” despite the significant increase in prescriptions up from just 13 percent in 2017.

“Longstanding factors, such as systemic inequities, social and economic marginalization and residential segregation,” Walensky noted, continue to act as barriers “between highly effective HIV treatment and prevention and people who could benefit from them.”

She added, “Efforts must be accelerated and strengthened for progress to reach all groups faster and equitably.”

Robyn Neblett Fanfair, acting director of the CDC’s Division of HIV Prevention, said that “At least three people in the U.S. get HIV every hour — at a time when we have more effective prevention and treatment options than ever before.”

“These tools must reach deep into communities and be delivered faster to expand progress from some groups to all groups,” she said.

The HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute issued a press release following the CDC’s announcement of the new data, noting both the encouraging progress and need for improvement.

“It appears that our investments in HIV prevention are providing some positive results, but the persistent high number of new diagnoses and the low usage of PrEP among the communities most impacted by HIV point to the need for increased resources, particularly for a national PrEP program,” said the group’s executive director, Carl Schmid.

President Joe Biden’s FY24 budget requested $237 million for a national PrEP program along with $850 million to support the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ “Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S.” initiative.

Continue Reading


Officials eye mpox prevention, vaccination initiatives for this summer’s LGBTQ events

New cluster of cases reported in Chicago



Drs. Robert Fenton and Demetre Daskalakis, coordinator and deputy coordinator for the White House national mpox response, during a briefing in August 2022 (Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith)

Federal health agencies, in coordination with their state and local counterparts and community partners, are exploring opportunities to offer mpox prevention initiatives and vaccinations at LGBTQ events this summer, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis said on Thursday.

Daskalakis, the deputy coordinator for the White House’s national mpox response, described these deliberations in response to a question from the Washington Blade during a media telebriefing on mpox that was hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC on Monday issued a Health Alert Network Health Update on the potential risk for new mpox cases.

Since the peak of about 460 cases per day in August 2022, new cases have steadily declined, but following the cluster recently reported in the Chicago area, the update warns, “spring and summer season in 2023 could lead to a resurgence of mpox as people gather for festivals and other events.”

“We have the vaccine, and we have organizations that are willing to do it,” Daskalakis said during Thursday’s call, adding that resources are available and can be deployed flexibly because they are built into existing “HIV and STI funding to allow for this work.”

And the Mpox Crisis Response Cooperative Agreement, Daskalakis said, “provides even more resources locally for such efforts.”

Daskalakis and CDC Mpox Response Incident Manager Dr. Christopher R. Braden also briefed reporters on findings from new studies on the efficacy of the JYNNEOS vaccine for the prevention of mpox.

That data, per the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, reveals that “Among gay, bisexual, and other MSM and transgender adults aged 18-49 years, two doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine were 86 percent effective against mpox, indicating substantial protection against mpox.”

Additionally, “All routes of vaccine administration provided similar protection.”

Continue Reading

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade