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CDC Report: AIDS Is a Black – and Poor – Disease – New America Media

Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on CDC Report: AIDS Is a Black – and Poor – Disease – New America Media

In America, "HIV clearly strikes at the economically disadvantaged in a devastating way," Dr. Kevin Fenton of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) said in a statement at the recent biennial international AIDS Conference. At the conference, the CDC released a study revealing a strong link between low socioeconomic class and HIV/AIDS, finding that although "Blacks are 12.8% of the U.S. population, they represent 45% of all people infected each year with HIV." And the link between oppressed groups and HIV risk just get worse from there. Black women, the study found, "represent 66% of all new HIV cases each year among women," and "although Black teenagers are only 15% of U.S. teen population, they account for 68% of all new AIDS cases among teens." And for gay and bisexual men, 46% of Black men have contracted the virus, compared to 21% of gay and bisexual men who are white.

Contrary to what some would like to believe, biology isn't to blame for this; social stigmas and prejudices are.

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Denying Sex Workers HIV Funds | Mother Jones

Posted: August 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Denying Sex Workers HIV Funds | Mother Jones

After years of discrimination, sex workers and NGOs staged the largest protest against the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) ever at this year's International AIDS Conference. Back in 2003, mandated by the Republican-controlled Congress and former President Bush, PEPFAR was heralded by many conservatives and liberals as a big step forward for HIV/AIDS prevention in Africa. What many don't know is that an anti-prostitution clause embedded in the bill severed US funding to one of the highest at-risk populations: sex workers.

PEPFAR mandates that any organization receiving US funds enforce "a policy explicitly opposing prostitution and sex trafficking." But, Titania Kumeh notes, "it's not clear whether [PEPFAR's proponents] recognized the difference between sex trafficking and prostitution, spoke to any sex worker-run organizations that combat exploitation, or spoke to groups that seek HIV preventative care and battle sex trafficking," thus harming PEPFAR's own goal.

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The Work of SANGRAM: Sex Workers Claiming Their Rights | RHRealityCheck.org

Posted: July 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Work of SANGRAM: Sex Workers Claiming Their Rights | RHRealityCheck.org

We don't always know much about the people we want to help; that's why it's important that we listen to them just as much, if not more, than we talk to them. Meena Seshu, co-founder of SANGRAM, a rights-based organization that helps vulnerable groups in India to mobilize and protect themselves against HIV/AIDS, discovered this when she first spent time with sex workers. She found that when she cleared her vision from the clouding of her background, she saw a community of women who knew how to manage themselves, their families, and their clients. They didn't need to be taught anything – all they needed were the proper tools, and they could manage the epidemic as well. This experience lead to the creation of SANGRAM's bill of rights – which includes "People have the right to say YES or NO to things that concern them," and "People have the right to reject harmful social norms." A bill of rights exceptional not only for HIV/AIDS vulnerable populations, but for everyone, everywhere.

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Ban on gay blood donors upheld by panel – AIDS- msnbc.com

Posted: June 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Ban on gay blood donors upheld by panel – AIDS- msnbc.com

It ain't much, but it's a start: citing flaws in the research, on June 11th the Health and Human Services Committee called for new research on policy alternatives to the life-time blood-donation ban on gay men, but did not recommend lifting the ban. There was much testimony on both sides of the issue. One possible alternative would be to switch to a 1 year deferral period after homosexual relations, which would bring in an additional 89,000 pints of blood a year. Despite this increase, most of the conversation focused around blood safety rather than blood supply. Some other countries seem to have a good idea of how to keep supplies safe: Spain and Italy screen donors for risky behaviors, rather than simply for orientation. Huh; Good thought!

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I.H.T. Op-Ed Contributor – Learning From Soap Operas – NYTimes.com

Posted: June 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on I.H.T. Op-Ed Contributor – Learning From Soap Operas – NYTimes.com

Some of the most dedicatedly watched television programming world wide, Soap Operas and telenovellas serve an unexpected purpose – education about female empowerment, sexuality, HIV/AIDS and other health issues. They are watched – or listened to – by everyone from stay-at-home-moms to doctors, from America to Ethiopia. Various communities and organizations, getting wise to this fact, are even creating new programs directly aimed at educating about health or breaking down the taboos around HIV/AIDS. Turns out, there's more to "Days of Our Lives" than anyone had guessed!

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New Research Finds Using Lube During Anal Sex Can Increase HIV, STD Transmission – Queer Sighted

Posted: May 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on New Research Finds Using Lube During Anal Sex Can Increase HIV, STD Transmission – Queer Sighted

A new study finds reason to believe that four popular over the counter personal lubricants increase the risk of HIV transmission when used anally. Five brands were tested, including Astroglide, Elbow Grease, ID Glide, KY Jelly and Wet Platinum, along with a sixth product (PRÉ), used as a control. The researchers presented their findings at the International Microbicides Conference last week and revealed Wet Platinum and PRÉ as the safest lubes of the set.

"Research found that water-based lubes draw water out of cells, weakening and even killing the cells. Some of the tested products also weakened or destroyed the surface of epithelial cells, which act as a sort of protective cover in the mouth, nose, and rectum," Zachary Wilson writes for Queer Sighted. The Safety and Anti-HIV Activity of Over-the-Counter Lubricant Gels study is the first of its kind to evaluate effects of sex lubes on STI transmission rates.

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Judge Rules Topping Not a ‘Significant Risk’ for HIV Infection | CarnalNation

Posted: May 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Judge Rules Topping Not a ‘Significant Risk’ for HIV Infection | CarnalNation

A trial in Vancouver ends in further complications for legal and public health initiatives against HIV/AIDS. Justice Lauri Ann Fenion "acquitted an HIV-positive man of aggravated assault for engaging in unprotected receptive anal sex without disclosing his serostatus to his partner," Tim McElreavy reports.

Both Canada and the US "criminalized the non-disclosure of HIV-positive status in situations that carried a 'significant risk' for HIV transmission but without defining 'significant risk.' As a result, HIV-positive individuals have been charged with and prosecuted for a variety of felonies…from aggravated assault to murder. […T]he U.S. [has] charged HIV-positive individuals with a range of crimes, including murder and, most recently, terrorism."

Activists say ambiguous laws "are terrible public health policy because ignorance of one's HIV status is the best legal defense. 'Take the test and risk arrest' is the message many at risk, who need to get tested, will ultimately hear."

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