(Egypt) - A series of arrests in Cairo, sparked by one man’s admission to police that he was HIV-positive, endangers public health as well as human rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch called on Egyptian authorities to overturn the convictions of four men for the “habitual practice of debauchery,” and to free four others who are held pending trial. The government should end arbitrary arrests based on HIV status and take steps to end prejudice and misinformation about HIV/AIDS. “These shocking arrests and trials embody both ignorance and injustice,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch.
Note: Read more on UK Gay News
(Canada) - In February 2004, HIV-positive Ryan Handy met a man online. The two had unprotected sex. Handy says his mental illness had left him delusional and psychotic, that he believed he was a messiah, that he could cure HIV and that he had healed himself. Soon Handy realized he'd made a mistake. After he told the man he was HIV-positive, the man called police. Handy immediately confessed and was charged with aggravated sexual assault. He was convicted in November, faces up to 25 years in prison and is due to be sentenced on Jan 31. Handy, and other Gay men facing similar charges, are branded as sex criminals and pilloried in the mainstream press.
Note: Read more on Xtra.com
(USA) - A new variety of staphilococcus bacteria, highly resistant to antibiotics and possibly transmitted by sexual contact, is spreading among Gay men in San Francisco, Boston, New York and Los Angeles. The study released online by the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found the highest concentrations of infection by the drug-resistant bug in and around San Francisco's Castro district and among patients who visit health clinics that treat HIV infections in Gay men in San Francisco and Boston. The culprit is a form of MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a bug that was once confined to hospitalized patients but, since the late 1990s, has been circulating outside medical settings, afflicting anyone from injection-drug users to elementary school students. The study estimated that 1 in 588 residents living within the Castro neighborhood 94114 ZIP code area is infected with that variant.
Note: Read more on SF Gate
(UK) - “The 36% cut in NHS funding for HIV prevention work among Gay men in London has not been reversed,” said Gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of OutRage! “None of the local NHS trusts have said they will reinstate the cuts. “There have been some private assurances that funding will be restored but no official or public announcement. Moreover, these assurances are based solely on a recommendation that local NHS trusts reverse the reduction in funding. But the local trusts are semi-autonomous and under no obligation to implement the recommendations. Read more...
(India) - India's National AIDS Control Programme, initiated by the National AIDS Control Organisation, shifts from phase-II to phase-III. In phase-III the core group includes 'men having sex with men' (MSM), sex workers and injecting drug users (IDU). Some of the NGOs have actually given up their projects simply because it goes against their ideology. "There are some organisations which admitted that they would prefer to back out from such projects. Their argument is that they would not like to directly interact with sex workers or Gays instead of target groups including youths."
Note: Read more on Times of India
(New Zealand) - A decision by the USA to continue invasive and repressive immigration restrictions on traveling HIV positive New Zealanders is being labeled hypocritical, humiliating and "a broken Presidential promise" by this country’s largest HIV organisations. Body Positive Auckland spokesperson Bruce Kilmister says he has seen HIV positive people merely transiting through the USA publicly humiliated by being placed under armed guard with their travel documents seized at the entry airport. They have later been marched onto a return flight home. The United States is one of only thirteen countries that bar HIV positive people from entering its borders, putting it alongside the likes of Iraq, China, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Note: Read more on GayNZ
HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, is the cause of AIDS. The number of people infected with HIV is staggering -- more than 33 million worldwide have the disease, according to the latest estimates from the United Nations. And "more than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981," said David Bryden, spokesman for the Global AIDS Alliance Fund, an organization based in Washington, D.C. Established by the World Health Organization in 1988, World AIDS Day serves to focus global attention on the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The day provides an opportunity for governments, national AIDS programs, faith organizations, community organizations and individuals to demonstrate the importance of the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Note: Read more on Herald Tribune
(USA) - The Bush administration is trying to pull a fast one - rushing through draconian proposed new regulations that will restrict even further the entry of HIV-positive people into to the US, just one year after having promised to ease them. On November 6, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued stringent proposed new regulations for HIV-positive travelers coming here which are "pretty regressive" and "extremely troubling," according to Nancy Oldover, assistant director for federal affairs and research at the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC). But the 30-day deadline for public comment imposed by DHS means a cut-off date of December 6 for reactions to the new regs, leaving little time for the AIDS advocacy community to mobilize.
Note: Read more on Gay City News
(USA) - An HIV activist has gone off on a limb that has alienated him from AIDS researchers, activists and organizations by advocating "self-serosorting" by HIV-positive and--and this is the controversial part--HIV-negative Gay men. Even if his methods are unconventional and his rhetoric off-putting to many, he’s raising points that have been discussed for years. Just not in the open -- until now. Some 25 years into the AIDS epidemic, Gay men are debating serosorting more than ever before. Part of that is due to an "unstoppable protagonist" as he has been called, Robert Brandon Sandor. Bolstered by reports that suggest serosorting brings either psychological relief or danger to Gay men, Sandor has embarked on a crusade to keep "pozzies" and "neggies" out of each other’s bedrooms.
Note: Read more on Edge Boston
(Germany) - In Berlin, as in most major cities, boys and young men from as young as 14-years old work the curbs, sex cinemas and gay bars of the German capital. The fact that the rent boys of Berlin barely register on most people's radars led to the creation of an association in 1992 to help those in prostitution. The employees of "Sub/Way" visit the districts of Berlin where the boys work and supply them with condoms and advice on how to be safe on the streets. Once a week, the Sub/Way team loads their van up with condoms, lubricants, sexual health pamphlets, instant soups and hot chocolate before entering the dark underbelly of the German capital. Sub/Way doesn't only work with the boys on the streets. Its drop-in center in Berlin offers the boys washing, sleeping and eating facilities as well as advice and medical help. The workers there also help to put the boys into contact with each other, to share stories and find companions.
Note: Read more on Deutsche Welle
(Pakistan) - Shujaat plies his trade well. As dusk falls on the Pir Wadhai bus station in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi, the slender 19-year-old gauges disembarking passengers for that ‘look’ – a responsive glance or wink suggesting a desire for more than just a quick bus ride home. “Here you can find all sorts; mostly truckers, soldiers, day labourers, and of course married men,” he said, leaning against the wall. “I always find someone,” the now veteran male sex worker (MSW) boasted. After three years on the streets, Shujaat’s confidence is dwarfed only by his ambivalence towards contracting HIV – a virus that he and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are increasingly at risk of.
Note: Read more on UKGayNews
(New Zealand) - Hoani Jeremy Lambert certainly didn't see eye to eye with Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia last week when she fired off a much-reported press release criticising the NZAF for neglecting Maori amidst what she believed was a massive surge in HIV infections amidst her constituency. Not for the first time, it was Lambert, not the NZAF's Executive Director, who fronted up to the indignant politician. The criticisms were "pretty easy to deal with," he says, "mainly because they are so unenlightened and I don't see those recent attacks as being all that serious because they are quite easy to fend off... they are basically just demonstrations of poor understandings of our work and also what I call identity politics gone mad."
Note: Read more on GayNZ
(UK) - Scotland's top doctor has issued a plea to health staff to offer more patients HIV tests amid concerns that many are still dying from the disease because they were diagnosed too late. While there have been great advances in the treatment of the condition, a recent audit has revealed that late diagnoses account for at least 35% of HIV-related deaths among adults in the UK. The survey, carried out by the British HIV Association, also found that in around a quarter of cases, diagnosis came too late for effective treatment. The findings have prompted chief medical officer Dr Harry Burns to write last week to all doctors and nurses asking for a "special effort" to help combat the condition by offering a test when appropriate.
Note: Read more on Sunday Herald
(USA) - The condom-friendly sex education of the ’90s has been replaced wholesale by the Bush administration’s devotion to abstinence-until-marriage, while, simultaneously, marriage has become a legal impossibility for most US Gay and Lesbians. And as Gay people fight for rights and acceptance from society at-large, many continue to struggle with self acceptance, tensions with their families and creating healthy intimate relationships. “If you have this feeling of yourself as not being worthy, perhaps you don’t really care about yourself, you don’t care about your health, and so you might not use a condom,” said Celia Lescano, a researcher at Brown University who studies condom use among young people.
Note: Read more on Southern Voice
(South Africa) - Francisco Chimoio, head of the Catholic church in Mozambique, made headlines last week with his claim that European-made condoms are deliberately laced with the HIV virus. This sabotage, he says, was intended to wipe out "the African people". But these aren't just whacky comments that can be filed under "strange things that religious extremists say". Worryingly, some HIV conspiracy theorists are key political figures. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, South Africa's health minister, earned herself the moniker "Dr Beetroot" because of her promotion of garlic and beetroot as Aids remedies - she believes that anti-HIV drugs are toxic. Clearly she is following the party line, because President Thabo Mbeki has famously denied that the HIV virus is the sole cause of Aids.
Note: Read more on Guardian
(Mozambique) - The head of the Catholic Church in Mozambique has told the BBC he believes some European-made condoms are infected with HIV deliberately. Maputo Archbishop Francisco Chimoio claimed some anti-retroviral drugs were also infected "in order to finish quickly the African people". The Catholic Church formally opposes any use of condoms, advising fidelity within marriage or sexual abstinence.
Note: Read more on BBC
(UK) - Sir Elton John urged Gordon Brown to take the lead in ensuring developing nations honoured their pledges to triple funding for the battle against Aids. In a statement through the Elton John Aids Foundation, the star said the Prime Minister's "leadership and vision" was "urgently needed, right now". He talked of the lives saved in Africa thanks to his foundation, set up 14 years ago, and the thousands who died for lack of access to what are affordable antiretroviral drugs. In June the G8 countries promised to make access to HIV/Aids treatment universal by 2010, through tripling the size of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, tuberculosis and Malaria to 6-8 billion dollars (£3-4bn). But Sir Elton claimed that at the present rate the world was barely on track to meet half that target.
(Uganda) - Ugandan moralist and pastor, Martin Ssempa, argued while being hosted on KFM’s Hard Talk that it is untrue that Gays and Lesbians face discrimination when seeking HIV/Aids treatment, care and counselling at public and private health clinics. The vulnerability of Gay women and men is not due to any biological predisposition, but is the result of an interlocking set of human rights violations and social inequalities that heighten HIV risk. When HIV positive Gay people go to HIV health care units they are given counselling on the basis that their partners are of the opposite sex. Even when they disclose their sexual orientation, very few doctors either understand Gay or Lesbian sex or are interested in handling patients who practise ‘illegal sex’.
Note: Read more on Monitor
(China) - Gay college students in Beijing are being offered 50 yuan ($6.50) cash bonuses and free medical treatments in exchange for undergoing voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) for HIV. So far, more than 100 homosexual university students have registered for the VCT. The students are enrolled at several Beijing universities, including Peking University, Tsinghua University and Renmin University of China, project coordinator Xiao Dong told China Daily. The project was officially launched on Tuesday at a private hospital specialized in treating sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The goal is to raise awareness of such diseases among homosexual students and to obtain more firsthand information about on-campus gay culture.
Note: Read more on China Daily
(USA) - Researchers on the University of Pittsburgh have suggested giving antiretroviral drug tenofovir to uninfected individuals in order to protect them from HIV infection. The medicine has been tested on monkeys and proved to be very effective against a version of the HI virus. Tenofovir is a drug which is already used in AIDS treatment, and now it is reportedly being tested in humans for the specific purpose of preventive tratment. The US researchers claimed the suggested strategy of prescribing HIV medicine to healthy people could significantly inhibit the spread of HIV in Africa. Read more...