Male Birth Control that may also kill HIV?

risug_mechanism

risug_mechanism

Male Birth Control that can also kill HIV?

More often than not, the responsibility of preventing pregnancy falls on female-bodied individuals – birth control pills, the patch, IUDs, insertive condoms, etc. But what about guys who want to take responsibility too? Or women for whom a lot of the standard options don’t work?

Enter a new option: for years, researchers in India have been looking at a technique called RISUGTM (reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance). Basically, a doctor injects a gel into the vas deferens, which are the tubes that the sperm flows through on the way to ejaculation. The gel hardens as it coats the walls of the tubes, and tears apart the sperm as they pass by so that they can’t cause pregnancy. It’s a non-surgical procedure that can last for twenty or more years, and is easily reversible by injecting a solution that dissolves the gel. Within a few months of reversal, fertility should return to normal.

But it doesn’t stop there – now researchers are talking about ways to make the gel also prevent transmission of HIV. There are different

Penis Anatomy

Penis Anatomy

ideas about how it would work – like inactivating HIV in sperm or having the gel release drugs that would kill the HIV downstream (because some components of semen don’t pass through the vas deferens – they come from the seminal vesicles, prostate and bulbourethral glands).

Of course, it’s still in trials so we won’t be seeing it on the market any time soon, but if it works this could be huge! Not only would it be another option for preventing pregnancy, but it would also provide a new way for serodiscordant couples to prevent transmission of HIV to the negative partner.

What do you think? Would you try it? Would you trust your partner if they said they’d had it done?

Sources: http://www.newmalecontraception.org/risug.htm

http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/S0306-9877%2805%2900096-4/abstract

Male-Sperm

Male-Sperm

Advertisements

How Breast Milk Can Transmit HIV and Why We Should Inform Women

As one of the last fluids we think about when we think about HIV, I thought it might be helpful for us to learn a little more about the 4th fluid that transmits HIV. Since blood, semen and vaginal secretions have gotten all the attention, why not take a moment and learn a little more about how breast milk can transmit HIV.

What a brief review of the research shows:

  • Infant feeding is estimated to be responsible for anywhere from 5-20% of mother to child transmission. If a child is born HIV-negative to a positive mother who is not on antiretroviral treatment, the risk associated with prolonged breastfeeding is estimated at 10-20%.
  • HIV RNA is found in breast milk and the risk of transmission is directly related to the viral load in the mother’s milk.  Some mothers may have a specific gene (SDF1 3’A allele) that causes increased viral replication in breast milk and therefore increases transmission risk.
  • Although breastfeeding from an HIV-positive mother poses a risk of HIV transmission to the infant, there is also evidence that it provides better health outcomes for the child than formula feeding (protective against other infectious diseases)
  • The World Health Organization promotes alternative (formula feeding) only when it is  “affordable, feasible, acceptable, sustainable and safe.” When ARVs are widely available and breastfeeding is a social norm, they recommend that HIV-positive mothers breastfeed until 12 months of age.
  • Women who are on antiretroviral treatment while breastfeeding have a lower risk of transmitting HIV to their infant. (about 3.5% in one study in Kenya)
  • Exclusive breastfeeding has been associated with a reduced risk of late HIV transmission as compared to mixed feeding. Mixed feeding practices (breast milk plus other liquids or solids) and prolonged breastfeeding (more than 6 months) are associated with increased risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding is hard. Barriers include low milk production, lack of control over the feeding situation, and both perceived and enacted stigma.
  • Infants can develop resistance to HIV medications independent their mother’s resistance – that is, the mother is not necessarily passing on a resistant virus, but if the infant becomes infected while breastfeeding and the mother is on ARV, the infant is being exposed to small amounts of the drugs through breast milk and may therefore develop resistance to them.

The more we can inform women about the risks and benefits associated with breastfeeding, as well as things that can reduce the risk, the better able they will be to make the best decision for themselves and their infants.

Some of the articles/abstracts, if you want to read more in-depth:

WHO Guidelines:

A systematic review of a number of publications on HIV and breastfeeding:

How genetics may impact transmission rates:

Drug resistance:

Large Breastfeeding study in Kenya:

Difficulties of exclusive breastfeeding:

Viral load:

If anyone is still reading,

To kill HIV in breast milk, flash-heating breast milk can inactivate HIV without destroying too many of the vitamins or immunoglobulin in the milk that make it beneficial to the baby. The WHO recommends it as an option to reduce vertical HIV transmission in resource-poor regions. Of course, to do this the mother has to express the milk first, then heat it, then feed it via bottle – so it’s kind of a compromise between breastfeeding, which could transmit HIV, and bottle feeding formula, which has other nutritional/gastrointestinal risks.

What do you think? How has this changed how you think about HIV? Has it changed any of your thoughts?

Let’s make (our relationships) better!

Let’s make (our relationships) better!

Every year we all sit around the television, watch the countdown and at the stroke of midnight (if we’re lucky) someone attractive next to us will give us a huge kiss. Apart from Valentine’s Day, I would say this is the day I see the most people smooching at the same time. After this kiss we say aloud what we have all been thinking about for weeks; our new year’s resolution. Each and every year we vow (without consequence) to do something less, more or not at all. These wishes range from being nicer, traveling more, seeing more friends, being a better sibling, losing weight and some of us to being better partners. However adding that extra spark to our relationships can be easier said than done.

So, in line with the holidays and beginning of a New Year, I thought I’d pull together an easy list of some possible action steps you might take to improve your relationships in the coming year. This year let’s all create resolutions for our relationships with the people we love and care about.

Now I know we are all incredibly busy. With the excessive demands on our time it can sometimes be easy to ignore our relationships, but this unconscious devaluation of love can really harm us in the end. And for those couples who have been together for a long time, it’s even easier to settle into comfortable routines and patterns (I call this the relationship slip) at the expense of attending to and nurturing our relationship with our partners. This kind of carelessness can really make your relationship sour and boring, possibly leading to a host of other problems that can erode the foundations we have all worked so hard to keep. So for the rest of this blog, put down your cell phones, log off of Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, My yearbook, Twitter, or any other social media site you may be multitasking with and pay full attention to the next few paragraphs.

Want copious amounts of love in the New Year?

Conscious intention toward putting consistent energy into your relationship is crucial for its long-term success. So why not, as a couple, create your own list of New Year’s Resolutions for your relationship and make sure to keep each other accountable to it? In fact, the actual act of the two of you sitting down and developing a list would be a great first item, something the two of you could creatively do that fosters togetherness and mutual brainstorming on ways to super-charge your connection. The two (or possibly more) of you are creating a vision for your relationship, and the pure act of doing that begins to cement more intimacy between you as you have common goals to pursue and successes to celebrate along the way. This resolution can be simple, but make sure to make it something that you can actually achieve. This doesn’t mean make your goal low, but surely something that you can work towards. Something like:

“in 2012, we as a couple will do the following for the benefit and love of each other,”

Or “this year we will accomplish the following goals together to further solidify our love for each other”

I made a list of 9 simple things that can be on your list, but make sure to also think of your own make them as fun as you can and decorate them when you are done.

1. To listen to each other without interrupting and tell each other when we fear we aren’t heard.

2. To take notice of the “little things” (that can actually be the most important things) we do for each other and acknowledge the effort we put into the relationship.

3. To make more time for each other and restructure our schedules so that we have more quality time and availability to go out on dates and enjoy each other (this could be once a week, every 2 weeks or even for 5 minutes every day).

4. To make love to each other with more passion, intensity, and creativity (safely, of course).

5. To create a scrapbook of memories of our life together that will act as a legacy of our relationship (arts and crafts can be great for building passion. Like Martha Stewart says, “it’s a good thing”).

6. To make sure and “check in” with each other every day to stay centered and focused even when life gets hectic.

7. To surprise each other with simple reminders that we love and cherish each other (a note on the bathroom mirror or a heart written on the snow covering our car, maybe even flowers sent to our schools or jobs).

8. To keep/make more friends who support our relationship and we can go out with.

9.To ensure that we each have both an individual identity and an identity as a couple to bring about more balance/health to our partnership (Having outside interests, hobbies, and passions will help bring more novelty and freshness to joining lives).

And the list can go on and on. Fine-tune these, as well as the ones you’ve come up with so that they are specific, concrete, and measurable. This way, you both know exactly what you have to do to accomplish the goals you’ve set because they’re spelled out with no “wiggle-room” for sabotage, and you’ll ensure that they’re achievable. Prioritize your items and only focus on a few initially so as not to get too overwhelmed. Keep the list in multiple places, near the front door, the bedroom, the bathroom even on your smart phones or post them to each other’s Facebook pages as a reminder of what you agreed to.

Maintain these tasks, and your commitment will soar to new heights! Reward yourselves for jobs well done and from time to time check-in with each other to gauge how you’re doing and if any revisions or additions need to be made. What are your thoughts about healthy relationships. How do you make yours better each day?

-Ernesto Dominguez

Why Gender Neutral Bathrooms Should Matter To You.

 

“…when they willfully ignore the concerns of LGBT people,

they not only limit opportunities for these individuals, but

also stifle our community as a whole. In the end, it is the

community that loses, as dynamic, intelligent, and highly

skilled people move on to places that value and respect them.”

–National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Recently I have been thinking quite a bit about the value of gender neutral bathrooms. As a cis-gender gay man (who on occasion may like to dress a little more feminine) I have never had to think about the bathroom I needed to use. In all honesty If you had asked me a year ago if I thought gender neutral bathrooms were an important issue for the queer community I would have said “no.” I understood that this was an issue that trans* folks and gender non-conforming folks were dealing with, but I would not have put this issue above the dozens of other issues the queer community was working on.

Some public places (such as facilities targeted to the transgender or LGBT communities, and a few universities and offices) provide individual bathrooms that are not gender-specified, specifically in order to respond to the concerns of gender-variant people; but this remains very rare and often controversial. Various courts have ruled on whether transgender people have the right to use the bathroom of their gender of identity, but again these rulings are not identical.

Transgender advocacy groups in the United States and elsewhere have taken up the cause of gender neutral toilets. They see de-gendered toilets as a solution to eliminate harassment and other inconveniences for trans* people in using conventional toilets. In 2005 there were 5 American cities, including San Francisco and New York, with regulations for public restroom access based on person’s perceived gender identity rather than their birth sex, but again this does not take into account a person’s identity and not just perceived identity. Various TV shows like Ally McBeal  depict gender neutral bathrooms, but this did not come without controversy.

It wasn’t until I got into a pretty heated discussion with a friend that I realized that this is actually a really big issue that actually seems pretty easy to fix. The discussion came up when I walked into the “women’s” restroom at a conference and once inside didn’t want to make an issue of things so I just used the bathroom like I normally would. When I came out my friend asked if I felt safe using the bathroom or if I was afraid anyone would call security on me. I replied that I didn’t actually think about it and just wanted to use the bathroom. Out of convenience I used the bathroom I had already entered.

My friend (Trans* identified f2m) told me that they had to think about those two things (among others) every single time they use a public bathroom. That using the restroom was more difficult than just finding where they are located and choosing one, unlike how it might be for me. My friend would in most cases plan their bathroom usage based on where they were. For example, they would use their home bathroom before traveling somewhere or find a single occupancy bathroom and always be aware of where the nearest handicapped bathroom is (these bathrooms tend to be gender neutral so that anyone in a wheelchair etc can use the bathroom).

I can’t imagine always having to plan my next bathroom usage, there are plenty of other things I have to worry about in a day to add something like this to the list. It’s really kind of ignorant of me to have never thought about this while being part of the Queer community, especially with how engaged I am in this work. Over the past year I have thought a lot more critically about gender neutral bathrooms and have come to this conclusion. I believe every human being (regardless of gender identity, or sexual orientation) should have access to bathrooms that are safe, clean and meet their needs or privacy.

“Bathrooms segregated by sex are potentially unsafe and

intimidating places for a variety of people.”-University of Chicago

I understand the valid concerns of a female bodied person saying “I don’t feel safe using the bathroom with a man in the same room” or “I need privacy and need a closed bathroom.” I think having single occupancy bathrooms that are open to anyone is a simple solution to this problem. I don’t think it is imperative that all bathrooms are gender neutral, but that any place that has public bathrooms should also have a gender neutral option. At the risk of making a few people uncomfortable, we have a simple solution to make many trans* and gender non-conforming folks comfortable using bathrooms, wherever they may be.

A great resource, safe2pee.org, helps you find accessible bathrooms for you to use by entering your address. If you know of any bathrooms that aren’t added to this list, please add them so that others who need access to these bathrooms can find them. Interesting anecdote: I also found an iPhone app that uses geo-location software to find the nearest public restroom to your location. It doesn’t however tell you where gender neutral bathrooms are which I think would make the app even more fantastic. (Any iPhone app developers want to make some quick cash and develop it?)

I am interested to know what you think. Why should bathrooms be gendered or gender neutral? What are the implications that you see? Would you feel comfortable with having only gender neutral bathrooms?

Film Friday

Condom Building

Thank you AIDS awareness

Every friday I will be posting an educational, entertaining, or just plain weird video on our site. Hopefully it will prompt discussion from you or at least get you thinking differently about an issue.

This week, Condoms.

I know, condoms are nothing new and we seem to be getting the “just wear it” message all over the place, but I believe they are still an important thing to be talking about. The modern day latex condom has been around since the early 1900’s (approx. 1920) In the modern age, condoms are most often made from latex, but some are made from other materials such as polyurethane, polyisoprene, or lamb intestine. A female condom (or insertive condom) is also available, most often made of polyurethane.

Condoms have been used for at least 400 years. Yeh I know, can you imagine Louis XIV , Michelangelo, or Isaac Newton using condoms? Well they might have. Since the nineteenth century, they have been one of the most popular methods of contraception in the world. While widely accepted in modern times, condoms have generated some controversy, primarily over what role they should play in sex education classes. I say, put them on buildings and in lunch boxes (maybe not really), but they should play a role in sex education. I mean really, when is the last time you heard of someone being hurt from having more education?

Anywho, if you want to know more things to do with condoms, watch this video.

So tell me, how do you think condoms should be used in schools? Where would you like to see condom ads? Where should they not be? What other roles should condoms play in society? I can’t wait to hear what you come up with.

 

-Ernesto