Emmerdale

Great personal message from outside the US!

Alex Sparrowhawk: HIV & Me

13.01.14

“I’m HIV positive” – not a line I was expecting to hear whilst watching Emmerdale a week ago, they’d kept this storyline quiet from the online spoiler pages and press, but I had an immediate and instinctual feeling that this was a good thing.

There are many reasons why this storyline is important. Firstly it isn’t conforming to modern stereotypes society holds of the ‘typical’ HIV patient. Val isn’t a gay man, a black man/ woman or an intravenous drug user. Val is a middle aged, white and married woman living in the countryside ‘up north’ not a council estate in one of our major cities. She’s not portrayed as someone outstandingly clever but nor is she pictured as stupid. Val has a husband, grown up children, one of whom is gay. She runs a bed and breakfast business, in essence she’s really rather normal.

And that’s the fundamental message…

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Why blaming the rise of HIV on ‘gay sex parties’ is irresponsible and dangerous

#stigma

The Guyliner

Sometimes it’s wonderful to wake up gay and some days, well, not so much. My perfectly Instagrammed breakfast of eggs benedict was seriously spoiled on reading the Guardian and the Independent’s latest overwrought articles about ‘gay sex parties’ being linked to a rise in HIV diagnoses.

This story is trotted out in some form or another every few months or so, usually illustrated with a microscopic selfie of HIV itself or a blurry picture of a heaving Vauxhall club. For the uninitiated, here’s how these pieces usually roll: a ‘study’ is done on HIV rates, a journalist will trawl the sexual health clinics or ask charities for statements until something is said that will make a good headline. Usually a finger points firmly at a supposed increase in gay sex parties, a Roman orgy remixed for the Vauxhall generation.

The piece is printed, society safely compartmentalises HIV as a…

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June 27th is National HIV Testing Day

testing day

The Dark Ages of HIV/AIDS History

The history of HIV/AIDS in the United States is rife with contention and controversy. During the very early years of public awareness, before any robust knowledge base on the virus existed, HIV was grossly misnamed as “GRID” – Gay Related Immune Deficiency. What motivated the use of this biased terminology was the prevalence of the virus in various urban gay communities in the 1980’s, which only fueled rampant homophobia and violence towards such enclaves. Not until the virus was discovered in recipients of tainted blood transfers, injection drug users, and persons of every identity did the massive push towards public and federal advocacy gain momentum.  Today, celebrities and high profile public leaders are involved in outreach and education efforts regarding research, treatment, and prevention.

At-Risk Communities

According to the CDC, MSM (men who have sex with men) and communities of color are adversely affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. However, it is mistakenly believed that being a member of such groups is deterministic of negative characteristics and behaviors that transmit the virus – vitriolic language and attitudes detract from the structural causes and socioeconomic contexts that fuel public health issues.  The stigma and violence directed towards the gay community in the early years of the epidemic discouraged individuals from seeking treatment and hindered the proliferation of organized prevention efforts. Moreover, systemic poverty and the lack of robust health infrastructure widened the gap between those seeking treatment and information from those who could provide it. In the recent years, there has been a paradigm shift in discussion of HIV/AIDS to treating it as a tragic byproduct of societal oppression and inequality.

Fighting Stigma with Information

Though advocacy has progressed far from the state of affairs of 20 years ago, there needs to be greater solidarity among all communities across the lines of sexual orientation, race, and socioeconomic status. Awareness and prevention are the highest points on the agenda when it comes to fighting any disease. Especially for those who identify or interact with groups that are considered to be at a higher risk for contracting HIV, or participate in activities that spread the virus, regular testing is essential for harm reduction and early intervention.  Testing remains one of the important personal initiative for individuals to take when preventing the spread of HIV. Empower yourself and those close to you by seeking help and knowledge, rather than taking your chances.

Find an HIV Testing Center Today! Click the FindTheBest logo below to access a great data driven tool to find a quality, free HIV test near you.

findthebest

Or if you’re in Portland join CHATpdx’s Youth Exclusive drop in and testing night! Monday (6/24) from 3:00 – 7:00 PM at Pivot! http://pivotpdx.org/

CHATroom

– Susan Li

FindTheBest is a company based in Santa Barbara, CA that builds unbiased, data-driven comparison engines. Their Health Division is committed to creating innovative tools for navigating the important decisions regarding your health, including an STD testing clinic locator and a treatment center comparison tool. Susan joins the Health team from Columbia University in the city that never sleeps, ever. As an Economics and Asian American Studies major, she is dedicated to advancing social justice in all areas related to public health.

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Being Me

Quote

I guess I would consider myself a trans guy, but I don’t want hormones or any kind of surgery. I mean, if I were able to and was brave enough to do it. Then yeah, I’d take that chance. But it’s not something I believe is necessary to be who I am. to feel like a real guy, a dude.

Not every trans person wants the hormones or the surgeries, most do though. I feel that it’s not something I need.

Even with the body that I have now, I feel like a dude. My boobs are basically my balls, just up higher on my body. And instead of a penis, I have a vagina that doesn’t hurt much when kicked or hit.

It’s not about the anatomy, it’s about the persons feelings and preferences about it all. It’s different for everybody.

I am comfortable, I am me.

~Damien (aka Tony Taylor)

Damien is a CHATpdx peer educator, an awesome SMYRC activist and a really funny person!

FDA Approves at Home HIV Testing

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It’s important for people of every community and identification to get tested for HIV. Testing can really be a nerve wracking experience – getting tested with a friend or in a space you trust can give a huge sense of security.

After decades of study the FDA has made a ruling that makes that community experience less likely to happen. There are some benefits to approving the at home HIV test but I disagree with their decision. When a person goes to a safe space in their community to get tested there is less of a chance for them to commit an act of self harm or take other drastic measures if their test comes back positive. When someone uses an at home test the responsibility is on them to call the HIV Hotline to confirm their results and connect to counseling and care. It’s hard to ensure people will even follow through  a referral for a confirmatory test.

These tests leave dramatically more room for error than traditional methods. Clinical trials found 8% of those who are truly HIV+ will not receive a positive result when using the at home HIV test. Getting an accurate answer means so much – I believe this 8% rate is too great a risk to allow these tests on the market.

The price for at home testing is prohibitive. Each test can cost between $40 and $60. To me that’s ridiculous – seeing as there are so many places to go and get tested for free. The cost of this test is nothing but a convenience fee. So the next time you are getting ready to take an HIV test I hope that my personal views can open your eyes to making the right decision for your health. Whether you buy an at home test or go in to get tested, the important thing is that your getting tested.

Find a free HIV test near you: http://hivtest.cdc.gov/

– STEFHANNIE J CALHOUN

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