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Ambitious target for male circumcision

MBABANE, 5 October 2009 (PlusNews) - Swaziland's Ministry of Health and Human Services aims to provide circumcision to 80 percent of men aged 15 to 24 in the next five years, in response to the surging number of men requesting the procedure to reduce their risk of HIV.

Circumcision was widely practiced during the 19th century, but it fell out of favour until evidence in the past few years showed that circumcision could reduce a man's risk of contracting HIV by more than half.

Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence in the world - 26 percent of adults are infected according to UNAIDS - but health ministry studies have shown that men still reject condoms and engage in unsafe sexual practices such as having multiple partners.

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Positive Approach to Living With HIV in India

By Neeta Lal

NEW DELHI, Oct 2 (IPS) - At an age when most 20-year-olds dream of living a perfect life, Kousalya Periasamy found hers shaken by personal tragedies.

Within a month of her marriage in 1996 to a truck driver in Namakkal, in India's southern state of Tamil Nadu, her spouse was diagnosed with AIDS. Six months later he died, but not before doctors confirmed Kousalya’s worst nightmare that she too was infected with the deadly HIV virus.

The hapless widow's life could well have followed an unhappy trajectory from there. But Kousalya chose to give things a different turn. "Even though I was furious with my husband for cheating on me and hiding his illness despite knowing about it at the time of our marriage, I soon realised that a negative attitude won't help me," says Kousalya, 35, who has studied till class 12 and has a nursing background.

The plucky woman channeled her angst into providing succor for others like her. "The doctors had warned me that I won't live beyond a few months, so whatever needed to be done must happen quickly," laughs Kousalya.

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Porn, Privacy and the HIPAA

By Michael Fattorosi

How can an industry that bears all to its consumers ever consider privacy to be a hot topic? The story of the possible infection spread rapidly throughout the community and even into mainstream press. I was personally contacted by Los Angeles's Tribune affiliate KTLA for a quote after the reporters there picked up the story from the Los Angeles Times.

As I write this article, what did not make it into the press were the actual identities of the performers infected or exposed in this most recent outbreak.

Dr. Sharon Mitchell, director of the AIM Healthcare Foundation, declined to make the identities of those performers known, citing confidentiality issues.

What Mitchell was referring to was a rather unknown law within the industry, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Within HIPAA are confidentiality provisions of the Patient Safety Rule that prevent, in certain circumstances, the public disclosure of private healthcare information of a patient by a medical provider, health plan and health care clearing houses.

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Positive teens start talking about sex in Zambia

Why should I be condemned to taking drugs for the rest of my life? I did not infect myself. I simply got the virus through mother to child transmission


LUSAKA, 30 September 2009 (PlusNews) - How do you tell your boyfriend that you're a 20-year-old virgin living with HIV? Zambian Chanda Nsofwa was born infected and is now at an age where she has to deal with this and other ticklish questions about sex and HIV.

"We know that some of these children are already having sex or simply want to have it. They hear about sex from their friends and think its time they had it as well," said Dr Chipepo Kankasa, Head of Paediatrics at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), one of the largest medical facilities in the capital, Lusaka.

The answers are available. The hospital has started a programme to help a generation of children born HIV-positive and reaching young adulthood find their way through the thickets of sex and sexuality among teenagers living with the virus.

"The hospital decided to start sessions where teenagers come together with their counsellors and share the concerns they have. The findings have been shocking - the children have a lot of things they want to know, and being given a platform here at the hospital has really helped them," Kankasa said.

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Links about Sex and Women

Because the media topic de l'annee seems to be "women and sex".

For the most part, these "studies" and articles just perpetuate deeply ingrained stereotypes about women, sex and that role in American culture. However, I did find some decent, and kind of obvious, tid-bits here and there; this is what I'm trying to highlight.

From CNN.COM : Love, pleasure, duty.

Nice start CNN.

Buss said he found it surprising how dramatically and variably sexual experience seemed to influence women's feelings of self-esteem.

"Some sexual experiences that women in our study reported just had devastating effects and long-lasting negative effects on their feelings of self-worth," he said. "But then for others, their sexual experiences provided the soaring height of euphoria and made them feel alive and vibrant."

Yeah so it took a "study" and a book deal to reveal women who have lived through traumatic sexual encounters (ie: rape) have self esteem issues. The cynic in me wants to blog about sensationalizing rape for a buck; the [tiny] positive side of my personality will point out that drawing attention to sexual trauma is important because we can't keep sweeping that issue under the rug.

Maybe I can just really relate with the author’s point.

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HIV Law Project: Sex Education in the City

Tuesday, October 13th
6:30-8:30 pm
National Council of Jewish Women offices
830 Second Avenue, between 43rd and 44th in NYC

Please join HIV Law Project's Center for Women and HIV Advocacy and The Sex Ed Alliance of New York City at “Sex Education in the City”, a community forum and panel discussion to address the lack of comprehensive sexuality education in New York City. Presenters will share their experiences as advocates and offer ways that you can take action today!


Myra Batchelder: Director of the Low Income Access Program, National Institute for Reproductive Health
Jodi Kaltner: Social Worker, Performance Conservatory High School in the Bronx
Justin Toro: Youth Speaker, Love Heals Speakers Bureau
Reverend Matthew West Fox: NE Regional Field Organizer, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice


Hadiyah Charles: Community Organizer, HIV Law Project

Spread the Word

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Japanese Study on HIV transmission rate to foreigners in Thailand

Why Japanese and Western people are infected with HIV in Thailand

By Yas(Kyo) Taniguchi

1. Thailand is the country in which most foreign people become infected with HIV.

Considering HIV infection through sexual contact, condom usage must almost perfectly prevent the infection. This fact should be well known to all people living in developed countries. It is well known to those who visit Thailand that HIV is widely spread among Thai people.

Nonetheless, quite a lot of foreign people have been infected with HIV in Thailand.

According to a paper titled “Sex, Sun, Sea, and STIs” reported in British Medical Journal dated March of 2004, 69% of UK heterosexual men who have been infected with HIV from 2000 to 2002 were infected in foreign countries. And 22% of them were infected in Thailand. As for women, 24% of them have been infected with HIV in foreign countries.

Why UK people, who have knowledge that condom usage can prevent HIV infection, have been infected with HIV in Thailand?

Condom usage rate among Western people (data of Germany heterosexual men) who visit Thailand for the purpose of sexual contact with Thai ladies is reported in this paper. It says that condom usage rate is only 30 – 40%!! According to this paper, visiting Thailand for the purpose of sexual contact (sex tourism) is very common among Western people. Be that as it may, 30 – 40% of condom usage rate is too low. It is obvious that having sexual contact with Thai sex workers is very dangerous.

Then, why do they have sexual contact with Thai sex workers without a condom in spite of having the right knowledge?

The answer is also reported in this paper. It states that many foreign people who visit Thailand for the purpose of sexual contact with Thai sex workers do NOT regard sex workers as prostitutes but intimate friends.

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Armenia’s Progressive New AIDS Policy

Ratevosian and Hagopian: Armenia’s Progressive New AIDS Policy Suggests It Can Be A Regional Leader

By Jirair Ratevosian and Amy Hagopian

Earlier this year, we visited Armenia en route to a meeting of the 12th World Congress of Public Health Associations. We stopped in Yerevan to help celebrate with local organizations their recent success in persuading the government to repeal unwarranted requirements for foreign travelers to be tested for HIV.

In crafting the change in the law, Armenia’s president and parliamentarians realized that longstanding regulations “did not meet the present-day requirements in the fight against HIV/AIDS,” and acknowledged the lack of public health justification for barring immigrants with HIV. The parliament said the new rules were passed with the aim of “strengthening legal reforms and sustaining large-scale HIV/AIDS awareness raising activities” and “safeguarding human freedoms, dignity, and rights.” This was a huge victory for public health and a proud moment for all Armenians.

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UNAIDS Forum on HIV, Human Rights and Men Who Have Sex with Men

As part of his official visit to Washington, D.C., UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé participated in the Forum on HIV, Human Rights and Men Who Have Sex with Men on 16 September 2009.

The event was organized by UNAIDS in collaboration with the HIV Policy Working Group on Men Who Have Sex with Men and Other Sexual Minorities, and in cooperation with the Honorable Howard Berman (D-CA) and the Honorable Barbara Lee (D-CA).

The Forum was held to raise attention to the human rights issues that affect men who have sex with men (MSM) and other sexual minorities, as well as the policy and structural barriers that prevent MSM and other sexual minorities from accessing HIV services, including prevention, treatment, care and support.

“We are here because it remains an undeniable fact in all regions of the world—including here in the US—that men who have sex with men lack universal access to HIV services,” said Michel Sidibé.

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ZAMBIA: Treating cervical cancer and HIV simultaneously

Cervical cancer claims the lives of many women in Zambia because it is detected when it's too late to treat it effectively


LUSAKA, 1 September 2009 (PlusNews) -  The HIV/AIDS epidemic may have contributed to the high incidence of cervical cancer in Zambia, where the number of cases is the second highest in sub-Saharan Africa, and HIV prevalence is one of the highest in the world.

Women infected with HIV are thought to be three to five times more likely to develop cervical lesions that can become cancerous. "In a suppressed immunity due to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS makes women more at risk from infection," said Prof Groesbeck Parham, co-director of the Cervical Cancer Prevention Programme in Zambia.

"Before the advent of ART [antiretroviral treatment], women had a shorter life expectancy, making it more unlikely for the pre- and early cancers to develop into full-blown cancer, a disease that takes between 10 to 20 years to grow," he said.

Zambia has a national HIV prevalence rate of 14 percent, but a recent study found that 16 percent of women were positive, whereas 12 percent of the total were men.

Pap smear tests, which detect cervical cancer, are conducted at selected health centres, but the tests are expensive and require patients to make a number of visits to the health facility before a final diagnosis can be made, so too few women are being tested.

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