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Thursday, July 29, 2010

HEALTH NEWS: HIV; Lube; Definition of Sex; PDAs; AIDS Denialists

UN enlists Magic Johnson, others in AIDS fight

The United Nations AIDS agency has tapped some big names, including former basketball star Magic Johnson, to boost global efforts to prevent the spread of HIV. Others on the UNAIDS commission include former French president Jacques Chirac, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and Nobel laureates scientist Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and former nuclear agency head Mohamed ElBaradei. UNAIDS chief Michel Sidibe says the aim of the commission is to bring about a "prevention revolution" by influencing policymakers and others. More than 7,000 new HIV infections occur every day. The commission was officially launched Wednesday at an AIDS conference that has drawn thousands of experts and activists to the Austrian capital. (CBC)

AIDS Denialists in the 21st Century? Really?
The dogma of AIDS denialism varies, with some refuting the very existence of HIV while others claim that HIV is a harmless “passenger virus”. Most denialists believe that AIDS is caused by oxidative stress secondary to recreational drug use, poor nutrition, poor sanitation and/or the use of antiretroviral medications used to treat HIV. Denialists discourage HIV testing and treatment, warning that a meaningless HIV positive test result could change your life forever. Mothers would be pressured to take toxic drugs that could harm their babies. Uninformed sex partners could have you incarcerated for having sex with them. The list of reasons why you shouldn’t take an HIV test or HIV meds is lengthy and provocative. READ MORE

Gay men in the U.K. and the U.S. differ in definitions of sex

A recent study conducted by the Kinsey Institute found that gay men in the U.K. and the U.S. define having “had sex” differently. The study, published in the July issue of the journal AIDS Care, compared 180 gay men in the U.K. ages 18 to 56 to190 gay men in the U.S. ages 18 to 74. While nearly all agreed that penile-anal intercourse constituted having “had sex,” opinions differed when it came to other interpretations of sex. Gay men in the U.K. were found to have a broader definition of sex. Of the U.K. gay men, 84.9 percent agreed that giving oral-genital stimulation constituted sex, compared to 71.6 percent of U.S. gay men. Fewer men defined giving and receiving oral-anal stimulation as having “had sex,” with 78.4 percent of U.K. gay men defining it this way, and 61.2 percent of U.S. gay men. Giving and receiving manual-anal stimulation was called sex by 70.9 percent of the U.K. men, while just 53.4 percent of the U.S. men agreed. The greatest difference in interpretation of what constitutes having “had sex” was how gay men viewed giving and receiving sex toy stimulation. While 77.1 percent of U.K. gay men saw this stimulation as sex, only 55 percent of U.S. gay men agreed. READ MORE

Antibodies found that prevent most HIV strains from infecting human cells
Scientists have discovered two potent human antibodies that can stop more than 90 percent of known global HIV strains from infecting human cells in the laboratory, and have demonstrated how one of these disease-fighting proteins accomplishes this feat. According to the scientists, these antibodies could be used to design improved HIV vaccines, or could be further developed to prevent or treat HIV infection. Moreover, the method used to find these antibodies could be applied to isolate therapeutic antibodies for other infectious diseases as well. "The discovery of these exceptionally broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV and the structural analysis that explains how they work are exciting advances that will accelerate our efforts to find a preventive HIV vaccine for global use," says Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health. "In addition, the technique the teams used to find the new antibodies represents a novel strategy that could be applied to vaccine design for many other infectious diseases." READ MORE

Over 50% of gay men are uncomfortable displaying public affection
In a survey undertaken by free gay dating website ManCentral.com, 61 per cent of gay and bisexual men say they felt uncomfortable displaying affection with another man in public. Of the 3,200 men surveyed, 23 per cent stated that they were uncomfortable openly displaying affection anywhere in public, while 38 per cent said they would only feel brave enough to do so in a specifically gay-friendly environment. In an identical survey on a heterosexual dating site, the result was the almost the polar opposite: just six per cent said they were uncomfortable with kissing or holding hands. Curiously, the age group who felt the most uncomfortable with public displays of affection – 28 per cent – were those aged 18-24, while men aged 61 and over who felt the same came in at only 19 per cent. A spokesman for ManCentral.com said: "It is worth noting than men now aged over 60 would have been in their late teens and early twenties when homosexuality was illegal in the UK, yet the statistics indicate they feel less repressed than those aged 18-24 in today's society. (UK Pink News)

Study: 4 of the 6 most widely used lubes are toxic

Subjects who used lubricants during anal sex were three times more likely to contract rectal sexually transmitted infections than those who had anal sex without lubricant, found UCLA researchers. This and one other study examining the effects of sexual lubricants used in anal sex were presented last month at the International Microbicides Conference. The anus does not secrete its own natural lubricants during intercourse, so the use of lubricating products helps prevent microtears in the rectal tissue. The study with the Microbicide Trials Network, however, found that many of the most popular brands of lubricants are toxic to rectal cells. There are three basic types of lube: oil-based, water-based, and silicon-based. Oil-based lubes corrode latex, found in most condoms, and silicon-based lubes corrode silicon, found in many sex toys. Some types of silicon-based lubricants are also not compatible with latex, so water-based is seen as the most versatile lubricant. READ MORE

COMMENTARY: We need to stop fighting AIDS with car washes
More than a quarter of a century into the pandemic... when we are going to stop having car washes to fight AIDS. Stripping in a bar to raise money to fight a disease? Bowling for dollars? Protesting on street corners instead of supplying meds in a clinic? How embarrassing is this? Sure, whatever it takes we must do. The people taking part in these events are to be saluted, not censured. They are willing to push the envelope. Raising funds in the community any way you can is a critical part of galvanizing our forces and promoting our cause. We cannot expect our government to do everything, and we have not. We have created our own food banks, pet projects and transportation initiatives. Most of us have lent our time and energies to multiple agencies with bike rides and AIDS walks, art auctions and god-knows-how-many-charitable affairs. Ultimately, though, is it proper that over a quarter of a century into the pandemic we are still ‘bowling for dollars’? This is no way for a society to fight a disease. READ MORE

Same-sex relationships increase self-esteem, decrease homophobia in teens
Involvement in a same-sex relationship boosted self-esteem in teen males and lowered internalized homophobia in teen females who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, a new University of Michigan study shows. Surprisingly for the same teens, having an opposite-sex relationship had no affect on self-esteem, depression or anxiety. Dating in adolescence is critical to developing sexual and social identities, says Jose Bauermeister, assistant professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. It's even more salient for gay, lesbian and bisexual youth because there is such a stigma attached to their sexual orientation. Studies have shown that these teens may suffer more psychological distress, victimization, physical threats and violence than heterosexual youth. Gay, lesbian and bisexual teens who conceal their sexuality, often have a lower self-image or internalized sense of homophobia—which can lead to depression and anxiety. Bauermeister and his research team checked back with the study participants for two years after the baseline interview. They were surprised by how little effect participation in opposite sex relationships had on the group of kids in the study. This contrasts with existing literature. READ MORE

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