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Scientists At Retrovirus Conference Present Findings on Microbicide Gel, Truvada, Male Circumcision, ART Care By Nurses

At the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Boston on Monday, researchers “suggested the potential” of a gel containing the antiretroviral drug tenofovir to reduce the risk of anal HIV transmission, TIME’s “Healthland” blog reports. With previous trials showing the gel reduced HIV vaginal infection risk, “[r]esearchers have wanted to know whether the gel could protect against anal transmission of the virus, since the risk of infection from unprotected anal sex may be more than 20 times that of unprotected vaginal sex,” according to the blog (Melnick, 2/28).

New York Times Examines Grassroots HIV Efforts Aimed At Gay Men In China

The New York Times examines grassroots HIV/AIDS outreach and testing efforts aimed at gay men in China. The newspaper highlights “Lingnan Health Center, an organization run largely by gay volunteers,” and recounts the story of Le, “a gay man who would give only his first name.” The newspaper writes he is “one of thousands of gay men in this bustling city of 13 million people who are benefiting from a pioneering experiment that supporters hope will revolutionize the way the Communist Party deals with non-government groups trying to stop the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.”

Promoting Gay Rights Essential For Health Of Africans

Across Africa, “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people suffer brutal attacks, yet cannot report them to the police for fear of additional violence, humiliation, rape or imprisonment at the hands of the authorities. We are expelled from school and denied health care because of our perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” Frank Mugisha, 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award laureate and executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, writes in a New York Times opinion piece. He adds, “When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced this month that the United States would use diplomacy to encourage respect for gay rights around the world, my heart leapt.”

IPS Examines HIV In The Caribbean, Highlights Challenges In Addressing At-Risk Populations

Inter Press Service examines HIV in the Caribbean, where “the HIV burden varies considerably among and within countries” in the region. “‘I think the prevention programs in many countries are not reaching the right people,’ Michel de Groulards, regional program adviser of the UNAIDS Caribbean Regional Support Team, told IPS,” the news service writes, adding, “One factor, de Groulards believed, may be that after 25 years of providing treatment, some countries have reached a plateau. In other cases, people considered at risk, including [men who have sex with men], are not targeted.” IPS writes that “even as Caribbean politicians, scientists, researchers, academics and other stakeholders continue to examine ways of dealing with the virus, 30 years after the first case was recorded in the region, there is growing recognition that cuts in overseas funding could seriously hamper future success” (Richards, 11/21).

Obama Administration To Promote And Protect LGBT Rights Through Foreign Aid, Diplomacy

“The Obama administration said Tuesday that it will intensify efforts to fight discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people as a major element of its foreign policy,” the Washington Post reports (DeYoung/Wilson, 12/6). “In the first U.S. government strategy to deal with human rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens abroad,” President Obama issued a presidential memorandum on Tuesday “instruct[ing] agencies to use foreign aid to promote such rights,” the Guardian writes.

Addressing Gender-Based Violence Through PEPFAR Programs

Daniela Ligiero of the State Department, Sasha Mital of the CDC, and Diana Prieto of USAID, who are co-chairs of the PEPFAR Gender Technical Working Group, write about the “intersection between gender-based violence (GBV) and its impact on HIV risk and access to HIV prevention and treatment for most-at-risk populations…

Discrimination Against LGBT Population Undermining HIV Prevention Efforts In Guatemala, IPS Reports

Inter Press Service examines discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Guatemala, where advocates and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) say such discrimination is undermining HIV prevention and treatment. Carolos Valdez of the NGO Proyecto Unidos “said the country has taken ‘few steps’ for preventing the spread of HIV among vulnerable groups,” including “opening five clinics catering to members of sexual minorities,” IPS writes.

Reuters Examines Development Progress Of Microbicide Gel To Prevent HIV

Reuters reports that the developers of a vaginal microbicide gel containing the antiretroviral tenofovir which has been found to reduce “HIV infections in women by 39 percent,” said that during meetings last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted fast track approval designation to the gel, which expedites the review of drugs by the agency.

Daily Oral Antiretroviral Reduces HIV Infection Risk In MSM By 44%, Study Finds

A study that included nearly 2,500 HIV-negative men and transgender women who have sex with men has shown that a daily dose of Truvada, a pill containing the AIDS drugs emtricitabine and tenofovir, “can reduce risk of contracting [HIV] by an average of 44% – and by more than 70% if the subjects” follow the regimen closely, Los Angeles Times reports (Maugh, 11/23).

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