Yes, it was a big gay out


Dean Purcell | 17034

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English attended Auckland’s Big Gay Out at Coyle Park in Pt Chevalier despite dark clouds threatening to spoil the day. A number of political parties had stalls. As well as the Prime Minister, ACT leader David Seymour and Labour leader Andrew Little attended.

English hoped to be more warmly received that his predecessor John Key was, after he was booed off stage at last year’s event. Auckland mayor Phil Goff posed for photos with those present, joined by councillors Cathy Casey and Richard Hills.

The theme of this years event was ending HIV. Green Party leader James Shaw was also there, and said his party had a “pretty clear track record” of standing with the LGBT community. The Greens were committed to eradicating HIV from New Zealand by 2025. “There’s a tonne of work that still needs to happen for this community, particularly in public health.”

At last some good news about HIV


Gus Cairns/Twitter | 17024

New HIV infections in gay men have fallen by nearly a third since 2015 across England.

This welcome reduction may be because gay men are buying medicines online.

A similar fall was reported by four London sexual health clinics in December. The new preliminary results from all sexual health clinics in England for 2016 show the same trend is happening across the country.

Valerie Delpech of Public Health England told the HepHIV conference in Malta: “Provisional data suggests that HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men in England has fallen, although it is not possible to confirm this at a national level until all data for 2016 have been received.”

Until last year, gay men accounted for just over half of new HIV infections in the UK.

Survivors face more problems as they age

Older people now represent 1 in 3 of those living with HIV, but the government isn’t ready for this fast-growing aging population, and social care is a ticking ‘timebomb’ as more older people living with HIV face loneliness and poverty, says the Terrence Higgins Trust.

Michael said he is worried about life in a care home where HIV treatments are not widely educated and a stigma is still present. “Care home staff are not usually trained in working with people who have HIV, as they’ve never had to deal with it before. So like anyone else, they will have their own pre-conceived ideas about HIV, which could be decades out of date.”

As HIV diagnoses are rising in people over 50, Michael said the only way to improve social care is education. “We also need to educate GPs, care homes and society as a whole about HIV, so that those of us who are growing older with HIV are getting the support we need to live well in older age.”

The report also reveals that six out of ten older people with HIV are living in poverty – double that seen in the general population; eight out of ten experienced moderate to high levels of loneliness – three times more than the general population; one in four respondents said they would have no one to help them if they ever needed support with daily tasks, and eight out of ten are concerned about whether they will be able to access adequate social care in the future.

For Your Activist, it is quite simple. It is wrong to discriminate against people with a sniffle; and it is wrong to discriminate against people with HIV.

What does the future hold for people growing old with HIV?

Cameroon’s crisis

Gay rights groups brave abuse and violence to fight HIV in Cameroon, reports Reuters.

Fleur listens intently to the speaker talk about gay sex before slowly raising his hand. “Can we catch AIDS by swallowing sperm?” he asks, prompting laughter from his peers at the group discussion held by Alcondoms, an organization promoting the rights and health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

It is serious business.

Cameroon has the second highest HIV prevalence rate in West and Central Africa (Nigeria is worse) and men who have sex with men are hit the hardest according to UNAIDS. One in 25 people in Cameroon are living with HIV, but almost a quarter of men who have sex with men in Yaounde have the HIV virus.

In Douala, the economic capital, two in five men who have sex with men are infected, according to the state’s national AIDS control committee.

Cameroon’s gays live in fear.

The fear of discrimination and threat of five years in prison are driving MSM and LGBT people away from hospitals and state programs, according to civil society groups who say they fill the gap by providing condoms, counseling and healthcare. Animosity is growing between a largely conservative society and a younger generation less concerned by homosexuality in a country which prosecutes people for being gay more aggressively than almost any other nation in the world. 50 people were convicted of homosexuality between 2010 and 2014, for acts ranging from cross-dressing and wearing make-up to a man texting ‘I love you’ to another man, according to data collected by The Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS.

Gay Activist wishes them success, health and their human rights for 2017.

HIV Rampant in Condom-free Phillipines. What a surprise

Religious conservatism and restrictive policies in the Phillipines that the Duterte administration has inherited are fueling a rising HIV epidemic in the Philippines, particularly among men who have sex with men, say Human Rights Watch.

Condoms are not currently generally available in the Phillipines.

The report said Philippines has outstripped its Asia Pacific neighbours in terms of HIV prevalence, with statistics showing a tenfold increase in cases recorded over the last five years. It said last year, the Philippine Health Department reported that at least 11 cities recorded high HIV prevalence rates of more than 5 percent among the MSM, with Cebu City – the country’s second-largest city – recording a staggering 15 percent prevalence rate.

The numbers were markedly higher than the overall prevalence rate for the Asia Pacific region, which was just 0.2 percent, as well as the rate in Sub-Saharan Africa, which has the most serious HIV epidemic in the world but has a rate of 4.7 percent for those in that group.

Get on with it

Aids campaigners in the UK are celebrating a watershed victory today after the High Court ruled that NHS England should pay for “game-changer” drugs that prevent people being infected with HIV by their partners.

The NHS wanted local councils to have to pay, claiming that they were responsible for preventative healthcare.

NHS England will it appeal against the judgment, and weigh up the cost of PrEp – which could be £10m – £20m a year – against other calls on NHS funding for specialised services. It will also put pressure on the pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the drugs to drop their prices.

Why not just drop the price and make them available over the counter?

FDA re-reviewing the gay blood ban

Last December the U.S. Food and Drug Administration overturned a 30-year ban on all blood donations from men who have sex with men, saying the change was based on science showing an indefinite ban was not necessary to prevent transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus.

Now the FDA has signalled it is reviewing its blood donor deferral recommendations. They currently prohibit donations from gay men for a year following their last sexual encounter in order to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Many other countries follow the same rule.

One of the proposals is Individual risk assessments, which could consider whether an individual has been in a monogamous relationship.

The FDA has invited interested parties and persons to submit comments, backed by scientific evidence, supporting alternative potential policies, to reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

Like a festering sore, the gay blood ban continues to discriminate

In the aftermath of the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, in which 49 people were murdered, almost all of them members of the LGBT community, a vestige of the era of AIDS paranoia and hysteria was resurrected. Many gay and bisexual men were summarily banned from giving blood, despite the desperate need for donations to help the 53 hospitalized survivors. FDA policy prohibits men who have had sex with men in the last year from donating blood. A community already grieving and feeling under attack now found itself unable to participate in the most immediate way of helping its members heal,

writes Kali Holoway.

This is outdated thinking, steeped in homophobia and baseless fear; a relic of the early 1980s, when reliable testing for AIDS took an extensive period of time. … HIV/AIDS is now detectable in blood as little as nine days after exposure. What’s more, all blood is screened after donation, regardless of who gave it. That heterosexual blood donors, regardless of the number of partners they have had and whether or not they have practiced safe sex, face no donation ban highlights the glaring and underlying unfairness of the FDA’s position.

Exactly. Let’s try to end this offensive discrimination against gay men and men who have sex with men, for once and for all.

HIV infections down in San Francisco

In San Francisco, new HIV infections fell by almost 19% between 2013 and 2014, from 371 to 302. The city’s success has been put down to a four-pronged strategy agreed to by public and private medical providers, government agencies, researchers and universities, and advocates.

Aids still devastates


Chris Beyrer | Twitter | 16263ga

Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men continue to have disproportionately high burdens of HIV infection in countries of low, middle and high income around the world, according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who publish their findings in The Lancet tomorrow.

Four years ago, the same group of researchers issued a call to action, laying out an ambitious plan to curtail HIV epidemics in gay men, setting targets for policy reform, funding and improvement in effective HIV prevention and treatment services, including expanded access to pre-exposure prophylaxis which has been highly effective in dramatically reducing transmission among this population.

“While HIV rates have flattened overall in recent years, we’re really concerned that the HIV epidemic is continuing among gay men and we’re going in the wrong direction,” says study leader Chris Beyrer, MD, MPH, the Desmond M. Tutu Professor of Public Health and Human Rights at the Bloomberg School and president of the International AIDS Society. “It’s a tragic situation and it’s painful that the history of AIDS is looking like its future, but that’s actually where we are. But the first step in taking on a problem is recognizing and articulating it and we’ve really done that here….The global epidemic of HIV in gay men is ongoing and efforts to address it remain insufficient,” he says. “This must change if we are ever to ever truly achieve an AIDS-free generation.”