• Harvey Milk Gets A Forever Stamp Gay activist and politician Harvey Milk will be honored with a U.S. Postal Service stamp, 36 years after his assassination.



    The U.S. Postal Service will release a forever stamp honoring the late LGBT political icon Harvey Milk. The stamp ceremony will take place May 22 at the White House, and a special dedication ceremony will take place May 28 in San Francisco, the U.S. Postal Service announced Monday.
    The stamp is based on a famous photo of Milk, taken in 1977 by Daniel Nicoletta in front of Milk's shop, Castro Camera. It was designed by Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, Va.
    After only a short time in political office, Milk's activism charged a generation of people in the march toward LGBT rights. In 1978, he and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated. In 2009, Milk was posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
    Milk's stamp joins other civil rights revolutionaries and politicians, including Rosa Parks and Rep. Shirley Chisholm.

    Credit: Harvey Milk

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  • Brunei Postpones Stone-the-Gays Sharia Law The implementation of Brunei's revised penal code -- which introduces Sharia (Islamic) law punishments for offenses like homosexuality, adultery, blasphemy, rape, and insulting the Quran -- has been postponed.
    The laws, which were scheduled to take effect yesterday, would have punished homosexuality with death by stoning.
    The BBC reports:
    Assistant Director of the Islamic Legal Unit Jauyah Zaini said the delay was "due to unavoidable circumstances." No new date was given but an official told local media that the law would begin "in the very near future."
    Brunei already adheres to a stronger form of Islamic law than neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia, banning the sale and consumption of alcohol.
    When he announced the move last year Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, 67, who is one of the world's wealthiest men, called the code "a part of the great history of our nation."
    The sultan said the new code would not change his country's policies and officials have said in the past judges would be given discretion in sentencing.
    Under the code, theft is reportedly punishable by the amputation of limbs.
    Brunei's new laws have been met with widespread condemnation. The United Nations called them "cruel, inhuman," and "clearly prohibited" under international law. In the United States, a major LGBT donor conference was moved out of the Brunei-owned Beverly Hills Hotel in California.
    But the Obama administration has thus far not indicated a willingness to punish Brunei for its backslide into barbarity: negotiations continue for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive corporate giveaway that rewards several anti-LGBT countries, including Brunei, with privileged trade status.

    Credit: Brunei

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  • Gaming in Color Documentary Focuses on Queer Gamers The hour-long feature analyzes LGBT themes in video games as well as gaming’s queer fans.


    After a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $50,000, the LGBT video game culture documentary Gaming in Color has been released today. The feature focuses on gaming in American society as a whole, the few LGBT characters in narratives currently seen in video games, and the growth of the queer geek community over the past few years.

    The film includes interviews with a variety of industry professionals, academics, and fans, including Riot Games’ George Skleres and Colleen Macklin, a professor at Parsons the New School for Design.
    In a statement to the press, director Philip Jones said that "through the voices and experiences of our hardworking and talented cast, [Gaming in Color] shows what a strong and passionate movement that diversity and acceptance in video games has become. It really is an inspiring call to action."

    Copies of the film are available on the film’s website via instant streaming and HD downloads on a "pay what you want" basis.

    Credit: Gaming

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  • World Bank May Grant Uganda $90 Million Health Care Loan A new report argues that Uganda's antigay laws shouldn't necessarily impact a substantial healthcare loan from the World Bank.



    Uganda should still be able to receive a $90 million health care loan from the World Bank, as long as the government guarantees the safety of LGBT people and health care workers, a new report from a group of consultants hired by the bank argues. 

    The World Bank officially delayed the health care loan just one day before it was set to be approved in February, after Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which imposes lifetime jail sentences for certain instances of gay and lesbian sex, and criminalizes the "aiding and abetting of homosexuality." In February the World Bank announced that it was delaying the loan indefinitely, until it could "ensure that the development objectives would not be adversely affected by enactment of this new law." 

    Now a report commissioned by the bank suggests that the loan can continue, as long as several "stringent conditions" are met to ensure equal access to medical services, according to BuzzFeed. Those guidelines reportedly include assurances that health care workers cannot be penalized for treating LGBT patients, and the report suggests a monitoring system to ensure that patients are not required to disclose their LGBT status to health care workers. The bank's executives have until June to review the report and release the funds, or the loan will be canceled, reports BuzzFeed.

    But the likelihood that health care organizations, specifically those working to combat HIV and AIDS, would actually be free from prosecution is seriously in doubt, as a U.S.-funded HIV organization in Uganda was raided last month after local police did weeks of undercover work to determine that the group was "carrying out recruitment and training of young males in unnatural sexual acts." 
    Adding to the concern is a document obtained by BuzzFeed's Lester Feder, reportedly from the office of Ugandan health minister Ruhakana Rugunda. Titled "Draft Guidelines for Health Workers Regarding Services for Homosexuals," the 15-page document details the scenarios in which health care providers are required to disclose a patient's LGBT identity. 

    After claiming that LGBT Ugandans have a fundamental right to medical care and privacy surrounding that care, the guidelines note that there is no guarantee of privacy when the person seeking care is a minor, "where a woman has been sodomized," or "in cases where clients['] … mental status is compromised." Medical professionals are also allowed to disclose a patient's LGBT status when transferring that patient's care, when required by a court order, for publication in research, or "when disclosure of such information is vital for the protections of the health status of others or the public and the need for disclosure overrides the interest in the information's non-disclosure."

    When listing the rights and obligations of LGBT patients seeking medical care, the proposed guidelines set an ominous standard: "Clients with a homosexual orientation" are required to disclose their sexual orientation, and to provide "clear, accurate and timely information for diagnosis, treatment, counseling and rehabilitation purposes."

    Given that the document's foreword points to the pseudoscientific report commissioned by President Museveni which claimed homosexuality is not an innate trait but rather a socially acquired ill that can be "cured," it seems highly unlikely that the "treatment, counseling and rehabilitation" described in these guidelines would result in anything safe or affirming for LGBT Ugandans.

    Credit: World bank
     

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  • India Supreme Court Set To Address Sodomy Law For The Last Time India’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear pleas against the controversial sodomy law that recently re-criminalized gay sex.

    In July 2009, the Delhi High Court overturned a colonial-era ban on same-sex intercourse. Four years later, on Dec. 11, 2013, the country's Supreme Court reenacted Section 377 of India's Penal Code, which states, "whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine."

    An appeal from outraged citizens against the ban was rejected in January, but now they are back for a second attempt to overturn the law.

    Arvind Narrain, a Bangalore-based lawyer with the Alternative Law Forum who has been working on the case, explained the efforts to the Washington Blade.

    "The curative petition is an opportunity for the court to apply a course correction and rethink a decision which has been universally condemned," he said.

    Aside from the protesters who have taken to the streets to protest the ban, the socially conservative country is raising eyebrows in terms of what the government will allow. Just last week, India's Supreme Court issued a historic ruling that gave the option of a "third gender," providing full legal recognition to transgender individuals.

    This is the LGBT community's final chance to overturn Section 377. The court is expected to release a date to hear the pleas next week.

    Credit: India

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  • Petition for lesbian asylum seeker to stay in UK reaches 165,000 signatures

    A petition to stop a lesbian asylum seeker in the UK from being sent back to a death sentence in Nigeria has passed 165,000 signatures.

    The AllOut petition calls on Home Secretary Theresa May to halt the deportation of Aderonke back to Nigeria, from where she fled.

    The page says that she would face certain danger if she went back to Nigeria, where she was sentenced to death for being gay.

    It says she was arrested, and her family was killed, but that she managed to flee to the UK after bribing police.

    Theresa May last month ordered a review of the way asylum claims based on sexuality are processed, after facing harsh criticism for lapses.

    The petition states: “Finish the review of your processes, stop the humiliation and abuse of lesbian, gay, bi and trans asylum seekers, and train all staff in how to handle these cases fairly.

    “Until then, halt deportations of anyone seeking safety in the UK after fleeing violence and jail because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

    Credit: 165000 signatures

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  • Turkish university cancels talks on homosexuality due to Hezbullah fears

    A panel discussion on homosexuality at a Turkish university has been cancelled following fears that it may have caught the attention of Hizbullah.

    The conference at Mardin Artuklu University (MAU) in the south east of the country was condemned as “immoral” by a media outlet close to the Shi’a Islamic militant group and political party.

    As well as criticising the event, the İlke Haber Ajansı (İLKHA) also took aim at organiser, academic Levent Senturk.

    The event, which was due to take place on 17 April, was heavily criticised by the ILKHA, which said it coincided with the Holy Birth Week, dedicated to the Prophet Muhammad.

    Following the cancellation, the website said Senturk should leave the city, and called on him to prove that he is not gay himself.

    After the cancellation was confirmed, a dozen academics from the university released a statement saying that academic events should not be called off due to hate speech, slander or alienation.

    “Our scientific events never insult any kind of beliefs, ethnicities, languages, religions or life styles. They do not humiliate any group of people or their values,” the statement said. 

    “Despite this, as we saw with the latest incident, we are targeted, insulted and threatened. No one at this institution deserves such offending treatment.”

    Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but it remains taboo.

    Credit: Turkish University

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  • New Russian Law Would Require Mandatory Fingerprinting For People With HIV Citizens and visitors alike would be fingerprinted and anyone refusing could be deported and banned from visiting for 15 years. That's the least scary thing about this dangerous law.



    A new bill going through Russia's version of Congress will require mandatory fingerprinting for all people with HIV, according to reports on RT.com, and would create a national database of anyone with the virus.

    State Duma deputy Roman Khudyakov of the Liberal Democratic party told reporters that the database would include people with "dangerous contagious diseases" and the rule would apply to both Russian citizens and foreigners visitors. According to RT, "several federal ministries and agencies, including the Federal Migration Service, Interior Ministry, Emergencies Ministry and Prosecutor General’s Office have already approved the draft."

    Khudyakov told reporters that the new law is needed because some HIV-positive people "change their names and disappear from the state system… [but] fingerprinting would make it impossible." He insisted that the universal fingerprinting would some how make it easier to fight crime.

    According to RT, the bill is part of a larger universal fingerprinting bill that would require every Russian resident to register and undergo fingerprinting or face fines of about $1,400 (for citizens) or deportation and a 15-year travel ban (for those who are not citizens).

    While the bill has drawn some opposition, it appears as though it's likely it is to pass, in a country where there's been an alarming stigmatization of — and a wave of government sanctioned violence against — of gay, bisexual, and transgender men and women. This kind of move will likely further persecute those groups and all people with HIV regardless of gender or orientation.

    Credit: New Russian Law

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  • Shocking Study: Trans Women Are 49 Times More Likely to Have HIV Than Other Women A new report from amfAR suggests that trans women are among the most at risk demographic and yet the medical establishment and AIDS organizations have failed them at every turn.



    Last month, The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) released a report, titled, "Trans Populations and HIV: Time to End the Neglect," detailing the high rate of HIV infection among transgender men and women along with the failings of the HIV-focused medical community.

    The study estimates that 19.1 percent of trans women are living with HIV, with higher rates of infection existing in the U.S. (21.6 percent) than countries defined by the report as "low and middle-income countries" (17.7 percent). The report's estimate suggests that trans women are among the most at risk demographic, and are an estimated 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than members of the general population. Rates of infection are even higher among trans women of color.

    The reason for this alarmingly high rate of infection appears to hinge on a number of factors, including economic status, a propensity to engage in survival sex work, likelihood of intravenous drug use, and other high-risk behaviors.

    In general, the public's interest in the high rate of HIV among trans women remains at near nonexistent levels. In studies and treatment cascades from pharmaceutical companies, trans women are often miscategorized, lumped in with and labelled "men who have sex with men." That misclassification further impedes the ability of the medical community to properly address the difficulties faced by transgender women.

    Trans individuals often face high levels of medical discrimination as well. A 2011 report, "Injustice at Every Turn," suggests that nearly one in five trans individuals in the United States has reported being denied medical care as a result of his or her gender identity. Nearly one in ten trans people are unaware of their HIV status.

    The amfAR report concludes that in order to begin to address the impact of HIV in the trans community, it's essential that steps be taken to ensure this at-risk group is recognized. AmfAR's recommendations include elevating trans issues on the HIV agenda, putting trans individuals in positions of leadership within HIV advocacy organizations, providing additional funding specific to study and treatment of trans HIV patients, ensuring trans people are properly categorized in future research, implementing laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity, increasing trans-specific training within the medical community, and developing community support systems for trans individuals that encourage regular testing.

    It's important to note that while these recomendations address both trans men and women, most of the study data applies to transgender women, because data regarding trans men and non-binary individuals is not readily available, and those groups are often miscategorized or overlooked entirely in HIV studies.

    Credit: Trans women

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  • HIV 101: Can I Be Fired If My Boss Finds Out I Have HIV? Can I Be Fired If My Boss Finds Out I Have HIV?

    Not legally, unless you have limitations on what you can do and your employer has made every effort to accommodate them. The ADA require employers to make “reasonable accommodation” to the known physical or mental limitations of employees with disabilities (including HIV infection/illness). That doesn’t mean all employers understand the ADA; violations happen all the time, but if you get fired, you have legal recourse. And certainly, if you have no symptoms that require you to have accommodations, then you can’t be let go because of your status.

    Can my boss or prospective employer require me to take an HIV test?
    No, not under federal nondiscrimination laws.

    Credit: Fired

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  • LGBT Health: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Questions Are a Must From 1995 to 2012, 27 states asked a sexual orientation question at least once in their Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey. This is according to an analysis just published by The Fenway Institute in Boston, written by Fenway researchers Leigh Evans, Kelsey Lawler and Sammy Sass. Among these 27 states were North Carolina, Georgia and Florida, as well as Texas and several Great Plains and Rocky Mountain states. However, in any given year, only a small number of states ask the sexual orientation questions. For example, in 2009, only 13 states and the District of Columbia included a sexual orientation question on their BRFSS.

    The BRFSS survey asks questions about health risk behaviors, such as smoking and substance use, as well as healthy behaviors, such as regular cardiovascular exercise and eating fresh fruits and vegetables. BRFSS allows states to document racial and ethnic disparities in health risk behaviors. It also allows them to ask sexual orientation and gender identity questions. Very few states, including Massachusetts, ask about both sexual orientation and gender identity. The Fenway Institute encourages all 50 states to ask sexual orientation and gender identity questions on their BRFSS surveys every year, to better understand LGBT health disparities.

    BRFSS surveys 500,000 Americans in all 50 states annually. Asking about sexual orientation -- ideally both identity and behavior -- dramatically increases knowledge about health disparities affecting lesbian, gay and bisexual people (LGB).

    States that have asked about sexual orientation have documented disparities and used the data to inform public health programming to address them. For example:
    • Arizona's public health department found through its BRFSS that 31 percent of Arizona lesbians smoked, about twice the rate of the state's general female population. As a result, Tobacco Free Arizona targets lesbians and other members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community with prevention and cessation interventions.
    • New Mexico, Washington state and Massachusetts also documented tobacco use disparities affecting lesbian, gay and bisexual people through, and also target the LGBT community with tobacco prevention and cessation efforts.
    • BRFSS data from several states have shown that lesbians are less likely to get mammograms than other women, and have found higher rates of suicide among LGB veterans, findings that have important public health implications.
    We know from community-based surveys that transgender and gender nonconforming people experience high rates of violence victimization -- as do LGB people -- as well as high rates of mental health and substance use burden. Having population-level data on transgender people would dramatically increase our knowledge of transgender health disparities and could inform more effective public health planning.

    States in all regions of the country have tested sexual orientation questions on their Behavioral Risk surveys and gathered invaluable public health data. But right now most states are not asking these questions. We strongly urge state health departments to add sexual orientation and gender identity questions to their BRFSS surveys to help identify health disparities affecting LGBT people.

    The Fenway Institute BRFSS analysis, available at www.fenwayhealth.org/brfss, recommends language for sexual identity and sexual behavior questions, and recommends that data on lesbians, gay men and bisexual women and men be analyzed separately, as lumping the data together can mask important differences among these groups. For example, BRFSS data show that gay men are less overweight and obese, on average, than heterosexual men, while lesbians are more likely to be overweight or obese. The Massachusetts BRFSS found poorer health among bisexual respondents compared with gay, lesbian, and heterosexual respondents, as well as higher rates of mental health issues and smoking. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey in seven states and six large cities -- a survey of high school students -- also found higher rates of health risk behaviors among bisexual youth compared with gay and lesbian youth. Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth report much higher rates of health risk behaviors than heterosexual youth.

    The Fenway Institute recommends inclusion of sexual orientation measures in the BRFSS core questionnaire. This would recognize the health disparities facing sexual minority populations and allow for a larger data set that can be analyzed. If all 50 states asked these questions every year, we would have a much larger data set and could look at the intersection of racial/ethnic health disparities with sexual minority disparities, and at issues affecting older adults who are lesbian, gay and bisexual.

    Some state BRFSS surveys only ask sexual orientation questions of people under 65, leaving out LGB elders. The Fenway Institute brief recommends that all adult age cohorts be asked about sexual orientation, to increase our understanding of issues affecting LGB elders. These include living alone and social isolation. For example, we know from BRFSS that older gay men are more likely to live alone than heterosexual men. Living alone can lead to social isolation, which can correlate with depression and substance use. These issues can make it harder for older gay men living with HIV to adhere to their antiretroviral treatment regimens. So even issues that are not, at first glance, public health issues can have important public health implications.

    The Fenway Institute also encourages states to ask about gender identity on their BRFSS surveys. A separate group of researchers, called GENIUSS, is promoting the inclusion of gender identity questions on health surveys. The Fenway Institute Research Scientist Kerith Conron, ScD, is an active member of that group.

    Gathering data on sexual orientation and gender identity on state BRFSS surveys is consistent with the federal governments increased attention to LGBT health. For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services just released its strategic plan for the next five years. A key goal is to increase scientific knowledge of LGBT health. One simple and inexpensive way to do that would be if all 50 states asked about sexual orientation and gender identity as standard demographic variables on their Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys.
    --
    Sean Cahill, PhD, is Director of Health Policy Research at The Fenway Institute and teaches public policy at several universities. From 2001 to 2008 he was a member of the Sexual Minority Assessment Research Team, a group that promoted sexual orientation data collection on national and state health and demographic surveys.

    Credit: Questions

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  • 12 States Still Have Anti-Sodomy Laws A Decade After They Were Ruled Unconstitutional BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A dozen states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books 10 years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled they are unconstitutional.

    One such state is Louisiana, where gay rights groups contend police have used anti-sodomy laws to target gay men. But state lawmakers sided with religious and conservative groups in refusing to repeal the law last week.

    Of 14 states that had anti-sodomy laws, only Montana and Virginia have repealed theirs since the Supreme Court ruling, said Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights organization.

    Warbelow says that in addition to Louisiana, anti-sodomy laws remain on the books in Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.

    The Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 that it is unconstitutional to bar consensual sex between adults, calling it a violation of the 14th Amendment.

    Last year, police in East Baton Rouge Parish arrested gay men for attempted crimes against nature using the anti-sodomy law in a sting operation that caused a national outcry. The district attorney wouldn't bring charges against the arrested men, saying the law was unenforceable.

    This led Rep. Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge, to file the bill that would repeal Louisiana's anti-sodomy law, saying it would make the system fairer and more efficient.

    "We don't need inefficient laws on the books," she said.
    Her fellow representatives, however, disagreed and voted 66-27 on April 15 to keep the law in place.

    Gene Mills, president of the conservative Louisiana Family Forum, said he was not surprised the bill failed considering the state's culture.

    "It's not a Louisiana value," he said of the repeal.

    Others argue Louisiana lawmakers are going against public opinion and sending out a message that gay people are unwelcome in the state.

    "It just shows how out of touch Louisiana representatives are," said Patrick Paschall, senior policy counsel for public policy and government affairs at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

    Terry Young Jr., a 27-year-old gay man, said he cannot understand why Louisiana lawmakers would want to keep a law that was declared unconstitutional.

    "It's a reflection of the overall homophobia," said Young, at the state Capitol last week.
    While social conservatism plays a role in keeping unusable anti-sodomy laws on the books, Warbelow said lawmakers may also feel overwhelmed with having to rewrite statutes to accommodate concerns about aggravated sodomy.

    Some anti-sodomy laws, including Louisiana's, use one statute to prohibit both consensual sodomy and aggravated sodomy. Opponents of the repeal argued that it would eliminate protections from oral and anal sexual assault.

    Warbelow said lawmakers could have addressed this concern by rewriting their sexual-assault statutes. While doing so might have been a daunting task, it would have been better than keeping the anti-sodomy laws and relying on courts to uphold the Supreme Court decision, she said.

    Credit: Anti-sodomy Law

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  • The Man Who Had HIV and Now Does Not

    Four years ago, Timothy Brown underwent an innovative procedure. Since then, test after test has found absolutely no trace of the virus in his body. The bigger miracle, though, is how his case has experts again believing they just might find a cure for AIDS. 

     

    AIDS is a disease of staggering numbers, of tragically recursive devastation. Since the first diagnosis, 30 years ago this June 5, HIV has infected more than 60 million people, around 30 million of whom have died. For another 5 million, anti-retroviral therapy has made their infection a manageable though still chronic condition. Until four years ago, Timothy Brown was one of those people.

    Brown is a 45-year-old translator of German who lives in San Francisco. He is of medium height and very skinny, with thinning brown hair. He found out he had HIV in 1995. He had not been tested for the virus in half a decade, but that year a former partner turned up positive. “You’ve probably got only two years to live,” the former partner told him when Brown got his results.

    His partner was wrong—lifesaving anti-retrovirals were about to arrive—and Brown spent the next ten years living in Berlin, pursuing his career and enjoying the city by night. He was gregarious, a fast talker; when he went out, he’d always wind up the center of a group. “I used to be quite a flirt,” he tells me. “I would see someone in a café, bar, or disco and knew how to get what I wanted.” In 2006, Brown was living in Berlin with his boyfriend, a man named Michael from the former East Germany. That year, on a trip to New York for a wedding, he began to feel miserable. He chalked it up to jet lag, but it didn’t go away. Back in Berlin, his bike ride to work took so long that he got chewed out by his boss for lateness. Michael called his doctor, who saw Brown the next day.

    The results came back: leukemia. A new, unrelated disease was now threatening his life. Michael cried. Brown was referred to Charité Medical University, where he was treated by Gero Hütter, a 37-year-old ­specialist in blood cancers.

    After chemo, the leukemia came back. Brown’s last chance was a stem-cell transplant from a bone-marrow donor. Hütter had an idea. He knew little about HIV, but he remembered that people with a certain natural genetic mutation are very resistant to the virus. The mutation, called delta 32, disables CCR5, a receptor on the surface of immune-system cells that, in the vast majority of cases, is HIV’s path inside. People with copies from both parents are almost completely protected from getting HIV, and they are relatively common in northern Europe—among Germans, the rate is about one in a hundred. Hütter resolved to see if he could use a stem-cell donor with the delta-32 ­mutation to cure not just Brown’s leukemia but also his HIV.

    Hütter found 232 donors worldwide who were matches for Brown. If probabilities held, two would have double delta 32. Hütter persuaded the people at the registry to test the donors for the ­mutation; his laboratory paid, at a cost of about $40 per sample. They worked through the list. Donor 61 was a hit.

    His colleagues and the chief of his unit were dubious. “The main problem was that I was just a normal physician—I had no leading position. It was not always easy to get what we needed,” Hütter recalls. Brown himself was not pushing the idea. “At that point, I wasn’t that concerned about HIV, because I could keep taking medication,” he says.

    Before Hütter asked the donor registry to begin testing, he’d searched the literature and contacted AIDS experts. It dawned on him that no one had ever done this before. “My first thought was, I’m wrong. There must be something I was missing.” In a sense, that was true. Gero Hütter did not know what most AIDS researchers and clinicians had taken as accepted wisdom: A cure was impossible.
    The 1996 International Conference on AIDS in Vancouver brought the stunning announcement that a combination of three anti-retroviral drugs could keep HIV in check. David Ho, director of New York’s Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, went further. In the closing session, Ho said that it might be possible to eradicate the disease from the body with 18 to 36 months of therapy. Time magazine named Ho “Man of the Year.”

    But Ho was too optimistic. Treatment with the drugs, no matter how early it’s begun, cannot eradicate HIV, because the virus hides, lurking in the brain or liver or gut without replicating, invisible to the immune system. It is waiting to come roaring back if therapy is stopped. Disillusioned, some cure researchers transferred their finite resources and energy to improving AIDS treatment or working on a vaccine. Money for cure research dried up. Some scientists took to calling it “the C-word” or “cure” with air quotes.

    Credit: Health

     

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  • HIV Cure: New Drug 'Vacc-4x' May Become First Functional Cure Against the Virus The new Bionor Pharma vaccine may lead for the creation of a potential functional HIV cure. This reduces the viral load among patients and latest result has shown 64 percent less median viral load within 6 months.

    Vacc-4X From Bionor Pharma
    Bionor Pharma now focuses its efforts to pass its new Vacc-4x drug in clinical trials apparently the first functional cure against HIV. The company announced the test results from its randomized, multicenter, double-blinded and placebo-controlled Phase II trial on 136 patients with Vacc-4X, candidate cure vs. AIDS-causing virus.

    Between July 2008 and June 2010, the drug company conducted Phase II study for Vacc-4x on adults infected with HIV-1 aged 18 to 55 in 18 sites in Germany, Italy, Spain, UK and the U.S.
    Around 174 individuals were screened but enrolment stopped with 136 participants were 93 randomly assigned to receive Vacc-4x while the remaining 43 to receive placebo. Subjects who completed 6-month interruption of antiretroviral drugs have showed 64 percent viral load reduction compared to those under placebo.

    "Researchers are optimistic that the data offers clues for how such a vaccine could be optimised and offer the first new treatment modality in HIV in over coming years. We need to understand why Vacc-4X appears to have worked much better in some patients than in other, in order to help expedite its regulatory approval," Dr. Richard Pollard, chief of infectious disease at University of California Davis, said according to MarketWired.

    Working Mechanism
    Vacc-4x could become the first cure against HIV. It is considered as one of the most advanced therapeutic vaccines under development with demonstrated efficacy on the virus. Bionor Pharma followed the strategy, "Kick, Kill and Boost," to achieve a functional cure.

    Using this strategy, Vacc-4x gets a powerful mechanism to reduce viral load inside the human body and may flush out the virus permanently.
    1.   Release dormant HIV reservoirs residing in infected human cells.
    2.   Encourage HIV destruction through immune response evoked by Vacc-4x.
    3.   Boost the immune system by strengthening it to maximize attack against HIV.

    Adverse Effects
    Since Vacc-4x is still under clinical trials which will reveal adverse effects in humans, one serious event according to The Lancet that Vacc-4x may have exacerbate multiple sclerosis and reported as possibly related to the study treatment.

    Also, Vacc-4x is immunogenic that provokes an immune response to fight infection which in this case is HIV. It induces rapid growth of immune cells such as CD4 and CD8 T-cell populations that aid destruction of the AIDS-causing virus.

    Current Interpretation
    Certain proportion of the participants resumed ART before study treatment ended and change in CD4 counts during the treatment interruption showed no benefits of vaccination. It was also revealed that Vacc-4x was safe, well-tolerated, immunogenic and seemed to have contributed to a viral-load set point reduction after the interruption of ART, which considered an important factor for future HIV-cure strategies.

    To contact the editor, e-mail: editor@ibtimes.com

    Credit: Cure

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  • HIV has been cured in a child for the first time

    In a monumental first for medicine, doctors announced today that a baby has been cured of an HIV infection. Dr. Deborah Persaud, who presented the child's case today at the 20th annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infection, called it "definitely a game-changer."

    Persaud, of Johns Hopkins University Medical School, is the lead author of a report recounting the child's treatment. The identity of the little girl, who was born to an HIV-positive woman in rural Mississippi, has yet to be released. What we do know is that she is only the second person in the world — and the first child — to be cured of HIV in its devastating 32-year history. If the case is confirmed, it is truly unprecedented.

    The abstract for Persaud's presentation (which can be found in its entirety here) provides details of the child's treatment, which involved very early administration of antiretroviral therapy (ART), initiating treatment when the child was just 30 hours old (emphasis added):

    Methods: Infant exposure to HIV was confirmed through review of maternal HIV antibody and plasma viral load tests, including HIV drug resistance testing. Infant infection was documented using standard HIV DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and plasma viral load. ART administration was confirmed with medical and pharmacy records and maternal report of medication adherence. 

    Persistence of HIV infection following treatment discontinuation was assessed using standard clinical assays that included plasma viral load, proviral DNA, and HIV antibody testing. Ultrasensitive HIV DNA (droplet digital PCR), plasma viral load (single copy) assays, and quantitative co-culture assays were done at age 24 and 26 months to further assess HIV persistence. HLA typing was done to confirm matching of the mother–infant pair.

    Results: Maternal infection with wild type subtype B HIV was verified. The mother and infant shared HLA haplotypes. Infant infection was confirmed by positive HIV DNA and RNA testing on 2 separate blood samples obtained on the 2nd day of life. 3 additional plasma viral load tests (days of life 7, 12, and 20) were positive before reaching undetectable levels at age 29 days.

    The child, who is now 2 and a half years old, has reportedly been off drugs for a year. Still, her blood tests continue to show no signs of a functioning virus.

    The authors' conclusions say it all: "This is the first well-documented case of functional cure in an [HIV-positive] child and suggests that very early [antiretroviral therapies] may prevent establishment of a latent reservoir and achieve cure in children.

    We'll keep you posted as more info comes to light. In the meantime, read the researchers' account of the girl's case at CROI: "Functional HIV Cure after Very Early ART of an Infected Infant." See also: these general overviews by NPR and the NYT.

    Credit: Cured

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  • LGBTQ Theory Books

    LGBTQ* Theory Books (You May Want) To Know
    • Feminism is Queer: The Intimate Connection between Queer and Feminist Theory - Mimi Marinucci
    • Mad for Foucault: Rethinking the Foundations of Queer Theory (Gender and Culture) - Lynne Huffer
    • Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity - Judith Butler
    • Queer Indigenous Studies: Critical Interventions in Theory, Politics, and Literature (First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies) - Qwo-Li Driskill (Editor), Chris Finley (Editor), Brian Joseph Gilley (Editor), Scott Lauria Morgensen (Editor)
    • Please Select Your Gender: From the Invention of Hysteria to the Democratizing of Transgenderism - Patricia Gherovici 

    • Queer Cowboys: And Other Erotic Male Friendships in Nineteenth-Century American Literature - Chris Packard

    • Aberrations In Black: Toward A Queer Of Color Critique (Critical American Studies) - Roderick A. Ferguson

    • Queer Girls in Class (Counterpoints: Studies in the Postmodern Theory of Education) - Lori Horvitz 

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  • GAYa NUSANTARA Mengajak


    Pada "GAYa NUSANTARA mengajak" kali ini, GN mengajak untuk berpartisipasi dalam Majalah GAYa NUSANTARA Vol 02/09 bertema Bangga Terhadap Diri Sendiri yang akan diterbitkan pada bulan Juni.

    Caranya gampang! Tinggal kirimkan karya kamu ke email GNredaksi@gmail.com dan di cc ke gayanusantara@gmail.com. Tim redaksi menerima hasil karya dalam bentuk apapun, bisa berupa cerpen, puisi, gambar, atau opini.
    Atau bisa ikut serta dalam rubrik majalah yang baru, yaitu "Kita berbicara", caranya kirimkan foto kamu dengan memegang tulisan "Ketika aku bangga menjadi .......... maka ........."

    Deadline: 11 Mei 2014

    Ayo ikutan!

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  • HIV 101: Can I Transmit HIV Through Oral Sex? Everyone has questions when they find out they are positive. In this series of posts, here are several of the most common, plus straightforward answers to help you navigate this new life of yours. 



    It is far less common, but possible, to transmit HIV through oral sex, especially if you are a man and you ejaculate into someone else’s mouth. If you have HIV and your partner performs fellatio on you but you do not ejaculate in that person’s mouth, you have an extremely low chance of passing HIV to them. HIV transmission through “fellatio without ejaculation can happen, but it is exceedingly rare,” says Thomas Coates, Ph.D., a professor of medicine and director of the University of California, San Francisco, AIDS Research Institute and the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies. “It’s not ‘no risk,’ but it’s relatively low risk.” When ejaculation occurs during fellatio, the risk of HIV transmission rises; researchers debate what the rate of transmission is but most estimates are between 1 and 10 percent. If you are a woman, having someone perform cunnilingus on you is extremely low risk as well, as long as you are not menstruating.

    Credit: HIV answers

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  • Advocate for homeless LGBT youth calls on Pope to end religion’s anti-gay messaging

    NEW YORK — Homeless LGBT youth advocate Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, America’s largest shelter for homeless LGBT youth, is calling on Pope Francis to to lead the world’s religious communities in bringing an end to the “grave moral failure” by the Church to embrace LGBT youth and families.

    The plea comes in an open letter published in a full-page advertisement in Sunday’s New York Times, sponsored by Faith in America, a non-profit organization founded by North Carolina businessman Mitchell Gold to counter “religion-based bigotry.”
    Siciliano writes:
    “I write on behalf of the homeless LGBT youths I serve. I ask you to take urgent action to protect them from the devastating consequences of religious rejection, which is the most common reason LGBT youths are driven from their homes. At the heart of the problem is that the church still teaches that homosexual conduct is a sin, and that being gay is disordered. I hope that if you understand how this teaching tears families apart and brings suffering to innocent youths, you will end this teaching and prevent your bishops from fighting against the acceptance of LGBT people as equal members of society.
    [...]
    “The Roman Catholic Church is the largest and most influential Christian organization in the world. By teaching that homosexual conduct is a sin, and that the homosexual orientation is disordered, it influences countless parents and families in societies across the globe to reject their children. In the name of these children, and in light of the love and compassion at the heart of the message of Jesus, I ask that you end this teaching.”
    Gold, who founded the N.C. furniture company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, said the campaign “might be one of the most consequential efforts I’ve ever been involved in.”

    “Just imagine for a moment if so many of the kids that have killed themselves did not grow up being taught that homosexuality was sinful … if when they came out to their parents they were totally embraced rather than being told they were ‘disappointed’ and needed counseling….if they felt they had family and church to turn to?” said Gold.

    A Facebook page was also launched to accompany the ad. A copy of the ad is here (pdf).

    Credit: Calls on Pope

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  • Increasingly, anti-trans = anti-abortion: #protransprochoice
    The right to body autonomy and being free from oppressive gender stereotypes is an issue that’s near and dear to my heart. I’ve noticed that the same hubris people who stand in the way of trans people are generally the same people who are standing in the way of the right to safe and legal abortion services for many of the same reasons.

    The Pacific Justice Institute, the very organization that hounded a trans kid to the brink of suicide, is also an anti-abortion group. The Salt & Light Council, the very organization that went on the news to falsely claim that trans children were scurrying up and and over bathroom stalls so they could watch cis people use the restroom, is also an anti-abortion group. Alliance Defending Freedom, (remember this org; we’ll come back to them in a moment) the same organization that went to Fox News with lies about what happened at Evergreen College, is also an anti-abortion group.

    Consider the gender stereotypes these folks appeal to as they take an anti-trans/anti-choice stance:


    In their anti-trans/anti-choice world, learning to be a good homemaker who pumps out as many kids as the males in her life wish is gender. People like me fuck with that world view.  I’ve also noticed they believe that they – not you – get to contextualize your life experience. They’re happy to yell at me, “No matter what you do, you’ll always be a man!” while shouting a clinic patients, “No matter what you do, you’ll still be a mother; you’ll just be a mother to a dead baby!” I’ve noticed that these people – be they TERFs or fundies – believe that gender only ever = males controlling females. I’ve also noticed that on top of that, both will smugly privilege themselves to define your experience for you.

    I therefore spend my Saturdays defending clinic patients as they attempt to access an abortion clinic because a person’s right to hold agency over their body (and not the other way around) is also a trans issue. I do what I do because the enemies of choice are the enemies of my freedom.

    I’m a Clinic Escort, or as the people who try to mob, intimidate and shame people entering the clinic call us, “Clinic Deathscorts.” (BTW, “Deathscort” would make an awesome metal band name!) I generally stand at the front gate and try to keep the anti-trans/anti-choice crew from mobbing cars as they enter the clinic:







    I was happy to learn that the president of a state NOW chapter will be doing a TransAdvocate interview, echoing these sentiments. Additionally, I was happy to see Planned Parenthood and NARAL give voice to these intersections of oppression as well:



    An anti-trans/anti-abortion piece written by the Catholic News Agency is making its rounds on right-wing outlets. The report warns “of global push for ‘gender identity’ language:”
    Attorneys working for human rights at the United Nations and other global organizations note a growing trend to introduce “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” language – as well as abortion rights – into international law.

    A “newer theme that we see in international law is what we call the SOGI movement, or the Sexual Orientation Gender Identity movement,” British attorney Paul Coleman told CNA on March 23.

    “It’s been around for the last decade and it is seeking to promote the terms ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ on an international level; seeking to provide protections, seeking to change international laws to include those terms and having a series of knock-on effects in a number of different areas.”

    Coleman, who specializes in international litigation with a focus on European law, does legal advocacy in international institutions of governance like the the United Nations, the European Court of Human Rights, the European Union.

    The report interviews Paul Coleman, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom – they very group I previously noted went to Fox News peddling the false claim that a trans woman was repeatedly exposing herself to 6 year old girls. Just before explaining what “gender identity” refers to, Coleman makes the same claim TERFs do: “gender identity” is a term that isn’t understood.

    “The terms ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ are terms that aren’t particularly well understood,” explained the attorney, who serves as legal counsel in the Vienna office of the international organization Alliance Defending Freedom.

    “That’s part of the issue with this sort of terminology – that its so fluid, that it changes – it can mean whatever people want it to mean.”

    As a result, the language becomes a kind of tool for incorporating certain beliefs into law.
    “In effect, ‘sexual orientation’ is a ‘code word,’ so to speak, for homosexuality and homosexual behavior, and ‘gender identity’ is a ‘code’ for transsexualism or people who feel they are not male or female, but are something different, something in between, or nothing at all,” Coleman said.

    The Alliance Defending Freedom makes it clear that trans issues are part of the “homosexual agenda” and warns of societies which are trans-affirming because they also support abortion rights.

    In addition to the SOGI movement, Coleman noted an “attempt to create a right to abortion” in international law – an effort which which he says has been around since the early 1990s and continues to grow in “force” each year.

    This attempt also uses key language to place these ideas in global law, he added.

    “It’s one of the major trends that we now see…there are many documents that are discussed at the United Nations where the phrases ‘reproductive health and rights’ and ‘sexual reproductive health and rights’ appear constantly.”

    “No matter what the issue is that’s being discussed, they’ll always find a way to include those issues.”
    Neydy Casillas, an attorney and former law professor from Mexico working in the Organization of American States and Latin America [and advocate for the Alliance Defending Freedom], lamented the heavy international focus on issues of sexuality rather than difficult situations faced by many around the globe.

    “Sadly in these organizations, where they should be talking about the problems that exist in the world, like poverty, lack of access to health care in general, lack of education, etc., – problems that will affect the development of nations – discussion has focused solely on the (question of) what is life, to try to legalize abortion in all circumstances.”

    “They also work very hard on the homosexual agenda,” added the attorney who also does advocacy work for Alliance Defending Freedom, “as if they were the problems the world is experiencing – completely ignoring other problems that exist and affect the entire world and truly help development.”

    Coleman cited three different groups at the United Nations advancing the language and goals of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

    The “primary drivers” are the “activist organizations,” followed by “liberal, predominantly western countries,” and then “the institutions themselves at the UN: people that work for the UN itself.”
    When the three are aligned, Coleman warned, the results are powerful.

    “That is why terms like ‘gender identity’ were completely unknown ten years ago and now they’re being pushed on many different levels today even though there isn’t a single UN treaty that mentions the terms ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity,’” he explained.

    Coleman noted that such a process is often very complex, since it involves the reinterpretation of international treaties.

    “Where international treaties say, for example, that people have the right to health, that’s being interpreted as saying ‘well, health includes reproductive health, reproductive health includes abortion – therefore, there is a right to abortion.’”

    Although nations may refuse, many “want to appear as if they are keeping up with their ‘human rights obligations’ – they don’t want to be constantly harassed by the United Nations or the European Union.”

    The influence of Western countries, he said, can be very commanding.
    The British attorney noted that “the United Kingdom has said that it will withhold aid to third world countries if those countries do not change their laws on homosexuality.”

    He added, “we see in America President Obama saying that it is a foreign policy priority to promote homosexuality across the world. These are powerful countries with huge international aid budgets, and they’re helping to push this issue around the globe.”

    “If (nations) are told constantly, ‘you need to change your laws on abortion. You need to change your laws on homosexuality,’ then that pressure can lead to change at a domestic level.”

    Moreover, such ideas have very practical import, or “knock-on effect,” Coleman said, citing Facebook’s recent decision to include 50 different gender options for profiles instead of male or female, as well as something like the winter Olympic games.

    “They are defined as the men’s competitions and the women’s competitions. Well, what do you do if you have someone who wants to compete in the women’s competitions who isn’t a woman?”
    People who believe that humanity is male and female, and who want to act on those beliefs, will face “a conflict within the law,” noted Coleman.

    “We’re going to see more religious liberty cases where people are being sued, being threatened legally because they’re clinging to the belief that there is male and female.”






    Credit: Increasingly

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Coming Soon
Seminar Dwi Bulanan II GAYa NUSANTARA on May 2014

Majalah GAYa NUSANTARA edisi No. 1 Tahun 09 dengan Tema" Transgender: Waria dan Priawan" sudah terbit. Info pemesanan bisa melalui:

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Agenda


International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia 20-25 July, 2014 Melbourne, Australia

6th Ewha Global Empowerment Program, 29 june - 13 july 2014 Seoul, Korea

Crea: Sexuality, Gender, and Right Institute, 21 - 29 June 2014 Istanbul, Turkey

World Conference on Youth 2014 6-10 May, 2014 Colombo, Sri Lanka

5th WLEC - Women's Leadership and Empowerment Conference 2014 1-3 March 2014, Bangkok, Thailand


Arsip Blog

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