God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Good to know

As always in between some articles I found worth reading and sharing with my readers:

We hear so often that the fight against HIV has been already won, especially in Europe: read on that the article “European HIV response “falling behind” as Eastern European epidemic grows

Truvada as PreP – especially in the gay scene a hot topic – read the approach of J. Bryan Lowder in “Twenty-one attempts at swallowing Truvada

Money for HIV related NGO’s is getting more difficult to raise – some thoughts about the “HIV Dollars drop” …

We all know about HIV – well, that seems not to be true especially for European countries, read about the British public and the knowledge of people under 30 years of age being “in the dark

Poor weight gain and mortality” in resource limited environments – especially for Africa a topic to consider seriously.

Most HIV infections are past on by “younger gay men unaware of their infection” , are not on treatment and have an ongoing relationship – interesting read

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, HOPE Cape Town Association, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Politics can produce drug resistance

It will be a hot and contested election year in South Africa – and the heat is starting to be felt with all the manifestos and declarations but also toi-toi’s and service delivery protests. The DA want’s to march towards Luthuli House, Khayelitsha residence fight for better sanitation systems, AMCU is on strike again at the Platinum mines – people are going for their convictions onto the streets and politics one or the other way dictates for a lot of people how they spend their days. The question I would like to ask is whether with all those emotions boiling over are people still taking care of their health? Do people have time to go to the clinics to take their TB medication; do they think of appointments with doctors and nursing staff and do they take their anti-retroviral treatment as prescribed if they are in need of it?

We often hear that in times of unrest, civil war health issues are on the back-burner when it comes to people’s minds – often they don’t have the opportunity to organize their health related obligations to keep fit. But I believe even on the low-level of service delivery protests and strikes and marches we can see the problem arising of not adherence to life saving medication. We pride ourselves to put more and more people on those medication but we seem not to be able to ensure the proper compliance when politics takes over. With 2 million and still counting for example on anti-retroviral treatment, there must be a concern about their well-being in those heated days.
When we saw the poo-protesters on the N2 motorway many times last year – those questions of adherence and compliance were always on my mind. Knowing how big the restrains are already on the health system we can’t effort more resistant bugs. And reading this morning about the thoughts of government officials to let people pay if they self-inflict their health problems – non-compliance because of toi-toi might be also falling soon under that label. It might sound far-fetched – but country and society are in such a crazy mood in many quarters – let’s work together that we care about compliance and adherence, be it TB or HIV or any other of those disease bringing down a person if not treated in a proper way.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Treatment, Politics and Society, Reflection, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Treatment, Viral Load and (un-)protected sex

Since the early days of treatment there are questions about treatment being a cornerstone of prevention. What does it really mean to be “undetectable” – how much does this translate into being not infectious? Is there a difference between heterosexual and homosexual encounters in this context? Or more precise: Is there a difference when it comes to anal sex versus vaginal intercourse? Is the amount of virus particles in the blood and semen or vaginal fluid the same?  What is the risk by not using a condom, if somebody is on treatment and the viral load is undetectable? What does it mean to have one permanent partner versus several partners? There are so many questions and one hears so many different answers and it seems the debate is ongoing. The Body.com has tried to bring together all the information about these questions and it makes an interesting reading. To read their findings please click here.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

Using the term “HIV negative” as a substitution for “not being tested”

An attempt at a discrimination graphic.

An attempt at a discrimination graphic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently came across an opinion piece from Preston Mitchum, a policy analyst for LGBT issues. He reflects on the question how people use the wording” HIV negative” almost as a hideout for not getting tested. But telling his own story about dating a person being HIV positive and rejecting him, he touches on the whole question of maturity and discrimination. We as church always emphasis not being judgmental and not discriminating against somebody being positive. I remember a talk in a Secondary School for girls here in Cape Town where I discussed with the students the question of stigma and discrimination in the context of HIV and AIDS. And being assured from all present that discrimination would never be an option for themselves, especially being students in a Catholic school,  I dared to ask who of them would have the courage to take a boyfriend who is HIV positive. There was silence and from more than 200 girls only one hand was raised.

I am convinced that we start tackling stigma and discrimination when starting to deal with our own fears, when we confront ourselves with all our hidden anxieties and when we are able to be honest about it looking into a mirror. The honest testimony of Preston might be helpful to reflect on our own standing when it comes to stigma and discrimination in our own midst.

Using ‘HIV-Negative’ as a Substitution for ‘Haven’t Been Tested’

by Preston Mitchum

A policy analyst for LGBT issues confronts his fears about HIV testing.

Filed under: Catholic Church, General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mortality of people with HIV compared to non-infected peers

The eternal question of people being infected or just getting their positive test result is: How long do I have to live? Does it make sense to continue living as if there is a future ahead? HIV-positive people taking antiretroviral therapy who have an undetectable viral load and a CD4 cell count above 500 cells/mm3 have a mortality risk comparable to that seen in the general population, investigators report in the online edition of AIDS. Researchers looked at mortality rates among participants enrolled in two large, randomized controlled trials – the SMART and ESPRIT studies. “We identified no evidence for a raised risk of death compared with the general population in HIV-infected people on ART with an undetectable viral load, who maintained or had recovery of CD+ T-counts to at least 500 cells/mm3,” write the authors. There have been significant improvements in HIV treatment and care in recent years. Anti-retroviral therapy has become more powerful, less toxic and easier to take. Data from cohort studies suggests that people doing well on treatment – often defined as the maintenance of an undetectable viral load and a CD4 cell count above 500 cells/mm3 – have a life expectancy similar to that of age- and sex-matched HIV-negative individuals.
The whole article which was published via NAM’s aidsmap you can read here.

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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