God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

On my way to Washington

Since a long time the a major AIDS conference will take place in the USA again. Not that the Americans pulled out of the dealing with HIV, but their restrictive policy in making it difficult or impossible to welcome people living with the virus made the country unsuitable for any AIDS related conference in the last years. It shows that God’s nation on earth needed quite some time to understand how stupid and contra-productive it was to challenge HIV and AIDS with useless immigration laws. And this does not only counts for immigration. It becomes clearer and clearer that legal measures often are unjustified and hamper the efforts to combat the disease or turn around the tide. Let’s hope that during or in the aftermath of the conference more countries realise that they increase the risk of HIV instead of bringing it down when taking so-called preventative legal measures or trying to root out HIV with the penal code.  Only when people are able to receive a test result without the fear of discrimination, not only from fellow neighbors but also from states and countries, when they are allowed to enjoy the same freedom of travel like everybody else we will be a step closer to turning the tight of the pandemic. Let’s work hard to achieve this goal and start today.

Filed under: General, HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, Medical and Research, Networking, Politics and Society, Reflection, Society and living environment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

POZ Magazine: Prevention Is Failing to Target MSM When They’re Young Enough

If we are going to prevent HIV transmission in young men who have sex with men (MSM), we must find strategies to reach them when they are in their early teens. So say researchers who presented a study Monday, July 19, at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna.
HIV infection among young MSM is often a conundrum. Studies show that they understand what sexual acts place them at highest risk for HIV infection, but many engage in unprotected anal intercourse with other men of unknown HIV status. What is paradoxical and frustrating is that when prevention researchers ask the young men why they engaged in high-risk behaviors, they typically respond that they didn’t think that what they were doing would lead to becoming infected.
To better understand the context behind this kind of reasoning, D. Dennis Flores III, from Emory Healthcare in Atlanta and his colleagues conducted interviews with 10 young MSM from that city who had recently been diagnosed with HIV. Nine of the men were African American, and one was Latino. Their ages ranged from 18 to 24. The interviews with the young men covered four topic areas: risk behavior, HIV education, the Internet and healthy role models.
As has been found in previous studies, the majority of the young men had viewed themselves as either unlikely or very unlikely to contract HIV in their lifetimes, and half reported experiencing coercion and sexual abuse at the time of sexual initiation.
One 18-year-old participant, Nathaniel, described his own sexual initiation: “I had to be around 13… He worked at my school, he was around 30, a janitor. He was always nice to me for no reason. I mean, I kind of guessed it after a while. He would talk to me. One day I just left school with him. The most we ever did was oral; we didn’t do anything else. But after that, like, he tried talking to me more about leaving school. I really didn’t like him after that.”
Flores and his colleagues found that while all the young men had undergone sex education while in middle school or high school, none reported that these classes included information about gay sex. Moreover, only one of the young men reported having any gay role models while growing up. This meant that relevant sex education occurred on the Internet, which from a sexual risk perspective, can be quite perilous. When these young men went online, most of them saw graphic high-risk sexual encounters, and this behavior quickly became what they perceived as normal and desirable.
“[The Internet] sure has taught me a lot of tricks,” explained 24-year-old Adrien. “Things that I never thought were humanly possible. It gave me a reference. I guess it was kind of revolutionary for me ’cause I’d never seen two men, like, actually get enjoyment out of it. So it was like getting exposed to that was, like, wow, you know…different.”
One of the most important findings, said Flores, was that by the time the young men encountered prevention messages and programs targeted to young gay men, higher-risk sexual activity had already become the norm. For some, they contracted HIV before having ever encountered targeted prevention information.
Flores concluded his presentation by stressing that targeted education, focused on young MSM, should be occurring as early as elementary or middle school and that parents should be taught to be supportive and to teach their sons how to avoid sexual coercion. Moreover, Flores’s team recommends engaging young MSM who are out about their sexual orientation to serve as peer educators and role models for other young men. Lastly, Flores stressed the critical need to use new technologies online to reach young MSM with prevention methods before it is too late.

by David Evans

Source: http://www.poz.com/rssredir/articles/hiv_young_gay_761_18855.shtml

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, Medical and Research, Society and living environment, , , , , ,

Bill Clinton speaks at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna

Former US president Bill Clinton has called for more efficient use of funding in the fight against Aids to ensure that people who need it actually get it. Clinton made the comments on Monday at an international Aids conference in Austria’s capital, Vienna.
He said that in many countries, money for Aids is misspent and that funding should go directly to local organisations and national plans in developing countries that can deliver services well at a lower cost and less overhead than established organisations.
On Sunday, the head of the conference said world leaders lack the political will to ensure that everyone infected with HIV and Aids gets treatment. Julio Montaner – the president of the International Aids Society and chairperson of the Aids 2010 conference – said the G8 group of rich nations has failed to deliver on a commitment to guarantee universal access and warned this could have dire consequences.
Montaner’s comments to reporters appeared to foreshadow one of the key topics for the weeklong gathering, which organisers say has drawn 20 000 policymakers, experts and advocates to take stock of efforts to fight the disease and generate momentum for the future.
Reflecting the emotional nature of the debate, protesters carrying banners and shouting slogans such as “broken promises kill, show us the money!” and “treat the people!” delayed the start of the opening session.
In 2005, G8 leaders committed in a communiqué to developing and implementing an Africa-focused package for HIV prevention, treatment and care with the aim of getting “as close as possible to universal access to treatment for all those who need it by 2010.” They reaffirmed and broadened their commitment a year later in Russia with more detailed financing pledges.
But a G8 accountability report from the most recent summit of world leaders in Canada last month acknowledged that the “universal access targets with respect to HIV/Aids will not be met by 2010.”
Among the issues to be discussed by participants through to Friday are the decriminalisation of drug users, as well as the growing Aids epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Montaner accused governments from some Eastern European states of indifference to the acute situations in their countries and said their absence at the Vienna meeting was “irresponsible to the point of criminal negligence”. According to the World Health Organisation, 33.4 million people were living with HIV in 2008. While the numbers of deaths declined to two million in 2008 from 2.2m in 2004, about 2.7m new infections still occur each year.

Source: http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/AidsFocus/Clinton-speaks-at-Aids-conference-20100719

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HIV Prevention, HIV Treatment, Medical and Research, Politics and Society, , , , , ,

17.07.2010 Vienna is calling

Today I will fly to Vienna to attend the World AIDS Conference. It is a huge conference and a diversity of topics and presentations and for me, it is a source for new inspiration to meet people from all walks of life, to catch up with those I meet only on such conferences and to learn what the world outside South Africa and Africa brings in on new ideas regarding HIV and AIDS.  The conferences I have attended so far were all very intensive and I like to just being there and listening and learning as the days unfold.

After the conference I will continue my journey flying to Frankfurt and on the weekend there will be the launch of a two years fundraising drive towards HOPE Cape Town from the Udo Lindenberg Foundation. I am looking forward to meet friends and sponsors of HOPE Cape Town, Viola and Hermjo and of course Udo Lindenberg and his team. Before flying back I will meet up with new sponsors at Frankfurt Airport. An intensive time ahead and I am looking forward to coming back to Cape Town with lots of new ideas and inspirations. Be warned 🙂

Filed under: HIV and AIDS, HOPE Cape Town Association & Trust, , , ,

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