HIV stigma can be worse than the disease

Photo: Public Health Agency of Canada

Photo: Public Health Agency of Canada

MONTREAL – When a 50-year-old Quebec woman was sentenced to 10 months in jail and three years probation for assaulting police officers by spitting on them, her punishment sent a chill among anyone living with HIV.

A Maniwaki judge ruled last year that the woman, who was positive for human immunodeficiency virus, had caused the two arresting officers extreme anxiety when she spit on them.

Never mind that it’s been known for many years that HIV, like hepatitis C, cannot be transmitted through saliva.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no documented case of transmission from an HIV-infected person spitting on police or anyone else.

But one officer claimed that after the incident she was afraid of passing an infection to her baby, while the other officer said he was unable to go back to work because he was suffering side-effects from taking anti-viral drugs as a precaution against HIV infection.

During sentencing, the judge said that the courts must send a clear “unequivocal signal” that spitting on citizens will not be tolerated by people with HIV or hepatitis C.

The case is a striking example of the legal consequences of HIV/AIDS discrimination and stigma, said lawyer Liz Lacharpagne of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. “Spitting is an assault but most people are not sent to jail for that,” she said. “She got an enormous sentence because they were afraid of HIV.”

The face of HIV/AIDS has changed dramatically in Canada over the past two decades, turning into several epidemics in different population groups, according to Health Canada. Men who have sex with men remain the group that’s most affected by HIV/AIDS, but the disease has also become a public health issue for injecting drug users, women, Aboriginal peoples, prison inmates, immigrants from countries where HIV is endemic, as well as those already living with HIV/AIDS. And studies show “a significant potential” for of HIV transmission among youth.

A diagnosis is no longer a death sentence. People newly diagnosed with are told to go back to work — to keep their dreams and to expect to live as long as anyone else with a chronic illness. Highly effective retroviral drugs have reduced HIV to undetectable levels in semen, vaginal fluids and blood.

One thing hasn’t changed, say AIDS activists, and that is the fear that disclosing a health status of HIV infection will lead to negative consequences. On top of handling health conditions, people living with AIDS have reported facing rejection by family and friends, job refusals and home loss, and some became victims of violence.

“Criminalization” is now part the changing portrait of AIDS, said Lacharpagne, who works as legal counsel for COCQ-SIDA, a coalition of Quebec community organizations involved in the fight against AIDS.

The organization has seen an increase in discrimination complaints since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Oct. 5, 2012 that people living with HIV have a legal duty to tell their sexual partners about their HIV infection, except when the risk of transmission would be close to zero — a condom has to used and the person’s viral load must be so low as to be undetectable.

Source: Positive Living Society

3000 Scottish patients warned: your dentist exposed you to HIV risk

Almost 3,000 dental patients have been warned of a “slight risk” that they may have been exposed to HIV after a former dentist who treated them was found to have the infection.

The former dentist, who has not been named to protect patient confidentiality, treated people in Paisley and Dumfries over nearly a decade.

Patients in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Dumfries and Galloway areas have been warned as a precaution of “a very slight risk that they might have been exposed to the virus”.

There have been 30 similar patient notifications in the UK in the last 25 years.

Around 10,000 people have been tested and no one has been found to have caught HIV as a result of medical or dental treatment.

The vast majority of patients have been contacted but around 250 NHS patients and 230 private patients have not yet been traced.

The dentist treated around 3000 people at Kelburne Dental Surgery in Paisley between January 2004 and March this year, and provided locum Sunday emergency cover at Nithbank Hospital, Dumfries between April 2004 and 2007.

Dr Syed Ahmed, consultant in public health medicine at Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “It is very rare for HIV to be passed from a healthcare practitioner to a patient because all work follows strict infection-control measures.

“These measures are designed to prevent infections like HIV being passed between people and through our investigations into this case, we are confident that all appropriate infection-control measures were followed by the dentist.

“Whilst we therefore think the risk is extremely low, we cannot guarantee that there is no risk, so we have set up a freephone helpline where patients can ask questions and then decide if they want to have an HIV test.

“If anyone has been treated at the Kelburne Dental Surgery and has not received a letter but has concerns, we would ask them to call the helpline number and we will be able to check their name against the list of individuals who we have been unable to trace.”

Dr Derek Cox, director of public health at NHS Dumfries and Galloway, said: “We have identified that 247 patients were treated by this dentist. Of these, we are unable to find addresses for 14, almost certainly because they no longer live in Dumfries and Galloway.

“If you were seen at a Sunday emergency dental clinic at Nithbank between April 2004 and April 2007 and have not yet received a letter, it is unlikely that you were treated by the dentist in question. Nevertheless, if you are concerned that you may have been missed off the list please contact the helpline.”

Source: HeraldScotland

Condoms For Safer Sex

Condoms work by forming a barrier between the penis and anus, vagina, or mouth. The barrier keeps one partner’s fluids from getting into or on the other. And condoms reduce the amount of skin-to-skin contact. There are two main kinds of condoms — latex condoms and female condoms.

How to Put On A Condom

  • Latex condoms are great safer sex tools for anal or vaginal intercourse. They are easy to get at a pharmacy, grocery store, or at a Planned Parenthood health center. They are cheap. And they come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures. You can learn how to put on a condom by watching this brief film.
  • People with latex allergies can use condoms made of polyurethane. They also make sex safer, but they are not as widely available as latex condoms.
  • Female condoms reduce your risk of infection, too. Female condoms aren’t quite as easy to find as latex condoms, but they are available in some drugstores and many Planned Parenthood health centers. You can also order them online if you can’t find them in your neighborhood. Follow the instructions on the package for using female condoms correctly.

Source:  Planned Parenthood

Safer Sex (“Safe Sex”) at a Glance

Reduces our risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
Using condoms makes vaginal or anal intercourse safer sex
Using condoms or other barriers makes oral sex safer sex
Having sex play without intercourse can be even safer sex
Safer sex can be very pleasurable and exciting

How Can I Lower My Risk Using Safer Sex?

One way to have safer sex is to only have one partner who has no sexually transmitted infections and no other partners than you. But, this isn’t always the safest kind of safer sex. That’s because most people don’t know when they have infections. They are very likely to pass them on without knowing it.

Another other reason is that some people aren’t as honest as they should be. In fact, about 1 out of 3 people will say they don’t have an infection when they know they do, just to have sex. So most of us have to find other ways to practice safer sex.

No-risk safer sex play includes:

Low-risk safer sex play includes:

  • kissing
  • fondling — manual stimulation of one another
  • body-to-body rubbing — frottage, “grinding,” or “dry humping”
  • oral sex (even safer with a condom or other barrier)
  • playing with sex toys — alone or with a partner

Highest risk sexual activities include:

  • vaginal intercourse
  • anal intercourse


How Different Sexually Transmitted Infections Get Passed Along
Infections are passed in different ways. Here are the basics:



  • CMV
  • gonorrhea
  • hepatitis B
  • herpes
  • syphilis


  • CMV
  • herpes
  • HPV
  • pubic lice
  • scabies

Lots of other infections, from the flu to mononucleosis, can also be passed during sex play.

Source:  Planned Parenthood

Sexually transmitted disease (STD)

also referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STI) and venereal diseases (VD), are illnesses that have a significant probability of transmission between humans by means of human sexual behavior, including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex. While in the past, these illnesses have mostly been referred to as STDs or VD, in recent years the term sexually transmitted infections (STIs) has been preferred, as it has a broader range of meaning; a person may be infected, and may potentially infect others, without having a disease. Some STIs can also be transmitted via the use of IV drug needles after its use by an infected person, as well as through childbirth or breastfeeding. Sexually transmitted infections have been well known for hundreds of years, and venereology is the branch of medicine that studies these diseases.






Source: Wikipedia

HIV patients told by Pentecostal pastors ‘to rely on God’

Some young HIV patients have been pressured to stop taking medication, a survey of doctors revealed

Some young HIV patients have been pressured to stop taking medication, a survey of doctors revealed

Some young HIV patients are giving up their medicine after being told by Pentecostal Church pastors to rely on faith in God instead, doctors warn.

Medical staff told the BBC a minority of pastors in England were endangering young church members by putting them under pressure to stop medication. Healing is central to Pentecostalism, a radical belief in the power of prayer and miracles. But one pastor denied people would ever be told to stop taking their medicine.

The Children’s HIV Association surveyed 19 doctors and health professionals working with babies and children in England; its members had reported hearing anecdotal evidence of HIV patients deciding to stop taking their anti-retroviral drugs because their pastors had told them to do so.

Among 10 doctors who said they had encountered the problem in the last five years, 29 of their patients had reported being put under pressure to stop taking medicine and at least 11 had done so.

The doctors and health professionals reported a variety of cases:

  • Some said they had dealt with parents who felt under pressure to stop giving their young children their HIV medicine – and some had actually done so
  • Others were breastfeeding mothers with HIV who refused the medicine that would stop the virus being passed onto their babies
  • Some were young people, making the decision for themselves

The healthcare workers also reported that some patients had been told by their pastors they would be healed by prayer or by drinking blessed water. 


India launches vast food aid program

India recently launched what is arguably one of the largest food programs in the world. © AFP/Getty Images

India recently launched what is arguably one of the largest food programs in the world.
© AFP/Getty Images

India’s government has launched a program to provide subsidized food to two-thirds of the population. However, critics believe the plan undermines the country’s small farmers and is a political move to win votes.

It is arguably one the largest food aid programs in the world. India’s ruling party, the Indian National Congress called it a “game changer in terms of poverty eradication.” The National Food Security Bill approved by the Indian government on Wednesday, July 3, is the latest attempt to tackle the problem of endemic hunger in a country where nearly half of its children under the age of five are chronically malnourished, according to the government’s own estimates.

Despite the remarkable growth rates of the past two decades, India ranked 65 out of 79 nations on last year’s Global Hunger Index issued by the International Food Policy Research Institute. Furthermore, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization reported that an estimated 217 million Indians were undernourished in 2012.

Food for 800 million people

The bill, which was passed by ordinance and still requires ratification by both houses of parliament, is set to provide subsidized food to nearly 67 percent of India’s population. There are already many food guarantee schemes for the poorest of the poor. However, the new bill is expected to vastly increase the target group.

According to the government is almost every second child in India chronically malnourished. © picture-alliance/dpa

According to the government is almost every second child in India chronically malnourished.
© picture-alliance/dpa

About 75 percent of the rural population and 50 percent of the urban population is supposed to benefit from the measure. According to the bill, around 800 million people will thus have access to subsidized food, whereby the amount of subsidies received would vary from household to household. So-called “priority households” would receive the maximum monthly entitlement of one kilo of rice at three rupees (five US cents), wheat at two rupees and millet at one rupee.

The bill already has the backing of some prominent citizens such as Nobel Prize-winning economist Armatya Sen. “The pushing through of the food security bill right now is a very important step to take,” Sen told German public broadcaster ARD.

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AIDS-related deaths falling in S. Africa: agency

HIV test

Photo: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP

CAPE TOWN — One in ten South Africans is HIV positive but AIDS-related deaths are falling as ramped-up treatment begins to have an impact, the country’s official statistics agency said Tuesday.

After years of dragging its heels on the HIV/AIDS crisis, since 2004 South Africa has developed the world’s largest HIV treatment programme.

New data indicate that drive is working. The disease will be responsible for 32 percent of all deaths this year.

While still high, that is a dramatic fall from 48 percent in 2005.

“Medicine has advanced and people are living with HIV and AIDS,” statistician-general Pali Lehohla told AFP, unveiling data that point to a dramatic drop in AIDS-related deaths.

Average life expectancy has also increased to 59.6 years, from just 51.6 in 2005.

But the scale of the problem is huge, with 5.3 million people living with HIV out of a population of nearly 53 million.

The state had 1.9 million people on treatment in April this year.

Statistics South Africa released its last mid-year estimates, which uses modelled figures, in 2011.

The country’s population growth rate is just over one percent. positivelivingbc

Cancer, HIV major threats for Balinese women

Volunteers from Gerakan Generasi Bisa held a campaign on Saturday to raise awareness among Balinese women on the major threats they face nowadays, which include cancer, HIV, domestic violence and lack of political representation.

The campaign was held along with a talk show, free pap smears, HIV counseling and breast cancer early detection at Puputan Renon field.

Inne Susanti and Made Suyasa Jaya of the Obstetric and Gynecologist Doctors Association (POGI) explained that the lack of reproductive health awareness meant cervical and breast cancers remained the deadliest health issues faced by women.

Jaya estimated that cervical cancer among Balinese women occurred in between 100-150 cases per 100,000 population. It is estimated that every 2-3 days two women die of this type of cancer.

Meanwhile, program coordinator of Yayasan Spirit Paramicatta, a foundation specializing in support for people with HIV/AIDS, Opie Sulaeman, acknowledged that HIV cases among housewives had increased over the years. At present, Bali ranks as the second province after Papua with the highest prevalence of AIDS cases per 100,000 population.

In terms of domestic violence, head of the Denpasar Police’s Women and Children’s service unit Adj. Comr. Yohana Agustina, pointed out that cases of domestic abuse had risen to become the dominant type reported to the unit.

“It’s not only women, children have also become the victims of domestic violence,” she said, while urging the public to immediately report any cases they witness.

Meanwhile, chairwoman of the Bali chapter Kaukus Perempuan Politik Indonesia, Sri Wigunawati acknowledged that the various problems faced by women in Bali nowadays did not receive much attention from the legislative council because of the lack of female representation at regency and provincial level.

Bali is among the provinces in Indonesia with the lowest level of female representation in the legislature. The 2004 general election saw 18 women (4.5 percent) elected with 385 male representatives.

The 2009 election saw an increase to 7.5 percent female representation (30 people), while 374 men were elected.

Sri urged women voters to use their vote at the general election next year for more female representation.

Sri highlighted that female representatives usually provided more attention to the basic issues of health and education.

During the campaign on Saturday, participants also read the declaration “Perempuan Bali Berharga” (Valued Women of Bali) that says no to all forms of abuse, stigma and discrimination. positivelivingbc

HIV spread in England ‘could be halted within generation’

The spread of HIV in England can be stopped within a generation, according to a new prevention campaign launched by the Department of Health.

Currently, there are around 90,000 people living with HIV in England. Only one person in four knows they have it.

Gay and bisexual men and people in African communities make up three-quarters of cases. Focused screening and prevention in high-risk groups could end the epidemic, experts say.

The new It Starts With Me campaign, created by the Terrence Higgins Trust, urges people in high-risk groups to get tested for HIV at least every 12 months, and more frequently if they have symptoms or have put themselves at risk by having unprotected sex, for example.

Effective treatment

Sir Nick Partridge, chief executive at the trust, said: “While a cure or vaccine for HIV remains stubbornly out of reach, what many people don’t realise is that medical advances mean it is now within our grasp to stop the virus in its tracks.

“By getting as many people with HIV as possible tested and on effective treatment, we should see new infection rates fall rapidly.”

He said that to succeed people need to understand that HIV is just as relevant an issue today as it was in 1982.

“Someone, somewhere in the UK is diagnosed with HIV every 90 minutes. Each and every one of us has a responsibility to keep ourselves and each other safe.”  BBC News