Remembering to take birth control pills every day at the same time can be a hassle. Buying condoms adds another thing to our pages-long to-do list. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an effective birth control and STD-preventative in one? Dr. Brij Saxena, a reproductive biology and endocrinology professor at the Weill Cornell Medical College, has developed a vaginal ring that may prevent sexually transmitted HIV and unintended pregnancy because it releases several types of non-hormonal agents and microbicides. The device has proven to prevent HIV infection in laboratory trials, Saxena said, and it could give women the power to protect themselves effectively and conveniently from an unintended pregnancy and HIV, if future clinical trials are successful. Keep reading »
Yeah, too bad it’s just The Empire State Building — unless you’re into that sorta thing like this woman. But it was all for a good cause. The pop star was chosen to light up the city skyline to commemorate the 24th Annual AIDS Walk New York. [NYC, 5/14/09] Keep reading »
It takes a lot for us to be excited by clothes designed by celebs (we blame you, Jessica Simpson), but we could really get behind, not to mention inside, any one of these tees designed to raise money for HIV/AIDS prevention projects. H&M and Designers Against AIDS asked a bunch of celebs we love, like Dita Von Tees, Yoko Ono and Estelle, to create T-shirts for the second annual Fashion Against AIDS Collection. Twenty-five percent of the profits on each tee sold will go to charities that help curb the spread of HIV.
And, of course, you’ll spread the safe sex message by wearing one. Cyndi Lauper’s tee reads, “Girls Just Want To Have Safe Sex,” and Estelle’s says “Life Is Too Short — Have Safe Sex.” Even Yoko Ono chimed with an “Imagine Peace” tee, which doesn’t have anything to do with safe sex, really, but what the hell, she’s Yoko Ono. The tees go on sale in 1,000 stores at H&Ms in 30 countries and at DesignersAgainstAIDSShop.com on May 28. [Designers Against AIDS] Keep reading »
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS in the later stages of the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one million people in the United States are infected with HIV/AIDS, and about a quarter of those people don’t know they’re infected. Approximately 39.5 million people are infected with HIV worldwide. With those high numbers, it’s important that everyone knows how HIV spreads and how to avoid contracting the virus.
- HIV attacks the immune system by destroying white blood cells that fight off disease. Once HIV has weakened the immune system to the point where the body can’t fight off infection, the infection advances to its final stage: AIDS. It can take years for the body to arrive at this stage. People infected with HIV/AIDS usually die of other so-called “opportunistic” diseases and cancers that the body can no longer fight off.
- HIV lives in the blood and semen or vaginal fluid of the infected person. This is why the most common ways of transmitting HIV is through vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. The second most common way of transmitting HIV is through the sharing of needles and syringes. Lastly, HIV can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, and breast-feeding. Because HIV is carried in the infected person’s blood, the virus can also be transmitted through blood transfusions, organ and tissue transplants, and shared needles. HIV is not transmitted through handshaking, hugging, contact with a toilet seat, touching a doorknob, or casual contact, and HIV cannot live outside the body for long.
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German pop singer Nadja Benaissa was arrested Tuesday in Frankfurt, Germany, for allegedly having unprotected sex with three men without telling them she is HIV positive. One of the men has tested positive for the virus. In Germany, the law says that anyone convicted of knowingly infecting a person with HIV faces a prison sentence of between six months and 10 years for “grievous bodily harm.” If the victim dies, the sentence can be even greater — up to life imprisonment for manslaughter.
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March is National Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating by sharing a lady we admire each weekday. Since today is the last day of this awesome month, we’ll be going out with a bank, spotlight FIVE women who rock.
MARVELYN BROWN (1984- )
Marvelyn Brown probably never expected to make it to “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Tavis Smiley Show” and “The Tyra Banks Show.” Early in life, she may not have thought she was going to be featured in Newsweek, Ebony, and Fortune. No doubt she wishes she was featured worldwide for a different reason other than having HIV, but her strength to speak out is admirable.
What makes Brown an amazing woman is not all of the media attention. It’s not about having a book out called The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful, and (HIV) Positive. What makes her amazing is that on July 17, 2003, when she found out she was HIV positive at the age of 19, she immediately reached for her cell phone to notify all of her sexual partners. It’s difficult enough to digest that kind of news, but from her hospital bed she took responsibility for it. Keep reading »
“[The AIDS epidemic in Africa] is a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems…. It is of great concern that the fabric of African life, its very source of hope and stability, is threatened by divorce, abortion, prostitution, human trafficking and a contraception mentality…. The traditional teaching of the church has proven to be the only failsafe way to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.” — Pope Benedict XVI
While it’s to be expected that the Catholic Church continues to have a conservative outlook on abortion and premarital sex, the fact the Pope is still unwilling to get behind the use of contraception to stop the spread of AIDS surprises (and appalls) many — especially as he embarks on a tour of Sub-Saharan Africa, where 22 million (that’s 67%) of the global total of 32.9 million people with HIV live. Nearly three quarters of AIDS deaths in 2007 were in the region. I wasn’t raised Catholic, so this doesn’t have any impact on my faith in God or whatever, but I do wonder how Catholics feel when Church leaders still take such a conservative position on this vital issue. Readers please share in the comments! [Guardian U.K.] Keep reading »
Sexually-active people aged 50 and older face a greater risk of HIV infection, according to a study published by the World Health Organization. People in this age group are more likely to engage in unprotected sex than younger people — after all, after menopause, she can’t get pregnant! — plus erectile dysfunction drugs, like Viagra, are keeping their sex lives active. But despite all this, screening by doctors for HIV is less common for older people because it’s assumed they aren’t at risk. Also, the period of time between diagnosis and the onset of AIDS is shorter because age quickens the progression of the disease and doctors don’t consider HIV as a diagnosis. The WHO also found that older women seem to have a greater risk of contracting HIV if they have unprotected sex because the vaginal mucous membrane thins with age and can get tiny tears without proper lubrication. Keep reading »
AIDS researchers are one step closer to finding another method of protection that can help stop the spread of HIV and AIDS among women. Dr. Salim Abdool Karim of the Center for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa and his colleagues have tested two protective gels, one called PRO 2000 and the other called BufferGel, in trying to find a microbicide (that’s the fancy scientific word for something that reduces the chance that you’ll be infected by a virus or bacteria) that will protect women from HIV/AIDS when their partners aren’t wearing condoms. Among the 3,000 women tested, PRO 2000 reduced the rate of HIV infection by a third. “We do not regard it as a definitive conclusion that PRO 2000 is a microbicide but we certainly view it as very promising,” said Karim at a conference of AIDS experts in Montreal. Unfortunately, his team was unable to find any evidence that BufferGel helped. The study was only designed to determine whether the gels were safe, since other, similar studies revealed that gels and creams like PRO 2000 and BufferGel actually increased the likelihood of infection. [Reuters] Keep reading »