Could bananas really be the key to stopping the spread of HIV? Some researchers believe they could be. They’ve discovered that BanLec, a type of lectin naturally found in bananas, binds to the sugary envelope that encases the HIV virus, thus blocking its entry into the body. It was even more effective in preventing the spread of the virus in lab tests than two synthetic HIV drugs currently on the market. So what’s the next step? Researchers will work on a way to make it into a type of vaginal or anal microbicide ointment. They believe that a cheap, effective, self-applied BanLec ointment may prevent up to 2.5 million HIV infections in three years. Now that’s bananas! [MNN] Keep reading »
A few years ago a big secret was revealed: American men would flock to Brazil for secret sex getaways. But now that this is known, the Dominican Republic has replaced Brazil as the sex tourism capital, according to Keith Murphy, who wrote “Fool’s Paradise” for Essence. Men, especially black men, are traveling to the D.R. to have sex with (and exploit) beautiful women, who are willing to do anything to support themselves and families. There are three main reasons the D.R. is ripe for sex tourism. One, prostitution is legal. Two, the peso is so weak compared to the dollar that a man of meager means in the U.S. can feel like a big spender there. And three, travel to the Dominican Republic is relatively inexpensive — an all-inclusive stay on the popular Boca Chica Beach and round-trip airfare can cost as little as $600. And some pay-for-play can run only $20. Several online companies specialize in adult vacation packages. DR Nights, an online sex tour company, has a $2,500 package that includes deluxe hotel accommodations, a 24-hour companion for three nights, and three more companions for two hours every day. But what might be cheap initially could end up costing a life later. Many in the Dominican Republic sex trade act as if HIV/AIDS doesn’t exist, and even more disturbing, one of the men Murphy interviewed said he can tell whether a woman is infected. Then, there’s the potential to bring the virus or another STD home to a girlfriend or wife. Keep reading »
Of all the crazy schemes men use to get laid, this one has got to rank at the most vile. That’s both saying a lot and putting this catastrophe mildly.
According to a report at The Huffington Post, a 35-year-old HIV-positive man in New Zealand injected his sleeping HIV-negative wife with the virus so she’d pony up and have sex with him. Keep reading »
Even though the days are sunny and the air is sweet, things aren’t always perfect on “Sesame Street” … especially in South Africa. There is a new kid on the block there and she’s teaching her neighbors about some of the tough realities of life. Meet Kami (short for the Setswana word “Kamogelo” which means “acceptance”), the 5-year-old, HIV-positive muppet. The cute, yellow girl showed up on “Takalani Sesame” (that’s what it’s called in South Africa) a nervous orphan, afraid that she wouldn’t be accepted because of her disease—but, of course, her neighbors embraced her. And so has the rest of the country. Kami has become a role model in South Africa, providing hope for 28,000 HIV-positive children and 1.4 million orphans and teaching others about the challenges of living with HIV/AIDS. She has even been named a UNICEF ambassador for children. So will Kami be visiting the American “Sesame Street” anytime soon? Not a chance. Keep reading »
Ask an American to name the leading cause of death for child-bearing women across the globe and I reckon he or she might say “heart disease,” “breast cancer” or maybe even car accidents. After all, those are some of the greatest killers for American women, ones we are warned to be aware of day-in and day-out.
But the World Health Organization just released the results from its first-ever study of women’s health around the world and the results are telling. HIV/AIDS, actually, is the #1 cause of death or disease for women between the ages 15 and 44 across the globe. Not surprisingly, unprotected sex from lack of access to contraceptives is one of the leading risk factors, warned the W.H.O. How sad: a disease most American women would never expect to die from is actually the leading cause of death for everyone else. [The New York Times] Keep reading »
Last week, the Huffington Post
made our blood boil when they reported on a horrifying trend—that insurance companies are denying benefits for women who’ve been raped
, and even dropping their coverage altogether. How can they get away with such a thing? Because, when a woman is raped and it’s unknown whether the assailant used a condom
, doctors typically prescribe a month’s worth of an anti-HIV
medication (which, uh, I didn’t even know existed) as a precaution. It’s extremely rare that a woman actually contracts HIV this way, but insurance companies view this as a morbid done deal. Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for the health insurance industry’s largest trade group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, explains, “If you put down on a form that you are or were taking anti-HIV drugs at any time, [insurance companies] are going to understand that you are or were in treatment for HIV, period. That could be a factor in determining whether you get coverage.” Keep reading »