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HIV/AIDS News Digest: June 8, 2011

June 10, 2011

Here is a quick look at a few HIV/AIDS stories recently reported in the media:

Op-Ed: Ending HIV Starts With Women (From The Huffington Post)

This week, the United States and other countries represented at the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS will be in a series of discussions on fighting the AIDS pandemic. But Serra Sipple, the President of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, writes that this meeting got off to a bad start when some delegations began working to block all references in the final outcome document to women's rights and access to sexual and reproductive health services. To Sipple, this is completely outrageous, and in order to fully address the AIDS pandemic, women's needs must addressed:

Despite the fact that sexual transmission is the number one way HIV is spread, despite the fact that women account for half of all people globally living with HIV, some countries would rather pursue a moralistic agenda around sex and women than put an end to AIDS.

Have no doubt that we will lose this fight if we do not address women's rights directly. World leaders must support increased access to sexual and reproductive health services and women- and girl-centered approaches to HIV/AIDS, such as combination prevention interventions that include female condoms. They must confront the larger issues that fuel the epidemic, including gender inequality, human rights violations, violence against women, and poverty. To end AIDS we have to fight the things that are bigger than AIDS. ...

The High Level Meeting is a starting point to refocus the discussion and make women a priority. This is where the United States has the opportunity to take its world leadership to the next level in stopping HIV and AIDS. The United States' delegation to the meeting must push back against any attempt to delete references to sexual and reproductive health from the final outcome document, and it must insist that women's rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights be recognized as the crux of successful interventions.

For Gay Men, Serious Relationships Still Harbor Risks for HIV (From HealthDay)

Monogamy and being in a committed relationship have been the crux of prevention messages for years, but a recent study suggests that this approach doesn't mean you are safe from contracting HIV. Researchers from Northwestern University found that young gay men in serious relationships are six more likely to have unprotected sex than casual partners.


"Being in a serious relationship provides a number of mental and physical health benefits, but it also increases behaviors that put you at risk for HIV transmission," said Brian Mustanski, associate professor in medical social sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and the study's lead author, in a university news release. "Men who believe a relationship is serious mistakenly think they don't need to protect themselves."

He added: "We need to do greater outreach to young male couples. This is one population that has really been left behind. We should be focusing on serious relationships."

Mustanski also pointed out that about 80 percent of gay young men who are HIV positive are unaware of their status because they aren't getting tested often enough.

"It isn't enough to ask your partner his HIV status," he said. "Instead, both people in a serious, monogamous couple relationship should go and receive at least two HIV tests before deciding to stop using condoms."

Experts Call for Guidelines on Use of "HIV Fingerprinting" in Criminal Cases (From The AIDS Beacon)

Advocates against HIV criminalization have won a small victory. In a letter to Nature, several experts in "HIV fingerprinting" (HIV phylogenetic analysis) have called for guidelines on how the technique should be used in criminal cases. They are calling for scientific experts to make it clear to juries that the technique isn't a perfect science, has limitations and cannot prove direct transmission of HIV from one person to another.

"HIV fingerprinting" is a technique that determines how closely related two samples of HIV are. This technique has been used in several HIV nondisclosure criminal cases to show whether or not the accuser transmitted HIV to the alleged victims.

The authors recommend that the guidelines include the following:

  • The scientist should not argue for or against the guilt of the accused.
  • Phylogenetic investigators should deliver an expert opinion, impartially, on the viral transmission dynamics that can be deduced from their phylogenetic analyses.
  • Scientists must explain to the courts that phylogenetics cannot prove direct transmission. However, it can support the direction of viral transmission.
  • Phylogenetic analysis alone cannot exclude the possibility that HIV was transmitted from person A to person B through unknown intermediate partners who were not tested.

Other HIV/AIDS Articles in the Media

President Obama Calls for a "World Without AIDS" (From USA Today) Blogger, Nelson Vergel, Featured in a Chicago LGBT Newspaper (From The Windy City Times)

Florida Man Charged With Criminal Transmission of HIV for Attempted Bite (From the SunSentinel)

Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for and

Copyright © 2011 The HealthCentral Network, Inc. All rights reserved.

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