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HIV/AIDS News Digest: July 19, 2011

July 19, 2011

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

NewFest Kicks Off in NYC With HIV/AIDS Documentary We Were Here (From Film Society of Lincoln Center)

This Thursday, July 21, kicks off the 23rd annual NewFest film festival in New York. This lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender film festival will open with David Weissman's gripping documentary We Were Here, a look back at the early days of AIDS in San Francisco.

In a review for The Wrap, blogger Jake Weinraub wrote that the director does a good job capturing the voices of the people who were there from the beginning, not in a clinical way, but in an emotional way.

A focus on the social rather than the scientific ramifications of the disease, Weissman shows how residents of San Francisco's Castro district renegotiated community and the fight for sexual freedom and intimacy that brought them to the Bay Area in the first place. He also lovingly shares the significant contributions lesbians made to the health of gay men, despite the fact that the gay community often elevates masculinity and tacitly accepts misogyny.

"I knew I wanted to do it with simplicity and dignity and without a lot of emotional manipulation," said Weissman, who moved to San Francisco in 1976. "I knew during the epidemic ... that there would come a point with this epidemic that if any of us survived, we would need ... to tell stories."

In using such a small number of interviews, Weissman draws his audience into the energy of late 20th century gay life in San Francisco and the impending crisis. Yet at the Outfest screening on Saturday, the reality and memory of AIDS was as much in the room as it was onscreen.

Watch the film's trailer below:

Watch David Weissman being interviewed below:

To learn more about NewFest or to purchase tickets, go here.

Study Finds That Vaginal Infections Make Women More Likely to Transmit HIV to Men During Sex (From Bloomberg)

A University of California-San Francisco study has found that a common vaginal infection increases the likelihood of an HIV-positive woman transmitting the virus to a man during unprotected sexual intercourse. The study's results were revealed at the 6th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Rome, Italy.

Researchers found that men were three times more likely to contract HIV from their female partners if the women also had bacterial vaginosis (BV) in the three months before the men became infected.

Bloomberg reported:

The study is the first to show a link between HIV and an infection that strikes as many as half of all African women. While antibiotics can clear bacterial vaginosis, the disease recurs in as many as 70 percent of women within three months, [Craig] Cohen said. He's working with closely held Osel Inc., based in Mountain View, California, on a product that would replenish helpful bacteria in the vagina after antibiotics clear out the harmful ones, helping to protect against repeat infections.

"By replenishing the good guys, you're reducing the risk of the bad guys coming back," Cohen said in an interview today.

Cohen and colleagues recruited 2,236 HIV-negative men in seven African nations whose female partners were HIV-positive. Among those whose partners also had bacterial vaginosis, 2.9 men in every 100 caught HIV over two years, compared with 0.9 men per 100 whose partners were free of the disease. In men who acquired HIV, the researchers matched the virus genetically to their female partners to make sure they didn't get it from someone else.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's not clear what role sexual activity plays in the development of BV and women who have never had sexual intercourse may also be affected by BV.

Canadian Judge Rules That HIV Is Not a Death Sentence in HIV Criminalization Case (From The National Post)

Another day, another HIV criminalization case, but this case actually had a shocking outcome.

An Ottawa judge did the unexpected when he rejected attempted murder charges against a man accused of knowingly transmitting HIV, stating that HIV is no longer an "automatic death sentence."

The National Post reported:

Ontario Court Justice David Wake dismissed four charges of attempted murder against Steven Paul Boone on Wednesday, declaring that death from HIV is a "possible consequence" but no longer an "inevitable consequence or even a probable consequence" of contracting the virus.

The ruling, following a preliminary hearing, removes the four most serious charges against Mr. Boone, 30, in the high-profile case, but he is still to face trial on 21 sex and assault charges involving eight men.

The judge's reasons for committing Mr. Boone to stand trial on the other charges are covered by a routine publication ban designed to protect a fair trial.

Many Canadian HIV experts are praising what Ontario Court Justice David Wake has done, saying that it reflects medical reality and should send a message to police and prosecutors. Mark Wainberg, director of the McGill AIDS Centre based at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, told the National Post, "In a country like Canada, where antiretroviral drugs of the highest quality are available to everyone free of charge, the likelihood anyone is going to die over the next 25 years from HIV is extremely remote. So the very notion that anyone could be charged with attempted murder today seems strange."

Other HIV/AIDS Articles in the Media

HuffPost Greatest Person of the Day: Brenda Starks-Ross Helps People Living With HIV/AIDS Get Back on Track (From The Huffington Post)

Hate Crimes Against LGBT Americans Increased in 2010, 70 Percent of Those Victims Were People of Color (From

Is It a "Happy Anniversary" for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy? (From The Root)

Cash Strapped States Cutting Back on HIV/AIDS Medical Assistance (From

Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for and

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

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