• LIVING WITH HIV
Camps Offer Children Affected by HIV a Summertime Retreat, Often for Free
Do you know a child whose life has been touched by HIV? Enrollment is now open at summer camps for children and teen-agers who are HIV positive, have lost family members to HIV or have HIV-positive
relatives. Check out this list of camps for HIV-affected children in the United States and Canada; many are free, and some even invite adult relatives of the children.
U.S. Waiting Lists for HIV Meds Continue to Grow (PDF)
Nearly 600 people with HIV in Alaska, Montana, Puerto Rico and South Carolina are waiting to receive HIV medication through the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, the National Alliance of State
and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) reports. According to the report, the number of people on waiting lists is likely to keep growing. (It's already up by 269 people since last September.)
The current level of federal funding, NASTAD says, falls $232 million short of what is needed to provide treatment to poor, uninsured and underinsured HIVers in the United States.
• HIV IN THE NEWS
Abstinence-Only Education Doesn't Seem to Make a Difference, U.S. Government-Backed Study Finds
Abstinence-only education appears to have absolutely no impact on a teen-ager's sex life, according to a study authorized by the U.S. Congress back in 1997, when Republicans were still in
control of the legislature. The study followed 2,000 students as they progressed from elementary or middle school to high school; half of the students received abstinence-only education.
At the end of the study, an equal percentage of kids in both groups (49%) were still abstinent. Among kids who were sexually active, condom usage rates were the same whether they received
abstinence education or not. The same went for unprotected sex: Half of the sexually active kids said they'd had sex without a condom at least once, regardless of the type of sex education
Bad Vibrations? Greenpeace Finds "Hazardous" Chemicals in Sex Toys
Is nothing sacred? We know sex can be a risky business, but now an environmental activist group claims that even sex toys could be a health risk. A Greenpeace Netherlands study of
several different dildos, vibrators and other sex toys revealed "very high concentrations" of phthalates, chemicals used to make plastic flexible. In the European Union, several
phthalates have been banned from use in children's toys, but U.S. federal agencies say they're safe in small quantities. No matter who's right about phthalates, the Greenpeace report highlights
a need for better monitoring of the multimillion-dollar sex toy industry. (Web highlight from Greenpeace UK)
The Greenpeace Netherlands sex toy investigation was undertaken after the Durex 2005 Global Sex Survey revealed that three
million Dutch people said they owned a sex toy. The survey also found that 45 percent of Americans -- and 23 percent of people worldwide -- have used a vibrator. The survey is packed with interesting
• PREGNANCY & HIV
Studies Raise Possible Long-Term Concern for Infants Exposed to Retrovir in Womb
New study results have researchers scratching their heads over the possible long-term effects of Retrovir (zidovudine, AZT) use during pregnancy. The researchers aren't telling HIV-positive
pregnant women to stop taking meds. However, based on results from a set of new studies, they are suggesting that an eye be kept on children who were exposed to Retrovir (zidovudine,
AZT) in the womb. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)
The April/May 2007 edition of the medical journal Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis is devoted to the use of
nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), such as Retrovir, during pregnancy. To read the special issue, which contains the studies mentioned above, click
• HIV TRANSMISSION & OTHER STDs
Survey Shows Vulnerability to HIV for Black Women in Rural South
Powerlessness and ignorance conspire to put many black women in the southern United States at risk for HIV, according to a survey. The survey on attitudes about HIV among African-American
women in the Mississippi Delta found that more than 70 percent of respondents reported having causal sex without using condoms. Surprisingly, those with greater awareness of HIV were about
as likely to have unprotected sex as women who were less knowledgeable, suggesting that even women who understand how HIV is transmitted haven't been able to protect themselves. "They
worry about abuse if they ask the man to use a condom," explains Betty Jordan, an HIV-positive AIDS educator in the Delta. "Or they're afraid he'll leave."
Drug Resistance: It's Not Just for HIV
At least a quarter of all gonorrhea infections in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Honolulu are resistant to standard treatment, according to a survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC). As a result, the CDC is now recommending that doctors begin treating gonorrhea with a different class of drugs that must be injected. The switch highlights a dangerous
situation for gonorrhea treatment: Despite growing resistance, there are no new gonorrhea meds in development, a CDC spokesperson noted.
• HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES
Despite Progress, Millions in Developing Countries Still Don't Get HIV Meds, Report Finds
Although two million HIV-positive people in developing countries are now receiving the medications they need, another five million people who need HIV meds still have no access to
treatment, according to a new report by UNAIDS, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. The report also warned that mother-to-child HIV transmission rates remain high in many developing
countries, and that only 15 percent of children in need of HIV medications can get them, leading to hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths.
Click here to read a PDF of the full report, which outlines the progress that has been made and the challenges that lie ahead
as the United Nations and other groups strive to provide universal access to HIV prevention and care by 2010.
Many Africans Don't Realize Risks of Having Simultaneous Long-Term Relationships, Writer Says
When Helen Epstein spent a week following an HIV outreach team in South Africa, she realized that no one -- not even people who were dying from HIV -- said the word "AIDS." Due
to the incredible stigma attached to HIV, many southern Africans assume that people get HIV only if they're highly promiscuous. However, as Epstein points out, it's a cultural norm in that
part of the world to have long-term sexual relationships with more than one person at a time. Because they don't realize the risks of this lifestyle, "This pattern ... serves as a kind
of 'superhighway' for the spread of HIV," Epstein says.