Do you think the Buggery Law should be?

The Safe House Homeless MSM Project 2009 a detailed look & more



In response to numerous requests for more information on the defunct Safe House Pilot Project that was to address the growing numbers of displaced and homeless men in Kingston in 2007/8/9, a review of the relevance of the project and the possible avoidance of present issues with some of its previous residents if it were kept open.
Recorded June 12, 2013; also see from the former Executive Director named in the podcast more background on the project: HERE

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Caster Semenya row will be settled by end of June, says IAAF president

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Caster Semenya has not raced since winning gold at last summer's world athletics championships in Berlin. Photograph: Dominic Ebenbichler/Reuters

• Semenya had planned to run in Zaragoza on 24 June

Lamine Diack, the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, has confirmed there will be a resolution to the gender row surrounding Caster Semenya by the end of June.

The 19-year-old South African, who has undergone tests to determine her gender, has not raced since winning gold in the women's 800 metres at last summer's world championships in Berlin. The results of those tests were initially expected last November but the case is still yet to be concluded.

Earlier this year Semenya announced plans to return to action this season, stating she plans to run in Zaragoza in Spain on 24 June. Whether she will go ahead with that plan remains to be seen, but Diack feels a resolution to the saga is weeks away.

"This issue must be a confidential one. We had this kind of problem [before] but it never got out," Diack said ahead of tonight's inaugural IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha, Qatar. "It's the first time that it got open. My job was in the end to make it confidential and I think we are on the way to finding the solution.

"In the coming weeks we will tell you 'this is the solution'. It will not take longer than until the end of June. I cannot elaborate on that. This girl was in a very difficult position. It was very difficult for everyone."

The IAAF have been investigating Semenya's gender after her breakthrough performance in winning the African junior championship title at the end of July last year.
The teenager ran a stunning time of one minute 56.72 seconds in Mauritius, taking almost four seconds from her previous best, and sliced another 1.27sec off that time with victory in the German capital in August.

HIV/AIDS 'survivor' wants another chance ...... where is JASL?

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Mark Dunbar displays a copy of the manual he hopes to reproduce. (Photo: Pat Roxborough-Wright)

Pat Roxborough-Wright

MONTEGO BAY, St James — IT'S not the best of times for 34-year-old Mark Dunbar. He's homeless, out-of pocket and struggling to overcome the stigma associated with the HIV/AIDS virus he has been living with for close to a decade.

To make things worse, he was released from prison recently only to realise that his wife of three years had packed up and left him.

Nevertheless he's convinced that he can turn it all around with the help of a good Samaritan.

"I am willing to work and can. I still have the weed wacker that the Child Development Agency (CDA) gave me two years ago and it is still working. I just need some money to buy a backstrap so that I can manoeuvre it and some parts," he told the Observer West recently.

A former ward of the state, Dunbar has been trying to get his act together since going on his own as a teenager. But although things began to look up for him when he got married and acquired the weed wacker from the CDA, life soon began to spiral downwards as he got caught up in controversy after controversy with his neighbours and in-laws.

Things hit rock bottom two months ago when he was imprisoned for malicious destruction of property, a charge he says he's innocent of.

Now he's out and ready to try again.

"My wife says she's scared of me... that I ran her down with gun and knife and machete... I can't even run properly... why would I do that? I would like to have her back, but I don't have a home. I need to get myself sorted out with some parts for the weed wacker so that I can try again," he said.

"I know I have an important story to tell as a survivor of this disease and I am hoping to work on a book to tell it. All I need is another helping hand... please," he added.

my two cents:
Where is Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) for this? they were quite visible in western Jamaica only recently in the Walk for Tolerance or Gay Rights march in disguise however you want to put it. This shouldn't have to reach media if they are really interested in solving problems of PLWHAs or maybe they were busy working on the IDAHO silent protest in Kingston to pay attention to clients who are poor and really need help. LGBT/HIV policy level issues seem more important these days than the actual conditions of possible or current clients that require urgent interventions despite their sexual orientations.

They should stick to the activities they were set up for in the first place but with all the incestuous relationships with other groups what do you expect? Taking this case may just be the chance for them to redeem themselves from the image fallout while reminding themselves of what they ought to be doing. Worse case scenario I would hate to think that this man's plight is being used to promote an agenda of repairing their image.

This is a sad story, wish there was something more that could be done in the short term. Despite the high knowledge base on the subject of HIV/AIDS from the national programs, stigma and crap like this is still happening.

Peace and tolerance

H

Hypocritical Jamaica Council of Churches says one of it's own(Gleaner Letter)

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The Editor, Sir:

The recent call from the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) for the prime minister's resignation amid the Manatt, Phelps & Phillips controversy is outrageous, hypocritical and not of God.

I am a pastor and I want to use this medium to express my disappointment in the JCC and its attempt to align the entire church body to this call. The JCC as the lead church organisation should be preaching forgiveness and not condemnation. Condemnation is not of God but of the devil. Conviction is of God not condemnation.

Galatians 6:1-2 "... If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens."

Leaders are appointed by God Himself and no man should seek to tear down what God has established.

Romans 13:1-2: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers, for there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation."

We are prone to sin and make mistakes. David, as king, committed murder and adultery yet God forgave him and he continued in leadership. The prime minister stood up in Parliament and admitted to the nation that he sanctioned the decision to consult with the US law firm. This is clearly a confession of sin. We should commend him for this bold and honourable act as a leader. As far as I know, this is an unprecedented act of nobility and he should be commended not condemned.

There have been some 10 scandals under the PNP administration including the zinc, Shell waiver, furniture, Operation Pride, Netserv and the Trafigura scandal. These are incidents of waste of public funds that involve illegal and immoral acts. Not once in any of these scandals did the JCC make any calls for resignation from any government official. This smacks of hypocrisy.

Recently, there was a minister of religion who was involved in sexual immorality and who was known to the JCC but there was no hue and cry for him to resign from his ministry or any revocation of his licence.

The JCC is a let-down to God, let-down to the church and a let-down to themselves and Christians throughout Jamaica. It makes one wonder what is its agenda.

I am, etc.,

ONEIL ESTEEN
Oneilesteen@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

XVIII International AIDS Conference Regional Activities

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AIDS 2010 REGIONAL ACTIVITIES
Working Group Terms of Reference

1. Background

The International AIDS Conference has grown to become the world’s largest and most important single event on HIV and AIDS. It is a critical platform for presenting new research, sharing best practice and advancing the fight against HIV and AIDS. In Mexico at AIDS 2008 there were more than 20,000 participants from 189 countries.

With the growth in size and diversity the conferences have also become more complex in terms of governance, programming, logistics and participation. This has raised a number of challenges and concerns. One such challenge is how to ensure that key stakeholders can be effectively represented and heard. A second challenge is how to ensure that participants do not get overwhelmed and feel lost but that they instead make sense of the conference as a whole and are able to take away key messages and learning. A third challenge is how to link the international AIDS conferences with the field so that the high science and globalized messages presented can be unpacked and translated into tangible and context-sensitive actions at regional, country and community levels. At the same time, the conferences should facilitate the generation of specific commitments and action plans and ensure that these are accounted for at subsequent conferences.

The Future Directions Project carried out in 2005-2006 proposed sessions at which key players from each region can discuss region-specific issues on service scale-up, and exchange information on best practice and barriers identified at the regional AIDS conferences. It also envisaged that these discussions at the international AIDS conference would later feed into and inform the regional AIDS conferences.

And in a critique of AIDS 2006, Richard Horton of the Lancet argued that specific regions and their issues had been invisible in Toronto.

Based on past and ongoing discussions and a successful programme of activities with a regional focus at AIDS 2008, the Conference Coordinating Committee for AIDS 2010 has approved regional activities according to the following classification:

•Asia and the Pacific
•Caribbean
•Europe and Central Asia
•Latin America
•Middle East and North Africa
•Sub-Saharan Africa
•USA and Canada
The regional activities are:
1.Regional sessions
2.Regional exhibition booths in the main commercial exhibitions hall
3.Networking areas in the global village
4.Funder/partner meetings
5.A joint consultative and experience sharing meeting of key stakeholders in HIV/AIDS from all the regions

2. MAIN TASK
The main task of the working groups is to provide overall planning and guidance for the development and implementation of the approved regional sessions and activities at the XVIII International AIDS Conference.

3. COMPOSITION OF WORKING GROUPS
Each working group will comprise seven members, including the Chairperson. The detailed composition is as follows:

•The Chairperson nominated by AIDS 2010 Conference Coordinating Committee
•One member nominated by Global Network of People Living with HIV
•One member nominated by the International Community of Women Living with HIV
•One member nominated by the organisers of the main regional AIDS conferences
•One member nominated by the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations
•One member nominated by the International AIDS Society
•One member nominated by UNAIDS.

4. RESPONSIBILITIES

1.Agree the exact titles and issues to be covered under each topic for the regional sessions; based on the broad themes approved by the Conference Coordinating Committee
2.Agree on country case studies and issues to be presented
3.Define and finalise Terms of Reference for presenters
4.Identify and select presenters
5.Identify and select chairs/moderators/facilitators of the respective regional session
6.Review presentations
7.Provide advice on the planning and implementation of the regional booth, the regional networking zone, funder/partner meetings and the joint consultative and experience sharing meeting of key stakeholders in HIV/AIDS from all the regions zones.

5. WORKING METHODS
Working Groups will carry out all their tasks by email and teleconferences. It is foreseen that there will be at least one teleconference per month between September 2009 and March 2010.

Active member involvement is important and members are expected to participate in all meetings and activities of the Working Group.

6. DECISION MAKING
Quorum for decision-making purposes will be 50% of the Working Group membership and the Chairperson.

Decisions will be made by consensus. If consensus is not possible, members will agree on, and carry out, a process to deal with the issue.

7. RECORDING
Minutes summarizing issues raised and action items will be taken by the Conference Secretariat and distributed by email to the members.

8. STAFF SUPPORT
The Conference Secretariat will ensure on-going management, coordination and support for the working groups and for the implementation of the agreed activities. In particular, the Secretariat will:

1.Provide administrative support to the working group;
2.Oversee proper endorsement/approval of working group decisions by relevant conference organizing bodies;
3.Implement working group recommendations and decisions.

The Names of those on the Caribbean Committee are:
•Marcus Day, Chair, CVC, CCC representative
•Olive Edwards, ICW representative
•Yolanda Simon, GNP+ representative
•Merle Mendeza, ICASO representative
•Miriam Edwards, Civil Society Representative
•Ingrid Cox, PANCAP representative
•Michel de Groulard, UNAIDS
•Celia DC Christie-Samuels, IAS representative

Let us watch this
H

African homophobia - A legacy of colonialism

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By Peter Tatchell - Human rights campaigner

The Independent - London - 19 May 2010

Evils of colonialism still wrecking lives

By Peter Tatchell - Human rights campaigner

The conviction by a Malawian court of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga on charges of homosexuality is the latest example of how, more than four decades after most African nations won their independence, the evils of colonialism continue to wreck lives.

The two men face up to 14 years jail under laws that were imposed on the people of Malawi by the British colonisers in the nineteenth century. Before the British came and conquered Malawi, there were no laws against homosexuality. These laws are a foreign imposition. They are not African at all. Despite independence, these alien criminalisations were never repealed.

Today, the minds of many Malawians - and other Africans - remain colonised by the homophobic beliefs that were drummed into their forebears by the western missionaries who invaded their lands alongside the conquering imperial armies. The missionaries preached a harsh, intolerant Christianity, which has been so successfully internalised by many Africans that they now claim homophobia as their own culture and tradition.

While many African leaders decry homosexuality as a "western disease" or a "white man's import," the truth is very different. Prior to colonisation, many tribal societies and kingdoms had a more relaxed attitude to same-sex relations than the subsequent colonial occupiers.

As Rudi C Bleys documented in his book, The Geography of Perversion, the existence and, sometimes toleration, of same-sex acts was used by the colonising European nations to justify what they saw as their "civilising" mission. To them, homosexuality among indigenous peoples was proof of their "barbarity" and confirmation of western theories of racial superiority.

Homophobia in Africa is mostly a colonial imposition. But this is no excuse for these now independent nations to perpetuate colonial-era anti-gay laws and attitudes. It is time to finish the African liberation struggle by ending the persecution of gay Africans.

Monday, May 17, 2010

US Study: Alcohol Speeds Progression of HIV

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Frequent alcohol consumption, alone or combined with crack-cocaine, speeds the progression of HIV through its impact on CD4 cells and its role in preventing patients from taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) consistently, according to a study published last week in AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses.

“These results provide evidence that frequent alcohol use alone, or in combination with crack-cocaine, is a risk factor for accelerated HIV disease progression,” wrote the study authors, “specifically a faster decline of CD4+ cell count and increased HIV viral load.”

Effect of alcohol use on CD4þ cell count
Our study finds that frequent alcohol intake was predictive of a faster decline of CD4þ cells longitudinally in a cohort of active alcohol and drug users, of whom 63–67% reported ART over time. The progression of CD4þ cell decline was independent of ART over time, andwas greater in those who combined frequent alcohol and crack-cocaine use. These results provide evidence that frequent alcohol use alone, or in combination with crack-cocaine, is a risk factor for accelerated HIV disease progression, specifically a faster decline of CD4þ cell count and increased HIV viral load.

This is consistent with findings from a recent report of data from the HIV Alcohol Longitudinal Cohort(ALC) and the HIV Longitudinal Interrelationships of Viruses and Ethanol study (LIVE). This report compared the average difference in HIV disease parameters using generalized linear mixed effects models35 between alcohol users and those who abstained from alcohol, and showed that participants not on ART who were heavy drinkers had CD4þ cell counts that averaged 48.6 cells=ml lower than those who were abstinent.


Similar to our findings, the above study found no impact of heavy alcohol use on HIV viral load in those not on ART, leading the authors to suggest that the decrement in CD4þ cell count was not mediated by increased viral load, rather it was related to a direct effect of alcohol on CD4þ cells or lymphocytes in general. They suggested that the large beneficial effect of ART onCD4þ cell countmay make it difficult to see a moderate effect of heavy alcohol intake on CD4þ cell count.


The 30-month study followed HIV-positive adults with histories of alcohol and illegal drug use. The study found that those who had more than two drinks daily were almost three times more likely to see a significant drop in CD4 cells, independent of other factors including ART adherence. According to the study’s author’s, alcohol may directly influence disease progression by affecting these cells and the immune system, which is consistent with previous studies showing alcohol’s immune suppressant effects.

Despite conflicting results among existing studies about the effects of alcohol on HIV disease progression, experts encourage people with HIV to avoid recreational drug use and heavy drinking to minimize immune system damage.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL STUDY HERE IN PDF

Peace and Tolerance

H

Latest attempt to block HIV: Stronger vaginal gels

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By LAURAN NEERGAARD (AP)

WASHINGTON — Try after try to make vaginal creams that could repel the AIDS virus have failed. Now researchers are testing if a drug used to treat HIV infection finally might give women a tool to prevent it — by infusing the medicine into vaginal gels and contraceptive-style rings.

In this photo taken Friday, May 14, 2010, at the MaGee Womens Research Institute in Pittsburgh, lead researcher Lisa Rohan shows a vaginal film formulated with drugs to target against HIV infection. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Even quick-dissolving anti-HIV films are being created, the same style now used for breath-fresheners or allergy medicines but made for fingertip application in the vagina.

Called microbicides, this kind of woman-controlled protection is considered key to battling the HIV epidemic — especially in developing countries where the virus is at its worst and women too often can't get their partners to use a condom.

For two decades, scientists tried less powerful medications in disappointing microbicide attempts. Results from the first study to see if this new strategy works — South African women tested a gel made of the AIDS drug tenofovir — aren't due until July.

But researchers gathering for the biennial International Microbicides Conference in Pittsburgh next weekend express cautious optimism.

"Frankly, blocking transmission of the virus appears to be a lot harder than anyone understood it would be at the beginning," says meeting co-chair Dr. Sharon Hillier of the University of Pittsburgh and a principal investigator of the Microbicide Trials Network.

"The reason we're not depressed in the microbicide world? We actually have learned a lot and moved on to think about potent drugs and really cool delivery methods."

Antiretroviral drugs have revolutionized AIDS care, helping people live far longer with the virus. They've also successfully lowered the risk that an infected pregnant woman passes HIV to her child. So it was logical for scientists to begin testing whether swallowing an antiretroviral drug every day could protect the still healthy, both men and women, from getting infected. More than half a dozen studies of this so-called pre-exposure prophylaxis are under way among high-risk populations around the world, largely using the drug tenofovir because it tends to cause fewer side effects than many other AIDS drugs.

Even if that eventually proves protective, taking daily pills has drawbacks — systemic side effects, the risk of drug resistance, what happens if people miss a dose or share tablets with an already infected relative — that make the approach controversial.

Hence the need for topical protection, too. Women already make up half of the more than 33 million people worldwide living with HIV, and most of the new infections in hardest-hit sub-Saharan Africa are among young women.

"I have in fact so little to offer them in terms of HIV prevention that I sort of tear my hair out," says Dr. Salim Abdool Karim of the Centre for the AIDS Program of Research in South Africa at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

He led the pending tenofovir gel study, his ninth microbicide study since 1994. "It must take a certain level of perseverance to want to stay in this field."

In those years, scientists discovered that cells on the vaginal surface aren't big targets of HIV, yet the virus somehow fairly quickly penetrates to a much more susceptible second layer. Monkey studies show a small population of "founder" cells apparently reproduce in that spot for a few days before the virus is ready to spread, Hillier says. Drugs like tenofovir block HIV's replication in the already infected, suggesting they're a good try for that window period, she explains.

And tenofovir concentrates in vaginal tissue at far higher levels via a gel than a pill — with little spread of the drug elsewhere, easing side-effect concerns, adds Karim.

His study recruited 900 HIV-negative heterosexual women to test whether tenofovir gel, applied up to 12 hours before intercourse and again within 12 hours afterward, lowered the risk of infection.

While awaiting his results in July, the U.S. National Institutes of Health is funding the next step: Researchers now are recruiting up to 5,000 healthy women in several African countries to use either vaginal tenofovir gel — daily rather than timed around intercourse — or daily pills containing the drug. It's the first comparison of the two strategies.

Taking a lesson from contraception — that more choices equal more usage — researchers are developing other potential tenofovir methods, too: A quick-dissolve tenofovir vaginal film, with less mess to be completely invisible to the partner. Vaginal rings that could ooze tenofovir into the vagina over a month. And for gay men, a rectal tenofovir.

Health workers should be thinking now about the challenges should any of these attempts work, Dr. Regina Osih of the University of Witwatersrand will tell next week's microbicide meeting. Access is a big question in already overburdened regions — as is how often users would need HIV testing to be sure the protection's working.

EDITOR's NOTE _ Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.

Scenes from IDAHO Silent protest in New Kingston

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Emancipation Park today International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia was the scene of the above captured scenes to mark the day. The participants mostly Jamaicans on the face of it had several foreigners as well as indicated in the press release from JFLAG seen below.

Many of the ordinary Gay Jamaicans never even knew of this planned action and would have wanted to attend, this is symptomatic of the kind of classist internally bigotted way of advocacy a constant complaint echoed over and over again by folks who want to participate. This doesn't auger well for trust in them.

Just a select few excluding the voices of others and then asking the public to be tolerant of homosexuality is at best hypocritical to those who have some inside knowledge. We do hope that the JFLAG website will reflect the images and the new press release as the old one still stands on their page.

Anyway Happy IDAHO DAY!!!!

Celebrate yourselves

Peace and tolerance

H

JFLAG on IDAHO - Time to Break the Silence on rights for GLBT Jamaicans

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Time to Break the Silence on rights for GLBT Jamaicans
Kingston --- May 17, 2010

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) is observed
annually on May 17th and celebrates the removal of homosexuality by the World Health
Organisation (WHO) from its list of mental illnesses in 2006 which put an end to over a
century of homophobia in the medical field. It also marked a major milestone in the
recognition of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)
individuals. In Jamaica, the day was observed with a half an hour ‘Stand Against
Silence’ outside the Emancipation Park. Approximately 30 persons converged on the
location, some with their mouths covered, depicting the theme ‘Break the Silence! End
the Fear.’

According to Jason MacFarlane Programme Manager of Jamaica Forum of Lesbians Allsexuals
and Gays (J-FLAG), ‘As Jamaicans we remain un-emancipated as long as there
are laws which criminalize the private intimate acts of consenting adults. J-FLAG
organized today’s event to increase awareness about the reality of homophobia that is
faced by members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Jamaica
as a result of these laws. It is time for the silence to be broken and for the change
makers to have some frank conversations. The simple and clear message that we are
sending is that homophobia is damaging the lives of many of us Jamaican citizens and
there is no rational basis for this homophobia.’

Yvonne Sobers of Families Against State Terrorism (FAST) was outspoken in her
support. "Gays and lesbians have rights as human beings and as Jamaicans. An African
proverb says, 'If the fire of the law dies here and burns there, it is not operating
properly.' If we remain silent while some have their rights infringed, we cannot expect
equal rights when we need systems to work for us. We benefit most if we ensure that
the fire burns brightly for everyone, and that the state operates properly by respecting
the rights we all (without exception) have as human beings."

In keeping with the bold words on his placard “Stop the Hate Before Too Late”, Maurice
Tomlinson of AIDS Free World reiterated his organization’s stance on the position “The
irrational hatred and fear of gays drives this vulnerable population underground away
from effective HIV prevention interventions. The result is that the HIV/AIDS epidemic
has become entrenched in Jamaica, representing a direct threat to the health of the
entire Jamaican community. This is one of the reasons why we have willingly cosponsored
this event.”

Another co sponsor of the event was UNAIDS which was represented at the Stand by
Jamaica’s Country Coordinator, Pierre Somse. Dr. Somse proudly displayed his placard
‘Privacy is Everyone’s Right’ echoing the call made internationally by his boss Michel
Sibide , “UNAIDS believes in the fundamental rights of the human beings and sees how
catastrophic a situation is created when those rights are taken away. We are committed
to working with Governments to ensure that the rights of all, inclusive of the rights of
gay, lesbian and transgender persons are protected….” See UNAIDS Press Release
attached.

Maria Carla Gullotta, Coordinator of the Jamaican group of Amnesty International, said
“Amnesty International Jamaica is in full support of human rights for LGBT people
because each one of us is 100% entitled to have the same rights and same dignity. We
urge Jamaica to re-think what has become such an acceptable discriminating choice.
There will not be any possibility to have a better world until all citizens have the same
rights.

President of the European Union Missions, Ambassador Jesus Silva, offered support to
J-FLAG in its demands for a policy of human rights that includes the non-discrimination
for reasons of gender or sexual orientation. Speaking on behalf of Belgium, France,
Germany, United Kingdom and Spain, Silva reiterated such a position as being “one of
the priorities that inspire the policies and relations of the European Union.”

Andrea Chin See, Board Member of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) revealed
“Homophobia is fueling the HIV pandemic and complicating our efforts to stop the
spread of HIV. If it does not stop, HIV will be here with us for an even longer time.”
Others supporting the call to end homophobia included journalists, representatives from
Jamaicans For Justice, the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), Women
for Women, The Jamaica Network of Seropositives, Eve for Life, Sex Work Association
of Jamaica, Jamaica Red Cross, Sunshine Cathedral/Metropolitan Community Churches,
Independent Jamaica Council on Human Rights and the Civil Society Forum of Jamaica.

Other placards read:
‘Teach us True Respect for All’
‘Give Us Vision Lest We Perish’
‘Human Rights for All’
Separate Church and Hate’
‘Out of Many One People’
‘Equal Rights and Justice’
‘Straight but Not Narrow Minded’
‘One Love Jamaica’
‘Repeal Sections 76, 77 and 79’
‘Live and Let Love’
‘Gay or Straight, Let’s All Tolerate’
‘God is Love’

Contact:
Jason McFarlane
Tel: (876) 978-8988 (o) (876) 844-9366 (m)
P.O. Box 1152, Kingston 8, Jamaica
admin@jflag.org

HIV-positive and not on medication (Eve for life)

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Rosie Stone answers some questions in the Observer you may find this one interesting:

Worried

Dear Eve,

I have a friend who is HIV-positive for seven years now and she is still not on medication. Is this normal, and should she be worried that she is not on medication?

Worried.

Dear Worried,

I do not think that you should be worried about your friend if she has a doctor or a health care provider that she regularly visits. As long as she is following the instructions of her doctor she does not have anything to fear. This means that she does her tests: CD4 counts (Tcells or fighter cells) and viral load (the amount of HIV infection in the body) levels at regular intervals. More than likely her CD4 count is above 350 as most doctors use this benchmark to start their patients on antiretroviral treatment [ARVS].

Your friend is very lucky that her immune system is high-functioning and is still working well even though she is infected with HIV. There are other persons who live with the infection for over 10 years before needing medication. This is precisely why HIV is so dangerous and deceptive.

Some persons can be infected for a long period of time and do not know that they are. The only way to know your status is to get tested. In 2009 there were 7,000 persons on antiretroviral treatment in Jamaica. It was also estimated that the number of persons needing this treatment is twice that amount, 14,000.

As long as your friend keeps in constant contact with her doctor and reports truthfully any changes that might occur, follow the doctor's suggestions which should include using a condom every time, eating as healthily as she can, and try to incorporate some exercise in her life, there is no need to worry.

HIV risk factors


Dear Eve,

I read somewhere that over 30 per cent of persons who have AIDS did not have any risk. How come? So why did they get AIDS.

Not Understanding.

Dear Not Understanding,

It is true that in 2008 in Jamaica 34 per cent of persons reported with AIDS had no obvious risk for HIV infection. The risk factors for getting HIV infection in Jamaica are firstly, having multiple sex partners; secondly, having a history of sexually transmitted infections; thirdly, having sex with sex workers, and using crack cocaine. In other words, if you engage in any of these activities your risk of contracting HIV is higher than the persons who do not engage in these activities.

Unfortunately, there are persons who report that these risk factors do not apply to them yet they end up being infected. Sexual relations involve at least one other person and if your partner engages in risky behaviour then you can end up in the 34 per cent who get infected through their partners' risky sexual behaviours.

You can send your questions or comments relating to HIV or related issues to info@eveforlife.org or write to Eve for Life, C/O Jamaica Observer.

Crisis of leadership

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The cartoons speak for themselves from both newspapers as the shouts continue for Golding's head. Suddenly everyone has morality fever now, where were some of these voices on Rights based issues including the discrimination of persons due to sexual orientation and disabilities which don not appear in the current Charter of Rights Proposal which is to replace section 3 of the constitution and what about the deaths of the seven girls who were burnt at Armadale under state care not to mention the countless disturbing murders of younlings recently and missing children?

Tyrone Reid, Sunday Gleaner Reporter

Noted psychologist Leachim Semaj believes Jamaica stands to benefit from the Manatt saga that has plunged the government formed by the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) into hot water.

As the calls for the head of Prime Minister Bruce Golding rolled in, Semaj pointed out that Jamaica suffers from a crisis of leadership across all sectors of the Jamaican society. He believes this latest development puts Jamaicans in a position to demand more from their leaders.

"A crisis is a terrible thing to waste. We need to ride this crisis ... new opportunities are trying to emerge," he said.

Semaj added that this predicament that the government finds itself in should not be viewed as an opportunity to swap one political party for the other. "The stakes are now higher, because we are clearer about what we don't want," the psychologist opined.

He added: "A country gets the quality of leadership it deserves. So we have to blame ourselves. Our being quiet as allowed mediocre leaders to rise to the top."

Barry Chevannes, professor of anthropology and former dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies, agrees that the time is ripe to address the country's lack of effective leadership.

"Every crisis is an opportunity. That's what the definition of a crisis is: that things cannot continue the same way," he said.

However, Chevannes, a noted social scientist, said the country's dearth in effective leadership has not reached crisis proportions. "I'm not sure I would call it a crisis, but there is a problem," he said.

Chevannes argued that Jamaica has leaders at the helm but the capabilities needed to arrest the country's current problems, chiefly crime and corruption, are not being displayed.

"Their leadership is not effective for the moment the country is going through."

On the other hand, Semaj thinks that Jamaica is a country of managers and not leaders. "Absolutely (there is a crisis of leadership). There is a big difference between management and leadership."

Semaj defined leadership as the highest trait of management. "It manifests itself in the ability to get a team to work together for the common good," he said.

He questioned which of Jamaica's political or religious leaders have managed to rally Jamaicans to advance the welfare of the country. "Each one is pursuing their own narrow interest," he said.

He pointed out that there was a the plethora of management course available for study locally, and added, "There are a handful of corporate leaders from time to time that spark our imagination as what leadership is about."

Speak out

Semaj also argued that the nation has failed to place clearly defined demands on its leaders. "We really have to raise the bar and be willing to speak out."

The psychologist thinks Golding squandered the grand opportunity to fill the leadership void that existed in the political arena. Semaj said Golding's servant-leader themed election night and inauguration speeches suggested that the prime minister, the self-styled driver, was on the right track. "But everything went downhill after that," he said.

Chevannes believes the country is in a state similar to the pre-independence rut it was in during the 1930s - an era that gave birth to leaders of note such as Norman Manley and Alexander Bustamante. But, "we haven't seen anyone emerging who can take a hold of the crime and corruption".

tyrone.reid@gleanerjm.com

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The practical and symbolic purpose of dental dams in lesbian safer sex promotion

2 comments

Juliet Richters A C and Stevie Clayton B

A University of New South Wales, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.
B Formerly AIDS Council of NSW, PO Box 350, Darlinghurst, NSW 1300, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: j.richters@unsw.edu.au

Sexual Health 7(2) 103–106 doi:10.1071/SH09073
Submitted: 14 July 2009 Accepted: 16 February 2010 Published: 14 May 2010

The practical and symbolic purpose of dental dams in lesbian safer sex promotion Top The practical and symbolic pur ... What are dams for? Evidence for the effectiveness ... Reasons for dam distribution Meeting real rather than symbo ... Conflict of interests References

The paper in this issue on safer sex practices by Sydney women having sex with women1 reports that few women used dental dams, and that there was no evidence of those women doing so out of a rational perception that they were at higher risk of acquiring a sexually transmissible infection (STI). These findings raise several questions. Should dental dams be recommended for STI prevention in sex between women? Are they effective? Are they necessary? If not, why are they distributed at all? What needs are being met by this activity?

What are dams for? Top The practical and symbolic pur ... What are dams for? Evidence for the effectiveness ... Reasons for dam distribution Meeting real rather than symbo ... Conflict of interests References

Are dental dams intended to prevent HIV transmission? Or to prevent transmission of other STIs or blood-borne viruses?

Only a handful of cases of woman-to-woman sexual transmission of HIV have been reported worldwide,2–5 although transmission is theoretically possible from infected vaginal or menstrual fluids or damaged mucous membrane,6,7 especially when viral load is high, for example during seroconversion or late AIDS. Nonetheless, a case of HIV infection in a woman who has sex with women is more likely to be due to sex with men or to injecting drug use than to woman-to-woman sexual transmission.8 No cases of woman-to-woman sexual transmission of HIV have been reported in Australia.

The low rates of transmission of HIV between men during fellatio9–11 suggest that transmission during cunnilingus would be unlikely unless the mucous membrane of mouth or vulva were damaged. Fellatio is of course not entirely risk free, but AIDS organisations in Australia (although not necessarily elsewhere) have promoted it as considerably safer than anal intercourse, and not insisted that condoms were essential for oral sex. This is a judgment call for health promotion authorities, who need to balance the risk of alienating the target audience if they insist on an unrealistic ‘belt and braces’ approach to HIV prevention against the risk of being responsible for sporadic cases of oral transmission. The result in practice is that gay men in Sydney, despite higher HIV prevalence, hardly ever use condoms for fellatio12,13 – indeed it is considered so little as a risk practice that most surveys of sexual behaviour do not even ask about it.14 In this context it is not clear that it is reasonable to exhort women to use dams for cunnilingus, especially given the very low prevalence of HIV among women, although some barrier for oral sex might be desired by a known serodiscordant couple.

Oral herpes can be transmitted from a cold sore (herpes simplex virus type 1) to the genitals,15–18 and a dental dam or other barrier would help to prevent transmission. There is little evidence on oral sex transmission of hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus.16 Likewise although bacterial STIs are sometimes transmitted by fellatio, there is little evidence for transmission via cunnilingus, although there is some doubt about its role in candidiasis and bacterial vaginosis.

Evidence for the effectiveness of dams in preventing HIV transmission Top The practical and symbolic pur ... What are dams for? Evidence for the effectiveness ... Reasons for dam distribution Meeting real rather than symbo ... Conflict of interests References

It is widely believed by health educators that dental dams meet safety standards for STI prevention and that alternatives such as cling wrap (plastic film) cannot be recommended. However, dental dams are not manufactured, registered or tested for STI prevention purposes. No studies exist on their permeability to STI pathogens, although it is likely that they are at least as impermeable as condoms, which are also made of latex but thinner. Condoms have been tested in vitro for permeability to Chlamydia trachomatis, viruses and virus-sized particles20–24 and except for one large study of aged condoms,25 show very little or no leakage. As stated by the (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

No barrier methods for use during oral sex have been evaluated as effective by the [US] Food and Drug Administration. However, natural rubber latex sheets, dental dams, condoms that have been cut and spread open, or plastic wrap may offer some protection from contact with body fluids during oral sex.

Cling wrap is likely to be effective simply because it is waterproof, although less robust than latex film. Cling wrap is cheap, readily available, odourless and thinner than latex dams. If a piece tears during use it can easily be replaced. It is thus likely to be more acceptable to women for regular use than dental dams, but because of uncertainty about its possible permeability, many authorities remain reluctant to encourage its use. Laboratory evidence for the performance of cling wrap as a barrier to pathogens would be very useful.

Although it is plausible that dental dams would be impermeable to STI pathogens in vitro, it would be difficult or impossible to establish the effectiveness of dental dams in preventing HIV transmission in vivo at population level, as the risk is so low, even in countries with a higher overall prevalence of HIV than Australia. Any study to evaluate this would require a cohort of discordant couples having cunnilingus but no vaginal intercourse. Even condom-protected intercourse would probably be more risky than cunnilingus, thus swamping the ability of a study to detect infection via oral sex.27 Assembling a cohort of serodiscordant lesbian couples would be well nigh impossible. No studies have been done for other viruses. It is likely that dams help prevent transmission of enteric pathogens during rimming (oral–anal contact), but there is no population research evidence.

Reasons for dam distribution Top The practical and symbolic pur ... What are dams for? Evidence for the effectiveness ... Reasons for dam distribution Meeting real rather than symbo ... Conflict of interests References

The AIDS Council of New South Wales (ACON), a partly government-funded community-based organisation, is the main HIV prevention and service organisation at state level. ACON distributes ‘safe sex’ packs at lesbian community events such as dances, and also has them available for collection free at ACON offices. Until 2005 these packs contained dams, gloves, lubricant and condoms. However, more of the dams were apparently used by gay men (for rimming) than by women. Outreach workers reported that women receiving safe sex packs at community events often took out the condom, glove and lubricant for use and discarded the dental dam. After a dance there were hundreds of unused dams on the floor. Since 2006 dental dams have no longer been included in the packs, although they are available on request from ACON offices and information stalls, and included alongside condoms and gloves in self-serve bins in the toilets at functions. About 30 boxes are distributed per year, representing 3000 dams costing A$1200.

Given the weakness of the evidence for the need for barriers to prevent HIV/STI transmission between women during cunnilingus, and the lack of evidence for the effectiveness of dental dams even where the need for a barrier is felt, it is puzzling why some health authorities and non-governmental organisations in the HIV field felt it necessary to recommend and distribute dental dams.

It has been argued that the promotion of dams reveals a desire to ‘contain’ homosexual sex.28 In parallel with condom promotion for gay men, dental dams were promoted by and for women who had sex with women, but not for men having cunnilingus. Sara MacBride-Stewart argued that dominant understandings of ‘healthy’ sex do not include sex between women, and that the dental dam represents a sealing of the lesbian body.

This argument would be more plausible if it were mainstream authorities recommending dam use to lesbians, but it was the gay- and lesbian-run AIDS service organisations that provided dams. Perhaps, therefore, it was not a desire to seal off lesbian sex, but a sense of need and risk that originated elsewhere. In the 1990s, many lesbian, bisexual and queer women were surrounded by HIV – among their gay male friends, in their work as nurses or carers, in queer circles, as sexual adventurers on the leather or fetish scenes, or through drug-using networks. Many of them knew HIV-positive women and may have been unconvinced that lesbians were at low risk of acquiring HIV through sex. They saw resources being spent on HIV prevention among gay men, and women being largely ignored.

AIDS service organisations were in a sense ‘damned if they did and damned if they didn’t’ do something about HIV prevention among women who have sex with women. If they did nothing, even where there was minimal evidence of need, they were seen as ignoring and marginalising women. If they did something, despite minimal evidence of risk, they were seen to be stigmatising and stereotyping lesbians, or to be misdirecting resources.

Despite the fact that dams would in theory reduce STI transmission via oral sex, the question has to be asked whether they would be used in situations of risk. Given the practices and values of the subculture of sex between women, it is likely that alternatives such as explicit agreements about sex outside the relationship, greater awareness of mouth hygiene and lesions (in relation to HIV), or avoidance of oral sex if one partner has herpes would all be more acceptable to women concerned about STIs. Some of these strategies and others are promoted by a safer sex promotion website for women developed and evaluated in Australia.

Cox and McNair remark that most safer sex resources for women who have sex with women focus on latex products, yet few of their participants had ever used any latex products.29 Cox and McNair refer to women’s ‘consistent aversion to latex’ and interpret support for the safer sex project as a way of affirming sex between women. Thus it appears that the provision of dental dams is a knee-jerk reaction to the theoretical risk of STI transmission between women, based on an assumption that they are equivalent to condoms for sex between men. This, rather than any evidence of need, appears to have been the reason for supplying them in women’s prisons in New South Wales.

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thank you for your donations via Paypal in helping to keep this blog going, my limited frontline community work, temporary shelter assistance at my home and related costs. Please continue to support me and my allies in this venture that has now become a full time activity. When I first started blogging in late 2007 it was just as a pass time to highlight GLBTQ issues in Jamaica under then JFLAG's blogspot page but now clearly there is a need for more forumatic activity which I want to continue to play my part while raising more real life issues pertinent to us.

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Activities & Plans: ongoing and future

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Individuals who are mentioned or whose photographs appear on this site are not necessarily Homosexual, HIV positive or have AIDS.

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What to do if you are attacked (News You Can Use)

First, be calm: Do not panic; it may be very difficult to maintain composure if attacked but this is important.

Try to reason with the attacker: Establish communication with the person. This takes a lot of courage. However, a conversation may change the intention of an attacker.

Do not try anything foolish: If you know outmanoeuvring the attacker is impossible, do not try it.

Do not appear to be afraid: Look the attacker in the eye and demonstrate that you are not fearful.

This may have a psychological effect on the individual.

Emergency numbers
The police 119

Kingfish 811

Crime Stop 311


Steps to Take When Contronted or Arrested by Police

a) Ask to see a lawyer or Duty Council

b) Only give name and address and no other information until a lawyer is present to assist

c) Try to be polite even if the scenario is tensed) Don’t do anything to aggravate the situation

e) Every complaint lodged at a police station should be filed and a receipt produced, this is not a legal requirement but an administrative one for the police to track reports

f) Never sign to a statement other than the one produced by you in the presence of the officer(s)

g) Try to capture a recording of the exchange or incident or call someone so they can hear what occurs, place on speed dial important numbers or text someone as soon as possible

h) File a civil suit if you feel your rights have been violatedi) When making a statement to the police have all or most of the facts and details together for e.g. "a car" vs. "the car" represents two different descriptions

j) Avoid having the police writing the statement on your behalf except incases of injuries, make sure what you want to say is recorded carefully, ask for a copy if it means that you have to return for it

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