News Roundup

The Abortion Looking Glass – On The Issues
How Does HIV Cause AIDS? – Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona
Reproductive Rights as Human Rights? – RH Reality Check
Talking About Abortion with My Local Barista – Abortion Gang

Birth Control for Men?

New drug tests may put us one step closer to having a birth control method for men.  According to ABC News, the drug would stop sperm production in men. Previous versions of the drug had a negative effect on the male libido (God forbid), but BMS-189453 does not appear to have an negative sex drive effects.

I have one major problem with this study: it has only been conducted on mice. I’ll save you my long-winded rant on the ethics of animal testing and limit myself to saying that until there are human studies done on male birth control methods, I’m going to save my applause.

Apparently I’m not the only one who has doubts about the efficacy of male birth control. Our very own Amy McCarthy is quoted in the ABC piece as saying that she wouldn’t trust a guy to be taking his birth control pills every day. However, she does say that for people in a long-term, committed relationship, male birth control offers the peace of mind that the couple is double dipping on protection.

There are many additional questions that this study brings up for me. First, what role can BMS-189453 play in preventing HIV, since stopping sperm production would certainly limit one mode of transmission for the HIV virus? Second, will male birth control be available in multiple applications, such as the patch, the Pill, etc., when it is approved by the FDA?

What’s your take on male birth control?  Are you taking a wait and see attitude?  Or do you think this is the next big thing?  I’d love to hear your opinion.

Yes, Lesbians Have Cervixes, Too!

Ok, the title might be a little tongue in cheek, but from the stories that I have heard over and over again, one might think that sexual health professionals have forgotten that lesbians have cervixes and other sexual organs. I have run out of the fingers to count the number of times I have heard the same story. “My doctor/gynecologist told me that I don’t need pap smears because I told her I was a lesbian.” Or “My doctor told me that I don’t need to worry about sexually transmitted infections because I’m a lesbian.” [Read more...]

Friday News Roundup

It’s finally Friday!  Here’s to some fabulously feminist plans for the weekend, plus a little bit of light reading to get it kicked off in high fashion!

An Interview with Michael Moore – Poponthepop
A Ban on Race-Based Abortions? – Broadsheet
“Famine Marriages” a Biproduct of Climate Change – IPS News
Mifepristone (aka “The Abortion Pill”) is Ruled Out as HIV Treatment –
Let’s Appreciate Abortion Providers Every Day – The Abortioneers
Is Violence Against Women Really Taken Seriously? – Womanist Musings

Why is AIDS the #1 Killer of Women Worldwide?

HIV/AIDS is typically thought of as a gay man’s disease, despite the fact that the World Health Organization released statistics in November 2009 that show HIV/AIDS is the #1 killer of women ages 15-44 worldwide. Since March 10th is the National Day of HIV/AIDS Awareness for Women and Girls, I thought that it was important to focus on some of the reasons why women and girls are particularly vulnerable to contracting HIV.

According to a recent article in Poz Magazine:

The particulars of women’s heightened risk include the specifics of female biology; high rates of sexual abuse and gender-based violence; battles for self-esteem and respect; women’s need to be accepted by sexual partners; a chronic lack of resources and income; and homophobia, which can drive lesbians to unsafe and unhealthy practices.

Another part of the challenge is that the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS prevents women from getting tested or seeking support services for themselves. One woman interviewed in another Poz article about HIV and women pointed out that if you have breast cancer or heart disease, there are races and other public events for people to show their support. But with HIV, people would rather look the other way. [Read more...]

US Travel Ban on HIV+ Individuals to End

Today marks the end of an era – and I have to say that I’m happy to see it go. The US travel ban for HIV+ persons is officially over. According to CNN:

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed HIV infection from the list of diseases that prevent non-U.S. citizens from entering the country . . .

Advocates for HIV-positive people said the new policy was long overdue, calling it “a significant step forward for the United States.”

“The end of the HIV travel and immigration ban is the beginning of a new life for countless families and thousands who had been separated because of this policy,” said Steve Ralls, spokesman for Immigration Equality, a national rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive individuals. “This is a new beginning for them.”

[Read more...]

Questioning the Efficacy of HIV Home Testing

anxiousA recent article in Poz Magazine about HIV take home tests has me intrigued, and also puzzled. For starters, I didn’t realize that there was even an option to do an HIV test at home. But since November of 2005, the FDA has been considering the possibility of allowing HIV tests to be administered over the counter, similar to a home pregnancy test. The proposed test would be similar to the oral swab test that is now widely available across the country, where the test results are available in under 30 minutes.

One of the major arguments in favor of HIV home testing is that is would increase the number of people who get tested. Did you know that 1 in 4 people who is HIV positive doesn’t know their status?

It’s paramount that more people know their HIV status. About 1.1 million Americans are living with the virus, but one in five doesn’t know it—and these unaware people accounted for half of the 56,300 new infections in 2007. Furthermore, studies show that people who know they’re positive modify behavior so they are less likely to spread the virus.

An OTC test would reach those who don’t have access to a clinic or don’t want to get tested in a medical setting. And the tests would appeal to myriad reasons a person might want to get tested, from the couple ready to take their relationship to an intimate level to individuals about to switch health insurance companies or donate blood and who want to privately confirm their status beforehand to avoid public documentation. [Read more...]

HIV/AIDS is #1 Killer of Women

aids-ribbonIt’s World AIDS Day. I’ll save my little rant about government complacency in stopping the AIDS epidemic, since I’ve already gone off on that tangent may times before. But I do want to get up on my soap box for a minute about how HIV/AIDS is now the #1 killer of women world wide. According to the World Health Organization:

Women’s particular vulnerability to HIV infection stems from a combination of biological factors and gender inequality. Some studies show that women are more likely than men to acquire HIV from an infected partner during unprotected heterosexual intercourse. The risk posed by this biological difference is compounded in cultures that limit women’s knowledge about HIV and their ability to negotiate safer sex. Stigma, violence by intimate partners, and sexual violence further increase women’s vulnerability. Fewer young women than young men know that condoms can protect against HIV. Furthermore, while women generally report increased condom use during high-risk sex, they are generally less likely to protect themselves than men are.

The youngest women are the most vulnerable. They not only face barriers to information about HIV – and in particular how they can protect themselves from infection – but in many settings they often engage in sexual activity with older men who are more sexually experienced and more likely to be infected.

[Read more...]

Friday News Roundup

hotdogAZ Court Rules in Favor of Inmates’ Rights – Feminist Campus
The Link Between Women, Violence, and HIV – My Joy Online
Funding for HIV/AIDS Difficult to Find – SOS Children’s Villages
Medical and Social Aspects of Abortion – Dr. Warren Hern

Check out this GREAT interview with Gloria Feldt where she answers the question, “Why are you a Feminist?”

After the jump, I’ve got a rerun of Rachel Maddow explaining the history of the anti-choice terrorist movement. [Read more...]

HIV Vaccine Study Explained

So yesterday morning I had a really brief post about the new HIV vaccine study that was announced this week. I asked a lot of questions about how the study was conducted, and NPR did a great job of unraveling the study yesterday afternoon. It made me feel like a smarty when they posed many of the same questions that I did.

Here’s the first clip from NPR:

And here’s the second clip from NPR:

[Read more...]