Health Hub

Lebanese Police Conducting Torturous 'Gay Tests' On Suspected Gay Men

Members of the Lebanon police force’s “Moral Protection Bureau” alleged to be carrying out physical tests on men suspected to be homosexual, according to the Independent.

Screenshot 2014-07-17 08.21.08The tests, which include forcible anal probing, have been banned in the country, and are considered to be humiliating and degrading treatment by the Human Rights Watch.

While homosexuality remains illegal in Lebanon, the physical testing practices suspected of being used are considered a form of torture, and are illegal. A doctor, hired by the police to investigate the sexualities of five Lebanese and Syrian men, is said to have conducted the “test” at the authority's behest.

“We are asking the Order of Physicians to sue him [the doctor] for professional misconduct,” attorney Saghieh told The Daily Star, expressing concern that there were more unreported cases. “There are many sanctions available, so it is up to the people who are hearing this case to decide on what is adequate.”

LGB Population Smaller, Fitter Than Previous Reports, According to the CDC

According to the most recent findings from the CDC’s National Health Statistics Report, just over 2% of adults in the U.S. identify themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

Cdc-logoWhile that figure is somewhat lower than the results of similar surveys from other organizations like Gallup, the reported numbers change drastically as the age of the sample population is lowered. Similar CDC studies of youth in Washington, D.C. revealed 15.3% of participants identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual, Dr. David Mariner explained to USA Today.

Meant to shed light on the state of the LGB community’s health, the study’s findings were mixed. LGB individuals were more likely to binge drink and smoke, the latter of which has overtaken HIV as the leading health risk to the LGBT community. Conversely, LGB people were just as likely as heterosexuals to  exercise regularly, and gay men were less likely than their straight counterparts to be obese.

Read through the CDC’s National Health Statistics Report here AFTER THE JUMP

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'New York' Magazine looks at Prep, Sex and Fear


New York Magazine has published a lengthy exploration into the current conversation surrounding Truvada, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and the gay male relationship to sex itself.

107091581truvadacropFor some, like Jacobs, the advent of this drug is nothing short of miraculous, freeing bodies and minds. For doctors, public-health officials, and politicians, it is a highly promising tool for stopping the spread of HIV. Other gay men worry that the very existence of such a drug is a kind of betrayal: of those who’ve died in the epidemic; of fealty to the condom, an object alternately evoking fear and resilience, hot sex and safe-sex fatigue; and of a mind-set of sexual prudence that has governed gay-male life since the early ’80s.

Tenofovir and emtricitabine, the two antiretrovirals that make up Truvada, are both featured on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, a guide detailing drugs absolutely necessary for a fully functioning healthcare system. Earlier this week the WHO made public its support for the use of Truvada as PrEP, a decision met with equal amounts of support and vitriol. The divide, as Tim Murphy describes it in New York Magazine, is often generational in nature.

The idea of prep can be especially fraught for older gay men, particularly HIV-positive ones. Larry Kramer, now 79, in poor health and HIV-positive since the 1980s, has been the most prominent voice projecting contempt and bafflement: “Anybody who voluntarily takes an antiviral every day has got to have rocks in their heads. There’s something to me cowardly about taking Truvada instead of using a condom. You’re taking a drug that is poison to you, and it has lessened your energy to fight, to get involved, to do anything.”

Reasoning behind arguments against the use of Truvada as PrEP range from claims that the drug encourages high-risk behavior to worries that drug-resistant strains of HIV will flourish should users not take the drug properly. Many of the initial concerns about Truvada’s side effects have been proven false, but only time will provide a more well rounded picture of the drug’s effects on users in the long term.

Watch the New York Times’s Truvada explainer AFTER THE JUMP...

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World Health Organization Endorses PrEP For Men Having Sex With Men

For the first time ever the World Health Organization has thrown its support behind the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) by men who have sex with men (MSM) as an effective means of reducing the risk of contracting HIV.

WHOLogo“Modelling estimates that, globally, 20-25% reductions in HIV incidence among men who have sex with men could be achieved through pre-exposure prophylaxis,” The Organization said in a press release. “[This could avert] up to 1 million new infections among this group over 10 years.”

The WHO identified five “key populations” it believes are, collectively, the linchpin to curtailing the spread of HIV globally. MSM, people in prison, people who inject drugs, sex workers, and transgender people are in need of better access to more comprehensive health care measures, such as PrEP and more rapid HIV testing, according to the WHO:

“None of these people live in isolation,” says Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of the HIV Department at WHO. “Sex workers and their clients have husbands, wives and partners. Some inject drugs. Many have children. Failure to provide services to the people who are at greatest risk of HIV jeopardizes further progress against the global epidemic and threatens the health and wellbeing of individuals, their families and the broader community.”

Read through the WHO’s new Consolidated Guidelines of HIV Prevention here  AFTER THE JUMP...

UPDATE: WHO sent out a clarification of its announcement:

WHO is aware of incorrect headlines and reporting linked to its recent recommendations on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV.

WHO is not recommending that all men who have sex with men must take PrEP, but supporting it as an additional choice (see paragraph 5 of the WHO news release

For the first time, WHO strongly recommends men who have sex with men consider taking antiretroviral medicines as an additional method of preventing HIV infection (pre-exposure prophylaxis) alongside the use of condoms.

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Propecia Causing Irreversible Sexual Damage To Some Users: VIDEO


A study in this year’s Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has found a fairly damning link between a sudden loss of the ability to maintain sexual arousal and even casual use of finasteride, more commonly known as Propecia.

Propecia-imageUsed to treat male pattern baldness, Propecia blocks the steroid responsible for converting testosterone into a hormone that effectively shuts hair follicles down. Similar to Viagra, which was originally developed as a blood pressure medication, finasteride was initially used in drugs meant to treat enlarged prostate glands.

As is often the case with drugs that are repurposed for their accidental, if beneficial, side effects, Propecia was warned to carry significant risks that were overlooked in the rush to market. Cases of decreased erectile function and loss of sexual sensation, two of Propecia’s more drastic side effects, are being reported in increasing numbers, according to AlterNet, even after patients stop taking the drug.

"I have spoken to several young men in my clinic in Kildare who continue to suffer from sexual anaesthesia and for whom all sexual pleasure and feelings have been obliterated for all time.” Said Dr. Andrew Rynne, former head of the Irish Family Planning Association. “I have felt their suffering and shared their devastation.”

Watch two news reports on the study from ABC News and NBC News, AFTER THE JUMP...

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HIV Detected in Previously Cured 'Mississippi Baby'

In 2010 a baby girl born to an HIV-positive mother made headlines after seemingly being cured of the virus thanks to a swift treatment of antiretroviral therapy immediately following her birth. “The Mississippi Baby,” as she came to be known, was a triumph, giving the medical community insight into the potential future of treating infants born with HIV. Unfortunately the baby, according to her doctors, has come out of remission and is now showing detectable signs of the virus once again.

HIV_H9_T-cell_II"Certainly, this is a disappointing turn of events for this young child, the medical staff involved in the child's care, and the HIV/AIDS research community," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

Following a strict regimen of antiretroviral treatment for 18 months, blood tests for the child came back with undetectable viral loads. In the months following, the child was taken off the intense medication, seemingly maintaining her HIV undetectable state.

"Scientifically, this development reminds us that we still have much more to learn about the intricacies of HIV infection and where the virus hides in the body.” Dr. Fauci elaborated.

The return of the virus in her blood, while heartbreaking, was not entirely unexpected. Unknowingly HIV-positive, the baby’s mother did not take proper medication while pregnant with her child. The fact the baby managed to remain seemingly HIV negative for so long without medication suggests that initial efforts to treat the virus were on the right track, but not perfected, according to her doctors. She has since been put back on antiretrovirals, with doctors hoping to maintain the virus once again.


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