FDA Approves Injectable PrEP Treatment
The FDA gave the green light to a new injectable form of the HIV treatment pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) last week. The injection, named Apretude, will be available for use by at-risk adults and teens that weigh a minimum 77 pounds and test negative for HIV prior to treatment.
the treatment’s approval comes after two double-blind studies found that patients that took Apretude were 90% less likely of contracting HIV as compared to study participants that took oral PrEP treatment Truvada. There is also hope that Apretude will boost adherence levels as well since it doesn’t have to be taken daily. Apretude is administered in two initial shots one month apart and subsequent injections every two months afterward.
“Today’s approval adds an important tool in the effort to end the HIV epidemic by providing the first option to prevent HIV that does not involve taking a daily pill,” said Debra Birnkrant, M.D., director of the Division of Antivirals in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “This injection, given every two months, will be critical to addressing the HIV epidemic in the U.S., including helping high-risk individuals and certain groups where adherence to daily medication has been a major challenge or not a realistic option.”
A statement from the FDA stressed that Apretude should only be prescribed to patients who have tested negative for HIV prior to treatment and before each shot to reduce the risk of developing drug-resistant HIV variants.
Qatar Seizes Rainbow Toys
Qatar’s ministry of commerce and industry seized a number of rainbow-colored toys from retail stores, deeming them “un-Islamic” due to their resemblance to the LGBTQ Pride flag. The government body announced the decision on Twitter, stating the move was part of an “inspection campaign” that deemed the children’s toys bore “slogans that go against Islamic values.”
A photo attached to the tweet shows a small collection of the toys in question. None of them bear any overt LGBTQ logos. According to AFP, the ministry also encouraged Qatar citizens to “report any product bearing logos or designs contrary to our traditions.”
The seizure comes as Qatar continues to field questions about LGBTQ acceptance in the nation ahead of hosting the World Cup in 2022. Out gay Australian soccer player Josh Cavallo expressed concern about the potential of playing in Qatar due to the nation’s criminalization of homosexuality.
“At the end of the day the World Cup is in Qatar and one of the greatest achievements as a professional footballer is to play for your country,” he said last month. “To know that this is in a country that doesn’t support gay people and puts us at risk of our own life, that does scare me and makes me re-evaluate: is my life more important than doing something really good in my career?”
Multi-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton wore a rainbow-colored helmet during the Qatar Grand Prix last month as well. The sport and we are duty bound to make sure we try to raise awareness for certain issues we have seen, particularly human rights in these countries that we are going to,” Hamilton told The Guardian.
Qatar’s World Cup organizers assured world soccer governing body FIFA that it would allow pro-LGBTQ displays at the 2022 World Cup despite the nation’s “conservative” stance on LGBTQ people last year, but the recent toy censure reignited concerns about how the nation will actually treat LGBTQ fans and players at next year’s premier soccer event.
“Banning rainbow images is a new low for the tyrant regime in Qatar. It is an absurd, over-the-top response by a paranoid regime,” said LGBTQ rights advocate Peter Tatchell. “This proves that Qatar remains viciously homophobic and that its self-proclaimed new liberal image is a fraud and mere PR spin,” he told Metro.
“In the light of this crackdown, LGBTQ+ footballers and fans will not be safe during the World Cup next November, despite Qatar’s assurances to FIFA,” he added. “The football authorities should cancel Qatar’s hosting rights and find a new host country that respects FIFA’s values of equality and inclusion.”
Marjorie Taylor Greene Thinks Kwanzaa is A “Fake Religion”
Qanon-supporting congressperson Marjorie Taylor Greene fired another ill-advised shot in the fictional “war on Christmas” Sunday, decrying the celebration of Kwanzaa and incorrectly labeling it a “fake religion. The statement came in response to a tweet from the official account of the College Republicans wishing everyone a “happy and prosperous Kwanza,” misspelling and all.
“Stop. It’s a fake religion created by a psychopath,” Greene responded. “You aren’t bringing in new voters, you are turning them away. People are tired of pandering and BS.”
Unlike Greene claims, Kwanzaa itself isn’t a religion nor is it commonly characterized as a religious celebration. Created in 1966 by California State University, Long Beach African Studies department chair Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa is a holiday festival that encourages Black individuals to celebrate African traditions and heritage.
Greene expectedly didn’t cry “pandering” when Donald Trump posted “Happy Kwanzaa” messages during his presidency.
HIV Treatment: Previously on Towleroad
Photo courtesy of Viiv Healthcare