Scientists Spot New Twist in HIV Infection

The virus that causes AIDS infects one form of immune T-cell by rearranging its inner skeleton,allowing it access to the cell, scientists have discovered.
The finding helps explain how HIV maintains pockets of dormant virus in these so-called “resting” T-cells, even when the virus is under attack by antiretroviral drugs. It also points to potential new targets for drug development, experts say.

“Whenever you identify a necessary step — a step which is absolutely required for infection of naive T-cells — of course then you have a new focus point, one that you can examine to see if there are options for new therapies. Certainly with HIV treatment, we need that,” said study co-author Jon Marsh, a researcher in the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Regulation at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.
Viruses are such primitive life forms that they must gain access toother organisms’ genetic material, located deep in the nucleus of the cell, before they can replicate. Scientists have long known that HIV latches onto certain receptors on the surface of its main target — the immune system’s T-cells — to gain entry into the cell.

Early in the disease process, HIV typically attacks “activated”T-cells — so named because they are already primed against a particularpathogen. But so-called “naive” T-cells also move throughout the blood stream. These cells are often resting — they haven’t yet been activated to fight a particular threat.
When HIV seeks entry to the activated T-cell, it does so by latching on to a surface receptor called CCR5. But in more than 50 percent of patients, the virus begins to attack resting T-cells, too, via a receptor called CXCR4.
“We know that HIV prefers to infect activated T-cells — it’s more difficult for HIV to infect resting T-cells,” noted Rowena Johnston, vice president of research at the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) in NewYork City. “So, the question for me and a lot of people has been: Whydoes the virus do it? What possible advantage could there be?”

In their new research, Marsh and study co-author Yuntao Wu, of George Mason University, believe they may have answered that question. They published the findings in the Sept. 5 issue of Cell.
According to the researchers, HIV binds with the CXCR4 receptor on resting T-cells, and that activates a protein called cofilin. Cofilin effectively rearranges the tiny filaments that make up the T-cells protective inner skeleton. One this is done, HIV is able to sneak past this barrier and into the cell’s nucleus.
“So now HIV has a means of making these normally [highly] resistant cells susceptible to infection,” Marsh said.
For HIV, there’s a decided plus to entering resting versus activatedT-cells, because resting cells provide a much safer hiding place, Johnstonnoted. “If it can get into the resting T-cell, it can just sit in that-cell forever,” she explained. “This induces latent infection.”

HIV is known to hide out in a number of cell types in the body, making a cure for AIDS elusive. “But if we are aiming to cure infection, we need to understand all of the ways in which latent infection can be established,” Johnston said.
HIV’s entry into resting T-cells also marks more advanced disease, the experts said. “The emergence of CXCR4 [type virus] usually is late in the disease, and it’s usually associated with a relatively severe decline in CD4 T-cells. So, it’s not a good sign,” Marsh said.
Will this discovery inevitably lead to new, effective AIDS drugs? That remains uncertain, Marsh said.

“The thing about a virus is that it exploits normal processes ina cell,” he explained. “So, the clinical aspect always has to look for ways in which you can disturb only the virological component, or most of the virological component, and not hinder those things that are most absolute and necessary for life.”
Johnston agreed it may be years, if ever, before this discovery leads to effective therapies. Right now, she said, “this is very much in the arena of just understanding how HIV does what it does.”

More information: Find out more on the fight against HIV/AIDS at amfAR.

New group to pressure US government on gay rights worldwide

An openly gay former US Ambassador is to work as an adviser to a new coalition of gay and straight human rights groups.
The Council for Global Equality wants the American government to defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people across the world.
“The Project demands that those who represent our country – in Congress, in the White House, in US embassies and in US corporations around the world – use the diplomatic, political and economic leverage available to them to oppose human rights abuses that are regularly directed against individuals because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression,” the group states on its website.
Ambassador Michael E Guest retired from government service last December after more than 26 years as a form of protest against regulations that he considered as unfair to same-sex partners.
The 51-year-old, who is openly gay, served as US Ambassador to Romania when President Bush took office.
He will work as a paid consultant to the group, which will hold its first meeting in Washington DC on September 23rd.
Mr Guest was the first out gay person to be confirmed by the Senate to an ambassadorial post.
In May the British government adopted an official programme to support the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people in other countries.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued an ‘LGBT Toolkit’ to its 261 embassies, high commissions and other diplomatic posts.
“The FCO fully supports equality in the enjoyment of human rights and the inadmissibility of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation,” the document states.
“This provides the focus of FCO work on this issue.”
The kit contains information on the official British policy on gay rights and instructions in how to “provide added value to equality and non-discrimination work.”
“Governments have an obligation to promote equality in the enjoyment of human rights, as well as not to discriminate in their application.
“Frequently there is discrimination in the enjoyment of key rights, even in countries where the criminal laws are neutral.
“Tackling this would require the building up of local coalitions of non-state actors to elaborate action plans for each country, as well as working locally with like-minded states.
“This would not just apply to issues like the state of the criminal law, but also to freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression and privacy.”
The ‘toolkit’ covers a wide range of issues, from decriminalisation, sexual health, reproductive rights and health education to bilateral work with other countries.
The UK and France both support the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.
France, as President of the EU, has said it will present a declaration on the matter to the UN Security Council in December.

Oscar 2008 Party Report

Oscar 2008 Party Statuesque

Themed from the North American Oscar awards, the party of the year that almost never happened after being postponed last week due to the passage of Tropical storm Ivan’s destruction of the road network, the organizers were hell bent on seeing it through and so it happened last night

Due to the no photo policy of the venue we couldn’t capture the delightful dresses, wigs, ambiance and jewelry but we were able to get the pics, by phone, of some of the statuesque presented during the morning’s proceedings, yes I said morning, the party commenced at 10pm as usual but I guess everyone wanted to make an entrance and so they did at minutes to 2am cars started to trickle in and we present were beginning to wonder what was up as most who exited their vehicles weren’t “dressed” for an awards show. However by minutes to 3am the transformation begun, first an original Vera Wang gold dress that got every one’s attention and by showtime, 4:38am it was apparent that a showdown of who would be the best dressed male and female was on in earnest.

The awards continued and the following categories were announced and presented after a dress parade of the nominees.

  • Best Dressed Female

  • Best Dressed Male

  • Hype DJ of the Year

  • Most Consistent Party Patron

  • Best Fluffy Diva

  • Best Couple

  • Most Improved Diva

  • Pop Dung Diva (lol a huge joke for patrons, the winner was not present)

  • Lifetime Award – which Diva Nastasia Waugh walked away with

All in all it was a splendid surprise with glam, couture and street converging in one place and mingling to every one’s enjoyment.
Thumbs up to the organizers and we hope next year would be even better.

Party Patron

Straight Pride attracts zero participants

Plans for a so-called “Straight Pride” in New York, promoted by a reggae music label, appear to have backfired.
The event, due to be held last weekend, was billed as “a chance for heterosexuals to gather together and proudly embrace their sexuality and celebrate reggae, dancehall and family in love and unity.”
However, gay blogger Joe.My.God turned up at the advertised meeting point at 10am on Sunday to find he was the only one there.
“I did see a good number of cars whizzing by that were festooned with flags from Jamaica and other Caribbean nations, but those were probably just folks getting ready for tomorrow’s massive West Indian Day Parade,” he wrote.
“Just to make sure I hadn’t missed the fun, I popped into a few shops to inquire if anybody had seen a parade this morning. The manager of Raquel Shoes told me, “I’ve been here since 8:30am. It’s been totally quiet all morning.””
The “Straight Pride” was promoted by record label TCOOO, who claimed “the gay community went after artists … we decided that we must make a show of strength.”
There is no mention of the event on their website.
Reggae performer Jango Fresh said in a press release at the height of the “Straight Pride” hype last month:
“The Straight Pride parade is a great idea because when a song like Hit Them Hard by my label mate Stapler can be banned just because it stresses the importance of a male and a female in every family, it is a sign that heterosexuals need to wake up.”
The song in question contains the lyrics:
“Jah Jah gonna hit them hardAll the men who visit men backyard.”
In the end Straight Pride turned out to be a non-event.

Jail for two women in Emirates’ first lesbian indecency case

A Bulgarian woman and her Lebanese partner have been sentenced to one month in jail after being found guilty by a Dubai court of indecent acts.
It is thought to be the first case of its kind in the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai’s Court of Appeal upheld the convictions.
The 36-year-old Bulgarian and 30-year-old Lebanese woman will both be deported after they have served their sentences.

7Days newspaper reported that they were spotted kissing and petting on a public beach in April. They both pleaded not guilty to charges they had behaved indecently.
Dubai, one of the seven oil-rich United Arab Emirates, is a popular destination for UK tourists.
While the majority of its 5.6 million residents are foreigners, homosexual relations are still a crime and punishments range from jail to deportation and death penalty.

In July 40 men were arrested in a crackdown on transvestites.
“Any man or woman who dresses up and behaves like the opposite gender in public will be questioned and legal action will be taken against him or her,” Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai Police Chief, said in a statement on the Dubai Police website.
“The 40 transvestites were referred to the Public Prosecution, which issued an administrative deportation order against them. All of those arrested were visitors and tourists and not residents.
“This is against the UAE’s traditions and social values,” he said.

In May Dahi announced that transvestites caught in public would be arrested as part of a new campaign.
He said “transvestites have been seen of late in public places, including shopping malls.”
He said the campaign under the slogan “Our social values are precious.. let’s protect them”, targets those who “do not respect social values and behave like the opposite sex.”

Homosexuality and the Nazi Party

by Scott Lively
Scott Lively is co-author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuals and the Nazi Party (Keizer, Oregon: Founders Publishing Company, 1995). The Pink Swastika is not available through Leadership U., but is available by calling Jeremiah Films at 1-800-828-2290.

The pink triangle, symbol of the “gay rights” movement, is familiar to many Americans. As the badge used by the Nazis to designate homosexuals in the concentration camps, the pink triangle perfectly expresses the message of “gay rights.” That message is that homosexuals are currently and historically victims of irrational prejudice and that those who oppose homosexuality are hateful bigots. This all-important victim status engenders sympathy for the homosexual “cause” among well-meaning heterosexuals. Thus, millions of otherwise rational Americans support a movement whose sole unifying characteristic is a sexual lifestyle they personally find repugnant.
When homosexuals display the pink triangle, they are equating all opposition to homosexuality with Nazism and themselves with the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. As pro-homosexual Rabbi Bernard Mehlman puts it, “Homophobia and Anti-Semitism are part of the same disease.” This quote appeared in an advertisement in a homosexual newspaper. It announced the dedication ceremony of the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston last year. An accompanying article reported that New England homosexuals had pledged $1 million to help build the memorial, including $50,000 for an initial monument consisting of six steel and glass towers. Alongside the monument is an inscription honoring homosexual victims of the Nazis. Another Holocaust memorial being prepared in New York City is expected to similarly honor homosexuals.

Washington, D.C. is home to the official U.S. Holocaust Museum which not only maintains a pro-homosexual display, but also employs noted homosexual activist Klaus Mueller as a staff researcher. Other Holocaust related projects, such as the Anne Frank Exhibit now touring the United States, incorporate a similar message in their programs.

While some homosexuals were interned in Nazi work camps, the role of homosexuals in Nazi history cannot be accurately represented solely by a pink triangle. Our review of more than 200 history texts written since the 1930s suggests that a pink swastika is equally representative, if not more so. For, ironically, while many homosexuals were persecuted by the Nazi party, there is no doubt that the Nazi party itself had many homosexuals within its own ranks, even among its highest leadership.

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