Young MSM/Transgender want to be treated as citizens not potential HIV/AIDS victims

More and more I seem to be coming across young gay, transgender and bisexual youth who feel weary it seems from the over supply of pinch leave an inch condoms, pamphlets and paraphernalia on safer sex and AIDS and other related materials as multiple agencies jostle to reach what has basically become the same cohort on the face of it of males for the most part in the quest for HIV prevention but where are the more meaningful outreach and interventions for holistic development and nurture?

Some in the know may say that funding is hardly available for those kinds of developmental work (which maybe true in a sense but still sounds more like an apology for slackness and maintaining the old status quo) and indeed the more cynical would go as far as to say it is not the agencies involved best interest to do or offer such meaningful interventions as that will diminish their cohort of potential service users and thus nothing to report hence no need to prepare programs only to seek future funds, after all agencies exist to supposedly help but how many persons are actually being helped or impressive success stories to prove same while old narratives are still being used to suggest that gay/bi men do not have access to safer sex implements which is a lie.

CVM Newscast of the Cargill Avenue eviction where the truckmen/movers found and commented on the condoms they found
CVM Newscast of the Cargill Avenue eviction where the truckmen/movers found and commented on the condoms they found

also see: Homeless MSM/Trans youth draw attention in New Kingston

Homeless MSM having their version of fun recently by the infamous Gully nearing  the Island Car Rentals office
Homeless MSM having their version of fun recently by the infamous Gully nearing the Island Car Rentals office
From the Millsborough Avenue embarrasing eviction of some of the homeless MSM/Trans persons last year, condom wrapper is clearly visible
From the Millsborough Avenue embarrassing eviction of some of the homeless MSM/Trans persons last year, condom wrapper is clearly visible
More condom wrappers indicating that the men are only seen as HIV Prevention targets, what about other developmental work?
More condom wrappers indicating that the men are only seen as HIV Prevention targets, what about other developmental work?

The complaints and reports still come almost on a monthly basis these days of some homo-negative outcome somewhere on the island and the phone calls of requests for money or some form of assistance are growing in frequency too as economic issues abound. There agencies that run and managed by powerful gay persons who have the clout to solves this long standing matter of displacements seeing we have both hard and anecdotal evidence that tells us in no uncertain terms that those are visible consequences of stigma, homophobia and homo-negativity.

Take for example this flashback: UNIMPRESSED WITH THE CVM TV SHOW ON MSM HOMELESSNESS

The September 6th 2012 appearance of representatives from The National Council of Drug Abuse and AIDSFREEWORLD’s Maurice Tomlinson to address the recent public eviction of homeless MSM from Cargill Avenue was at best damage control to another embarrassment regarding the poor response from the relevant LGBT agencies. JFLAG WAS NOT PRESENT AT THIS CVM TV LIVE @ SEVEN Program The attempt to use old programmatic language by Maurice Tomlinson to suggest MSM have no access to condoms while the CVM newscast itself showed the movers holding the condoms in their hands they found on the site and saying the men were practising safer sex should be instructive to ALL in view.

Young gay men as indicated above are also becoming weary of the way they are viewed despite the aforementioned concerns in a group session over the past week some young men some of whom were teetering on homelessness were invited to a meeting called by a community influential who is concerned about the numbers of them on the streets mostly from Kingston, Portmore and Spanish Town (excluding the five who are helped by a church/LGBTQ group in an ongoing weed whacking project) where they aired some issues they had it was instructive that some of them had a barrage of condoms on their person and laughed at the exposure of them as they accidentally fell from a bag of one of the attendees. He joked “All dem do a full mi up wid boots” (all they do is full me up with condoms) “boots” is the colloquial expression for condoms but something happened after the initial laughter died down as it seems the realization that they were having trouble finding permanent shelter or other crisis issues ongoing were real and that “boots” cannot be a solution whenever they are met by the various outreach teams as part of the HIV prevention strategy. The homeless men for example who have been making the news in New Kingston have been receiving food items once a week but is that enough? They too have had loads of condoms thrown at them as we have seen repeatedly on the television newscasts and other videos covering them. What about the deeper issues and personal concerns they have. The men in the meeting of which I was present were asked to fill out a random list of what they require and their lists read as a call for items and things you and I may have probably not considered important as we enjoy those amenities or interactions on a daily basis and indeed take them for granted. The simple lament by the boots carrying man screams far more than just the obvious since they fell in such a great numbers, one could easily count thirty or so. The conversation continued after the list creation exercise and what came out was a stunner to me despite my knowledge of how some persons feel about the whole scenario as older displaced men in time have echoed a similar sentiment with some level of frustration.

The ideal scenario would be a meeting place for group session and support meetings

Steady supply of food cooked or uncooked

Shelter and some sort of transitional living program towards independence

Educational or skills building opportunities

Guidance on developing and executing life plans through self efficacious activity not just limited to HIV prevention

Exploring the arts and possible skills linked to cross dressing aesthetics and affinity to cosmetics (drag culture, forced feminization and female cisgenderistic presentations for male to female transgender persons in the group)

But by the sound of the lament and the subsequent tete a tete the men are not satisfied; theirs is a perception that more privileged homosexuals control tons of money in funding and that the money is being spent on non essential things such as court cases, fat cat salaries and perks while persons who are on the lower socio totem pole are just relegated to being “victims” or service users and nothing more, doomed to get HIV (if they do not have it already) or waiting to die. Such were the tones in the ensuing discourse. Recent history has unfortunately given some credence to these perceptions as feelings of abandonment of the aforementioned homeless men in New Kingston still linger from the repeated news headlines, shenanigans and police interventions of that population and believe me word travels whenever there is any such occurrences. The men in the long and short of it want to be seen as human beings that deserve respect as one older person claims that there is favouritism as well in how interventions are carried out by some agencies and their representatives. Why are some powerful advocates and personalities in HIV/MSM prevention in particular refusing to go this route of real life changing intervention rollouts is still not clear to some, the departure of a Board Chair of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life also has not gone down so comfortably with myself and others as her stance on homelessness was supportive for the most part despite the run-ins with the men and the stoning incidents on their former offices at Upper Musgrave Avenue yet by the soundings out there one particular former chair but who still sits on the bench has been haggling against any such proactive moves to address homelessness which does not surprise me as he was the chair when the Safe House Pilot was closed with no psycho-social interventions allowed to stop the “bad behaviour” that was used a justification to take such final actions on a needed project.

My part in the whole affair however was to offer some encouragement to the lads in the scheme of things especially owing to the fact that one of the men’s friends was hospitalised recently for a brief illness but how can words heal when the real life toughness abounds and affect their present reality? Then we turn around and wonder why the anti social behaviours are happening when it is obviously clear to those looking that such are only means to an end to forget if only for a fleeting moment the worries of the hour. It is also interesting that as a group the men are indeed “rowdy” (word used by voices in the gay lobby to describe them also “maladjusted miscreants” showing the elitist side to this) but as individuals is it amazing what comes flying out of them in a one on one session discussing real life matters yet they are for all intents and purposes made to become martyrs in a sense for a cause that they might not have subscribed to in ordinary circumstances when asked to do so. Leaving them out in the cold for so long seems unethical on the face of it then allowing the numbers to reach levels where they can be used and paraded as “concerned” advocates make themselves look good in coming to their rescue. We are not fooled by the deception but let us see how long the using will take place and if really any proper productive end will come of the recently announced shelter idea, yet another one.

Some indigenous groups such as the aforementioned St Catherine weed whacking project group, Colour Pink (aligned to the aforementioned JASL) and Aphrodite’s PRIDE Jamaica of which I am performing Outreach and Facilitation duties for their Enterprise Training Project for more stable formerly displaced MSM/Trans and Lesbian individuals are addressing in their own way psycho-social issues and other concerns such as jobs and education development but we know where some of the blame of all this lies at the feet of these same agencies who only do enough to look as if they are addressing some issues but not with a view to adequately address what they take on only for the interventions to last out for experts have jobs it seems. Others seem more interested in media whoring possibly to satisfy a narcissistic complex at the expense of the least amongst us and then we wonder why we are here with an exploding displaced and homeless grouping and advocacy in limbo in the face of steady HIV/AIDS infection rates in the MSM cohort.

The APJ training for example we stay far away as a possible from an over preponderance of HIV messaging and instead go for positive reinforcement in terms of identity, coming out and so on.

Some things to think about but who is brave enough to say it openly when their snouts are in the troughs?

Integrity in advocacy anyone?

Peace and tolerance

H

Advertisements

Former Miss LGBT World on being Transgender in Jamaica

Transweek-header-web-l-625x333

The following is a post done earlier this year with Miss LGBT World 2009 and dancehall queen winner Tiana Miller who granted an interview. Also see other posts for the week:

Transgender Awareness Week 2013

Transgender Awareness Week 2013: Internalized Transphobia

Tiana Miller. (Photos courtesy of Tiana Miller)

Last week, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, 16-year-old Dwayne Jones was shot and stabbed multiple times for turning up to a party in women’s clothing. Jones was reportedly transgender and the murder has once again highlighted the awful reality of life for Jamaica’s LGBT community. And it really is fucking awful.

In 2006, TIME magazine called Jamaica “the most homophobic place on Earth,” and the anti-gay sentiment prevalent in the country’s media and most popular musical genre, dancehall, has been well-documented. The Jamaica Gleaner, one of the country’s largest newspapers, regularly publishes stories about the gay community with a homophobic slant. Last month, it referred to a group of men who were evicted from an abandoned house as a “gay clan” and ran an op-ed (in the year 2013) that rubbished the idea of being born gay, saying people who are attracted to the same sex actively decide to do so, in much the same way that they decide to “eat snails (like the French)” or “like the taste of jackfruit.”

In the wake of Jones’ death, I got in touch with Tiana Miller, a transgender Jamaican, who hopes that her openness about her gender and sexuality will inspire others to display similar levels of bravery.

VICE: Hi Tiana. So, back to the start—at what age did you first realize that you were transgender?
Tiana Miller: It was at around age five when I first started thinking like a female. Then I gradually came to the realization that I felt more comfortable in a female skin. It was difficult. Because of the social norms of my country, I really felt as if I was doing something wrong.

Were your family and friends supportive?
Yes, they were, especially my dad.

That’s good. What about Jamaican society as a whole? Do you agree with the description of the country as, “the most homophobic place on Earth”?
Yes, I do. The challenges that we face are difficulties in surviving, as they relate to jobs, education, and housing. High school was OK for me because I hadn’t transformed yet, but it’s hard now education-wise because I would love to get a college degree, but can’t because they won’t allow me in college.

That’s awful. I’d imagine gay people in Jamaica are quite economically disadvantaged if they are unable to get a decent education or find work.
Yes, they are forced to be poor. The lucky ones are those who find rich partners and dedicate their lives to them.

There have been a few high-profile cases of police brutality towards gay people in Jamaica. Do you feel that the police give transgender people the protection they deserve?
No, they definitely don’t. Homeless transgenders are on the street, and the police—who should be their protectors—have literally run them down and chased them because of their lifestyle.

Is homelessness a common problem for transgender people?
Yes, and they are homeless because they have difficulties in sourcing income to rent houses or locate safe houses to live in.

Have you been physically attacked due to your gender?
Yes, I have been attacked before. I ran, so I didn’t suffer much harm. But naturally this had a traumatising effect on me.

So I take it there are a lot of areas that are out of bounds for gay and transgender people.
Naturally there are. This applies to anywhere where there are slums.

Some of the homophobic attacks over there have been horrific. I remember hearing about a gay rights activist who was killed before people celebrated over his body. Doesn’t stuff like that make you fear for your safety?
Yes, it does. I put myself out there, but I’m still aware of how vicious these homophobic homosapiens are.

Are there many people who dare to be open about their sexuality?
The gay and transgender communities aren’t united, as people fear for their lives, so not many people actually identify themselves with the communities.

So do you consider yourself brave for being so open about your gender and sexuality?
Yes, I am brave. If I wish to see a change, I myself have to inspire it. I had to put myself out there and make myself seen so that people know that transgenders do exist and see that we are normal people trying to live our everyday lives like human beings. We need people like myself who are willing to challenge this country and its government.

The media often hold dancehall culture responsible for the homophobia in Jamaica—what’s your view on that?
I think the main contribution comes from the church and their social ethics concerning what is right and wrong. It puzzles me how cruel human beings can be and how biased they are because the church claims that we are demons and bashes us instead of trying to counsel us.

Yeah, it seems a little illogical.
I know, right? But, like, seriously—I care zero.

So I take it there isn’t much of an LGBT nightlife scene where you are? 
Well, there was, but there’s nothing now—just regular venues that they rent to us.

Do you think Jamaica will ever get round to changing its anti-sodomy laws and modernizing its stance on homosexuality?
Well, it actually seems to be on the verge of doing this.

Because gay culture is growing or because of pressure from other countries?
Both. But time will tell, and I don’t wish to make predictions.

Where do you see yourself in that battle?
I see myself as being the first transgender to be an ambassador for the country. I want to advocate for human rights, be a feminist choreographer and also be a whole lot of other things.

Great. Thanks, Tiana.

Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship’s continued fear mongering on Christian persecution post buggery law amendment & re-socialization

Battle Lines Javed Jaghai versus the state & the Jamaica Buggery Law
Shirley RIchards of LCF fame

Past and present Presidents of the anti gay, anti abortion Christian group the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, LCF Shirley Richards and Helen C. Nicholson continued to express fears that gay marriage and social re-engineering will be the norm in Jamaica if the buggery law is repealed as per the legal challenge launched by Javed Jaghai on June 25, 2013 and which has been put off until October 4, 2013 as several religious groups including the LCF, Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, JCHS, Other church groups, Love March and Marcus Garvey Political Party have joined the suit. In as far as the challenge is concerned which is outside of the now promised buggery review by the current government at a date to be announced is not to make buggery law disappear but to test the constitutionality of the law on the backdrop of Mr Jaghai’s personal issues as stated in his affidavit (he is rewrite same for the October mention date in the case management stage) where he says he was evicted by his landlord as they wanted to attempt some reparative therapy efforts due to his public utterances on homosexuality. Unfortunately the poor communication by the group Mr Jaghai is associated with namely JFLAG in sensitizing not only the public but the LGBT community in understanding the call for the amendment to the law is a major flaw; the fact that the church groups still interpret the struggle as a call for a full repeal when the thrust by their words is an amendment to include a definition of rape under for non-consensual buggery and privacy for adults; buggery will remain for persons not considered adults and who are abused.

On a discussion program on Love 101FM hosted by Blossom White on July 7, 2013 it sounded like a cataclysmic doom heading towards Jamaica that gay marriage will be made legal; fear that children will be taught all kinds of inappropriate materials in the eyes of the church; other kinds of rights outside of normal life will be forced on the nation; the church’s opposition will be criminalized as hate speech (poor anecdotal references made); anti gay speech will be criminalized; religious freedoms will be curtailed; churches will be forced to perform gay marriages and other so called societal ills. Speaking of societal ills the introduction to the program suggested that they were looking at a post examination of the Love March’s heroes circle protest and the Montego Bay’s ministers’ fraternal corresponding Montego Bay march against supposed ills yet homosexuality was eventually the only theme discussed for the twenty five plus minutes of air time. Such is the dishonesty that presents itself sometimes when these matters are presented by the church, the strength that is found to deal with homosexuality yet the other so called ills get very little or no such fervent attention. Namely the thousands of missing children, the obvious corruption in high places, the high crime wave, the poor political leadership, the creation of outcasts and maintaining the clear distance via stigma and hypocrisy. The misleading emphasis on the legalization of homosexuality is also another piece of  deceptive alarmist speech used to bolster the anti gay position when we know fully well that homosexuality is NOT illegal in Jamaica and buggery does not only apply to gay and bisexual men who practice penile penetrative anal sex but also heterosexual couples as well.

The discussion opened with among other things this from the host “Why does the church target homosexuality not wanting it to be legalized in Jamaica?”…………….. “Would the flood gates be opened for judgement or more judgement upon the land and what can the church do to hinder anything from changing?” clear fear mongering being set as the stage for the discussion then came the marriage redefinition fear soon afterwards where the sections of the marriage act were quoted when no such agitation for same sex marriage rights have been made in Jamaica just yet but if we were to follow Blossom White in her opening it was a done deal as she likened a group in favour of same sex marriage was taking the matter of legalizing homosexuality to the supreme court. In fact the word redefinition appeared some five times in the exchange and re-socialization or re-engineering also made several appearances which had me wondering are these persons for real? What was even more bizarre in all this is the defection if you will of Helen Nicholson who years ago had a more tolerant stance on homosexuality and the related matters yet she has been pulled into this so much so to become the President of the LCF. The host and guests claim that the business of buggery is a legal, moral, social and political issues and that religious voices will be silenced eventually by law where programs such as the one having the discussion will have to sanitize its format in order to avoid legal punishment.

References were made to the United States DOMA, Defence of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 strike downs in recent times and that the local legal challenges are in tandem with other efforts including that of the Organization of American States recently concluded meeting where certain calls were made to enact some sort of sanctions for what is considered homophobic language or actions by persons. Helen Nicholson said “To The extent that they are rallying their troops the church must be very alert and recognise that their voices must not be silenced and drowned out by those who would be vocal and step forward to challenge a change.” Mrs Shirley Richards meantime continued that the church is going to court to apparently avert what has happened in other countries (albeit that those countries have different social issue that attend) she referenced a preacher who was arrested in England for so called homophobic language yet she did not offer specifics of the case and the continued generalizations is what is usually used to justify their anti gay position. Sadly the followership glibly buys into the mess and hangs on to every word these persons say.  She continued that marriage is under threat; threats to freedom of conscience; freedom of religion and freedom of expression, yet she forgot to take note it seems that the aforementioned marches were done unimpeded and that her appearance and that of her compatriots at a recent University debate on the church being an obstacle to rights was also unimpeded and her voice was not drowned or muzzled as would happen in such events hosted by their groups. She said that societies that allowed homosexual rights have seen religious freedoms curtailed, she said the buggery law is the most effective strategic barrier to the re-socialization of society a point she also made on CVM TV’s Direct program on June 26, 2013 she said such re-socialization is in favour of the “homosexual lifestyle” she continued that if that barrier is pulled then everything else in the form of agendas will come flowing in, her fear is that what happens in other countries where rights clash such as religious liberty where I do not see such curtailment happening yet she claims pastors have gotten into trouble and a teacher was dismissed for saying homosexuality is a sin again with no specifics.

The dishonest perception being banded about that somehow the repeal or decriminalization of buggery in Jamaica is also going to automatically cause Christian persecution is so farfetched and ludicrous and is a false dichotomy that it boggles the mind as to whether the voices which are heard by far are really up on the issues of sexuality, gender and rights. The Johns couple was referred to who were a Jamaican couple who foster kids in the UK but were unaware of the change in the law and not endorsing gay relationships as a form of family unit were blocked by the state from re-entering the foster care system. No one asked them to accept homosexuality but just to also include as the teaching materials the various forms of the family unit and they refused fearing damage to the children.

Miss Nicholson said that the law is always legislating morality but the question is whose morality as there is no such thing as a moral law. She referred the Ireland case and the repeal of buggery there yet the country did not sink into doom she claims that those were different days and the agenda has changed. She sounded as if she was counting her words for such a lawyer and a former radio show host and television news presenter and the egging or prodding whispers in the background by Mrs Shirley Richards were audibly clear that she was being told what to say, Miss Nicholson however continued that there is a more liberal approach by the gay lobby which was not part of the agenda before and a schism between our local position and our laws versus the treatise we are party to internationally she says the more Jamaica owns the process is the more controlled it will be and if we allow others to come in (suggesting the long held belief of foreign imposition of homosexuality) and fund our education programs etc then he who pays the piper calls the tune. The gratuitous tolerance line came through as per usual that they did not want homosexuals to be hurt or victimized but they seem blindly unaware of the fact their anti gay positions and dishonesties help to fuel the very victimization and stigma towards LGBT people.

Shirley Richards continued “Pull that law and the re-engineering of society will occur ………………….. My concern is for the children, what will they learn as appropriate and normal behaviour?” obviously she is not aware of the changes in sexuality and that teaching children about homosexuality does not make them so. The host Blossom White came with an alarmist posture said an unnamed country where she was had early childhood education institutions doing what amounted to guided imagery and cross dressing exercises on given days for students so that they were made to understand some of the gender issues, yet Miss White chose strong language such as indoctrinate added to that Miss Nicholson suggested that the word or language or re-engineering is “gender” clearly the ladies on this show are very ignorant to the issues attendant to transgenderism and other variants that have been always around but more closely researched and monitored by the scientific communities.

So hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans in earshot of this radio program went away with a one sided approach to this business of homosexuality and the continued fear mongering that the gay lobby is all somehow this godless anti Christ set up devised to persecute Christians. I am left dazed sometimes when I see this kind of rhetoric and why aren’t the gay Christian communities and tolerant Christians generally not speaking up more? I am not even going to mention JFLAG here as their poor leadership on public discourse is plain to see. How can this jittery position be countered?

Peace and tolerance

H

Thugs attack male AIDS patient …… accuses him of being gay …………..

Never thought we would see this in the age of so much social marketing on HIV/AIDS in Jamaica by the Ministry of Health and other non governmental organizations stigmatization leading to ostracism here yet again and to add insult to injury the alleged culprits are persons said to be employed at the very clinic where he seeks medical attention plus he was accused of being gay. Well I hope he takes up the route of reporting this to the National AIDS Committee and have their investigative team step on this with urgency.

That alleged employee of the clinic needs an intervention as well as the entire community requires an intense and sustained community outreach program and interventions to curb that mix up and the obvious conflation that HIV/AIDS is a gay disease yet still thus instilling fear and dread.

At least the Star News is less sensational this time around and some thought was put into preparing this article:

Andre Williams, STAR Writer wrote:

A man who has been living with AIDS was recently beaten and chased from a Kingston community by residents who insisted they didn’t want him there.

THE WEEKEND STAR understands that 42-year-old Mario Watsonwas recently assaulted by thugs from the Swallowfield community and told he should leave and never return.

Watson told our news team, “I rented a small room from a landlord that resides in the community and have been residing there for about four months … I was warned by the landlord not to tell people I had the virus and I made sure not to disobey.”

Watson, who says he contracted the virus after having unprotected sex with an exotic dancer in Montego Bay, told THE WEEKEND STAR that his ‘secret’ was made public in the community by a female security guard.

The guard, he said, is employed at a hospital where he went for treatment and also resides in the community.

He explained, “I went to the ……. hospital to get treatment and assistance and that’s where I saw the lady working as a security guard at the entrance… . She didn’t know where I was from until she saw me again in her community.”

He continued, “One day I was walking pass and saw her and a friend sitting and overheard her saying…”dah man deh a b…yman and him have AIDS” and her friend laughed.”

THE WEEKEND STAR was told that since that outburst, thugs in the community started to antagonise Watson.

Two weeks ago Watson, who insist he isn’t a homosexual, said that he was on his way home when he was attacked after being shown a gun a few days before by some thugs.

He recalls, “I was walking and someone said ‘Hey Yankee’ (Watson has a foreign accent) and the next thing I felt was a burning sensation at the back of my head… Blood followed after and I ran to the station with my bloodstained shirt and made a report and a receipt was issued.”

Watson said despite his protest, he was driven around the community in a police vehicle in an attempt to find his attackers however it was not fruitful.

The following day he said he noticed that his wall had been spray painted with the words; “We kill informer a Swallowfield aka ‘killingfield’…HIV b…yman don’t bow”.

Later in the day Watson alleges, a ‘tall man’ who saw him said, “Don’t mek we see you tomorrow in Swallowfield”.

He said he went back to the police and made them aware of the threats.

Watson later alleges that when he went back home it was ransacked, his laptop gone, cell phone was missing , bed was turned over and his pet fish left for dead after the tank was turned over.

An officer at the Stadium police confirmed that two reports were made by Watson and they are still investigating. The officer said that they have a medical report from KPH outlining the injuries to Watson.

Checks made with the Jamaica Aids Support revealed that no report of this matter was made to them.

A representative expressed to our news team, “We have no knowledge of this matter, however the normal procedure would be for us to investigate first, find out if there is a community based group that deals with anything social whether it is a social club or youth club and then offer counselling…We wouldn’t just go in like that.”

Watson said after the advice of his pastor he has since left the community and is relocating to somewhere he can have peace and quiet.

Name Changed

The Heavy Co$T Of AIDS – With Global Funds To Dry Up, Jamaica In Peril

Prepared by Byron Buckley

CARIBBEAN AIDS prevention advocates fear that crucial funding to sustain hard-won gains over the last decade could dry up by year end. Financial support from the Geneva-based Global Fund could cease because Jamaica and other Caribbean states, having been classified as ‘middle-income’ countries, no longer qualify as recipients of funding.

Dr Edward Greene - File

In addition, a South-South agreement between the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Brazil, which facilitates universal access to antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV/AIDS, comes up for renegotiation later this year.

Faced with this spectre, Dr Edward Greene, United Nations special envoy for HIV in the Caribbean, says the world body will be working with Jamaica and other countries in the region to protest the ‘middle-income’ designation and secure its reversal.

Warns Greene: “With Jamaica experiencing its current level of financial constraints and renegotiating its debt with the International Monetary Fund, we are concerned about the possibility of the country being forced to suspend its social programmes. It would be catastrophic, in particular, for people living with HIV (PLHIV), if a withdrawal of support were to take place.”

The UN envoy flays the World Bank’s flawed study, based on income, which resulted in Jamaica’s reclassification. He notes: “Income does not tell you the burden of debt nor disease.”

It is the easing of the burden of HIV/AIDS on Caribbean societies that Greene and fellow advocates wish to sustain. A cessation of funding would threaten the fragile gains made in the Caribbean over the last decade. From 2001-2009:

The number of AIDS-related deaths declined by 9,000;
The number of new HIV infections decreased by 3,000;
The number of PLHIV in Haiti and Guyana declined;
The number of PLHIV in Jamaica remained the same;
Adult HIV prevalence rate declined in Jamaica, Haiti and Guyana;
Adult HIV prevalence remained stable in Suriname, the Dominican Republic, and The Bahamas.
In addition to these positive trends, Greene has high praise for Jamaica’s efforts to ramp up its HIV response. “It is obvious that Jamaica is on the path to the elimination of mother-to-child transmission by 2015, and that the Caribbean, as a whole, can aim to be the first region in the world to achieve this goal,” he says.

The OECS could eliminate mother-child HIV infection by 2015. Fifty per cent of people in the Caribbean have access to antiretroviral treatment (ART) drugs, 70 per cent in Guyana, and universal in Barbados.

Challenges remain

But challenges remain in the regional efforts to control the spread of HIV/AIDS. Overall, between 2001 and 2009, the number of PLHIV increased by four per cent, including in Cuba, Jamaica’s nearest neighbour. During the same period, the HIV adult prevalence rate increased in four Caribbean countries: Barbados, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, and Cuba.

One area of grave concern in Jamaica is the 30 per cent HIV prevalence among gay men. This is among the highest in global terms, and is followed in the region by Trinidad and Tobago (20 per cent), Dominican Republic (11 per cent), and The Bahamas (10 per cent). Overall, the Caribbean, with an adult HIV prevalence rate of one per cent, is ranked second to Africa (five per cent). This makes the Caribbean anomalous in the Americas, where the adult/HIV prevalence is 0.5 per cent in both Central/South America and North America/Mexico.

Indeed, any reversal of the gains from the Caribbean’s HIV/AIDS prevention programme would give a black eye to the optimism that characterises the global outlook on the status of the epidemic. Over the last 10 years, there has been a decline in mortality rates for HIV/AIDS across the globe. The mortality rate is down because more people have access to medication.

Greene explains: “Having access to antiretroviral drugs is a lifesaver because it allows people to live a very active and normal life. In the Caribbean, we can almost safely say we can eliminate the disease. I think we are in a more optimistic position than we were 10 years ago.”

His optimism is also based on developments in medical science of formulas to eventually eliminate HIV/AIDS, just like what occurred with smallpox and polio in the 1980s. This upbeat posture, perhaps overblown, is also reflected in UNAIDS’s goals of getting to zero by 2015:

Zero AIDS infection
Zero AIDS-related deaths
Zero discrimination
Eliminating discrimination
Lifting the burden of the disease, importantly, involves the elimination of discrimination against PLHIV. Discrimination is considered an important driver of HIV infection rate, according to health advocates, because people refuse to be tested. Studies carried out in the OECS by the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance found that even among medical practitioners, there was the perception of stigma. This often leads to some form of discrimination, – giving more legs to the disease because people don’t want to go to the clinic.

Commenting on the hot-button issue in Jamaica of repealing the buggery law, the UN envoy says it is secondary to addressing discrimination and promoting human rights in general.

“For me, that (repealing the buggery law) is not the main problem. The main problem we are dealing with is the human rights, generally speaking,” he reasons. “People are entitled to access care, because if they don’t, that could affect society on a whole.”

Greene believes the State has an obligation to protect citizens on a whole to ensure that people with communicable diseases have access to care and treatment.

He reasons: “If I put the accent on reducing stigma and discrimination and human rights, I am ensuring that there is no overt discrimination for PLHIV in the workplace and in the school. This is because I don’t want to exclude one per cent of the population, or 30 per cent of men who have sex with men (MSM), from having access to those things that other people have. Just like how I would not exclude people from certain services because of their race, gender or where they live – as happens to job applicants living in inner-city communities.”

According to the UN envoy, it is important that PLHIV have certain responsibilities – to go and get tested, to adhere to their regime of treatment, to ensure that they educate their family and friends.

“So homosexuals have the right to health care,” Greene argues, “but they also have to behave in particular ways to conform to the norms of the communities. If they expect to be treated a certain way, they can’t behave in ways that are subversive to the community.” For example, he notes, members of the homosexual community should not “prey on young, vulnerable boys”. They must act responsibly, thus balancing the human rights structure.

Faith-based organisations

The goals of zero infection, deaths and discrimination require the involvement of the faith-based community. Greene is hopeful that after recent consultations with local church leaders, they will be able to adopt a message of abstinence, faithfulness to one’s partner and condom use. He points to the role played by faith-based organisations in East Asian societies in producing the lowest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 0.1 per cent per population.

“Notwithstanding its religious tenets, East Asia promoted safe sex as a practice for a fairly long time. It has not allowed its religious precepts to get into the way of practical sexuality.

“This is one reason we are seeing the very low prevalence rate, overall,” Greene observes.

The situation in East Asia contrasts with what obtains in the Caribbean where family life is breaking down; sexual promiscuity is rampant; and communities foster a culture of fear that leaves young girls vulnerable to sexual predators.

Of course, per capita income is quite high in East Asia, and the level of poverty there does not compare with prevalence rates in India and South/Southeast Asia.

Greene points out: “We have to see AIDS also as a development issue. Enhancing development could impact positively on AIDS outcome.”

He was in Jamaica to discuss a number of issues with governmental and non-governmental organisations, particularly surrounding human rights and HIV, as well as the financial sustainability of HIV programmes. As a result of these discussions, it has been agreed that Jamaica will hold a national consultation on human rights and the reduction of stigma and discrimination on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2012.

Byron Buckley is associate editor at The Gleaner. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and byron.buckley@gleanerjm.com.
Low HIV prevalence in East Asia linked to:

Religious and family patterns;
Historical cultural mores, spiritualism;
Less multiple partners in sex;
Greater degree of abstinence before marriage;
Higher degree of faithfulness to partners

More Homo Negative News: Gay Tenants anger neighbours ………….

Following on the recent problems at the new Mass Camp venue and the current carnival/soca season with supposed unruly gay men allegedly gyrating on each other in public and dancing the latest feminine dancehall moves has come news of cohabitation issues which after some research has included members of the displaced populations that I have repeatedly on this blog and others expressed concerns about, the fallout has become public yet again.

Also see from GLBTQJA on Blogger:  Homo-negativity in public: So called Unruly gays chased from party (as captioned in the cartoon)

First take a look at the comprehensive report by the Star News (far more detailed and seemingly well written than previous gay themed entries from the tabloid) as published March 22, 2012:

A group of tenants who reside at an apartment complex in upper St Andrew are hoping to be rescued from the presence of a group of homosexual occupants who they say are menacing.

“Everybody in yah a complain,” an exasperated tenant explained to THE STAR.

The residents, who were evidently frustrated, told our news team that they have reached boiling point, and can no longer live among the six effeminate males who they say reside in an apartment which is designated to accommodate only two persons.

Furthermore, the tenant’s point of the number of occupants living in an apartment at any given time limited to two persons was substantiated by a clause in a document which illustrates the rules of living in the apartment complex, titled , The Rules of the Proprietors’ Strata Plan.

THE STAR was issued a copy of the document which outlined in Clause No. Nine that studio apartments are not to be occupied by more than two persons on a permanent basis.

Meanwhile, tenants say they want something to be done immediately because they can no longer stomach the distasteful activities of the six.

“Dem(JPS) cut off them light and NWC cut off dem water so a inna the washroom them a bathe and a carry back water to dem apartment,” one resident explained.

He added how upset he is with the practice of his neighbours using the washroom as a makeshift bathroom because it is a central point for laundry for all occupants of the apartment.

” From dem start bathe in deh … nobody no go back in deh go wash cause we no know weh dem have ” he added.

Additionally, THE STAR was told that the men walk about throughout the apartment dressed in female underwear having no consideration for others who may find the sight disturbing.

contraband

Furthermore, the tenants allege that the six are also frequent smokers of marijuana and continue to use the contraband even though it is a health hazard to non-smokers.

“Is just ganja dem smoke, ganja, ganja, ganja and we can’t take it,” another annoyed resident outlined.

Interestingly, the document also clearly states in Clause No. Three that the apartment is to be used for residential purposes only and should not be used for any purpose which may be illegal or injurious to the reputation of the complex.

The residents told THE STAR that they have written several letters documenting their concerns to the landlady but nothing has been done to date to address the matter even though Clause No. 18 supports their right to illustrate their grouses.

The clause reads, landlords to whom malpractice’s of tenants are reported by management are expected to take disciplinary action, including dismissal of the tenants if the offence warrants this.

All attempts to contact the landlady proved futile.

Meanwhile, THE STAR sought legal advice from attorney-at-law Marjorie Shaw about the actions, if any, that could be taken by the tenants against their neighbours.

Shaw explained that under the Rent Restriction Act, the annoyed occupants could not take action without the cooperation of the landlady.

“In order for the landlord to remove the tenants,they would have to issue them with a notice to quit the property, and issue them one month’s rental notice,” she said. Nonetheless, she outlined that the distraught tenants would have to seek abatement by putting forward a claim of nuisance before the court. “It will fall upon the occupants of the apartment to get relief on a basis of nuisance,” she said.

ENDS

There is some truth to this one this time around as some of the occupants of the apartment as indicated in my introduction were aligned to and were a part of the displaced and homeless msm communities who have since found some hosting assistance from friends, this set of problems could very well be attributed to the disturbing and continued lack of concern for solutions by the lgbt advocacy structures around this section of our population. This is not the first time we have had incidents and newspaper/tabloid reports of behavioural issues by msms in residential areas leading to fallout. Just some months ago we saw the public detention on television on men in a St Catherine scheme and another incident just under a month now in the Syndenham area where some men who shared a house and who also hosted friends were forcibly evicted by the owner and other neighbours as complaints came of noise, ganja smoking and what was described other anti social behaviour.

Certainly we have to take a serious look at this recurring decimal especially when it involves more street savy members of our community who are used to a certain modus operandi versus those who host them at rented flats and houses, the combination is not working out well in our favour in the long run as it gives license I believe to anti gay action, homo-negativity and subsequently homophobia. Also the problem of profiling is well established here just by the report, how do we know that all the alleged gays are indeed gay, we have had instances where heterosexual friends or even family members also share living space with gay persons and are quite tolerant but they get grouped as gay when trouble hits. The issue of other tenants refusing to use the wash-room albeit if the allegations are true that the men use the area as a make shift bathroom suggesting the men have HIV hence the scorn element comes in.

Talk on the street is the men should be evicted as they are nasty and the usual anti gay sentiments, here is another example of where we need to improve living conditions for lgbt people and execising proper restraint or decorum in order to exist peacefully. Sometimes we make it bad for ourselves too I must admit. Some influentials are trying to see what they can do with regards to this situation.

Peace and tolerance

H

Rectal Formulation of Tenofovir Gel Found Safe and Acceptable in Early Phase Clinical Study

Follow-up study planned to further assess gel’s potential as a rectal microbicide to prevent HIV
March 5, 2012 – A gel formulation of the antiretroviral drug tenofovir designed specifically for rectal use was found safe and acceptable, according to a Phase I clinical study led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Microbicide Trials Network (MTN), and presented today at the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI). The results of the study, which included HIV-negative men and women who used the gel rectally once a day for one week, serve as an important step toward the development and testing of arectal microbicide to prevent HIV from anal sex. 
Microbicides, products applied on the inside of the rectum or vagina, are being studied as an approach for preventing or reducing the sexual transmission of HIV. The majority of microbicide research has focused on products to prevent HIV through vaginal sex, yet the risk of becoming infected with HIV from unprotected anal sex may be 20 times greater than unprotected vaginal sex. Developed as a vaginal microbicide, tenofovir gel was reformulated with less glycerin, a common additive found in many gel-like products, in the hopes of making it more appropriate for rectal use. 
The study, known as MTN-007, began in October 2010 and enrolled 65 men and women at three sites – the University of Pittsburgh, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Fenway Health in Boston. It is a follow-up trial to an earlier study, RMP-02/MTN-006, which assessed the rectal use of the vaginal formulation of tenofovir gel. That study found the gel produced a significant antiviral effect when used in the rectum, but gastrointestinal side effects were problematic.
In MTN-007, study participants were randomly assigned to one of four study groups. Three of these groups were assigned to use one of the following products for a one-week period: a rectal formulation of tenofovir gel; a placebo gel containing no active ingredient; or a gel containing the spermicide nonoxynol-9. A fourth group did not use any gel but took part in all of the study-related procedures and tests, including physical and rectal exams.
Study results indicated no significant differences in side effects among the three gel groups. Eighty percent of participants reported only minor side effects related to the use of study products, while 18 percent reported moderate side effects. (Two study participants reported severe adverse events, but they were not deemed to be related to use of the study products.) Participants’ adherence to the use of their assigned study products was high, with 94 percent using the products daily as directed. When asked about the likelihood that they would use the gel in the future, 87 percent of the participants who used the rectal formulation of tenofovir gel indicated they would likely use the gel again, compared to 93 percent of the placebo gel group, and 63 percent of the nonoxynol-9 gel group. In addition to assessing safety and acceptability, researchers also conducted preliminary gene expression testing, and noted changes in the activation of some genes in the tenofovir gel group, which they are continuing to evaluate to understand more fully.
“These findings tell us that the ‘rectal-friendly’ version of tenofovir gel was much better tolerated than the vaginal formulation of the gel when used in the rectum,” said Ian McGowan, M.D., Ph.D., co-principal investigator of the MTN and professor of medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “We are very encouraged that the rectal gel was quite safe, and that most people who used it said they would be willing to use it in the future.”
As follow-up to MTN-007, researchers are now planning a Phase II, multi-site trial called MTN-017that will involve186 men who have sex with men and transgender women at clinical sites in Peru, South Africa, Thailand, and the U.S. Participants will cycle through three study regimens: rectal tenofovir gel used daily, rectal tenofovir gel used before and after anal sex, and daily use of the antiretroviral tablet Truvada®. MTN-017 will allow researchers to collect additional information about the gel’s safety and acceptability in the rectum, and compare it to the use of Truvada.                                         
In addition to Dr. McGowan, other authors of MTN-007 are Craig Hoesley, M.D., University of Alabama; Ross Cranston, M.D., University of Pittsburgh; Philip Andrew, FHI 360; Laura Janocko, Ph.D., MTN and Magee-Womens Research Institute; James Dai, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Alex Carballo-Dieguez, Ph.D., Columbia University; Ratiya Kunjara Na Ayudhya, BSMT, MTN; Jeanna Piper, M.D., Division of AIDS, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Ken Mayer, M.D., Fenway Health.
MTN-007 is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Division of AIDS (DAIDS) and the National Institute of Mental Health, both components of the NIH. Tenofovir gel was developed by Gilead Sciences, Inc., of Foster City, Calif., which assigned the rights for tenofovir gel to CONRAD, of Arlington, Va ., and the International Partnership for Microbicides of Silver Spring, Md., in December 2006. 
The reduced glycerin formulation of tenofovir gel that was evaluated in MTN-007 is not the same formulation developed for vaginal use. The vaginal formulation of tenofovir gel was found safe and effective in reducing the risk of HIV in women who used it before and after vaginal sex in a study called CAPRISA 004. More recently, however, MTN researchers conducting the VOICE Studyclosed the tenofovir gel arm of the trial after a routine review of study data determined that the gel, while safe, was not effective in preventing HIV among the women in that study group, who were asked to apply it vaginally every day. In the meantime, a Phase III trial called FACTS 001 is currently evaluating the vaginal formulation of tenofovir gel using the same regimen as CAPRISA 004, with results expected in 2014. 

International Sex Workers Rights Day ……………

Today is such a day and is marked worldwide by conferences, sessions, some public education activity to sensitize persons as to the need to view this part of our community as human beings as well not to be ostracised and scorned as we are good at doing. The term sex worker rights encompasses a variety of aims being pursued globally by individuals and organizations that specifically involve the human and labor rights of sex workers.

The goals of these movements are extremely diverse, but generally aim to destigmatize sex work and ensure fair treatment before legal and cultural forces on a local and international level for all persons employed in the Sex industry. In most countries, even those where sex work is legal, sex workers of all kinds are stigmatized and marginalized, which can prevent them from seeking legal redress for discrimination. Not to be confused with the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers which is observed annually on 17 December by Sex workers, their advocates, friends, families and allies.

First celebrated in 2003, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is the brainchild of Dr. Annie Sprinkle and the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA (SWOP-USA), an American Sex Worker’s Rights organization.

Originally conceived as a memorial and vigil for the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle Washington, it has evolved into an annual international event. The day calls attention to AIDS, hate crimes committed against sex workers all over the globe as well as the need to remove the stigma and discrimination that is perpetuated by custom and prohibitionist laws that has made violence against sex-workers acceptable.

The red umbrella has become an important symbol for Sex Workers Rights and it is increasingly being used on December 17: “First adopted by Venetian sex workers for an anti-violence march in 2002, red umbrellas have come to symbolize resistance against discrimination for sex workers worldwide.”

Sex Workers Association of Jamaica the Kingston Chapter has been doing ground work in bringing the issues to public attention, in 2010 PANOS released a report on CSW: ORAL TESTIMONIES OF JAMAICAN SEX WORKERS

The lure of easy money, peer pressure, economic difficulties and lack of education and training seem to be the factors which prompted most of the interviewees to begin sex work. Boy Blue regards his entry into the industry as responding to a higher calling although he hints that none of his previous jobs was as lucrative as sex work. A few of the oral testimonies reveal that early sexual abuse combined with economic hardship helped drive some young women into sex work,

The sex workers have had mixed experiences regarding working conditions
in the sex industry. Some of the women lived on the same premises where they worked. Most have worked in bad conditions as well as in good places where they were satisfied with the treatment they received. Violence is mentioned as a constant threat to sex workers and some shared their experiences of this. They also speak of exploitation at the hands of both club bosses and clients, and of some employers who keep strict control over their actions. Some sex workers feel the police make no effort to protect them as citizens or to respond seriously to any complaints they make.Boy Blue’s oral testimony is in stark contrast to those of the female sex
workers. He sees himself as the star of his own show. He says he negotiates what he does and where. He travels as he likes, chooses what acts he will perform and most importantly enjoys the sexual intercourse (unlike most female sex workers interviewed who said they were careful to separate business from pleasure).

In as far as LGBT persons are concerned especially homeless Men who have sex with men (MSM) this issue of commercial sex or transactional sex in Kingston mostly but also seen in St Catherine, Clarendon, St Ann and Montego Bay is worrying as many of the brothers mostly have been thrown out of their homes and communities have had to resort to sex work to survive along with other illegal activity including the illegal lotto scam allegedly. With the treatment meted out to this group of persons by the LGBT community itself through rigid stigmatization and discrimination, classism and literal scorn and outright overlooking by the advocacy groups with no serious intentions for street based interventions thus far one wonders where and when will this group get the attention they desire urgently? As someone who was temporarily displaced in 1996 through to early 1998 by virtue of my public case and family ostracism sans the existence of any advocates at the time I now all too well the struggles to find bread and temptations to engage in sex work with the ugly sides of such activity all too real with the loss of friends or police interventions/harassment on those who were caught in the act leading to all other kinds of problems that bedevil them for years on end in a few cases.

The civil disobedience some homeless men had to resort to against the advocacy structures albeit their own behaviour was not squeaky clean is not to be forgotten in August 2011 which came from some of the men who were displaced by the advocacy structures themselves after the closure of a shelter project due to so called bad behaviour bearing in mind no proper psycho social support mechanisms, tweaking of the original project or keeping the facility open were entertained or kept in place and no attempt was made to correct it instead the men were put to pasture. The we wonder why members of the population resort to commercial sex work? while putting their very lives at risk. Since 2012 alone several instances of chases, attempted beatings/mobbings and more join the homeless as they find themselves put out of their family homes, influentials in the community have limited resources to assist and can only do so much. As for the buggery law that too has caused some problems in proper outreach for msms involved in commercial sex work, we are told for example government through the Ministry of Health cannot be seen directly engaging msms since buggery is illegal and or the misconception especially overseas that homosexuality is illegal when it is not.

also see from sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch: Rowdy gays banned by J-FLAG, JASL ………. (Jamaica Observer)

Damage Control from the establishment on the Homeless MSM issue:

Doing ‘business’ in New Kingston … Jamaica Observer on MSM Homelessness ….. JFLAG should be ashamed

I implore persons to seriously consider this section of the community who have been overlooked for decades as funds are spent on HIV/AIDS interventions supposedly to include this group without any rehabilitation effort or psycho social support yet we have ended up with an infection rate of over 31% as the new study conducted last year seems over the original 31% rates in 2007. Homeless MSMs and CSWs are only good for statistical dartboarding more so than helping these persons to improve their living situations it seems.

Peace and tolerance

H

The Caribbean Men’s Internet Survey is underway

PRESS RELEASE

The Caribbean Men’s Internet Survey is underway

16 January, 2012 A groundbreaking anonymous online study of the lives of men who have sex with men (MSM) in the English, French, Spanish and Dutch-speaking Caribbean is underway now. CARIMIS, the Caribbean Men’s Internet Survey (available at http://www.carimis.org) aims to learn more about this group while for the first time testing the potential of the internet to conduct research with key populations in the region. The initiative is led by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Caribbean Regional Support Team (RST) and involves several individuals, non-governmental organisations and partner agencies throughout the region.

UNAIDS Caribbean RST Director, Dr. Ernest Massiah, explained that the approach presents exciting possibilities for responding more meaningfully to the realities of MSM.

“Almost everybody’s online,” he said. “That’s where people are and that’s where the survey needs to be. It’s the most modern, effective way to connect with communities to find out more about their experiences and their needs. Good data provides the evidence that allows countries to make good decisions about their HIV response.”

Article 29 of the 2011 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS notes that many national HIV prevention strategies inadequately focus on populations that evidence shows are at higher risk. In June governments committed to identifying the specific populations that are key to their epidemic and response, “based on the epidemiological and national context”. CARIMIS will contribute to this goal by offering new insight into the realities of Caribbean MSM communities at country-level, including respondents’ behavioural risks and their access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care.

Participants in pilot tests done in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago revealed that they responded to questions about their sexual behaviour during the survey that they would not answer in face to face interviews.  Importantly, the approach will reach across boundaries of class, race, socio-economic status and professed sexual identity as anyone with 15 minutes of internet access can participate anonymously.

“Studies among MSM have been conducted in the larger Caribbean countries using traditional sampling methods. While these methods have been useful they have always excluded sub-groups within the MSM community who cannot be reached through public venues or network systems. The internet holds the potential to reach a wider spectrum of MSM and could in the future be used to connect with other hard-to-reach groups,” explained Research Associate, Sylette Henry-Buckmire.

In the Caribbean HIV prevalence among MSM is estimated to range from 0.71 percent in Cuba to 32 percent in Jamaica. The average adult HIV prevalence for the region as a whole is one percent.

The survey is available on www.carimis.org It is targeted toward people who are 18 years or older, were born male and either are attracted to men, have sex with men or think they might do so in the future. Eligible participants must provide informed consent online before completing the survey. No information will be collected that would identify respondents. The website includes links to local referral services for those who require emotional or medical support. CARIMIS has been approved by the Ethics Committee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). The website and its supporting technology underwent a rigorous certification and accreditation process to assure security.

Contact

UNAIDS Caribbean| Cedriann Martin | tel. +868 623-7056 ext. 283 | martinc@unaids.org

UNAIDS

UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, is an innovative United Nations partnership that leads and inspires the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Learn more at unaids.org.

 

 

 

FDA ASKED TO APPROVE NEW HIV PREVENTION METHOD, PRE-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS (PrEP)

 

For Immediate Release                          Contact

December 15, 2011                                  Mark Aurigemma; 646-270-9451mark@aucomm.net

                        Pedro Goicochea; 415-490-8350pgoicochea@gladstone.ucsf.edu                                                                                                      

 

FDA ASKED TO APPROVE NEW HIV PREVENTION METHOD, PRE-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS (PrEP)

 

An application from Gilead Sciences, Inc. has been filed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration toapprove an HIV antiretroviral therapy to reduce the risk of HIV infection among uninfected men who have sex with men (MSM) and heterosexual women and men. The application to approve the new HIV prevention method called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is based partly on data from the Global iPrEx study, the first human efficacy study to prove that PrEP reduces HIV infection risk inpeople (http://www.iprexnews.com).

 

The PrEP drug is a single-tablet once-daily combination of emtricitabine (FTC 200 mg) and tenofovir (TDF 300 mg), marketed under the brand name Truvada®. The iPrEx study found that MSM who were prescribed a single daily FTC/TDF tablet experienced an average of44% fewer HIV infections than those who received a placebo pill. Among a study sub-set those who took the tablet frequently enough for drug to be detected in their bodies, the rate of protection against HIVinfection was more than 90%. All participants in the iPrEx study received condoms and comprehensive HIV prevention support. The HIV prevention benefits of PrEP were in addition to the benefits obtained from other prevention methods.

 

iPrEx study results were first reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in November, 2010 (http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa1011205).

 

Data supporting the use of PrEP to reduce HIV infection risk in heterosexual men and women were provided by the Partners PrEP study, which involved 4758 HIV serodiscordant couples (couples in which one partner is HIV-infected and the other is not) at nine trial sites in Kenya and Uganda. Both the iPrEx and Partners PrEP studies found that PrEP is safe, with very low levels of sideeffects and limited risk of HIV drug resistance.

 

“With 2.6 million new HIV infections occurring each year, and fewer than half of people with HIV receiving treatment, the world needs new and effective HIV prevention strategies,” said iPrEx Protocol Chair Robert Grant, MD, MPH of the Gladstone Institutes and the University of California at San Francisco. “Men who have sex with men have borne an enormous burden in this epidemic, and have also beenconsistently at the head of efforts to help reverse it. The 2,499 men and transgender women who participated in the iPrEx study Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, South Africa, Thailand and the United States have made an historic contribution to the effort to help end this epidemic.”

 

“The data are clearly strong enough to warrant FDA approval of Truvada for HIV prevention,” said Dana Van Gorder, Executive Director of the AIDS advocacy group Project Inform. “The decision about whether to approve Truvada for prevention should be made with compassion, based on science rather than ideology, and without judgment regarding the behaviors of people at risk for HIV. We firmly believe in the right of people at risk of becoming infected with HIV to choose PrEP, which has been shown to be effective when used with condoms, as an additional method of HIV prevention.”

An Open Label Extension of the iPrEx study (iPrEx OLE; http://www.iprexole.com/index.html) is currently underway at 11 clinical trials sites in the United States, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, South Africa and Thailand. iPrEx OLE is designed to provide additional information about the safety of PrEP and the behavior of people taking PrEP over a longer term.

 

The iPrEx study was sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) through a grant to the Gladstone Institutes, a non-profit independent research organization affiliated with the University of California at San Francisco. Additional support for iPrEx was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

# # #

 

Mark Aurigemma
212.600.1960 (office)
646.270.9451 (mobile)