• Justin Sullivan/Getty, FogStock/Jennifer Okamoto

    Prevention

    Will This Pill Kill ‘Safe Sex’?

    I’m ambivalent about one side effect of the CDC touting an HIV-prevention drug. Will today’s young gay men never know the painful lessons learned during the AIDS crisis?

    I remember when AIDS was something I was afraid of.

    I came out of the closet as a gay man in the mid-1990s. After years of unconvincingly pretending to be something other than what I was, I let my friends and family know the truth. It was the most liberating experience of my life. And once the secret was out, I went about getting a life. I started going out, making friends with other young gay men, and trying to find a decent boyfriend.

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  • AFP/Getty

    Health

    Women’s New War Against HIV

    New developments in the field of HIV prevention mean women will no longer be dependent on men to protect their sexual health.

    We may soon have the Plan B of HIV prevention. A study published this week shows promise for women being able to successfully combat HIV transmission even after a sexual encounter.

    This time, hope comes in the form of a vaginal gel. In the first step towards its clinical development, when the gel was applied to macaque monkeys within three hours after exposure to the virus, five out of six primates remained HIV-free.

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  • Fortunata, right, and daughter Florida in Washington D.C. (Courtesy The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation)

    Medicine

    Pregnant And HIV Positive

    Fortunata Kasege had just arrived in America as a pregnant newlywed when she found out she had contracted HIV. She shares her story of survival and hope.

    On Dec. 3, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation will honor former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at its 25th anniversary celebration. The organization works globally to stop the spread of mother-to-child HIV transmission, which is passed to 700 babies daily. Its services have so far reached 17 million women. One beneficiary of the preventative treatments is Fortunata Kasege who left her hometown of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and arrived in Houston, Texas, as a newlywed pregnant student, unaware she was HIV-positive. Kasege, an educator and ambassador to the Foundation, shares her harrowing and transformative story:

     

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  • Sean Gallup/Getty Images

    Passport

    Travel Woes for the HIV-Positive

    Despite the lifting of a travel ban, infected immigrants to the U.S. find it hard to visit home.

    In 1987, before we understood how HIV was transmitted, the U.S. imposed a travel ban on those infected with the disease. It wasn’t lifted until January 2010—and despite the reversal, immigrants still come up against legal, financial, and medical hardships when considering trips to their homelands. The costs for paperwork to return to the U.S. are prohibitively high, and when coupled with expensive medical bills and flights to distant lands, many, like Tanzanian Fortunata Kasege, doubt they’ll ever be able to visit their families. Worse, if they do get home and find themselves stranded there, countries like Fung A Loi’s native Suriname have weaker health care and stronger stigmas against AIDS. Living far away from home is one more burden of living with the disease.

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  • Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) with Harley (Robbie Jones) in Tyler Perry's "Temptation": Confessions of a Marriage Counselor. (Lionsgate)

    Morality Play

    ‘Temptation’ Shames the HIV Positive

    The takeaway from Tyler Perry’s latest film: STIs are a punishment.

    Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor is off to a great start at the box office, but its critics have much to complain about. The movie follows the story of Brice and his wife Judith, who cheats on him and contracts HIV. She is rendered ugly and unlovable, while Brice remarries and has a son. Amanda Marcotte points out that such a grim take on HIV patients as somehow deserving of their affliction is “pointless cruelty.” What’s more, stigmatizing sexually transmitted diseases makes people “more reluctant to get tested and treated, and they certainly will struggle to have the conversations or take the initiatives towards prevention.” So Perry isn’t doing anyone any favors with his sanctimonious message.

    Incidentally, April is STD Awareness Month.

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