Monthly Archives: June 2016

VIGIL TONIGHT! – Leicester Stands with Orlando!

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Omar Mateen, a 27 year old man targeted and killed 50 people and injured a further 53 with an assault rifle on Sunday at a gay nightclub in Florida in America’s worst ever mass shooting.

Several LGBT leaders and groups across the UK have issued statements saying they stood in solidarity with the victims and a A vigil is planned for tonight at the Town Hall square in Leicester to show solidarity for our LGBTQ cousins in Orlando.

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Please come – It doesn’t matter about your own sexuality, gender, faith, ethnicity. It’s about us all standing together to show solidarity.

It is scheduled from 6.30pm to will allow us all to stand hand-in-hand around the square in respectful silence.

A Facebook event has been set up if you’d like to register your attendance, and please share this post and the Facebook Please share the event. We look forward to seeing you there!

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It isn’t going away!!

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The story of how LASS has responded to the challenge of HIV and AIDS was featured at this year’s East Midlands Oral History Day at Nottingham Library.

Tim Burke, who helped run our 25th anniversary history project in 2014, spoke to the conference about how the project got off the ground and about the interviews with volunteers and staff past and present that resulted in our publication “…and it won’t go away”.

He also read some extracts from the book that showed how LASS volunteers over the years have supported people living with AIDS/HIV.

“There was a great deal of interest from conference participants and they snapped some of the few remaining copies of the book,” said Tim.

“It was something of honour to be asked to contribute to the conference and I hope it will have further raised awareness of the significance of LASS’s work since 1987.”

This year’s event had a theme of oral history and health and LASS’s project was featured alongside other oral history projects ranging from working at Boot’s the Chemist to the medicinal use of cannabis and people’s experiences of life in and out of mental hospitals.

For more, and for your own copy of “…and it won’t go away”. Read the following article:

“…and it won’t go away.” 25 Years of Leicestershire AIDS Support Services

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NHS watchdog to weigh cost of HIV prevention drug Prep

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The NHS watchdog NICE has been asked by government to look at the cost of providing an HIV prevention treatment known as PrEP.

Story via BBC
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It comes as campaigners have said they will seek a judicial review of NHS England’s decision not to commission the treatment.

Prep is a daily pill that cut the risk of HIV infection by more than 90%.

Head of NHS England Simon Stevens says more evidence is needed about the cost versus benefits.

Speaking to the Health Committee he said: “Prep has great potential and all of us would like to see it more widely available in this country.”

He said the legal issue about who should provide the treatment – NHS England or local authorities which are responsible for prevention-related services – would be resolved, but the other question was whether it was cost-effective to roll it out as a preventive treatment.

“This particular drug is not yet licensed for prophylactic treatment for HIV.

“Frankly, the prices that the manufacturer is seeking to charge probably also need to take a substantial haircut to represent value.”

It’s not publicly known how much the manufacturer of a Prep drug called Truvada is asking for, and drug companies often reach an agreement to offer the NHS a reduced price. The book cost for 30 tablets is £355.

As part of a trial, NHS England has promised £2m in funding to treat about 500 people with Prep over the next two years.

The number of people living with HIV in the UK continues to increase and the number living with undiagnosed HIV remains high.

In 2014, an estimated 103,700 people were living with HIV. An estimated 18,000 (17%) were unaware of their infection.

Condoms can prevent the spread of HIV but they are not 100% reliable and, of course, they must be used to work.

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Thailand becomes first country in Asia to eliminate mother-child HIV spread

A HIV-positive mother plays with her son, who did not contract the virus from her, in Phetchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (Credit: SAKCHAI LALIT/AP)

A HIV-positive mother plays with her son, who did not contract the virus from her, in Phetchaburi province, south of Bangkok. (Credit: SAKCHAI LALIT/AP)

Thailand’s success comes from strong prenatal care from large cities all the way to the poorest villages. Nearly all pregnant Thai women are screened for HIV, 95 per cent of those who test positive are treated to prevent transmission to their babies and almost 100 per cent of babies born to HIV-positive mothers are given antiretroviral drugs.

Article via Telegraph
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However, hundreds of thousands of migrant women, many of them working or seeking menial jobs in Thailand, are not included in the data. Many poor women from neighbouring Burma and Cambodia do not receive any prenatal care or HIV screening while in Thailand.

A 2010 Thai government report found that two to three times more migrant women were infected with HIV in certain areas of the country.

There are an estimated 2.7 million registered and undocumented male and female migrant workers in Thailand. They have limited access to the country’s health care system, and many are reluctant to get tested or treated for HIV due to language barriers or out of fear they will lose their jobs or have negative interactions with police or other authority figures, according to UNAids.

Steve Mills, technical director at nonprofit FHI360’s Asia-Pacific office in Bangkok, said this is an area Thailand needs to improve, along with focusing more on at-risk populations such as intravenous drug users and sex workers operating outside of brothels. Gay men and transgender people are of particular concern.

“With the evolution of the epidemic and people being on HIV treatment, it’s meant that condom use is harder to get to a satisfactory level,” he said, adding that gay men and transgender people are often harder to reach today because couples often meet through social networks instead of in bars, saunas or other public places where outreach workers once targeted them.

“We need to encourage people to get tested.”

Last year, the World Bank published a study calling for more free anonymous testing and treatment among gay men. It said the rate of infection within Bangkok alone had jumped from an estimated 21 per cent in 2000 to 28 per cent in 2012.

Only one-fifth of those infected were receiving antiretroviral drugs, even though it’s provided by the government without cost.

Thailand was hailed by the international community as a model for other countries after promoting 100 per cent condom use among sex workers in brothels in the 1990s, drastically reducing infection rates.

But Aids continues to kill. In 2014, an estimated 20,000 people died from the disease in Thailand, a rate that has remained steady for the past five years. An estimated 450,000 people are living with the virusin the country of 60 million.

 

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Ramadan & HIV

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Image Credit: Tom Robson  © 2015

Ramadan is the name of one of the 12 lunar months of the Islamic calendar.  For 29 days of Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset.  Many HIV-positive wish to join their community in observing this important month, can they?

During Ramadan, Muslims practice the maximum self-control by denying their bodies every earthly pleasure during the daylight.  This means that eating food and drinking (including water).

After sunset, a fasting individual may eat and drink.  Many attend Mosques at night to pray and socialise.  Ramadan ends when the next crescent moon is born and celebrated with Eid ul-Fitr [breaking fast feast].

Fasting is a healthy practice for people with good health; the Quran exempted some categories from fasting – the sick, pregnant, breastfeeding mothers and travellers — and the wisdom behind this waiver is to spare hardship or damage. However, in spite of the Quranic waiver to those who are sick, many Muslims insist on fasting even if they have a minor health condition, justified the rewarding experience and of course to be part of the community.  Of course if you decide not to fast, the Quran says that you are obliged to feed someone who is less fortunate than you.

The question is, can someone or should someone who is HIV positive fast for Ramadan?

The best person to help you decide is your HIV doctor.  To help you and your doctor make the decision, you need to take under consideration some general factors, such as: when you were diagnosed, your overall health, your viral load and T-cell count.  Those in the early period of treatment should not fast, because the body is still trying to adjust to HIV and the treatment which you are having.

If you have been on treatment for some time, and your T-cell numbers are good, with undetectable viral load, and an overall good health then you might consider discussing your wish to observe Ramadan with your doctor.  Explain to her/him that you cannot let any substance go down your mouth to your stomach from sunrise to sunset.

Ask your doctor if your medication regimen could be adjusted with no risk, so you can take it before the sunrise and/or after the sunset.  If you are on a one pill regimen it might be easier for you to fast than if you are on a multiple pill one.

Once you get the green light from your doctor, you still need to take extra steps when fasting Ramadan.

For example, try to prepare good supplements to use on a daily basis during the month if you haven’t been doing so; in Ramadan eating less meals a day could seriously decrease your intake of important minerals and vitamins. Drink plenty of water during the night and avoid salty meals that could make you thirsty. Avoid unnecessary exposure to sun or heat to avoid dehydration. Do not overload your body with work and rest well while fasting.

Medical experts appeal to those who fast and ask them to stay from fizzy or carbonated drinks like cola, lemonade & other flavours even at Lftar (fast-breaking time).  A long day of fasting causes dehydration of the kidneys.  Having cold and fizzy drinks can suddenly cause the kidneys to fail.  Instead, use fresh water and fresh juices.

Ramadan is a good opportunity to quit bad habits; remember that smoking is not allowed while fasting, so if you do smoke maybe this is a good time to quit.

Fasting can also have great health benefits if done the proper way.  According to Mayo Clinic, “Regular fasting can decrease your low-density lipoprotein, or ‘bad,’ cholesterol. It’s also thought that fasting may improve the way your body metabolizes sugar. This can reduce your risk of gaining weight and developing diabetes, which are both risk factors for heart disease.”

Remember: the Quran forbids Muslims to commit acts that could even remotely jeopardise your health.  If your doctor advised against fasting, or if you have any concern that fasting might hurt your health, then don’t fast and invest the month in doing all the other good deeds that you can do; you can delay your lunch meal to be able to join your community in the daily fast-breaking ceremony.

We wish you a joyful and happy Ramadan filled with blessings and generosity.  We hope this Ramadan will enable you explore the great benefits of spirituality while fighting against HIV/AIDS or any other hardship.

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