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Every month we look at news briefs from around the world, courtesy of Equal Eyes, a news source produced in collaboration with UNAIDS and the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS. This month, a look at how LGBT Community growth in the United States is booming, while Ghana is making steps to criminalizing homosexuality and more.
An update on PrEP and other HIV prevention methods
MD Magazine hosted a video panel of doctors discussing the latest therapies to prevent HIV, including new types of PrEP. In the US, the PrEP drug Truvada has been approved for use among teenagers. Although some doctors had already been prescribing PrEP for young people, the new approvals will make it easier to access and obtain insurance coverage.
Meanwhile, a review of 17 research studies suggests that as more people begin to trust PrEP, they are using condoms less and are worrying less about other sexually transmitted infections. The study authors emphasize that a direct correlation between the rise in syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia cannot be attributed to PrEP use; however, it could be a contributing factor.
A new study suggests that guidelines may need to be adjusted on when and how to prescribe PrEP to new patients. If a person begins PreP during the window of time in which HIV tests can appear negative because a person has not yet developed antibodies, the PrEP drug can obscure follow-up tests and cause false-negatives.
Homophobic laws are a health hazard
From the United States, a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry reported that legislation that permits denial of services to same-sex couples because of religious or moral beliefs harms the mental health of sexual minority adults. Researchers used statistical analysis comparing states that have implemented discriminatory laws with demographically similar states without those laws and found that discriminatory laws were associated with a 46% increase in the proportion of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults experiencing mental distress.
AIDS activism and the positive impact on people’s lives
A new study published in AIDS Research and Treatment evaluated the long-term impact of AIDS activism on individuals involved with the group ACT UP/New York during its peak years (1987 to 1992). Researchers found that 28 years later, participants see their activism as the “peak experience of their lives” and “dramatically contributed to positive growth”, even as participants expressed higher rates of PTSD and depression.
Transgender children’s brains match their gender identity
A new study presented at the European Society of Endocrinology from researchers in Belgium suggested that brain scans of some transgender adolescents showed activity more in line with their gender identity than the sex they were assigned at birth. The presentation has made headlines around the world but many caution that seeking “proof” of being transgender could cause harm to individuals and encourage conversion therapy programs.
Ghana could criminalize homosexuality and endorse conversion therapy
In Ghana, the National Coalition for Proper Human Sexual Rights and Family Values announced it will present to Parliament a new draft bill to criminalize homosexuality. The coalition leader told media that the bill, titled “Comprehensive Solution Based Legislative Framework for Dealing with the Lesbianism Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Phenomenon,” will be based on “scientific and empirical research” and will provide “solutions on how to best help homosexuals and at the same time prosecute them.”
Botswana could end LGBT criminalization… if it would assign a judge to the case
The High Court of Botswana was scheduled to hear arguments to end the laws that criminalize same-sex intimacy. However, Legabibo, the group challenging the laws, said that the case has not been given a judge and they do not know when the case will proceed.
R.I.P. Rowan Smith
South Africa’s former Dean of St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, Rowan Smith, passed away following a long hospitalization from a broken hip. Smith, who came out as gay while serving as Dean, was an anti-apartheid activist and supporter of both HIV community and LGBTI rights. Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and his wife remembered him as “among the gentlest, kindest, most open-hearted and loving human beings whom we had the good fortune to call our friend and colleague.”
The Pope pretends to be cool with homosexuality, but clearly isn’t
Media around the world reverberated with the news that Pope Francis spoke with Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean survivor of clerical sex abuse, about Cruz’s sexuality during a private meeting. Cruz claims he admitted to being gay and that the Pope responded:
“You have to be happy with who you are. God made you this way and loves you this way, and the pope loves you this way.”
While many praised the Pope’s comments other’s were frustrated that his comments could not be spoken publicly and the Vatican refused to confirm them. A day later the Pope met privately with Italian bishops and, as confirmed by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, he told the bishops to carefully vet and reject any applicants to the priesthood they suspect to be homosexual.
The United States queer community is larger than ever
A new Gallup poll reports that the number of US population identifying as LGBT has risen to its highest levels ever. The greatest increases were shown among the youngest surveyed (between 18 – 38 years old) and among Hispanic and Asian ethnicities.
Toxic masculinity is dangerous to the LGBTQ community
AfroPunk Editor-in-Chief Lou Constant-Deportes reflected on toxic masculinity and the hateful reactions he has encountered towards male intimacy with other men. US activist Adam Eli wrote about how idealizing and privileging certain types of bodies over others can be dangerous:
“The queer community is not at fault for existing within a culture that attempts to condition who and what we are sexually attracted to. However, we are certainly responsible for upholding those standards of beauty by placing certain bodies on pedestals.”
Hornet brings attentions to global issues of significance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. Our partnership with Equal Eyes, a news source produced in collaboration with UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, is part of that effort. To learn more, visit their site at Equal-Eyes.org.
This coverage promotes sexual and gender equality while highlighting issues of health, violence, culture, and legal and human rights. Equal Eyes provides advocates and allies a common frame of reference for the realities of global LGBTI communities. Through followup reporting and disseminating this coverage, our effort is to ensure we have a representation of the global stories that matter most or may have under-reporting.