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A new UK report has highlighted the impact of “chemsex”, in which gay and bisexual men have sex under the influence of sex-enhancing drugs.
The phenomenon has been growing in the gay community in recent years and often sees men have unprotected and risky sex with multiple partners while using drugs such as mephedrone or crystal meth.
In a major change in policy, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that people who test positive for HIV should start taking antiretroviral (ARV) medication immediately.
“Anyone infected with HIV should begin antiretroviral treatment as soon after diagnosis as possible,” no matter their age or populations groups, WHO said on 30 September 2015.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have challenged “the gaydar myth” – the purported ability to infer whether people are gay or straight based on their appearance.
The latest research follows a 2008 study that concluded people could accurately guess someone’s sexual orientation based on photographs of their faces.
There’s more good news on the HIV prevention front. A major new study of the use of PrEP has found no new HIV infections among participants after more than two years.
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is the use of a daily antiviral tablet by an HIV negative person to avoid becoming infected with the virus. When someone is exposed to HIV this medication can keep an infection from becoming permanent.
In a groundbreaking move, OUT LGBT Well-being, in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Health, has launched South Africa’s very first HIV and TB health clinic specifically for key population groups.
The Ten81 Centre in Hatfield, Tshwane provides free HIV, TB, sexual health and other services uniquely tailored to the needs of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community, MSM (Men who have Sex with Men), sex workers and injecting drug users.
Sexual diversity has always been part of a normal society and there is no justification for attempts to eliminate people who are not heterosexual from society. Efforts should rather be focused on countering the stigmatisation that creates hostile and violent environments for those who are othered within heteronormative societies.
This is reiterated in a consensus report entitled Diversity in Human Sexuality: Implications for Policy in Africa released by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) at a launch event coinciding with the 7th SA AIDS Conference in Durban.