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Japanese Researchers Claim HIV Drug Breakthrough
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: July 7, 2005 12:01 am ET
(Tokyo) A team of Japanese researchers say they have developed a potent new drug that blocks HIV from entering human cells and causes almost no side effects.
The drug, named AK602, was unveiled at the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific in Kobe on Tuesday the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The scientists, from Kumamoto University say that the the drug's main feature is that it shuts out the AIDS virus at the point when it tries to intrude into a human cell.
Current AIDS medicines often lose their effectiveness in a few days because the virus changes and develops a resistance to those drugs.
But the AK602 is different because it reacts to human cells instead of attacking the virus, Hiroaki Mitsuya the lead researcher in the study told the paper.
According to Mitsuya AK 602 sticks to a protein called CCR5 that acts as an entrance for HIV into human cells. When the new drug becomes attached to the protein, Mitsuya says, it can prevent HIV from entering, and thus stop the virus from spreading.
The paper reports that the researchers conducted clinical tests on 40 AIDS patients in the United States.
When the patients took 600 milligrams of AK602 twice a day for 10 days, the number of HIV viruses dropped to about 1 percent on average.
Almost no side effects were reported, according to Mitsuya
AK602 does not cover the entire CCR5 protein, he said. It only shuts the specific area where HIV can enter, leaving open the sections necessary for normal bodily operations.
Half of the 40 patients tested had taken other anti-AIDS drugs before, Mitsuya told the Asahi Shimbun, but those medicines were no longer effective because the virus had already developed resistance.
"This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty or the powerful, it is not aimed at presidents or prime ministers, it was aimed at ordinary working-class Londoners."
London Mayor Ken Livingstone
Abstinence-only approach not enough
July 7, 2005 - New York Newsday
Abstinence-only sex education for teenagers took another hit this week when a prominent group of pediatricians came out in support of giving them access to birth control.
In an article in the current journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, its committee on adolescence concludes that while pediatricians should encourage adolescents to postpone early sexual activity, they should also make sure they have access to contraceptives, including emergency contraception.
The recommendation flies in the face of the abstinence-only approach being pushed by the Bush administration and religious groups. And dramatically, the article abandoned the academy's former policy that called abstinence counseling "an important role for all pediatricians."
"Because there isn't any evidence that that message is effective," said Dr. Scott Spear, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and chair of the national medical committee of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
"As scientists we're saying we don't want politics to trump what's healthy and safe for young people."
The academy's report is one more in a series of studies that have concluded that the just-say-no approach has no proven record of reducing sexual activity or pregnancy among teenagers.
And this one comes directly from the doctors who treat young people.
Yet the Bush administration is pushing relentlessly on with its efforts to make sure that the abstinence-only message is the only kind of sex education available to young people.
In 2001, a few years after the push to expand such programs began, the federal government spent $80 million on abstinence-only programs. It will spend $167 million in this fiscal year.
"We've got more than 10 years of federal financing to the tune of $700 million for abstinence-only, and no science shows that it's effective," Dr. Spear told me.
While no one, including myself, wants to encourage sexual activity among teenagers, the abstinence-only policy is flawed because it chooses idealism over helping young people with the lives they actually lead.
The academy found that 45 percent of high school girls and 48 percent of high school boys have already had sexual intercourse. And while the teenage pregnancy rate has been dropping in recent years, the main cause has not been increased celibacy, but the use of more effective birth control, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute.
The problem with abstinence-only is not that it promotes abstinence, but that it's anti-birth-control. A Columbia University study in 2000 found that while adolescent pledges to remain virgins until marriage delayed the age of first intercourse briefly, when the pledgers did have sex they were less likely than non-pledgers to use birth control.
And a congressional study done last year found that abstinence-only programs were rife with misinformation: teaching students that condoms don't help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, that legal abortions lead to sterility and to premature births. They also promote sexual stereotypes about boys and girls.
Frankly, I'm less worried about the fact that a 17-year-old girl has sex with her boyfriend than I am about whether she has thought the decision through carefully, has chosen a caring partner, and is using a dependable form of birth control.
The problem with the Bush administration's approach is that it's practicing faith-based medicine, and one of the results is that 900,000 teenagers still get pregnant every year.
Groups like the academy need to keep telling the truth until the message sticks, and until science and sound social policy begin to trump politics.
Sheryl McCarthy's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Home > News > Europe
Spanish gays get full legal rights
By Daniel Woolls in Madrid
Published: 03 July 2005 - Independent
The law legalising gay marriage in Spain has cleared its last bureaucratic formality- being published in an official government registry - and will take effect today. An official of the ruling Socialist party, which sponsored the law, said the party will now seek legislation to protect Spain's estimated 8,000 trans-sexuals.
The gay marriage law, passed on Thursday by the lower house of parliament, was published in the Boletin Oficial del Estado, which records all government decisions in Spain. The law was signed by King Juan Carlos and the Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Gay couples are not expected to start getting married until late this month because of the paperwork needed before they go to town halls and other civil bodies that marry people in Spain, according to Spain's main Federation of Gays and Lesbians. The law gives same-sex couples the right to wed, adopt children and inherit each other's property, making their legal status the same as heterosexual couples.
Gay and lesbian groups planned a big street rally for Saturday evening in Madrid to celebrate passage of the law, which makes Spain the third country in the world to grant full recognition to gay marriage. The others are the Netherlands and Belgium. Canada is expected to follow suit later this month. Several European countries and a few US states recognise civil unions among same-sex couples but this falls short of treating them like married couples.
There was fierce criticism of the law from the Catholic church, with Bishop Ricardo Blazquez branding it unconstitutional. He called the law's passage "a sad day for the Spanish people because the stability of marriage has been gravely injured and tremendous confusion over marriage and family has been unleashed".
Meanwhile Pedro Zerolo, a Madrid town councillor who is gay and heads the Socialist party's social policy department, said that when parliament reconvenes after its summer recess the government will present a bill that aims to regulate treatment of trans-sexuals. One issue that has not been settled is whether it will pay for sex-change operations.
Such funding was a plank in the Socialist platform for the March 2004 general election that the party won. But the government has to negotiate this with regional governments because in Spain it is they, not Madrid, who are responsible for state-paid healthcare.
Drag Queen underworld in China soliciting tolerance
Updated: 2005-07-07 14:03
Compared to our Southeast Asian neighbors, she-males and flamboyant drag queens are a rarity in China.
Though this month, you may see them on film and with footage that challenges the mainstream acceptance of China's attitude on transvestites and homosexuality.
Through Chinese filmmaker Jiang Zhi's film, Our Love, the hidden voice of China's drag queens finally reaches the ears of ordinary society. Based on the lives of three real queens living in Shenzhen's underworld, the film is half-documentary, half-fiction.
Sections of it are filmed in a talk show question-and-answer style, while fictional plot elements were thrown in to depict the hardships that transvestites and drag queens endure in a discriminating society.
Jiang Zhi's adventure with transsexuals began after he overheard a friend talking about a local bar with drag queen performers.
His curiosity roused, he checked it out and met his muses - the beautiful singing and dancing cross-dresser, Ping'er, and her friends Xiang Xiang and Teresa, who all play major roles in the film.
Physically, these men are arguably more stunning and feminine than your average woman.
They primp, carry make-up kits and worry about their skin and weight. By day they look like ordinary women; by night they become sensual stage goddesses.
Ping'er and friends are so convincing as women that in the film one of them has an affair with an unsuspecting straight male.
While they haven't undergone any sex change operations and are viewed by society as homosexual males playing dress up in women's clothing, Xiang Xiang, Ping'er and Teresa see themselves as fully feminine, straight women.
Jiang Zhi chose to film the men who are women both on and off stage because they are the ones who suffer the most intolerance.
Jiang Zhi's message is simple: "I hope his film will change people's attitudes towards these young men. Ideally this film will show that they are beautiful, feminine and ordinary people with hopes and dreams. I also hope my film will help people to understand and create a place for them in society."
See Our Love in Shanghai on July 16 from 2-4 pm at the Duolun Museum of Modern Art. Beijing screening dates to be announced soon. Visit www.cityweekend.com.cn for more information.
First international conference on Asia's gay communities begins in Thailand
BANGKOK, Thailand -- Scholars, activists and artists opened the first-ever regional conference on Asia's gay, lesbian and transgender communities on Thursday in Bangkok, tackling issues from discrimination to how films portray transsexuals.
More than 500 delegates from East Asia and other countries, including Israel, Pakistan and the United States, came for the three-day event, said Thaninnit Pithaksinakon, the conference's public relations manager.
About 50-100 delegates had initially been expected, Thaninnit said.
"Gay, lesbian and transgendered Asia has arrived. It is here and it is real," declared Peter A. Jackson, an Asian history fellow at the Australian National University and a co-organizer of the event.
"This is a phenomenal and historical gathering," said Josephine Cheun-Juei Ho, a feminist scholar and head of the Center for the Study of Sexualities at Taiwan's National Central University.
Jackson said more gay, lesbian and transgender Asians have been coming forward in recent years, with an increasing number of non-governmental organizations, films and businesses focusing on them.
"However, absolutely everywhere across Asia, they're still seen as second-class citizens," Jackson said.
Experts at the conference plan to discuss the social stigma attached to the communities, as well as legal discrimination and the way gays and transsexuals are portrayed in Asian cinema and literature. They also expect to discuss promoting legal recognition for sex changes.
The meeting was jointly organized by the Australia-based non-governmental organization AsiaPacifiQueer Network and the Office of Human Rights Studies and Social Development at Thailand's Mahidol University.
Although Thailand is a conservative Buddhist society, homosexuality and cross-dressing are widely tolerated. (AP)
July 7, 2005
米キリスト合同教会、同性結婚を承認 - クリスチャントゥデイ
米･キリスト合同教会(United Church of Christ、信徒数130万)は４日（日本時間５日）、同性同士の「結婚」を異性間の結婚と同様に認める議案を賛成票多数で可決した。同性結婚を公式に認める、米国で最初のキリスト教会となった。AP通信が同日報じた。
United Church of Christ Backs Same-Sex Marriage - NY Times
Study Discredits Theory on Low Sex Drive in Women
Researchers find no connection between testosterone levels and sexual function.
By Brad Wible
Times Staff Writer
July 6, 2005 - Los Angeles Times
Tests of male hormone levels in women's blood cannot predict diminished sexual function and should not be used in deciding on a course of treatment, Australian researchers report today.
The report in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. questions the assumption among sex researchers that low sexual desire in women has roots in low levels of testosterone or certain related hormones.
This belief has contributed to growing use of testosterone supplements, including a patch worn on the skin, and the frequent use of tests to determine hormone levels.
The study found that the majority of women with low hormone levels did not have low levels of sexual function.
"If a woman with low libido walks into her doctor's office and asks for a blood test to see if she can use that new testosterone patch, well, there's no basis for that," said lead author Dr. Susan Davis of Monash Medical School in Victoria, Australia. "They're totally uninformative."
Dr. Richard J. Paulson, chief of reproductive endocrinology at USC's Keck School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, added: "You can not oversimplify the problem to simple hormone measurements."
Paulson said the current study, coupled with findings from other research, suggested that the key was not a woman's testosterone level, but rather how much those levels may have changed over time.
The use of a testosterone patch to increase hormone levels might be beneficial, he said, but the study did not address that issue.
Studies have estimated that more than 40% of women experience sexual dysfunction, with the primary effect being low libido. The prevalence of female sexual dysfunction appears to increase with age, beginning in the 30s. Menopause and some surgical procedures, such as removal of the ovaries, can also reduce sexual function.
Davis said decreased sexual desire with age was normal. "But now when most people are living until they're 80, and women are having babies when they're 35, women are saying, 'If I'm going to keep having sex, I need to do something about it,' " she said.
Some studies have shown improvement of sexual function and psychological well being upon receiving testosterone therapies. Procter & Gamble is developing the testosterone patch Invisira to increase female libido.
Davis and her colleagues wanted to find out if women with low sexual function shared a common profile of blood hormones.
The study looked at more than 1,000 women, from 18 to 75 years old, who provided detailed descriptions of satisfaction with their sex lives. Portions of the survey focused on desire, arousal, orgasm, pleasure and self-image. The researchers categorized women who scored in the survey's lowest portions as "low functioning."
The survey results were compared to hormone levels measured from blood samples.
Davis and her team found no relationship between low testosterone levels and low sexual function.
But they did find that women with low sexual function often had low levels of the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, or DHEAS, a precursor compound that is converted by cells into testosterone and estrogen.
There were too many women, however, with normal sexual function who also had low DHEAS levels to use the measurement as a diagnostic tool.
Dr. Glenn D. Braunstein, chairman of the department of medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said the best diagnostic tool was still talking.
"Don't waste your time measuring testosterone or DHEA. It's not gonna help you," he said. "Listen to the patient."
Wed Jul 6, 2:18 PM ET - AP
In a May 22 story about the American Psychiatric Association's vote to urge the legal recognition of same-sex marriages, The Associated Press erroneously reported that the American Psychological Association removed homosexuality from a list of mental disorders more than three decades ago. It was the American Psychiatric Association that took that action, in 1973.
Transsexual mother to adopt child
www.chinaview.cn 2005-07-07 10:14:13
BEIJING, July 7 (Xinhuanet) -- A transsexual woman in east China's Zhejiang Province is very likely to succeed in her bid to adopt a child despite a storm of controversy, China Daily reports Thursday.
Zhang Shan (her anonym) was recently in the news for her parenting attempt after hitting the headlines a year ago when she got married in a grand ceremony in Zhejiang's Lin'an.
The 37-year-old Zhang, currently working at a local beauty parlor, considered the former male life as a "lie" and underwent a transsexual operation last year.
"I really want to have a kid calling me mom, realizing my lifelong dream of being a good mother," said Zhang, heading for another task after transforming herself to serve as a "wife".
According to Chinese law, couples qualified to adopt children must be aged 30 or above, healthy and do not have a family historyof disease, have parental ability and no other child.
Ma Weijun, an official of the local civil affairs bureau, said his bureau will permit Zhang's adoption because her family meets all the criteria.
However, critics are concerned about the well-being of childrenliving with transsexual parents.
Zhang Ping, head of the Qingshanhu Lake Welfare House in Lin'an, said he was in a dilemma about Zhang Shan's application, adding that the interests of adopted children must always come as a top concern.
Nevertheless, the welfare house head said he would prioritize Zhang Shan's application in due course.
Psychological and behavioral experts worried transsexual parents may be unable to provide a family background stable enoughto raise an emotionally and mentally health child.
Research from overseas suggests transsexual operations may result in mental disorders afterwards. And children may find it hard to cope with inevitable discrimination against their parents,said Xu Qing, an expert from Zhejiang University.
In response to these doubts, Zhang Shan said many other people have gone through what her family is experiencing now and these people succeeded ultimately. She was very much inspired and encouraged by the example set by famous Chinese transsexual choreographer Jin Xing, who adopted three children.
"Many people have difficulty in understanding different things but that does not mean they are right," said Zhang Shan.
Wang Kun, an expert with the Law Institute under the Zhejiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, said there is no evidence to suggest children of transsexual families suffer from more problems, are less popular, or have lower self-esteem than children of heterosexual parents.
So far, there is no Chinese law stating clearly whether it is legal for transsexual people to adopt children.