Guest blogger and editor/host of The Lancet News podcast Mario gives us his review of this week’s HIV related news stories…
Picture the scene, more than 10,000 athletes all in their prime and inhabiting the same space for 2 weeks. It would be unnatural if things didn’t get steamy in the Olympic village.
Although some say the number of condoms that are distributed to the athletes (about 100,000 for two weeks) is scandalous, I say it’s great.
Olympic athletes make the perfect role models: they’re disciplined, dedicated, and almost superhuman. So who better to promote condoms.
The demand for condoms by athletes was so great in the 2000 Sydney Olympics that an additional 20,000 condoms had to be ordered-in on top of the 70,000 condoms that had been made available.
The athlete’s insatiable appetite for condoms aside, the Olympics also helps to raise awareness of HIV. The International Olympic Committee engages in advocacy campaigns around the world to support prevention of HIV through sports.
Sterilisation of HIV-infected women
Reproductive rights are fundamental human rights. So the possibility that HIV-positive women in Namibia could have been forcibly sterilised to slow down the spread of HIV to their children is an outrage.
A Namibian court has ruled that three HIV-positive women were sterilised without informed consent, but stated the sterilisation was not linked to their HIV status.
But this case could open the floodgates to an influx of similar cases, and lawyers have said that they have evidence that HIV-positive women are being targeted and forcibly sterilised in Swaziland and parts of South Africa.
Accusations of sterilisation, albeit for different reasons, are not localised to Namibia. In Uzbekistan, recent reports have suggested that the Government has been forcibly sterilising women to improve maternal and infant death figures and to cope with socioeconomic pressures.
Foreskin or against?
The malecircumcision debate that has been raging in Germany over the past few months made me think: what’s the point of a foreskin?
Aside from the cultural and religious aspects of circumcision, not having a foreskin seems to have more health benefits, especially in terms of preventing HIV.
Circumcision can reduce the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV in men by about 60%, and it can also reduce the risk of herpes, human papillomavirus (the virus that causes cervical cancer), and urinary tract infections.
In Zimbabwe, where 14% of the population live with HIV, members of the Government have taken the benefits of circumcision so seriously that they were circumcised to inspire more men to follow suit.
Mixing alcoholic drinks can be messy, but mixing booze and sex can be even worse. A survey of British women’s sexual habits while on holiday showed that 1 in 5 were too drunk to use a condom.
This leaves women open to a plethora of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The rate of STIs in the UK is highest in young people, among whom about half of all STIs were diagnosed in 2007.
Binge drinking is also an increasing problem. 15% of women surveyed in the USA admitted to binge drinking in the past 30 days.
(The views expressed are those of the author and not that of The Lancet)
If you do choose to drink alcohol, what can you do to avoid getting drunk and having unsafe sex?