After conducting Fulbright research on the cultural politics of HIV/AIDS in Jamaican women’s lives, I became interested in exploring how Afro-diasporic women matter in responses to the pandemic. This interest grew alongside both my personal experiences as an HIV tester in Detroit and my exploration of the global dilemmas surrounding sexual and reproductive health. The… Read more →
Welcome! Before getting tested for HIV, New York State requires me to go over a few things with you. First, testing is confidential but not anonymous. Second, testing is voluntary and can be stopped at any point. Third, I can and will stop a test if I feel you are a danger to yourself or… Read more →
In January 1986, Irish current affairs program Today Tonight reported on a spate of deaths and attempted suicides in Dublin’s Mountjoy prison. These, the reporter intoned, “reveal something seriously wrong in the Irish prison system. A system long-known to be overstretched, antiquated and inadequate has been pushed into the front line of modern Irish society’s… Read more →
The fight over the future of the ACA here in the U.S. has made me think about universal healthcare, disease, and rights in a global context. The fierce debate over the idea of healthcare as a “right” versus a “privilege” on Capitol Hill seems almost antiquated when compared with other countries. When a friend of… Read more →
On November 2, 1992, members of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) carried a dead body through the streets of Manhattan. The deceased was Mark Fisher, a gay man and AIDS activist who had died from complications of the disease he spent his last years fighting. His was the first political funeral staged… Read more →
Bill Maher has done the impossible: he’s fallen farther in my esteem. There was a time (high school) when I could tolerate — and even enjoy — Real Time with Bill Maher. I’m not sure if he became more chauvinistic or I became a more critical viewer, but that time has long since passed; his… Read more →
In December last year, the FDA lifted its longtime policy of deferring any blood or tissue donations coming from men who have had sex with other men at any time since 1977. The new policy defers only those men who have had sex with other men within one year of donation. This might seem like… Read more →
By Ian Lekus
The first I learned of PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, came from the signs and postcards around Fenway Health, Boston’s LGBT community health center. Those advertisements appeared as Fenway served as one of two U.S. research sites for PrEP, in advance of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approving Truvada in July 2012 as the first drug deemed safe and effective for reducing the risk of HIV transmission. As I started learning more, I quickly discovered how its advocates frequently compare PrEP to oral contraceptives. One PrEP researcher I consulted with early on in my investigations explicitly drew the parallel to her decision to use the Pill a few years earlier. Some of the similarities jump out immediately: for example, like oral contraceptives, PrEP — a pill taken daily to prevent HIV infection — separates prevention from the act of sexual intercourse itself.
By Lara Freidenfelds
What would you do if you desperately wanted to have a baby, and your spouse had HIV? In the mid-1990s, the introduction of highly-effective HIV drug regimens turned HIV from a death sentence into a chronic condition. People with HIV and their life partners could begin to imagine creating families and living to see their children grow up. But it was not until 2014 that researchers and policy-makers approved a prophylactic regimen that effectively protects against HIV-transmission even without condom use. (It still is not officially condoned for family-building purposes, but some physicians are willing to prescribe it for that purpose.) For almost two decades, HIV-discordant couples faced a special kind of infertility: it was childlessness caused by the threat of illness, by fear, and by a traumatized, cautious public health and medical community that could not move beyond its initial message, that “only condoms prevent HIV transmission.”
A new e-book, Positively Negative: Love, Pregnancy, and Science’s Surprising Victory over HIV, takes us into the lives of two couples who lived this history.