Nation+Beyond

BY HIV Plus Editors

October 28 2009 11:00 PM ET

AMERICAS

> Government officials in Brazil report that since 1996 the nation has saved $1 billion by producing generic versions of patented anti-HIV medications and more than $2 billion in AIDS-related hospital costs by providing free antiretroviral treatment to its HIVers.

> Health officials in Toronto and Ottawa, Canada, are assessing whether to establish supervised injection facilities for heroin users in an effort to stop the sharing of drug paraphernalia and the subsequent spread of blood-borne diseases, like HIV and hepatitis. A facility in Vancouver has been credited with preventing numerous HIV infections.

> HIV cases are rising sharply among young people in Cuba, according to local health experts. The nation is expected to record more than 1,400 new HIV cases this year, the highest percentage being among people ages 19 to 24. Cuba offers free antiretroviral treatment to its HIV-positive citizens.

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EUROPE

> Researchers in France say risqu' online conversations between gay men seeking sex partners on the Internet may be fueling later decisions to avoid condom use. A survey of more than 2,600 users of a website showed that 96% of the men intended to use a condom with a partner they met on the site but that after chatting about sexual fantasies 32% ultimately engaged in unprotected sex.

> An HIV organization in Germany created controversy this fall with a safer-sex campaign that included images of a nude Adolf Hitler having sex with a woman under the tagline "AIDS Is a Mass Murderer." The campaign upset Jewish and Holocaust remembrance groups, which objected to the use of Hitler's image, and AIDS advocates, who said the ad equated HIV-positive people with killers.

> HIVers in the United Kingdom report widespread acceptance in the workplace, according to a survey. More than half said HIV had no effect on their working life, and 75% reported that disclosing their serostatus in the workplace had been generally positive.

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AFRICA

> Malawi is reporting soaring HIV rates among men who have sex with men. A survey has found that more than half of men who self-identify as gay are HIV-positive, as are nearly 48% of those self-identified as bisexual.

> Steps taken in Mozambique to shift HIV care away from specialized clinics to the nation's larger health care system have caused a dramatic decline in the number of HIVers seeking treatment. Activists say the drop-off is due in part to fear of being publicly identified as being HIV-positive at general health care centers.

> Mining firm Anglo American, the largest employer in South Africa with more than 80,000 workers, reports that about 14,500 employees -- 18% of its workforce -- are HIV-positive. About half of the infected workers are receiving anti-HIV treatment through the company.

> Government officials in Zambia have halted sales of Evolution and Hot brands of condoms after tests showed the rubbers, produced by a U.K. firm, had holes in them. Consumers who purchased the condoms before the recall were urged not to use them, since they wouldn't protect against pregnancy, HIV, or other STDs.

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ASIA

> Government officials in Cambodia have created a de facto "AIDS colony," activists say, by forcibly relocating 40 families affected by HIV from Phnom Penh to a substandard housing facility 25 kilometers away, far from medical facilities and support services.

> Nearly half of the HIVers receiving first-line anti-HIV medications in China experience treatment failure within five years, according to a new study, and are forced to cease antiretroviral therapy because second-line medications are not widely available in the nation.

> A 9-year-old HIV-positive boy in Allahabad, India, was expelled from his primary school because the school's principal deemed him to pose an infection risk to other students. Activists say the case illustrates widespread ignorance about the disease and how it is spread, even among well-educated groups.

> About 4,000 women migrant workers are infected with HIV while abroad each year and return home to Indonesia, where they spread the virus to local sex partners, according to the Bali Health Foundation. The nation is home to an estimated 270,000 HIV-positive adults.

> Health officials in Iran report discovering a strain of tuberculosis entirely resistant to all of the medications used in first- and second-line therapy. The strain may pose a severe threat to the region's HIVers, who are more prone to contracting TB and dying from the infection.

> Young people ages 20 to 30 now account for most new HIV diagnoses in Lebanon, leading health officials there to call for renewed HIV education and prevention programs targeting young men who have sex with men and heterosexual couples.

> Health officials in the Philippines are focusing new HIV prevention efforts on men who have sex with men but who do not identify as being gay or bisexual -- a group that health officials say is particularly hard to reach because they are secretive about their sexual activity and shun prevention programs targeting openly gay men.

> AIDS activists in Thailand say that despite being banned, sex between male prisoners and illegal drug use are fueling an explosion of HIV transmissions in the nation's prisons. The activists are urging government officials to make condoms, personal lubricants, and sterile syringes available to all prisoners.

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OCEANIA

> New HIV infections in Australia appear to have plateaued at about 1,000 cases per year, according to government figures from 2007 and 2008. Gay and bisexual men continue to bear the brunt of the disease, accounting for 64% of all new diagnoses in 2008.

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