TIME russia

Russia Defends Imported Condom Ban, Says Lovers to Become ‘Strict and Discriminating’

Russia Art Of Politics
Mikhail Metzel—AP This is a Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011 file photo of protesters holding a portrait of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin changed by an unidentified satirical artist to show him wearing a condom, during a protest against alleged vote rigging in Russia's parliamentary elections in Moscow, Russia

The nation has a major HIV/Aids problem

Russia’s Industry and Trade Ministry has defended proposals to ban foreign condoms as a part of an overall embargo on foreign medical products, The Moscow Times reports.

Announced on Tuesday, the planned embargo would just be the latest in a series of Western product bans by Moscow. The Kremlin first introduced such measures last year after many E.U. countries imposed sanctions on Russia following its annexation of Crimea, and in response to its ongoing support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Gennady Onishchenko, former chief sanitary inspector of Russia, told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that the ban “will simply make one more disciplined, more strict and discriminating in choosing partners, and maybe will do a favor to our society in respect to solving demographic problems.”

Onischenko also claimed that “condoms have nothing to do with health,” despite countless studies showing that they play an essential role in reducing sexually transmitted infections. Russia is dealing with a silent but pervasive HIV and AIDS crisis — the official number of Russians infected with the virus has almost doubled since 2010.

Vadim Pokrovsky, the head of Russia’s federal AIDS center, told Interfax that students can’t afford foreign condoms anyways, and doesn’t expect the ban to have a huge effect on the population. He does, however, admit that local condom alternatives are a poor-quality replacement to foreign condoms; Russia doesn’t have the capacity to produce it’s own latex goods, the Times reports.

[The Moscow Times]

TIME India

Dr. Suniti Solomon, Pioneering Indian HIV/AIDS Researcher, Dies at 76

Rajesh Nirgude—AP Canadian supermodel Linda Evangelista, left, and Director of Y.R. Gaitonde Center for AIDS Research and Education Suniti Solomon at a charity function in Mumbai, India on Oct. 21, 2005

The Chennai native documented the country's first case of HIV infection in 1986

India’s foremost HIV/AIDS researcher Dr. Suniti Solomon, who documented the nation’s first HIV case before setting up the first voluntary testing and counseling center for the disease, died Tuesday at her home in the southern city of Chennai.

Solomon, who was 76, began tracking the infection at a time when many in the country were reluctant to delve into what was a little known field. In 1986, her discovery of the infection in six blood samples collected from female sex workers in southern India generated headlines internationally. Speaking to TIME in September 1986, after the first Indian cases had been documented, a former senior medical official said: “We in India have been shaken and face a moment of truth.”

Trained in the U.K., the U.S. and Australia, Solomon won a string of awards for her HIV/AIDS work. Her pioneering research was prompted by reports on HIV in international journals. “Those were the days when I was reading a lot of foreign journals on the HIV and its effect in the U.S. In a quest to determine whether the virus was spreading here, my postgraduate student Nirmala and I identified a few female sex-workers lodged at the government home on Kutchery Road in Mylapore [in Chennai],” she told the Hindu newspaper last year.

Among the first six cases uncovered by Solomon was of a 13-year-old girl who had been forced into the sex trade after being kidnapped. “She was the first girl we tested that I spoke to, and she changed me,” Solomon recalled in a 2009 interview with India’s Mint newspaper.

The samples collected by Solomon, who was being treated for cancer when she died, and her team were eventually sent to Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. for further testing and confirmation.

“It was frightening really,” she told Mint. “My husband was a little worried and didn’t want me to work with HIV-positive patients, most of whom at that time were homosexuals, those who self-injected drugs and sex workers. And I said, look, you have to listen to their stories and you wouldn’t say the same thing.”


A Woman Born HIV-Positive Is in Remission Despite Stopping Treatment Years Ago

Science Stills/Visuals Unlimited, Inc./Getty Images

Doctors believe early rather than continuous treatment with antiretrovirals is key

The first case of a woman in long-term HIV remission despite not receiving treatment for many years has been documented in France.

The 18-year-old was HIV-positive at birth and given antiretroviral drugs as a child, but her family decided to cease the treatment when she reached the age of 6. Twelve years have passed and today her viral load is too low to be measured. Doctors can’t figure out why the women’s HIV has stalled.

“With this first, highly documented case of this young woman, we provide the proof of concept that long-term remission is possible in children, as in adults,” Dr. Asier Sáez-Cirión, from the Institute Pasteur in Paris, told the BBC.

“However, these cases are still very rare,” he said.

Some experts believe that early treatment is the key to future remission, but large-scale studies still need to be conducted to nail down this theory.

Although there is still much to learn, predicting HIV remission has been the subject of studies in the past. Sáez-Cirión previously led a research group of 14 patients who had no sign of the virus re-emerging after coming off antiretroviral drugs. Thirteen years passed and the patients’ viral loads remained low.


TIME health

Miley Cyrus: We Will Make an AIDS-Free World a Reality

Miley Cyrus was honored for her work in the fight against AIDS and gave this speech at amfAR's Sixth Annual Inspiration Gala Tuesday

This article was originally published on MIMI, a Time Inc. site.

Thank you so much, Tyler. I am honored to have such a beautiful date tonight that speaks just as beautifully.

As Tyler mentioned, we met when I was filming “Backyard Sessions” for the launch of Happy Hippie. And I got the privilege to shoot this incredible subject for Happy Hippies newest project #InstaPride that just launched yesterday as Tyler said (just gotta get the plug in there) and to now be standing here beside you tonight, this is so cosmic.

Getting the Inspiration Award tonight is an honor that is unbelievable. Seriously, I didn’t believe them when they told me because—to be honest—it seems just too easy. Seems like there is no way I have done nearly enough to be standing here on the receiving end of this honor. But I am thinking of tonight as not celebrating what we have already done, but what we are doing and going to do in the future! Tonight is not a finish line, but a starting point. I want to work every day to do something good for someone else or I will feel not only as if this honor has just been wasted, but my life and all the influence that comes with it. There are so many people around the world that deserve this recognition and have dedicated their lives to finding a cure for those living with HIV/AIDS and using their voices to speak out about the brutal and unfair condemnation and abominable stigma that comes with the disease. By receiving this award tonight, I promise to continue to fight along with such an industrious army for a cure to this epidemic.

There have been too many families, partners, friends, and animals that have lost someone they cherish from this illness. Someone they want to say “I love you” to right now. So let’s do that for them—on the count of three, let’s say “We love you” to the men, women, and children throughout the world who have died or are currently fighting for their lives because of HIV/AIDS. One, two, three—

It is so beautiful to hear you all say “I love you” to people who unfortunately—in many situations—don’t hear it nearly enough. 1.6 million young people are homeless each year and 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT. This community is disproportionately affected by this disease. Discrimination can lead to homelessness and once these young people are on the street, many young people find that exchanging sex for food, clothing, and shelter are their only chance of survival, putting them at a much greater risk of contracting HIV/AIDS.

Inspiration is something that makes us feel or do something, especially something creative. amfAR and their amazing team of researchers have used their inventiveness and knowledge to help extend, improve, and save the lives of countless people around the world living with AIDS or vulnerable to the infection. amfAR has funded more than 3,300 grants to research teams worldwide, and in addition to research, amfAR leadership also advances public policy and has helped pass federal legislation to provide people living with HIV the access to care they need and protect their dignity and rights.

My hero is not only a classic entertainer and icon, but is the founding international chairman of amfAR, Dame Elizabeth Taylor. She said, “With celebrity comes responsibility.” She was an illustration of someone who was committed to using their power and fame to bring awareness to something so much greater than her own power and fame.

When I found out I was receiving this award, I thought about just dedicating this award to the admirable life of Ms. Taylor, but it was never about her—she always directed the spotlight to those in need, she was a pioneer and spoke out against hypocrisy and discrimination, compassion, and care in a revolutionary time. For many Americans, it was Elizabeth Taylor who brought the issue of AIDS into the general mainstream. She, with Founding Chairman Dr. Krim and a small group of physicians and scientists, united to form the American Foundation for AIDS Research—amfAR.

Another woman who even though she was unable to be here with us tonight, amfAR and anyone who has said the “stone experience” knows that longtime supporter and Campaign Chair Sharon Stone is definitely here in spirit and maybe under the table pickpocketing you. (I am still not convinced it was the white wine last year that racked up such a bill.) Sharon’s audaciousness makes her one of amfAR most effective spokespeople at the 2014 Cinema Against AIDS event. She helped raise a record $35 million in a single evening. (So don’t be cheap tonight, people—Sharon is watching from nanny cams and has tonight’s roster of attendees with your name, number, and home address—and possibly banking information.)

Chairman of the Board, Mr. Kenneth Cole—I would like to say thank you for all that you do and for this honor tonight. Happy Hippie and I look forward to all that we can do together in and for the future.

And everyone on team Happy Hippie—the future is a blank canvas and I am lucky to be surrounded by artists as devoted and benevolent as you.

Before I finish, I just want to say a few final thank-you’s—

John Dempsey and everyone at MAC Cosmetics and MAC AIDS Fund, thank you so much for introducing me to the amazing people of amfAR and for using your immense brand for making such an impact on the future of HIV/AIDS and those affected. As a little girl, it wasn’t a dream of mine to be the face of a lipstick, but it was a dream of mine to change the world! A quote from John Lennon I love and use way too often is, “A dream you dream alone is only a dream, but a dream you dream together is a reality.” Thank you.

My mom and dad—who are out of the house tonight, which is rare—looks so handsome and beautiful. I want to tell you how much I love you, and how I hope I make you proud. And this makes up for all the torture I’ve put you through. I’m sure being my parents hasn’t been easy, but you are two of the most selfless people and have always taught me and my siblings how important it is to be there for those who need us, how important it is to care. They say you don’t chose your family, but I would pick mine every time. I’d like to think even if you weren’t my mom and dad, we would still be sitting in this room together right now on a quest for a cure. One of my favorite quotes is from another heroine of mine, Audrey Hepburn, who said, “As you grow older, you will discover you have two hands. One for help yourself and one for helping others.” Thank you for instilling the proper priorities in me.

I hope one day I am here on earth to experience an AIDS-free world. And I am honored to have even been a twinkle in the diamond sky of this dream that will be a reality because of the people in this room.

This is a horrible and ghastly disease, and outside of this room there are millions of people—young, old, of all races and genders—who are waiting for a cure to this illness that has brought us all together tonight, and for that I feel thankful. I feel so grateful to be in a room full of so many people who care about other people because unfortunately, that is too rare in the world we live in. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to be standing up here receiving this award tonight. Again, this is a privilege and honor, and amfAR, I will not let this—my life, your dedication and hard work, and all of these valuable souls—go to waste. We will continue to fight against judgement and we will find a cure for HIV/AIDS.

Thank you everyone for tonight.

Read next: Miley Cyrus: ‘You Can Just Be Whatever You Want to Be’

TIME health

How One Teenager Changed the Way the World Sees AIDS

Ryan White
Taro Yamasaki—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Ryan White, 16, a hemophiliac who contracted AIDS, surrounded by mikes held out by reporters on April 21, 1988

Ryan White, who put a new face on AIDS, died 25 years ago

In 1984, when Ryan White was diagnosed with AIDS, the disease itself was still mystified medical professionals. When his name became national news, some of the only things that were well-known about it were that it was terrifying and communicable.

White — who was 18 when he died 25 years ago, on April 8, 1990 — was a hemophiliac and had acquired HIV through a blood transfusion. In and around 1985, he made headlines by trying to attend middle school in his hometown of Kokomo, Ind. Though the state’s health department declared that it was fine for him to attend school as long as he was well enough, the district superintendent decided he would have to attend class by phoning in. His parents sued in response.

As TIME remarked as the case progressed, relatively few people were directly impacted by the case: fewer than 200 school-age Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS at the time. Fear among parents, many of whom were unaware that HIV could not be transmitted through casual contact, was disproportionate.

A year later, in the fall of 1986, White started eighth grade, thanks to a court order — and, then and in the years that followed, he put a familiar face on a disease that had seemed to many Americans to be distant or foreign. The sympathetic story of a young boy who just wanted to go to school ended up helping all AIDS sufferers get a fairer shake; in 1990, for example, shortly after he died, Congress passed his namesake act, which helps Americans get medical care for the disease. As Rev. Ray Probasco, a family friend of the Whites’ who eulogized Ryan, put it:

”Not much was known about the disease back then. So very quickly a great deal of fear permeated Ryan’s community. At first, Ryan and the disease were perceived as one and the same. In time, we saw the boy and the disease, and they were not the same. It was Ryan who first humanized the disease called AIDS. He allowed us to see the boy who just wanted, more than anything else, to be like other children and to be able to go to school.

”And children began asking Ryan, ‘Are you afraid to die?’ And Ryan responded, ‘Everyone’s going to die. If I die, I know I’m going to a better place.’ I believe that God gave us [a] miracle in Ryan. He healed a wounded spirit in the world and made it whole.”

Read TIME’s original 1985 coverage of White’s attempt to attend school, here in the TIME Vault: The AIDS Issue Hits the Schools

TIME Infectious Disease

How an HIV Outbreak Hit the Heartland

TIME.com stock photos Health Syringe Needle
Elizabeth Renstrom—TIME

Drug abuse combined with a spotty public health system are to blame for Indiana's public health emergency

The number of HIV cases found in a remote Indiana county has grown to 120, according to numbers released Friday by the state’s health department, after 79 cases were confirmed there over the last few months. Ten additional cases are awaiting confirmation.

The dozens of cases, described as an epidemic, are centered in Scott County, about a half-hour north of Louisville with a population of about 25,000. Indiana Governor Mike Pence declared a public health emergency there in March after dozens of cases of HIV were discovered.

An outbreak of HIV may seem odd in such a remote part of the country, but it’s been fueled by growing heroin and drug use in rural counties like this one. A number of Midwestern states have struggled with a recent uptick in drug and needle use, and Indiana specifically has seen an increase in the use of a powerful painkiller called Opana, which can be altered and injected. The number of deaths related to opioids like Opana rose from 200 a year in 2002 to 700 in 2012, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

In this area of the state, there’s relatively weak public health infrastructure to prevent the infection from spreading. Scott County is just one of five counties serviced by a single HIV testing clinic, and the county’s relative isolation from a sufficient public health system can help explain the virus’s rapid growth, says Beth Meyerson, an Indiana University health professor and co-director of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention.

“The system isn’t working and isn’t strong enough from a public health perspective,” Meyerson says.

In a 2013 study by the non-partisan organization Trust for America’s Health, Indiana ranked last in federal funding per capita from the Centers for Disease Control. The national average spent per capita was $19.54. In Indiana, $13.72 was spent on each Hoosier.

Indiana has also seen an increase in Hepatitis C in many rural communities, says Meyerson, another warning sign that HIV may be spreading. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, about 25% of people who have HIV in the U.S. are co-infected with Hepatitis C.

On Thursday, state authorities stepped in. Gov. Pence allowed local officials to start a 30-day needle-exchange program in Scott County as a way to stop the outbreak. “I do not enter this lightly,” Pence said, according to the Indianapolis Star. “In response to a public health emergency, I’m prepared to make an exception to my long-standing opposition to needle exchange programs.”

MORE This Contraceptive is Linked to a Higher Risk of HIV

While dozens of cases have been reported, it’s likely that there are many more still unconfirmed. “I don’t expect these counties will remain the center of the epidemic,” Meyerson says. “I’m sure it’s going to be in other parts of southern Indiana, wherever our system is the weakest. We don’t know what we don’t know right now.”

Read next: At Least 120 Now Infected In Indiana HIV Outbreak

Listen to the most important stories of the day.


Scientists Find a Way to Block HIV from Infecting Healthy Cells

Getty Images HIV viruses infecting a human immune cell

Researchers overcome a major hurdle in developing the ultimate protection against HIV

Reporting in the journal Nature, scientists describe a new way to potentially block HIV from infiltrating healthy cells. Such interference is key to protecting people from HIV infection, but most efforts so far haven’t been successful.

This time, however, may be different. Michael Farzan, professor of infectious diseases at Scripps Research Institute, and his team used a gene therapy technique to introduce a specific HIV disruptor that acted like gum on HIV’s keys. Once stuck on the virus’s surface, the peptide complex prevents HIV from slipping into the molecular locks on healthy cells. Because the gum isn’t picky about which HIV strain it sticks to—as long as it’s HIV—the strategy works against all of the strains Farzan’s group tested in the lab, including both HIV-1 and HIV-2 versions that transmit among people, as well as simian versions that infect monkeys. In lab dishes containing the virus and human and animal cells, the disruptor managed to neutralize 100% of the virus, meaning it protected the cells from getting infected at all.

MORE: The End of AIDS

The strategy is based on what HIV experts know about how the virus infects healthy cells. HIV looks for a protein, or receptor on immune cells called CD4, which serves as the lock, and uses a specially designed portion of its own viral coat made up of three proteins as the key. Once HIV finds its target and the match is made, the virus changes its shape to better slip inside the healthy cell, where it takes over the cell’s machinery and churns out more copies of itself. Farzan’s gum, called eCD4-Ig, not only seeks out these parts of the key and renders them useless, but by glomming onto the key, also causes the virus to morph prematurely in search of its lock. Once in lock-finding mode, the virus can’t return to its previous state and therefore is no longer infectious.

The encouraging results suggest that eCD4-Ig could provide long-term protection against HIV infection, like a vaccine; in four monkeys treated with gene therapy to receive eCD4-Ig, none became infected with HIV even after several attempts to infect them with the virus. The protection also seems to be long-lasting. So far, the treated monkeys have survived more than a year despite being exposed to HIV, while untreated control monkeys have died after getting infected.

MORE: This Contraceptive Is Linked to a Higher Risk of HIV

The strategy, while promising, is still many steps away from being tested in people. Farzan used a cold virus to introduce the eCD4-Ig complex directly into the muscle of the animals, and it’s not clear whether this will be best strategy for people. Previous gene therapy methods have led to safety issues, and concerns have been raised about controlling where and how much of the introduced material gets deposited in the body. It may also be possible to give the peptide as an injection every few years to maintain its anti-HIV effect.

MORE: HIV Treatment Works, Says CDC

Farzan anticipates that if proven safe, the strategy could help both infected patients keep levels of HIV down, as well as protect uninfected, high-risk individuals from getting infected. But many more tests will need to be done before we might see those results. Four monkeys can provide valuable information, but can’t answer questions about safety and efficacy with any confidence. “Things change when we get to humans and when we get to larger numbers,” he says. “But the data in monkeys are as encouraging as one could hope.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 3

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. “Even from a libertarian point of view, vaccination is a matter of rational self-interest.”

By Ben Boychuk in the Orange County Register

2. ‘Doubt everything:’ Ukrainian students are warning their Russian counterparts not to trust Putin.

By Arslan Saidov and Claire Bigg in the Guardian

3. To reach kids where they are, provide teens crisis counseling by text.

By Alice Gregory in the New Yorker

4. Is the secret to a cure for HIV lurking in dormant pools of the virus?

By Catharine Paddock in Medical News Today

5. 3D-printed ‘cool bricks’ can naturally air condition a room.

By Whitney Hipolite in 3DPrint.com

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Infectious Disease

Unlicensed Cambodian Medic Charged With Murder After Allegedly Spreading HIV

212 HIV cases were found in the community where he practiced

An unlicensed medic is being charged with murder after Cambodian medical authorities found 212 cases of HIV in the district where he had been treating patients, allegedly with contaminated equipment.

Yem Chrin treated poor patients and was believed to have healing powers, Reuters reports. However, he did not have a medical license and was allegedly delivering injections and blood transfusions using unclean equipment. Authorities tested 1,940 people in the northwestern province where Yem Chrin worked, and 212 tested positive for HIV. Some children as young as 6 years old tested positive for the virus, according to al-Jazeera.

Yem Chrin allegedly told police that he sometimes used the same syringe on two or three patients before disposing of it.

The World Health Organization and UNAIDS found that “the percentage of people that reported receiving an injection or intravenous infusion as part of their health treatment was significantly higher among the people who tested positive for HIV than the people who were HIV negative,” in the area in which Yem Chrin treated patients, Reuters reports.

The development is a setback in Cambodia’s largely successful efforts to eradicate the virus since it first spread through the country in the 1990s.



African Countries Should Spend More in AIDS Response, Study Says

A mother holds the hand of her Aids stricken son in Rakai, Ugand
Getty Images

To meet AIDS eradication goals, study says funding should be re-allocated

Twelve African countries with the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS are currently the largest recipients of international AIDS funding. But it’s now possible for many of them to make domestic spending on the disease a priority, a new study says.

As countries in sub-Saharan Africa gain better financial footing, funds from donor countries are tightening. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and the Results for Development Institute decided to test a couple of scenarios to see whether funding for the AIDS response could be re-allocated so African countries would finance a greater share.

Their results, published in the journal The Lancet Global Health, show that overall, the 12 countries—Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia—could provide a greater share of the costs of AIDS programs in their countries over the next five years. However, several countries will still need support from donors, even if they were to provide their maximum funds.

MORE: The End of AIDS

By looking at factors like expected growth and total government spending, and then comparing them to the countries’ AIDS needs, the researchers found that in most scenarios, AIDS expenditures for three of the upper-middle-income countries (Botswana, Namibia and South Africa) exceed their needs. In many cases, they found, these three countries could actually fund their needs solely from domestic resources. Other low-income countries like Mozambique and Ethiopia would still need to largely rely on donors.

Currently, the dozen countries are home to more than 50% of AIDS cases worldwide, as well as 56% of financial aid for the disease. They also account for 83% of funding from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which makes up one of the largest shares of international donations. In 2014, the United Nations program UNAIDS estimated that a “fast-tracked” response to ending the AIDS epidemic would mean we’d need $35 billion each year by 202o, but in 2012, only $19 billion was available and almost half came from international sources. To meet such goals, the researchers suggest their new funding strategy.

Almost none of the 12 countries meet possible financing benchmarks that the study authors believe to be reasonable. If the countries spent more domestically, researchers say that self-funding could increase 2.5 times and could cover 64% of future needs. That would still leave a gap of about $7.9 billion.

“Coupled with improved resource tracking, such metrics could enhance transparency and accountability for efficient use of money and maximize the effect of available funding to prevent HIV infections and save lives,” the study authors conclude. Sharing the financial burden of AIDS more equitably may be one strategy for eradicating the disease faster.

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