At the 4th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific yesterday, a group of prostitutes said that if men would wear condoms, the spread of AIDS could be slowed.
The sex workers told the conference in Manila that AIDS was not spread by prostitution, but by unsafe working conditions. "You need at least 20 minutes to negotiate condom use," said Khantini Slahnaih, a male prostitute from Malaysia. He said that sex workers often were forced into their jobs by poverty. "There are a lot of people thinking we like to sell our bodies. It's not true." Slahnaih also demanded that authorities end their harassment of prostitutes, including rape, assault, extortion and other humiliations. The sex workers also spoke out against Taipei's recent criminalization of prostitution, and said they were ordinary people who needed medical coverage and other job benefits.
A government study released in New Delhi on Sunday showed that only 3% of Indian men use condoms. The Indian Health Organisation estimates that a quarter of a million Indians have AIDS, and another 5 million have HIV.
Other experts said that, despite governmental promotion, condom use is still low. In Bangladesh, only 4.4% of men use condoms despite three decades of government promotion. In New Guinea, less than one-third of stores sell condoms, and more than half of those sell condoms that have passed their expiration date. An officer for UN AIDS in Vietnam said that prostitutes were unlikely to use condoms, in hopes of getting bigger tips, or because they couldn't afford them.
At the conference on Sunday, experts stated that the use of condoms to stop the spread of AIDS was being opposed in many Asian countries. Paula Kelly, an AIDS coordinator for CARE in Vietnam, said that "programs telling women to insist on condoms are a waste of time and money" because "insistence on condom use can easily be the precursor of violence" by men against women. Religious groups also posed problems, said Peter Piot of the U.N Program on AIDS. Before the conference, the Catholic church in Manila issued statements against using condoms to stop AIDS. "I don't expect the Catholic church to actively promote condoms (as long as) it doesn't object to them. I expect them not to be an obstacle," said Piot.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .