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Scott McQuade
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Scott McQuade advocates for health and development
Scott McQuade advocates for health and development

1,230 followers
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The face of despair.

South African drug users have for several years been mixing up a cocktail they call Nyaope: a blend of rat poison, HIV medicine, heroin and even pool cleaning chemicals - anything to deliver a hit at less than $2 a shot. It's addictive and devastating.

Users risk overdoses, infections and even losing limbs. Almost half of all people who inject drugs in Tshwane district are HIV positive. More than 90% contract hepatitis. "They usually die from AIDS-related complications... from untreated TB and hepatitis C."

Lately they have been dabbling in a low-tech pursuit known as 'Bluetooth' that has resulted in several users losing fingers and even their arms. Bluetooth involves extracting blood from somebody already high on Nyaope, and re-injecting it - often with a shared needle.

Bluetooth doesn't work: "It's amazing what the mind can do because the effects are purely mental," researcher Shaun Shelly says.

Meanwhile, on the coast, the city of Durban has cancelled a needle and syringe programme for people who inject drugs - funded by the US Government - because a freak storm washed dozens of used needles onto the main beach (read: http://bhekisisa.org/article/2018-05-30-00-durban-cuts-citys-only-needle-exchange-programme). Locals have been upset for some time about used needles on the beach. Efforts are underway to get the programme reinstated. Hopefully the authorities will also understand the benefits of having a safe injecting room and rehabilitation programme.

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Sex workers continue to bear the brunt of political ineptitude. Whether it be the Swedish model (criminalize the client: see http://www.sweat.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Sex-work-Swedish-model-Asijiki-1.pdf) or this USA effort "Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act", the seemingly well-intentioned efforts of politicians and advocates to protect women who ply the sex trade continue to have negative side effects - for them and others.
The issues are complicated by trafficking in women, both within countries and internationally, and the anti-social lifestyles of many who participate in this activity.
The fundamental problem in handling this, is morals, especially opposition in the name of religion or other mindsets. Many people seem unable to accept that (mostly) women sell, and men buy, sex.
It ain't pretty, but the sex trade continues and genuine efforts are needed to ensure that this trade is safe and free of infection and exploitation.
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Grindr has responsibilities to the wider communities. That does not include sharing something as profoundly personal (and still stigmatized) as HIV status.
Lesson learned?
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Like anybody else... just with HIV. Inspiration from people born with a lifelong chronic disease.
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Rights activists are livid after South African censors confined award-winning movie Inxeba (The Wound) to adult-only cinemas. Traditional Xhosa leaders said it revealed secret circumcision rites. Critics claim the real issue is homophobia against the coming-out story within the coming-of-age film. Cultural traditions and gay rights are both protected by the modern South African constitution, making the dispute seemingly intractable.
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How will I ever find someone to love when I am HIV positive?
Nigerian entrepreneurs debut an HIV-positive dating site to coincide with Valentine's Day.
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What's your city doing to end the AIDS epidemic?
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London UK, signed the Paris Declaration on Fast-Track Cities this week. The Declaration encourages cities to commit to taking actions to reduce new infections, end stigma and get people at risk into testing and counselling, and if needed into treatment and care. More than 200 cities have signed since 2014. This video explains how their actions and progress are tracked in publicly-accessible dashboards, available at http://www.fast-trackcities.org/
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Simpler, longer-acting drugs will be welcomed by anyone with a chronic disease that needs perpetual treatment.
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People shun HIV treatment for fear of stigma.
"If you thought the provision of life-saving medication was the key to eradicating the HIV/Aids epidemic, you were wrong. Turns out it’s a little more complex."
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Today, 1 December, is World AIDS Day. It's as good a time as any to reflect on the struggles of people who live with HIV infection and the millions who have died of AIDS-related illnesses.
It is also a good time to be happy about how far we have come - with more than half of all people living with HIV now on treatment - but also to ponder how do we finally end this epidemic?
To end AIDS, men and women need to be equally involved, yet too few men use protection (condoms) or get tested and treated. For everyone's sake, we need to fill the #BlindSpot in the AIDS response. #WAD2017
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