Researchers Credit PrEP With 21% Drop In HIV Diagnoses In United Kingdom

Excellent news from the United Kingdom where HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men dropped a whopping 21% in 2016 compared to the previous year.

In London alone, the decline was even bigger with 29% fewer diagnoses.

From The Advocate:

Public Health England, which tracked the numbers, called it the “most exciting development in the UK HIV epidemic in 20 years,” reports the Daily Mail.

In fact, according to PHE’s Dr. Valerie Delpech, “It is the first time since the beginning of the HIV epidemic in the 1980s that we have observed a decline in new HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men.”

Researchers point to pre-exposure prophylaxis — a daily dose of medication that has a success rate of up to 99 percent in preventing HIV — as a likely reason for this plunge.

Truvada, the only drug approved for use as PrEP, can be costly. But NHS England, which oversees the budgeting of the country’s Department of Health, began funding the use of Truvada as PrEP last August, after a ruling from England’s High Court mandated that it do so.

UK: Marriage equality passes in House of Lords 390-148

Marriage equality has passed in the UK’s House of Lords by a wide margin in a 390-148 vote.

From the Guardian:

“The size of the majority means the bill must now be certain to become law.

“However, it is still likely that attempts will be made to amend it in the Lords, in particular to strengthen the protection available to churches who do not want to conduct gay weddings.

“Lady Stowell, a government whip, told peers in her wind-up speech that the government would not necessarily object to amendments of this kind.”

Moving along, moving right along…

Click here for a guide mapping out the next steps for the legislation.

Read more at the Guardian.

From the UK marriage equality debate: “Separate but equal is a fraud”

One of the clearest and most direct speeches given yesterday during the debate shortly before the House of Commons approved marriage equality came from UK Labour MP David Lammy.

Excerpt from Lammy’s speech:

Let me speak frankly.

“Separate but equal” is a fraud. Separate but equal” is the language that tried to push Rosa Parks to the back of the bus. Separate but equal” is the motif that determined that black and white could not possibly drink from the same water fountain, eat at the same table or use the same toilets. “Separate but equal” are the words that justified sending black children to different schools from their white peers – schools that would fail them and condemn them to a life of poverty.

It is an excerpt from the phrasebook of the segregationists and the racists. It is the same statement, the same ideas and the same delusion that we borrowed in this country to say that women could vote – but not until they were 30. It is the same naivety that gave made my dad a citizen in 1956 but refused to condemn the landlords that proclaimed “no blacks, no Irish, no dogs”. It entrenched who we were, who our friends could be and what our lives could become.

This was not “Separate but equal” but “Separate AND discriminated”,

“Separate AND oppressed”.

“Separate AND browbeaten”.

“Separate AND subjugated”.

Separate is NOT equal, so let us be rid of it.

Because as long as there is one rule for us and another for them, we allow the barriers to acceptance to stand unchallenged. As long as our statute books suggest that the love between two men or two women is unworthy of being recognised through marriage, we allow the rot of homophobia to fester.

(via Towleroad)

Marriage equality bill for England introduced in House of Commons

Marriage equality bill for England and Wales introduced in the House of Commons:

The government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales has officially been introduced in the House of Commons by Culture Secretary Maria Miller. A full debate by MPs and a vote on the proposals will take place on 5 February, with the bill due to be published ahead of that tomorrow.

Following a government consultation, Mrs Miller first outlined the plans to MPs in December. All religious organisations, including the Church of England and Church in Wales, will be legally barred from marrying same-sex couples unless they choose to opt in.

The Equality Act 2010 is to be amended to ensure that no discrimination claim could be brought against religious organisations or an individual minister for refusing to marry gay couples (or allowing their premises to be used for this purpose.

Free HIV Treatment for All England Residents Now in Effect

From AIDSMeds:

HIV treatment is now officially free for all who need it in England, including undocumented migrants and non-United Kingdom citizens, as per legislation that went into effect October 1, and has been reviewed in detail by aidsmap.

Other countries of the U.K may still technically charge for HIV treatment, depending on immigration status. However, this this hasn’t been actively pursued in Scotland or Wales in recent years; in Northern Ireland, charges for HIV treatment have sometimes been rigorously enforced.

The National AIDS Trust (NAT), aidsmap reports, has called for a formal change in the law in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to ensure that free universal access to HIV treatment is guaranteed across the U.K., not just in England.