Connect with us


Publication highlights realities of access to HIV drugs

The policy brief examines challenges to accessing affordable HIV treatment for people living with HIV and key populations, provides recommendations for increasing access in middle-income countries.




A number of global HIV networks released a joint policy brief entitled Access Challenges for HIV Treatment Among People Living with HIV and Key Populations in the Middle-Income Countries. The policy brief articulates how prevailing economic and trade interests compromise access to life-saving generic drugs, resulting in a devastating impact on communities of people living with HIV and key populations, including men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, sex workers and people who inject drugs.

The policy brief is the product of a collaboration between Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), the Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF), the International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD), the Global Network of Sex Work Project (NSWP), and the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC). Each partner organization focuses on access to medicines as a priority for their respective constituencies.

The policy brief documents how access to a sustainable supply of newer, simpler, less toxic, and more potent antiretroviral medicines (ARVs) in middle income countries (MICs) is in jeopardy due to a constellation of factors, including pricing and patents, intellectual property regimes, the broader regulatory environment, and a lack of government investment in science and technology. All of these issues are further complicated by additional structural barriers that significantly impede access to essential HIV prevention and treatment services for key populations, including laws that criminalise the behavior of key populations and people living with HIV.

“We call on the governments of MICs to further tighten their patent laws, regulate all pharmaceutical companies, reject from the outset any provisions in all trade agreements that undermine access to medicines, and fully exploit TRIPS flexibilities to facilitate a sustainable supply of high quality generic medicines,” said Raoul Fransen, international coordinator/CEO (ad interim) of GNP+. “Access to high-quality, fixed-dose combination, first line ARV regimens and a greater range of possible second and third line regimens are essential to the health and well-being of people living with HIV.”

Based on current epidemiological trends, the vast majority of people living with HIV will be from MICs by the year 2020. Currently, less than one-third of those who need treatment have access to life-saving drugs in MICs, and these countries face an additional crisis of escalating costs for HIV medicines due to high country-level burdens of HIV.

“Governments in MICs are not always well prepared to address the challenges to public health posed by current trade rules, especially when so many countries are already paying exorbitant prices for most antiretroviral medicines” said Othman Mellouk, the regional advocacy coordinator for ITPC North Africa and co-chair of the MSMGF. “With respect to key populations, a country’s ability to pay is not always commensurate with its willingness to pay. In nearly every country around the world, key populations bear the greatest disease burden. Yet these populations continue to face high drug costs, severe stigma and discrimination, and gender and economic inequality, all of which limit their access to treatment, prevention, care and support services.”

Despite these barriers, the policy brief provides numerous examples that demonstrate how key populations have mobilized successfully and used the human rights framework effectively to secure access to treatment for HIV, hepatitis C, and other medicines for non-communicable diseases. However, extremely limited funding and political support for key populations could undermine this success.

“We have less than 1,000 days to realize the UNAIDS political commitment of ensuring that 15 million people living with HIV have access to treatment by 2015,” said Dr. George Ayala, executive director of the MSMGF. “The treatment gap has widened since the revision of the WHO’s recommendation to initiate ART at CD4 counts below 500 cells/mm^3. This policy brief is the latest call for improved access to and scale-up of treatment.”

Dr. Ayala adds: “People living with HIV, including MSM, transgender people, sex workers, and people who inject drugs stand united at this critical juncture in the global AIDS response. Governments and pharmaceutical companies worldwide should expect reinvigorated community mobilization and stepped-up advocacy from our networks in the days ahead. Closing the treatment gap successfully requires an unwavering and vocal constituency-led response.”


Gender bias kept alive by people who think it’s dead

Most managers rated the male worker as more competent, and recommended a higher salary – an average 8% pay gap. The “key drivers” of this gap were managers who thought bias no longer existed in their profession, while those who believed bias still existed recommended roughly equal pay.



Stencil artwork by thepinkbear.rebel street artist; from

Workplace gender bias is being kept alive by people who think it’s no longer an issue, new research suggests.

In the study – titled “In some professions women have become well-represented, yet gender bias persists – perpetuated by those who think it is not happening” and published in the journal Science Advances – the only difference being either a male or female name.

Most managers rated the male worker as more competent, and recommended a higher salary – an average 8% pay gap. The “key drivers” of this gap were managers who thought bias no longer existed in their profession, while those who believed bias still existed recommended roughly equal pay.

This means holding this belief constitutes a “critical risk factor”, and may be vital to identifying who in a profession is perpetuating issues of gender bias.

Two thirds of the managers who thought gender bias no longer existed were men, but female managers with this opinion undervalued female staff just as much as male managers did.


The research -by the University of Exeter, Skidmore College and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) – focused on the veterinary profession.

“Managers who thought gender bias is no longer an issue recommended annual pay that was £2,564 ($3,206) higher for men than for women,” said lead author Dr Christopher Begeny, of the University of Exeter. “This represents an 8% gap – which closely matches the real pay gap we see in veterinary medicine.”

When one breaks this down, “it’s like going to that male employee after an hour’s work and saying, ‘ya know what, here’s an extra two bucks – not because you’re particularly qualified or good at your job, but simply because you’re a man’. And then the next hour, you go back and give that male employee another $2, and the next hour another $2. And on and on, continuing to do that every hour for the next 2,000 hours of work.”


The research was made up of two studies.

The first asked vets about their experiences, and showed women were more likely than men to report experiencing discrimination, and less likely to experience recognition among colleagues for their value and worth.

In the second study, managers participated in a randomised double-blind experiment, with the stated purpose of “understanding their experiences managing others”.

They were each given a fictitious performance review for a veterinary surgeon. Everyone was given an identical performance review, except that the name of the vet differed: either Mark or Elizabeth. The managers then evaluated the vet’s performance/competence and indicated the salary they would advise if this employee was in their own practice.

“The resulting evaluations were systematically biased among those who thought gender bias was no longer an issue,” said co-author, Professor Michelle Ryan, of the University of Exeter. “Unsurprisingly, these biased evaluations led to lower pay recommendations for female vets.”

Managers who thought gender bias is no longer an issue recommended annual pay that was £2,564 ($3,206) higher for men than for women. This represents an 8% gap – which closely matches the real pay gap we see in veterinary medicine.


The studies also found:

  • Vets were split over whether gender bias still existed in their profession (44% said yes, 42% said no; the rest were undecided).
  • Gender bias among managers who thought bias was not an issue was not only evident among those who strongly believed this, but also those who only slightly held this view.
  • Because of seeing the female as less competent, managers were also less likely to advise giving her more managerial responsibilities, and less likely to encourage her to pursue important opportunities for promotion. This shows how managers’ biases not only affect women’s current employment situation (current pay) but can affect the entire trajectory of their career, by discouraging them from pursuing promotions.
  • All of these effects held true when controlling for managers’ own gender, their years of managerial experience, how long they’ve been in the profession, etc.
  • They also held true when controlling for managers’ endorsement of more overtly sexist beliefs (i.e., endorsement of hostile sexism)

Women have outnumbered men in the veterinary profession for more than a decade, so biased perceptions of women lacking competence might be expected to have disappeared.

The bias shown in this study may be a harbinger of what’s to come in other professions – those that are striving to increase women’s representation, perhaps thinking, erroneously, that this will resolve any issues of gender bias.

Photo by Jean-Philippe Delberghe from

“With many professions working to increase the number of women in their ranks, companies need to be careful not to equate gender diversity with gender equality – even with equal numbers you can have unequal treatment,” said Dr Begeny. “There is no ‘silver bullet’ to ensure gender equality has been achieved. Ongoing vigilance is required, including awareness training to guard against some forms of bias.”

For Dr Begeny: “It is also important to have ‘guardrails’ that help prevent discrimination, including by removing names from job applications, which can signal the applicant’s gender, and ensuring standard questions in interviews.”

Overall, this research highlights a rather “insidious paradox that can arise when individuals misperceive the level of progress made on gender equality in their profession, such that those who mistakenly think gender bias is no longer an issue become the highest risk for perpetuating it,” Dr begeny ended.

Continue Reading


Facebook, Instagram ban contents promoting conversion ‘therapy’

Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) will reportedly start banning any content that promotes the so-called “conversion therapy”.



Photo by @screenpost from

Long time coming.

Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) will reportedly start banning any content that promotes the so-called “conversion therapy”.

“Conversion therapy” is the most widely-used term used to describe practices attempting to change, suppress or divert one’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. It is also called reorientation therapy, reparative therapy, reintegrative therapy, or, more recently, support for unwanted same-sex attraction or transgender identities.

Medical associations are critical of this practice – e.g. the World Psychiatric Association criticized these as “wholly unethical,” and the Pan American Health Organization warned that they pose “a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.”

As reported, Facebook is expanding its existing policies on hate speech worldwide to include posts that advertise or promote the practice.

This actually comes at the heels of appeals from users to remove an Instagram account used by Core Issues Trust, a UK-based promoter of conversion therapy.

In a statement related to the appeals, Tara Hopkins, Instagram’s public policy director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said in a statement: “We don’t allow attacks against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity and are updating our policies to ban the promotion of conversion therapy services. We have removed violating content from @coreissuestrusttv. We are always reviewing our policies and will continue to consult with experts and people with personal experiences to inform our approach.”

The platform will similarly stop recommending content related to conversion therapy, including testimonials to its supposed efficacy, or posts in praise of or in support of the practice.

In case info re “conversion therapy” shows in your newsfeed, it may be because it’s from a “legislative context”, which remains allowed.

Earlier in 2020, Instagram banned advertisements for the process.

Continue Reading


Pushing to be pro-LGBTQIA beyond Pride month

Many companies surface during Pride month to claim their supposed pro-LGBTQIA credentials, meriting a closer look. Outrage Magazine interviews Everise Philippines on this.



Screencap from the FB page of Everise Philippines

For June, just as members of the LGBTQIA community marked Pride, Everise Philippines – one of the emerging BPOs in the country – launched the “Love Experience” (LX) campaign to symbolize the company’s move to “encourage empathy and acceptance of all”; and released the “LX Heartbeat Headset” to “spark dialogue about how change has to come from within” via a rainbow-inspired headset (which is, obviously, ubiquitous in the BPO industry).

“As a vehicle for communication, (this) is intended to remind people that no matter who is on the other end of the line, it is important to listen with an empathetic ear and turn any hateful speech into an open and tolerant dialogue,” the company stated in a press release at that time.

But much has been said about the “participation” of private companies in LGBTQIA Pride, with many of them traversing a thin line that could signify real support or… to be honest, co-opting of the rainbow to boost image and, thus, the bottom-lines (and many times, Pride organizers are complacent to this).

This is, therefore, where various companies’ after-Pride efforts merit scrutiny; on whether what they do is just for show, or they really mean to help a community that continues to experience discrimination.

At least for Everise Philippines, “diversity is one of Everise’s core values and is embedded in our culture,” said Ma Ann Reyes, VP for human resources. And “although affirmative action helps with our diversity goals, we are conscious that it should not be the basis for decision making, because it can lead to reverse discrimination.”

And so the company contributes to the “larger community” by providing donations (e.g. car rides and clothes; just as it gives daily essentials to elderly gay people who have no family).

Beyond handouts, though, and “since the company’s inception, Everise Philippines has offered same-sex benefits, “including maternity benefit schemes, and healthcare policies where partners can be listed as dependents.” Gender-neutral bathrooms are also available in offices.

“Everise Philippines provides equal employment opportunities to our people irrespective of gender, religion, ethnicity, nationality, color, physical ability or sexual orientation. Our employees are given the same fair access to opportunities, including access to jobs, training and development, and promotional opportunities. Our compensation and benefits policies do not favor any individual group, and is based on the experience, skills and overall contribution to business goals,” said Reyes.

Asked if the company has future plans in helping the LGBTQIA community re: A) Pushing for anti-discrimination bill/law in the Philippines; Pushing for marriage equality; and C) Pushing for gender recognition law in the country, Reyes said that “when it comes to our people’s welfare, we make a stand that they should not be discriminated against and we maintain our commitment to diversity and inclusion practices.”

For Reyes, “the workplace should be a safe and comfortable space for everyone, and businesses have the responsibility of keeping it that way. For many LGBTQIA employees, this isn’t always the case, and workplace discrimination often goes unnoticed. However, if businesses were to introduce policies and measures that support the LGBTQIA community, it could have a direct impact on individuals, which can lessen discrimination and increase openness. By creating an LGBTQIA inclusive environment, LGBTQIA staff can be themselves, feel more welcome, and thrive within any company.”

In the end, “Everise Philippines’ success and growth… are determined by its ability to welcome, understand, and efficiently manage diversity. We believe that when people of
different backgrounds and beliefs work together as a team, we progress collectively. By promoting this internally within Everise Philippines, we hope our culture will spread externally around the world and showcase how successful a company can be when everyone has a voice,” Reyes said.

Continue Reading


Documenting sexual orientation and gender identity is critical – study

In spite of the recommendations that sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), as well as sexual behavior, be routinely documented for all patients accessing clinical care, collection of this data and documentation remains abysmally low especially for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA) communities.



Photo by Lisa Fotios from

In spite of the recommendations that sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), as well as sexual behavior, be routinely documented for all patients accessing clinical care, collection of this data and documentation remains abysmally low especially for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA) communities.

Most electronic health records (EHR) do not have expanded data fields that include all aspects of SOGI and data are not uniformly captured across EHR platforms. While provider discomfort is often cited as a reason for low SOGI data collection, all patients report high levels of acceptance and satisfaction with the collection of personal SOGI data.

“SOGI is an important dimension of individual self-perception and behavior, and has profound effects on health, whether a patient identifies as an LGBTQIA, cisgender (nontransgender), or a heterosexual person,” explains Carl Streed, Jr., MD, MPH, FACP, assistant professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), in an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health.

Streed, who also is a primary care physician and research lead in the Center for Transgender Medicine & Surgery at Boston Medical Center, believes the collection of SOGI data are a critical step in systematically documenting and addressing health disparities affecting LGBTQIA persons.

“Patient-provider discussions about SOGI can facilitate a more accurate assessment of self-reported health and behaviors. Additionally, if clinicians do not know their patients’ SOGI status and sexual behavior, important therapeutic and preventive services may be ignored, including HIV screening, appropriate referrals for behavioral health care and support services that incorporate patients’ specific needs,” he says.

In addition to improving care, Streed believes the gathering of structured SOGI data will facilitate information sharing for clinical care, research and public health interventions that can reduce health care disparities in these underserved populations.

“Gathering SOGI structured data in clinical settings via EHRs will help clinicians, researchers, health care system administrators and policymakers better understand LGBTQIA health regarding disparities in insurance coverage, access to care, diagnosis, and treatment of health conditions. As LGBTQIA+ persons are at increased risk for worse COVID-19 outcomes, SOGI data collection in EHRs would further elucidate public health disparities and identify opportunities for interventions,” he says.

Streed stresses that additional policies that mandate, incentivize and enforce SOGI data collection are needed to increase compliance and the use of data. “With the proliferation of EHRs and federal guidance for their implementation, the tools to routinize complete and comprehensive SOGI data collection exist; what remains is the will to adapt and improve our health care system.”

Continue Reading


Back-riding also allowed for LGBTQIA couples; but proof of relationship required

Supposedly as a means to help Filipinos who need various modes of transportation to go from point A to B, even LGBTQIA people in relationships are now allowed to “back-ride” in general community quarantine (GCQ) areas. The catch: They need to provide proof that they are couples or live-in partners.



Photo by Davids Kokainis from

Supposedly pro-equality, though also highlighting the lack of legal standing of LGBTQIA relationships.

As the Philippines – and the rest of the world, for that matter – enters the “new normal”, and supposedly as a means to help Filipinos who need various modes of transportation to go from point A to B, even LGBTQIA people in relationships are now allowed to “back-ride” in general community quarantine (GCQ) areas. The catch: They need to provide proof that they are couples or live-in partners.

This was announced by Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Police Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar, who stated at the Laging Handa public briefing: “Binanggit ng National Task Force na ito ay para sa married couple and others na live-in partners. So in essence, kung ‘yung ating mga kasamahan sa LGBTQI ay magkasama sa isang bahay at sila naman ay live-in partners, kasama rin sila doon.

He added: “Ang kailangan lamang po ay mga patunay na sila ay nakatira doon sa iisang lugar o iisang address ng iisang bahay para mapatunayan na sila ay magkasama.

And so for couples with both people assigned males or both assigned females at birth, authorities “could consider” their IDs… preferably specifically stating that they live under the same roof.

Sa ngayon, kung nagpatunay lang na meron silang ID doon, ayun po ay kino-consider natin,” Eleazar said.

Since not all co-habiting same-sex couples share the same address, an extra work is necessitated: “Kung makakakuha ng additional certification coming from the barangay, maganda din po ‘yan.”

Aside from highlighting the lack of legal recognition of LGBTQIA relationships in the Philippines, this attempt to allow back-riding is actually criticized – e.g. a barrier is still required between the driver and the back-rider (supposedly to “prevent COVID-19 infection in case some people may take advantage and pretend to be married couples or partners); and only couples are allowed to exclude other people who may actually be also living under the same roof (such as parents and their children).

Tuloy-tuloy lang po ang pag-aaral ng ating TWG (Technical Working Group) ng IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) para ma-improve pa ang sistema na ito para sa kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan,” Eleazar said.

Continue Reading


Opposition to sexual- and gender-minority rights linked to support for Christian dominance

Opposition to sexual- and gender-minority rights was correlated with Christian and political conservatism, and with the belief that Christians should be the dominant group in society.



Photo by Jon Tyson from

Many Christian and political conservatives in support legislation to deny sexual and gender minorities the rights others enjoy: unfettered access to jobs, housing, services and public facilities; the opportunity to marry as they choose; and the right to adopt a child.

A study published in the American Journal of Community Psychology offers insight into the factors that correlate with support for such laws. The study asked 1,015 heterosexual college undergraduates who self-identified as either Christian (68%) or nonreligious a series of questions to determine their thoughts and attitudes about Christian privilege and power in society. The researchers also asked whether participants supported or opposed efforts to curtail the rights of sexual and gender minorities.

In the US for instance, “aAlthough same-sex marriage is now the law of the land… there continue to be problems with employment discrimination, housing discrimination and other types of discrimination against sexual and gender minorities,” said Nathan Todd, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who led the study. “One of the key barriers to those rights has been opposition from some Christian and political conservatives. We wanted to know whether people’s ideas about political power explain some of this opposition.”

Todd and his colleagues evaluated participants’ take on Christian power and influence in society. The students were asked to rank how strongly they agreed or disagreed with statements such as: “To be Christian is to have religious advantage in this country.” Or, “Christianity is valued more in this society than other religions.”

The researchers also asked participants whether Christians “should have religious advantage in this country,” or if Christianity “should be valued more in this society than other religions.” These questions differentiated participants’ awareness of advantages conferred to Christians in the U.S. from the belief that such advantages are right and should exist, Todd said.

Because Christian practices and traditions are so embedded in life and politics, identifying as Christian confers a lot of privileges, he said.

“People who are Christian are not singled out or asked to speak for their religion on a regular basis, as members of other religions often are,” Todd said. “Christians (including the US) do not face systemic bias or violence based on their religion and they do not live in fear of this type of experience.”

Other advantages stem from the fact that government and school calendars revolve around the Christian sabbath and Christian holidays. A large majority of elected officials also identify as Christian.

“All of these factors work together to the advantage of Christians,” Todd said.

Participants also rated their support or opposition to specific sexual- and gender-minority rights, such as the right to marry, to adopt children or to have equal access to jobs and housing, and to use public bathroom facilities that align with one’s gender identity. They also rated how strongly they identified as political conservatives, and Christian students rated how strongly their religious beliefs aligned with conservative Christian views.

“Our analyses revealed that opposition to sexual- and gender-minority rights was correlated with Christian and political conservatism, and with the belief that Christians should be the dominant group in society,” Todd said.

Further analyses suggested that greater support for Christians being the dominant group in power in the society partially explains why Christian conservatives and political conservatives oppose sexual- and gender-minority rights, he said. These findings were consistent across Christian and nonreligious students.

“Our goal with this study is not to antagonize or demonize political or Christian conservatives, but to learn more about what drives them to support or oppose sexual- and gender-minority rights,” Todd said. “I also think it’s a mistake to characterize all Christians as thinking or acting the same way, especially as some Christians do support rights for sexual and gender minorities.”

Todd said he hopes the research will increase constructive dialogue by promoting a broader understanding of the relationship between Christianity, politics, and sexual- and gender-minority rights.

Continue Reading


Most Popular