Chemsex is a term used by gay men to describe drug use (typically GHB/GBL, crystal methamphetamine and mephedrone) during sex. This research is based on interactionist theory and describes the personal and social context for chemsex in Denmark and analyses the accounts of MSM who regularly engage in chemsex. Inspired by Scott and Lyman’s “Accounts” and Erving Goffman (“Face-work”), the study aims to uncover the chemsex aetiologies used by the participants.
It is estimated that 5.2 million people worldwide are now receiving treatment for AIDS (ARVs) that could save their lives.
But more lives can be saved and the infection rate reduced if treatment start earlier according to the World Health Organisation WHO.
Compared to the total number of HIV-infected. assumed to be at least 33 million, the 5.2 million is far from enough. But it is 12 times as many as in 2003, when WHO launched a special effort against HIV. In 2008 there were 4 million infected in ARV treatment.
WHO now recommends that treatment is started even before the immune system is weakened and HIV develops into AIDS.
” An earlier treatment allows people to live healthier and longer with HIV,” said Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall, Head of WHO’s program on HIV / AIDS.
According to WHO, it would be possible to reduce AIDS mortality by 20 percent between 2010 and 2015 if these guidelines for early intervention is implemented.
Early treatment will also make it possible to prevent many infections, including tuberculosis (TB), which is the leading cause of deaths among people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA).
According to WHO deaths from TB can be reduced by as much as 90 percent if people with both HIV and TB gets treatment earlier.
‘In addition to saving lives, the earlier treatment also helps in terms of prevention. The treatment reduces the level of virus in the organism, and this means that HIV-positive people are less likely to infect their partners with the virus.
WHO guidelines will expand the number of people who should be on ARVs from 10 to 15 million.
The AIDS epidemic was discovered in 1980/81. In the first 14 to 15 years there was no effective treatment and an AIDS diagnosis was basically equal to a death sentence.
The big breakthrough in the fight against HIV and AIDS came with the introduction of combination therapies (ARVs) in the mid-1990s. Several different drugs used simultaneously were found to have a good effect.
The change was so great that AIDS in large parts of the western world was transformed from a deadly disease to a life-long infection.
But the HIV treatment is expensive and it requires both money and a relatively well-organized health system to establish and maintain lifelong treatments against HIV and AIDS.
It is still my hope that one day ARVs will be available to everyone who needs it.
As I work with research and business development for a Danish healthcare company, I travel quite a bit in the Asian countries – hereunder China. The article below from Financial Times describes to you how bad the pollution is in Beijing – and my advice to you – don’t go there if you can avoid it (not for living and not for holiday).
‘Airpocalypse’ drives expats out of Beijing
By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing
Air pollution is driving expatriates out of Beijing and making it harder for companies to recruit international talent, according to anecdotal accounts from diplomats, senior executives and businesses.
No official figures are available on how many people are planning to leave after three months of the worst air pollution on record in the Chinese capital. But companies that mainly serve foreign residents are bracing for an exodus around the middle of the year when the school term ends.
“We’re anticipating this summer will be a very big season [of moves out of Beijing] for us,” said Chad Forrest, North China general manager for Santa Fe Relocations, a global service. “It seems a lot of people, particularly families with small children who have been here a few years, are reconsidering the cost-benefit equation and deciding to leave for health reasons.”
Doctors at private hospitals that mostly treat expat patients tell a similar story.
“We don’t have good statistics yet but we are seeing many more patients telling us they are leaving because of air pollution,” said Dr Andy Wong, head of family medicine at Beijing United Family hospital, the biggest private healthcare provider for foreign residents in China. “Recruitment is getting harder for all companies – how do you convince people to come work in the most polluted city in the world?”
Pollution has long been a concern for residents in Beijing but air quality readings published by the city government and the US embassy indicated levels of toxic smog on some days in January that were nearly 40 times higher than considered healthy by the World Health Organisation.
Although pollution levels have not yet returned to those seen during January’s “airpocalypse”, daily readings often hit levels considered hazardous. Residents are advised to avoid going outdoors at all and to limit their activity even while inside.
The air pollution index in Beijing published by the US embassy gave a reading on Sunday afternoon between “very unhealthy” and “hazardous”.
Most environmental experts and Beijing residents assume that the problem will only worsen as the government continues to encourage enormous expansion in industry, coal-fired power generation and car sales across the country.
“Air pollution is becoming a bigger concern for our members and their families,” Adam Dunnett, secretary-general of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said. “While members leave for all sorts of reasons, we inevitably hear nearly every time that one of the contributing reasons is the air pollution.”
Lars Rasmussen, a Nokia marketing executive, and his wife Michelle Frazier, a kindergarten teacher, have decided to return with their two children to their native Denmark after three years in Beijing. The couple say one of the most important deciding factors was the air pollution.
“Our kids can’t play outside or they have to wear face masks when they go out. It’s like something out of a science fiction novel,” Ms Frazier said.
Of the roughly 600,000 registered foreign residents in all of China, about 200,000 live in Beijing, which has a total population of approximately 20m.
But the expat community is overwhelmingly concentrated in high-earning professional jobs and contributes enormously to the city’s economy and the development of advanced industries.
Christian Murck, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, told reporters on Friday that the unprecedented levels of pollution in January had been a “tipping point” for some families. He knew of “many people” who are planning to leave as a result.
Executives at major companies and diplomats say recruiting new people to move to Beijing is one of the biggest concerns for businesses with China operations and many prospective candidates are declining positions because of air pollution, especially if they have young children.
Michael Namatinia, the regional president of an Israeli software company, said filling a senior management role in Beijing has been extremely difficult.
“We tried to recruit someone to run our North Asia operations from Beijing but after finding a suitable candidate and negotiating for a month the person’s wife vetoed the move because of air pollution,” Mr Namatinia said.
China is the worst polluted and most polluting country in the world. Today the pollution index reached an all-time high of 886 on the PM 2.5 scale. WHO (World Health Organization) warms that more than 30 days a year with 40 on the PM 2.5 scale is dangerous to health. Imagine what 886 does to your health!?!
However, no emergency warning was sent out and people continued their outdoor activity as if everything was okay. It’s going to cost live – millions of them in the future. It seems to be the way history repeats itself in China. No government does anything before millions of people die. So far “only” 8000 people died last year from pollution. Needless to say – lung cancer is the biggest killer in China, but the government likes to blame it on lifestyle choices such as smoking. “Nice” tactic if you can pin sickness on people themselves rather than failed energy, commercial and pollution policies!
The pollution in Beijing (and China) is always very high and the last week it has been above 320 (pm2.5) every day. For those of you who have never been to such polluted places, let me explain how it makes you feel (the immediate effects): You start coughing uncontrollably, your lungs hurt for every breath you breath in, your throat gets sore (you develop a throat infection), you get a headache (due to lack of oxygen), you feel dizzy, you can’t concentrate and feel overall ill. That’s the immediate effects of a day like today. The long-term effects are much worse: lung cancer, throat cancer, bronchitis, birth defects to unborn children just to mention a few.
Some background to air pollution:
Definition and principle sources
PM affects more people than any other pollutant. The major components of PM are sulfate, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, carbon, mineral dust and water. It consists of a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles of organic and inorganic substances suspended in the air. The particles are identified according to their aerodynamic diameter, as either PM10 (particles with an aerodynamic diameter smaller than 10 µm) or PM2.5 (aerodynamic diameter smaller than 2.5 µm). The latter are more dangerous since, when inhaled, they may reach the peripheral regions of the bronchioles, and interfere with gas exchange inside the lungs.
The health effects caused by air pollution PM may include difficulty in breathing, wheezing, coughing and aggravation of existing respiratory and cardiac conditions. These effects can result in increased medication use, increased doctor or emergency room visits, more hospital admissions and premature death. The human health effects of poor air quality are far reaching, but principally affect the body’s respiratory system and the cardiovascular system. Individual reactions to air pollutants depend on the type of pollutant a person is exposed to, the degree of exposure. Chronic exposure to particles contributes to the risk of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as of lung cancer.
As before mentioned, WHO defines the max level of PM 2.5 to be 40 for a maximum period of 30 days a year. On an average day the pollution level PM 2.5 in Beijing is around 230 (today it was 886)
Understanding the AQI (air quality index)
The purpose of the AQI is to help you understand what local air quality means to your health. To make it easier to understand, the AQI is divided into six categories:
Air Quality Index
101-150: Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
151 to 200: Unhealthy
201 to 300: Very Unhealthy
301 to 500: Hazardous
Each category corresponds to a different level of health concern. The six levels of health concern and what they mean are:
• “Good” AQI is 0 – 50. Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
• “Moderate” AQI is 51 – 100. Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people. For example, people who are unusually sensitive to ozone may experience respiratory symptoms.
• “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” AQI is 101 – 150. Although general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI range, people with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone, whereas persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of particles in the air.
• “Unhealthy” AQI is 151 – 200. Everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects.
• “Very Unhealthy” AQI is 201 – 300. This would trigger a health alert signifying that everyone may experience more serious health effects.
• “Hazardous” AQI greater than 300. This would trigger a health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.
Am I worried about the health of the Chinese people – yes, I am. And I am worried about the health of the world’s population…air pollution knows NO borders. You should be worried too!!!
A short 15 minutes drive North of Copenhagen is the world’s oldest amusement park, Bakken. It is located in the middle of the forest and thus the location is wonderful for a visit any day. There is always entertainment and happy days, and to many Danes Bakken is the symbol of genuine Danish culture in line with allotment houses and cold beer.
Bakken has attracted people from the city for over 400 years. Originally as a Mecca for believers who thought that Kirsten Piil water source had a life-giving force. Soon all sorts of street performers and bag players lured to the pilgrimage place and eventually the numerous tents became permanent.
Pierrot was a sort of ambassador of Bakken since he arrived in 1800. Pierrot appears in front of his little green house every day in season and on Sunday he has guests on the outdoor stage.
Bakken has many of the amusement machines that other amusement parks have – like roller coasters, 5D movies, haunted house, race-cars, archery, darts, football, handball and many more things.
It is also possible to buy a picnic basket in several of the restaurants, and walk or ride a tour in the park (Dyrehaven/ deer park) with one of the horse carriages.
It is definitely worth a visit.
Price: There is no entrance fee to Bakken. But you have to pay for the amusement park rides that you would like to try.
Opening: This year Bakken opened with the big motorcycle parade on March 25 and close again on August 29. Bakken is open most days from 12 o’clock midday – midnight.
To get there: You can take the s-train from Copenhagen to Klampenborg. It is a short walk from Klampenborg station.
The official website: http://www.bakken.dk/
Currently the 18th International AIDS Conference is taking place in Vienna. The conference was opened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who praised the progress made in the fight against the disease.
He stressed, however, that it remains important to continue the fight and prioritize efforts. If the international community chooses to spend less money on the fight against AIDS, there is “a risk that we have reversed the progress of a recession,” said Ban Ki-moon as a comment to that one result of the global financial crisis is that some governments now choose to spend less money on the fight against AIDS than ever before.
But you don’t have to look out into the world to see that there is less money spent on combating the spread of HIV and AIDS. We can just look at Denmark and the capital Copenhagen which has already budgeted less money in this area.
Copenhagen Municipality health and care Committee has decided to entirely abandon the continued support for counseling for HIV-infected and their families (400,000 DKK in 2010) from 2011 – an advisory work performed HIV-Denmark.
This decision is completely counteracting a study from 2009 which shows that Denmark and Copenhagen in particular has had particular success in preventing a massive increase in the number of newly infected due to the personal counseling of the people potentially infected with HIV.
However, it is said that the politicians in Copenhagen in 2011 will continue to support distribution of free condoms. But seriously, I work within the field of HIV/AIDS and I have never noticed free distribution of condoms in Copenhagen and even if they exists it is the personal counseling of HIV that causes us/reminds us to use a condom.
I urge the politicians in Copenhagen to eradicate its decision on HIV-Danmark’s 2011 counseling work. The health of our people is a stake. Do you care?
In 2008 two million people died worldwide of AIDS. It’s more than 166,000 men, women and children a month. Or 5479 deaths every day.
The UN estimates that 2.7 million people became infected with HIV in 2008. This corresponds to 225,000 every month – or nearly 7,400 new infections every day or just over five every minute.
Worldwide 33.4 million people are infected with HIV. That’s why I still work in this field!