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WORLD NEWS Costa Rica election, PrEP news, HIV outbreak
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2018-02-13

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New Zealand has announced that it will publicly fund PrEP ( pre-exposure prophylaxis ) for just $1.20 a month for a prescription, PinkNews reported. The country is one of a few that have made the decision to make the HIV prevention medication available at a reduced price. From March 1, the treatment will be rolled out to those who are most at risk of contracting HIV. Previously, a prescription for the drug would cost US$731 a month, meaning that many users would import the medication.

Also, Australia has joined a short list of countries to publicly subsidize the HIV-prevention treatmen PrEP, according to Gay Star News. PrEP ( pre-exposure prophylaxis ) is a once-daily pill that has been proven to be 99-percent effective at stopping the transmission of HIV. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee ( PBAC ) recommended three different brands of the PrEP medication be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schemes as HIV-prevention drugs ( Truvada and two generic brands ). The annual cost of the medication was about AU$10,00 ( US $7,828 ) a year—but it has been reported that the cost now with a prescription would be about $39.50 ( $31 ).

Conservative evangelical Christian singer Fabricio Alvarado Munoz, 43, will face a center-left ruling party candidate in a runoff for Costa Rica's presidency on April 1 after winning a first round by sharply opposing same-sex marriage, Reuters reported. Alvarado Munoz, the lone elected lawmaker for the evangelical National Restoration Party, rose as a candidate after denouncing a court ruling calling on Costa Rica to give civil marriage rights to same-sex couples. Ruling-party contender Carlos Alvarado Quesada supports gay marriage.

A man pretending to be a doctor appears to have caused an HIV outbreak in northern India by infecting dozens with the same dirty syringe, according to a Newsweek item that cited CNN. Rajendra Yadav was arrested after allegedly infecting at least 33 people. However, while he is being charged with attempt to culpable homicide, a preliminary fact-finding joint team of the Centre and State has found his role in the transmission of HIV to be "inconclusive," The Hindu reported.

The island of Jersey passed a law recognizing both same-sex and humanist marriages, Gay Star News noted. Politicians voted 43-1 to legalize these unions. States Assembly members also rejected an amendment giving religious business owners the right to refuse same-sex couples. Located near the coast of Normandy, Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands between England and France; it's a Crown dependency and self-governing parlimentary democracy.

Before the Winter Olympics officially started in South Korea, U.S. Vice President Pence took to social media to criticize a USA Today Sports report as "#FAKENEWS" that U.S. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon rebuffed a request that his office set up a conversation between the two men, the newspaper reported. A White House official explained to reporters that the vice president's office was offering—not requesting—a meeting with Rippon and wanted to give the skater as much space as possible. Columnist Christine Brennan originally reported that Pence had become so concerned about criticism he faced from Rippon, an openly gay athlete, that his staff reached out to the U.S. Olympic Committee to set up a conversation between the two.

Pita Taufatofua—whose oiled torso wowed the world at the opening ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics—returned to the Olympic stage in the same fashion at the opening ceremony for the Winter Games, The Huffington Post noted. Taufatofua made these Games as a cross-country skier by qualifying in mostly dry-land roller events. CBC Olympics tweeted of Taufatofua, "No shoes, no shirt, no problem."

David Beckham, James Corden and Harry Styles are among the celebrities to make the shortlist for this year's British LGBT Awards, The Independent noted. The awards celebrate the campaigners, community activists and straight allies who have done something to advance the fight for LGBT rights during the past 12 months. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Marriott Grosvenor Square in London on May 11.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was applauded at a Q&A after stopping a woman to ask her to use the term "peoplekind" instead of "mankind"—but British personality Piers Morgan called Trudeau a "politically correct plonker" for using the word, PinkNews noted. Morgan—who has been criticized for his views on LGBT issues—also penned a column for the MailOnline, tweeting a link to the article: "No, no, NO, Prime Minister @JustinTrudeau — you will NOT kill off mankind. Shame on you for surrendering to the radical feminist mob."

A homophobic video has surfaced of two police officers taunting and humiliating a gay couple in Pieter-maritzburg, South Africa, NewNowNext.com noted. The video is suspected to have been filmed by the two police officers, who caught the same-sex couple engaging in sexual acts in a car at Camps Drift. At one point, an officer one officer says, "It is a shame what you are doing. Men are not supposed to do this." Action for Social Justice International's Thabiso Mogapi said that he has connected with the two men in the video and has offered to assist with counseling and legal action.

Japan's government has ordered hoteliers in the country to stop discriminating against LGBT+ guests, PinkNews reported. Under a directive issued at the end of last month, the Ministry of Health reminded hotels that refusing guests because of their sexuality or gender identity would breach anti-discrimination laws. The order strengthens the existing Hotel Business Law, which forbids Japanese hotels, traditional inns and so-called 'love hotels' from turning away same sex couples.

Police have said that they have found the remains of at least six people as the investigation into Toronto serial killer Bruce McArthur continues, according to PinkNews. The remains, which were disposed in plant pots, have been discovered alongside three other people's remains in a property in the Toronto neighborhood of Leaside. McArthur, 66, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of five men, with the bodies of Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Marmudi, Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman found on the site.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage, is divorcing his wife of 24 years for a former staff member who's pregnant with their child, The Washington Post reported. The staff member, Vikki Campion, 33, is a former media adviser; the unmarried couple are now living together. Among other things, Joyce, 50, has argued that legalizing same-sex marriage could hurt Australia's cattle trade because business allies in southeast Asia might find the position "decadent."

The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association ( IGLTA ) is seeking individuals to fill openings on the board of directors, according to a media release. These people will work closely with other board members to help IGLTA realize its mission, meet its goals and deliver on its priorities. The deadline to apply is March 8. See https://www.iglta.org/iglta-bod-2018/.

The Global Forum on MSM and HIV ( MSMGF ) is seeking proposals for new solutions to current issues facing young gay and bisexual men around the world, according to a press release. Up to eight winning innovators or innovation teams will be selected to present and develop their solutions at "Out With It," MSMGF's pre-meeting at AIDS2018 on July 22 in Amsterdam. After filling out an online form ( at www.surveymonkey.com/r/5DMDQDK ), people are required to create a two-to-three-minute video describing themselves, challenges they hope to address, and their ideas. See http://msmgf.org/.

The head chef of the French presidential palace was recently in Israel to teach Jewish and Arab gay people rejected by their families how to cook for themselves, The Times of Israel noted. A dozen young people were on hand at the French ambassador's residence in Jaffa, receiving instructions from Guillaume Gomez. Gomez was taking part for the sixth year in a row in the "So French, So Food" festival in Israel, which brings around 20 prominent French chefs to work with Israeli counterparts.

Personality Rylan ( real name: Ross Richard "Rylan" Clark-Neal ) has been criticized for not challenging Ann Widdecombe on her anti-LGBT views on Britain's Celebrity Big Brother ( CBB ), according to PinkNews. On Loose Women, he had been attacked on social media for his stance toward the 70-year-old former Tory MP. Recalling some of the online criticism, Rylan confessed he had been labelled "a disgrace to the gay community" by CBB fans.

A 14-year-old YouTuber had been awarded the 'Transgender of the year' award at Sweden's televised LGBT awards, PinkNews noted. Trans teen Viktoria Harrysson was given the award at Sweden's QX Gay Gala for the content she has produced on her YouTube channel. With more than 55,000 subscribers, Harrysson's channel focuses on gender identity issues, makeup and travel vlogs.

In New Zealand, bisexual goose Thomas was so devoted to his partner Henry that the 40-year-old bird has been buried beside his partner of decades, PinkNews noted. Thomas, a blind goose, lived on the country's North Island in the Wellington Bird Rehabilitation Trust. Partnered with Henry the swan for 24 years, Thomas was left heartbroken when the bird left him for another fellow swan: Henrietta; however, Thomas soon joined Henry and Henrietta to make a thruple to raise the couple's 68 hatchlings.


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