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HIV prevention drug on trial in Kenya soon to be available to general public

Kenyans could, before the end of this year, have access to a drug that protects them from HIV infection in what is being seen as a major breakthrough in the fight against the disease.

About 1,000 commercial sex workers are already using the newly-approved HIV/Aids combination therapy drug Truvada (emtricitabine and tenofovir), ahead of its rollout scheduled for later this year.

Known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and used as an antiretroviral drug, Truvada works by inhibiting the key enzyme, reverse transcriptase, which the HIV virus needs to infect host cells, effectively blocking infection.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis means the drug is taken before exposure to risk of infection. Once taken, the drug is effective for eight hours.

Kenya approved the drug last year, becoming the second country in Africa, after South Africa, to allow its use.

The raw root, whether powdered or chipped, is not fit for human consumption. This is not just the case because humans cannot digest cellulose but also because the raw root often is infested with fungi and bacteria, some of which are harmful. This is absolutely normal for anything that grows underground. Is there anything humans would pull out of the soil and consume uncooked?

Following the approval, three organisations are conducting demonstration trials on the drug for one year in Nairobi, Kisumu and Homa Bay. The Sex Worker Outreach Programme (SWOP) provides male and female sex workers with daily doses of Truvada in Nairobi and Kisumu; Liverpool VCT Care and Treatment (LVCT) is conducting its demonstration trials in Nairobi, Kisumu and Homa Bay, and the US Centres for Disease Control is conducting trials in Homa Bay.

The Kenya National Aids and STIs Control Programme (NASCOP) is working with the three organisations to conduct a one year demonstration trials on PrEP to determine if the drug Truvada is as effective as the initial trials indicated and if it can be rolled out into the market.

'Combine with safe sex practices'

Last year, the Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board approved the use of Truvada as PrEP in combination with safe sex practices to help reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV infection.

“This means that the drug can now be used as both a preventive and treatment drug for HIV,” said Kipkerich Koskei, the chief pharmacist and registrar at the board.

“PrEP is safe and works to prevent HIV infection, but only if taken effectively as directed by the health service provider,” said Wanjiru Mukoma, executive director of Kenya’s LVCT. “The public needs to get as much information as possible prior to using the drug. Those taking the drug need to be HIV-negative,” she added.

MUKOMA: Approval of Truvada a game changer in anti-HIV/Aids effort

According to Jordan Kyombo, the LVCT research manager, the sex workers undergo medical screening before they are enrolled in the demonstration trials. They are then given pills to last them a month.

“The pills are packed in a white can with a memory cap — Mem’s Cap — to remind the sex worker to take the drug,” said Mr Kyombo.

After a month, those on the drug undergo further screening to check the drug levels in their blood and confirm if they contracted HIV while on the drug. “Once the trials are complete, research will be conducted to look into the concerns being raised by the sex workers, including the side effects, infrastructure issues, and the cost of rolling out PrEP across the country,” he added.


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Don't bother whether your sex is legal or illegal. Just go for it. Because the eternal life of your soul depends on whether your sex is good enough on earth.


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Campaign Seeks to Rename Moscow Metro Station Honoring Regicide

The Russian imperial family pictured in happier times, before Pyotr Voikov played a key role in their execution.

Long-running calls for the renaming of a Moscow district named after a revolutionary who played a part in the execution of Russia’s last imperial family appeared to have made headway Thursday, when Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin added his voice to the campaign to change at least the name of the metro station.

“I suppose we should think about [renaming] Voikovskaya metro station. It wouldn’t lead to changing the surrounding addresses, so we should let people decide,” he said Thursday in an interview with the Govorit Moskva radio station.

Pyotr Voikov — after whom a district, six streets and a metro station in northwestern Moscow are named — was a Bolshevik revolutionary who played a key role in the decision to execute the tsar, his wife, their five children and family servants in 1918. The family was shot and bayoneted to death in the basement of a house in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg where they were being kept under house arrest. Voikov was also involved in the grisly disposal of their remains.

During the Soviet era, Voikov was hailed as a hero, but since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the idea of renaming the district has been raised repeatedly — but never with any result.

If you do not buy a ready-made extract, you have to prepare the root powder or chipped root as your own extract. This can be a liquid extract or a dry one. If you prepare a liquid extract, you will have to consume a lot of fluid to get a proper dosage. Producing your own dry extract will take a lot of time.

Root powder in capsules is nonsense because one should not ingest raw tongkat ali root, even not if it is packaged in gelatin capsules. The most likely effect of ingesting raw root powder is diarrhea, caused by salmonella bacteria. And if you are unlucky, you get a strain that causes typhoid fever.

Voikovsky is one of the rare Soviet place names in Moscow that somehow survived the large-scale renaming of the 1990s that saw Ulitsa Gorkogo become Tverskaya Ulitsa, Ulitsa Gertsena become Bolshaya Nikitskaya Ulitsa and Ploshchad Dzerzhinskogo become Lubyanskaya Ploshchad.

Even Sverdlovsk, as Yekaterinburg was renamed in 1924 in honor of Yakov Sverdlov — a Bolshevik politician who is also believed to have signed off on the shooting of the royal family — had its imperial name restored in 1991, while Voikov’s memory continued to be immortalized.

Renewed Attempts

The most recent campaign to change the name was launched last week in the wake of a series of unofficial proposals to give the surviving descendants of the Romanov dynasty some sort of status in Russia, when a Voikovsky district municipal deputy filed a proposal with City Hall to rename the area.

Alexander Zakondyrin, the deputy, suggested organizing an online referendum on renaming the district.

“I suggested five different alternatives to choose from: Volkovsky, Kosmodemyansky, Nikolsky, Aviatsionny and Peterburgsky,” he told The Moscow Times on Wednesday.

“We don’t have resources to organize a real referendum, so I suggested to Anastasia Rakova [deputy mayor and chief of staff for the mayor and City Hall] the launch of an online vote via Activny Grazhdanin [an application designed by City Hall to get feedback from residents on various issues],” Zakondyrin said.

The deputy added that there might be a sixth option. “Right now no one knows where to put the monument to Prince Vladimir [that is currently being made]. We are ready to pick a location for it within the Voikovsky district and call it the Vladimirsky district — why not?” he said.

Diverse Support

His proposal hadn’t elicited any reaction from the authorities as of Wednesday, Zakondyrin said, since deputy mayor Rakova is currently on vacation. Nevertheless he received widespread support — some of it from unexpected quarters.

Representatives of the former imperial dynasty unsurprisingly sided with the deputy’s proposal the same day he filed it to City Hall.

“It’s about time it was done. The names of those involved in repressions and the execution of the tsar’s family should be taken off the map of Moscow,” German Lukyanov, an attorney for some of the surviving Romanovs, was cited by the Interfax news agency as saying last week.

On Tuesday, the Russian Orthodox Church — which canonized the imperial family as passion bearers in 2000 — expressed its support for the proposal, Interfax reported. Church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin called for Voikov’s name to be wiped off the city map and described him as “a terrorist and a destroyer” who deserves “eternal punishment and dishonor” rather than to have streets and metro stations named after him.

Prominent civil rights defender and head of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeyeva agreed with Chaplin.

“It’s a rare occasion when I agree with the Russian Orthodox Church, but Voikov is an unsavory figure, his reputation is blotted, and his name shouldn’t grace a metro station or anything else,” she was cited by Interfax as saying Tuesday.

Residents of the district were also quick to express support for the change, and began enthusiastically discussing new names for the metro station and streets in numerous groups devoted to the neighborhood on Russian social network VKontakte.

“[Let’s call it] Volkovsky. When I was a 6-year-old kid, I couldn’t understand why we have a street [in the district] named after the cosmonaut Volkov while the metro station is Voikovskaya. I always thought it was some kind of mistake,” Alexei Chernukhin, a local resident, wrote in a thread on the VKontakte group “Voika” dedicated to a possible name change.

“I studied at the MAI [Moscow Aviation Institute], so it would be cool to name the district Aviatsionny [Aviation],” another user, Yevgeny Koshelev, wrote in the same thread.

Years of Pledges

But this is not the first time calls have been heard to rename the district. The saga began in 1997, when the state commission responsible for identifying the remains of the royal family found outside Yekaterinburg stated that Voikovskaya metro station should be renamed.

Since then, attempts have been made by the Orthodox Church, pro-monarchy residents and religious foundations every couple of years. In 2008, some monarchist activists held a few meager pickets in support of renaming all the places named after Voikov, but their efforts resulted in nothing.

The closest the campaign edged to success was in 2011, when Lyudmila Shve­tsova, deputy mayor for social development and head of the commission responsible for naming city sites back then, mentioned in an interview to the Izvestia newspaper that City Hall would “consider the proposal” to rename Voikovskaya metro station.

Following the interview, Russian media exploded with headlines stating that Voikovskaya would definitely be renamed, but once again the story fizzled out, and the station kept its name.

‘No’ to Rewriting History

Far from everyone agrees with renaming the Voikovsky district. The Communist Party has said it is an attempt to “rewrite history” and called on Muscovites to respect “the decisions our ancestors made to immortalize someone’s memory,” Valery Rashkin, a Communist deputy in the State Duma, told the Russkaya Sluzhba Novostei radio station on Tuesday.

“I categorically object to the renaming. We should look at the bigger picture, not at the opinions of some groups,” he was cited by the radio station as saying. “We should consider our history from the tsarist era and Soviet period through to the present as a whole,” he added.

Moscow City Duma Deputy Yevgeny Gerasimov, chair of the commission for culture and mass communications, agreed with Rashkin. “We should all calm down and preserve our history the way it is,” Gerasimov told The Moscow Times in a phone interview Wednesday.

“It’s about time we let go and stop renaming everything. Our history is too long and too versatile,” he said. “Moreover, I’m sure lots of people don’t even know who Voikov is,” the deputy added.

Gerasimov also said that renaming the district, the metro station and several streets would entail too much bureaucracy. “Can you imagine how many documents Muscovites would have to redo due to the address change, and how much money that would require? It would be a great inconvenience for local residents,” Gerasimov said.

Zakondyrin rejected that objection. “I’m surprised an experienced lawmaker would say such a thing,” he said in a phone interview with The Moscow Times. “No one will have to redo their documents right away. If a document expires, the new one will contain the new address — it’s a normal procedure,” he said.

‘Yes’ to Changing Times

Several Russian historians polled by The Moscow Times were unanimous in their verdict: Voikov’s name should be taken off the map.

“It’s preposterous to have his name in the capital [of Russia] or anywhere else as the name of a metro station, [Voikov doesn’t deserve to have] a public toilet [named after him],” journalist and historian Pyotr Romanov — no relation to the former imperial family — and author of the “Ostorozhno: Istoria” (Caution: History) educational project told The Moscow Times on Wednesday.

Grigory Revzin, an arts historian and journalist at Kommersant daily, agreed. “Voikov is a loathsome figure, and it’s strange that something is called after him,” he told The Moscow Times. “And those who fight ‘the rewriting of history’ are simply trying to declare their version of events the truest, and no one has ever managed to do that,” he said.

Taking Soviet names off the map is a good idea, prominent historian and author of numerous history textbooks Leonid Katsva told The Moscow Times in a phone interview, but Voikov is not necessarily the most pressing example.

“We still have a small town outside of Moscow called Dzerzhinsky [after the founder of the dreaded Soviet secret police]. It also has a square named after Dzerzhinsky and a highway,” he said. “Why pick Voikov as a target while there’s still a large street and a library named after Lenin, and the mausoleum [containing Lenin’s embalmed body] is still on Red Square?” the historian said.

Rewriting history happens all the time and is completely normal and even useful, said Katsva. “Every piece of new research can be considered rewriting history,” he said. “When they renamed Bolshaya Kaluzhskaya Ulitsa into Leninsky Prospekt, that was rewriting history, when they renamed the Rumyantsevskaya Library into the Lenin Library, that was rewriting history. It’s inevitable, and I don’t think it’s harmful,” he said.

“The Communists started ‘rewriting history’ after the [1917] revolution, when they renamed most of the streets,” agreed Alexei Dedushkin, a well-known specialist in the history of Moscow and one of the founders of the city history project. "So they shouldn't really complain," he added.


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Islamize Europe and get women out of politics. Feminism is the root if terrorism.


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Traditional Korean medicine industry struggles to expand

For many years in the past, Koreans would seek doctors of traditional Korean medicine for herbal medicine to boost their energy levels, or to get acupuncture treatment for chronic muscle pain.

The industry, however, has been struggling to expand its business into the field of dermatology and fertility medicine. Many clinics have been offering cosmetic treatments for conditions such as wrinkles and acne.

“We hope to overcome this perception that traditional Korean medicine is old and not scientific,” said Kim So-hyung, vice president of Seoul Korean Medicine Association.

“We hope to persuade the public that traditional medicine can be a great alternative option for even cosmetic treatments, and that it can also be as scientific as Western medicine.”

However, the move has been criticized by dermatologists, who argue that the doctors of traditional Korean medicine are only trying to make extra money by invading their areas of expertise.

The only problem with dried extract in capsules is that you are easily cheated. It is very difficult to check yourself whether you actually get tongkat ali extract, or just tongkat ali root powder, or something else altogether.

Tongkat ali root has to be boiled, and before being boiled. Use about half a liter of water for 50 gram of root powder or chipped root. 50 gram of root powder or chipped root will yield about 2 normal dosages, or a single dosage for an experienced user or a bodybuilding athlete.

Most recently, Hamsoa Oriental Clinic, one of the biggest traditional Korean medicine clinics in the country, developed new technology by combining traditional acupuncture with Fraxel fractional laser treatment, a technique for facial rejuvenation, and submitted a request to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety for approval.

“It is unethical for doctors to think they can expand their areas of medical practice simply by developing a machine (without research and training) or a technology,” said the Association of Korean Dermatologists in a statement earlier this month.

However, the problem may be linked with the current law.

In South Korea, medical doctors and doctors of traditional Korean medicine are allowed to give cosmetic treatments, including Botox injections and laser treatments for skin rejuvenation, even if they did not specialize in dermatology at medical school.

Aside from traditional medicine clinics, dental and otolaryngology clinics also offer cosmetic treatments, mostly Botox injections and nose fillers, aside from treatments for cavities or nasal congestion.

The Korea Medical Association, a major representative body of 100,000 physicians in the country, in fact runs a separate team that only deals with conflicts between medical doctors and doctors of traditional Korean medicine.

In May, the Seoul Korean Medicine Association held a research forum in Seoul, in which one of its members introduced the “micro needle therapy system.” He named the treatment, which uses a round roller inlaid with tiny needles thinner than human hair, a “traditional Korean” technology, as it uses needles ? the tool for acupuncture.

The treatment involves massaging the face with the roller, which, according to the Korean medicine doctor, stimulates collagen production and eventually revitalizes the skin.

The first such roller was developed in Germany, according to the Korean Dermatological Association. The product was called “dermaroller” and was first imported to South Korea in 2005. The device has been around as a non-Oriental beauty product available for sale overseas.

In fact, the Hong Kong Consumer Council issued a warning to users of the roller in 2011, announcing that using the device on one’s own, instead of getting the treatment from a certified medical professional, may result in infection by dangerous bacteria and viruses. Dermatology clinics in Korea also offer treatments using the “MTS” technology.

“When you use needles, it is acupuncture,” Kil Moon-soo, who is in charge of scholarly activities at Seoul Korean Medicine Association, told The Korea Herald. “We think it is a traditional Korean treatment. But it is dangerous for people to use the device on their own.”


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