This weeks trending headlines
May. 26, 2020

GlaxoSmithKline announce new bi-monthly injectable drug to treat HIV

By Richard Hack
 
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has announced that one bi-monthly injection of its HIV suppressing drug Cabotegravir is more effective as a Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) than the regularly prescribed once-daily Truvada pill from Gilead. If proven to be accurate in further testing, this news could be a major game changer in the multi-billion dollar PrEP universe.
 
According to GlaxoSmithKline, the drug trial which has been on-going for years has been was cancelled early by an independent monitoring board after Cabotegravir was found to be 69 percent more effective than Truvada, the British drugmaker said on Monday.
 
Six shots a year was also judged to be far more compatible with the lifestyles of gay men who find it difficult to remember to take the 365 Truvada pills currently prescribed in an annual dose.
 
But the market segment GSK is eyeing is about to become more competitive as cheaper generic versions of Truvada are expected to be launched in the United States in September, as the patent expires.
 
Gilead, for its part, hopes that Truvada users will opt against the cheaper copies and switch to its new daily pill Descovy, approved in October 2019 after it was shown to be less toxic to the kidneys and bones.

According to Kimberly Smith, Senior VP, Head of Research and Development at ViiV Healthcare, a majority of which is owned by GSK, “Individuals have to show up every eight weeks in the clinic for the injection but in-between there is not a need to take a pill daily, so you really change the equation for adherence with a long acting (drug).”

A similar trial to test the cabotegravir injection to prevent HIV in women, is still ongoing.

Apple new Pride Watch supports the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)

By Richard Hack

Annually each June, Apple Corp. designs a unique Watch Pride Edition watch band and face whose sales help support LGBTQ organizations around the world including the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). This year’s special edition is part of Apple’s new watch 6.2.5 operating system.

In addition to GLSEN, Apple donates funding to PFLAG, The Trevor Project, Gender Spectrum, The National Center for Transgender Equality, and ILGA World, which brings together more than 1,500 member organizations in more than 150 countries and regions.

GLSEN is a US-based LGBTQ organization that has inspired a global movement to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying in schools through acknowledging the leadership of student advocates. This year’s GLSEN’s Student Advocate of the Year is Elle Smith from Austin, TX, who has benefited from Apple’s contribution to allow GLSEN to provide the resources that help them change their communities, one conversation at a time.

“Pride season is a time where it feels safer to be authentic. It’s the ideal world where you’re able to be safe, you’re able to be yourself, and you’re able to be loud,” Elle said. “I think everyone who’s involved with LGBTQ organizations has done a great job shifting our programs and outreach to a virtual format. We want to keep our momentum going and make sure everyone has access to resources just as they would have pre-COVID.”

‘Cruel and Unusual Punishment’ to block gender-confirmation surgery Supreme Court rules

By Richard Hack

The US Supreme Court has upheld a previous ruling that a prison’s attempt to block gender-confirmation surgery for transgender inmate Adree Edmo amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment.”

The 31-year-old Edmo is a trans woman being housed in a men’s facility and Idaho governor Brad Little doesn’t think that his state should be responsible to pay for her surgery while she is incarcerated.

Edmo has been in jail since she was convicted of sexually abusing a child younger than 16 in 2012.  She is currently scheduled for release in July of 2021. In the meantime, her treatments for gender confirmation surgery continue.

She sued the state in 2017 suggesting that the state’s refusal to provide her with gender confirmation surgery caused her severe distress due to her gender dysphoria. According to prison records, Edmo experienced such suffering from the lack of treatment that she twice tried to cut off her testicles in her prison cell.

Currently, the Supreme Court has yet to determine if it will consider the Idaho Governor’s case, which he presented earlier this month. The order denying the stay was given by Justice Elena Kagan without explanation, but it noted that Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would have granted the state’s request.

Pixar releases Out, the studio’s first gay themed animation

By Richard Hack

Just in time for Harvey Milk Day, Pixar Studios is releasing its first animated short film to showcase a gay character.

Written and directed by Steven Clay Hunter, Out centers on Greg and his inability to come out to his parents about his relationship with another man, his boyfriend Manuel.

When Greg’s parents surprise him on his moving day, Greg tries to cover up any evidence of Manuel’s existence. But thanks to the interference of a couple of fairy god-pets, Greg gets kicked out of the closet and into the reality of a Disney featurette.

Out premiered Friday as part of a release of summer content on Disney+ as part of Pixar’s SparkShorts series.

Among Hunter’s other Pixar credits include A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, Toy Story 2, and The Incredibles.

 

Historically, Disney has shied away from featuring LGBTQ+ characters in its children’s entertainment. The major exception occurred recently with the release of this year’s Onward in which Lena Waithe performed the voice for a minor lesbian character.  It didn’t take long for the right-wing advocate group One Million Moms to protest.

Past Pixar films have winked at LGBTQ+ representation by flirting with background characters, but this is the first time a story has been centered on a gay character and theme.

This Superintendent Is Keeping Students Fed During COVID-19

By Richard Hack

Lark Doolan is the first openly transgender public-school superintendent in the United States. He is also the principal at Peninsula Union School District, home to just 41 students in the small town of Samoa in Humboldt County, CA.

When the COVID-19 crisis shut down schools across California, it did more than leave the Peninsula Union School students without a classroom. It left the poverty level county without food for its families.

Funded with $13,000 in donations, Doolan and his staff of 13, not only cooked the food, but went door-to-door delivering supplies along with the daily meals.

For Lark Doolan, it is just how a neighborhood takes care of its own.

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