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Depression breakthrough

‘Black Dog’ blamed for major diseases

Major depressive disorder – referred to colloquially as the ‘black dog’ – has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

Assessing risk factors between depression* and 925 diseases, a study from the Australian Centre for Precision Health at the University of South Australia found a causal relationship between depression and a range of respiratory, heart and digestive diseases including: asthmacoronary heart diseasehigh cholesteroloesophagitisgastroenteritisE. coli infections, and urinary system disorders.

UniSA researcher, Anwar Mulugeta, says understanding the relationship between depression and other diseases can reduce the incidence of comorbidities – the presence of one or more additional conditions occurring with a primary condition – and improve the lives of millions of people worldwide.

Data shows that people living with serious mental diseases, like depression, have much higher rates of physical illness than those in the general population,” Mulugeta says.

“But until now, these studies have been complicated by the possibility of other confounding factors, or even reverse causation where the physical condition is assumed to cause depression.

“This research puts the ‘chicken and egg’ conundrum to rest, showing that depression causes disease, rather than only the other way around.

“Importantly, this research signals that an individual diagnosed with depression should now also be screened for a defined set of possible comorbidities, enabling much better clinical management and significantly improved outcomes.”

Published in Molecular Psychiatry, the study is the first to use MR-PheWAS analyses to screen for a causal link between depression and a range of diseases. MR-PheWAS is a method that uses genetic data to explore causal associations between a risk factor (depression) and a range of disease outcomes. In this study, researchers assessed data from 337,536 UK Biobank participants to confirm the range of diseases affected by depression.

This study was led by Professor Elina HyppönenDirector of the Australian Centre for Precision Health, who says appreciating the link between depression and distinct comorbidities has important implications for individuals, practitioners and policymakers.

“Today, nearly half of the population is estimated to experience a mental health condition in their lifetime,” Prof Hyppönen says.

“Understanding the connections between depression and other diseases is critical to ensure people with depression receive the support they require. The more we can look at the individual patient as a whole, the better their outcomes are likely to be.

“Our results suggest that it is important to look beyond the obvious, and that we need to screen and effectively manage depression-related comorbidities if we want to minimise the longer-term negative implications on health.

“It’s also important to focus on diet and encourage healthy lifestyles in this context. It was concerning to see that depression was associated with multiple inflammatory and even haemorrhagic gastro-intestinal complications, which may be due to side effects from medications used to treat depression, or even due to the greater occurrence of e-coli infections, both of which could be prevented.

“Through this study we provide critical evidence to help navigate the complexities of depression and its comorbidities, with the ultimate goal of delivering customer-centric treatment strategies for people suffering from this debilitating disease.”



Finally, a Play About Being Black, Gay, and Living With HIV


In January 2017 an immersive play debuted that captured the emotional realities of gay Black men living with HIV. The cast, quite literally, took audiences by the hand and gave them an opportunity to witness the journey of navigating life after a positive diagnosis.

Through adjoining narratives and sharp dialogue — inspired by hundreds of interviews and research by playwright Sarah Hall — As Much as I Can dared viewers to learn about the complicated struggle communities face while living in cities with high rates of HIV and little access to resources.

The production is funded by ViiV Healthcare and its Accelerate! initiative, a $10 million program launched in 2015 that supports innovative projects improving the lives and outcomes of communities with little access to HIV treatment and prevention. The show’s team has found the journey to New York to be well worth it.

As Much as I Can was based on interviews with men in Baltimore and Jackson, Miss., cities the Accelerate!program specifically targets because they have been hit so hard by HIV, and was originally staged in those cities. It has had two other productions since then — including its most recent mounting, in New York’s Harlem neighborhood last year.

“When we came to New York with the show, I think we were wondering how much [the message] would resonate,” Hall says, referencing the fact that New York audiences likely have more HIV resources than the cities the play is based on. “Some people said, ‘Is it still going to work?’”

“The reasons why [the play] needs to exist are still very much in New York,” Hall adds. “We realized if New York needs us, then basically everywhere needs us, because this is such a persistent battle that we’re fighting and there’s no place where it isn’t touching and affecting communities. So we need to be engaging everywhere, and we really need to engage in New York because sometimes when New Yorkers are their best, we can really lead the way.”

In the theater canon, there are few commercially successful plays centering on the HIV experience. William M. Hoffman’s 1985 drama, As Is, certainly brought the conversation to a mainstream audience. Other works like Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, Jonathan Larson’s Rent, and most recently Ben Buratta’s Affection, which opened in the United Kingdom in 2016, highlighted HIV through specific lenses.

No play, however, fully investigates the specific mental and emotional trials of Black people living with HIV, who, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made up 43 percent of new HIV diagnoses in 2017. Of that number, 60 percent identified as gay or bisexual (researchers often categorize them as men who have sex with men, or MSM).

Cast Of As Much As I Can 2

The cast of As Much as I Can. Courtesy Harley & Co.  

“Part of the magic of this show is that we’ve engaged with MobiNative SonHarlem UnitedHetrick-Martin InstituteCallen-Lorde, all these critical organizations that are there every night,” adds executive producer Alexandra Hall. “Every night we have men in the audience who’ve gone through this experience that can provide tremendous amount of mentorship and direct connection to services. The show in Harlem, we had a table outside because it provides an opportunity. When we’re talking about the HIV epidemic, it’s about connecting people to care.”

“Art imitates life, which is something that as an artist, as actors, as theater professionals, you hear it spoken a lot,” says director James Walsh. “What’s been so interesting for me and continues to be the gift that gives is that this project continues to illuminate.”

Activist Emil Wilbekin, cofounder of the organization Native Son and former cover star for our sister publication Plus, has partnered with As Much as I Can. As Wilbekin told Plus earlier this year, Native Son is a “movement and a platform to bring Black gay and queer men together to be in a safe space.”

“I felt that there was this discomfort between Black queer men with each other when we are out socially, and we had limited spaces to be in the light and interact with each other outside of chat rooms and bars,” Wilbekin added. “I think it’s important that as a marginalized community, we build ourselves up to empower, inspire, and support each other. I’ve seen it in white spaces and felt, why don’t we have that? So I decided to create it.”

Immersive theater opens up new possibilities and opportunities to create emotional relationships between an audience and actors. As Sarah Hall points out, it’s all part of the experience.

“Particularly now, we really struggle with other people’s perspectives and life experiences,” she says. “The best mechanism we had available wasn’t to be passive watchers, but to have a seat at the table, a seat at the bar, so we have a role to play and make people really start to question: What’s fiction? What’s real? Who’s acting? Am I acting? Am I playing a role? Am I playing the right role? And to have this sense of shared responsibility between the audience and the actors. One of the biggest takeaways in this play is that we have a responsibility as a community, as people who care for other people, to help support and take care of those we’re speaking about in the play.”

“The material is coming out of an immediate, real urgent life, with urgent problems and an urgent issue,” says Walsh. “Its reflection on the stage, it’s a wonderful lesson for many artists. In the ways in which we kind of forget that art imitates life and get stuck imitating other ways in which art imitates life, its wonderful to work on a piece where you get to discover your own very real, very concrete, very exciting, and very emotional expriences.”

“That’s what I’m really excited about at Joe’s Pub,” Hall adds. “The idea that you’re not just here to watch entertainment, you’re here because this is a civic engagement. We want you to participate, we want you to feel responsible, and we want to make change together.”

The principal cast of As Much as I Can includes Stephanie Berry (Gloria: A Life), Brandon Gill (Holler If Ya Hear Me), Cory Gibson (Tell It to the Judge), Dimitri Moïse (The Book of Mormon), Marquis Johnson ( Burn All Night), Vasthy Mompoint (The Prom), and Dawn L. Troupe (Moby Dick). Other featured cast members are Jason C. Brown, Christian O. Jiménez, Joel Hurt Jones, Jasmine Rush, P.J. Johnnie, and James Watson.


Women living with HIV shared their realities with the Women, Art, and The Criminalization of HIV

Women, Art and The Criminalization of HIV study, Author provided recommendations on changes to HIV criminalization don’t go far enough

Disclosure statement
Angela Kaida receives research funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), and the National Institutes for Health (NIH).

Sarah Spencer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Earlier this summer, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights released a report on Canada’s approach to criminalizing those who don’t disclose that they’re living with HIV to sexual partners.

If the Standing Committee’s recommendations are adopted, they could diminish the harms experienced by women living with HIV under Canada’s current approach to criminalization.

But further consideration and consultation are required in order to fully address the harms that the law introduces to the lives of women living with HIV.

The Supreme Court of Canada articulated the current legal approach in 2012. In so doing, the court interpreted consent and fraud provisions of Canada’s sexual assault laws and ruled that people diagnosed with HIV must disclose their status to sexual partners before engaging in sexual acts that pose a “realistic possibility of transmission.”

The court also stated that there is no legal obligation to disclose prior to sex if a condom is used and the person living with HIV has a consistently low measure of HIV in their blood. This legal understanding of a “realistic possibility” contradicts current scientific knowledge that just one of these conditions is sufficient to eliminate transmission risk.

Scientific evidence endorsed by the federal government demonstrates that an undetectable viral load eliminates the risk of sexual transmission of HIV, regardless of condom use. Similarly, there is a negligible risk of transmission when condoms are used properly, no matter an individual’s viral load.

Today, in addition to being inconsistent with current scientific evidence, HIV nondisclosure prosecutions are widely seen as unjust as they can result in harsh sentences for actions that result in little or no harm.

Canadian prosecutors and courts apply the criminal offences of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault to prosecute cases of HIV nondisclosure. The latter — one of the most serious offences in Canada’s Criminal Code — carries the possibility of a lifetime sentence and mandatory registration as a sexual offender.

Experts discuss the misuse of sexual assault law in prosecuting cases of HIV nondisclosure in Canada. From Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network & Goldelox Productions.
Women living with HIV & the law
“The law is a bigger risk to us than HIV.” Sophie

The criminalization of HIV nondisclosure was purportedly intended to protect women while reducing HIV transmission risk by promoting disclosure and safer sex practices. Instead, research indicates that punitive approaches have the opposite effects, many of them significantly harmful.

As health scientists at Simon Fraser University, we work alongside experts on two studies: the Canadian HIV and Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Study (CHIWOS), with researchers also from the University of Toronto, McGill University, University of Manitoba, University of Saskatchewan and McMaster University; and the Women, ART and the Criminalization of HIV (WATCH) study with health partners based at McMaster University.

Findings from these studies indicate that criminalization reinforces socially dominant power dynamics, stigma, marginalization and fear experienced by women living with HIV. Specifically, the current legal requirements ignore the dangers women face in both negotiating the use of condoms and status disclosure due to power inequities, particularly in dependent, violent and non-consensual relationships.

Read more: Why a fulfilling sexual life with HIV matters

“I was raped by three [people …] And if I had told [them] I was HIV positive, I would have been dead. I know it. So where does that fit in the picture?” Julie

Women living with HIV who don’t disclose their status when they are sexually assaulted may themselves be convicted of a sexual offence.

Not only does criminalization contradict scientific evidence around HIV transmission risk, it compromises women’s health-care engagement and deters HIV testing since those who do not know their status cannot be prosecuted. Yet access to HIV testing, treatment and support services is scientifically proven to decrease transmission risk.

Furthermore, women who aren’t prosecuted are still harmed by the law. For example, women who have experienced emotional and physical violence by abusive partners may face the threat of partners falsely reporting that the woman didn’t disclose her HIV status.

Living under the fear of being charged has significant consequences for women’s emotional, mental and physical well-being. This is particularly important given the high rates of physical and sexual violence experienced by women living with HIV in Canada.

“It seems like an impossible situation to prove your innocence.” Miranda

These findings were shared with the Standing Committee through expert testimony by members of CHIWOS and WATCH. Such contributions are integral in moving toward an approach to criminalization that considers the realities of people living with HIV.

Women living with HIV and others share their experiences and knowledge of the criminalization of HIV nondisclosure in Canada. From Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network & Goldelox Productions.
Recommendations could go further
The Standing Committee’s report makes recommendations in a positive direction, but the recommendations need to go further to reduce harms to women living with HIV.

Firstly, the committee recommends creating a new offence in the Criminal Code for nondisclosure of an infectious disease where transmission happens. This recommendation says prosecutions should never be pursued in cases where: an individual has an undetectable viral load; condoms were used; the sexual partner of a person living with HIV is taking pre-exposure prophylactics; or the sexual act carries a negligible risk of transmission (oral sex, for example).

This suggested requirement of a new offense where actual transmission occurs would minimize, though not fully eliminate, opportunities for the law to be used as a tool of violence against women.

Though the creation of a new offence would address the current problematic use of sexual assault laws, failing to consider the intent of not disclosing is significant. In 2008, the United Nations urged states to limit prosecution of HIV nondisclosure to extremely rare cases of actual and intentional transmission.

Heed women’s experiences
Without including the element of intent, the committee has not fully addressed the vulnerability of women who may unintentionally transmit HIV during their own sexual assault or an unprotected sexual encounter. Given the widespread violence experienced by women living with HIV in Canada, this is a substantial deficiency in the recommendations.

And, given the report’s recognition that criminalization has not achieved its public-health goal of reducing HIV transmission, transmission of any infectious disease should be addressed by public-health mechanisms rather than the law.

Secondly, the report recommends ensuring that the same conditions are applied cross-country to consider whether prosecutions should proceed in cases where people haven’t disclosed that they are living with HIV. This recommendation would address the disparities in prosecutions of HIV nondisclosure and reduce various harms to people living with HIV.

Finally, the report recommends a review of all past convictions for HIV nondisclosure and increased access to anonymous testing. These measures are significant in beginning to redress the harms introduced by the current legal approach.

But to fully do that, Canada must heed all the experiences of women living with HIV.


Angela Kaida, Sarah Spencer


A woman gave birth to her own grandchildren so her gay son could become a dad

A baby with a pink tag around their ankle

A Brazilian mother helped her gay son fulfil his dream of becoming a father by acting as his gestational surrogate.

Valdira das Neves, 45, and her son Marcelo das Neves Junior, 24, are “living a dream” following the birth of twins Noah and Maria Flor on Tuesday (September 3).


Marcelo is the babies’ biological father, with his sperm used to inseminate donor eggs which were then implanted in Valdira’s womb.

Mother agreed to carry son’s children after losing her own baby

The newly-minted grandmother, a teacher, agreed to carry her son’s offspring shortly after losing a baby of her own.

“Almost four years ago, my mother became pregnant with my father, but my little sister was born at seven months and died a week later,” Marcelo told

Then aged 41, she realised that her chances of becoming pregnant again were time-limited and so began searching for a fertilisation clinic.

It was during this search that Marcelo learned he could become a father through artificial insemination, and suggested that his mother could carry his own children.

“We opted for my mother to bear the children, receiving an embryo fertilised by my semen and an egg from a donor,” Marcelo explained.

After three unsuccessful attempts, Valdira became pregnant in January of this year.

Babies born to grandmother and gay father are doing well

She gave birth with her son and her husband at her side, nine days ahead of her due date.

Both babies are doing well, though Noah was initially taken to an intensive care unit with “a little breathing problem.”

The children will live at the Neves family home in Serrana, Sao Paulo. One of the rooms has been transformed into a nursery complete with cribs and an engraving of the children’s names.

Marcelo said that the new arrivals are a “dream come true.”

“Thank God we managed to get pregnant and we are living a dream, the feeling is wonderful,” he added.




Study: no link between ‘extreme’ personal grooming, STDs

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Women who choose to shave or wax their pubic hair might not be raising their risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) after all, according to a new study that found no connection between “extreme” grooming and chlamydia or gonorrhea.

Previous research and many media reports have warned women about a connection between pubic hair removal and STDs – but researchers at The Ohio State University wondered how strong that connection was, if it existed at all.

So they devised a study that, unlike previous work in this area, relied on laboratory-confirmed diagnoses of two common STDs. The study included 214 college students, all women.

The researchers examined any possible links between “extreme” grooming – removal of all pubic hair at least weekly in the past year, or at least six times in the past month – and testing positive for chlamydia or gonorrhea. They found no connection. The study appears today (Sept. 4, 2019) in the journal PLOS ONE.

Jamie Luster, the study’s lead author and a former graduate student in public health at Ohio State, said she wasn’t terribly surprised to find no connection in this study – primarily because there’s no clear biological reason to believe that shaving or waxing would lead to increased risk of these common STDs.

The women in the study, who visited an on-campus location at Ohio State for STD testing, completed a questionnaire that asked about their sexual and grooming behaviors. Almost all (98 percent) of the study participants said they had done some grooming, and between 18 and 54 percent were “extreme” groomers, based on the two measures used in the study.

The participants also agreed to allow the researchers to receive the results of their STD tests. About 10 percent of the women had a positive test.

Though this study was small, it’s important for women to know that the research in this area is not conclusive, despite what they might see in an internet search on the topic or hear from friends, said Luster, who is now a researcher at the University of Michigan.

The new study highlights the importance of taking actions that are known to reduce the risk of STDs, said Luster and her adviser on the work, Ohio State associate professor of epidemiology Maria Gallo.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 2.86 million new chlamydia infections and 820,000 new gonorrhea infections occur in the U.S. each year, many in teens and young adults. The agency’s prevention recommendations for sexually active people include staying in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an STD-free partner and using latex condoms consistently and properly.

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are caused by bacteria, infect both men and women, and can lead to reproductive tract infections that can have lasting damage. Left untreated, both infections can make it more difficult for a woman to become pregnant in the future.

Gallo said this study improves on previous research by carefully taking into account potential confounding factors that include sexual frequency, income, race and age.

“Particularly concerning is that previous work didn’t adjust for sexual frequency. It could be that women who were having more sex with more people – and were therefore more likely to contract infections – were more likely to be grooming,” Gallo said.

By relying on laboratory-confirmed evidence of STDs, the Ohio State study also improves on previous research, which had relied on participants’ self-reports about infections, Luster said.

“Previous research asked participants if they’d ever had a sexually transmitted infection, but didn’t measure whether they had one at the time of survey. That makes connecting any current grooming habits to STDs difficult,” she said.



New research suggests gut bacteria may be linked to high blood pressure and depression

NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 5, 2019 — A study of bacteria in the gut identified differences between people with high blood pressure compared to those with high blood pressure plus depression, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association’s Hypertension 2019 Scientific Sessions.

“People are ‘meta-organisms’ made up of roughly equal numbers of human cells and bacteria. Gut bacteria ecology interacts with our bodily physiology and brains, which may steer some people towards developing high blood pressure and depression,” said Bruce R. Stevens, Ph.D., lead author of the study and professor of physiology & functional genomics, medicine and psychiatry at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, Florida. “In the future, health professionals may target your gut in order to prevent, diagnose and selectively treat different forms of high blood pressure.”

Stevens said there’s potential for this research to uncover treatment approaches that could improve outcomes in people with treatment-resistant hypertension. Nearly 20 percent of patients with high blood pressure don’t respond well to treatment, even with multiple medications.

The researchers isolated DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid, the carrier of genetic information) from gut bacteria obtained from the stool samples of 105 volunteers. They used a new technique involving artificial-intelligence software to analyze the bacteria, which revealed four distinct types of bacterial genes and signature molecules. Surprisingly, the investigators discovered unique patterns of bacteria from people with 1) high blood pressure plus depression; 2) high blood pressure without depression; 3) depression with healthy blood pressure; or 4) healthy subjects without depression or high blood pressure.

Stevens said the results suggest different medical mechanisms of high blood pressure that correlate with signature molecules produced by gut bacteria. These molecules are thought to impact the cardiovascular system, metabolism, hormones and the nervous system.

“We believe we have uncovered new forms of high blood pressure: ‘Depressive Hypertension’ (high blood pressure with depression), which may be a completely different disease than ‘Non-Depressive Hypertension’ (high blood pressure without depression), which are each different from ‘Non-Hypertensive Depression,'” Stevens said.



Same-sex male couples losing out on paid parental leave

Limited paid leave for fathers and a lack of inclusive language in government policies may be to blame according to new study

Same-sex male couples are losing out on paid parental leave when compared to both same-sex female and different-sex couples, according to new research.

A study published in the Journal of Social Policy compared paid parental leave policies in 34 OECD countries.

In the 33 countries with national paid parental leave, researchers found same-sex female couples received equal amounts of paid leave to different-sex couples in 19, while same-sex male couples got equal amounts of leave in only four. The United States was alone in offering no national paid parental leave to new birth parents.

The team at the WORLD Policy Analysis Center looked at the countries’ labour, social security and parental leave legislation, studying government websites and other trusted sources to confirm the way those laws were applied and regulated.

To determine the duration of paid leave available to people in different relationships, the study looked at ‘key indicators’ covering the length of maternity, paternity and shared parental leave set out in government policies and at whether those policies were worded in ways that included or excluded same-sex couples.

The duration of paid leave available varied greatly, with different-sex couples receiving between 13 and 184 weeks of paid leave. In comparison, same-sex female couples were entitled to between 12 and 164 weeks, while the duration available to same-sex male couples ranged from nothing at all to 156 weeks.

When it came to paid leave for adoptive parents, three of the 34 countries provided no paid adoption leave, while nine countries banned adoption by same-sex couples. Of the remaining 22 countries, 19 provided the same amount of paid adoption leave for parents, regardless of whether they were in a same- or different-sex partnership.

Of the 33 OECD countries offering paid parental leave for either birth or adoption, only four guaranteed equal leave for all parents regardless of their gender or partnership status.

Elizabeth Wong from the University of California, Los Angeles, who led the study, said: “Many of the differences we found may be the indirect consequences of gender-restrictive language that assumes women are the primary caregivers and that every family has one mother and one father.

“These assumptions often undervalue the importance of fathers’ involvement. When they do, same-sex male couples and male partners of mothers are the most disadvantaged.

“While we didn’t find any legislation that explicitly prohibits same-sex couples from receiving paid parental leave, the way policies are structured or worded can nevertheless stop them from claiming benefits. Policymakers can explicitly guarantee inclusion and equality for same-sex couples by removing gender-restrictive language and providing equal paid leave opportunities for fathers and partners as provided to mothers.”

Dr. Jody Heymann, former Dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and Founding Director of the WORLD Policy Analysis Center, further emphasized: “Families benefit when all parents, regardless of sex, gender identity or sexual orientation, can access paid leave to care for and bond with their children.”



Watch Freddie Mercury’s Animated ‘Love Me Like There’s No Tomorrow’ Video

Track is included in Never Boring box set, a collection of Mercury’s solo career


Two white blood cells fall in love in the surreal, animated video for Freddie Mercury’s “Love Me Like There’s No Tomorrow,” a single from the late singer’s 1985 solo debut Mr. Bad Guy. The clip was released on Thursday to honor what would have been the late singer’s 73rd birthday.


The two cells serenade each other under a disco ball, only to have heartbreak ensue when one of them gets diagnosed with AIDS. The clip was directed by Esteban Bravo and Beth David, the duo behind the Oscar-winning short film In a Heartbeat. It pays tribute to The Mercury Phoenix Trust, a charity founded after Mercury’s death by Queen members Brian May, Roger Taylor and manager Jim Beach.

“We wanted to tell a story that was relevant to Freddie’s life, but not explicitly about him,” the directors said in a statement. “The AIDS crisis of the 1980s is a huge part of LGBT history, and it’s something that we knew needed to be handled with care.”

“It is a love story between two white blood cells, one of which has become infected by the virus,” the directors added. “This perspective gave us a more direct visual representation of our conflict, which allowed us to explore the more nuanced struggles the characters face in their relationship with each other, their perceptions of themselves, and society’s perception, bias, and neglect of them.”

“Love Me Like There’s No Tomorrow” will be included on Never Boring, a new box set comprised of Mercury’s solo career. “I had a lot of ideas bursting to get out,” Mercury once said of his solo career, “And there were a lot of musical territories I wanted to explore which I really couldn’t do within Queen.”

The Never Boring box set includes a compilation of the same name, as well as the solo LPs Mr. Bad Guy and Barcelona. Overall, it contains 32 tracks and was produced by Queen’s longtime sound team Justin Shirley-Smith, Kris Fredriksson and Joshua J Macrae who also co-produced the Bohemian Rhapsody soundtrack.

Also included is a book of unpublished photos with an introduction from Rami Malek — who won a Best Oscar Oscar portraying Mercury in Rhapsody — and a DVD featuring 13 videos and a Mercury interview. Never Boring will be released on October 11th and is available for pre-order.

Never Boring Tracklist

1. “The Great Pretender”
2. “I Was Born To Love You”
3. “Barcelona”
4. “In My Defence”
5. “Love Kills”
6. “How Can I Go On” (Single Version)
7. “Love Me Like There’s No Tomorrow”
8. “Living On My Own” (Radio Mix)
9. “The Golden Boy” (Single Edit)
10. “Time Waits For No One”
11. “She Blows Hot and Cold”
12. “Made In Heaven”



Watch Freddie Mercury’s Animated ‘Love Me Like There’s No Tomorrow’ Video

Formerly referred to only as the ‘Berlin Patient,’ Timothy Ray Brown is the public face of the search for an elusive HIV cure.


Timothy Ray Brown chats with Dr. Zabrina Brumme of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. NICK PROCAYLO / PNG

An anonymous stem cell donor cured Timothy Ray Brown of both his leukemia and his HIV. For years, experts wondered whether it was a cure or just a temporary remission.

It’s been 11 years. Brown is still HIV and cancer-free.

Brown, 53, is now frequently asked to speak around the world to scientists, people with HIV and everyone else curious about his experience. Once referred to only as the “Berlin Patient,” Brown’s identity is no longer a mystery and at events in Vancouver this week, he is the inspiring guest speaker.

Before talking to scientists affiliated with the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, Brown said in an interview that he keeps pushing researchers and physicians to think outside the box. His physician did in 2007 when Brown was an American living in Berlin and diagnosed with acute myeloma leukemia. To complicate matters, he had HIV.

Fortuitously, he was referred to a blood specialist named Gero Hütter who would become Brown’s “saviour” by trying a novel approach after initial treatment with chemotherapy failed. Hütter searched for a registered donor who was both a tissue match for Brown and a double carrier (inherited from both parents) of a gene called the CCR5-delta 32 mutation. Those with the mutation are resistant to HIV, a discovery made in the mid-1990s at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Only one per cent of Northern Europeans have such a mutated gene, but Hütter found a donor in the registry without too much difficulty.

Brown, who was born in Seattle but now lives in Palm Springs, has no idea who the donor is except he was a German going to university in New York City who flew to Germany when called on to donate his stem cells.

“All I know is he flew back to Germany twice and saved my life. I don’t even know if he knows that. Or if he knows that he’s immune to HIV. But he also changed science forever.”

Brown said the donor returned to Germany the second time, after his cancer returned. “The HIV was cured after the first transplant, but the leukemia was more difficult to get rid of.”

Brown had two stem cell transplants, plus radiation and chemotherapy. The process, which involves destroying the patient’s immune system to allow transplanted stem cells to grow, nearly killed him and he says he “wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

Because of the harsh side-effects, the process is not considered a cure for HIV. But it has been tried in other individuals with dual diagnoses of cancer and HIV. In London three years ago, for example, a patient had a similar treatment and is now believed to be the second person cured of both leukemia and HIV.

Brown said about six years ago, he spoke to a 12-year-old American boy and his mother about the treatment. “I believe he was born with HIV and when he got cancer, a donation was offered to him, but he died from complications.”

Dr. Zabrina Brumme, director of the laboratory program at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, said the death rate from such transplants can be as high as 40 per cent, so “it’s not a therapeutic strategy that can be broadly rolled out to a large number of people.

“It’s neither safe nor scalable on a mass level. But for Brown, he was going to die without it and he had a pioneering hematologist who had an inspirational idea.”

Brumme said Brown’s experience helps raise awareness and hope.

“His visit to Vancouver is another opportunity to keep researchers and those with HIV engaged, to keep dialogue up, to remind people that HIV treatment has come a very long way. There is still no cure and no preventive vaccine, and a lot of unresolved social issues like stigma and discrimination we need to talk about. But there are excellent therapeutic options which enable people to live a normal life with no risk of transmitting if suppressed on therapy,” she said.

Brumme said there are many dozens of researchers across B.C. working on biomedical science that may one day lead to a cure for HIV, which today is normally controlled with drugs.

Brown said he still keeps in touch with Hütter and they have talked about writing a book together. Hütter wrote a case study about Brown and submitted it to the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008. It was initially rejected because editors were skeptical, Brown said. Only after the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times wrote stories about his case did the journal finally publish it.

Asked how he celebrated his cure, Brown said he suspended belief until it was published in the medical journal.

“When it was published there, I finally believed it.”

In 2010, Brown gave up his anonymity.

“I decided to become the face of the cure. Ever since then, I have been on the road,” Brown said, adding that the small fees he earns for giving speeches help pay his rent and bills.

His message to medical researchers is often the same: “Keep trying to find elusive cures, don’t give up.” And to individuals with HIV: “Make sure you take your meds because one day a cure will come.”




Dovato approved in Canada for HIV treatment



  • A new two-in-one pill combines anti-HIV medications dolutegravir and 3TC
  • This is the first dual therapy approved in Canada for initial treatment of HIV
  • Dovato was found as effective as triple-drug regimens with dolutegravir





In August 2019 Health Canada approved the use and sale of a regimen containing the following two anti-HIV medicines:

  • Dolutegravir (Tivicay, also in Juluca and Triumeq) – 50 mg
  • 3TC (lamivudine) – 300 mg

These two drugs will be sold in a pill under the brand name Dovato. Manufactured by ViiV Healthcare, Dovato is a complete treatment in one pill. It is taken once daily, with or without food, day or night. Dovato should be available for ordering by wholesalers and pharmacies in late September 2019.

About Dovato

The drugs inside Dovato are not new. Dolutegravir has been used in Canada since 2013. It belongs to a class of drugs called integrase inhibitors. Over the past seven years, integrase inhibitors have become the cornerstone of combination therapy for HIV in Canada and other high-income countries. When used as part of HIV treatment, regimens containing an integrase inhibitor usually reduce the amount of HIV in the blood more quickly than other regimens. In general, integrase inhibitors are well tolerated.

The other medicine that makes up Dovato is the nucleoside analogue 3TC (lamivudine). This drug has been used in HIV treatment regimens since the mid-1990s. It is generally safe and a successful part of many regimens.

What is new about Dovato

For the first time, dolutegravir and 3TC are in one pill and this pill is approved for the initial treatment of HIV infection.


In clinical trials with HIV-positive people, Dovato has been found to be similarly effective to other regimens that contain the integrase inhibitor dolutegravir over a period of 96 weeks (the length of the studies so far). The drugs inside Dovato work well in various groups of people, including women, those using HIV treatment for the first time and those who are treatment experienced.


Dovato was generally safe in clinical trials. Side effects that occurred were temporary, usually mild to moderate in intensity and affected 5% or less of participants. They included the following:

  • headache
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • feeling sleepy during the daytime
  • lack of energy/feeling tired

Note that the people who are typically enrolled in pivotal clinical trials of new HIV treatments are usually young and relatively healthy adults. However, once a treatment is approved and more widely available, it gets used by clinic populations that are usually not in pivotal clinical trials. These people can be older and may have other health issues (comorbidities)—including cardiovascular disease, liver injury, kidney injury, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, depression and substance dependency—that require medications and, in some cases, close clinical and laboratory monitoring. As a result, their experience of side effects may be different than those reported in pivotal clinical trials.

However, 3TC has been in use for nearly 25 years, dolutegravir for almost seven years, and a pill called Triumeq (containing dolutegravir + 3TC + abacavir) has been used for six years, so the side effects of these drugs are well known.


According to Viiv, doctors should bear the following points in mind prior to or when prescribing Dovato:

  • It is meant for use by “adults and adolescents 12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kg.”
  • “Dovato is not recommended for patients with any known or suspected viral resistance to dolutegravir or lamivudine.”
  • “Dovato is not recommended for use in patients with creatinine clearance less than 50 mL/min as the dose of lamivudine cannot be adjusted.”
  • “Dovato contains lamivudine and therefore it is recommended to test for hepatitis B virus”

Special populations

Pregnant women

Viiv recommends that Dovato not be used during pregnancy “unless the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks to the fetus.”

Older adults (over the age of 65)

Viiv states that clinical trials with Dovato “did not include sufficient numbers of patients aged 65 years and older to determine whether they respond differently from adult patients less than 65 years of age.”

Pediatrics (under the age of 12)

Viiv states: “Safety and efficacy of Dovato in pediatric patients less than 12 years of age and weighing less than 40 kg have not been established.”


After Health Canada licenses a treatment, physicians can prescribe it but initially patients must pay for it themselves unless they have a private insurance plan that covers the cost. Usually it takes between three and six months for such coverage to take effect.

If left untreated, HIV infection leads to catastrophic disease that can affect one’s ability to work. HIV treatment is expensive. In Canada, provincial and territorial ministries of health heavily subsidize the cost of anti-HIV medications. Each ministry has a listing for the drugs for which it is prepared to pay. These listings are called formularies.

In the months ahead, Viiv and provincial and territorial ministries of health will be negotiating the price of Dovato. This process might not be completed until sometime in 2020. Check with a pharmacist to find out when Dovato is listed on your region’s formulary.

In Canada, Dovato should be ready for ordering by wholesalers and pharmacies towards the end of September, 2019.

A CATIE Factsheet on Dovato is in development. Some information about clinical trials with Dovato is available below. Additional information about Dovato in clinical trials and issues to consider, including safety to the fetus, will be forthcoming on the CATIE website.


TreatmentUpdate 229

Agencies issue caution about use of dolutegravir by pregnant HIV-positive women – CATIE News

—Sean R. Hosein


  1. Viiv Healthcare. Dovato (dolutegravir and lamivudine tablets). Product Monograph. 22 August 2019.
  2. Glaxo Wellcome Biochem Inc. 3TC. Notice of Compliance. 12 August 1995.
  3. Quercia R, Perno CF, Koteff J, et al. Twenty-five years of lamivudine: Current and future use for the treatment of HIV-1 infection. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. 2018 Jun 1;78(2):125-135.
  4. Viiv Healthcare. Tivicay (dolutegravir sodium). Notice of compliance. 31 October 2013.