‘People are scared’: the fight against a deadly virus no one has heard of

Guardian Australia, Tue 24 Apr 2018 

An Aboriginal woman – we’ll call her B – is sitting in a dry creek bed outside her community and telling the world “this is a very bad disease. But we have to talk in a way not to shame people. Not telling them straight out. Telling them gently and quietly.”

B is talking about a sickness that has killed her family member and is a potential tragedy facing Aboriginal communities in central Australia, who have the world’s highest rates of a fatal, human immune virus for which there is no current cure, no treatment and no coordinated public health response.

Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is transmitted through sexual contact, blood transfusion and from mother to child by breastfeeding. It can cause a rapidly fatal form of leukaemia. Some people die within weeks of diagnosis. HTLV-1 also causes inflammation of the spinal cord leading to paralysis, severe lung disease known as bronchiectasis and other inflammatory disease.

In five communities around Alice Springs, more than 45% of adults tested have the virus, a rate thousands of times higher than for non-Indigenous Australians.

FGM: number of victims found to be 70 million higher than thought

The Guardian, 5 February 2015

The huge global scale of female genital mutilation has been revealed in disturbing new statistics, which show at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone ritual cutting, half of them living in just three countries.

Read more here

Women suffer the myths of the hymen and the virginity test

The Conversation, 15 December 2014, 10.29am AEDT

The Indonesian public lambasted the Indonesian police after Human Rights Watch released a report that police conducted “virginity tests” on female applicants in the police recruitment process.

But few have questioned yet the most dubious aspect of this harrowing practice: the validity of the test itself.

Read more here