July 27, 2012
News outlets report on scientific and political issues coming up at the International AIDS Conference being held in Washington.
Aging AIDS Epidemic Raises New Health Questions
AIDS is graying. By the end of the decade, the government estimates, more than half of Americans living with HIV will be over 50. Even in developing countries, more people with the AIDS virus are surviving to middle age and beyond. That's good news -- but it's also a challenge. There's growing evidence that people who have spent decades battling the virus may be aging prematurely. At the International AIDS Conference this week, numerous studies are examining how heart disease, thinning bones and a list of other health problems typically seen in the senior years seem to hit many people with HIV when they're only in their 50s (Neergaard, The Associated Press, 7/27).
Growing Old With HIV
The challenges of managing as well as preventing HIV among older Americans were a major theme at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington this week, which closes Friday with a speech by former president Bill Clinton (Sun, The Washington Post, 7/26).
What Science Can't Yet Treat: HIV's Impact On Minorities, Poor
For all the strides made against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, science and medicine alone can't end an epidemic that affects vulnerable populations disproportionately: minorities, young people, poor people and those who lack access to health care. The International AIDS Conference taking place this week in Washington brims with hope about breakthroughs in treatment and care that allow people with HIV to live longer and healthier lives. Researchers talk optimistically about a vaccine and a cure. But because of persistent social, cultural and economic barriers, the most at-risk groups don't receive enough of the treatment and support necessary to save their own lives and prevent the spread of the virus, health providers and community organizations say (Tate and Mohamed, McClatchy Newspapers, 7/26).
AIDS Fight: High Hopes and Funding Gaps
The ambitious goals of the Obama administration's National HIV/AIDS Strategy are likely to go unmet, some experts say. But AIDS advocates are determined to hold the administration's feet to the fire in hopes of securing more funding and reaching for as much progress as they can. The goals, laid out in July 2010, are bold. By 2015, the country would cut the number of new HIV infections by 25 percent; reduce the number of Americans who are infected but don't know it through expanded HIV testing; and cut by almost one-third the rate that infected individuals spread the virus to others (Norman, Politico Pro, 7/27).
AIDS Research Renews Hope for a "Functional Cure"
Two studies presented at the 19th International AIDS Conference and one published this week in a journal have given researchers renewed hope that a cure for AIDS may be possible. None of the strategies are easy, proved or ready for prime time. But all involve procedures or drugs that are already in use and are able to be deployed widely if further research bears out the early findings (Brown and Botelho, The Washington Post, 7/26).
Two More Nearing AIDS "Cure" After Bone Marrow Transplants, Doctors Say
The so-called Berlin patient is famously the only person in the world who has been cured of HIV. But he may soon have company. Harvard researchers got an enthusiastic response from an overflow crowd when they presented the first report on the patients at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. (Knox, NPR, 7/26).
Laura Bush Hails Husband's Fight Against AIDS
Former first lady Laura Bush hailed her husband's efforts against the "global horror" of HIV/AIDS in a speech at the 2012 International AIDS Conference on Thursday. To enthusiastic applause, she recounted George W. Bush's surprise announcement in his 2003 State of the Union Speech of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- "the largest international health initiative ever directed at a single disease" (Norman, Politico Pro, 7/26).
Tiffany West: The Role of Local Health Departments (Video)
Tiffany West, the chief of strategic information on HIV/AIDS for the D.C. Department of Health, talks about innovative tools and strategic spending that can cut into D.C.'s epidemic. (Kaiser Health News)
From Zambia to Kansas City: One Woman's AIDS Odyssey
Diagnosed here by chance, Seemani received life-saving care, asylum and eventually U.S. citizenship. If her HIV status had been documented when she applied to come to this country on a work-study visa, she likely would have been denied entry. Up until two years ago, the U.S. banned anyone with HIV from traveling to the country. The change in that policy is what led to the International AIDS Conference taking place in D.C. (Gordon, Kaiser Health News, 7/26).
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