• DO. SEE. KNOW. HEAR.
WORLD AIDS DAY AT THEBODY.COM
Visit TheBody.com's World AIDS Day Center
Most of you who read this newsletter don't need World AIDS Day to remind you how important HIV awareness is. You already know that a breathtakingly large number of people become infected with HIV every hour of every day. And you're fully aware of just how critical it is that we continue to battle not just HIV, but stigma, the lack of HIV treatment access, poor political leadership and the sexism, racism and homophobia that keep this pandemic alive after more than 25 years.
But it's the responsibility of each of us -- as the people who know HIV better than nearly everyone else on the planet -- to be educators and activists. So browse these pages for inspiration as you decide how you can best observe this year's World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.
• LIVING WITH HIV
Infection With Multiple HIV Strains More Common Than First Thought, Study Suggests
HIV "superinfection" -- infection with more than one strain of HIV -- may happen more often than experts have believed, according to new research. A small, five-year study of 36 female sex workers in Kenya found that seven of them had been infected with a second strain of HIV -- and that, in some cases, they were infected with the second strain as many as five years after they first became HIV positive. On the plus side, superinfection generally appeared to have no impact on a person's viral load. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)
Click here to read the abstract of this study, which was published in the journal PLoS Pathogens.
Helping Your Doctor Understand That When It Comes to HIV, Women Aren't Men
Women make up a growing percentage of new HIV diagnoses in the United States, but many health care providers fail to offer HIV care tailored to straight women because they still believe it's mostly a virus that gay men get. Many HIV-positive women say that doctors often tell them it's risky to have a baby, and don't discuss the gender-specific side effects of some HIV medications. This article discusses some of the issues women and their health care providers should be aware of when tackling HIV. (Web highlight from Newsweek)
British Doctors Criticize Homeopathic Treatment of HIV
Homeopathy is a form of complementary medicine with many supporters. But given the overwhelming effectiveness of HIV medications, and a complete lack of large clinical trials showing the effectiveness of homeopathy for HIV treatment, is it irresponsible to promote it -- especially when it could potentially cause people to avoid HIV meds in order to try it? "People say homeopathy cannot do any harm, but when it is being promoted for HIV [treatment] then there is a serious problem," warns Michael Baum, emeritus professor of surgery at University College London. Baum is less than thrilled that the Society of Homeopaths is organizing a symposium on HIV in London on Dec. 1 -- World AIDS Day. (Web highlight from The Independent)
• HIV TREATMENT & COMPLICATIONS
Hep C Can Bypass Some Natural Immune Defenses, Study Finds
When HIV replicates inside a person's cells, it needs to leave those cells before it can infect new ones. But hepatitis C has the ability to move straight from one cell into a neighboring cell, new research suggests. The researchers hope the findings will provide a better understanding of how hep C works (and thus how it can be fought), although the research also suggests that certain drugs, like immune boosters, won't work that well against hep C since the body's immune system only attacks viruses outside of cells. (Web highlight from BBC News)
HIVers With Poor Reading Skills Are Less Likely to Take Meds Properly, Study Finds
If someone can't understand the instructions that come with their HIV meds, how can they be expected to take those meds properly? The logical answer is they can't. And science backs up that logic: A new study from Northwestern University has found that HIVers who read English below a ninth-grade level were less likely to take all their HIV meds on time, every time than HIVers who could read at a higher level.
Click here to read the abstract of this study, which was published in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
• HIV & U.S. POLITICS
Sen. Clinton's Position on Needle Exchange Is Difficult to Pin Down
Does U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton support federal funding for needle-exchange programs? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, it seems. In an interview in 2000 she emphatically said, "I think that we should go with the science, and the science has been pretty clear on this." Federal dollars should be earmarked for local needle-exchange programs, she said. But since Clinton's presidential campaign began, she's backtracked; Clinton's support for needle exchange now seems less energetic than it was in the past.
Activists are pressing both of the leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination about their position on needle exchange. Click here to watch a tense exchange between Clinton and a veteran AIDS activist (you can move the slider on the video player to the relevant section, which is an hour and eight minutes into the Webcast) and read what Clinton's main rival, Sen. Barack Obama, has said about needle exchange programs.
Democrats Get Another Chance to End Abstinence-Only Sex Ed
Last week, President Bush vetoed a budget bill that funds the most important U.S. HIV/AIDS programs, including the Ryan White CARE Act, saying the bill is too expensive. To get Bush to sign, Congress will probably have to do some trimming. So, what should go? Housing Works has a suggestion: Cut the $176 million Congress allocated for abstinence-only sex education, which Democrats failed to eliminate despite pledges to do so.
• MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Fashion Auction Makes Fighting HIV Stylish
Want to shop online and fight HIV at the same time? Thousands of designer and celebrity goods will be auctioned off on eBay over the next two weeks, and all proceeds will go to support HIV charities. The online auction began on Nov. 15 and runs through Dec. 6. Celebrities such as Demi Moore and Oprah Winfrey have donated their designer clothing to the event. (Web highlight from the Associated Press)
Click here to visit the eBay auction page.
HIV Activism Training Boot Camp in Atlanta
Are you an HIV activist living near Atlanta, Ga.? Are you interested in free training on how to fight for better HIV prevention, treatment and access to HIV meds in the state of Georgia? If you answered yes, you may want to catch AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition's training boot camp, "Activism in HIV/AIDS." It will take place the evening of Friday, Dec. 7 and all day Saturday, Dec. 8, so there's no need to miss work.
• HIV TRANSMISSION
New Estimates Say One in 22 MSM in Florida Has HIV
If you were sitting in a classroom full of men who have sex with men (MSM) in Florida, at least one of them would be HIV positive, according to new estimates from the state health department. And that number could easily grow depending on the racial diversity in the room: The state's report found that while one in 29 white MSM is HIV positive, the rate increases to an astonishing one in 18 for Hispanic MSM and one in 12 for black MSM.
Will Redesign Give the Female Condom Another Chance?
U.S. scientists are trying to breathe new life into the female condom with what they hope will be a less awkward, more pleasure-enhancing design. The redesign is one of many ongoing efforts to put the tools of HIV prevention into women's hands. However, one drawback to the next-generation female condom -- redesign and all -- is that it still can't be used secretly, a big problem for women who have to deal with partners who refuse to use condoms. (Web highlight from The New York Times)
New York Doctor Misused Needles, Causing HIV Transmission Concerns
More than 600 people in New York state were notified this week that they may have been exposed to HIV and other bloodborne diseases by a Nassau County doctor between 2000 and 2005. Patients of Dr. Harvey Finkelstein have been informed that the doctor reused syringes when injecting a person with more than one medication, meaning that the bottle containing a medication may have been contaminated if it was reused with other patients. The risk of viral transmission in cases like this is low, but the New York health department went with a "better safe than sorry" policy.
• HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES
Global HIV Estimates Lowered Due to Better Stats
Fewer people are living with HIV throughout the world than previously thought, according to a soon-to-be-released report from UNAIDS and the World Health Organization. Due to more accurate reporting methods, this year's estimate of the number of people living with HIV worldwide will drop to 33 million, down from 40 million last year. However, the numbers are still mind-numbing: More than two million people will have died in 2007 alone due to HIV, the report states, despite growing access to HIV meds.
Activists Lie in New York City Traffic to Protest HIV Care in Puerto Rico
A dozen activists furious about the quality of HIV care in Puerto Rico staged a "die-in" right in the middle of New York City traffic last week. As explained in this coverage of the protest by Housing Works, which supports the activists, the protestors want the federal government to supervise local programs in Puerto Rico that are allegedly plagued by mismanagement and corruption. However, the health officials say that's impossible. "Believe me, we do care ... and we've explored every option out there," a U.S. health department spokesperson said. "But the law as it is right now says that the funds go to the elected officials."