HIV IN THE NEWS
HIV Orgs Decry 35-Year Sentence for U.S. Man Who Spit on Cop
Is saliva a deadly weapon? A Texas jury seems to think so: That's why Willie Campbell, an HIV-positive homeless man, was handed a 35-year prison sentence last week. There's more to the story, of course: Campbell was a repeat offender who was already facing a lengthy prison sentence. But during his most recent arrest, he spit in the eye and mouth of an officer. Although there's never been a documented case of HIV transmission through saliva, a jury decided that Campbell's saliva should be considered a deadly weapon, which triggered a much harsher prison sentence -- and infuriated HIV organizations both inside and outside the United States. (Article from aidsmap.com)
If you live in the New York City area, you can throw in your two cents about the case at community forums hosted by the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project on Thursday, May 22 and Friday, May 23. Click here to learn more.
HIV VACCINE DEVELOPMENT
The Long, Hard March Toward an HIV Vaccine Continues
It's one of the most somber HIV Vaccine Awareness Days in history. In the past year, we've witnessed the failure of what had been seen as one of the most promising vaccine candidates yet -- a failure that has forced HIV vaccine researchers around the world to rethink their strategies. But on May 18, HIV Vaccine Awareness Day in the United States, top health official Anthony Fauci, M.D., called for the HIV community not to give up. In "the 42 years it took to develop an effective measles vaccine, researchers experienced numerous setbacks," Fauci said. "Finding a safe and effective HIV vaccine demands an equally intense resolve."
The Search Must Go On, Vaccine Advocates Say
A disappointing year in HIV vaccine research has left some asking: Is there still hope for a vaccine? The AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition certainly believes there is. The coalition just released a new, detailed report outlining how the research of the past year has changed the HIV vaccine field, explaining why the goal of an effective HIV vaccine is far from dead, and offering recommendations on how to move forward into a new era of vaccine development.
Tested Positive Today|
(A recent post from the "I Just Tested Positive" board)
Just got my results today. Tested positive. My doctor said he's giving me an A+ for taking it well (better than I thought I would have reacted). Well, considering that I took a final exam right after, I guess I'm OK. I told my best friend who is also positive. I promised myself that I'm not going to let the disease take over my life. A part of me is thinking that I am in denial, that the second HIV test that I'm waiting for is going to prove that I was falsely positive. Hopeful but not likely. I need to find friends who are positive. I want to join a support group. Any help with this?
Click here to join this discussion thread, or to start your own!
LIVING WITH HIV
Welcome to Travel Season: Tips for HIVers on the Move
Summer is a great time to get away from it all, and neither your HIV status nor your income has to be an obstacle. "Everyone comes back energized and rejuvenated [from a trip]," says Joni Lavick, a therapist at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. Check out this article from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation for invaluable advice about traveling with HIV. It will help you plan out your next destination and ensure you stay healthy while you roam.
For some handy travel tips, browse TheBody.com's collection of articles.
The Divas: In Harlem, Older Women With HIV Sustain One Another
"I'm a warrior," 59-year-old HIVer Patricia Clouden told her fellow Divas. Divas is a support group for HIV-positive women over 50 in New York City's Harlem neighborhood; its members are African American or Hispanic, and many have dealt with domestic violence, addiction or homelessness. Since her diagnosis in 2003, Clouden's life has transformed for the better. At the time, she was at the end of a 20-year relationship with a violent, abusive man. Looking back, she says, "HIV saved my life."
Growing Up With HIV in the United States
The HIV epidemic has reached a moment that, 20 years ago, would have seemed miraculous: Thousands of infants infected with HIV early in the epidemic have survived to the era of effective HIV treatment and are now reaching adulthood. The Chicago Tribune recognized this milestone by profiling several HIV-positive young people in the United States, highlighting the many challenges of a lifetime spent with a virus that still carries a lot of stigma with it. The key to survival? Support: "[T]hose who have done the best psychologically are those who have people in their lives that they share their diagnosis with and can talk to openly," says one expert.
Want to read inspiring stories about growing up with HIV? Browse TheBody.com's collection of articles. Meanwhile, if you're a young person with HIV who's looking for support, click here for a listing of programs and organizations that can help.
"HIV Controllers" Sought for Important Study
Have you been able to keep your viral load low for many years without taking HIV medications? One of the world's top HIV researchers would love your help. Bruce Walker, M.D., has undertaken a massive effort to figure out how some people are able to control HIV without treatment -- and whether they may hold the key to a cure. He is seeking 1,000 people with HIV under the age of 76 who usually have a viral load below 2,000 and haven't been taking HIV medications for at least a year. To learn more, visit the study's Web site or read The Body's interview with Dr. Walker.
TheBody.com had a chance to meet two of the people who are participating in Dr. Walker's study, Loreen Willenberg and Paul. Read or listen to their interviews to learn more about what it's like to be an "HIV controller," and why they've chosen to volunteer for Dr. Walker's study.
Saluting the Greatest Generation of HIV Fighters
"They faced daunting odds. Many were sick. Many were dying. Vilified, ostracized and feared, they had few friends and many more enemies in the corridors of power. Still they fought, and largely won." These are the powerful words of HIV activist and educator Paul Dalton, who blogged recently about the men and women who became HIV activists in the 1980s. In this article, Dalton salutes everyone who fought on behalf of people with HIV during those devastating early years of the U.S. epidemic. He also calls special attention to Martin Delaney, one of HIV's foremost activists, who recently stepped down as the head of the U.S. HIV organization Project Inform.
U.S. HIV Travel Ban Is Stupid, Says Well-Known Pos Conservative Columnist
"Making HIV the only medical condition that legally prevents someone from immigrating [to] or even visiting [the United States] is a signal to people with HIV that they have something to be ashamed of." These are the words of gay, conservative columnist Andrew Sullivan, an HIVer from Britain who now lives in the United States thanks to a hard-won legal fight. In a recent column for the Washington Post, Sullivan underscores the hypocrisy of the United States' global stance against HIV stigma despite its position as one of only 12 countries in the world that still bans HIV-positive visitors. (Article from the Washington Post)
Want to learn more about HIV travel and immigration issues? Browse TheBody.com's collection of articles.
HIV Getting Too Much of World's Attention and Money, Analyst Says
"We have created a monster," says health policy analyst Roger England. He's not talking about HIV itself; he's talking about the global efforts to fight it. In a contentious article published in one of the world's top medical journals, England accuses international organizations like UNAIDS of doing too much to fight HIV, at the expense of fighting other diseases and improving health systems in poor countries. It's time to shut down UNAIDS and start "putting HIV in its place," England writes. (Article from BMJ)
The Future of Hepatitis C Treatment
More powerful treatments for hepatitis C that cause fewer side effects are badly needed, writes Lynda Dee, a longtime HIV activist recently diagnosed with hep C. Fortunately, there's plenty of promising new research on hepatitis C currently under way. In the last year, in fact, we've learned more about several hot prospects. Check out this article to learn about medications in development that may revolutionize hepatitis C treatment, as well as those that have recently flopped.
Tuberculosis Can Go Into Hiding, Study Finds
Like a grizzly bear in winter, tuberculosis appears to have the ability to hibernate, British researchers have discovered. Tuberculosis is a leading cause of death worldwide among people with HIV, though it's primarily a problem in developing countries. The new research has found that, when tuberculosis is threatened by attempts to kill it off, it appears to protect itself by building up stores of fat. The bacterium then slows its metabolism down so much that it's virtually dead -- and thus more likely to go untouched by a person's immune system or tuberculosis drugs. This chubby, sluggish form of tuberculosis can then reactivate itself in the future and continue to infect a person's cells.
HIV THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
South African Military Sued for Banning People With HIV
If you want to work for the South African National Defense Force (SANDF), you have to be HIV negative. Sound like discrimination to you? You're not alone: The defense force is now being sued for its policy. South Africa's military not only bans HIV-positive people from joining; it also mandates regular HIV testing for current employees, and prohibits promotion and foreign deployment of people who test positive while they're employed. SANDF justifies the ban with the "lame excuse" that the army is too strenuous a place for people with HIV, according to Nonkosi Khumalo of the AIDS Law Project.