May 29, 2008
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Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the May 2008 Visual AIDS Gallery
"Shut Up," 1982; Ken Goodman

Visit the May 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Linear Progression/Progressive Deterioration," is curated by Steven Gordon and RJ Supa.

 Black, Gay, HIV-Positive Activist Celebrates "Carnal Aspect of Living"
"Shortly after I discovered that I had been infected, there came a time when sex was no longer sexy to me. After all, it was the very thing that got me into this mess," recalls HIV-positive writer and activist Craig Washington. But, in time, he came around -- and in this stunning excerpt from the anthology Not in My Family: AIDS in the African-American Community he celebrates sex, self-love and his rediscovery of his own sensuality.

Washington's candid essay ruffled a few feathers during the run-up to the publication of Not in My Family, according to anthology editor Gil Robertson IV. Read or listen to's interview with Robertson for more about the creation of Not in My Family.


 Support Group Meeting Unearths Bitter Memories of a Life Before Meth
"You told me you could handle [meth]. ... I trusted you, and you made me a whore." HIV activist Mark King spoke those bitter words -- to himself. Once a "loathsome drug addict," Mark was recently at a support group meeting for people recovering from crystal meth addiction. In need of a story to share, Mark delved into his past. What bubbled up was a disturbing daydream, where Mark was confronted by hateful accusations from his former self -- the Mark King that was buried under by meth addiction years ago.

Jim Pickett Think Twice Before Shelling Out Big Bucks for Drug-Addiction Treatments, Activist Warns
"Would you spend $15,000 for an appetite suppressant that doesn't diminish your hunger?" Jim Pickett asks. In this column, Pickett, an outspoken HIV-positive activist, sounds the alarm about a pricey -- and completely unproven -- drug cocktail that claims to help a person kick their addiction to cocaine or crystal methamphetamine. "Don't be a sucker," Pickett warns. "We all need to be good consumers of substance abuse treatment. ... If it's too good to be true, it probably is."

Also Worth Noting: In Memoriam

Gerry HoytLongtime Atlanta, Ga., HIV activist Gerry Hoyt died on Sunday, May 18, after a heart attack. He was 51. Gerry, who lived with HIV for more than 20 years, had been deeply involved in Georgia's most prominent HIV organizations. "Gerry didn't chase fame, so I don't think it was ever acknowledged how devoted he was and how hard he worked," says social worker Terri Wilder, who worked closely with Gerry at AIDS Survival Project in Atlanta.

Several of Gerry's articles on living with HIV are available at After going to the hospital with a bout of pneumonia in April 2000, he reflected on how important it was for people to stand up for themselves and get the treatment they deserve. In 1999 he discussed how faith helped him find the strength to support others living with HIV.


 Ten Non-AIDS Cancers Are More Common Among People With HIV
Although a major, new U.S. study has found that many types of cancer are more common among HIV-positive people, the overall risk of getting cancer when you're HIV positive is low. The massive study of nearly 55,000 HIVers discovered that 10 cancers that are not associated with advanced HIV disease nonetheless happen more frequently among HIVers than HIV-negative people. Cancers of the anus, colon/rectum, kidney, liver, lung, mouth/throat and vagina, as well as Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia and melanoma, are all more common among people with HIV, the study found.


 Most People Become HIV Positive From a Single Copy of the Virus, Study Says
Think people get infected by HIV when an army of invading viruses breaks through the body's defenses? Think again: Three out of every four people who become HIV positive were infected by a single copy of HIV breaking into a single cell, U.S. researchers have found. That single infected cell then makes thousands more copies of HIV, which rapidly begin to spread through a person's body. Only 24 percent of the time is more than one copy of HIV involved -- and even then, the researchers found, we're still talking about only two to five copies of HIV that get the ball rolling.

 Drug Use During Sex May Make Infection With Drug-Resistant HIV More Likely
People who use drugs (such as crystal meth or ecstasy) during sex don't just put themselves at risk for HIV -- they may put themselves at greater risk for drug-resistant HIV, according to researchers in California. In a study of about 100 recently infected gay men, those who had used drugs during sex within the past year were four times more likely to have a drug-resistant HIV strain than those who hadn't used drugs during sex. Although the study couldn't determine exactly why this was the case, the researchers said there was a possibility that "resistant viruses may circulate among networks of [gay men] who use illicit drugs."

The abstract of this study appears in the April 15 edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

 Political Correctness Allows HIV to Spread, New Book Argues
"People do stupid things -- that's what spreads HIV," says former UNAIDS official Elizabeth Pisani. But instead of talking honestly about how we can slow the spread of HIV, HIV prevention efforts have been taken over by groups that prefer to collect as much money as they can while glossing over the issues that really matter, Pisani suggests. In a new book, Pisani claims that international HIV organizations are wasting their time talking about politically correct concepts like gender issues and victimization, rather than focusing on the direct causes of HIV transmission: unprotected sex and injection drug use. (Article from The Guardian)

You can read excerpts from The Wisdom of Whores on Elizabeth Pisani's provocative blog on HIV, sex and science. You can also watch Pisani talk about her book or explain why she feels that more sex outside of marriage could help lower HIV rates.

 Girls and Guys Should Get HPV Vaccine, Studies Suggest
Most experts agree that it's smart to offer young women a vaccine to protect them from human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical cancer. But should men get the vaccine, too? Though they can't get cervical cancer, men can be at risk for other HPV-associated cancers, including anal cancer and oral cancer (both of which are also more common among people with HIV). Two new studies on oral HPV show that HPV in the mouth, which both men and women can catch through oral sex, is strongly linked with oral cancer, a disease that affects 18,550 men every year.

 Teaching the Young People Most at Risk How to Protect Themselves From HIV
"When we ask young people in classrooms, how many of you know somebody living with HIV about 50 to 60 percent of [them] will raise their hands," says Adam Tenner, the director of an HIV prevention program in Washington, D.C. HIV rates in Washington, D.C., are the highest in the country, and Tenner's mission is to prevent HIV from spreading to the next generation. This National Public Radio story takes a look at Tenner's program and discusses inner city HIV prevention. (Podcast from National Public Radio)

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Recently Positive and Lost in Life
(A recent post from the "Gay Men With HIV" board)

Ever since finding out [I was HIV positive] on April 1, I just haven't been the same. I know this is to be expected, of course. So far, I am asymptomatic, but I haven't been able to work. I am a massage therapist. This line of work, I've decided, I don't want anymore. The reasons are endless, but my main reason is HIV. I'm listless, unmotivated to be proactive. ... Pretty much, the only thing I've wanted to do is smoke crystal with my pos partners in crime and try, TRY to drown out reality. ... I'm still in good health, but if I continue living like this, my T cells are going to start dropping like flies. Any advice?

-- AZSouthBay

Click here to join this discussion thread, or to start your own!


 25 Years of Success and Failure: A Top HIV Researcher Remembers
"Twenty-five years ago this month came a glimmer of hope," recalls Anthony Fauci, M.D. It might seem like an odd way of remembering the first published paper that linked HIV to AIDS, but it helped doctors begin to understand what was causing this mysterious illness that was killing a growing number of people in U.S. cities. As the head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, Dr. Fauci has seen that glimmer of hope lead to the development of lifesaving HIV medications, but also to the frustrating failure to develop a vaccine. In this article, he looks back on the past 25 years of HIV -- and forward to the obstacles that lie ahead.


 AIDS Denialists Shut Out of Senate Hearing After Winning "Whistleblower" Award
A pair of high-profile AIDS denialists were disinvited from testifying at a May 14 U.S. Senate committee hearing on laws to protect whistleblowers, people who speak out publicly against wrongdoing within an organization. Peter Duesberg and Celia Farber had traveled to Washington, D.C., from California to receive an award for their efforts to discredit factual evidence about HIV and HIV treatment. "These aren't whistleblowers," said a Washington, D.C., HIV activist. "They're divergent thinkers who are 21st century snake oil salesmen."

 New Internet Game Challenges Assumptions, Ignorance About Who Has HIV
It's impossible to know whether a person has HIV just by looking at them, but too many people in the world still believe you can. That's where a new Internet game comes in: "Pos or Not" invites people to look at photos and short profiles of a wide range of people and guess whether they have HIV. Of course, there's no way to tell for sure -- and that's the point. "We feel it's another kind of activist tool to get out the word about HIV protection," explained the general manager of mtvU, the MTV network offshoot that launched the site.

Want to test your luck at "Pos or Not"? Click here to play the game.

 Keeping the "Care" in Carolina: South Carolina Commits $2.4 million to ADAP
HIV advocates in South Carolina are praising legislators for committing $2.4 million for the state's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which provides free HIV medications to people with little or no insurance. State Rep. Joe Neal said, "We have finally, as a state, come to grips with HIV/AIDS and are willing to put resources to stem the spread of this disease." The state has come a long way since 2006, when four South Carolinians died while on the state's ADAP waiting list due to lack of funding. That year, the waiting list swelled to 567 people; today, the list is empty.

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