June 18, 2008
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VIEWPOINTS

Terri Wilder Terri Wilder Asks, "Where Is the Martin Luther King Jr. of HIV?"
Has the global war against HIV ever had a true leader? Not in Terri Wilder's eyes. Sure, there have been countless people -- amazing people -- who have dedicated their lives to putting an end to the pandemic and improving the lives of people with HIV. But in her latest blog entry, Terri explains why that's not enough. "I can't really identify THE person who has emerged out of the masses to lead us, advise us and inspire us," she writes. "We need a leader." (Blog from TheBody.com)


 Finding the Deeper Meaning in Gay Sexuality
Are you tired of people asking, "Are you a top or a bottom?" Tony Hollenbeck is. He hated that, as a gay man, his "initiation" into the community focused on his sexual resume and nothing else. He found this to be an empty, disappointing, limiting way to connect with his partners. Tony, who is head of social work at Access Community Health Network in Chicago, Ill., now helps gay men and people with HIV find a deeper meaning to sex than pure physical gratification. (Article from Positively Aware)



Also Worth Noting: This Positive Life

Shelley Singer

"If you can make a stand, whether it's for yourself, for your community, or for someone you know, do it and be heard," says long-term HIV survivor Shelley Singer. In the latest installment of TheBody.com's This Positive Life podcast series, Shelley tells how she became an outspoken advocate sharing her HIV prevention message with young people and running a social group for HIV-positive heterosexuals.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

 Urge Your U.S. Senator to Fund Medicare Meds, Not Abstinence-Only Ed, Housing Works Says
Want to help ensure that the U.S. government assists low-income HIVers? There's a bill now in Congress that could correct the notorious Medicare "donut hole" for people on HIV treatment. The bill would allow HIVers on Medicare to use AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) to pay for their meds in the period between benefit levels, when folks on Medicare are expected to cover up to $4,050 in out-of-pocket costs. According to the HIV advocacy organization Housing Works, correcting this loophole would protect the health of many low-income HIVers -- and save millions in ADAP dollars. However, the correction was left out of the Senate version of the budget -- and abstinence-only education was left in. There's still time for you to call up your senator and demand changes to the bill! Housing Works provides detailed instructions for seeking out and calling your senator. (Article from Housing Works)

For more on this story, read this news summary.



HIV IN THE U.S. NEWS

 More Than Half of HIV-Related Deaths in Washington, D.C., Not Reported, Analysis Says
The majority of all HIV-related deaths that occurred in Washington, D.C., from 2000 to 2005 were missed by the city's reporting system, according to a new official analysis. The report found that 1,337 of the city's 2,460 HIV-related deaths weren't reported as having anything to do with HIV. "[W]e have to have an accurate count," said Shannon Hader, M.D., of the city's health department, noting that Washington, D.C.'s federal HIV funding depends on such estimates. "We want everything they owe us." (Summary from kaisernetwork.org)

Click here to read the full report, which was published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.


 Price of Four HIV Meds Frozen for ADAPs, Other U.S. Programs
Two drug companies have agreed to put a temporary freeze on the prices of several HIV meds, but only for U.S. AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) and other select federal agencies. The announcement guarantees that ADAPs will not see a price increase for Emtriva (emtricitabine, FTC), Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) and Viread (tenofovir) until 2011, and there will be no price increase for Aptivus (tipranavir) until May 2009. In addition to ADAPs, the U.S. Public Health Service and the Federal Supply Service will benefit from the freeze on Emtriva, Truvada and Viread. (The Aptivus price freeze applies only to ADAPs.) (Article from kaisernetwork.org)



Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Toning Up After Huge Weight Loss
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

I am trying to tone up my stomach and behind. I have lost a great deal of weight; I went from 360 lbs. to 194, and I am 6'4", so it does not look bad, but I want to tone up and be healthier. Can anyone suggest exercise and nutrition tips?

-- PozBrother

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

Also Worth Noting: Video Central

Paul

At TheBody.com's Video Central, you can get to know the diverse range of people living with HIV in the United States, including Paul (above), a 37-year-old HIV educator living in the Northeast. These moving interviews are brought to you by The Positive Project, a unique collection of more than 100 first-person stories told by people infected with or affected by HIV.
HIV TREATMENT & COMPLICATIONS

 The Papilloma Chronicles: One Man's Life With HPV and Anal Cancer
Human papillomavirus (HPV) often doesn't get a whole lot of attention, but if Matt Sharp's story is any indication, both men and women with HIV (and their doctors) should take notice. In this personal story, Matt, a long-term HIV survivor, describes his 27-year odyssey from HPV infection to anal cancer diagnosis -- a journey that took him through five cities, several doctors and a truckload of confusing information. "Bottom line is that no matter what your doctor says, demand an anal pap smear," Matt writes. "[R]emember, since we all have anuses and most of us are sexually active, both men and women should be checked." (Article from Positively Aware)

To learn much more about HPV and the cancers it can cause, browse TheBody.com's collection of articles.


 If at First Your HIV Meds Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again
Have you been through two or more HIV treatment regimens but still haven't found a combination of meds that can work for the long run? Don't despair: There is an ever-growing number of options for people who need to go on third-line therapy, or for people who have been on many regimens and need so-called "rescue" or "salvage" therapy. This guide from Project Inform will walk you through what you need to know as you figure out your next treatment steps. (Guide from Project Inform)


 Hot Pepper Patch May Help Treat Neuropathy
If you're one of the many HIVers dealing with peripheral neuropathy (pain and tingling in the feet or hands), some help may soon be on the way. One possible treatment that's been studied off and on is capsaicin, the naturally occurring chemical that makes hot peppers so hot. Scientists have been studying whether a skin patch made with the chemical can relieve pain in people with HIV-related neuropathy, but results have been mixed. A recent study, however, found that a capsaicin patch (which is not yet available commercially) partially reduced pain for at least 12 weeks in HIVers with neuropathy. (Study abstract from the journal Neurology)



Also Worth Noting: HIV Testing Day

National HIV Testing Day Poster

U.S. National HIV Testing Day is June 27! This provides a great opportunity to help teach others about HIV and the importance of HIV testing. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 180,000 to 280,000 people around the country are HIV positive but are unaware of their status. Click here to learn more about how you can get involved.

HIV TRANSMISSION

 New York City Clinics Stop Using Rapid Oral HIV Test Due to False Positives
All 10 of New York City's public health clinics have stopped using rapid oral HIV tests due to an unusually high number of false positives over the past several months. Since October, about one of every 100 rapid oral tests at city clinics registered as a false positive, a rate five times higher than usual. As a result, the clinics stopped using the tests in late May. OraSure, the company that makes the test, says it's investigating the problem, but called the spate of false positives in New York a "slight aberration." (Article from kaisernetwork.org)


 Coming to a New York City Drugstore Near You: Free HIV Testing
The next time New Yorkers head to their local drugstore, they may be able to get an HIV test along with their paper towels, candy or drug prescriptions. Gay Men's Health Crisis has partnered with Duane Reade -- the largest drugstore chain in the New York City area -- to set up mobile HIV testing units outside of select stores. Through the end of this year, the units will offer free, confidential HIV testing and counseling, with no appointment necessary. (Despite the flurry of false-positive rapid oral HIV tests recently reported by New York City public clinics, which we summarize above, GMHC told TheBody.com that it hasn't seen a similar rise in false-positive tests this year, and currently has no plans to stop using the rapid oral tests.) (Press release from Gay Men's Health Crisis)


 HIV Rates Up in United States -- But Only Because We're Counting Better, Health Official Says
For years now, U.S. health officials have said that around 40,000 people per year are diagnosed with HIV in the United States. Turns out they were wrong: It's more like 50,000 per year, according to a top U.S. health official. Better counting methods are the reason for the adjusted estimates, says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the longtime head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "That doesn't mean that the actual rate of new infections increased," Dr. Fauci noted. "It was always 50,000 a year." (Article from Reuters Health; free registration at Medscape.com required to read)

On a related note, if you're a number-cruncher who's interested in the statistical side of HIV in the United States, take a look at this new set of slides released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They include updated figures through 2006 outlining the number of people diagnosed with AIDS, with charts and graphs that break the numbers down by gender, region and state.



Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the June 2008 Visual AIDS Gallery
"The Bimbo Is Smoking," 1992; Robert Blanchon

Visit the June 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Alien Architecture," is curated by Tairone Bastien.
HIV THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

 First Director of UNAIDS to Step Down at End of Year
It's the end of an era in the global fight against HIV: Peter Piot, who's been the Executive Director of UNAIDS since the organization's inception in 1995, has decided he will step down at the end of 2008. Piot took the reins of the fledgling UNAIDS during a time when the pandemic was exploding in developing countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, but HIV awareness was extremely limited and treatment options were virtually nonexistent. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)


 United Nations Chief Calls for End to HIV Travel Bans, Discrimination
Discrimination against people with HIV is "an affront to our common humanity" and must be stopped, the United Nations' top official said last week. At a United Nations meeting on HIV, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an end to travel bans against people with HIV, which persist in many countries (including the United States). He also expressed shock that much of the world still attaches such a huge stigma to HIV and discriminates against gay men or others who are at especially high risk for HIV. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)


 U.S. Senators Block $50 Billion Global AIDS Bill
Could seven U.S. senators prevent $50 billion in HIV funding from reaching millions of people in developing countries? Not if HIV activists have anything to say about it. Activists around the world are pulling out all the stops to make sure the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) gets renewed this month. A handful of senators have been blocking the bill because, they say, it's too expensive. The legislation would expand the country's global funding for HIV to $50 billion over five years, and possibly help push other countries to make larger contributions to fighting the pandemic. When presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain was asked to defend the PEPFAR bill to his friend Sen. Tom Coburn -- one of the senators holding up the bill -- McCain promised to help but admitted he was "not that familiar" with the bill. (Article from Housing Works)

If you live in the United States, you can get involved in preserving this important legislation! Call Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at 1-202-224-3542 and tell him to push the bill through. Or contact Health GAP's Kaytee Riek at kaytee@healthgap.org and ask how you can help.


 Protestors Demand Thailand Stop "Drug War"
"Thai government! We are watching you!" That was the endless refrain of a coalition of 50 Thai activists and active drug users from New York, who protested outside the Thai embassy in Manhattan last week. The protestors demanded an end to the Thai government's "drug war," which killed 3,000 people in 2003 and began anew this spring, resulting in three new deaths, according to Housing Works. Half of all new HIV infections in Thailand occur among injection drug users, and those numbers are increasing while the country's overall HIV rate declines. Many Thai drug users are denied access to HIV medications, in spite of the country's generally good record of providing treatment to its citizens. (Article from Housing Works)



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