July 24, 2008
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VIEWPOINTS

 The End of HIV: What Will the World Say 100 Years From Now?
Imagine for a moment that it's 100 years in the future, and HIV has been cured for many years. What do you think the history books will say about the HIV pandemic? TheBody.com grabbed a microphone and asked this intriguing question to a wide range of HIV advocates and health care workers. You can read or listen to their responses in TheBody.com's newest feature, "Word on the Street" -- and then offer your own thoughts as well! (Feature from TheBody.com)


Jim Pickett Blog Central: Give the Booty a Chance, Microbicide Activist Says
"I have a certain booty bias," admits Jim Pickett. Of course, the gay, outspoken HIV-positive activst is talking about his position at the head of International Rectal Microbicide Advocates, a group working to further efforts to develop a microbicide that can be used to protect men and women from HIV during anal sex. In his inaugural blog for TheBody.com, Jim talks about how global efforts to develop rectal microbicides are finally beginning to gain some traction after years of playing second fiddle to vaginal microbicides. "With less silence and more science, we can save millions of HUMAN [not just female] lives," he writes. (Blog from TheBody.com)


 HIV Is No Longer a Global Emergency, Researcher Argues
"The epidemic has peaked," says researcher John Bongaarts. "AIDS should now be treated like any other disease." Bongaarts is the lead investigator of a study which has found a declining global rate of new HIV infections. According to Bongaarts, this finding is not new, but he claims agencies like UNAIDS have avoided highlighting it because they're afraid of losing both funding and attention. The study predicts that the total number of people living with HIV throughout the world will hold steady for another 20 years. Bongaarts doesn't suggest that less money should be spent in the global fight against HIV, but he does urge more attention and funding be given to fight other diseases, such as malaria. (Article from PlusNews)

For more information about the study, read this news release or the abstract of the study itself, which was published in the June issue of Population and Development Review.



Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the July 2008 Visual AIDS Gallery
"See Only What You Wish," 2003; Edward T. Lightner

Visit the July 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Militancy and Mourning," is curated by Paul Sendziuk.
HIV TRANSMISSION

 Blacks Are More Susceptible to HIV Than Whites Due to Genetic Quirk, Study Finds
For many years now, HIV experts have been trying to figure out why black people seem to be diagnosed with HIV at higher rates than white people. Are the reasons economic? Social? Political? The issue is still unresolved, but a new study by U.S. and British researchers has come up with an intriguing new explanation: genetics. About 90 percent of black people in Africa and 60 percent of black people in the United States have a genetic quirk that protects them from a once-common (but now extremely rare) type of malaria -- but that also happens to make them up to 40 percent more susceptible to HIV, the researchers say. The findings are still preliminary, but if they hold up to scrutiny, they could help explain why HIV has so heavily affected black people throughout the world. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

You can read the complete (and highly technical) study in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.


 Abstinence-Only Programs Are Ineffective, Inaccurate and Sexist, Editorial Argues
Plenty of people feel it's loony to pretend that if the United States just educates its teenagers properly about abstinence, they'll all remain virgins until after they recite their wedding vows. (Abstinence education also tends to assume that there are no gay people.) Evidence continues to pile up that abstinence-only programs are "a monumental waste of $300 million a year in taxpayer dollars" and "harmful to America's young people," according to this editorial from the new HIV publication Thrive, a joint creation of the Community Research Initiative of America and Gay Men's Health Crisis. (Article from Thrive)


 Another HIV Vaccine Trial Bites the Dust
In a move that surprised pretty much nobody in the HIV community, the U.S. health department has canceled what would have been a major study of an experimental HIV vaccine known as PAVE-100. The vaccine worked in a very similar way to a vaccine created by Merck, which made global headlines last year when a huge international study found it failed to prevent HIV, and in fact might have increased HIV risk for some people. Anthony Fauci, M.D., the head of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said a pared-down version of the PAVE-100 study might still be approved, but that more research must be done to figure out whether the vaccine works before starting widespread testing in humans. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)



Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Newly Diagnosed at 21, and Hitting a New Low
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

I'm 21 years old and in March 2008 I found out my positive status. ... With contracting HIV I have reached a new low in my life. I just wish things would get better. I have always wanted a boyfriend, but being positive has made it so much harder to find one, and the motivation has gone away. Motivation on a lot of things has gone away because of the fear of rejection and the dirtiness I feel inside.

I would like to say that HIV hasn't totally screwed up my outlook on life, but it has. Now I say to myself, "What's the point of starting the HIV meds?" ... The dreams I thought I could achieve are now 100-fold harder. I know I'm just rambling on now, but I had to let it out.

-- car2d2

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

HIV IN THE NEWS

 U.S. Senate Votes to Triple Global HIV Spending, Repeal HIV Travel Ban
The U.S. Senate has finally approved a landmark bill that would greatly increase U.S. funding for the fight against HIV in developing countries and repeal a long-criticized ban on HIV-positive people entering the United States. The bill renews the United States' commitment to the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), more than tripling its funding to nearly $50 billion over the next five years. The bill would also pave the way for the removal of stringent restrictions that keep people with HIV from traveling to the United States. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

This is not quite the end of the story for the PEPFAR renewal, however. The U.S. House of Representatives still has to vote on the newly approved Senate bill, and then President Bush must agree to sign it. Both are expected to happen shortly.

The U.S. Senate's move to strike down the HIV travel ban is already having an impact outside the United States' borders: Russian politicians are considering following the new U.S. example, according to news reports. In Russia, all foreigners who intend to stay in the country for longer than three months are required to have an HIV test, and people with HIV are banned from immigrating or staying in the country for a long period of time.


 Study Reveals Previously Undiscovered Way in Which HIV Can Hurt the Immune System
In addition to pulling down a person's CD4 count, HIV also gradually exhausts disease-fighting "B cells" in the human immune system, a new U.S. study has found. B cells are responsible for making antibodies that prevent outside invaders, such as HIV, from attacking a person's body. HIV appears to overwhelm the B cell response and thus hurt the body's ability to fight off the virus. Researchers hope the finding can help scientists develop a more effective HIV vaccine. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)



Also Worth Noting: Quit Smoking

Quit Smoking

If you have HIV, you're more likely than an HIV-negative person to be a smoker. Yet cigarettes are especially dangerous for HIV-positive people, who researchers say already face a higher risk of heart problems than HIV-negative people do.

Thinking about calling it quits? There's a free service that can help you. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW and talk with a "quit coach" in your state who will help you get cigarettes out of your life once and for all. For more information on the service, click here.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE

 Mississippi HIVers Learn Their Rights -- and Speak Out for Change
"[Mississippians] are making some noise" about the problems they're having accessing HIV services, says Valencia Robinson, the field organizer for AIDS Action in Mississippi (AAIM). AAIM has made great strides since its founding in 2005, helping Mississippi's HIVers stand up for vital resources such as housing, treatment access and comprehensive sex education in schools. "People are realizing their rights are being violated," Robinson says. "They're learning ... it's okay to speak up if you're not getting your meds." (Article from Housing Works)

Right now, AAIM and other HIV organizations are preparing for Stand Against AIDS, a cross-country caravan of HIV activists that will descend on Oxford, Miss., for the U.S. presidential candidates' debate on September 26. According to Housing Works, the event promises to be "the largest AIDS education and advocacy effort the state has ever seen."



HIV THROUGHOUT THE WORLD

 HIVers Who Are Unaware of Their Status Can Still Be Convicted of Transmission, Swiss Court Rules
Can you be convicted of infecting someone with HIV even if you didn't know you were HIV positive at the time? According to Switzerland's highest court, the answer is yes. The court has ruled that an HIV-positive man who was unaware of his status when he had unprotected sex can still be held criminally responsible for infecting his female partner. Although the man never had an HIV test, prosecutors argued that he had reason to suspect his status, since a former partner had notified him that she tested positive. This appears to be the first court ruling anywhere in the world that found an undiagnosed person guilty of a crime for transmitting HIV. (Article from aidsmap.com)


 Rural Haitian Town Becomes New Home for Gay Advocacy in Country With Heavy Stigma
The rural town of St. Marc, Haiti, just became the newest center of the island nation's budding gay rights movement. Eighteen gay St. Marc citizens gathered on June 27 for a meeting of Haiti's first gay group outside Port-au-Prince, its capital city. The men in the group, which does not yet have a name, shared stories of violence and rejection by their communities in a country where homosexuality is highly stigmatized. (Article from Housing Works)



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