August 21, 2008
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SUMMARIES FROM THE XVII INTERNATIONAL AIDS CONFERENCE

The XVII International AIDS ConferenceThese articles are just a sample of the ever-growing trove of one-on-one interviews, personal stories, research summaries, podcasts and much more that make up TheBody.com's coverage of the XVII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2008). Stop in at our conference home page for the very latest, and stay tuned for much more coverage, including videos and our one-of-a-kind photojournal.


David Hardy, M.D. "HIV Is Still Alive and Well" in the United States, Top HIV Researcher Warns
When we asked David Hardy, M.D., for his opinion on the most important messages from AIDS 2008, we expected him to talk about the latest research on HIV medications and complications. What we didn't expect was his emotional recap of what he felt was the most noteworthy development at this conference: the glaring spotlight that was cast on the state of the HIV epidemic in the United States, and at how little success our HIV prevention efforts appear to be having. (Article and podcast from TheBody.com)


 AIDS 2008 Through the Eyes of a Young Activist
After five straight coffee-fueled, 18-hour days packed with speeches, meetings and protests, student activist Caiti Schroering summed up her time at this year's International AIDS Conference in four words: "amazing, draining, energizing and exhausting." In this article, Schroering, a member of the Student Global AIDS Campaign, looks back at her time in Mexico City and asks: Did the conference give voice to the underprivileged, or did it simply strengthen the groups that are already strong? Did her protests make a difference? (Article from the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project)


Paul Sax, M.D. Paul Sax, M.D., Discusses AIDS 2008 Research Highlights
As AIDS 2008 drew to a close, we asked some of the HIV clinical community's sharpest minds what they felt were the most important messages from the conference. In this interview, Paul Sax, M.D., offers his take, with a focus on new findings regarding heart disease and the question of when is the best time to start taking HIV medications. (Article and podcast from The Body PRO)


 An Insider's View of the Chaos at AIDS 2008
If you weren't one of the 25,000 people who attended the world's largest HIV gathering earlier this month, take a peek at this account of the spectacle, discoveries and frustrations you would have encountered at the huge, hectic meeting. In their "Live from AIDS 2008" blog, the staff of Trócaire, the Irish Catholic Church's relief agency, shares many revelations from its week in Mexico City, including a surprising study on the link between HIV and war and what a 15-year-old boy orphaned by HIV told former U.S. President Bill Clinton. (Blog from Trócaire)



Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the August 2008 Visual AIDS Gallery
"Untitled," 1983; David Wojnarowicz

Visit the August 2008 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Medicine Show," is curated by Billy Miller.
HIV TREATMENT

 Ziagen Less Effective Than Viread Among People With High Viral Load, Study Finds
In a conference dotted by only a few truly noteworthy research presentations, this was one of the big ones: Results from a major U.S. study found that people who start HIV treatment with a viral load above 100,000 are less likely to control that viral load if they take a Ziagen (abacavir)-based regimen than a Viread (tenofovir)-based regimen. In this one-on-one interview with The Body PRO, TheBody.com's sister site for HIV health care professionals, lead investigator Paul Sax, M.D., explains the study findings. (Article and podcast from The Body PRO)

To read or listen to more summaries of breaking HIV treatment research, visit our AIDS 2008 home page on The Body PRO.


 Spain to Pay for Lipoatrophy Treatment for HIV-Positive People
Treatment for facial fat loss (lipoatrophy) can be awfully expensive, and getting your health insurance company to pay for lipoatrophy treatments is nearly impossible in the United States. But in Spain ... well, this is another case in which Spain seems decades ahead of us when it comes to social development. The country has already legalized gay marriage, and earlier this month at AIDS 2008, the Spanish health minister announced that treatments for lipoatrophy will be included on the list of services that are provided to all of its citizens free of charge. (Press release from the XVII International AIDS Conference)



VIEWPOINTS

 What It's Like to Be a Gay Man In ...
The XVII International AIDS Conference gave us an incredible opportunity to speak with a huge range of people working on the front lines of the HIV pandemic throughout the world. In the latest edition of TheBody.com's new "Word on the Street" feature, you can read or listen in as HIV community leaders from the Caribbean to India to Africa talk about what everyday life is like for a gay man in their country. (Article and podcasts from TheBody.com)


 New Report Sheds Light on Challenges Facing Gay Men Throughout the World
"International neglect of [gay men] will serve only to undermine the global effort to fight HIV/AIDS in any context." So says the HIV research foundation amfAR, which has released a new report on the state of HIV among gay men worldwide. The comprehensive report describes many ways that gay stigma, violence and even criminalization conspire to make it nearly impossible for many gay men throughout the world to access HIV education or care. (Report from amfAR)


 Sex Workers Say: End the Stigma, but Let Us Keep Our Jobs
Why do some women become sex workers? Before she arrived at the 2008 AIDS Conference in Mexico City, Juliana Rincón Parra assumed that most women who sold sex had no other choice. But at the conference she met dozens of sex workers, and all of them proved her wrong: Although they said they are fighting to end the stigma and discrimination of sex work and to legalize the profession, they noted that they have no desire to be "freed" from their work. Powerful HIV institutions like UNAIDS, however, continue to view all sex workers as victims, not professionals. It's that attitude, Parra now believes, that makes it harder for sex workers to protect themselves from one of their greatest occupational hazards: HIV. (Article from Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project)

You can read more about the lives of sex workers, as well as the connection between sex worker rights and HIV, in this report (PDF) from the Open Society Institute.



Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
October
[An excerpt from a poem posted by gray to the "Living With HIV" bulletin board]

And so I let my brother talk
while I sank into
grace
purpose
destiny
beyond the confines of his rooms.
This man, this scribe of Pfizer,
mumbling about meds
coughing up trajectories of expected values
when all I needed was
a requisition form for connection
and a prescription for hope.

Click here to comment on this poem, or to start your own discussion thread!

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

 U.S. Activists Head to Mississippi to Ensure HIV Is on the Next U.S. President's Agenda
U.S. HIV activists aren't waiting until a new president is elected to begin pushing for a nationwide strategy to fight the virus. The Campaign to End AIDS, a national network of HIV activists, is leading an effort to bring eight caravans of people from around the country -- and one "walking" caravan from inside the state -- to Oxford, Miss., to confront John McCain and Barack Obama at their first presidential debate on Sept. 26. The United States requires that any country receiving U.S. cash to fight HIV develop a national strategic plan to fight the virus. However, what many people might not know is that the United States lacks a national strategic plan of its own. (Press release from Housing Works)


Divas Simply Singing Save the Date: Divas Take the Stage to Raise Cash for HIV
Don't miss this year's Divas Simply Singing, an evening of star-studded musical performances to benefit the Los Angeles-based HIV organization Women Alive Coalition. For 18 years, Sheryl Lee Ralph, an actress, playwright and HIV activist, has hosted this event to raise money for the fight against HIV in the United States. This year's show will feature Patti Labelle, Patti Austin, Siedah Garrett, Miki Howard, Sherri Lewis, Raven-Symoné and many other performers; it will be held at the Wilshire Theatre in Beverly Hills, Ca., on Oct. 11.



HIV IN THE NEWS

 McCain, Obama Respond to New, Higher Estimate of U.S. Annual HIV Infection Rate
When the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a revised, higher estimate of the U.S. annual HIV infection rate earlier this month, Sen. Barak Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, was quick to issue a reaction statement calling for a new national focus on HIV. In his statement, Obama reiterates his commitment to a comprehensive national HIV strategy, adding, "Combating HIV/AIDS also demands closing the gaps in opportunity that exist in our society so that we can strengthen our public health. We must also overcome the ... [HIV] stigma that is too often tied to homophobia." By comparison, Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, issued a briefer, tamer statement in which he promised to "work closely" with others to "continue the fight against HIV/AIDS." (Article from the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project)

As these dueling statements make all too apparent, when it comes to HIV, Obama's voice has been the more prominent of the two leading candidates for U.S. President. Obama's campaign has even released a domestic and global plan to combat HIV (PDF). McCain has yet to release a formal plan for addressing HIV either inside or outside of the United States. You can read much more about both candidates' stances on HIV by reading this resource from kaisernetwork.org.

To read some intriguing thoughts from the public on both candidates' recent statements regarding the new HIV infection estimates, visit the comment section of this blog entry by Julie Davids, director of the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project.



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