Meet Anita Mann, Mark King's Alter Ego
"It takes a real man to roast his own masculinity, right?" jokes Mark King. King, a long-term HIV survivor, is talking about Anita Mann, his alter-ego. In the latest edition of his part-written, part-video blog on TheBody.com, King swallows his pride and -- "at the risk of ruining any hope of finding a date through this blog" -- gives us an outrageous, tremendously entertaining taste of a show he performed at a fundraiser for gays and lesbians in recovery for drug addiction. (Blog from TheBody.com)
IN THE NEWS
McCain Discusses Condoms, Gay Marriage and Why U.S. Needs a National AIDS Strategy
U.S. Republican nominee for president John McCain has finally stated publicly that he supports creating a "national AIDS strategy." McCain's Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, announced a year ago that he favors creating a plan to coordinate HIV prevention and treatment efforts throughout the United States. But until last week, McCain had been mum on the issue. Then, in a "gay Q&A" interview with a Washington, D.C., newspaper, McCain said that he supports abstinence as a "component" of sex education, believes condoms help prevent the spread of HIV and respects gay people, but he opposes gay marriage. (Article from The Washington Blade)
Why has McCain made what appears to be a last-minute turnabout on the idea of creating a national AIDS strategy? This article by the HIV organization Housing Work suggests that the McCain campaign's longstanding reluctance to endorse the idea may have been due to a simple misunderstanding.
Two Scientists Win Nobel for Discovering HIV, but a U.S. Researcher Is Snubbed
Two French researchers have won this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering the virus now known as HIV. By giving the honor to Luc Montagnier and Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, the Nobel committee recognized the groundbreaking nature of early research into HIV. It also may have reignited a decades-old quarrel between Montagnier and the U.S. researcher Robert Gallo: After years of bickering over who deserved credit for discovering HIV, Gallo and Montagnier publicly agreed to share credit for the breakthrough. Nonetheless, the Nobel committee decided to recognize Montagnier and his colleague, but ignored Gallo. (Article from the New York Times)
Did Robert Gallo deserve a Nobel for the discovery of HIV? This article looks at Gallo and Montagnier's "twin discoveries" and the feud that followed.
Montagnier and Barre-Sinoussi are sharing this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with a German researcher, Harald zur Hausen, who is credited with discovering that a virus was to blame for most cases of cervical cancer. That virus was human papillomavirus, certain strains of which have since also been tied to anal cancer. Read the official press release from the Nobel Foundation for more info on zur Hausen and the other winners.
HIV TRANSMISSION & TESTING
California Moves One Step Closer to Routine HIV Screening for All
In a move that's expected to encourage California doctors to offer HIV testing to more of their patients, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law a bill that requires private health insurance providers to cover the cost of HIV testing. "This legislation will set the standard throughout the nation by making HIV screening a routine part of ordinary preventive health care," said State Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, the author of the bill. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)
Syphilis Cases Rise in San Francisco; Many Are Also HIV Positive
From January through August this year, syphilis cases in San Francisco were up 54 percent compared to the same period last year. Virtually all of those new cases were among men; 86 percent of all new cases were specifically among gay men, and 65 percent were among HIV-positive people. Although men made up most of the new cases, the impact of syphilis on African-American women is especially alarming, says Jeffrey Klausner, M.D., M.P.H., the director of sexually transmitted disease control for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Black women, he noted, had been virtually untouched by syphilis for more than a decade, but now make up about 5 percent of cases. "Going from no cases to less than 5 percent is concerning on multiple levels," he said, particularly given the risk for syphilis transmission from mother to child during childbirth. (Article from Bay Area Reporter)
New U.S. Rule Eases Short-Term Visa Process for HIV-Positive Visitors
Although we're still waiting for the United States to completely lift its ban against HIV-positive foreigners, the federal government has taken one small step to make things easier for people with HIV who are visiting from abroad. A new rule from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may streamline the process for HIV-positive travelers to obtain temporary, non-immigrant visas to visit the United States. (Press release from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
U.S. Should Revise Ryan White CARE Act in 2009, Advocate Argues
One of the United States' most important HIV-related laws was renewed just two years ago, but it's already time for a major overhaul, argues Christine Campbell of the HIV advocacy group Housing Works. Campbell is talking about the Ryan White CARE Act, which funds free health care services for HIV-positive people across the United States -- but that she calls an "outdated, deeply flawed, albeit necessary piece of legislation." To fix it, she says, advocates and HIV-positive people need to give serious thought to how the health care system might be altered by the next U.S. president -- and then push hard for change. (Article from Housing Works)
A Plan to Improve Access to HIV Care in New York City Draws Skepticism
Some HIV advocates are outraged by a plan to offer better services to more than 4,700 New Yorkers with advanced HIV. Although New York City's plan seemed good on the surface, when advocates heard details at a meeting earlier this year, they quickly realized it might cause more problems than it solves. The advocates contend that the city's plan wastefully duplicates services and takes too much power out of the hands of community-based HIV organizations. However, New York City's health department argues that the program would help HIV-positive people in need who are otherwise not eligible for help through Medicaid. (Article from Housing Works)
With Economy Ailing, New York City Braces for Cuts to HIV Programs
As stocks on Wall Street continue to nose-dive, New York City's HIV programs are expecting hard times ahead. Last June, the city reduced by $6 million its funding for HIV programs that provided services such as needle exchange, HIV testing and other HIV-related services. Now all city agencies, including those related to HIV, have been asked to trim another 7.5 percent from their budgets over the next two years. However, HIV advocates argue that funding for HIV services should hold steady, no matter how the economy is doing. "Regardless of the economic situation, people will continue to be at risk [for HIV]," says Tracie Gardner of the Legal Action Center. (Article from Housing Works)
Are Mixed-Status Relationships Doomed to Fail?|
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)
I am newly diagnosed and my partner of three months is negative. We were so happy and on a great, long-term track. He said he had been through this before and he could handle it, but recently he has been up and down. ... I finally confronted him, and what it boiled down to is he is not sure if he wants to be with me or not. ... I don't even know if he ever really cared. He is always nervous about his safety and health, even though he is the one to initiate sex. ... Do these poz/neg relationships usually work? Will things get better, or should I just let it go? I love him, but I also love to be loved back.
Click here to join this discussion thread, or to start your own!
Transgender HIVer Talks About Dealing With Her Gender Transition
For HIV-positive, transgender advocate Lois Bates, making the switch from male gender to female gender was the easy part compared to what came next. After a stint in the U.S. Navy while she was still a man (a time when, she noted, it wasn't that hard to find other people who were gay or transgender), Bates decided it was time to become a "no-nonsense, independent woman" and build a career as an advocate. However, a series of frightening events -- an assault, a diabetes diagnosis and kidney failure -- helped her realize that the physical aspects of gender transition are only one piece of the puzzle. (Article from Positively Aware)
Hormone Therapy Primer for Gender Transitioning
Transgender people may choose to take hormone therapy to make their bodies match the way they already see themselves. But when you're on HIV meds and are considering hormone therapy, what extra concerns should you keep in mind? This guide provides an introduction to hormone therapy for female-to-male as well as male-to-female transgender people -- and gives the lowdown on how these drugs interact with some HIV meds. (Article from Positively Aware)
Want to read about more aspects of being a transgender HIVer? Browse The Body's collections of articles about transgender issues -- and inspiring stories from transgender people living with HIV.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Activists Fight for a Stronger Voice for HIV-Positive Women
"Positive women [in the United States] are not being represented at decision-making tables," says Naina Khanna of the California-based HIV organization WORLD (Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Disease). In this interview, Khanna explains how a new initiative called the Positive Women's Network will fight to give HIV-positive women in the United States a much more powerful voice in their treatment and care. (Article from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation)