January 21, 2009
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HIV IN THE OBAMA ERA

Barack Obama President Obama's Agenda Announced on Revamped White House Site
President Obama's agenda is now available on the official White House Web site. For the first time in eight years, the presidential agenda includes a list of plans concerning HIV. Under the heading of "civil rights," there's mention of domestic HIV issues and the intention to lift the federal ban on needle exchange. There's also a long list of ways Obama plans to support the rights of gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people. (Article from TheBody.com)


 Some HIV Activists Disappointed by Obama's Pre-Inauguration AIDS Conference Call
Although the U.S. HIV community is still brimming with hope as Barack Obama begins his tenure as U.S. president, a recent conference call left a bad taste in some activists' mouths, according to the HIV organization Housing Works. Housing Works national organizer Larry Bryant said that "there weren't a lot of new or innovative ideas discussed" during the call, which focused on HIV in the U.S. and was hosted by President Obama's transition team prior to the inauguration. However, HIV activist George Kerr was optimistic: "It's a great start," he said of the call. "At least the administration is open to the idea. We've been shut out for the last eight years." (Article from Housing Works)


 Head of U.S. CDC Is Out; What Lies Ahead for HIV Prevention?
Change is coming to HIV-fighting efforts in the U.S. Julie Gerberding, the longtime head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lost her job on Inauguration Day. Some HIV advocates are happy to see her go. Check out this Housing Works summary for a rundown of Dr. Gerberding's "lowlights" as well as advocates' hopes for the future of the CDC, which sets the tone for HIV and sexually transmitted disease prevention efforts throughout the United States. (Article from Housing Works)

Also Worth Noting: Video Central: Keeping Focused on the Positive

Orie

Orie has been living with HIV for 24 years. In this video from The Positive Project, he recounts his diagnosis and shares his optimistic life philosophy.
LIVING WITH HIV

Keith Green A Longtime HIV Advocate Wonders: Should I Return to the Closet?
Is it possible to be too comfortable with your HIV status? Keith Green had spent many years working for an HIV organization where his HIV status and his sexual orientation were simply facts of life. Then, last August, he went to graduate school in a new city -- and suddenly realized, "Nobody in this town really knows anything about me." As he starts this new phase of his life, Green faces a critical question: "Have I made a choice, consciously or not, to assume the position of 'don't ask, don't tell' in order to construct a new academic and professional image for myself, or is that construct becoming a healthy part of my evolving Truth?" (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)


 HIV Retreats: A Little-Known Way to Meet Other HIVers
Connecting with other HIV positive people in the U.S. can be a challenge, especially if you live in a remote area or work full-time. One little-known option is to go on an HIV retreat, where you can meet and get to know other positive people. Retreats range from carefree holidays to educational weekends. There are retreats beachside, in the mountains and in the middle of the biggest U.S. cities. They're geared for the newly positive as well as people who have long ago processed their diagnosis and are just looking for a chance to unwind. Many retreats are free, low-cost or provide discounts to people in need. (Article from TheBody.com)


 As U.S. Economy Falters, HIV Organizations Struggle to Help Fill the Gap
If you're in the U.S. and are worried about whether you'll be able to continue to afford your HIV care during this recession, you're not alone. U.S. HIV organizations already hard-hit with budget problems are struggling to keep up as a growing number of HIV-positive people appeal to them for help in these tough times. Many HIV organizations in the U.S. provide special services and financial help to HIVers in need, but it's becoming much harder for them to do so as the economy continues to sour. (Article from the Bay Area Reporter)

Are you feeling the squeeze from the economic downturn in the U.S.? Despite the problems mentioned in the article above, your local HIV organization may still be able to help. Even if it can't provide you with financial aid directly, it may be able to provide advice or instructions on how to get help from the government or other resources. Use TheBody.com's ASO Finder or browse our state-by-state listing to find an HIV organization near you. (If you live outside the U.S., try using our international listing of organizations.)

Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the January 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"It's So Delicious," 1998; Milton Garcia Latex

Visit the January 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Making Movies," is curated by Bill Thelen.
HIV TREATMENT & HEALTH ISSUES

 Newly Diagnosed HIVers Must Take Charge of Health Care, Study Suggests
A new U.S. study helps drive home just how important it is that newly diagnosed people commit to their health care. The study found that HIVers who skip out on their HIV clinic appointments during the first year after they've been diagnosed tend to have a higher risk of dying than HIVers who show up for their appointments. Although the study isn't suggesting that those missed appointments were the reason people were more likely to die, it does suggest that it's critical for HIVers to take charge of their health starting right after their diagnosis. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)

If you're newly diagnosed and still trying to find health care you can afford and feel comfortable with, check out our overview page for some tips. It's just one part of TheBody.com's brand-new Just Diagnosed Resource Center.


 Fat Loss, Blood Sugar Problems More Common Among Latinos on HIV Meds, Study Finds
Latinos appear more likely than whites or blacks to develop metabolic problems after starting HIV treatment, U.S. researchers have found. Although the study was relatively small, the findings were striking: Latinos on HIV meds were at a much higher risk for losing fat in their face, waist or arms, and also had a sharper increase in their levels of glucose and insulin resistance, which can potentially lead to diabetes. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Martin Delaney HIV Activist Martin Delaney Honored for Heroic Efforts to Further HIV Treatment
Martin Delaney, a pioneering U.S. HIV activist and the cofounder of Project Inform, has been honored for his long years of tireless work fighting HIV. "It is without hyperbole that I call Marty Delaney a public health hero," said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), who recently presented Delaney with the NIAID Director's Special Recognition Award. Since the mid-1980s, Delaney has been a leader in providing HIV treatment information to HIVers and health care providers. During the early years of HIV treatment, he played a key role in rapidly accelerating the approval of vital HIV meds in the U.S. (Article from NIAID)


 Send a Supportive Message to Martin Delaney!
Unfortunately, Martin Delaney is actually quite ill. He has advanced liver disease and recently entered home hospice care. If you'd like to send him a supportive message, you can comment on this article or e-mail Ryan Clary, the Director of Public Policy at Project Inform. Just put Marty's name in the subject of the e-mail, and Ryan will print it out and deliver it in person. (Ryan has specifically stated that he will not read the contents of any e-mail with Marty's name in the subject.) (Article from Project Inform)


 Apply Now for This Summer's Youth Action Institute!
Are you between the ages of 16 and 26? Want to spend your summer learning how to help bring an end to the U.S. HIV epidemic? You have until Feb. 5 to apply for this summer's Youth Action Institute, which is sponsored by the Campaign to End AIDS. No prior experience with HIV/AIDS issues is necessary; if your application is accepted, you'll learn grassroots organizing skills and anti-stigma tactics from committed activists. This year's institute will take place at the University of California-Berkeley from June 23-27. (Article from the Campaign to End AIDS)

Want to know more about how the Youth Action Institute works and what past participants have to say about the program? Click here for an overview and highlights from last summer's training -- including comments from participants.


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
I Can't Take That First Step Alone
(A recent post from the "I Just Tested Positive" board)

[A few days ago,] I went in for just a regular checkup and my annual physical and blood work. The words that I never thought I would hear came out of my physician's mouth. Even still today, I can't say it. How could this have happened? Me? No way. There has to be a mistake, or you got my labs mixed with someone else's. ...

Today is the fourth day almost to the hour and I am still in shock. I have not left my condo since coming home last Thursday. What am I going to do? My doctor says that I am the same person. Sorry buddy; I don't feel like the same person. It feels like the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I look and act the same but I have this thing inside me that is affecting every part of my body.

Any advice you can give or some encouraging words would help. ... I will fight this, but I can't take that first step alone.

-- Silverwire

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

HIV TRANSMISSION & TESTING

 One in a Million: People With Specific Type of Blood May Be More Immune to HIV, Study Finds
Are some people more vulnerable to HIV infection because of their blood? Possibly, according to a team of Canadian and Swedish researchers. The scientists found that a specific type of molecule (called Pk) acts as a "sponge" for HIV, sopping up the virus and preventing it from infecting immune cells. About one in a million people has extremely high levels of Pk in the blood, making this group more resistant to HIV. Researchers hope to begin testing an artificial "Pk booster" in animals to see if it can help protect against HIV infection. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)


 Penis Size Affects Men's Desire to Use Condoms, Study Finds
It turns out that size does matter -- at least when it comes to HIV prevention, a large U.S. survey suggests. Men with larger- or smaller-than-average penises feel less comfortable using a condom than guys with more standard-size units, the survey found. The findings aren't really a surprise, of course -- guys will naturally be less inclined to use something that doesn't fit right. But the survey does highlight a little-discussed reason why HIV prevention campaigns that involve condom use might be a little less effective than they could be if a wider variety of condom sizes were more readily available. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)


 Australian "Grim Reaper" Gets 18 Years for Deliberately Trying to Spread HIV
Michael Neal, a 50-year-old HIV-positive Australian grandfather, has been sentenced to 18 years in jail for attempting to infect people with HIV. Neal was said to have hosted "conversion parties" and had unprotected sex with partners who were unaware of his HIV status. He told one of the 13 people he allegedly infected that he "gets off" on giving people HIV. Evidence in the case suggests that Neal's behavior stemmed from an antisocial personality disorder and a history of severe childhood abuse. (Article from Yahoo!7 News)



Things You Can Do

 Push for the Freedom of Two Newly Imprisoned Iranian HIV Specialists

After months in detention, the Alaei brothers -- Iranian HIV specialists -- have been sentenced to prison in Iran for allegedly plotting to overthrow the country's government. Join the more than 3,000 people who have signed a petition calling for the Alaeis' freedom, write a letter to the Iranian embassy in the United States or put pressure on your Congressional representatives.


 Speak Out Against the Jailing of HIV Activists in Senegal

The eight-year prison terms recently handed down to nine gay men in Senegal have many people throughout the world fuming. To speak out against this injustice, you can contact Senegal's embassy in the U.S. by calling 202.234.0540 or getting in touch with your Congressional representatives.


 Support the Call for a National U.S. Strategy to Fight HIV

Now that U.S. President Barack Obama has begun his term, one of the major priorities for many HIV activists is urging him to create a nationwide strategy to fight HIV within the U.S. Join the call by signing amfAR's online petition and letting your Congressional representatives know how you feel!