January 28, 2009
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Also Worth Noting: In Memoriam: Martin Delaney

Martin Delaney

The HIV community lost one of its most vibrant and persistent activists late last week: Martin Delaney, founder of Project Inform, died of liver cancer at the age of 63. Delaney is best known for the key role he played in greatly speeding up the process of getting desperately needed HIV medications approved in the U.S. in the 1990s and for his recent focus on finding a cure for HIV.

Read this moving eulogy by Daniel Berger, M.D., to learn much more about Delaney (and to add your own thoughts).

Also check this page from Project Inform for information about an upcoming memorial planned for Delaney and for the address to which you can send e-mails, cards or other condolences.
HIV IN THE OBAMA ERA

 Head of PEPFAR Under Bush Gets the Boot
Mark Dybul, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and head of PEPFAR under former President Bush, has been asked to resign by the Obama administration. There is some controversy surrounding this decision: During his tenure, Dybul was criticized for rejecting funding for programs that adhered to the Bush administration's abstinence-only ideology, a political stance that led other officials to resign. However, under Dybul, PEPFAR succeeded in helping 2 million people access lifesaving HIV/AIDS treatment, making the program a success on many levels. No successor has been named to the Global AIDS Coordinator position yet, but the office continues to function. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

What has the reaction been to Dybul's forced resignation? Read this summary of recent opinion articles on the story and add your own comments!


 Obama Lifts U.S. Ban on Funding for Global Groups That Back Reproductive Choice
U.S. President Barack Obama has axed a federal rule that banned U.S. funding for international health groups that perform or provide counseling for abortions. The lifting of the so-called "Mexico City Policy" (also known as the "Global Gag Rule") could have an important impact on HIV prevention efforts in developing countries, since many organizations that provide HIV prevention and education services also offer abortion counseling (and thus weren't allowed to receive any U.S. government funds). (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

LIVING WITH HIV

Daniel Berger, M.D. The Biography of an HIV Doctor: Fighting HIV in the Early Years
"It was not an easy time being an HIV doctor," Daniel Berger, M.D., says. He's recalling the late 1980s and early 1990s in the U.S., when HIV was killing tens of thousands of people each year, effective HIV treatment was still a distant dream, and even many doctors and nurses were afraid to touch HIV-positive people. In this article, Dr. Berger, who has been on the front lines of the U.S. epidemic since its earliest years, looks back on those dark times -- and on the powerful light that emerged from them. (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)


 What's the Link Between Emotional Trauma and HIV Risk? Experts Discuss (PDF)
People who have survived trauma or abuse tend to engage in more behaviors that put them at risk for HIV, research shows. Not only that, but once they have HIV, trauma survivors may actually see their HIV disease progress more quickly than people who haven't been through trauma. Recently, a group of HIV advocates, medical professionals and anti-violence community organizers gathered to answer some of the key questions about the links between trauma, HIV risk and mental health -- and devise ways those links might be broken. (PDF report from HIVision, a program of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation)

Also Worth Noting: Word on the Street: U.S. Experts Sound Off on Craziest HIV Myths

Bethsheba Johnson
Bethsheba Johnson, nurse practitioner, Chicago, Ill.

"If you have HIV and you have sex with a virgin, then that would get rid of your HIV -- that would cure it."

Read or listen as TheBody.com interviews HIVers and frontline HIV workers in the U.S. about the craziest HIV myths they've ever heard!
HIV TRANSMISSION & TESTING

 New Report Dispels Common Myths That Lead People to Avoid HIV Testing
"I'm monogamous so I don't need to be tested." "AIDS is over in America. It's only a problem in other countries." "I'm sure my annual checkup includes an HIV test." Maybe you've heard someone use one of these common misconceptions as a reason not to get tested for HIV. But none of them is true. Renowned HIV research organization amfAR has released this easy-to-read report revealing the facts behind these and other myths that keep people from getting tested for HIV. (Article from amfAR)

Plenty of myths about HIV are still alive and well -- and some of them are pretty crazy. TheBody.com recently asked HIVers and HIV advocates from across the U.S. some of the most stunning myths they've heard about HIV. Read or listen to what they had to say, and feel free to add myths you've heard to the list! (This article is part of our newly launched Just Diagnosed Resource Center, a one-stop source of information and tips for people who have recently found out they're HIV positive.)


 No Superinfection Risk Found Among Gay, HIV-Positive, Long-Term Couples
If two HIV-positive gay men are in a long-term relationship, they may develop immunity to each other's strain of HIV, a new study suggests. The study won't be the last word on the issue of "superinfection," since there have been inconsistent findings on just how much of a risk it is. But this small study of HIV-positive gay couples in San Francisco -- in which every study participant was taking HIV treatment and had an undetectable viral load -- found that nobody became infected with his long-term partner's HIV strain, even though the couples regularly had unprotected sex. (Study summary from aidsmap.com)


Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
I've Met a New Guy -- But I'm Not Over My (Pos) Ex
(A recent post from the "Gay Men" board)

I met someone who piques my interest. We have had good conversations, but we haven't had the talk about status only because we haven't known each other that long. My ex and I still talk all of the time and occasionally we slip back into our comfort zone and have sex (we are both positive). But now that I am considering being open to dating someone else I feel that I can't have my cake and eat it too. ...

He started seeing someone else and I am at a point now where I am not ready to be vulnerable with him again. But I haven't resolved the feelings that I have for him. ... How do I get out of this limbo phase?

-- southerncharm

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

HIV TREATMENT & HEALTH ISSUES

 Illnesses Associated With Aging May Strike HIVers Earlier, Study Suggests
As people live longer with HIV, they may face unique health challenges. For instance, a new review by U.S. and British researchers says there is evidence that some of the major health problems experienced by people as they age occur earlier for HIV-positive people on treatment than HIV-negative people. These problems include "cardiovascular disease, malignancy, renal disease, liver disease, bone disease, and perhaps neurological complications," the report says. This means that more and more people with HIV may need to see specialists -- cardiologists, oncologists, gastroenterologists, endocrinologists, and so on -- to help them manage their care. (Study summary from NATAP)


 One-Year Kidney Transplant Survival Rates Similar Among HIV-Positive, HIV-Negative People
Kidney transplants can be just as successful in HIV-positive people as HIV-negative people, a new U.S. study shows. The findings are just the latest in a series of studies that have increasingly shown that transplants are safe for HIV-positive people who are otherwise healthy. The results are even more important considering that kidney disease has emerged as a pretty big problem among HIVers in recent years; it accounts for more than 10 percent of HIV-related deaths. (Article from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)

HIV IN THE NEWS

 HIV-Positive Man Sues U.S. State Department for Discrimination After Being Denied Security Job
A former U.S. Army Special Forces engineer is suing the federal government for HIV discrimination. The man (identified only as John Doe) was in training to provide security to diplomats in Haiti. But the company that runs the training program (a company contracted by the U.S. State Department) told Doe to go home, claiming that if he was injured during an attack, other people might be exposed to the HIV in his blood. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)


 Price of Kaletra in Colombia, Mexico Condemned by Activists
The price of Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) is unforgivably high in Colombia and Mexico, HIV activists say. Activists in three countries have staged a protest against Abbott Laboratories, the company that makes (and sells) Kaletra. The protesters are calling for an end to Abbott's alleged "price-gouging policies" that have jacked up the cost of Kaletra in Colombia and Mexico despite the struggles of both countries to afford HIV medications for their people. (Press release from AIDS Healthcare Foundation)

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

U.S. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Feb. 7 Get Ready for U.S. National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Feb. 7
Of all ethnic and racial groups in the United States, HIV affects African-American communities on the most brutal scale. That's why community leaders and celebrity spokespeople from around the U.S. have come together to create the annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) -- and you can get involved too! NBHAAD's resource-packed Web site includes a video public service announcement, fact sheets and an interactive toolkit with resources to help you or your organization publicize the day or plan events.

Visit TheBody.com's African-American HIV/AIDS Resource Center to find more information about African Americans and HIV, and to read or listen to stories of African Americans living with and fighting against the virus.



Activist Central

 Do You Think Facial Fat Loss Treatments Should Be Covered by Medicare?

The U.S. health department is looking for comments on a proposal to cover the cost of "reconstructive treatments," such as Sculptra and Radiesse, for people with HIV who are on Medicare. Add your comment before the Feb. 16 deadline!


 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!


 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.