April 15, 2009
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Becoming a Voice for Change Becoming a Voice for Change
"I was not looking for a handout -- I was looking for a hand up," writes Deadre Lawson-Smith, who has been living with HIV for at least 20 years. When she moved to South Carolina, Deadre became lost in an infuriating tangle of health insurance problems. She eventually found herself waiting for help from South Carolina's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). But when people on the ADAP waiting list started dying without treatment and she was diagnosed with pneumonia, Deadre realized there was no more time to wait for something to happen. In this article, Deadre explains how she found the courage to take a stand and help convince South Carolina to expand its ADAP coverage. (Article from ACRIA and GMHC)

Terri Wilder My Visit to the Sex Museum: Where's the Info on Giving Women Oral Sex?
HIV advocate Terri Wilder recently cut loose for Spring Break by visiting the New York City Museum of Sex. While browsing the oral sex display, her HIV educator senses started tingling. There's plenty of info out there about HIV risk and vaginal sex, or anal sex, or even oral sex performed on a man, she realized. But why in the world aren't there more materials on how people should protect themselves while performing oral sex on a woman? (Blog post from TheBody.com)

 "Conspiracy of Neglect" Is at Work in U.S. Epidemic, Veteran HIV Activist Says
"Some people believe there's a government conspiracy that allows, or even assists, the spread of HIV," says longtime HIV activist Julie Davids. "But conspiracies are hidden." According to Davids, the HIV epidemic continues to rage in many communities in the U.S. for different reasons, including a lack of prevention funding and too much focus on individual behavior in HIV prevention messages. In this article, Davids suggests concrete steps that U.S. leaders should take to point HIV prevention efforts in the right direction. (Article from ACRIA and GMHC)

Also Worth Noting: Poz Cruise Retreat: Sail to the Caribbean and Support HIV Advocacy!
From Oct. 10 through Oct. 18, the annual Poz Cruise Retreat will hit the high seas. HIVers and allies can soak up sun and enjoy community while supporting the Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP), this year's recipient of cruise proceeds. Gay and straight guests will take part in activities tailored especially for each group. Rates for the weeklong journey, which include meals, begin at about $720.00 (including port taxes). Click here to learn more!

HIV Drug Pipeline HIV Drugs in the Pipeline
It's been a quiet year so far on the HIV drug development front. After years of frenetic activity and a bucketful of new HIV drug approvals, the well of exciting drugs in the pipeline appears to have largely dried up. So which medications are still working their way through development? In this overview, Paul Djuricich, R.Ph., Pharm.D., brings us up to date on today's top HIV medication prospects. (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)

 Sculptra Continues to Increase Facial Volume More Than Six Months After Injections, Study Finds
Does Sculptra really work? The facial wasting treatment, also known as New-Fill or poly-L-lactic acid, has been heavily used since its approval a few years ago as a facial filler for people with HIV, but there haven't been many studies on its long-term effects. However, a recent Australian study followed 100 HIVers with lipoatrophy for a little less than one year. The 50 people who received Sculptra injections when the year began had "modest increases" in facial volume and thickness compared to those who didn't get the injections when the year began. (Study abstract from the medical journal HIV Medicine)

Looking for more info about the pros and cons of various facial filler treatments? Check out this overview in TheBody.com's Lipoatrophy Resource Center. And for an up-close-and-personal look at what it's like to actually receive facial filler injections, take a look at Mark King's latest video blog and watch as he gets his first-ever Sculptra and Radiesse (Radiance, calcium hydroxylapatite) treatments from an HIV physician.


 U.S. Military Personnel Will Have Comprehensive Electronic Medical Record That Follows Them for a Lifetime, Obama Announces
Keeping track of medical records can be a real challenge. Different doctor's offices, clinics and hospitals may all have different records on file, and it can take forever for records to be passed from one doctor to the next, which may make it harder to get the health care you need or get health insurance coverage. However, President Barack Obama is looking to change that, starting with the U.S. military, the largest health (and HIV) care provider in the country. He's announced a new initiative to set up electronic medical records that start when military personnel enlist and last the rest of their lives. If the program works out, it may serve as a model. (Press release from the White House)

 New Bill in U.S. Congress Would Devote Over $600 Million to Get Churches More Involved in Fighting HIV Among African Americans
President Barack Obama isn't the only U.S. government official pushing for change in the way we fight HIV within the United States. Charles Rangel, a Democrat congressman from New York, has introduced a bill in Congress that would pump more than $600 million into efforts to get black churches more involved in HIV education, prevention, research and treatment. Rangel's bill is an attempt to finally put real money behind the drive to reduce the wildly disproportionate impact of HIV on African Americans. (Press release from Gay Men's Health Crisis)

You can read the full text of the bill Congressman Rangel introduced to Congress online.

 CDC Details Plan to Refocus National Attention on Fighting HIV Within the United States
Yet more evidence that the U.S. government is finally getting serious about HIV prevention within its borders: Details are emerging of the newly announced "Act Against AIDS" plan to spend $45 million over five years to increase HIV awareness. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is spearheading the plan, which will start with a nationwide ad campaign driving home the point that one person becomes HIV positive in the U.S. every nine and a half minutes. You can read more about the Act Against AIDS game plan in this CDC fact sheet. (Article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

One of the major priorities of the "Act Against AIDS" plan is to boost efforts to reach the people who are most at risk in the U.S., particularly African Americans. Encouragingly, the CDC doesn't plan to go it alone: It says it's going to work with a wide range of established, respected African-American organizations to make sure it gets this plan done right and is able to reach the people most in need of effective HIV education.

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
If Everything Happens for a Reason, Why Do I Have HIV?
(A recent post from the "Gay Men With HIV" board)

I'm a 32-year-old gay male and I've been out to my family and friends for the past 10 years. Just when everything was going great in my life ... and I felt like I was in my prime, I did a routine test only to find out that I'm HIV positive! I was diagnosed on March 20.

I took a few risks -- I know, STUPID! But I never saw this coming! Now I'm paying for it. I confided in two very close friends but can't tell my family because of stigma. Also, if I'm going to live for another 20 or 30 years I hope, I don't see the point in putting them though the pain, worry and stress. ... At work I put a smile on my face and get on with it, even though there's so much pain going on inside! ...

I believe in destiny and that there is a reason for everything, but can't find the reason for this. Maybe in the future I'll meet another positive guy and share lots of nice holidays, meals out, cozy nights in, etc., but at the moment it's very tough.

I really admire all you guys who have been living with this and have such a positive attitude to it all!

-- Dreamer76

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


 Despite Tough Economic Times, Most U.S. ADAPs Have Been Able to Weather Storm, Report Finds
Most U.S. AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) have managed to continue providing the same level of treatment to low-income, uninsured and underinsured people with HIV despite the worsening recession, according to the latest annual report on the nation's ADAPs. Although a whopping 21 ADAPs have experienced budget cuts within the past year, most programs were able to balance available resources and demand for services for the more than 100,000 people nationwide who benefit from ADAPs, the report found. However, 62 HIVers in three states -- Indiana, Montana and Nebraska -- were placed on waiting lists for meds due to a lack of funds. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

A PDF of the full annual report on the health of U.S. ADAPs is available online; it's put together by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD).

 U.S. ADAP Formulary List, State by State (PDF)
Did you know that New York's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) covers the cost of 466 different HIV-related meds, but Idaho's ADAP covers just 28? Although every ADAP aims to provide free meds to HIV-positive people who don't make much money and need help covering the cost of their treatment, not all ADAPs are created equal. Use this handy booklet to find out which HIV-related meds are covered in each U.S. state. It's a fascinating look at the dramatic disparities in U.S. HIV treatment access -- and may provide some inspiration if you are on ADAP and thinking about moving! (Report from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors)

Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the April 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"Venus," 2001; John Morrison

Visit the April 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Mythologies," is curated by Anne Couillaud.

 Experts Tackle Emerging Myths About the Global HIV Pandemic
The more experts learn about how to fight HIV throughout the world, the more they realize that many of the assumptions people hold about the pandemic just aren't true. How can we educate the world about how HIV is spread today, and what are the most effective ways to stop HIV in its tracks? Some of the top dogs in HIV, including the head of the Global Fund and the former head of UNAIDS, have taken one step down this road: They've written an article in the medical journal The Lancet dispelling some major HIV myths and outlining what we've learned about fighting HIV over the past several years. (Press release from the Global Fund)

You can read the full mythbusting article in the March 20 online edition of The Lancet.

Shahin Lockman, M.D. Where HIV Meds Are Available But Formula Isn't, Breast-Feeding May Be Relatively Safe for HIV-Positive Women
With all the focus on keeping babies from getting HIV from their positive moms while breast-feeding, an important question has gone largely unanswered: Does breast-feeding pose a health risk for the mother? In many developing countries, HIV-positive women must breast-feed their children, since formula isn't available, safe or affordable. In the past, research has suggested that, in the developing world, breast-feeding might increase an HIV-positive mom's risk of dying. But an important new study out of Botswana appears to refute those findings -- provided the women have access to combination HIV treatment, explains Shahin Lockman, M.D. (photo on left). (Article and podcast from The Body PRO)

Activist Central

 Register Now for AIDSWatch 2009: Go to Washington, D.C., April 27-29!

 Act Now to Stop Misleading "AIDS Charity"

 Sign Up Now for AIDS Housing Summit June 3-5 in D.C.!

 Give Our Youth the Facts! Tell your senator to co-sponsor the REAL Act.

 ART Initiation at <350 -- Call on WHO and UNAIDS to Save Lives!

 Volunteer at a Camp for HIV-Affected Kids

 Tell President Obama: No More Money for Ineffective Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs

  Congratulate Obama ... And remind him of his commitment to a National AIDS Strategy!