April 22, 2009
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Mark King With Friends "You Gotta Have Friends": Mark King Gathers HIV-Positive Friends to Talk Sex, Disclosure and Coping
It's so important to have emotional support when you're living with HIV. It doesn't just feel good -- it can actually make your immune system stronger, experts say. Longtime HIV survivor Mark King is proud to have close friends who he can confide in, who relate to him and who he can turn to in good times and bad. In the latest of Mark's entertainingly poignant video blogs, he invites a group of his HIV-positive friends over for dinner. Together they share intimate stories about disclosure, sex, dating and how they've coped with their status. (Video blog from TheBody.com)

 Program Offers Co-Pay Assistance for Reyataz and Sustiva
Are you taking Reyataz (atazanavir) or Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) but having trouble affording your co-pay? If you live in the U.S., you might be eligible for a new benefits program from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS). BMS created the program to help people who are already insured, but still need help to pay for Reyataz or Sustiva. It covers as much as $200 worth of co-pays per month for up to a year, but can only be used if you do not obtain Reyataz and Sustiva through Medicaid, Medicare or other government programs. Talk to your doctor to get enrolled. (Press release from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company)

BMS isn't the only HIV drug company out there offering special assistance programs. Browse TheBody.com's listing of articles for a rundown of additional programs in the U.S. that may be able to provide you with a helpful boost in these tough economic times.

 Calling All HIV-Positive Women Over 18 in U.S.: Make Your Voices Heard in a New Survey!
If you're an HIV-positive woman living in the U.S., the Positive Women's Network (PWN) wants to hear from you! PWN is conducting a survey, in partnership with the National Working Positive Coalition, on the employment experiences of HIVers. Although the survey is open to everyone living with HIV in the U.S., the greater the number of women who participate, the more accurately HIV-positive women's needs will be reflected in the survey results -- and in the HIV policy reforms those results may inspire! You don't have to be currently employed to participate in the survey -- you just need to be HIV positive and over 18. The survey is completely confidential; it shouldn't take more than half an hour to complete, and it's available in English and Spanish. (Press release from U.S. Positive Women's Network)

 Young and Homeless: All Too Often, a Recipe for HIV
It's called "survival sex," and it describes a sobering reality: Many homeless and runaway youths in the U.S. find themselves trading sex for money, drugs or a roof over their heads, experts say -- and that puts them at a higher risk for HIV. Even though there are nearly 1.7 million homeless and runaway youths in the U.S. (according to a 2002 estimate), there aren't nearly enough services to help these kids stay safe and get the services they need, experts worry. In this article, two of those experts provide an overview of the chilling situation involving homelessness, youth and HIV in the U.S., and offer suggestions on how to improve it. (Article from ACRIA and GMHC)

Also Worth Noting: My Health Tracker: Now Use This Exciting New Tool With Your Mobile Phone!

My Health Tracker

Join the many HIVers who now use My Health Tracker at TheBody.com to track their CD4 counts, viral loads, medications and more.

Newly added: You can now update your My Health Tracker account via mobile phone! Visit My Health Tracker for more info.

R. Kevin Mallinson, Ph.D., RN The Pain of Those Left Behind: Retreat Urges HIV Nurses in Africa to Tell Their Stories
"Loss and grief are things we keep putting at the very bottom of the list [of priorities in dealing with HIV]. And we shouldn't," says R. Kevin Mallinson. He's been working in HIV as a nurse for about 25 years. His own experiences with grief and loss during the early years of the U.S. epidemic inspired Mallinson to create a retreat for nurses in Swaziland, Lesotho and South Africa -- three nations with some of the highest HIV rates on the planet, where HIV-related deaths happen with mind-numbing frequency. In this moving interview, Mallinson (photo on left) explains how the retreat helps HIV caregivers get something they desperately need: A chance to be cared for themselves. (Article from The Body PRO)

 To Fight HIV, Groups Must Also Fight for Social Change, New UNAIDS Chief Says
Homophobia, sex education and women's rights are among the most important -- and most controversial -- issues of our time. They're also all issues in which international HIV/AIDS organizations, such as UNAIDS and the Global Fund, have become deeply involved. Michel Sidibe, the new executive director of UNAIDS, recently described how these groups have the potential to not only combat the HIV pandemic, but to also bring about widespread social change and important health care reforms at the same time. "UNAIDS has to be the voice for the voiceless. It should have political courage," Sidibe says. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

 Recreational Drug Use Must Be Decriminalized to Stop HIV Spread, Says Global Fund Chief
If recreational drug use was legalized throughout the world, would it halt the spread of HIV? Michele Kazatchkine, head of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, thinks so. "A repressive way of dealing with drug users is a way of facilitating the spread of the [HIV/AIDS] epidemic," Kazatchkine said. "If you know you will be arrested, you will not go for treatment. I say drug use cannot be criminalized. I'm talking about criminalizing trafficking, but not users." (Article from The Guardian)

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Am I Putting Too Much of a Burden on My Negative Partner's Shoulders?
(A recent post from the "Gay Men With HIV" board)

I am a 40-year-old gay male who has been positive for 12 years. ... I am very open about my status, sometimes maybe too open. I did find out, however, that there are friends out there who don't care about status. I have a best friend of eight years who I am in love with. We have been on and off -- more on than off -- over the past eight years and I see a future with him. I am not sure if I am asking too much of him or not. I am looking to find support in this. He will be back in the area at the end of the year and I can't wait to see him again. At that time I want to start working on the future, but I am scared that I may be putting too much on his shoulders. Is there anyone out there who can help me?

-- rogerm

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


 HIV/AIDS Groups in U.S. Appear Mostly Optimistic About New Domestic HIV Plan
"This is a cause to shout hallelujah," says veteran HIV activist Jesse Milan. He's talking about the newly announced Act Against AIDS initiative. The plan, spearheaded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will blanket the country in new HIV awareness ads and involve 14 key African-American groups in re-energizing the fight against HIV within the U.S. (after eight long, silent years). However, although many in the HIV community are thrilled with the new plan, others are more cautious with their praise. "All of these African-American groups, none of them have any capacity to deal with gay men," points out Alexander Robinson, director of the National Black Justice Coalition. (Excerpt of article from the Windy City Times)

For much more info on the Act Against AIDS initiative, check out this overview from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 Major Drug Firms Will Combine to Form a Single HIV Drug Company
GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer, two major drug companies that produce 11 HIV meds between them, have decided to join forces on the HIV front. They're forming a new company that will devote itself entirely to HIV, and will combine the two parent companies' HIV marketing, distribution, research and drug pipelines. The new company won't be named until the deal is completed near the end of the year. The list of HIV meds manufactured by Glaxo or Pfizer includes Combivir (AZT/3TC), Lexiva (fosamprenavir, Telzir) and Selzentry (maraviroc, Celsentri). (Article from The New York Times)

 As Drug Companies Fund the Fight Against HIV, Who's Watching the Drug Companies?
The decision of GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer to merge their HIV operations (see story above) raises an important question: Who's making sure that these pharmaceutical mammoths are acting in the best interests of people with HIV? Drug companies are the driving force behind the development of new treatments, but what happens when other ideas -- say, better HIV prevention methods or cheaper meds -- threaten their profit margins? In this interview, longtime HIV advocate Mike Barr offers some insight into the complicated relationship between the HIV community and HIV drug companies. (Article from Frontiers IN L.A.)

Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the April 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"Black Narcissus (Detail)," 1995; Frank Moore

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.

 U.S. Physician Groups Call for Major Policy Changes, Coverage for Routine HIV Testing
It's time for a major overhaul of the way the U.S. approaches nearly every aspect of the fight against HIV, according to two powerful medical groups. The American College of Physicians and the HIV Medicine Association (to which many HIV specialists belong) have released a report calling for a re-examination of U.S. public policy on HIV testing, prevention, education and other issues. Among other things, they call for Medicare and private insurance companies to start covering the costs of routine HIV screening. (Article from the HIV Medicine Association)

The full report is available in the May 15 issue of the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

On a related note, the HIV Medicine Association is asking everyone who cares to sign a petition calling on President Obama to take leadership in implementing routine HIV testing across the U.S. It's been almost three years since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that HIV testing be a routine part of medical care, but these recommendations are being implemented at a glacial pace.

 An Updated Look at Who's Getting HIV in the U.S.
Someone in the United States gets infected with HIV once every nine and a half minutes, and hundreds of thousands of people who have the virus don't even know it. This fact sheet provides an eye-opening look at the groups of people who are living, dying and -- despite two decades of prevention efforts -- still getting infected with HIV in the U.S. (Article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

For more information about who's most affected by HIV/AIDS in the U.S., take a look at TheBody.com's extensive collection of articles.

Activist Central

 Action Alert: Tell Your Senator to Co-Sponsor the Early Treatment for HIV Act!

 Write a Letter to President Obama to Support the Action Plan for Rapid Scale-Up of Routine, Voluntary Testing

 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!