May 13, 2009
What's New at
News & Views Library
Change/Update Subscription


Nelson Vergel Nelson Vergel: Sharing the Wisdom of Long-Term Survivors to Improve the Daily Lives of All HIVers
"I never even thought, three or four years ago, I was going to be 50," says HIV advocate Nelson Vergel. Diagnosed with HIV in 1986, he recently celebrated his 50th birthday. "It was a big miracle for me, which I was able to enjoy with my friends," he adds. Life is not perfect, Vergel says, but he's grateful for everything -- including a book he's about to finish for people with HIV that contains 25 years' worth of info he's collected on exercise, nutrition, supplements, depression, sexuality and much more. "There's this collective wisdom that we have as long-term survivors," Vergel says. "We've learned so much and ... we keep it to ourselves. It's time to share that." (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)

Also Worth Noting: Join A Study: Trial on 4-in-1 "Quad Pill" for First-Line HIV Treatment
Clinical trials are an essential part of the process of approving lifesaving HIV meds. A new trial is now accepting HIVers who have never taken meds before; it'll test the effectiveness and safety of a four-in-one HIV pill that would include a couple of exciting new medications in development. Read more about this trial and talk to your HIV doc about whether it?s right for you.

For more clinical trials now enrolling, visit this page at

 Home Viral Load Test to Be Developed
It's the perfect tool for the obsessed HIVer: Imagine checking your viral load levels in your own home! It might become a reality: A grant of more than $3 million has just been given to scientists at three of London's largest research centers to develop a personal, handheld HIV viral load tester within the next three years. The device would work by analyzing a tiny amount of blood taken from a finger prick, similar to home blood sugar tests for people with diabetes. The at-home viral load tester could also allow people on stable HIV treatment to make less frequent visits to their health care provider. (Article from BBC News)

 New, Easy-to-Use, Comprehensive Guide to HIV Meds Is Now Available
Looking for an easy-to-use guide that features savvy, detailed descriptions of every approved HIV medication? The Chicago, Ill., HIV organization Test Positive Aware Network has released its 13th Annual HIV Drug Guide, which contains a wide range of info on HIV meds in the United States. Each description discusses dosages and possible side effects, and includes educated opinions about each drug from an HIV specialist and an HIV-positive treatment activist. Also, a new addition to the guide this year: a summary of co-pay and patient-assistance programs available to HIVers that need help paying for meds. (Drug guide by Test Positive Aware Network)

If you need additional basic info on HIV treatment, take a look at's collection of articles.

 Many Young HIVers With Low CD4 Counts Aren't Prescribed Meds, Study Says
Health care providers often decide not to start young HIVers on HIV treatment even though their CD4 count is below 350, a new U.S. study has found. The nationwide study of hundreds of HIV-positive youths discovered that only 50 percent of those with a CD4 count less than 350 were started on HIV meds, though 350 is the cutoff recommended in current treatment guidelines. "We're not blaming anyone, but it takes two to tango: Teens should want to be treated, and providers should persist in treating them," said lead investigator Allison Agwu, M.D. (Press release from Johns Hopkins University)

 Custom HIV: Researchers Examine How HIV Adapts to Each Person It Infects
You're one of a kind -- and your HIV might be, too. Australian researchers have taken a close-up look at the way HIV sets up shop in a person's body, and found that the virus quickly starts to adapt itself to the unique features of each person's immune system. This may explain why people can react so differently to the same strain of HIV. It may also give scientists insight on how to better fight the virus, since the adaptation process sometimes forces HIV to at least temporarily change into a form that is less virulent. (Press release from the University of Melbourne)

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Living With HIV as a Baby Boomer
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

We lived through the '50s and '60s, with reminders from our parents to appreciate the things that they never had in the Depression or during the war years. We survived the threat of nuclear war, free love, some yummy drugs and protest songs. ... As we enter the evening of our lives, we face a different set of challenges than the average people our age.

HIV antiviral drugs are great, there is no argument there. It's a fear of the unknown that faces us as we age into our 50s, 60s and beyond. ... There is no precedent for aging with HIV and the drugs we take each day. Nobody has the experience to pass down the line to this generation. I would be interested to hear from forum members that maybe have a common interest dealing with this issue.

-- Mondo

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


 Fresh Cash Infusion to Boost PEPFAR, Other Disease-Fighting Efforts in Developing Countries
HIV-fighting efforts overseas are about to get a big boost from the Obama administration. Last week, the White House announced a six-year, $63 billion Global Health Initiative geared toward preventing diseases (and deaths) in the world's poorest nations. The majority of the cash will go to strengthening existing programs, with the highly successful U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) receiving the lion's share of funding. Other priorities include family planning, strengthening countries' health systems and increasing the focus on neglected tropical diseases that have claimed millions of lives in the developing world. (Press release from the White House)

For more details on the initiative, check out this press briefing featuring Jack Lew, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State.

 Under New Obama Budget, Abstinence-Only Funding Would Go "Poof"
U.S. President Barack Obama wants to usher in a new era of sex education. His proposed federal budget for 2009-2010 includes zero dollars for abstinence-only education. The roughly $160 million per year that formerly went to abstinence-only programs would instead go to efforts that provide a more all-inclusive approach to sex education -- for instance, programs that promote safer sex in addition to no sex at all. (Article from CQ Today)

 Obama Proposal Would Continue Needle Exchange Funding Ban, Disappointing Some HIV Advocates
The Obama administration's new budget proposal upholds a decades-old ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs -- and many U.S. HIV advocates are not thrilled. The decision comes as a bit of a surprise, since President Obama previously stated support for lifting the funding ban, and he's appointed or nominated needle exchange proponents to fill several key offices in his administration. The administration's failure to remove the ban from its 2009-2010 budget proposal may be a response to heat from critics of needle exchange, but some advocates are fuming. "Denying people at risk for HIV a proven prevention intervention is a denial of their basic human rights," says Paola Barahona of Physicians for Human Rights. (Article from

It's not too late to speak out against the ban on needle-exchange funding! To act now, check out this article from Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project, where you'll find phone numbers, talking points and other resources to help you contact key officials and urge them to work against the ban.

Want to read more about needle exchange? Browse's extensive collection of articles.

Also Worth Noting: Visual AIDS

Image from the May 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
"After Hours in South Beach, Florida III," 1995; Jorge Veras

Visit the May 2009 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "Warrior," is curated by Ruben Natal-San Miguel.

There's No LOL in HIV No LOL in HIV: Unique New Prevention Ads for Young People, by Young People
At first glance, Cable Positive's new HIV prevention campaign looks just like a collection of yearbook photos. But these mug shots have a twist: One reads "Most Intelligent ... until she skipped her HIV test." Another says: "Class Clown ... for thinking HIV would never happen to him." What's even more unusual about the ad campaign (called "No LOL in HIV") is the group that designed it: a handful of 16- to 23-year-olds. The team of media-savvy students created ads that target their peers -- a by-youth, for-youth approach to HIV prevention. The ad spots will appear on popular Web sites, as well as on TV, in print and even in text messages. (Article from The New York Times)

Want to see all of the ads for yourself? Visit the official "No LOL in HIV" Web site.

 Gay Men in U.S. Usually Get HIV From Their Main Sex Partners -- and It's Often a Surprise, Study Suggests
Trust is key to any relationship. But here are two things that might be even more important: always using protection and always assuming that someone could be HIV positive. A large new study estimates that more than half of all gay men in the U.S. who are diagnosed with HIV get the virus from their main sexual partner -- and that 46 percent of the time, those men mistakenly think their partner is HIV negative. The study results are just the latest evidence that HIV prevention efforts often fail to connect with gay couples, and that a person's word isn't necessarily enough to make unprotected sex safe. (Study summary from

 Globally, Young Women Are Far More Likely to Have HIV Than Young Men, Report Says
Women win all the booby prizes. Globally, compared to men, they are more likely to be illiterate or living in poverty. Now a new report from UNICEF UK says that two-thirds of the world's HIV-positive young people (aged 15-24) are female. The most dramatic difference is in southern Africa, which is home to 67 percent of all people with HIV. There, young women are between two and four-and-a-half times more likely to have HIV than men of the same age. "Many young people have heard of HIV and AIDS but don't know how it's spread and don't believe they are at risk," said Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF UK, Anita Tiessen. The report notes that, in developing countries outside of Africa and the Middle East, it is young men who are more likely to have HIV. (Press release from UNICEF)

The full UNICEF UK report is available online.

Activist Central

 Speak Out Against the Syringe Funding Ban!

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

 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!