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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Gary Bell

Transition to Hope

African Americans Stand to Lose From the War on Contraception
March 26, 2012

According to Webster's Dictionary, "Contraception" is defined as the deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation by any of various drugs, techniques, or devices or; birth control. However, with the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections, many people tend to incorporate their contraceptive and sexual health prevention methods under a concept of risk reduction.

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And the Beat Goes On ...
March 6, 2012

As the controversy about HIV criminalization continues to rage, the state of Maryland has decided to 'up the ante,' so to speak, by proposing to add more teeth to their current HIV-specific criminal law, according to a recent article in the American Independent newspaper. Presently, a person convicted of knowingly transmitting or attempting to transmit HIV to another person may result in an $2500 fine and up to a three year prison sentence. However, Maryland state legislators are considering changing the law from a misdemeanor to a felony with an up to 25 year sentence. Despite the absence of evidence that these types of punitive methods are a deterrent and that people who know their HIV status, especially if they have achieved viral suppression with anti-retroviral therapy, are less likely to infect others, fear and and the desire for retribution continues to reign.

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HIV Criminalization
January 24, 2012

In May 2008, a homeless, HIV+ man was sentenced to 35 years in prison for assaulting a police officer with a "deadly weapon," his saliva! Willie Campbell, who was clearly intoxicated at the time, has been HIV+ since 1994 and has a history of aggressive behavior with public servants, will have to serve at least 17.5 years to be eligible for parole. The police officers were not infected. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), although there have been a few rare cases of transmission through severe bites, "contact with saliva, tears or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of H.I.V."

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AIDS Denialism
January 9, 2012

Recently, someone named Curtis Cost wrote an article assailing the importance and validity of African Americans knowing their HIV status. Since the first widely reported cases in 1981, HIV has been mired in controversies, ranging from its origin to the possible existence of a cure. Sadly, over thirty years later, we continue to have many of the same conversations. What should NOT be in doubt any longer is that HIV disease is having a devastating impact on the African American community.

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Can Certain Contraceptives Increase HIV Risk?
October 6, 2011

I can imagine that those who try to remain current with new developments in contraception and HIV risk reduction may cringe at discovering that something else might place them at increased risk of HIV infection. This time, that something else may be a popular form of contraception, injectable hormones. Injectable hormones, such as the well-known Depo-Provera, are one of the easiest, most cost effective contraception alternatives because they are long lasting, easily administered and and gives women more control over the timing of their pregnancies. Unfortunately, they do not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted infection. Now, a recent study published in Lancet on October 3, 2011, raises concern that their role in HIV infection might be even more problematic. Researchers from the University of Washington followed almost 4,000 couples for two years in Botswana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. In each couple, either the man or the woman was already infected with HIV.

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Treatment Is Prevention Part 1
August 18, 2011

Some of you may be aware that the annual HIV Prevention Conference has been taking place in Atlanta this week. One of the unique aspects of HIV conferences is that they tend to bring together an eclectic mix of people: consumers, researchers, medical providers, non profits and other assorted advocates. As we, as a society, struggle with finding new and creative ways to reduce the transmission of HIV, it was only natural to consider the impact a medical model might have on this challenge. Perhaps one of the most exciting studies within the last several months demonstrates the benefit of immediate, aggressive HIV treatment in reducing transmission.

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HIV at 30
July 20, 2011

For the two or three of you (lol) who follow my blog, you may have noticed that I haven't blogged in a while. A lot has happened to me over the last several months that I won't get into now. However, I have returned with a renewed sense of purpose and quite a lot to say.

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2010: A Year of Promise
December 2, 2010

For so many years, the news about efforts to combat HIV/AIDS has been, in a word, depressing. It seemed that with every positive development would come news of escalating infection rates, or that some promising vaccine or therapy was less promising than we had hoped. But 2010 will be remembered as one of the first years where there seems to be almost universal optimism that real progress is being made in this war.

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Disturbing New Information on MSM and HIV
October 21, 2010

One of the most frustrating aspects of working in HIV is addressing the many myths (as well as conspiracy theories) surrounding it-the most persistent of which is that AIDS is a "gay disease." Clearly this myth started early in the history of HIV in the U.S., yet has persisted despite clear evidence of how HIV is transmitted and the growing diversity of those whom become infected. Moreover, it has been convenient for many to affix the label of "gay" to anyone who has had sex with the same gender. However, a startling new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) may add additional fuel to that myth. A CDC study conducted in 21 cities tested over 8,000 gay and bisexual men participating in the 2008 National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System.

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HIV May Have Been Present for 32,000 Years
October 11, 2010

Despite the persistent myth that HIV was a man-made disease, unleashed upon the unsuspecting, disenfranchised of our society (read gays and blacks), now comes more evidence that it may have been present in monkeys and apes for millennia. New research, published in Science magazine last month, report the presence of the ancestor of the simian HIV virus in Africa possibly dating back as far as 78,000 years. This fascinating research, that studied monkey species on a volcanic island off of the coast of West Africa, who developed in isolation, found that four of the six species had been infected with HIV.

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Transition to Hope

This year marks Bell's 14th as the executive director of the Philadelphia-based BEBASHI (Blacks Educating Blacks About Sexual Health), founded in 1985 as the nation's first AIDS organization serving African Americans with HIV. Bell has been widely praised, not only for increasing funding and accountability at a time when HIV donations have plummeted, but also for launching such innovative programs as a women's initiative, prison-discharge planning, and, most recently, a diabetes intervention.

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