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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

Gary Bell

Transition to Hope


Obama Lifts HIV Travel Ban
November 2, 2009

On October 30, 2009, President Barack Obama announced that the United States would be doing away with its 20-year-old ban preventing people living with HIV/AIDS from entering the country. The U.S. has been one of about a dozen countries that bar HIV-positive travelers. The change will officially take place starting January 1, 2010, after a 60-day waiting period. The ban was established in 1987 when there was widespread fear and ignorance about HIV. The federal government's tried to eliminate the ban in 1991, but was thwarted by Congress. In 1993, Congress made HIV infection the only medical condition specifically listed as ground for inadmissibility to the U.S.

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Demonizing HIV
September 10, 2009

AIDS activists have been buzzing lately about a new German HIV awareness advertisement depicting a woman having sex with Adolph Hitler. By now, I am sure you are wondering: what does the Fuhrer have to do with AIDS? Well, in the ad, which is available online, a heterosexual couple is seen having sex. The man's face becomes that of Adolph Hitler followed by a slogan describing AIDS as a "mass murderer. Print versions of the campaign also use Saddam Hussein as well as other despots. The company that created the campaign, Das Comitee, defended the advertisement stating that it was meant to show "the ugliness of the illness."

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HIV Testing
August 26, 2009

Few would argue that HIV testing is one of the most vital tools in addressing the HIV epidemic. But, does everyone feel that way, or even understand the significance of knowing his/her HIV status. A recent study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (June 2009) found that despite efforts to encourage more HIV testing, including making it a part of routine medical care, "reported rates of HIV testing have remained flat over time." In fact, the share of non-elderly (ages 13-64) who report having been tested within the last year has not changed in over a decade. Although some groups, such as African Americans, Latinos and young adults are more likely to report having been tested, even their rates have remained virtually unchanged over the last several years. In 2009, less than one-half of the adults in the United States say that they have ever been tested.

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Zoonoses
August 5, 2009

Confused? I had not heard of that word either, until I did a little research for this blog about animal-to-human disease transmission. Zoonoses are emerging infectious diseases that have transferred to humans from animal hosts. I embarked on this research after learning of the discovery of a new HIV strain thought to have originated from gorillas native to Cameroon. This makes the fourth documented strain of HIV: strain "M, the most common and "N," "O" and now "P." The latter three seem to manifest themselves primarily from the Cameroon region.

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Men Are Driving the HIV Epidemic
July 23, 2009

By the way, the fastest growing population being infected with HIV is not women; it's young black men who have sex with men (MSM) between the ages of 13 to 29. Overall, there are 30,000 new HIV infections annually among MSM.

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Adolescent Hopelessness and HIV
July 15, 2009

A new report published in Healthday News on Jun 29, 2009, has found that almost 15 percent of American adolescents believe that they will die before age 35, a belief that may be strongly linked to unsafe behavior. Greater than one in seven youths have a pessimistic view about their future mortality and are more likely to take risks. The findings, published in the July issue of Pediatrics, are based on a three-year study of attitudes and behaviors among 20,594 teens from the 7th through 12th grades. The teens were asked about their views on personal mortality as it related to behaviors such as attempting suicide, using illegal drugs, sustaining fight-related injuries that required medical care, engaging in unprotected sex, being arrested by the police and contracting HIV or AIDS.

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Obama and HIV
July 7, 2009

As with most things it's a good news, bad news scenario. Clearly, Obama is more in tune with the AIDS epidemic than his predecessor. He has proposed a budget increase for domestic HIV prevention and direct services. Moreover, his administration will soon launch Act Against AIDS, an ambitious five year social marketing campaign to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and encourage people to get tested. Sadly, however, his 2010 budget cuts funding to fight AIDS globally, cuts funding for federal AIDS housing, and fails to lift the federal ban on syringe exchange.

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Transition to Hope
July 1, 2009

My name is Gary J. Bell and I am the executive director of BEBASHI (Blacks Educating Blacks About Sexual Health). Founded in 1985, BEBASHI was the country's first AIDS services organization targeting urban minority communities. We offer a continuum of HIV/AIDS/STI prevention and direct care services primarily in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

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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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