July 22, 2009
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Thomas DeLorenzo TheBody.com Blog: How I Fell in Love With an Illegal Alien
We may be only months away from the elimination of the United States' infamous HIV travel ban, which has impacted countless lives since it was enacted about two decades ago. Our newest blogger, Thomas DeLorenzo, an HIV-positive activist and a publicist in the entertainment industry, has firsthand knowledge of the ban and the damage it can do. "Years ago, I made the big mistake of falling in love with a citizen of the United Kingdom," DeLorenzo recalls. Together, he says, they "fought the legal obstacles, the distance, and yes, the virus." In his first blog entry, DeLorenzo recounts their love affair and struggles to live together in the U.S. (Blog from TheBody.com)

Sarah Coping With HIV: A Lifelong Journey
"I can't say that I've fully processed my HIV diagnosis because it has affected me in different ways at different stages of my life," says Sarah, who has been living with HIV her entire life. Growing up in the 1980s in a small, conservative, religious community, Sarah faced all the burdens of being an HIV-positive kid in an ignorant world. In the latest edition of our ongoing series This Positive Life, Sarah talks candidly about how HIV took away part of her childhood, forcing her to "face stuff that is hard for grownups to deal with." Now a grown, married woman herself, Sarah hopes to one day reach out to HIV-positive children. (Interview from TheBody.com)

Also Worth Noting: Breaking Research: TheBody.com Covers IAS 2009

IAS 2009

Some of the stories we're following in this week's newsletter come to you from a major HIV/AIDS medical conference that just wrapped up in South Africa. For full coverage of this conference -- including summaries, interviews, podcasts and more -- visit our IAS 2009 home page! We'll add much more coverage over the days to come.

Wafaa El-Sadr, M.D., M.P.H. HIV's Silent Dangers Make Early HIV Treatment Critical, Expert Says
"During that long period when [an HIV-positive] person appears to be quite well, there are ongoing processes in their bodies, due to HIV itself ... that may be causing some damage, some unseen damage, that may ultimately have a very large impact on a person's survival, and a person's wellness," says Wafaa El-Sadr, M.D., M.P.H. El-Sadr, one of the world's most respected HIV researchers, made this key point at the IAS 2009 conference in the midst of an eloquent call for improved global access to HIV meds. (IAS 2009 coverage from The Body PRO)

Kimberly Smith, M.D., M.P.H. New Evidence Suggests Women, African Americans May Not Do as Well on HIV Meds
Race and gender may prove to be more critical factors to the effectiveness of HIV medications than we've long thought. In a large study comparing two first-line treatment regimens, Kimberly Smith, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues found that regardless of which regimen they took, fewer African Americans (versus whites) and women (versus men) achieved an undetectable viral load. (IAS 2009 coverage from The Body PRO)

 Viramune May Pose Fewer Heart Risks Than Reyataz, Study Finds
People who take Viramune (nevirapine) may have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than people who take Reyataz (atazanavir) boosted with Norvir (ritonavir), according to a study by European and Latin American researchers involving 569 HIVers. The study found that although Viramune did as well as Reyataz when it came to fighting HIV, Viramune appeared to have a more favorable impact on cholesterol and triglycerides. (IAS 2009 coverage from kaisernetwork.org)

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Furious: My Partner Uses My HIV Status Against Me
(A recent post from the "Women" board)

I am in a relationship with a guy who knows my status. When we argue, he throws my illness in my face, and then later on he expects me to be over it and have sex with him. He is a jerk. Any kind of feeling I had for him is gone.

-- cashmoney

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Bonnie Goldman Why the HIV/AIDS Fight Needs More Passionate Voices
Is HIV/AIDS activism dead? It's a question that Bonnie Goldman, TheBody.com's editorial director, has often asked herself. It's been a long time since she's seen the kind of public, burning passion for HIV/AIDS causes that she used to see all the time in the 1980s and 1990s. "I was brought back to those times this month by none other than New York State Senator Thomas Duane -- New York's first openly HIV-positive, and first openly gay, state senator," Goldman writes. A video that's been widely passed around the Internet shows Duane in a furious tirade on the floor of the state senate. "While I listened to Duane spit his words out in bitter anger, I kept on thinking: We need more people like him." (Article from TheBody.com)

 HIV Status Not Grounds For Denying People Professional Licenses, Federal Officials Say
It's illegal to prevent people from training for a job as a barber, massage therapist, home health care aide or any number of other professions in the U.S. simply because of their HIV status, the Department of Justice announced this month. People with HIV in the U.S. are protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act, which forbids just about any kind of discrimination when it comes not only to job hiring, but to job training, professional schools and licensing as well. (Press release from several advocacy groups)

Check out the justice department's fact sheet on HIV and the Americans With Disabilities Act for answers to some of the most important questions about HIV and job-training discrimination.

 Advocacy Group Files Suit to Force Condom Use in Adult Films
Last month, headlines blared with the revelation that an adult film actress in Los Angeles County had tested positive for HIV, and that several other adult film actors may also have tested positive since 2004. The advocacy organization AIDS Healthcare Foundation responded this week by filing a petition with the county, asking the court to order L.A.'s Department of Public Health to enforce existing health regulations on the set of porn films -- including often-ignored regulations requiring condom use. However, while the public health officials say they are investigating the case, they also released a statement saying that they do not think litigation is the best response to the issue. (Article from the Los Angeles Times)

Also Worth Noting: Online Survey: How Do You Rate Your Medical Care?
Take this new survey by HIV-positive scientist and clinician Dr. Rupert Whitaker and detail how you would rate your medical care. The survey is available in English, Spanish, French and German.

 Male Circumcision Doesn't Protect Female Partners From HIV, Researchers Find
Can male circumcision help prevent HIV? For the circumcised man, yes; but for the woman who has unprotected sex with him, apparently not. A large, two-year study in Uganda found that women were no less likely to get HIV from circumcised HIV-positive men than uncircumcised HIV-positive men. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)

 Condoms Only Partly Effective Against Genital Herpes, Study Warns
Condoms' effectiveness in stopping the spread of HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases is well-established. But since genital herpes can be spread by skin-to-skin contact, condoms are only partly effective. In a recent U.S. study, researchers note that condoms do provide some protection from herpes, but not much. In their study, participants who said they always used condoms were just 30 percent less likely to contract genital herpes than those who did not use condoms. (Article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)


 "We're Not Doing Enough," Say Global Leaders on HIV
At the very moment when the worldwide fight against HIV has reached a turning point, the world is pulling back on its commitments, threatening to undo years of progress and potentially costing millions of lives, some of the world's top HIV experts warn. In this wide-ranging, impassioned press conference at the opening of IAS 2009, these scientists and activists discuss the desperate need to renew attention (and funding) to the precarious state of efforts to prevent and treat HIV in developing countries. (IAS 2009 coverage from The Body PRO)

Louise Kuhn, M.P.H. Revisiting Priorities in the Prevention of Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission
In a talk focusing largely on the developing world, Louise Kuhn, M.P.H., drives home the importance of HIV treatment for all pregnant or breastfeeding women with a CD4 count below 350. She also urges a greater focus on long-term child health and survival, beyond simply preventing mother-to-child HIV transmission. "There's very little point of preventing HIV if we are simply causing other fatal diseases in these children," Kuhn says. (IAS 2009 coverage from The Body PRO)

Reuben Granich, M.D., M.P.H. HIV Treatment as Prevention: How Many Lives Could Be Saved?
If every person in sub-Saharan Africa received voluntary, annual HIV testing and started taking HIV meds immediately after being diagnosed, the rate of new HIV infections would drop 95 percent in 10 years and more than seven million deaths would be averted, according to a theoretical model presented by Reuben Granich, M.D., M.P.H., at the IAS 2009 conference this week. (IAS 2009 coverage from The Body PRO)
Image © International AIDS Society / Simon Deiner / SDR Photo

Activist Central

 Help Get Health Care Reform Back On Track

 End the Ban of Federal Syringe Exchange Funding Today

 Twelve Weeks and Counting: Extend Ryan White Now!

 Sound the Alarm: HIV Is Not In Recession

 Take a Survey Addressing the Vocational Needs of HIV-Positive People

 Write to District Court Judge Bradley J. Harris, Who Sentenced a Man to 25 Years for Not Disclosing to Another Man He Was HIV Positive

 Tell Congress to Make Health Care Reform Work for People With HIV/AIDS!

 Tell Abbott That We Will Not Accept a High Price for Their New Norvir!

 Tell CVS: Don't Restrict Access to Condoms!

 Endorse the International Declaration on Poverty, Homelessness and HIV/AIDS

 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

 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

 Congratulate Obama ... And Remind Him of His Commitment to a National AIDS Strategy!