History Doesn't Have to Repeat: An Interview With Evany Turk
Evany Turk has an unusual centerpiece on her dining room table: a bucket of condoms, which is meant to encourage her kids to always have safer sex. "I didn't used to be that kind of mother before -- but now, I know that if someone had talked to me when I was a teenager ... I possibly would not have become HIV positive," she says. So she talks openly with her seven kids and their friends, encouraging them to ask her questions about sex and her virus, and she always answers honestly. Read much more about Evany's thoughts on living with HIV and activism in this interview. (Interview from Positively Aware)
How I Began to Hope: Thoughts From a Long-Term Survivor
For many of us who have joined the HIV community within the past 10 years, it's hard to fully understand just how dark the times were in the 1980s and early 1990s -- or how much a small group of people did to turn that darkness into light. But long-term HIV survivor Gregg Gonsalves saw it all unfold firsthand. In this essay, he recalls the moment in 1991 when he saw that first beacon in the night. "It's a story about hope, about inspiration, about the serendipity of scientific discovery, and about how activists and doctors working together opened the door for some truly great advances in AIDS research," he writes. (Article from Treatment Action Group)
HIV TREATMENT & HEALTH ISSUES
Alcoholism and HIV Make a Brain-Damaging Duo, Study Says
For most people with HIV, drinking a glass of wine with dinner isn't likely to cause a major health problem. But for HIVers who drink heavily, it's a different story: Not only can all that alcohol seriously damage your liver, but researchers have found that chronic, heavy drinkers with HIV may be at a higher risk for developing memory problems, learning difficulties and other forms of brain damage. (Press release from the medical journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research)
Test in Development May Provide Cheaper, Quicker Alternative to Selzentry Tropism Test
Before people can start taking the HIV medication Selzentry (maraviroc, Celsentri), they're required to get an HIV tropism test called Trofile, which determines whether Selzentry will work against their strain of HIV. The test works pretty well, but it's also expensive, and results can take weeks to arrive. However, North American and British researchers believe they've found a better way: a new type of test that's just as effective as Trofile, but that works similarly to HIV drug resistance testing, so it's cheaper and quicker. (Press release from the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS)
New Single-Pill HIV Treatment Regimen in the Works, Drug Companies Say
Right now, Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) is the only brand-name drug that puts an entire HIV treatment regimen in a single, once-daily pill. Within a couple of years, however, that may change: Two HIV drug companies have announced they're going to collaborate to create a new all-in-one HIV medication that combines Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) with a drug in development known as TMC278, which is in the same class of meds as Sustiva (Stocrin, efavirenz). (Article from kaisernetwork.org)
Newly Diagnosed and in Despair|
(A recent post from the "Women" board)
I just found out two days ago that I have HIV. I want to cry, I want to hit something, I want to kill the person who gave this to me ... I want to die. The worst part is that two of my friends knew he had it. They knew! And they didn't tell me. They never told me. I've had this for two years, and they never told me, and I never knew until two days ago. I told the guy I've been dating, who I was really starting to care about, and we broke up because I am infected.
I am so miserable right now, I just don't know what to do. Maybe it would just be easier to die. I am only 25 years old and my life is over. My friend says I need to get a shrink and get over myself, but how am I supposed to do this? Nothing will make this better. Nothing will make this go away. I am just so angry. And sad.
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HIV IN THE NEWS
Barack Obama and the Future of HIV: Top U.S. Health Official Lays Out Plans
End the travel ban? Check. Get federal funding for needle exchange? Check. Continue the U.S. commitment to paying for HIV treatment and care overseas? Check. In a wide-ranging discussion at IAS 2009, a number of top experts -- including Anthony Fauci, M.D. who heads the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund -- outlined some of the Obama administration's plans to address HIV/AIDS domestically and abroad. (IAS 2009 coverage from The Body PRO)
This discussion was one of several important developments in HIV that were revealed at IAS 2009, a major conference for HIV/AIDS doctors and researchers that recently took place in Cape Town, South Africa. Visit our IAS 2009 home page to read or listen to more highlights!
Last-Minute Cuts Take $52 Million From HIV/AIDS Programs in California
With a flick of the pen, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a long-overdue state budget this week that many hope will bring the state back from the brink of bankruptcy. Unfortunately, it also looks like it'll tear a big chunk out of California's HIV/AIDS programs. Before signing the budget, which was the result of months of heated negotiations, Schwarzenegger used his line-item veto power to remove $52 million worth of HIV-related services, part of nearly $500 million he cut from the overall budget bill. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)
Needless to say, HIV/AIDS groups in California are not happy with the Governator's last-minute budget cuts. San Francisco AIDS Foundation CEO Mark Cloutier worried that the move would cause "a serious setback in the hard-won progress we've made against the AIDS epidemic in California." AIDS Project Los Angeles Executive Director Craig Thompson called the budget cuts "lethal." And outspoken AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein equated the governor's decision with murder: "With a single stroke of his blue pencil, Governor Schwarzenegger has terminated the state's AIDS programs and, along with it, the lives of some of the state's most vulnerable citizens."
AIDS Can Kill Chimps, Researchers Find
For many years, experts have believed that chimpanzees can't die from SIVcpz, the simian virus that HIV evolved from. Turns out they were wrong: U.S. researchers have found that SIVcpz can make chimps sick and even lead to their deaths. The findings are important because, up until now, scientists have struggled to determine how SIV went from being a relatively harmless virus in chimps to becoming a deadly one in humans. Now we know: It's actually been killing chimpanzees all along, which closes up a "missing link" in the evolution of HIV. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)
For more details, including a fascinating look at how this study took place and the gritty researchers behind the findings, read this report from MinnPost.com.
HIV TRANSMISSION & EDUCATION
From the Editor: Welcome Change Is Coming to Needle Exchange (and Abstinence Education) in the U.S.
In her latest blog entry, Bonnie Goldman, TheBody.com's editorial director, offers her take on some exciting, HIV-related policy changes on their way through the system. The U.S. is still on track to remove a long-standing ban on federal funding for needle-exchange programs, and we also may be nearing an end to federal funding for abstinence-only sex education. However, the Senate still needs to pass its own version of the spending bill and then hash out the differences before it can go to President Obama to be signed into law. (Blog from TheBody.com)