September 10, 2009
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Lycia Davis Out of Denial and Into Care: One Woman's Journey With HIV
Lycia Davis tested HIV positive in 1992, but her husband claimed that Retrovir (zidovudine, AZT), one of the only meds available back then, killed people faster than HIV. Terrified, Lycia chose to deny that she was even HIV positive -- a strategy that landed her in the hospital with a CD4 count of 77. Facing reality hasn't been easy: "It was extremely difficult for me to feel stable while trying to keep a strict medication regimen, working full time, taking care of my son and a mentally ill father, and avoiding my abusive husband," she writes. (Personal story from Achieve)

 How Long Will You Live With HIV? Take Studies With a Grain of Salt
"How long will I live?" is one of the most pressing, frightening questions facing many people who are living with HIV. And like so many other questions in HIV, the answer is frustratingly complex, confusing and ever-changing. In his latest blog entry,'s managing editor Myles Helfand looks at some recent research on HIV and life expectancy -- and explains why you shouldn't put too much stock in the numbers. (Blog entry from

Catherine Hanssens You Can't Beat HIV Without Respecting HIVers' Human Rights, Legal Expert Says
"Nearly three decades after the identification of the first cases of AIDS, our national dialogue continues to fail those living with HIV by failing to put human rights at the center of AIDS prevention and treatment," laments HIV legal expert Catherine Hanssens. In this article, Hanssens explains why fighting HIV stigma is such a key part of making HIV prevention work -- and why any policy that isn't built around respecting HIVers' rights will ultimately fail. (Blog entry from

Also Worth Noting: This Positive Life: Openly Positive and Living Withotu Stigma

Justin B. Smith

Only 29, Justin B. Smith already has an incredible story to tell. Justin admits he used to live "a very dangerous life," but since his diagnosis three years ago, the former heavy drinker and drug user has turned his life around. In this moving, one-on-one interview, Justin walks us through some of the key moments in his life, including the day in 2006 when he was diagnosed with HIV, his experiences dealing with stigma and ignorance, and his stint in the military as an openly gay man.

 When to Start Treatment: A Panel of Docs, Advocates and HIVers Weighs In
When is the best time to start taking HIV medications? It's a complicated question, and official U.S. HIV treatment guidelines keep on changing. So two HIV organizations brought together 10 HIV experts to hash out the issue. Read as these doctors, activists and people living with HIV share their ideas about what they think the guidelines for starting HIV meds should be -- and what their hopes are for the future of HIV treatment. (Article from ACRIA and GMHC)

If you're looking for more insight into the ongoing when-to-start discussion, check out's collection of articles on when to start HIV treatment. You can also take a look at some answers written by's experts in response to frequently asked questions about starting meds.

 "Sexual Revolution" of 1960s Responsible for Many of Today's Tongue and Tonsil Cancers, Researchers Suggest
Could the oral sex of yesteryear have led to the tongue and tonsil cancers of today? You may know human papillomavirus (HPV) as the virus behind most anal and cervical cancers, but what you may not know is that in the U.S., HPV is also the culprit in roughly half of all cancers of the tonsil and the base of the tongue. Researchers are learning more every year about HPV-related cancers -- and some of them believe that the boom in oral sex during the 1960s may be behind the current rise in tongue and tonsil cancers within the U.S. (Article from

Want to learn more about the connection between HPV and cancer among people with HIV? Take a look at's collection of articles on the topic.

Nelson Vergel The Skinny on Body Fat and HIV
Body shape changes are some of the most frustrating health issues that people with HIV face today. It's not clearly understood what causes gain or loss of fat on the bodies of some people with HIV, and there aren't many treatments available to tackle these issues. Nelson Vergel, a longtime HIV survivor, activist and expert on fitness and HIV, has spent a great deal of his career helping other HIVers fix their body shape problems. In this article, Vergel breaks down the different body shape changes some HIVers experience -- and what can be done about them. (Article from ACRIA and GMHC)

You can find more of Vergel's thoughts on body shape changes at He's talked about the emotional side of body fat problems, and he teamed up with another body shape expert to give an update on body fat issues and HIV earlier this year. Vergel also answers questions about health and nutrition at's Ask the Experts forums.

Also Worth Noting: Connect With Others
Living With HIV in the Philippines
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV" board)

Trust gave me HIV. ... I wouldn't have thought that I'd get a virus by mere trust of my partners' looks and words. ...

I never thought I'd get infected, for I wasn't really so out in exploring my sexuality as a gay man. All the while I thought that, with my judgment and trust, I would be careful enough. I allowed myself to have unprotected sex ... but here I am, now infected with HIV. Perhaps I've underestimated this illness and have not really taken it seriously. ...

After learning I got this virus, it was really the hardest moment in my entire life. I felt like all my dreams had shattered. ... But I meditated and re-composed myself and got the courage to stand up, wipe out my tears and turn my energy to something productive. I went out and landed a job so I'd have resources to pay for my needs and bills, and can do something for my health. I decided to be strong and move on rather than staying sad, crying, thinking back on why I got infected and waiting for miracles to happen. Crying and mourning over your situation is just OK, but we should never allow it to consume us. Let's learn to be our own advocate, get educated and find someone we can trust.

-- piercedPINOY

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

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 As Funding Wanes, HIV/AIDS Clinics Need Your Help More Than Ever
You're in charge of an HIV/AIDS clinic in the U.S., and things are not going well. You've already closed a satellite office and let go of two staff members, but there still isn't enough money to make ends meet. Even though you take on more patients every year, your federal grant hasn't increased since 2001. What do you do? That's the crisis facing the Matthew 25 AIDS Services clinic in Kentucky, as well as many others around the country. Matthew 25 and other clinics rely on people like you to help: You can get involved by joining an AIDS walk or making a donation. (Article from the Evansville Courier & Press)

There are AIDS walks happening all across the U.S. this fall, raising badly-needed funds for HIV/AIDS clinics and service organizations like Matthew 25. Browse this listing at to find one near you.

 HIV Researcher Raises Cash for His Study, Two Wheels at a Time
Yuntao Wu wasn't content to sit on his lab stool and hope more funding came in for his innovative HIV research. Instead, he's sitting on a bicycle: On Sept. 10, the George Mason University professor began a 330-mile charity bike ride beginning on Wall Street in New York City and ending in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 13. He'll be accompanied by about 50 other riders; they expect to raise $150,000, which Wu says will cover almost a year's worth of his research. (Article from

Also Worth Noting: Video Newsbreak: Tune in to the Latest in HIV/AIDS News

HIV/AIDS Video Newsbreak, August 11, 2009 is proud to present HIV/AIDS Video Newsbreak, an insightful, engaging look into some of the top stories in HIV!

More than 25 years into the pandemic, it's still almost impossible to find balanced, knowledgeable information about HIV on television or radio. But thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can look no further than your Web browser to watch the latest HIV/AIDS news.

Click here to watch our latest edition!

 Genital Ulcers May Flare Up After Women Start HIV Treatment, Study Warns
Women who begin taking HIV meds may experience an outbreak of genital sores, potentially increasing their risk of passing HIV to a partner during sex, a Kenyan study suggests. Genital ulcers are the sores that can break out when a person has genital herpes, syphilis or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The study found that when a woman with one of these STDs starts taking HIV meds, her recovering immune system may cause genital ulcers to flare up for a month or two. The findings are just the latest reminder that safer sex is critical, especially for newly diagnosed people -- and since condoms have been found to only partly protect against genital herpes, abstinence may be the safest bet during a flare-up. (Article from

Chuck Renslow and 1st Runner-up: Bob Firth-Tessier, Mr. Leather Montreal 2008 International Mr. Leather Convention Bans Barebacking
Vendors selling pornography are among the most popular attractions at the International Mr. Leather (IML) convention, an annual event that's partly a trade show, partly a contest and partly a social gathering. But this year, there may be fewer porn vendors at IML than usual. IML president Chuck Renslow has banned the sale of any materials that "promote or advocate" barebacking, or unprotected anal sex. He feels that encouraging safer sex in the leather community is more important than making money. "Greed and avarice must not supersede the health of our community," Renslow stated. (Article from the Windy City Times)
Image: Chuck Renslow with 1st Runner-up: Bob Firth-Tessier, Mr. Leather Montreal 2008. Photo by BULLmanX.

 Report Details How U.S. Can More Effectively Fight HIV Among African Americans
"Finding out your HIV status has never been easier," says Black AIDS Institute founder and longtime HIV-positive activist Phill Wilson. But if that's true, why do half of African Americans thought to be living with HIV not know it, even though they are more likely than other ethnic groups to report having been tested for HIV? An alarming report from Black AIDS Institute gives a complete look at HIV testing among African Americans. The report outlines the obstacles that hold up progress against HIV in Black America, and explains why HIV testing is only part of the solution. (Report from the Black AIDS Institute)

 New Report Tells Florida's Men to "Man Up" When It Comes to HIV Risk
In 2006, Florida was home to almost 10 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S. -- and nearly three-quarters of those infections were among men. That's why the HIV/AIDS bureau of Florida's health department created a report telling men to "man up" and take responsibility for their sexual health. The goal of the report isn't to blame men for their actions, but to help them form positive habits, such as talking about safer sex with their partners. The report includes a list of steps that individuals, care providers and whole communities can take to support men's health. (Article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Public Service Announcement

Activist Central

 Re-Authorize the Ryan White Act -- Care for People Living With HIV/AIDS

 Action Alert: Easy Steps to Impact U.S. HIV/AIDS Policy!

 Call Assembly Speaker Silver: Stop the HASA Rent Crisis -- New Yorkers With HIV/AIDS Need Affordable Housing!

 Tell Senators Health Care Reform Must Include Medicaid Parity for U.S. Territories!

 Petition for a Robust National Public Health Care Option and Expansion and Enhancement of Medicaid Coverage

 Ensure Congress Has a National AIDS Strategy

 Urge Your Senators to Co-Sponsor the Early Treatment for HIV Act