November 19, 2009
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World AIDS Day: What Can You Do to Make a Difference?

World AIDS Day

Most of you don't need a World AIDS Day to remind you how important HIV awareness is, but it's the responsibility of each of us to be the best educator or activist we can be. What can you do this World AIDS Day to make a difference? Check out this page for some great ideas, resources and events.

 Overweight HIVers See Lower CD4 Gain While on HIV Meds, Study Suggests
Until the mid-1990s in the U.S., packing on a few extra pounds seemed like a good thing: It helped protect a person against the dangers of wasting and HIV's destructive effects on the immune system. But today, for people on potent HIV treatment, those extra pounds may no longer help -- in fact, they may reduce the immune benefits of HIV meds, a new study suggests. (Interview and podcast from

 Protease Inhibitors May Reduce HPV-Related Anal Cancer Risk
Can protease inhibitors protect a person from developing anal cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV)? A study from Spain involving gay, HIV-positive men suggests the answer may be yes: Men who had used protease inhibitors were far less likely to develop HPV-associated pre-cancerous changes in their anus -- and, in fact, were less likely to have HPV at all. (Study summary from

This new research on HPV also reminds us just how stunningly common it is: According to this overview, half of all sexually active people have HPV, and it's far more common among people with HIV.

 San Francisco Takes Steps Toward Citywide Plan to Fight Hepatitis C
San Francisco, Calif., Mayor Gavin Newsom appears to be getting serious about hepatitis C, which impacts about 30 percent of all people living with HIV. The mayor has established a task force of advocates, service providers, officials and people living with hep C to put together a comprehensive plan to prevent and treat hep C in the city. (Article from Project Inform)

 Gay Men Make Up Majority of New Syphilis Cases in U.S., Report Finds
It's easy to get so caught up in the focus on HIV that we forget about all those other sexually transmitted diseases out there. There are about 19 million new sexually transmitted infections each year in the U.S., and one of them -- syphilis -- is most common among gay men, according to a newly released annual report. (Fact sheet from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The full report -- Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance, 2008, an in-depth tally of reported chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases throughout the U.S. compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- is available online. Another major finding from the report is that teenage girls and young women, especially African-American women, are particularly at risk for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

 Avoid Taking Plavix With Intelence, New Drug Warning Suggests
Taking Intelence (etravirine) alongside the blood-thinning drug Plavix (clopidogrel) may reduce Plavix's effectiveness, according to a new warning issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The warning about Intelence was part of a larger alert about drugs that may have similar interactions with Plavix. (Release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration)


Marc Kolman HIV/AIDS Is Not Alone When It Comes to Stigma
There's no doubt that HIV/AIDS is a very stigmatized disease. But it's not unusual for people dealing with other diseases, such as cancer or diabetes, to feel forced into the closet about their illnesses. This is the realization that recently hit's new blogger Marc Kolman, a public health administrator and HIV advocate. (Blog from

Jim Pickett When It Comes to Gay Rights in Africa, It All Starts With the Lube
"For those of us acquainted with the finer points of anal intercourse," writes cheeky HIV advocate Jim Pickett, "the thought of engaging in this activity without any type of lubrication takes that dropped jaw and turns it into a grimace." Yet that's exactly the problem facing many gay men in Africa, who have no access to lubrication that can help make sex less painful -- and less of a risk factor for HIV transmission. (Article from Test Positive Aware Network)

Want a thorough rundown on HIV prevention tools for gay men? Read or listen to Pickett's one-on-one interview with, in which he describes the benefits of rectal microbicides, why the world needs them and what's being done about it. You can also learn more about microbicides in's collection of articles on the topic.

Connect With Others
Today Is My "HIV Birthday"
(A recent post from the "Living With HIV " board)

"Seven years ago today, I found out I was HIV positive. I'm thinking a lot today about how my life has changed since that day. You know, I have to say, there has been good and bad, ups and downs, but I continue to be thankful for the life I have. Ironically, I think I am healthier living with HIV than I was when I was negative. The one thing I still struggle with today is fear of stigma/disclosure. But I'm working on it! I'm being more open about my status because I do feel that silence = shame, and I have nothing to be ashamed of!" --mikeosito
Click here to join this discussion, or to start your own!

To do this, you'll need to register with's bulletin boards if you're a new user. Registration is quick and anonymous (all you need is an e-mail address) -- click here to get started!

U.S. HIV/AIDS Plan: Online Testimony Deadline Extended!
A series of HIV/AIDS community discussions hosted by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) is nearing its end -- but the deadline for submitting online testimony has been extended to Monday, Nov. 23, at 6 p.m. Eastern Time! Please also take a look at the list of remaining meetings and follow the directions on how to take part in a meeting near you. The next discussions will take place in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Nov. 20, and in New York City on Dec. 4.

 HIV-Positive Man Bites Neighbor; Charged With Attempted Bioterrorism
An HIV-positive man in Michigan has been charged with "attempted bioterrorism" for allegedly biting his neighbor while the two fought. The man was apparently charged under a terrorism law that states you can't possess or use a "harmful device, which is defined as either biological, chemical, electronic or radioactive." (Press release from the Michigan Messenger)

 Mismanagement of D.C.'s HIV/AIDS Services May Cost City Its HIV Housing Money
U.S. housing authorities have threatened to cut off the flow of federal housing assistance for Washington, D.C.'s HIV-positive residents next year if the city doesn't clean up its act. The threat comes in response to recent reports exposing gross mismanagement of HIV/AIDS funds by the city's HIV/AIDS Administration. (Article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

This video report series from the Washington Post helped expose the financial mismanagement of HIV/AIDS services in the U.S. capital city.

 Black Church Leaders Struggle to Address HIV/AIDS
"Because HIV and AIDS has a perception of sexual origin, a lot of people in the church don't want to deal with it," says Tanya Bender Henderson, an educator at a Maryland church. She's one of 120 religious activists throughout the country who met recently to discuss how to move forward with efforts to get black churches more involved in the fight against HIV. (Article from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Activist Central

 Participate in the White House's HIV/AIDS Community Discussions on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy

 Alert: Don't Let Dems Wimp Out on Opposing Abstinence-Only Funding

 U.S. Territories Separate and Unequal in Health Care Reform; How You Can Help

 Can't Make It to a White House HIV/AIDS Community Discussion? Provide Your Testimony Online for the U.S. National HIV/AIDS Strategy!

 Urge President Obama to Lift the Ban on Federal Funding for Syringe Exchange Programs