March 25, 2010
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Bob Frascino, M.D. Dr. Bob: Why Monkey Chops Should Never Be Served Rare
"There can be no doubt the origin of HIV/AIDS has puzzled, intrigued and fascinated scientists," writes Bob Frascino, M.D. (aka Dr. Bob),'s resident safe sex expert. In his latest blog entry, Dr. Bob gets to some of the burning questions at the core of how HIV first made the leap from primates to people: Did we eat them, or did we sleep with them? And was it all just part of a huge conspiracy to kill off gays and drug users?

Justin B. Smith Justin B. Smith Weighs in on Maryland's Steps to Recognize Gay Unions -- Including His
When blogger Justin B. Smith married his husband last year, they went to Massachusetts to make it happen -- but back home in Maryland, their marriage wasn't considered legal. That's about to change now that Maryland is poised to begin recognizing same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal. It's not full marriage equality, true; but as Justin puts it, "the Free State which I call home is finally going in the right direction."

Stigma and Homophobia Stigma and Homophobia: Fuel for the HIV/AIDS Fire
Many HIVers in the U.S. know all too well the shame and fear of discrimination that sometimes comes with an HIV diagnosis. But for HIV-positive lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people -- particularly in communities of color -- the stigma doesn't end with HIV. This article from HIV organizations ACRIA and GMHC examines the insidious cousins of HIV stigma and homophobia, and explains why eliminating both isn't just a matter of social justice -- it's a matter of public health.

Send Us Your Poetry!
Calling all lyricists, wordsmiths and rhyme-slingers! April is National Poetry Month in the U.S., so from now through the end of April, will be accepting and posting submissions of poetry about living with, or being affected by, HIV/AIDS. Just about anything you write is fair game: Pieces can be literal or abstract; serious or funny; short or long (but hopefully not too long). Select poems will be highlighted on our site throughout the month of April!

Please e-mail your poems with the subject line "Poetry: [Title of Your Piece]." Be sure to specify what name or alias you'd like to use, as well as any details about yourself that you feel comfortable letting readers know, such as your age, the city you live in, your gender, etc. Please note that if we post something you send us, it can be Googled, so be sure to think through what kind of information you want to provide.

If you'd rather send us a poem without having to use e-mail, use our feedback page. You can leave out any contact information, but please write "POETRY" at the top of the form so we can spot it easily.


Robert Breining Robert Breining: My Rocky Start With HIV Meds
"I looked at starting meds as my chance for change," writes Robert Breining. Like most things in life, HIV med regimens are not a one-size-fits-all proposition -- as Robert found out the hard way when he tried Atripla, the most common first-line HIV treatment option. In his latest blog entry at, Robert shares his harrowing story of one regimen that didn't make the grade -- and what he learned from the experience.

Though effective HIV medications are a profound blessing where they're available, the decision to start taking HIV meds can often be a difficult one. It's such a pressing issue, in fact, that this month three of's bloggers chose to write about their experiences choosing, and starting, HIV meds. Fogcityjohn shared his experience last week; Robert Breining's blog entry above is the second in the series. Next week we'll highlight another unique perspective in this section of our newsletter.

 New Anti-HIV Candidate Tastes Great With Ice Cream
It seems like anytime a potential HIV-fighting chemical is found in something we eat, it makes headlines. Such is the case with a compound called BanLec, which is derived from bananas, of all things. BanLec appears to inhibit HIV replication in lab tests, and researchers think it may be particularly well suited for use in a microbicide -- although potential side effects could be an issue, as this article from Treatment Action Group explains.

More Headlines on HIV Treatment and Health Issues:

Connect With Others
At My One-Year HIV Anniversary, Hope Springs
(A recent post from the "I Just Tested Positive" board)

"I've been HIV positive for one year now. I felt I should post something, in particular, for those people who are where I was this time last year -- a bad place, to say the least! Believe me when I tell you that life does go on! OK, it's extremely difficult to accept this news, but staying in bed with the curtains closed feeling sorry for yourself will not change things. In fact, that will make it worse!

"I'm glad I found the strength to realize that there are worse things in this world than living with HIV! Reach out to associations, a close friend , people on this site, whatever you need to help you get through this. I did and it helped me so much. Thank you to so many people!

"I'm a 33-year-old gay male. It took me a long time to realize that I'm not alone in all this and it's not the end of the world! Now I want to live life to the fullest and meet that special someone! I believe that will happen!" -- Dreamer76

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!


 What U.S. Health Care Reform Means for People With HIV
Expanding health insurance coverage. Eliminating those frustrating "pre-existing condition" restrictions. Removing lifetime benefit caps. These are a few key examples of how the newly signed health care reform bill may greatly benefit people living with HIV in the U.S., explains the advocacy group Black AIDS Institute.

 South Carolina's HIV/AIDS Budget Slashed; U.S. ADAP Waiting Lists Lengthen
Continuing a chilling trend over the past several months, another U.S. state is having serious funding issues with its AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP). This time the focus is on South Carolina, which has made headlines because the state's legislators have proposed chopping its entire budget for HIV/AIDS services, including the $5.9 million it spends annually on ADAP.

 Twenty-Nine Years of Women Living With HIV: Past, Present and Future
"Twenty-nine years ago women were fighting to be diagnosed. Twenty-nine years ago women were fighting to stay alive." Those sobering truths about women living with HIV still ring true today. But it's also important to remember how far we've come. This newly updated timeline by Terri Wilder, M.S.W., reviews key moments in the history of women's involvement in HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention and activism since 1981.

More News Headlines:


Activist Central

 Sign-On and Forward "An Open Letter to Pharmaceutical Companies on the ADAP Crisis"

 Women Living With HIV: Take a Survey on Sexual and Reproductive Health Services

 Tell HHS That Black Women Openly Living With HIV/AIDS Should Be Represented on PACHA

 Action Alert: Tell Congress You Support a Permanent Fix to Ryan White Housing Policy!