HIV/AIDS News Digest: April 19, 2010
April 19, 2011
Here is a quick look at a few HIV/AIDS stories recently reported in the media:
It's been almost 26 years since The Normal Heart debuted off-Broadway in 1985. HIV/AIDS activist Larry Kramer's tale of silence, stigma and homophobia is now on Broadway -- reviews begin on April 19 and the play officially opens for a 12-week run on April 27. Actors Ellen Barkin, Patrick Breen, John Benjamin Hickey, Luke Macfarlane, Joe Mantello, Lee Pace and Jim Parsons will star in this much anticipated revival at the John Golden Theatre.
The play's press release stated: "The story of a city in denial [that] unfolds like a real-life political thriller -- as a tight-knit group of friends refuses to let doctors, politicians and the press bury the truth of an unspoken epidemic behind a wall of silence. First produced by Joseph Papp at New York's Public Theater, the play was a critical sensation and a seminal moment in theater history. So ahead of its time was this play that many of the core issues it addresses -- including gay marriage, the health care system and, of course, AIDS -- are just as relevant today as they were when it first premiered."
Given the rising rates among MSM, the decline in AIDS art and accusations that the LGBT movement has let AIDS drop off its radar over the years, perhaps this revival has come right on time.
Watch a video of the cast below:
A new study has found that the city's new policy to recommend that everyone diagnosed with HIV start treatment immediately could dramatically cut the rate of new infections. Researchers from UCSF and the San Francisco Department of Public Health believe that if doctors were to follow this approach, the infection rate among MSM could drop more than 60 percent over the next eight years, and if the city instituted annual screening for all MSM, rates of new infection could drop more than 80 percent. It should be noted that these findings are solely based on math, and not any actual data.
"We could have a really significant impact on the number of new cases by taking everyone (with a diagnosis) and encouraging them to start treatment. And those effects could actually begin quite quickly," said Edwin Charlebois, an associate professor at the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and lead investigator of the study.
Currently, federal guidelines recommend that people diagnosed with HIV start taking antiviral treatment when their T-cell count drops below 500. San Francisco is one of the first cities to recommend that everyone who tests positive for HIV start antiviral therapy, regardless of T-cell count.
Vancouver's Insite's Injection Room -- North America's only site that serves as a place where IV drug users can access sterile needles and use drugs safely -- has sparked a lot of controversy. But a new report found that by offering these services, overdose deaths in the area have dropped.
Researchers from the Urban Health Research Initiative, the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and St. Paul's Hospital found that 31 percent of 290 overdose deaths occurred in the city blocks closest to facility. Also, fatality rates in this area decreased by 35 percent to 165 deaths from 254 per 100,000 people each year. Since the site opened, fatal overdose rates in the rest of the city decreased by only nine percent.
"Our results suggest that (safe-injection facilities) are an effective intervention to reduce community overdose mortality in Canada and in other cities internationally and should be considered for assessment particularly in communities with high levels of injection drug use," Thomas Kerr, co-director addiction research at the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and his colleagues wrote in the report.
In May, the Supreme Court of Canada will be voting on whether or not the site should stay open.
Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
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