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In the News

Winter 1998-99

  1. HIV Positive S. Africa Woman Murdered
  2. HIV Treatment Options Not Available to All
  3. N.Y. Blood Bank Issues Warning
  4. Treatment Now vs. Later
  5. Fighting HIV, Their Own Way
  6. Workers' Rights
  7. More Information

HIV Positive S. Africa Woman Murdered

Johannesburg, South Africa -- A 36-year-old woman was beaten to death after disclosing she was HIV positive.


Stigma Is Universal

Gugu Dlamini was beaten last Saturday in KwaMancinza, a town in eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, where an estimated 20 to 30 percent of the population has HIV or AIDS. She died of her injuries in the hospital.

Public Disclosure

Dlamini had publicly disclosed her HIV status at an AIDS awareness gathering. Details on when the gathering took place were not immediately available, and it was unclear if the murder was directly linked to her disclosure. However, some officials saw a link.

Health Officials

"It could be one of our most devastating setbacks in our fight against AIDS if it prevents people from going out and telling their partners their status and advising others on how to live with the disease," Health Department spokesman Dave McGlew was quoted as saying in the Johannesburg newspaper.
(Editors note: Health Officials callous is apparently universal too: Setback for you, Death for her -- Mr. McGlew!)


Dlamini is survived by a 13-year-old daughter.

HIV Treatment Options Not Available to All

Boston Globe Online (11/18/98)
By Joel Stashenko

A 44-member panel composed of physicians, medical ethicists, public health experts, and AIDS advocacy group members has concluded that some HIV-infected people in New York do not receive all possible treatment options.

"The state-sponsored panel, found that doctors sometimes advise against certain drug treatments for HIV-positive patients if they believe that the patient may not adhere to the regimen."

These patients may often be immigrants, homeless people, prisoners, or disabled. The panel asserted that HIV treatment plans "should not be based on presumptive judgments about people in any racial, ethnic, gender, age, risk, or other category."

Presumptive Judgments

The panel also noted that health care providers should stay aware of current HIV-drug treatments, make them widely available to patients, and help patients with adherence. Additionally, patients have a responsibility to take the medications as prescribed, to eat properly, and to take measures in order to maximize the effect of the treatment.

In certain cases where patients may not be capable of completing a regimen, the panel said that it may be prudent for health care providers to discontinue the treatment.

Editors note: Hmmmmm?? Well where were the AIDS Advocacy Group members when this was decided? "Certain cases" is very vague.

N.Y. Blood Bank Issues Warning

The Associated Press
By Verena Dobnik

New York (AP) -- The nation's largest independent blood bank issued a public warning to thousands of transfusion recipients in three cities, saying they might have received blood that was improperly tested for the AIDS virus and hepatitis.

The move comes more than a year after two lab supervisors were convicted of tampering with blood tests at the New York Blood Center.

Within the past month, the center notified recipients in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Memphis, Tenn. New York recipients were alerted two years ago, after the problem surfaced in media reports.

No viral infections have been linked to blood used in transfusions in any of the cities from 1991 to 1996, blood center officials said Wednesday, adding that the risk of infection was very low.

The center is trying to reach an estimated 40,000 people who received blood from June 1994 to December 1996 in the Chicago area.

"If we had thought there was a big problem, we would have done something right away," said Dr. Robert Jones, the New York center's president and CEO. "We were trying to design a rational program to reassure the public vs. alarming people unnecessarily."

("unnecessarily"?? -- isn't this the same thing that happened in the early 80's?)

Chicago, Pittsburgh and Memphis had been sending their blood samples to the Manhattan blood center for viral testing, and the blood centers in those cities "have been well aware of the issue," Jones said.

Through newspaper and radio announcements, the New York center is trying to reach an estimated 40,000 people who received blood from June 1994 to December 1996 in Chicago-area hospitals.

Dr. Arell Shapiro, vice president of medical services at LifeSource in Glenview, Ill., a Chicago suburb, said Wednesday that the center fielded hundreds of calls from concerned people. Most callers' fears were alleviated, she said, after they were told the risk of being infected from the blood was "very, very low."

"The New York center issued a public health announcement to transfusion recipients in Pittsburgh and Memphis last month."

In 1997, a man and woman who worked as lab managers at the Manhattan center were convicted of federal charges. They had taken shortcuts on blood tests and then falsified records to conceal their crimes.

An investigation found that the shortcuts affected tests for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HTLV, a virus that has been associated with some types of leukemia.

Treatment Now vs. Later

POZ (10/98)
By Dave Gilden

There is recent confusion concerning the best course of treatment using new anti-HIV drugs. Some physicians and researchers say to treat aggressively as possible, while others adhere to a reactive strategy that initiates medication in response to declining health. There is still debate over which strategy provides the best chances for survival. Evidence presented at the World AIDS Conference in Geneva suggests that an "easy does it" plan for long-term HIV control instead of outright elimination of the virus may be more doable. Studies have shown that interrupting treatment can lead to very rapid gains in viral replication, essentially eliminating the gains of therapy. Longer therapy may also lead to the development of drug resistance, especially if the therapy proves to be sub-optimal. Furthermore, there are concerns about the toxicity of the regimens, as well as adherence problems.

Other studies have shown that HIV quickly eliminates the CD4 cells that coordinate the immune attack against the virus and that these cells do not appear to regrow, even after reduction of viral load through treatment. This evidence indicates that it may be best to try and reduce viral levels as soon as possible to save these cells so the body can mount an effective attack against the virus.

Fighting HIV, Their Own Way

Information from the Internet

Some people infected with HIV are refusing to start anti-HIV drug regimens until they actually feel ill. As many patients undergoing HIV treatment are experiencing side effects, some infected individuals are choosing to remain drug-naive as long as possible. While there is little disagreement that people with HIV who show AIDS-related symptoms should be treated, there is debate over when to treat patients in the earlier phases of infection. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, notes that the federal guidelines, which suggest the initiation of treatment for patients with viral loads over 10,000 copies, are designed to provide treatment flexibility. In a September issue of The Lancet, Dr. Jay Levy of the University of California at San Francisco, argued that people with HIV should delay treatment until absolutely necessary. Cornell University Medical College's Dr. Roy Gulick asserts that the initiation of early aggressive treatment was sound in principle when it appeared that anti-HIV medication would cure infections. There is now a substantial amount of variability in the aggressiveness of HIV therapy. Gulick notes, however, that the regimens are life-saving and that people with middle or advanced disease will benefit.

Workers' Rights

Bombs and Condoms

Calcutta, India -- Thousands of prostitutes from India and neighboring countries assembled inside a Calcutta soccer stadium to demand workers' rights.

"We eat by renting our bodies. We demand the rights of a worker," read a placard in a procession joined by more than 3,000 prostitutes, male and female.

Prostitution is illegal in India, but all major cities have red light districts where girls can be hired for as little as two rupees (five U.S. cents) a session.


The prostitutes gathered for a three-day convention in this eastern city to demand an end to the Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act (PITA) and enactment of new laws to legalize their trade.

"We want to share a common platform and organize a greater movement to establish the rights of the sex workers and legalize our profession," said Sadhana Mukherjee, a former prostitute who is now an activist pushing for legalization.

Mukherjee says the profession meets a social demand and must be understood as such in order to control the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS.

"But the sex workers are treated as a group of women who pose threats to public health, sexual morality, social stability and civic order," she said.

8 Million Asians

Estimates on the number of Indians infected by HIV vary but it is widely believed the country accounts for a majority of the eight million Asians thought to carry the virus.

Foreign sympathizers attended the convention, which was inaugurated by prostitute Meera Bardhan in traditional Indian style with the lighting of an oil lamp.

"She was attacked with bombs and badly burnt last year after launching a campaign to popularize the use of condoms in Calcutta's red light area of Sonagachi."

Bardhan was attacked with bombs and badly burnt last year after launching a campaign to popularize the use of condoms in Calcutta's red light area of Sonagachi.


"How can we fight against the oppression by the politicians, the police and the criminals if our profession is not legalized?" asked a middle-aged prostitute. "We too want our rights to put an end to harassment by police and criminals," said Netai Giri, a male prostitute from Calcutta.


"I find that the sex workers here have a highly developed sense of their rights. They have a clean goal -- sex work is a profession and it must be legalized at the earliest," she said.

Cat Ross, a prostitute from San Francisco in the United States, was in Calcutta to make a documentary film on Indian prostitutes.

"The problems are the same all over." Indian police say legalizing prostitution may open the floodgates for children into the profession. However, those gates are already open.


Children's rights activists say nearly one third of the sex workers in six major Indian cities are under twenty years of age. The privately funded Indian Health Organization in Bombay says over one thousand young girls a year are initiated into prostitution.

A British charity, Christian Aid, says some 200,000 Nepali girls have been sold into sexual slavery in Indian brothels.

If You Are On Methadone Maintenance
  • Nevirapine also known as Viramune decreases the levels of methadone in your body.

  • If you are on methadone maintenance and taking Viramune, perhaps your methadone treatment dose should be increased by 50%.

  • You should ask your doctor about taking one and a half your normal dose.

1999 National Conference
on Women & HIV

October 8-13, 1999
Los Angeles City Convention Center
Los Angeles, CA.

For information about scholarships, registration and abstract submission please call 877.266.3966

Back to the Women Alive Winter 1998-99 Contents Page.

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This article was provided by Women Alive. It is a part of the publication Women Alive Newsletter.