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September 30, 2004

In This Update:
  • Life With HIV
  • HIV Treatment News
  • HIV/HAART-Related Health Problems
  • U.S. AIDS Policy & Advocacy
  • HIV Prevention & Epidemiology
  • Religion & HIV
  • HIV/AIDS in Space

    HIV Positive and Living Life to the Fullest
    Ten years after she was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 44 -- and diagnosed with diabetes at the same time -- Harlem resident Yolanda Birthwright says she might be getting more out of life now than she ever got before her diagnosis. "I have HIV, [and I'm] facing it, understanding it, and moving on with my life," she writes. "If you should ask me how I feel, my reply would be: Blessed!"

    HIV and Aging: Impact on Mental Health, Quality of Life
    Many aspects of HIV and aging have yet to be explored -- not just the physical aspects, but the emotional ones as well. This research summary from AIDS Community Research Initiative of America discusses what we know so far about the effect of aging on the mental health and quality of life of HIVers.

    Psychologist Hosts HIV/AIDS Call-In Radio Show
    It's HIV/AIDS advice on the airwaves: "Ask Dr. Buzz," a live radio call-in show that takes place every Wednesday afternoon from 2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The show, which is hosted by clinical psychologist Dr. Joel "Buzz" von Ornsteiner, tackles a wide range of HIV-related issues. If you're in the New York area, you can tune in at 1600 AM; a live Webcast of the show is also available at Read this article for more details on the show.

    2001 Charles Clifton Essay Reflects on Past, Present, Future
    "I'm tired of incompetent negatives. I'm tired of unqualified positives. I'm tired of bureaucracy. I'm tired of cynics. I'm tired of the hypocrites. … I'm tired because I don't have time to do more. I'm tired because I don't feel like doing more. I'm tired." In this 2001 essay by Charles Clifton, the highly respected AIDS activist and former head of Chicago's Test Positive Aware Network who passed away this summer, he reflects on the exhausting, frustrating life that an AIDS advocate, HIV-positive person or any person in this era is forced to live.

    What If Someone Slept Through the First 20 Years of AIDS?
    What would you do if the person you'd loved and cared for over the last 20 years miraculously emerged from his or her coma? In this excerpt from Joseph F. Kelly's novel Right Back Where We Started, ex-coma guy Bobby Darling has a lot of catching up to do. But his best friend, Anthony Cipporelli, avoids directly addressing the most difficult subject of all: What became of all of their friends?



    Stigma, Lack of Trust Keep Many Black HIVers Away From Clinical Trials
    Why don't African Americans participate in important HIV clinical trials? Keith R. Green of Test Positive Aware Network has some theories. "We could say that the reason ... is because of our mistrust of the government, particularly due to the Tuskegee experiment," he writes. "Many of us still view HIV as a government invention, designed to kill off gays and blacks. However, it can also be said that the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS plays an even bigger role."

    Philadelphia Medical Centers Create a Clinical Trial "Supersite"
    Five major medical research institutions in Philadelphia have announced they're teaming up to form a single clinical trial "supersite" known as the Integrated Research Group. Its goal: to make clinical trials more efficient in the Philly area, which would also make them more appealing to pharmaceutical companies looking to save time and money in the testing phase for new drugs.



    Where Have All the Bacteria Killers Gone?
    New antibiotics are nearly impossible to come by these days, even though bacteria are rapidly developing resistance to the drugs we have. The result, warns the Infectious Diseases Society of America, could be a public health disaster, especially for HIVers and other people with weakened immune systems. And the worst part? Greed, not science, is the reason the antibiotic pipeline is so dry. John S. James of AIDS Treatment News explains.

    HIV and Hepatitis C Make an All-Too-Familiar (and Dangerous) Combo
    In the United States, hepatitis C is one of the most common diseases found in people with HIV; experts think as many as one in three HIV-positive Americans also has hepatitis C. Whereas HIV slowly damages your entire immune system, hepatitis C has one specific target: your liver. Understanding how to get tested and treated for hepatitis C is pivotal, particularly for people with HIV -- and especially for anyone who uses recreational drugs, as this fact sheet from AIDS Community Research Initiative of America explains.

    Sculptra Costs Four Times More in U.S. Than in Europe
    The facial wasting treatment Sculptra has, at long last, made its way over the Atlantic from Europe, where it's known as New-Fill. Unfortunately, the price tag must have gotten lost during the trip: U.S. doctors have to cough up four times as much cash for the drug as European docs do, which could lower the number of Americans who are able to receive it. And if you think that private health insurance or AIDS Drug Assistance Programs are likely to cover the cost, you're in for an unpleasant surprise. (Web highlight from The Washington Blade)



    Get Yourself an Absentee Ballot -- Before It's Too Late!
    Need to vote by absentee ballot this year, but aren't sure how to request one? A team effort by several major U.S. AIDS organizations has set up a Web site to help make requesting your absentee ballot quick and easy. This year's election may be the most important of our lives -- don't miss out because you never got your ballot!

    Formal Medical Journal Editor Rocks the Boat With Exposé on Big Pharma
    Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, has made quite a stir with her controversial new book, The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It. In this review, Treatment Action Group takes a closer look at the book and some of its key findings.

    Today's Most Critical Issues in U.S. AIDS Policy
    HIV/AIDS services in the United States are suffering on so many levels that it's sometimes hard to get a handle on them all. In its 2002-2004 national policy agenda, the AIDS Action Council lays out a summary of some of the most critical issues -- and explains what it currently sees as the top priorities for HIV/AIDS-related policies in the United States.



    HIV-Fighting Efforts Suffer in U.S. South
    HIV has entrenched itself in the southern United States, and the reasons go far beyond a lack of funding for AIDS programs. A growing number of infections (particularly among women, minorities and people in hard-to-reach areas), poor health infrastructure, lack of access to health insurance and a host of other issues is making the fight against HIV in the South far more difficult. Jeff Graham of AIDS Survival News has more details.

    Two-Man Needle Exchange Program Helps Thousands in Washington, D.C.
    The Washington Post brings us up close and personal with Ron Daniels, one of only two full-time employees who make up Prevention Works!, a nonprofit group that operates a mobile needle-exchange program in the District of Columbia. According to local health officials, 9,856 D.C. residents inject drugs, about one in 20 has HIV, and AIDS rates are higher than in any other large U.S. city. Last year, Daniels helped distribute 360,143 clean syringes to 3,180 people. (Web highlight from The Washington Post; free registration required)



    Catholic Aid Group in Britain Urges More Flexible Approach to HIV Prevention
    "Simplistic" approaches to HIV prevention, including abstinence-only education and only providing condoms, are "doomed to fail," as any successful prevention strategy must address impact, risk and vulnerability -- the three "layers" of the pandemic, according to Ann Smith, an HIV corporate strategist at the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development. This three-layered approach "reconciles solid science and good community development practices with established and evolving moral theology and Catholic social teaching," she says. (Web highlight from The Tablet, a British Catholic newspaper)

    Priest Sets Up Network for HIV-Positive Clerics
    The African Network of Religious Leaders Living With HIV/AIDS -- which says it provides "non-judgmental" support to HIV-positive clerics of all faiths -- has 500 members in eight African countries. "The question of how you came to live with HIV isn't important, but how you are living with it is," said Rev. Japé Heath, the HIV-positive Anglican priest from South Africa who started the group. (Web highlight from the Sunday Times, Johannesburg, South Africa)



    HIV Vaccine Development That's Out of This World
    HIV vaccine research isn't just an international effort anymore -- now it's an extraterrestrial one, too. The next crew of the International Space Station plans to study proteins that Russian scientists hope will be useful in the development of an effective HIV vaccine. (Web highlight from Agence France Presse)

    Did you miss The Body's live chat on Fuzeon this summer or have additional questions about the drug that weren't answered last time? Join us on Wed., Oct. 13 at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time for our next chat, sponsored by Roche! Click here to find out more.
    Image from the September 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Virus 'V'," 1991; Per Eidspjeld
    Visit the September 2004 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's new collection of art by HIV-positive artists.