• WORLD AIDS DAY 2004
Learn. Teach. Make a Difference.
Dec. 1 marks the 17th official World AIDS Day, and this year's event focuses on the vulnerability of women and girls. Women now account for nearly half of all HIV cases worldwide, with even higher rates among young African women -- and those numbers are bound to only grow higher unless we all work harder to empower women throughout the world.
To learn more about the state of the HIV pandemic among women, and to find out how you can get involved in World AIDS Day events in your community, visit The Body's home page for World AIDS Day 2004! There's a rich assortment of materials available on HIV and women, and we've gathered a select number in this special World AIDS Day section.
The following three sections feature first-person stories, statistics, news and other important information about the global HIV pandemic, particularly as it affects girls and women.
• WORLD AIDS DAY: THE PEOPLE
"We Do Not Hide"
"Death will always be there and I can't run away from it," says Estere, an HIV-positive woman living in Malawi. "It was better that I accepted being HIV positive and lived my life." Her story is one of three told by Malawian women who are taking a stand against HIV stigma and discrimination in their country. (Web highlight from Oxfam)
Women Fighting HIV in Africa Tell Their Story
These four stories highlight the impact of HIV on women in the developing world who are denied their basic human rights. Kamalika Abeyaratne, an HIV-positive doctor living in Sri Lanka explains that, although she had many friends before she was diagnosed with HIV, all that changed when people started to learn about her status. "Most of my friends then stopped coming [to my] home. Some of my doctor colleagues still cross the road when they see me approaching." Now she chairs an organization that provides a wide range of services to HIV-positive Sri Lankans, and that recently opened the country's first HIV/AIDS hotline. (Web highlight from the Inter Press Service)
The Body Features: Women & HIV
Black or white, old or young, HIV infection strikes all women, in the United States as well as the rest of the world. In The Body's special feature section on women and HIV, meet more than a dozen HIV-positive girls and women who live, love and thrive despite their HIV status.
Looking for more inspiring stories of HIV-positive women throughout the world? Visit The Body's collection of dozens of moving essays and testimonials.
• WORLD AIDS DAY: THE STATS
In Every Region of World, HIV Among Women Is Increasing, UNAIDS and WHO Say
Nearly half of the 37.2 million HIV-positive adults ages 15 to 49 worldwide are women, and the number of HIV-positive women is increasing in every region of the world, according to a report released by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization. According to the 91-page report, titled "AIDS Epidemic Update 2004," the total number of HIV-positive people in the world has risen from 38.1 million in 2003 to 39.4 million in 2004.
Advances and Declines Reported Against HIV in Africa
First, the good news: Eastern Africa has recorded modest declines in HIV prevalence among pregnant women, and levels have remained stable in central and western Africa, according to UNAIDS and the World Health Organization. As a result, the overall HIV rate for the entire African continent has dipped slightly, to 7.4% of the adult population, compared to 7.5% in 2003. However, HIV infections among pregnant women in southern Africa have jumped from 5% in 1990 to more than 25% this year, and the majority of new HIV infections are occurring among women.
In U.S., HIV Rates Up Among MSM; Minorities Infected at Much Higher Rates
New HIV/AIDS diagnoses may be stable overall in the United States since 2000, but among men who have sex with men (MSM), diagnoses are way up, and African Americans of both sexes are disproportionately impacted. Newly released data from the U.S. government -- which doesn't include huge, hard-hit states like California and New York -- show that 125,800 Americans have been diagnosed with HIV since 2000, and that more than half of them are black. In addition:
- In 2003, black women were 18 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than white women.
- In 2003,
black men were seven times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than white men.
- Among men who have sex with men, HIV diagnoses have jumped by 11% in the last four years.
- One in four people with HIV in the United States -- as many as 280,000 people -- still have no idea they're infected.
Latin America Remains Hard-Hit By HIV, Report Finds
More than 2% of the population in the Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago have HIV, according to the annual "AIDS Epidemic Update" report released by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization. "Life expectancy at birth in 2010 is projected to be 10 years less in Haiti and in Trinidad and Tobago," which is "nine years less than it would have been without AIDS," the report states. Although new HIV cases leveled off overall in the Caribbean, where HIV prevalence stands at 2.3%, AIDS has become the leading cause of death in the region among adults ages 15-44.
HIV Incidence Up 40% in Eastern Europe, Central Asia
In the past two years, Eastern Europe and Central Asia have experienced a 40% jump in HIV cases, mostly among the young, according to the annual "AIDS Epidemic Update" report released by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization. By the end of this year, the former Soviet Union will have 1.4 million HIV infections, up from 1 million in 2002, the report says. Four out of every 5 new infections in the region are in people under the age of 30.
For more statistics, fact sheets and background materials on the HIV pandemic (both among women and all people), visit The Body's World AIDS Day 2004 page on Women, Girls, HIV & AIDS.
• WORLD AIDS DAY: PREVENTION
Critics Blast Abstinence, "ABC" Prevention Method on World AIDS Day
Few people realize that 7% of the Bush Administration's $15 billion, five-year global AIDS plan will be spent specifically on promoting abstinence in developing countries. The plan also tacitly supports the use of the "ABC" strategy for HIV prevention -- abstain, be faithful, use condoms -- a strategy that is coming under increasing fire from leaders in the AIDS community. Critics say that the strategy is not only irrelevant to most women because it dodges the deep societal issues behind the spread of HIV, but that it may even threaten the lives of the people it aims to save. (Web highlight from Agence France-Presse)
Nearly 150 Experts Worldwide Call for Global Consensus on HIV Prevention Approach, Support Use of "ABC" Method
Meanwhile, nearly AIDS 150 experts from 36 countries have called for an end to the world's "polarising debate" over HIV prevention strategies. In an article published in the medical journal The Lancet, the experts call for HIV prevention efforts to be more deeply intertwined with local communities. They also say that the "ABC" approach to HIV prevention -- abstain, be faithful, use condoms -- should be widely used, but in a manner flexible enough to take into account the preferences of local communities and organizations.
Want to make a difference in the fight against HIV? Start by visiting The Body's "World AIDS Day 2004: Spread the Word" page for some ideas, or browse through our list of additional World AIDS Day resources.
• IN OTHER NEWS: HIV TREATMENT
Review the Latest HIV Research in The Body Pro’s HIV JournalView!
In the October/November issue of The Body Pro's HIV JournalView, Dr. David Wohl examines new studies that attempt to answer these important questions:
- How long can HIV-positive people expect to live and stay healthy?
- Are HIV-positive people taking treatment as likely to survive as HIV-negative people?
- What’s the significance of the K65R mutation, a specific HIV mutation first discovered in people taking tenofovir (Viread)?
- Is an HIV-positive person more likely to have unprotected sex if they think their viral load is low?
- How good an idea is a C-section for a woman coinfected with HIV and hepatitis C?
U.S. Health Department Releases Updated Guidelines on Pediatric HIV Treatment (PDF)
The United States has updated its guidelines on the use of antiretrovirals to treat HIV-positive children. The guidelines, which are currently available only in PDF format, include new supplements on managing side effects and HIV-related health problems, as well as information on the use of new antiretrovirals like atazanavir (Reyataz) and T-20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon).
Expanded Access Program Begins for Tipranavir
As new HIV meds near approval in the United States, the companies that produce them usually begin "expanded access programs" (EAPs) that are set up to provide the drug for free to HIV-positive people who need it and are already resistant to other antiretrovirals. The maker of tipranavir, a new protease inhibitor aimed at people with protease inhibitor resistance, has just announced the opening of its EAP. To find out more about the program, read this page or talk with your HIV doctor. (Web highlight from The Access Project)
A currently enrolling study on tipranavir is also seeking HIV-positive people who are already heavily resistant to other HIV meds. For more information about the study, click here.
Nucleosides and First-Line Therapy: Which Combo Pill to Use?
Now that we have three different combination pills that contain two nucleosides -- Combivir (AZT/3TC), Epzicom (abacavir/3TC) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) -- how have options for first-line HIV treatment changed? In this report, Dr. Joel Gallant discusses some of the pros and cons of each combination pill. (Web highlight from The Hopkins HIV Report)
Immune-Based HIV Therapies in the Pipeline
A large number of "immune-based therapies" for HIV are in the works, each of which offers hope for a new weapon against the virus. Immune-based therapies work by building the body's natural defense against HIV, as opposed to antiretrovirals, which attack HIV itself. For a rundown of immune-based therapies currently in the pipeline, read this chart from Treatment Action Group.
• LIVING WITH HIV
United States: How to Use the System to Get the Health Care You Need
If you live in the United States and feel lost trying to figure out how to afford and obtain HIV-related healthcare services, you're not alone. To help you navigate the morass of information, David Munar of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago has designed this checklist. Use it as a launching point in your search for quality healthcare.
Crystal Meth, HIV and the Gay Community
Are you or a friend addicted to crystal meth and looking for a way out? Recovery is hard work, but it can most definitely happen -- and by seeking help a person with HIV can not only improve their own health, but help ensure the safety of others as well. In this article, therapist Jean Malpas takes a closer look at the epidemic of crystal meth use and its link to HIV, especially among gay men in the United States. He also offers a list of steps that people on crystal can take to begin to kick the habit and get their lives back.
• HIV PREVENTION NEWS
Strategies for Preventing HIV Transmission During Conception, Pregnancy
You and your partner want to have a baby, but one or both of you has HIV. What measures can you take to protect yourself and still conceive? Renowned HIV advocate Rebecca Denison has written this list of strategies for getting pregnant that reduce the risks to the mother, the father and the baby.
Post-Exposure HIV Prevention: Two-Step Regimen Appears Safe, Effective
For people who have just been exposed to HIV, a four-day course of nevirapine (Viramune) followed by a month of treatment on two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors may be a safe, effective way to prevent HIV infection, French researchers say. (Web highlight from aidsmap.com)