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June 1, 2005

In This Update:
  • Living With HIV
  • Hepatitis & HIV
  • HIV/STD Testing & Education
  • HIV Treatment Access in the U.S.
  • HIV/AIDS Advocacy in the U.S.
  • HIV/AIDS Outside the U.S.

    HIV-Positive Recovering Meth Addict Talks Straight-Up About Life and Loss
    Crystal meth was only the most recent of a long string of addictions for Eddie Young. But oddly, neither alcohol, cocaine or ecstasy had as destructive an impact on his life as meth. "Shortly after my 1992 HIV diagnosis and before finding meth -- a span of 10 years -- I had not been on any HIV medications," Eddie recalls. But when his meth addiction kicked in, his immune system kicked out -- and that was only one of his problems. In this incredible story, Eddie talks about the opportunities in life he wasted because of his addictions, and how he's now finally beginning to turn his life around.

    Finding Love When You're HIV Positive: One Woman's Story
    When Barb Marcotte was 26 years old she felt that her dream of a future would never be. She was sure her chance to have children, a house, vacations and old age with a love was gone. She had just watched her 37-year-old husband die of HIV. She too had HIV and was sure her days were numbered. Today Barb Marcotte is 37 and is living and loving again. In this inspiring article, Barb shares her search for love again as an HIV-positive woman.

    A Story About Gay Men, Bathhouses, Sex and HIV -- With a Happy Ending
    Who said having protected sex in a bathhouse with men you have just met is a bad thing? Jim Pickett met a wonderful man in a bathhouse in Spain. He says, "Gay men need to embrace and be proud of our articulate, creative and responsible sexuality that is a joyous and magnificent part of gay culture. ... The guys getting wasted and taking the loads of hundreds of anonymous partners notwithstanding, most of us in fact practice our sexuality in a much more responsible, thoughtful, compassionate and yes, loving manner."

    HIV Stigma Still a Fact of Life in U.S.'s Rural Areas
    In many rural areas of the United States, the stigma of HIV remains as devastating as it was a decade ago in most of the country. "I kind of feel like I stepped back in time," says Suzan Stambaugh, who moved from Los Angeles to direct clinic services for AIDS Services of North Texas. "I found that I was fighting some of the same fights in 2001 that I did in 1991." Another agency worker adds that some people in northern Texas feel that "cancer is a more respectable disease than HIV. ... If you have HIV or AIDS, you must have done something that you deserve it." This telling article provides a keen sense of just how hard it is to live with HIV -- or work for an AIDS organization -- in some of the United States's rural areas. (Web highlight from The Dallas Morning News; free registration required)



    HIV-Positive Liver Transplant Recipient Writes About His Success
    One year ago, George Martinez became only the second HIV-positive person in Chicago to receive a liver transplant. His recovery was long and difficult -- as it is with many liver transplant recipients -- but now, he says, "It's like I'm a new person." His success, and the successes of many other HIVers receiving transplants as part of a large U.S. nationwide study, help prove that despite years of doubts (and anti-transplant laws), organ transplants are just as realistic for people with HIV as they are for anybody else.

    To learn more about organ transplants in HIV-positive people, read through The Body's collection of articles and research summaries.

    Hepatitis C Rates Set to Explode in U.S.
    Between 8,000 and 10,000 people in the United States already die from hepatitis C every year. Unfortunately, current predictions say that number will triple over the next 10 years. Although hepatitis C treatment has advanced by leaps and bounds, current treatments still are only effective for about 50% of people, and more effective drugs may still be years away from the market.



    Study Recommends Doctors Conduct "Risk Assessments" of Their Patients
    For a sexually transmitted disease (STD) test to be reliable, the right kind of test has to be done in the first place. And for that to happen, people -- HIV positive and negative alike -- need to disclose their sexual activities to an impartial, non-judgmental doctor. It would be helpful, for instance, if your doc knew you've recently had receptive anal sex (whether you're a man or a woman), because then her or she would know to take a rectal swab for chlamydia and gonorrhea. If the doctor doesn't know about your sexual habits, he or she is unlikely to give you the right STD test. In fact, one study focusing on sexually active gay men in San Francisco found that, if the doctors had only used urine or urethral (as opposed to rectal) testing, they would have missed a majority of chlamydia and gonorrhea cases. (Web highlight from

    The researchers recommend that docs use this assessment sheet (PDF) to determine -- in a non-judgmental way -- what sort of STD testing is called for, and how frequently people should be tested.

    Keep Those Unwholesome Condoms Off My TV Screen!
    In many countries in Europe, condom ads are commonplace, but here in the United States, taboos against them remain strong. Following reports that the producer of Trojan brand condoms wants to place ads on network television stations in the United States, the American Family Association (AFA) launched a mass e-mail campaign and is now pressuring members of Congress to keep the ads from airing. "Condoms are the line in the sand," said one AFA official. "We oppose condom ads because they promote promiscuity." An NBC spokesperson said the network is considering the ad placement request; she stressed that the proposed campaign focuses on the health benefits of using condoms and does not resort to titillation.

    The "Barber Shop" Approach for Minority Women: HIV Prevention at Beauty Salons
    In a creative bid to raise HIV awareness among Latinas and African-American women, the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services is distributing HIV information packets to beauty salons throughout the state. HIV outreach workers head to the salons armed with kits containing condoms, educational brochures and nail files imprinted with a toll-free phone number that people can call to access information on rapid HIV testing.


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    Atlanta Program Strives to Improve Access to HIV Care
    A frighteningly large number of HIV-positive people -- an estimated 300,000 in the United States alone -- are not accessing any form of medical care. Many of these people may not seek out care because they don't even know they're infected, but a large number also have trouble accessing the services they need. The Linkages to Care Program in Atlanta is one example of a new series of efforts being made in the United States to provide HIVers, particularly those who have low incomes or are marginalized by society, with important medical services.

    Massive Washington, D.C., HIV Clinic Tests Ways to Reach Out to Poor Clients
    Atlanta isn't the only area attempting to improve access to HIV care for low-income people. In Washington, D.C., the massive Whitman-Walker Clinic, which serves 7,000 HIVers (most of whom are poor), is conducting a five-year study aimed at eliminating so-called "barriers to care," which can include substance abuse, mental health issues and unemployment. By connecting its clients with "retention care coordinators," who help clients navigate the healthcare system, the clinic has already seen a decrease in the number of HIV-positive people who miss their medical appointments.



    Why Do People Volunteer for AIDS Organizations?
    What is it that drives people to volunteer their time to an AIDS service organization? The Atlanta-based group AIDS Survival Project recently asked some of its volunteers that very question. Think volunteerism is all about helping others? Some of their answers may surprise you.



    Five Words Help Explain Swaziland's HIV Situation: The King Has 11 Wives
    In many countries throughout the world women have few rights. Before the HIV pandemic, little attention was paid to the predicament of women in countries such as Swaziland. But now, with more than 40% of adults in Swaziland HIV positive, it's become an issue. Siphiwe Hlope, director of Swaziland Positive Living for Life, notes that women are considered legal minors and taught to be subservient to men. Being powerless, she says, makes women vulnerable in sexual relationships and unable to negotiate condom use to prevent the spread of HIV. Hlope says that Swaziland's king, one of the most respected men in the country, could make an enormous difference: "If he himself stood up and said, 'I'm staying faithful to my partners. Everyone should have one wife and stick to his partner,' men here would listen," she says. However, the king is otherwise occupied: He has just taken his 11th wife. In fact, he has taken a new wife every year since 2001.

    Ivory Coast: The Positive Results of Disclosure
    Lydie Akesse is one of the few HIV-positive women in the Ivory Coast who speaks publicly about what it's like to live with HIV. Diagnosed seven years ago, it took three months for her to disclose her status to her husband. They are still together, though he refuses to use a condom. She is also one of the fortunate few in her country to be receiving antiretroviral therapy. (Web highlight from UN Integrated Regional Information Networks)

    Bill Clinton Eyes a New Political Prize, This Time With HIV in Mind
    Having admitted that he failed to do enough to improve the standard of living in the developing world during his time as U.S. President, Bill Clinton has since transformed himself into one of the world's leading advocates for resource-limited countries. His establishment of the William J. Clinton Foundation, which among other things helps to fund HIV treatment access for tens of thousands of HIV-positive people in developing nations, is just one example of this transformation. Now, some of his associates say Clinton's got a new political goal in mind: He wants to lead the United Nations. (Web highlight from The Washington Post; free registration required)

    Meet the Winners of's 2005 HIV Leadership Awards!
    D. Wing Takakuwa, winner of a 2005 HIV Leadership Award

    Meet D. Wing Takakuwa, one of 10 HIV case managers who have won a 2005 HIV Leadership Award from!

    Rural Hawaii, although strikingly beautiful, is not a particularly ideal place for people living with HIV. Wing, a nurse case manager, goes to remarkable lengths to help her HIV-positive clients, most of whom live in remote areas on the Hawaiian islands.

    For instance, when clients have needed a medical service not provided in their rural area, Wing has arranged transportation, even if it meant flying them to another of Hawaii's islands. Under collaboration initiated by Wing, a local pharmacy began allowing HIV-positive people without insurance or cash to get free medications; the cost is billed to Wing's agency instead.

    Want to meet all 73 winners of's 2005 HIV Leadership Awards? Click here!

    Connect With Others at
    The Body's Bulletin Boards

    "Dealing With Rejection"
    (A recent post from the
    "Gay Men With HIV" board)

    "I was diagnosed this past February. I've been adjusting pretty well, though initially the shock was profound. ... Right now, the hardest issue for me is dealing with others' rejection, based on my status. I'm very open when I meet a potential sex partner about my status. Even though it's 2005, I'm amazed by some of the negative reactions. Until the last rejection, I dealt with it all right, but the last rejection really hurt. ... Now, I vacillate between being open (and possibly rejected) and being close-mouthed (but practicing safe sex). I'm already tired of what feels like my 'confession.' I'd love to hear from others on this issue."
    -- Anonymous

    Click here to join this discussion thread, or to start your own!

    "HIV & Child Custody"
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "Does anyone know the laws regarding HIV and child custody? My ex says she is too afraid to let me have my kids unsupervised. That I might have a blood accident or something and not tell her, or [that I won't] protect them. She said that because I am currently dating someone and not disclosing my status (but using safe sex) that the court would say I am irresponsible and not give me my kids. She is also saying that because I got HIV during our marriage by cheating on her and then sleeping with her unprotected, they would not give me custody because she was pregnant at the time. (I was sleeping with men, but did not know I had HIV). ... Can they do that?"
    -- Anonymous

    Click here to join this discussion thread, or to start your own!

    Art From HIV-Positive Artists
    Image from the June 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "World at a Glance," 1993;
    Joe Monroe
    Visit the newly launched June 2005 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's collection of art by HIV-positive artists!
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