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July 26, 2006

In This Update:
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV News & Views
  • HIV Treatment
  • HIV Policy in the U.S.
  • HIV Transmission
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    The Delicate Balancing Act of Mixed-Status Relationships
    "Living with HIV is damn difficult and painful -- and it adds to the complexity of a relationship," writes an HIV-negative South African woman in this heartrending first-person story. When her boyfriend, Thabo, tested positive six months into their relationship, he became petrified of infecting her. But she loved him and believed that together they could manage his HIV. Then, in a moment, everything changed: His condom broke during sex, and she took a round of post-exposure prophylaxis meds. Their relationship grew much more complicated; it was her turn to become paranoid and uncertain. Eventually, Thabo decided to walk away from the woman who adored him -- and the only person who knew his HIV status. She was heartbroken, but on some level, she also understood. "My heart goes out to those who live with the virus," she writes. "No matter how educated each one of us can be, no one can imagine what it is like to live a fully sexual life while infected, or [to be] involved with those who are." (Web highlight from Sunday Times, Johannesburg)



    Larry Kramer Calls for New "Nuremberg Trials" to Document "Real History" of HIV
    When AIDS activist Larry Kramer was invited to speak at a special "AIDS at 25" panel discussion hosted by the New York Times, the newspaper probably had no idea that Kramer would blast the paper itself for "its own huge role in allowing this plague to progress." And that's not all Kramer said: as always, he was blunt and provocative. Read his prepared remarks for this discussion, and you're sure to discover things you haven't heard about AIDS, including the assertion that HIV found its way into the gay community through an injectable hemophilia treatment containing blood product, and that the first cases of AIDS in America were not in gay men but in heterosexual women. (Web highlight from The Petrelis Files)

    Chicago Tribune Highlights HIV-Positive Athletes in the Gay Games
    Among the nearly 12,000 athletes who attended last week's Gay Games in Chicago, Ill., was basketball player Steve Harrington, a Massachusetts resident who was diagnosed with HIV in 1990 and thought at the time that "I just knew that in five years, I'd be dead." Now 51, Harrington just finished up his fourth consecutive Gay Games -- an event that's held once every four years. Harrington is one of many HIVers from throughout the world who traveled to Chicago for the Games; the Chicago Tribune interviewed several of them during the week's events.

    How did this year's Gay Games go, you ask? Check out for extensive coverage, or read this analysis in the Chicago Tribune (free registration required). You can also read additional profiles of HIV-positive Games athletes in this article from Test Positive Aware Network.

    Community Angered by Firing of Popular Director of South Florida HIV Organization
    In 1995, HIVer Sheri Kaplan founded the Center for Positive Connections in Florida, hoping to provide a support network for straight HIVers. This week, she's looking for a new job. After more than a decade leading the agency, one of the larger HIV support organizations in Miami-Dade County, she was fired on July 17 after the executive board voted unanimously to let her go. Kaplan said she was unaware of any problems with her performance, and that the reasons for her dismissal were unclear. The board's chairman said the firing "was made strictly to fortify the future of the organization." Members of the HIV community and local officials did not react well to the firing, and some agency clients planned a protest. (Web highlight from the Miami Herald)



    A Full Regimen in a Single Pill: What's the Big Deal?
    When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Atripla (tenofovir/FTC/efavirenz) earlier this month, it marked the first time that drugs from two different classes were combined in a single pill. But beyond that, why is Atripla's approval such a big event, especially considering the three drugs in the pill have already been around for years? In this article, reporter Bob Roehr provides a few more reasons why Atripla's approval is a watershed moment in HIV treatment. (Web highlight from the Bay Area Reporter)

    For more on Atripla, visit The Body's collection of articles and other information.



    U.S. Government Is Still Failing Its Poorest Citizens, AIDS Activist Writes
    Twenty-five years into the epidemic, AIDS activist David Salyer is still fuming over the failure of the United States to truly address its HIV epidemic. "Our government-sanctioned complacency is leading to rising infections among women, teenagers and even the AARP generation," writes David Salyer in this biting opinion piece. "Our government cunningly deflects attention away from the ... disproportionately high rates of infection and death in our communities of color by constantly dwelling on the plight of poverty-stricken Africans. It's bad over there; we get it. But poor and disenfranchised Americans don't have it much better."

    Bush to NAACP: "We Must Not Avert Our Eyes" From HIV
    For the first time since taking office in 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush addressed the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). His 45-minute speech included several references to HIV, both at home and abroad. Acknowledging that HIV disproportionately affects blacks in the United States, Bush pledged to create a domestic program aimed at combating HIV and said that his administration hopes to work with the NAACP to launch a nationwide effort aimed at increasing access to rapid HIV tests. In an editorial, the Los Angeles Times called Bush's speech "pedestrian" and said, "If that's all he wanted to say, did he have to wait five years?"

    To read HIV-related excerpts of President Bush's address to the NAACP, click here.

    Gay Doc Likely to Replace Drug Company CEO as Head of U.S. Global AIDS Efforts
    U.S. President George W. Bush has nominated Dr. Mark Dybul, a gay physician, to become the new chief of the United States' global efforts to fight HIV. If his nomination is approved by the U.S. Senate, Dr. Dybul would officially replace Randall Tobias, a business executive who was named Pharmaceutical Industry CEO of the Year in 1995. Dybul, by contrast, is an active clinician and researcher who has long worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He's been the acting head of the U.S. Global AIDS Office since Tobias stepped down.

    For more on Dr. Dybul and his nomination, you can read this Washington Blade article or this brief bio at the U.S. Department of State's Web site.



    Gates Foundation Doubles HIV Vaccine Funding to Half a Billion Dollars
    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a new wave of grants totaling $287 million to fund the development of an HIV vaccine, which will bring the foundation's total donations to HIV vaccine efforts to $528 million. The foundation hopes that its new round of grants will also trigger a major shift in the way vaccines are developed: Rather than giving money to far-flung, independent research teams throughout the world, the grants aim to bring the world's researchers together to share resources and collaborate on creating more effective vaccines.

    Most Young Assault Victims Don't Finish Their Post-Exposure Prophylaxis Meds, Study Finds
    Researchers in Boston, Mass., have found that young women who are victims of sexual assault don't usually finish their prescribed 28-day course of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to help prevent HIV infection. Only 38 percent of study participants who were given PEP returned for a follow-up visit, and only 15 percent completed the full course of medication. The Boston team said that young sexual assault victims should still be offered PEP, but added that more must be done to ensure adherence: "Patient education and a comprehensive follow-up system with extensive outreach and case management are necessary to encourage post-exposure prophylaxis adherence and return for follow-up care among adolescent sexual assault survivors," they wrote. (Web highlight from

    Sensitive Sleuthing Helps Cut Infant HIV Rates in Florida
    We all know how important it is for HIV-negative people to get tested -- especially pregnant women, whose babies may be at risk if the womens' HIV goes undiagnosed. But in the United States, stigma and fear still keep far too many women away from HIV testing centers -- especially in minority areas of south Florida. That's why Florida started a special program called the Targeted Outreach for Pregnant Women Act (TOPWA), which uses subtle outreach methods (including fliers and confidential meetings) to help women of child-bearing age get access to HIV prevention and testing, as well as pregnancy assistance. Since TOPWA was passed in 1998, rapid HIV testing, HIV medications, Caesarean deliveries, and other medical interventions have helped reduce the number of HIV cases in children under age two from 113 in 1992 to four in 2004.



    HIV-Positive Saudis Pushed to Society's Sidelines
    Imagine that you're not only HIV positive, but that you also have to provide for two wives and eight children. That's the reality of daily life for B. Muhammad, a Saudi man who lost his job after his manager found out his HIV status. Mr. Muhammad is one of several HIV-positive Saudis, interviewed by Al-Madinah newspaper, who say they are ostracized because of ignorance about how the virus is spread. Saudi HIVers often face abandonment by their families and the sole responsibility of caring for HIV-positive children. "Living with such a disease in Saudi society is like living in an open prison. ... Many people that carry AIDS are really innocent of any wrongdoing and most of them are victims of other people's misdeeds," says Shareefa Muhammad. Shareefa was divorced by her husband after testing positive -- and is pretty sure he's the one who infected her. (Web highlight from Arab News)

    A Silver Lining on South Africa's Very Dark Cloud: New Infection Rate May Be Leveling
    It's astonishing when a 30 percent HIV infection rate among pregnant women is considered good news. But in South Africa -- one of the focal points of the global pandemic -- that's exactly the case. A new survey released by the South African Department of Health shows that 30 percent of pregnant women were diagnosed with HIV in 2005, which is only a slight increase over 2004. In addition, the overall HIV rate among teenagers was down from 2004 to 15.9 percent. "This is encouraging to note," said Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, "but a great deal of work still needs to be done to ensure that new infections no longer take place at all in South Africa." Overall, the survey estimated that 5.54 million South Africans were living with HIV, compared to previous estimates, based on outdated calculation methods, of 5.7 to 6.2 million.

    Canadian Musicians Release Benefit Single for Africa's AIDS Epidemic
    Some of the biggest names in the Canadian music industry have joined forces to release a new HIV benefit single, "Song for Africa," which is now playing on Canadian radio. Featuring artists from bands such as Billy Talent, Big Wreck and Big Sugar, "Song for Africa" was produced to raise awareness of the HIV epidemic in Africa and call Canadian citizens to action. However, with the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto only weeks away, the artists and producers involved are now expecting a much bigger impact: A music video of the song is slated to play during the conference's opening ceremony. "It's our chance to show that we are at the forefront of finding a solution to the devastating emergency [of Africa's HIV epidemic]," producer Darcy Ataman said. "This is a moment in history to help create a tipping point for AIDS and Africa." Proceeds from the album will go to help Free the Children's mobile health unit in Kenya.

    Click here to listen to the full-length single. You can also visit the Free the Children Web site to learn more about the organization benefiting from the single.

    NBA Players Take Basketball, HIV Education to Teens Throughout World
    Since 2001, dozens of National Basketball Association (NBA) players have taken part in "Basketball Without Borders," an outreach program that travels around the world to teach teenagers how to play basketball -- and protect themselves against HIV. This summer, the program will hold camps in China, Lithuania, Puerto Rico and South Africa. "We can make a real difference and there are so many people who need our help," said Marcus Camby, who plays center for the Denver Nuggets. He's one of several current NBA stars who headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a camp earlier this month. (Web highlight from

    Also earlier this month, young Europeans and basketball stars gathered in Vilnius, Lithuania, for the European camp; The Baltic Times was on hand to cover the event.

    Also Worth Noting

    Multimedia Coverage
    The Body Is Your Home for the XVI International AIDS Conference

    AIDS 2006: Toronto, Canada; Aug. 13-18, 2006
    The largest HIV conference in the world takes place from Aug. 13-18 in Toronto, Canada -- and The Body will be on hand with extensive reports! While at the XVI International AIDS Conference, we'll be conducting podcast interviews with researchers, activists and other attendees; keeping a photo journal throughout the week; and providing expert analyses of important research presentations. We'll also feature live Webcasts of key conference events from! Bookmark our conference home page and check back throughout the conference for the very latest.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Are There Any Long-Term Survivors Out There?
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "I have been reading the boards and noticed a lot of the folks on here are recently diagnosed or diagnosed within the past couple of years. I think that is wonderful that they are seeking info right away. It took me 13 years to get this much support. I am curious to hear from people who have been positive for over 10 years [who would like] to share their experiences; I know there are 20-year veterans too. Let's hear from you!"

    -- rickinva

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

    Numb Yet Scared: Newly Diagnosed With HIV and KS
    (A recent post from the
    "I Just Tested Positive" board)

    "I'm newly diagnosed and feel well, but started meds because of KS [Kaposi's sarcoma] on my leg. That was actually why I went to the doctor in the first place: I didn't know what that purple spot on my leg was. When the biopsy came back as KS, I knew I must be HIV positive. ... For the most part I still feel numb about the whole thing; numb and scared, if someone can be both."

    -- max66

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

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the July 2006 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    "Patient," 1997-1998; Frank Moore
    Visit the Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view this month's collection of art by HIV-positive artists! The July gallery is entitled "Vital Signs"; it's curated by Catharina Manchanda, curator at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis.