• HIV TREATMENT & COMPLICATIONS
HIV and Body Shape Changes: What's the Real Story? An AIDS 2006 Recap
Studies of body shape changes among HIVers have produced conflicting ideas about why these problems occur and how common they actually are. But at the XVI International AIDS Conference (AIDS
2006), we may have seen some movement towards more definitive answers: Several presentations focusing on body shape among HIV-positive people could get scientists to embrace theories that were once
considered controversial. David Wohl, M.D., reports for The Body from AIDS 2006.
For much more research and other news from last month's XVI International AIDS Conference, visit The Body's complete index of AIDS 2006 coverage!
Uncertainty Persists Over HIV Treatment During Acute Infection
It's still an open question whether it's helpful to temporarily take HIV meds during acute infection (the weeks immediately after a person becomes HIV positive). There have been many small studies, but
no conclusive results. Two recently published studies seem to show a trend in the research, though: It appears that starting treatment early has at least some short-term
benefit on viral load and CD4 count, but that the benefit seems to dissipate as time goes on.
A relatively large study presented at the XVI International AIDS Conference last month came to a similar conclusion; click here to read a summary
of the study by The Body's Brian Conway, M.D.
• NEWS & VIEWS
Exclusive Podcast: African-American Journalist
and Advocate Keith Green Talks About AIDS 2006
Transformed by the experience of his first International AIDS Conference last month, AIDS advocate and journalist Keith Green was especially
struck by an unprecedented gathering of African-American leaders there. In this exclusive interview (which you can read online or download as a podcast), The Body talks with Keith about the new
African-American initiative and his other thoughts about AIDS 2006.
For many more podcasts and transcripts of interviews with HIV-positive people, advocates and researchers from around the world, visit Podcast
Central at AIDS 2006!
AIDS Conference Participants Seek Asylum in Canada
Canada's national health care system and reputation for tolerance must seem utopian to HIV-positive delegates to AIDS 2006, many of whom have no access to treatment in their own countries. Perhaps
that's why approximately 150 of the 24,000 conference delegates have filed claims for asylee status to remain in Canada. Most claimants are HIV positive; they include about 130 women from South
Africa, as well as people from El Salvador, Eritrea, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Many are staying at hostels awaiting hearing dates before an immigration board.
Click here to read about Amanuel of Eritrea, who was accompanied to the conference by Eritrean agents
but escaped after arriving at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.
To read more about the large group of South African women who have filed asylum applications, click here.
• HIV TRANSMISSION & PREVENTION
Black Leaders Commit to Fighting AIDS, Opening Dialogue on Taboo Topics
Rapper Kanye West continues to earn his reputation for outspokenness. In an interview with MTV last year, West described how he learned homophobia as a child, and how he eventually
realized it was wrong. He then did something that's virtually unheard of in the hip-hop community: He publicly called for an end to gay-bashing in rap music. His story shed light on
a history of black anti-gay bias that has prevented many black men from coming out of the closet, according to this Boston Globe editorial. Last month, a year after West's statement,
African-American leaders met at AIDS 2006, where they promised not only to fight HIV but to end the silence surrounding homosexuality, recreational drug use and sex behind prison walls
-- all factors that have fueled the HIV epidemic in black America. "Now is the time for us to face the fact that AIDS has become a black disease," said Julian Bond, chairman
of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Anti-Homophobia Campaign Hits Black New York Neighborhoods
"I am gay, and this is where I stay," proclaims a large billboard at the corner of 125th St. and Broadway in New York City's Harlem neighborhood. The ad depicts a young black man
with his family -- and it's one of three ads that make up a new anti-homophobia campaign by the New York State Black Gay Network (NYSBGN). In addition to billboards, the ads will be displayed
in subway stations in predominately black neighborhoods across the city. "We really wanted to impact the self-esteem and the resiliency of black gay men to combat the HIV epidemic," said
Mark McLaurin, executive director of NYSBGN.
Whatever Happened to That Rapidly Progressing, Multidrug-Resistant HIV Strain?
It's been well over a year since a public health crisis exploded in New York City, when the city's top health official announced that a man had been infected with a rapidly progressing strain of HIV that
was already resistant to virtually every HIV medication. After a brief period of panic, scientists realized that this was not the beginning of a new, deadly generation of HIV. But what's happened since?
Extensive investigations by New York City scientists yielded this report.
• HIV-RELATED POLICY IN THE UNITED STATES
AIDS Activists Plan to Get Aggressive With U.S. Politicians as Elections Near
In the past few years, we've seen the rise of a national movement in the United States called the Campaign to End AIDS. The group's goal is to push U.S. politicians for universal access to HIV
treatment and support in the United States and abroad -- and to educate the public about where political candidates stand on important HIV-related issues. As this year's mid-term elections approach,
the Campaign to End AIDS is beginning its "AIDSVote 2006" effort, which will include pressuring candidates to fill out questionnaires and publicly asking them about HIV-related issues.
The Politics of HIV: One-on-One With U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky
Illinois is one of several states where people with AIDS could suffer if Republican-backed attempts to rewrite the Ryan White CARE Act go into effect. The CARE Act funds AIDS organizations and services
throughout the United States, but Republicans have supported efforts to change the act in a way that would effectively funnel money from cities hard-hit by AIDS, like Chicago, to rural areas. In this
interview with U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Chicago AIDS organization Test Positive Aware Network talks with her about this and other HIV issues, such as microbicides.
The Bush administration, as Schakowsky puts it, "has put ideology ahead of science on many issues."
New York Times Chimes in on Ryan White CARE Act Debate
An editorial in the New York Times puts in stark terms the reasons that the Ryan White CARE Act has become such a heated issue in the United States. Although HIV remains a major issue in many U.S.
cities, Republican-backed changes to Ryan White may shift money away from cities to rural areas, which are also in need of greater AIDS funding. "Nothing could be more foolhardy for the nation as
a whole," the
Times points out, because "the AIDS battle knows no boundaries." Accusing Republican lawmakers of turning a critical public health issue into a political one, the Times argues that, "In
effect, the potential urban losers stand to be penalized for having shown the way in fighting the AIDS scourge." (Web highlight from the New York Times; free registration required)
• HIV OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES
HIV-Positive Indian Woman Has Abortion After Medical Personnel Shun Her
India is grappling with a rapidly growing AIDS epidemic. Unfortunately, the country seems completely unprepared. When 23-year-old, HIV-positive Roshni Mulani requested an abortion
at a Kolkata hospital last month, medical personnel refused. "I had to pull out the fetus with my hands and clean myself as health workers guided me from a distance," she explained. "They
... threw medicines from a distance." In a separate incident in the nearby state of Orissa, 35-year-old Loknath Mishra, who had full-blown AIDS, died after he was pelted with stones
inside a hospital compound. According to the United Nations, 5.7 million Indians live with HIV, more people than in any other country. Authorities and activists said incidents like these
highlight the stigma and even paranoia surrounding the disease in India.
Pressure Heats Up on South African Government for Harmful Stance on HIV Treatment
While the South African government delays the distribution of HIV meds to its citizens, an estimated 336,000 South Africans died of AIDS-related causes from mid-2005 to mid-2006, according to the president
of South Africa's Medical Research Council, who spoke last week before a parliamentary committee. Meanwhile, protests against the South African government continue: last week, the South African Medical
Association asked the government to end its "misrepresentation on treatment of AIDS." Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang downplays HIV meds as toxic, while strongly advocating the use of
nothing more than dietary nutrients. In recent weeks, calls have grown louder for Tshabalala-Msimang to resign.
"Born to Be Infected": A Nigerian Woman Speaks Out
Growing up in Nigeria, Dorothy Aken'Ova had very little influence in decisions about her own life. Like many other women in Nigeria, her family set strict rules of conduct for her and allowed little freedom
of movement. In many places in Nigeria, Aken'Ova says, girls as young as 12 are forced to marry older men, and a woman's right to choose who to have sex with is not respected. Aken'Ova says she is now
devoted to ensuring that every girl and woman has equal rights and protections against discrimination and violation. "The world's failure to make effective commitments
to women's health and rights has been commuted to a death sentence for far too many," Aken'Ova writes. In this opinion piece, she asks world leaders to finally do something about it. (Web highlight
from Globe and Mail)