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April 11, 2007

In This Update:
  • HIV in the News
  • Making a Difference
  • Living With HIV
  • HIV Treatment
  • Homosexuality, African Americans & HIV
  • HIV Outside the U.S.

    New Report on "New York Patient" Finds No HIV "Supervirus," but Offers Important Lessons About HIV Transmission
    Whatever happened to the New York City man who supposedly had a new superstrain of HIV? As reports eventually showed, he wasn't the harbinger of an outbreak of highly drug-resistant, rapidly progressing HIV, despite the initial crisis spurred by the media and New York City health officials. Two years later, the first comprehensive report on the case -- which involves the New York City man and a gay couple from Connecticut -- has been published. Although the report disproves those initial panic-inducing assumptions about a supervirus, it also raises questions about the practice of serosorting and the risks of multidrug-resistant HIV transmission and superinfection. (Web highlight from

    Click here to read the full study, which was published in the May 1 issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.



    $25,000 in Grants Awarded to HIV-Positive Activists; Benefit on April 12
    One of the largest HIV organizations in the United States has announced the winners of its activist awards, which honor some of the world's most dedicated fighters of HIV stigma and discrimination. This year's winners include Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga, a Bolivian rape survivor who co-founded the first organization for people with HIV in her country, and Michael Rajner, the national secretary of the Campaign to End AIDS, a 2-year-old U.S. coalition that already has 12 robust statewide chapters. The winners will meet with members of Congress and major foundations, and a benefit in their honor will take place April 12 at the Prince George Ballroom in New York City.

    When The Body's Bonnie Goldman interviewed award winner Gracia Violeta Ross Quiroga last week, Gracia gave a frank, inspiring explanation of her life and work. Click here to download the podcast, or click here to read a transcript of the interview.



    The Benefits of Shakin' Your Bon-Bon
    When Rachel Reich discovered she was HIV positive, it almost crushed her. As her health declined, so did her outlook on life. This all changed, however, soon after Rachel discovered belly dancing. She was captivated by the femininity, strength and beauty she saw in belly dancing, and decided to take lessons. Years later, Rachel says, "I still have traces of lipodystrophy in my body, but [now] ... I see a beautiful, strong woman who has learned to open her heart, let go of her pain, and embrace the joys of life. And all this came from belly dancing!"



    Medicare Part D Often Fails People With HIV, Survey Says
    Medicare Part D -- the U.S. government's new prescription drug plan -- was supposed to improve drug access for Medicare recipients, but it may be doing the opposite, according to a survey of U.S. HIV health care providers conducted by two prominent HIV health care organizations. Bureaucratic hurdles, high co-pays and plans that won't cover necessary medications are keeping many HIVers on Medicare from getting the meds they need. The survey found that a whopping 83 percent of health care providers said their HIV-positive patients had trouble getting their prescriptions filled.

    Biotechnology: The Next Frontier for Generic Drugs?
    "Biotechnology" is an innovative breed of drugmaking: the process of using tiny organisms, such as bacteria, to fight illnesses. There aren't any biotech meds available for HIV yet, but many scientists are exploring the possibilities. Biotech is a booming industry -- but the catch is, it's also an extremely expensive one, which means biotech meds could have enormous price tags. That's why many U.S. lawmakers are now pushing to make those scientific advances available generically, so that more people can afford the meds when they come out. (Web highlight from The New York Times)



    Anti-Gay Pastor Explains His View on Homosexuality and the Fight Against AIDS
    Activists have been trying for years to convince black churches to become more active in the fight against HIV, but many African-American church leaders have been slow to take a stand simply because they oppose homosexuality. In this online broadcast of the public radio program "News & Notes," reporter Tony Cox asked Bishop Harry Jackson, a fervent opponent of gay rights, how he reconciles his uncompromising attitude with his duty to minister to his community, straight and gay alike. (Web highlight from; please note that this an audio broadcast, and requires Windows Media Player or RealPlayer to work)

    In addition to the Bishop Jackson interview, this episode of "News & Notes" also featured African-American HIV activists discussing a national action plan for addressing HIV among blacks. Pernessa Seele, founder of Balm in Gilead, and Jesse Milan, the chair of the Black AIDS Institute, talked about homophobia in black churches and how black communities can confront the AIDS epidemic. Click here to listen to the full program.

    Actor Discusses Playing a Young, HIV-Positive Gay Man Who's Coming Apart at the Seams
    Evan Ross, the son of singer Diana Ross, plays an HIV-positive gay teenager whose life is falling apart in the HBO movie "Life Support." In this interview with The Advocate, Ross discusses why he took the role, what causes his character to self-destruct, and the broader issues surrounding closeted men and gay hip-hop culture. (Web highlight from

    Overwhelming Problems Overshadow the "Big Picture" in African-American Community
    HIV is just one of many overwhelming problems in the African-American community, says HIV activist Keith Green. In this opinion piece, he takes a look at one violent act a few months ago, in which two gunmen randomly fired into a crowd of gay partygoers in a predominantly black Chicago neighborhood. This act wasn't just one of extreme homophobia, Green writes; it's also proof that "the issues of our world are not just limited to GLBT [gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender] issues or black issues or HIV issues. ... It's about universal human issues."



    Abbott Caves on Kaletra Price in Developing Countries
    In an apparent concession following heavy pressure from the World Health Organization and other groups, Abbott Laboratories has agreed to steeply cut the cost of Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) in Thailand and more than 40 other low- and middle-income countries. A Thai official said that the new Kaletra price "could end up being cheaper" than the generic version of Kaletra Thailand had threatened to produce.

    Although many people are applauding Abbott's move, Abbott still has banned the release of some of its new drugs in Thailand. The Student Global AIDS Campaign has planned a day of action on April 26 to protest the ban.

    Courageous South African Woman Talks About Her Life With HIV
    "Every morning when I wake up, I ... take out the mirror [and] look at myself. I say 'Hello, HIV, you trespasser. You are in my body -- you have to obey the rules. You have to respect me, and if you don't hurt me, I won't hurt you.'" These were the words of Thembi Ngubane, a young South African woman with HIV, who made headlines last year when a U.S. public radio program featured her audio diary about living with HIV in her home country. In this online broadcast, you can listen to an interview with Thembi about her life with HIV. (Web highlight from National Public Radio)

    Click here to listen to Thembi's audio diary. You can also click here to read a transcript of the interview Thembi gave last year, right after her audio diary was released.

    HIV Epidemic Lurks in Pakistan
    HIV has been in Pakistan since 1987, but the disease has remained a virtual secret: It is rarely acknowledged and seldom treated. While UNAIDS estimates that more than 80,000 people in Pakistan have HIV, Pakistan's government has documented less than 4,000 cases, and only 618 people are registered at the country's nine treatment centers. Currently, the rate of HIV infection in Pakistan is dwarfed by that of neighboring India, but health officials warn that HIV could reach epidemic proportions in Pakistan if the country doesn't act. (Web highlight from BBC News)

    Also Worth Noting

    Visual AIDS
    Art From HIV-Positive Artists

    Image from the April 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery
    Untitled (costume), c. 1985;
    John Eric Broaddus
    Visit the April 2007 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, entitled "On the Stage," is curated by Tomoko Ashikawa, the curator/director at AG Gallery in Brooklyn and the Artists File Coordinator at Artists Space in New York.

    Connect With Others
    t The Body's Bulletin Boards

    Overwhelmed by Shame
    (A recent post from the
    "Just Tested Positive" board)

    "[Since my diagnosis,] I've gone through so many emotional roller coasters I've lost track. The thing that really surprised me is that my death isn't the part that bothers me. ... All the emotions seem to come and go, but there does seem to be one recurring one: SHAME. I can't even look anyone in the eye. I'm so embarassed. I feel like I'm a walking disease and it's all my fault. ... I know I have a lot to do. I have all my appointments set up, but to be 100% honest, I wish I could have some other fatal disease that I can't pass onto someone else. That way, I would only need to worry about me, and not how to protect everyone else from me."

    -- Ashamed

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

    Seeking HIVers in Their 30s in New York City
    (A recent post from the
    "Living With HIV" board)

    "I'm a 36-year-old, heterosexual, HIV-positive man. I've had very little contact with anyone else with HIV over the years (14 years and counting). I live in New York City. I would love to meet other people in similiar situations (especially women) and have been very frustrated trying to find groups, meetings, etc. Anyone have any advice?"

    -- Ross

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