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Archive for April, 2007

Gay-themed magazines offering less news, more lifestyle

Posted by pozlife on April 30, 2007


Gay-themed magazines offering less news, more lifestyle
By Sam McManis , The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)
Sunday, April 29, 2007

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Back in the day, gay and lesbian publications were all about the activism. The Stonewall riots. Workplace discrimination. AIDS funding.
All the serious, important stuff.
Now, these niche newspapers and magazines seem more about the “active lifestyle,” as the media cliche goes. Home improvement. Fashion. Celebrity culture. All the fun, frivolous stuff.
Such a transformation is not merely a measure of the acceptance that gays and lesbians have achieved in society. It also shows that gay media are not immune to the trends that have recently dominated mainstream publications – in other words: flash over substance, influenced by (what else?) the Internet.
One difference: Gay and lesbian media are seeing greater success under this new rubric, while some mainstream periodicals struggle to stave off irrelevancy and insolvency in the digital age.
This trend holds in Sacramento, where established free magazines Mom Guess What (monthly) and Outword (biweekly) continue to draw national audiences and advertisers.
And next month, the national free quarterly Jane and Jane, a lesbian lifestyle magazine based in Sacramento, will celebrate its first anniversary.
It’s all about economics, says Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck-Combs Communications, a gay and lesbian marketing firm. An estimated 15.3 million gay men and lesbians spent more than $660 billion in 2006, according to a report released by Witeck, and the firm expects the buying power to increase to $835 billion by 2011.
And perhaps, it’s also about giving readers what they want.
Which means not the strident political activism of years past. Sure, gay marriage remains a galvanizing issue, but Witeck says younger gays and lesbians are “post-label,” meaning that their sexual orientation does not completely define them.
“They strive for true inclusion,” Witeck says, “and are looking for content that gives them wider latitude about personal independence and sexual expression while still giving them a unique place to find community, personal connections and entertainment.”

And that is what Sacramento’s gay and lesbian readers get from Outword, Mom Guess What (also known as MGW), and Jane and Jane.
In the case of Outword and MGW, stories about social issues remain, but the vast amount of ink – including the covers – is increasingly entertainment- and celebrity-oriented.
Meanwhile, Jane and Jane calls itself the “first home and family magazine for lesbian lifestyles.” And in look and content, it reads like a younger sibling to Sunset magazine.
Outword, arguably the “newsiest” of the three periodicals, ran its annual home-and-garden issue on April 12; the issue before that featured the movie “300” as its cover story. MGW’s latest issue, available now, has celebrity “fitness fatale” Jackie Warner of Bravo’s “Workout” as its cover girl. And Jane and Jane’s cover story for spring: “10 Ways To Nurture Your Love Life.”
“The reason we created Jane and Jane is because we didn’t see other lesbian publications that spoke to us,” says Alison Zawacki, co-publisher with Debbie Wells. “We’re not necessarily political people. We aren’t that interested in celebrities and the latest parties. We’re more settled.
“It’s important for mainstream society to see we are just like everybody else.”
Wells says that when Jane and Jane launched last year, some people naturally assumed the magazine would tackle weighty issues in the lesbian community.
“We’re still very supportive of gay and lesbian causes,” Wells says, “but we have to do it in a way that fits with our (magazine’s) mission.
“So you might see a (travel) story on gay-friendly Reno or a piece on preparing for lesbian weddings. That’s how we address the issues.”
For Jeffry A. Davis, MGW publisher, the pressure to balance news for the gay and lesbian community with coverage of the entertainment and lifestyle scene has been hard.
That’s one reason why, starting later this month, he will start a biweekly newsletter as a supplement to the magazine.
“I don’t want to alienate anyone in the Sacramento market,” Davis says. “By bringing back the newspaper with the hard news, it will make some readers who miss the old Mom Guess What happy.”
Davis changed MGW from a newsprint publication to a monthly glossy last May, two years after buying it from Linda Birner. Readership, he says, has tripled since the redesign, with demographics morphing from primarily lesbian (under Birner) to a 60 percent male audience.
“We’re a flashier product now,” he says. “The younger crowd doesn’t like to read news. They like to see photos. They want to see themselves in the magazine, know what’s going on in night life.”
Davis, 29, has worked in a variety of capacities at MGW since he was 18.
So he says he’s seen how the interests of readers and advertisers have changed.
“When we do covers with national figures or (scantily clad) male models, the national (ad) accounts love it and want more, and so do most of our readers,” he says.
By contrast, Outword publisher Fred Palmer tends to lean more toward content that is related to local issues, even as he works to satisfy the growing appetite for lifestyle and entertainment, he says.
“I don’t think our content has changed,” says Palmer, who has owned Outword for its entire 12-year existence. “My background is as an activist and it still shows in the magazine. We do try to be a mix. But I still see us as a newspaper.”
In February, Palmer severed an eight-month agreement with a national online media company, Out in America, to provide content for its Web site. Palmer says he found it too taxing on his resources to cover local issues for Outword and national issues for the Web. “It just made sense to stay focused locally,” Palmer says.
Jane and Jane, however, is trying for a national scope. There’s competition, for while two established national publications, Girlfriends and On Our Backs, folded last year, such lesbian-centric magazines such as Curve, the Lesbian News and Velvetpark continue to maintain their audiences.
But Jane and Jane is different, say its 30-something publishers.
“When we look at other magazines, you see Ellen DeGeneres or Melissa Etheridge or “The L Word’ on the cover,” Wells says. “We don’t do that. And in reading gay media, it seems dominated by male content and the things that appealed to women are getting slimmer.”
So Wells and Zawacki, partners in business and in life, developed the idea of a lifestyle magazine for lesbians five years ago when both were working as designers for the magazine Business 2.0 in San Francisco.
It wasn’t until Christmas 2005, however, when Wells was the design director of Prosper magazine in Sacramento and Zawacki was freelancing as an illustrator, that they took the publishing plunge, using their own savings.
“We’re doing OK, and advertising is covering our expenses, but it’s no cakewalk,” Zawacki says.
Still, they have recently hired a full-time editor, signed on with an agency that will funnel in more national ads, and are ramping up to become a bi-monthly starting next month.
“There are subjects in our magazine that pertain to everybody,” Zawacki says. “My father reads it. We want to be inclusive and be open to everyone.”

Source: SunJournal.com – Gay-themed magazines offering less news, more lifestyle


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Bush AIDS Abstinence Appointee Quits State Dept. In Hooker Scandal

Posted by pozlife on April 29, 2007

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: April 29, 2007 – 12:00 pm ET 

(Washington) Randall Tobias, the head of the US Agency for International Development and President Bush’s former coordinator for global AIDS relief, has quit amid allegations he was a client of a high-priced DC call-girl ring.

In announcing his resignation the State Department said on that Tobias was resigning for personal reasons.

ABC News was given the names of clients of what has been described as an exclusive escort service in the capital by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the owner of the service who has been charged with running a prostitution ring.

Palfrey, who is 65 and married, maintained in an interview with the Washington Post that her service provided university educated women to engage in legal game-playing of a sexual nature at 275 dollars an hour for a 90 minute session.

Tobias’ name was among those clients. He submitted his resignation a day after being confronted by the network.

In an interview with ABC he confirmed that he had called the Pamela Martin and Associates escort service to have women come to his condo and give him massages. But he denied there was any sex involved.

Tobias, 65, who is married,

In 2003 Bush appointed Tobias as the first global AIDS coordinator.  For three years he promoted abstinence over the use of condoms, and fidelity in traditional marriage, to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and was blamed for tying abstinence programs to aid to foreign countries.

His agency also funneled money to faith-based groups that not only preached abstinence, faithfulness, and denounced sex between men or ignored male-on-male sex altogether in AIDS educational programs.

In 2006 Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice named Tobias to head USAID.

Before joining the Bush administration Tobias was chair, president and chief executive of the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. In addition, from 1997-2000, he was chair of the board of trustees at Duke University.

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Study Examines Role Of Religion In HIV Transmission

Posted by pozlife on April 29, 2007


by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: April 28, 2007 – 5:00 pm ET 

(New York City) HIV-positive people who say religion is an important part of their lives are likely to have fewer sexual partners and engage in high-risk sexual behavior less frequently than other people with the virus that causes AIDS, according to a new study issued by the Rand Corporation.

As a result, people with HIV who have stronger religious ties are less likely to spread the virus, according to the study by the nonprofit research organization.

The study measured religiosity by asking people to report how important religion was in their lives; whether they identified with a particular religious group; whether they preferred being with people of the same religion; and how often they attended religious or spiritual services.

David Kanouse, a Rand senior behavioral scientist and principal investigator on the project, said in a statement by group, that the study did not identify what specific component of religiosity made a difference in sexual activity. However, he said said two factors – moral beliefs and membership in a faith community – may be important.

“Moral beliefs may indicate an underlying altruism and a desire to make sure no one else is infected with HIV,” Kanouse said. “Promoting these feelings could then be used as a component of HIV prevention programs.”

“These are some significant findings about the role of religiosity in the lives of people who are HIV-positive,” said Frank H. Galvan, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior with the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles. “The next step is to find out how can we use this information in a way that can help lower the rate of spreading HIV to others.”

Religion remains a dominant force in America today, but the main focus of many faith communities is sexual abstinence, rather than examining how else religious beliefs may help to prevent the spread of HIV, Galvan said.

“This study suggests that there’s a role for religious institutions to play in the fight against the spread of HIV,” Galvan said. “They have these core belief systems that do have a positive impact on the lives of people who are HIV-positive and who are sexually active. Religiosity is an untapped resource in the whole struggle against HIV and AIDs, and should be looked at more thoroughly.”

Researchers studied a nationally representative sample of 1,421 people getting medical care for HIV — 932 of whom reported recent sexual activity.

Catholics were less likely than other mainline Christians, non-Christians and non-religious people to report unprotected sex. Catholics also were less likely to report high-risk sex than other mainline Christians and reported fewer partners than non-Christians.

There was no statistical difference between Evangelicals and Catholics in reported sexual activity. Evangelicals were as likely as Catholics to have fewer sexual partners, and equally likely to engage less frequently in unprotected and high-risk sex.

The RAND Health study is titled “Religiosity, Denominational Affiliation and Sexual Behaviors among People with HIV in the U.S.” It appears in the February issue of the Journal of Sex Research, which was published in March. The study was conducted with a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The new report used data from the HIV Cost and Services Utilization Study, which was conducted by Rand from January 1996 to April 1997, with follow-up interviews from December 1996 through June 1997. What makes this data set unique is that it was collected from a national probability sample — not race- or gender-specific — and remains the only national probability sample of HIV-positive patients in care.

Galvan said the Rand study’s findings are not likely to have changed over time. He said the findings are consistent with other studies that have found a link between religiosity and fewer lifetime sexual partners and an inverse relationship between religiosity and other high-risk behaviors, such as substance abuse.

Other studies have found that gay men report a similar rate of attendance at religious services as male heterosexuals, and about the same rate in the frequency of prayer as do female heterosexuals. African-Americans, who have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, also report high levels of both attendance at religious services and prayer.

HCSUS survey respondents were given a choice among 46 denominational affiliations, as well as the categories of agnostic/atheist, no religious preference, or having a religious preference not mentioned on the list provided. Those affiliations were then grouped into the following categories: Catholic, Evangelical, Other Christian, Non-Christian Religion, and No Religion/Agnostic/Athiest.

The Rand study found several religious differences between the survey group and the general U.S. population. The survey group appeared to be more likely to be Evangelical and more likely to be nonreligious, but less likely to come from Christian religions other than Evangelical or Catholic.

Some of these differences may be explained by the racial makeup of the survey population. African-Americans made up nearly a third of the survey population — compared with 13 percent of the U.S. population — and are more likely to belong to Evangelical denominations. Another factor influencing the high number of non-religious respondents is the fact that many religious groups consider homosexuality to be morally unacceptable. Gay and bisexual men made up more than half of the study population, Rand said.

The researchers said they don’t understand why there were differences between the different denominations, including why Catholics were more likely to use condoms despite the Catholic Church’s prohibition on birth control, but said it was a point worthy of additional research and further exploration by faith-based communities.

Other studies also have found differences between denominations in people’s sexual attitudes and behavior, often depending on which sources each denomination looks to for moral decision-making. Some Christian denominations rely solely on the Bible, while others allow for additional guidance from other sources, such as other church traditions or one’s personal conscience.

“Although the Pope may issue a proclamation on some aspect of sexual behavior, Catholics increasingly are inclined to consider their individual consciences as sources of moral authority,” the study notes. “What role this may play in the sexual behaviors of Catholics and how this may differ from other religious groups warrants further investigation.”

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Including Gays In Hate Crime Law ‘An Affront’ Groups Say

Posted by pozlife on April 25, 2007


by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: April 24, 2007 – 7:00 pm ET 

(Washington) Legislation that would add crimes against gays and lesbians under federal hate crime law has come under fire from a collection of African-American leaders and a group that claims to cure “unwanted same-sex attraction’ through faith.

Called the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, it would allow the Department of Justice to assist local authorities in investigating and prosecuting cases in which violence occurs.

The measure was introduced in the Senate earlier this month (story) and in the House in March (story).

House subcommittee hearings were held last week and the subcommittee, headed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), could vote on the bill later this week.

Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., Pastor Marvin Winans, Bishop Larry Brandon and Bishop Liston Paige, Jr. were joined at a Washington news conference on Tuesday to denounce adding gays to the hate crime bill.

The Black pastors said sexuality cannot be equated to race and civil rights.

“We stand today with many in the African-American community who also recognize that one’s sexuality can be changed, but one’s skin color cannot,” said Alan Chambers, the President of Exodus International, the largest of the so-called ex-gay groups. 

“We call upon Congress to promote legislation that affirms authentic equality and protects our religious freedoms.” he said, adding that the legislation “says that we, as former homosexuals, are of less value and worth less legal protection now then when we were living as homosexuals.”

The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act is named for Matthew Shepard, the gay college student who was killed in a homophobic attack in Wyoming in 1998.

Last week clergy from across the country gathered on Capitol Hill Tuesday to call for passage of the bill. (story)

The measure passed the House in the last Congress but was dropped in the then Republican-controlled Senate last year. (story

Although the bill has bi-artisan support, with Democrats now in control of both houses in Congress it is seen as having a better chance of passage.

FBI statistics show that one in six hate crimes is motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation.

The African American and “ex-gay” leaders also said they oppose federal legislation barring discrimination based on sexuality the workplace. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act was introduced in the House on Tuesday. (story)

Source: Gay News From 365Gay.com

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Treatment News : AIDS Drugs Sales to Top $10 Billion by 2015 – by Ben Hirschler

Posted by pozlife on April 24, 2007


The launch of new drugs and an increase in the number of people diagnosed with HIV is set to make AIDS medicine a $10.6 billion market by 2015, according to a report on Thursday.

Drugmakers may be under pressure to cut prices in the developing world but selling HIV drugs in the West remains a lucrative and fast-growing business.

Independent market research firm Datamonitor said the HIV/AIDS market was set to undergo significant changes over the next 10 years as drugs that work through novel mechanisms and next-generation versions of existing drugs are launched.

Sales, as a result, should rise significantly from about $7.1 billion in 2005, benefiting a clutch of companies with promising new products, including Merck & Co Inc., Pfizer Inc., Gilead Sciences Inc. and Johnson & Johnson.

Most cases of HIV/AIDS occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where lack of funding means treatment is restricted and prices are under pressure, resulting in little if any profit for multinational drug firms.

Just this week Abbott Laboratories Inc., widely criticised for aggressive pricing of its AIDS medicines, agreed to slash the price of its Kaletra AIDS drug by more than half in more than 40 poor countries.

But at the same time the disease is also increasing in the developed world, with an estimated 2.1 million people in North America and Western Europe living with HIV in 2006, up from 1.9 million in 2004.

“Advances in antiretroviral therapy have turned HIV from a universally feared death sentence into a chronic disease with an average life expectancy similar to that of Type 2 diabetes,” Datamonitor analyst Mansi Shah said.

“Because of this, attitudes towards HIV have become relatively blase amongst some groups.”

Notable new types of drugs include Pfizer’s maraviroc, a CCR5 inhibitor, and Merck’s raltegravir, an integrase inhibitor, which are expected to be launched in 2007 and 2008 respectively.

They will complement new generation forms of existing drug classes, such as Johnson & Johnson’s recently approved Prezista, a protease inhibitor.

Such products offer new treatment options for the growing number of patients whose disease no longer responds to existing drugs.

At the same time, other companies are developing improved fixed-dose drug combinations, including Atripla from Gilead, which combines the components of current drug cocktails into a single pill that can be taken once a day.

Atripla was launched in the United States last year and is expected to take market share from its two components Truvada and Sustiva, as well as competitor drugs such as GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s Combivir, Datamonitor said.

The global market for all pharmaceuticals grew 7 percent last year to $643 billion, according to estimates from another market research company, IMS Health, released last month.

Copyright© 2007 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.

Source: POZ – Treatment News : AIDS Drugs Sales to Top $10 Billion by 2015 – by Ben Hirschler

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Treatment News : Natural Molecule in Blood Blocks HIV – by Tim Horn

Posted by pozlife on April 24, 2007


A new paper published in the journal Cell indicates that researchers have isolated yet another natural ingredient in human blood that effectively blocks the binding of HIV to CD4 cells. This latest discovery, reported by a team of scientists from a variety of institutes in Germany and at The New York Blood Center, could lead to the development of yet another class of antiretrovirals with activity against HIV resistant to approved agents.

For many years, researchers have suggested that a variety of molecules in human blood can inhibit HIV. Until recently, however, the hunt for the natural compounds with the greatest anti-HIV activity has not produced fruitful results.

To look more closely for these circulating molecules, the German and American group of academic, public health, and pharmaceutical researchers sifted through a comprehensive library of small peptides – protein fragments – that had been filtered from the blood of patients with chronic kidney failure during dialysis. After sorting through more than one million blood peptides, including several with HIV activity, the scientists ended up focusing on one that appeared to block HIV without toxic effects on cells.

The research team found that a fragment of a relatively abundant blood molecule, dubbed virus-inhibitory peptide (VIRIP), acts as a broad-based inhibitor of HIV. Laboratory studies suggested that VIRIP specifically targets a conserved region in the HIV transmembrane glycoprotein known as “gp41 fusion peptide.” This peptide, which is normally buried in the viral envelope, becomes exposed during the process of viral entry and makes the first direct contact between the viral particle and host cell.

As with the development of other compounds designed to inhibit HIV fusion and entry, VIRIP’s unique mechanism should ultimately allow it to remain effective against HIV strains resistant to many antiretrovirals currently available (and possibly other fusion/entry inhibitors).

The researchers reported that, in test tube studies, HIV does not easily develop resistance to VIRIP. There was also evidence to suggest that some derivatives of the peptide are highly stable in human blood plasma and are nontoxic even at exceedingly high concentrations.

“Our data support the possibility that VIRIP may contribute to controlling HIV-1 replication in infected individuals and that derivates thereof are highly suitable for development of a new class of HIV-1 inhibitors targeting the highly conserved gp41 fusion protein,” the researchers concluded.


Münch J, Ständker L, Adermann K, et al. Discovery and optimization of a natural HIV-1 entry inhibitor targeting the gp41 fusion peptide. Cell 129:263-75, 2007.

Source: POZ – Treatment News : Natural Molecule in Blood Blocks HIV – by Tim Horn

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News : Wasting Drug Discontinued

Posted by pozlife on April 24, 2007


Wasting Drug Discontinued

A drug commonly used to treat AIDS wasting—though not FDA approved for that purpose—was discontinued last month, and activists are waging a campaign to bring it back. According to nandrolone maker Watson Pharmaceuticals, the drug was dropped because its active ingredient was no longer available from a supplier. 

Source: POZ – News : Wasting Drug Discontinued

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Special Reports : Mirror, Mirror: Is HIV’s Future Reflected in My Genes? – by Laura Whitehorn

Posted by pozlife on April 24, 2007


Julian Awad has a tempting proposition: If you take his genetic screening test, the results might unlock the secrets of your body’s ability to fight HIV, now and in the future. His HIV Mirror test detects CCR5 mutations, the genetic glitches that permit some lucky positive people to stay healthy for years without HIV meds, slow HIV progression in others who are on meds—and likely allow negative people endowed with two mutations to stay negative forever.
The test is not without controversy, though. Critics say the results rarely provide information of any real use—yet. Then there’s the risk that it may confer an exaggerated sense of invincibility to positive and negative people alike. (One Australian company advertised its gene test as a sign of “HIV resistance.”)
It is in part because of these medical and moral gray areas that Awad and his company, Smart Genetics, have decided to get some help with this tricky public relations challenge. They are running a contest for students at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to come up with a socially responsible HIV Mirror marketing campaign.
Awad has already rejected one proposed slogan—“We know more about your body than you do”—because it over-promises. Among the student ideas still on the table are a reality TV series featuring five HIV positive people taking the HIV Mirror test and a small hand mirror bearing the HIV Mirror logo and an HIV awareness message. (The test is not marketed to negative people at all, and the web site says a double mutation “does not tell you if you are immune to HIV.”)
Still, scientists and HIV advocates wonder whether tests like HIV Mirror are worth all the fuss. Researchers tend to agree that genetic characteristics will govern much of medicine in the future. But are we there yet? And is there a socially responsible way to market a test if it isn’t medically useful?
Mark Harrington of New York City’s Treatment Action Group says no on both counts. He calls the CCR5 test “bullshit” and says, “It doesn’t provide information that can help you make informed treatment decisions to help your health.”
One positive veteran of the test told POZ, on the other hand, that taking a CCR5 test gave him peace of mind, greatly relieving his anxiety about waiting to start meds. And that’s what Awad says he found when he polled some 400 HIV positive people before offering the gene screen. “People said they wanted to know what their genes had to say about how they’ll do as they go through treatment—even though they knew it was only one piece of the health-status puzzle,” he says, pointing out that Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) will be listed as a counseling resource for HIV Mirror test takers.
Awad and his business partner, microbiologist Richard Watson, hatched the idea for HIV Mirror two summers ago while drinking beer on Watson’s Philadelphia porch. The result was a simple DNA swab, the same kind marketed by hundreds of genealogy and forensic testing labs throughout the country—except that HIV Mirror is the only commercially available test delivering HIV-related info. (Independent Forensics, a company that offered a similar test, has put its on hold until it can rewrite the educational materials accompanying the test.)
How might this test be used to help people make better treatment decisions? Watson says someone with a CCR5 mutation might, for example, need to adjust their dose of one of the new entry inhibitors (EIs). (The first pill in this class, Pfizer’s Maraviroc, has its FDA review next week). And he cites research that suggests possessing the mutation may affect how your HIV reacts over time to an EI (or any other HIV med).
Six researchers familiar with EI drug development told POZ, however, that it’s premature to think that the studies mean CCR5 mutations will influence the way patients take EIs; there is no such evidence yet. (The FDA has reportedly asked some companies to “investigate the association” with CCR5 mutations in EI trials, however.)
Bruce Walker, MD, who heads a study of “viral controllers” (their immune systems seem able to suppress HIV without meds for as many as 29 years), says CCR5 mutations do help predict HIV progression, but only at what he calls “a population trend level. It’s still all averages and trends,” he says, “not what’s going to happen on an individual level.”
If your genes can’t help you make specific treatment decisions, perhaps peace of mind is the only reason to spend $99 on an HIV Mirror test. But then why not get one at your doctor’s office—along with your drug resistance tests? For one thing, the CCR5 test is not widely available yet. Monogram Biosciences, perhaps the country’s main source of lab tests affecting HIV, does not yet offer the screen. “Before we do that, we want to make sure the results have some clinical significance,” says Monogram’s Chris Petropoulos, PhD.
Until then, the makers of HIV Mirror invite customers to practice their own form of social responsibility: Those asking for the test will be urged to enroll in Walker’s viral controllers study—the research that may eventually offer HIV treatment’s best mirror. 
Visit POZ.com on April 27 when the HIV Mirror contest winner will be announced, and awarded $500.

Source: POZ – Special Reports : Mirror, Mirror: Is HIV’s Future Reflected in My Genes? – by Laura Whitehorn

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Medijuana – by Derek Thaczuk

Posted by pozlife on April 24, 2007



by Derek Thaczuk

Why people with HIV want cannabis from a drugstore, not a dealer

Take our medical marijuana survey.
After 17 years with HIV, freelance music producer and DJ Evan McIntyre wrestles more with med side effects than with the virus itself. But with his doctor’s recommendation, he uses a remedy that lands many tokers in jail. “My meds are saving my life,” he says, “but marijuana is saving me from my meds.”
McIntyre, 37, has plenty of company among positive people seeking relief from side effects. But although a dozen states now allow medical use of marijuana, the federal government still classifies it as a “dangerous” drug and approves only a synthetic version—the pill Marinol—which lacks some of marijuana’s therapeutic ingredients.
Medical-marijuana advocates are firing up a new campaign to change all that, suing to force the feds to recognize weed’s medicinal use. The suit alleges that the government ignores or distorts information, denying citizens legal access to a proven therapy. A study in February’s Neurology offered the newest ammunition: a carefully designed, placebo-controlled, peer-reviewed clinical trial involving 50 HIV positive people with peripheral neuropathy (PN). The conclusion: Two puffs of pot three times a day for five days reduced PN pain by an average of 34%.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration dismisses the study—and earlier ones—as “maneuvers in a strategy to legalize all drugs.” The Office of National Drug Control Policy’s David Murray, for example, says the PN study was small and ignored smoking’s lung damage. (Advocates counter that a UC San Diego study found no link between inhaled pot and lung cancer. And they say a vaporizer can replace smoking.)
One PN study participant, Diana Dodson, 50, of Santa Cruz, California, originally used marijuana so she could swallow meds to treat an HIV-related bacterial infection. Positive since 1985, she now smokes to alleviate PN’s “awful, burning, bruised feeling in my feet.” When weed wasn’t legally available, she says, she needed morphine.
Marijuana “munchies” have been shown to help positive folks gain weight without provoking harmful interactions with HIV meds. And a 2005 NIH study showed that toking to tackle nausea may help people take their HIV meds—the opposite of how recreational drugs generally affect adherence.
Like other drugs, cannabis doesn’t fit everyone. It has its indications and doses—and side effects, which can include dry mouth, dizziness, disorientation and anxiety. It can also worsen or mask some conditions common with HIV, such as chronic depression; folks with substance abuse problems need to tread carefully too. The appropriate dose is not “get stoned”: Dodson says she takes “two or three puffs every two hours or so.” And as with other remedies, different brands (Purple Nurple, Shiva Skunk) may work differently. Responsible sources such as buyers’ clubs allow users to avoid street pot’s dangerous additives.
If you think you need marijuana, you’ll need a doctor’s recommendation (not a prescription—marijuana isn’t FDA-approved). For legal info, including how to get the herb in those 12 pot-permitting states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington), contact Americans for Safe Access (ASA) at http://www.safeaccessnow.org or 888.929.4367. Kris Hermes, ASA’s legal campaign director, says that while federal attempts to preempt state laws continue, “providers and growers are more often targeted than individual patients.” A voluntary ID card can verify legal permission, shielding you from harassment and arrest.
ASA aims to bring marijuana soon to all in need. “We’re using science to challenge the position that marijuana is not medicine,” Hermes says, referring to the group’s research campaign. Light one up for science.  
Take our medical marijuana survey.

Source: POZ – May #134 : Medijuana – by Derek Thaczuk

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POZ – News : Caribbean Hate Criminals Beware

Posted by pozlife on April 24, 2007


The University of the West Indies has launched an online project to document harassment, discrimination and violence related to homophobia and gender and HIV status in the Caribbean area. The initiative, through which anyone can anonymously report incidents on an in-depth online form, was started to counter rising hate crimes in the Caribbean and help strengthen HIV/AIDS services for affected individuals. 

Source: POZ – News : Caribbean Hate Criminals Beware

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