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Archive for August, 2008

Superinfection Resources

Posted by pozlife on August 30, 2008


False starts:


Case Reports:




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Posted by pozlife on August 30, 2008

Twenty one cases of superinfection have been reported in the scientific literature, but transmission has not been fully documented to confirm these cases. How often it might happen, or if the second type of virus might be more resistant to treatment, is not clear.

Some people believe that superinfection might happen when two HIV-positive persons have sex with each other. Others believe that this does not happen. Some people think that the risk for a second infection with HIV is very low. None of these case reports have fully demonstrated that superinfection happens from having sex.

All agree that having sex without condoms is high risk for other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

There have been very few studies conducted in the past to see if superinfection happens from having sex. Therefore, HIV-positive persons have had to decide about having sex with each other without much evidence about risk. Public health officials have also offered guidance based on little scientific data. It is very important to find out whether superinfection occurs, and if it does, how often. The Positive Partners Study will also try to find out what kinds of factors predict whether superinfection occurs. We could learn a lot from a single proven case of HIV-1 superinfection. It would change what we tell HIV-positive sex partners about having sex with each other. We are planning to enroll as many as 400 participants from the Bay Area.

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New York City’s HIV Rate Is Three Times Higher Than Rest of U.S.

Posted by pozlife on August 30, 2008

Most of us probably already knew that New York City has been hit harder by HIV than most other U.S. cities. But did you know the epidemic is expanding in the city at a rate three times faster than in the rest of the country? A new report from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene paints what may be the most accurate picture to date about the state of HIV in Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs. The report says that 4,762 New Yorkers became HIV positive in 2006; about three quarters were men, about half were black, and half of all new infections were among men who have sex with men. (Article from kaisernetwork.org)
For more information on the new HIV infection numbers in New York City, read this official release from the city health department. Also be sure to check out this reaction article from Housing Works, which rails against the city and New York State for recent decisions to dramatically slash funding for a range of HIV-related services.

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Science Examines HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment Strategies Discussed At Last Week’s Conference In Mexico City

Posted by pozlife on August 18, 2008

The journal Science in its Aug. 15 issue examined the “intense scrutiny” that HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment received during last week’s XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. Mike Cohen of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill at the conference said the two efforts “keep going to the altar,” but “[t]hey never get married. They have to get married today.”
According to Cohen and other delegates at the conference, although there have been considerable gains in HIV/AIDS treatment, such efforts have overshadowed prevention needs. Science reports that three million people in low- and middle-income countries now have access to antiretroviral drugs but that an estimated five people contract HIV for every two provided with treatment. UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said, “There has not been that push for prevention as there’s been for treatment,” adding, “If we thought the first phase was hard, we have to prepare for even tougher times.”
Science reports that a significant issue surrounding treatment and prevention is that the success of antiretrovirals in lowering viral loads and making HIV-positive people less infectious has led to the “increasing awareness that treatment is prevention, both for individuals and populations.” However, “the degree to which the drugs can prevent infections has proved highly contentious,” according to Science. For example, a study by the Swiss Federal Commission for HIV/AIDS concluded that couples with one HIV-positive partner do not need to use condoms to prevent HIV transmission provided that the HIV-positive person is taking antiretrovirals, has had an undetectable viral load for six months and has no other sexually transmitted infections. Kevin de Cock, head of the World Health Organization‘s HIV/AIDS Department, said, “It just doesn’t seem like a cautious public health recommendation,” adding, “I don’t think anyone’s shown the threshold below which people cannot transmit” HIV.
Further contention surrounding treatment and prevention at the conference, according to Science, included the degree to which ongoing treatment can prevent transmission on a population-wide scale. Although a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that treatment led to a decrease in HIV transmission in the province of British Columbia, epidemiologist Geoffrey Garnett of Imperial College London said that antiretrovirals are unlikely to have a large effect on transmission on a global scale. About 80% of HIV-positive people are not aware of their status, and of those who do, most are not eligible for no-cost treatment until their immune systems have been damaged. According to Science, this means that most HIV transmissions “occur long before people are taking the drugs.”
Garnett and others encouraged HIV/AIDS researchers to embrace the notion of “combination prevention.” According to Garnett, by combining treatment with preventive measures, such as condom use and male circumcision, it might be possible to create “a natural synergy.” He added, “Rather than arguing for a single magic bullet, we really need to be trying to focus everything that we can on what works to realize these natural synergies” (Cohen, Science, 8/15).
Kaisernetwork.org was the official webcaster of the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. Kaisernetwork.org interviews with Science correspondent Jon Cohen during the week of the AIDS conference are available online.
Reprinted with kind permission from http://www.kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at http://www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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HIV prevention in Olympic Villages

Posted by pozlife on August 17, 2008

14 August 2008

With support from UNAIDS, 2 public service
announcements broadcast in English,
French and Chinese are being shown in
waiting area in Olympic Polyclinic. These
feature German soccer player and UNAIDS
Special Representative Michael Ballack,
and Chinese Basketball player Yao Ming.
Credit: UNAIDS

As part of a joint HIV prevention campaign, some 100,000 high-quality condoms are being made available to athletes free of charge in health clinics in the Olympic Villages of Beijing, Qingdao and Hong Kong. Athletes are also able to find useful information on HIV from thousands of posters and leaflets in English, French and Chinese.

In the waiting room of the polyclinics, HIV prevention videos with UNAIDS Special Representative and German footballer Michael Ballack and Chinese basketball star Yao Ming are being shown in three languages. In addition, all athletes competing in the 2008 Olympic Games have received flash sticks that include fact sheets on HIV.

These HIV prevention and anti-discrimination efforts are part of the 2008 Olympics HIV campaign “Play safe – Help stop HIV” launched by UNAIDS, International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the Beijing Organizing committee of the Olympic Games (BOCOG). The objective of the campaign is to educate athletes participating in the Beijing Games about HIV and encourage them to be ambassadors of AIDS response.

IOC President, Dr. Jacques Rogge (left)
greets Dr. Bernhard Schwartländer, UNAIDS
Country Coordinator (centre) during the
launch of the Beijing Olympics HIV and
AIDS Campaign “Play safe – Help stop HIV”.
Credit: UNAIDS 

“Athletes should know about how HIV can be transmitted, how it does not transmit and how HIV can be prevented. This will help them educate their peers and fight discrimination against people with HIV. It really is a topic relevant to sport,” said Campaign Ambassador and Egyptian swimmer Rania Elwani.

The campaign not only aims to benefit the many athletes taking part but also members of the national delegations and the more than 100,000 volunteers.

Today about 33 million people are living with HIV worldwide. Young people, 15–24 years of age, account for around 45% of all new HIV infections in 2007. However, many young people still lack accurate, complete information on how to avoid exposure to the virus.

Many young people are involved in sport, either as spectators or participants. Through this global sport gala of the Beijing Olympics, messages about AIDS can reach out to communities, especially to youth, to promote safer sexual behavior and to stop stigma and discrimination.

The objective of the 2008 Olympics HIV
campaign “Play safe – Help stop HIV” is to
educate athletes participating in the
Beijing Games about HIV and encourage
them to be ambassadors of AIDS response.
Credit: UNAIDS

“Famous athletes can play an important role to bring across messages about HIV prevention, care and support as they are regarded as role models by young people,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge. UNAIDS Country Coordinator Dr Bernhard Schwartländer said, “We know that sport and the Olympic Games are universal languages that can play a very important and positive role in raising AIDS awareness and reducing stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV.”

In 2004, UNAIDS signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the IOC, combining efforts to enhance the role of sports organization in the AIDS response at community and national levels, and to organize AIDS awareness activities with coaches, athletes and sport personalities.

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Caption this! Chinese condoms go for gold!

Posted by pozlife on August 16, 2008



It’s great to see a Chinese manufacturer with a clever sense of humor.  These ads were created for Elasun, a Chinese condom manufacturer and are some of the best advertising for the Olympics I’ve seen.  But as you can see from the tag line (sports make you health) they need a little help with a slogan.  

What would your new slogan for the swimmer ad be? 

Check out the rest after the jump!

In case you couldn’t figure out the last two they are archery and gymnastic rings.   Elasun_cycle_2 Elasun_bball_2 Elasun_archery Elasun_rings

Source: Beijing 08 blogs and a hat tip to Outsports for spotting it. 

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Milestones in HIV

Posted by pozlife on August 16, 2008

Where we’ve been, where we’re going…


photo: Bob Riha Jr

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control

1981 – June 5 and July 4
An Epidemic Begins Two mysterious illnesses—a rare pneumonia (Pneumocystis) and an equally rare cancer, (Karposi’s Sarcoma)—appear among gay men in Los Angeles and New York. The CDC reports the outbreak as “GRID” (gay-related immune deficiency), the first recognition of a puzzling illness.
1982 – July 27
AIDS  is coined by CDC, as the disease is linked to blood. Heterosexuals, drug addicts and blood-donor recipients are also infected.    AIDS cases in the U.S.: 452
1983 – MAY
Dual Discovery The culprit to AIDS is identified. Frenchman Luc Montagnier isolates the Lymphadenopathy-Associated Virus. Robert Gallo of the U.S. National Cancer Institute then discovers a related virus, HTLV-3.   AIDS cases in the U.S.: 3,064
1985 October 3
Rock Hudson dies. The first major public figure lost. First Test Dr. Gallo patents the first HIV test kit. Despite its large margin of error, the ELISA Test ushers the way for others.   AIDS cases in the U.S.: 15,948.
1987 – March 20
First Treatment Approved FDA approves Zidovudine (AZT). Administered in high doses, AZT delays the replication of the virus. Side effects: nausea, headache, anemia and bone marrow suppression.
1990 – April 8
Legislation Arrives Ryan White, a hemophiliac who received contaminated blood in 1984, dies. Congress enacts the Ryan White Care Act, providing funding to care for the infected.
Combination Therapy FDA approves Hivid (Zalcitabine), the first drug used in combination with AZT.
1994 March 21
Hollywood In Philadelphia, Tom Hanks plays a gay lawyer dying of AIDS who sues the firm that dismissed him. He wins the Academy Award for Best Actor, and says in his acceptance speech, “The heavens are too crowded with angels.”
2003  March 13
Fusion Inhibitors Drugs designed to prevent the entry of HIV (Fuzeon, Enfuvirtide) into cells offer hope. U.S. AIDS cases: 372,267

No Cure 25 million people have died so far—in the United States, over 1.2 million are living with HIV and over 550,000 have died.
40,000 Americans are infected each year. ¼th of those with HIV in the U.S. still don’t know it.  33,200,000
Amount of HIV cases globally

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Delegates Call for End to Criminalization, Stigmatization of HIV/AIDS at Close of AIDS Conference

Posted by pozlife on August 15, 2008

August 11, 2008

Delegates at the close of the XVII International AIDS Conference on Friday in Mexico City called for a reversal of laws that criminalize and stigmatize people living with HIV/AIDS, the New York Times reports.
South African Justice Edwin Cameron said that criminalization of HIV is a “poor tool for regulating HIV infection and transmission,” adding that there is “no public health rationale for invoking criminal law sanctions against those who unintentionally transmit HIV or expose others to it.” Cameron cited cases in Texas, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Bermuda and Switzerland. He added that although he understands that public health officials might want to establish laws to address people who recklessly spread HIV to others, criminalization is “warranted only where someone sets out, knowing he has HIV, to infect another and succeeds” (Altman, New York Times, 8/8). In addition, laws that criminalize HIV/AIDS are “misdirected and bad” and are “creating a crisis in HIV management and prevention efforts,” Cameron said (Picard, Globe and Mail, 8/9).
Bruno Spire, president of the French nongovernmental organization AIDES, at the close of the conference called for improving laws and policies to fight HIV-associated stigma and discrimination against groups at high risk of the virus, such as injection drug users, commercial sex workers and men who have sex with men.
Delegates at the close of the conference also discussed progress made in preventing HIV transmission. Pedro Cahn, immediate past president of the International AIDS Society, said that HIV/AIDS researchers have “learned more than ever” that treatment works as a prevention tool but that they “must be better at using it in prevention practice.” Cahn added that the 25,000 participants at the AIDS conference are “now accountable to push their governments” for better HIV prevention and treatment programs (New York Times, 8/8).
Delegates at the close of the AIDS conference also discussed the need to focus on a “triple combination” of treatment, prevention and human rights to enable people living with HIV/AIDS to lead normal lives, Toronto’s Globe and Mail reports. Michel Kazatchkine — executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — said that it is “clear” that the HIV research community has “moved on from the fruitless debate between prevention and treatment that has plagued us in the past,” adding that treatment and prevention are complementary.
However, Kazatchkine added that efforts to increase prevention and treatment will not be successful unless “human rights remain at the core” of efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. Julio Montaner, the new IAS president, said that “[f]ailure to enact a comprehensive, sustained and multipronged attack on the pandemic represents a crime against those infected, those affected and those susceptible,” adding, “Indeed, it represents a crime against humanity” (Globe and Mail, 8/9).
A kaisernetwork.org Daily Roundup is available online with video highlights from Friday’s plenary and closing session.

Newspapers Provide Coverage of Conference’s Close
Several newspapers reported on the close of the AIDS conference. Summaries appear below.

  • AFP/France 24: Although advocates have succeeded in increasing available funds to provide treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS, it is “extremely improbable” that the global health community will “have the structure and financial ability to take on all the people who require [antiretroviral drugs] and treat them for life,” Anthony Fauci, director of NIH‘s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said at the AIDS conference (Ingham, AFP/France 24, 8/9).
  • AP/Google.com: The story examines HIV/AIDS prevention efforts aimed at men who have sex with men. MSM receive fewer HIV prevention services of any at-risk group, and less than 1% of the $669 million in global prevention spending targets MSM, according to UNAIDS figures from 2006. The article also profiles Jorge Saavedra, director of Censida, the National Center for the Control of HIV/AIDS in Mexico (Watson, AP/Google.com, 8/9).
  • Globe and Mail: The Globe and Mail on Monday profiled Montaner, who also serves as director of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (Picard, Globe and Mail, 8/11).
  • New York Times: Several HIV/AIDS advocates at the close of the AIDS conference said there is a need to be more imaginative in efforts to educate people about HIV/AIDS. One campaign — called “If I Were HIV-Positive …,,” a joint effort by AIDES and the International AIDS Society — has “printed posters and postcards and created advertisements using photographs of prominent people above questions meant to challenge stereotypes” about people living with the virus (Lacey/Altman, New York Times, 8/9)

NPR’s “All Things Considered” on Friday reported on efforts to reduce the spread of HIV among commercial sex workers and MSM in Mexico. The segment includes comments from Jaime Carmen Pena, a health educator with Population Services International; Ricardo Roman of PSI; and Saavedra (Beaubien, “All Things Considered,” NPR, 8/8).
Kaisernetwork.org was the official webcaster of the XVII International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. A webcast of the closing session during which Cahn, Kazatchkine and Montaner spoke is available online. A webcast of the session during which Cameron and Spire spoke also is available online.

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It’s Time to Demand Respect for Black People With HIV, Activist Declares

Posted by pozlife on August 15, 2008

In an Impassioned Speech, Sheryl Lee Ralph Implores the Media to “Do Something Different”

August 4, 2008

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On Aug. 4, a panel of African-American HIV community leaders held an emotional press conference in which they expressed frustration and anger about the lack of attention being paid to the HIV epidemic among U.S. blacks. Sheryl Lee Ralph, an actress and long-time HIV activist, was one of those who spoke. Here is the text of her speech. (You can also click here to read or hear TheBody.com’s interview with Ralph.)

Sheryl Lee Ralph

Sheryl Lee Ralph

I thank everybody sitting up here today. I thank them all for the kind of work that they have been doing for so long. But to all of you sitting out there who have the power of the pen, to everybody out there who is going to write a story, to everybody out there who is going to push a button and send a message out into cyberspace: I need you to do something different! It cannot be business as usual when it comes to black people and AIDS, black people and AIDS in America, black people and AIDS around the world! Something must be done differently. Because, if you sprechen sie Deutsches, AIDS is a problem. ¿Usted habla español? El SIDA es una problema. Vous parlez français? Le SIDA est un problème. You speak English? AIDS is a problem. And I want you to deal up front and in your stories about the “ism.” Because “ism” is playing a big part in what has happened, what does not happen, and what will not happen in the future if we don’t do something different.

I had a moment. I spoke with Senator Hillary Clinton. And I said, “Senator, what about AIDS in America?” She stopped what she was doing. She turned to me and she said, “If AIDS were affecting the general population the way it is affecting women of color, black women especially, there would be a national health emergency.” That was two years ago. Two days ago, the report came out from the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] that the numbers of AIDS, as it had been calculated in black America, are far more than they expected. When will the national emergency take place? When will somebody get truly outraged? When is somebody going to value black people?

I’m not a charity case. I’m not a poverty case. I’m not looking for a handout. I am looking to be valued as a full, complete, human being, whether I am on the continent of Africa, whether I’m on the hills in Japan, whether I am in Hawaii, whether I am in the mountains of Central America. If I am Negro, Cimarron, I want to be valued as a human being. [in accented English] I want you to listen to me when I talk to you and I have an accent. I want you to know that I am important, just like you. [ends accented English] I want you to look at black me and stop looking past me. Stop looking around me. I need a seat at the table. I need a seat at the table! [applause]

Stop writing policy for me, and you haven’t really talked to me. Stop telling me what I need to be doing, and you don’t know me. So if you have got the power of the pen, you’re going to push that button into the Internet; I need you to write and do something different. Because I am black. I am in the world. And I matter just like anybody else. [applause]

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Researchers Hoping That "Elite Controller" Could Help in HIV/AIDS Vaccine Development

Posted by pozlife on August 15, 2008

August 14, 2008

An HIV-positive woman who has never shown symptoms of the virus might provide insights into HIV/AIDS vaccine development, researchers from Johns Hopkins University said in a study recently published in the Journal of Virology, Reuters reports.
The woman, a so-called “elite suppressor,” contracted HIV 10 years ago from her husband, a former injection drug user. Although her husband takes antiretroviral drugs to control his viral load, the woman does not need to take the drugs to keep her viral load at undetectable levels. The couple, who has been monogamous for at least 17 years, has the same strain of HIV. According to the researchers, the key difference in their ability to control the virus is the woman’s immune system.
Joel Blankson, who led the study, said that the role of the woman’s immune system is a “good sign in terms of developing a therapeutic vaccine,” which would not prevent transmission of the virus but could be used to prevent HIV-positive people from progressing to AIDS (Fox, Reuters, 8/12).
The researchers said the study disproved some theories about elite suppression, including those that claimed such suppression always involved a defective or weakened HIV strain, which is easier for the immune system to attack, or that genetic variants confer a protective effect in suppressors. According to Blankson, “This an extremely rare case of coinfection in a controlled, monogamous relationship, which showed us how a strong immune system in the elite suppressor kept the virus from replicating and infecting other cells.” Blankson added, “Our findings offer hope to vaccine researchers because they reveal that the immune system’s primary offense, known as CD8 killer T-cells, can effectively halt disease progression by a pathogenic form of HIV” (IANS/Yahoo! News, 8/12).
Tests conducted by the researchers indicate that the woman’s CD8 cells stalled HIV replication by as much as 90%, while the man’s cells stalled replication by 30%. In an apparent response to this attack by her immune system, the woman’s HIV also has mutated to become weaker, while the man’s HIV has remained strong, Reuters reports.
According to Blankson, the researchers are trying to figure out how the woman’s T-cells work to inhibit viral replication. According to Reuters, the researchers determined that while the man’s T-cells make only one kind of cytokines — which are immune system signaling proteins — called gamma interferon, the woman’s made that one and another called tumor necrosis factor. However, the cytokines cannot explain the woman’s ability to suppress HIV, Reuters reports, because HIV/AIDS researchers have tried using such immune system proteins in patients and found they did not work well. Furthermore, the woman’s immune cells seem to respond in this manner only when they encounter the virus. Blankson said the case could be explained by the possibility of the woman having unusual activity in her human leukocyte antigen system, which helps recognize bacterial and viral antigens (Reuters, 8/12).

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