News Roundup – July 26

Once a week we try to post a collection of HIV related stories we encounter.

Photo by David Shankbone

Photo by David Shankbone

Larry Kramer in Parade Magazine: I Don’t Know Why Gay People Are Hated, But We Are

Life is very fragile. It’s very difficult for us, no matter how secure we think we are. Everybody who goes into a voting booth and votes against us hates us. We have been hated for so many centuries. You would think somewhere along the line we could’ve learned how to fight back.

Playwright, author, and longtime gay rights activist Larry Kramer received a special Tony Award last month for The Normal Heart, his landmark 1985 play about the AIDS crisis. In a interview with Parade magazine, he shares his thoughts about the HBO adaptation of the play, the government’s response to the AIDS epidemic, and his hopes for the future of gays in America.

More Information at Parade Magazine


Adonis GeorgiadisGreece Reinstates Forced HIV Testing

Greek health minister Adonis Georgladis has reinstated a 2012 measure that allows police to detain people suspected of being HIV positive and force them to be tested. In April 2012, the measure forced hundreds of women to be tested.  17 that were discovered to be HIV positive, and their personal information and photogrpahs were published across media outlets.

More Information at Enet English


The HIV Care Continuum Initiative

On July 16 the President issued an Executive Order establishing the HIV Care Continuum Initiative as the next step in the Strategy’s implementation. This new Initiative will focus our continued implementation of the Strategy on activities that will better address the drop-offs along the continuum of care and increase the proportion of individuals who have the virus effectively controlled.

More Information at AIDS.gov


capitolSequestration has devastated nation’s response to HIV

With sequestration cuts savaging federal funding for HIV prevention and care, the Senate Appropriations Committee on July 11 moved to pass legislation to keep the funding at 2013 levels, with an additional $51M for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.

“Sequestration has devastated our nation’s response to HIV at a time when we can least afford it,” said National Minority AIDS Council Director of Legislative and Public Affairs Kali Lindsey. “For the first time in three decades, science has provided us with the tools to realistically end this epidemic. But the climate of gridlock and budget cuts that continues to grip our nation’s capital has left America’s researchers, health care providers and outreach workers struggling to realize this vision. The Senate has recognized the importance of this collective effort and has demonstrated a strong commitment to achieving an AIDS-free generation.”

More information at Edge on the Net


Isadore BoniApache Activist Helps Pass HIV/AIDS Confidentiality Resolution

The San Carlos Apache Tribe’s council passed a resolution in support of the Public Health and Safety Code to establish HIV/AIDS confidentiality and safeguard the privacy of HIV-infected Native Americans. Brock stated that the code strengthens the tribe’s public health infrastructure by providing for privacy and continuity of care. The more than 500 tribes in U.S. Indian country also would have the option to pass the resolution.

Isadore Boni, an activist who advocated for the change, explains that this resolution “allows the protection and confidentiality of public health information and patient privacy, especially for those who have been infected by HIV/AIDS.”

More information at Indian Country Today Media Network


coffeePer-led program helps individuals adhere to treatment

Nearly half of individuals with HIV fail to get needed medical help or to continue treatment, according to some studies.  A researcher at the University of Missouri has developed a peer-led program that helps individuals with HIV adhere to their treatment plans that can improve their quality of life.

Peer educators work with HIV patients to identify barriers that prevent them from taking medicines and going to appointments with their health care providers. Then, the peers help patients prioritize which barriers they can overcome most easily; subsequently, the peers and patients set goals and develop strategies to help the patients defeat their challenges.

More information at Medical News Today


Congresswoman Barbara LeeU.S. House panel accepts reform on HIV criminalization

The House Appropriations Committee has passed an amendment to require the Attorney General to review laws, policies, and regulations regarding criminal cases involving people living with HIV/AIDS. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee of California, will be added to the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014.

“HIV Criminalization laws breed, discrimination, distrust, and hatred. These laws are based on fear, not science. This is an important first step in ensuring that our laws reflect current scientific understandings of HIV,” said Congresswoman Lee in a statement.

 More information at glaad.org and lee.house.gov


0725-roundup-1HIV/AIDS vaccines: Defining what works

July 24, 2013 — Designing an effective HIV/AIDS vaccine is something of a paradox: a good vaccine would be safe and look enough like HIV to kick-start the immune system into neutralizing the virus – but the problem is that this is exactly what the human immune system has trouble doing even when it’s exposed to the real thing.

Now a team of researchers led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. has developed a strategy for inducing a key part of an effective immune response to HIV. By tracing the evolution of HIV-recognizing molecules called antibodies taken from the blood of rare individuals whose immune systems are naturally able to target and neutralize the virus, they may have found a way to replicate this for everybody.

 More information at EurekaAlert.org


0725-roundup-9Gunther Freehill, AIDS Activist, Dies at 60

July 18, 2013 — Gunther Freehill, a longtime HIV/AIDS activist, died in Washington, D.C. on July 15 due to complications from a heart attack, according to Frontiers LA. He was 60 years old.

Freehill served as the former Director of Public Affairs at the L.A. County Office of AIDS, a board member of AIDS Action, a bureau chief at Washington, D.C.’s HIV/AIDS Administration, and a “near founder” of ACT UP/L.A. His work was instrumental in the fight for funding social services and health care in Los Angeles and on a national scale.

 More Information at Frontiers LA

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