Showing posts with label HIV. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HIV. Show all posts

October 26, 2016

Patient Zero Exonerated Findings of origin HIV in the US



It took Reagan at least two years to mention the word. Only after he asked and was told  straights (whites) were getting it too did he start slowly opening the door to research and meds. Except the Rock Hudson among us everyone who got infected died in pain and destitute.



It's one of the biggest medical mysteries of our time: How did HIV come to the U.S.?
By genetically sequencing samples from people infected early on, scientists say they have figured out when and where the virus that took hold here first arrived. In the process, they have exonerated the man accused of triggering the epidemic in North America.
A team of researchers at the University of Arizona sequenced the HIV virus taken from Canadian flight attendant Gaetan Dugas, the man called "Patient Zero" in the best-selling book And the Band Played On, which chronicled the early days of the AIDS epidemic in America.
The scientists also sequenced the virus from eight other men infected with HIV during the 1970s. From these genetic codes, the scientists estimate HIV came to the U.S. from Haiti in 1970 or 1971, but it went undetected by doctors for years.
"The virus got to New York City pretty darn early," says evolutionary biologist Michael Worobey, who led the study. "It was really under the radar for a decade or so."
The disease spread around New York City for a few years, with the number of infections doubling each year. Then in 1976, one person took the virus across the country to San Francisco, Worobey and his team found.
But the study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, offers more than just a record of HIV's path. It also finally puts to rest one of the most famous narratives surrounding the AIDS epidemic — an urban legend that all got started because of the misinterpretation of the letter O.
Back in the early '80s, behavioral scientist William Darrow was a young scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He drew the assignment of a lifetime: Figure out why gay men in Los Angeles were dying of a strange illness.
Doctors were stumped. Some scientists thought maybe it was caused by "poppers," nitrite-based chemicals that are inhaled recreationally. Others thought maybe "overexposure to sperm from many sources was having an immune-suppressant effect," The New York Times reported.
But in 1981, Darrow caught a clue: Rumor had it that some of the early AIDS cases were lovers. "Whoa! This is the first indication that we had that the disease might be sexually transmitted from one person to another," Darrow says.
So Darrow started interviewing these men about their sex lives. One day, three men — who didn't know each other — all named the same lover.
"They said, 'This flight attendant from Canada. He flew for Air Canada. Geez, he was such a great guy and very handsome,' " Darrow remembers hearing.
The man was Gaetan Dugas. And his name popped up again and again in interviews. Eventually, Darrow linked eight early AIDS cases to Dugas.
When Darrow wrote up his findings inside the CDC, he didn't name names. Instead, he called the men by a code, based on the city they lived in. For those in LA: "There was LA1, LA2 ... and so forth," Darrow says.
Randy Shilts attended a screening of And the Band Played On on Aug. 31, 1993, at the Academy Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Ron Galella/WireImage/Getty Images
And for Dugas, a Canadian? "Patient O, the outside-of-California case."
The letter O? Not Patient Zero? "That's correct," Darrow says. "I never labeled him Patient Zero."
A few years later, in March 1984, Darrow and his colleagues published their study showing that AIDS was a new, sexually transmitted disease. That same month, Dugas died of AIDS near his hometown in Quebec.
"And then three years later, in 1987, Dugas sort of comes back to life," says Phil Tiemeyer, a historian at Kansas State University.
He means Dugas comes back to life as a character, in the book And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts, a reporter in San Francisco. The book detailed the start of the AIDS epidemic, including the story of Dugas.
"This is where Dugas really moves from Patient O to Patient Zero — the epicenter, if you will, of the epidemic," Tiemeyer says.
You see, while Darrow was working on his study, someone at the CDC, or working with the CDC, referred to Darrow's letter O as the numeral zero instead. And people then started calling Dugas "Patient Zero," Darrow tells NPR.
So when the study got written up, Dugas was labeled "Patient 0," with the numeral, not the letter.
The designation "was never meant to suggest that he was the first case," Darrow says. "It only meant there was some person who was very important in this cluster of cases."
Even Shilts was confused by the labeling.
"In the middle of that study was a circle with an O next to it, and I always thought it was Patient O," Shilts told Life magazine. "When I went to the CDC, they started talking about Patient Zero. I thought, 'Ooh, that's catchy.' "
He took the idea and ran with it.
In his book, Shilts repeatedly calls Dugas "Patient Zero." The book says there's no doubt Dugas "played a key role in spreading AIDS across the country." And it's "a question of debate" about whether Dugas brought the virus to North America.
Publicity for Shilts' book triggered a flood of media about Dugas. And the media expanded his role in the epidemic further, erroneously so, according to the new study.
The New York Post ran a huge headline declaring "The Man Who Gave Us AIDS."
Time magazine jumped in with a story called "The Appalling Saga Of Patient Zero." And 60 Minutes aired a feature on him. "Patient Zero. One of the first cases of AIDS. The first person identified as the major transmitter of the disease," host Harry Reasoner said.
From that point on, Tiemeyer says, Dugas became lodged in the popular consciousness as Patient Zero — the source of HIV in North America and the scapegoat for a horrific new pandemic. A film version of the book, televised on HBO in 1993, further cemented Dugas as the key figure in the epidemic.
"This character, Gaetan Dugas, has every trait of a villain that America is looking for in the AIDS crisis," Tiemeyer says. "He's gay and unshamed about it. He's beautiful. He's even a foreigner who speaks with this seductive accent. He's the perfect villain."
But Dugas wasn't a villain — not at all.
In fact, people who knew Dugas told me he was charismatic, kind and energetic. Right before he died, Dugas volunteered at a nonprofit to help other people with HIV.
And he was critical to figuring out what AIDS was. Not only did Dugas fly to the CDC in Atlanta to donate blood samples, Darrow says, but he also offered the CDC a huge list of names of potential AIDS cases
"I think this is crucial," the University of Arizona's Worobey says. "In a way, it's not that surprising that you could place Dugas at the center of a cluster, because I'm quite certain he shared more names of people [who were lovers] than any other person in that study. So there's a kind of ascertainment bias [in Darrow's study]."
Worobey's research shows that by the late 1970s, nearly 7 percent of gay men in New York City were infected with HIV, and nearly 4 percent in San Francisco were infected.
By the time Dugas caught HIV, there were many people infected in the U.S., maybe even thousands of people, Worobey says. And the HIV sequence taken from Dugas' blood looks very similar to these other sequences. There's nothing special about it, Worobey says.
So Dugas couldn't possibly be Patient Zero. He's not even close.
"To me, there's something nice about going back and correcting the record," he says. “He has been blamed for things that no one should be blamed for.”

   NPR

August 3, 2016

Ruling Indicates NHS Has the Responsibility To Gay Men to Roll Out Treatment of PrEp



       
Truvada Caps

 

The health and lives of gay men matter. That’s what the high court ruled on Tuesday morning. Last year, NHS England decided against rolling out a treatment called PrEP – which prevents the transmission of HIV. The wellbeing of gay men was overriden by other priorities. Given it costs substantially more money to treat HIV than to prevent it, even financial considerations weren’t a good reason.

 On Tuesday, NHS England was defeated in court and told it was responsible for funding the treatment, and that they have a “preventative role and power to commission preventative function”. Pressure must now be placed on the NHS to start rolling this drug out immediately. As the British Medical Journal pointed out, “delays by NHS England will cost lives”.
If you want to stop HIV spreading, then PrEP is one among many solutions. It works. As studies in the United States have shown, if taken every day, it has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in high-risk individuals by up to 92%. The objections to PrEP, in truth, are based on moral objections. If you do not want the risk of HIV, goes the argument, then wear a condom. Those who get HIV are, by implication, morally condemned for bringing it on themselves.
Of course, safer sex messages must always emphasise the importance of condoms: after all, they protect against many other STIs. But – in the real world, rather than the non-existent world of the morally self-righteous – things are more complicated. People get carried away; people get drunk (yes, in the real world imperfect people sometimes drink more than the recommended daily amount); condoms break. The same moralising is used against the right of women to have control over their own bodies, whether it be the right to abortion or even the morning-after pill. The standards set by the “morally pure” cause harm – or even kill.
We have come so far with the treatment of HIV, once a disease that ravaged the gay world. But according to the Terence Higgins Trust, there are 45,000 men who have sex with men living with HIV; and thousands of them do not know they even have it. The annual rate of newly infected men in 2014 was higher than the decade before. If you genuinely want to send HIV infection rates hurtling into reverse, then PrEP is not the only solution – but it is a good one.
Gay people, their health and their lives, matter. That’s a court judgment. NHS England must now accept the defeat – and start doing its job: protecting health and saving lives.

May 18, 2016

Sexual Roulettes with HIV Men in Barcelona



Image result for gay roulette barcelona
                                                                         
                                                                       
                                                                         

















Sexual roulettes with an unknown HIV person are going on in Barcelona as a fun orgy in which one person could win the Prize. Jesus Vazquez, Boris Izaguirre and Fernando Grande-Marlaska, are Doctors that have been in a campaign fighting the spread of AIDS since 2007.

Hospital and clinic Doctors of infectious diseases and AIDS have warned that in Barcelona men are holding parties called sexual roulette (ruletas sexuales). Gay Men are invited to this gatherings with someone who is HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to make a more stimulating sexual experience. Specialists, which include Dr. Josep Mallolas, deputy in that service, warn that “they have lost respect” for a disease that, well treated, is not deadly because it can be managed just like any chronic illness but its also incurable and life threatening.

These parties, reports Cadena Ser, consisting of gay men —habitually these groups meet in a place to have an orgy or engage in group sex, including the guest HIV individual but without disclosing to participants which one is the one. "Who gets him, gets him," they explain.

Sexual roulettes have different formats. Some are unique to HIV carriers, and others that can also access healthy people. “There is smorgasbord of everything: parties that are authentic sexual roulettes, or events they cannot go if you're not already infected with HIV," said Mallolas.

The disease is still fatal in countries where the population does not have publicly funded health care system, but clearly added Mallolas, here they don’t fear it. A Doctor specialist in HIV has related the story of a gay young man of 22 years.  The young man explains:  “My sexuality is very important to me and I do not want to give it up, at age 22, to live the rest of my life with a condom on?  Living every day with the fear of getting infected for the rest of my life, so the sooner I get infected, the sooner I can try to get an undetectable viral load, before suffering and always thinking ‘what if I get infected’.” Dr.Mallolas added, “When he said that, I froze.”

Antiretroviral therapy for HIV costs the Ministry of Health about 7,000 euros per year per person, plus other drugs that the patient needs to eliminate other occasional, frequent infections in HIV people.

The Health dept. says in Catalonia you have 30,000 people receiving anti-AIDS treatment.  The gay community is the only one experiencing a steady increase in the numbers of new infections, says Health.

Translated by adamfoxie blog International

Original Spanish Newspaper story:


EL PERIÓDICO / BARCELONA

 Ruletas sexuales en Barcelona con un enfermo de sida como invitado de incógnito en la orgía
Jesús Vázquez, Boris Izaguirre y Fernando Grande-Marlaska, en una campaña contra el contagio de sida entre hombres del 2007.
Médicos del servicio de enfermedades infecciosas y sida del Hospital Clínic han alertado de que en Barcelona se están celebrando encuentros denominados ruletas sexuales, a los que se invita a un infectado por el VIH, el virus que causa el sida, con el fin de hacer más estimulante la experiencia. Los especialistas, entre los que figura el doctor Josep Mallolas, adjunto en el citado servicio, advierten de que "se ha perdido el respeto" a una enfermedad que, bien tratada, no resulta mortal ya que se puede sobrellevar de forma crónica, pero que es incurable y potencialmente mortal.

Estos encuentros, informa la Cadena Ser, consisten en grupos --habitualmente hombres homosexuales- que se citan en un local con el objetivo de celebrar una orgía o mantener relaciones sexuales colectivas, incluyendo al invitado que sufre el sida pero sin revelar a los participantes cuál de ellos es el individuo enfermo. "A quien le toca, le toca", explican.

 Ruletas sexuales en Barcelona con un enfermo de sida como invitado de incógnito en la orgía
www.dinostock.com 
Las ruletas sexuales tienen diversos formatos. Unas son exclusivas para portadores del VIH, y otras a las que pueden acceder también personas sanas. "Hay de todo: fiestas que son auténticas ruletas sexuales, o encuentros a los que no puedes acudir si no estás ya infectado por el VIH", ha explicado Mallolas.

La enfermedad sigue siendo mortal en los países donde la población no dispone de sistema sanitario financiado públicamente, pero es evidente, añadió Mallolas, que aquí no se la teme. El especialista ha relatado a la emisora el comentario que le hizo un homosexual de 22 años: "Me dijo, mi sexualidad es importantísima y no me quiero resignar, a los 22 años, a vivir el resto de mi vida con un preservativo puesto. ¿Que alternativa tengo?: Infectarme. Y cuanto antes me infecte y antes me trate y mantenga una carga viral indetectable, antes dejaré de sufrir por si me infecto", ha explicado Mallolas. "Cuando me lo dijo, me quedé helado", ha añadido el médico.

La terapia antirretroviral que debe seguir un infectado por el VIH cuesta a la Conselleria de Salut unos 7.000 euros al año, más los fármacos que el paciente necesita para eliminar otras infecciones ocasionales, frecuentes en estas personas.

En Catalunya reciben tratamiento antisida unas 30.000 personas. El colectivo homosexual es el único que experimenta un constante incremento en las cifras de nuevos infectados, indica Salut. 

March 15, 2016

“We must conquer AIDS before it affects the heterosexual population”



 “We must conquer AIDS before it affects the heterosexual population and the general population,” said President Ronald Reagan’s health and human services secretary, Margaret Heckler, in 1985. By then, ten thousand Americans had been diagnosed, and half of those had died.
That same year, First Lady Nancy Reagan refused a request from Elizabeth Taylor that she attend or at least lend her name to a fundraiser for AIDS.
Two years and fifteen thousand more American deaths later, President Reagan finally gave a speech about the epidemic. He appalled many listeners by proposing mandatory HIV testing for some groups of Americans. Public health experts opposed this and other ideas that Reagan’s religious-conservative advisers flirted with, like quarantining everyone who tested positive or tattooing their arms and buttocks.
So it was deeply enraging for LGBTQ people and their allies when Hillary Clinton told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Friday, during coverage of Nancy Reagan’s funeral, that the Reagans had “started a national conversation” about HIV/AIDS, “when before nobody would talk about it.” She credited Nancy Reagan with “low-key, effective advocacy.”
Clinton has since apologized for the remarks, rightly acknowledging that “generations of brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, along with straight allies” had started the conversation during the AIDS crisis. While that retraction is not exactly an explanation for how this happened, perhaps it was a matter of ill-deployed decorum: Most of us can accept a former First Lady not wanting to criticize another former First Lady on the day of her funeral. If she’d praised Nancy Reagan’s advocacy for gun control and embryonic stem-cell research without mentioning AIDS—as an initial tweeted apology implied had been her intention—few would have blamed her. But what Clinton said, for whatever reason she said it, felt particularly cruel because, while Reagan got a nationally televised funeral, so many others’ deaths once went unmourned.
The AIDS crisis elicited countless private acts of cruelty, rarely discussed today. Parents, and yes even lovers, turned their backs on the dying. As funerals became a way of life for many, families locked gay partners out of homes and stripped them—and an illness that they considered shameful—from obituaries. The last will and testament of a young man named Roland Pena, which I found while researching his papers in Chicago, specified, “It is imperative that the word AIDS be printed in my obituary. If I die from some other unrelated cause, say that I had AIDS.” *
In An Early Frost, a 1985 made-for-TV movie, paramedics refuse to pick up a man dying from AIDS from his parents’ house because they are afraid to touch him. Fully a decade later, in 1995, the Clinton White House apologized after the Secret Service donned rubber gloves during a visit by a group of gay elected officials. Princess Diana was famously photographed touching people with AIDS. That’s low-key, effective advocacy. Nancy Reagan did no such thing. For those who buried lovers and friends—among whom, perplexingly, Clinton counts herself according to her statement—the pain of those years has not gone away.
* * *
Perhaps in the wake of this particular cycle of gaffe and apology, there’s an opportunity for revisiting the real history—a history that is too often oversimplified. For one thing, while the Reagan administration’s slowness to respond to AIDS was criminal, it was also a major factor in the growth and radicalization of the gay movement in the second half of the 1980s.
In cities like Newark, queer people of color led the effort to connect the related struggles against poverty, sexism, and racism and taught people how to survive through safe sex. More widely known today is the story of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP), founded in 1987 in New York, which grabbed attention from the mainstream media. ACT UP members shut down Grand Central Station at rush hour. They draped an enormous condom over the house of Jesse Helms, the ultra-homophobic North Carolina senator who passed a ban on federal funds for any AIDS prevention materials that discussed gay sex at all. A 1987 ACT UP graphic by the artist Donald Murphy showed Ronald Reagan’s face and a day-glo orange caption, “He kills me.”
After ignoring AIDS in his first term, President Reagan appointed a presidential commission on AIDS in 1987 and stacked it with social conservatives who strongly opposed condom distribution and other lifesaving AIDS prevention tools. Only one member was an out gay man.
Yet, despite this largely shameful narrative, when historians began to dig into the Reagan archive, they found that the administration’s response to some directly AIDS-related policy matters was more complicated than you’d think. The historian Jennifer Brier has argued that the administration was actually characterized by “splits and disagreements” on AIDS policy during the second term, with a moralist faction led by William Bennett and Gary Bauer, both domestic policy advisors working in the Department of Education, and a public-health faction led by Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. By mid-1988, the Koop faction won a key debate, and 100 million copies of a pamphlet, “Understanding AIDS,” went to every American household. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start.
That said, Reagan’s urban policies also worsened the crisis in many indirect ways. Reagan’s huge tax cuts were paired with massive cutbacks to federal funding for social services and Medicaid, which became the insurer of last resort for many people living with AIDS who lost jobs and housing. He cut funds for inner-city hospitals and clinics. Big cities, already reeling fiscally and crushed by deindustrialization, were forced to take on the burden of paying for AIDS care without meaningful federal assistance until long after Reagan left the White House. With help from Taylor and other entertainers, AIDS activists got Congress to pass, and George H.W. Bush to sign despite misgivings, a law helping cities pay for such care. This landmark Ryan White CARE Act of 1990 was named for an Indiana teenager with hemophilia who contracted the virus through a blood transfusion—a so-called “innocent” victim who did not contract the virus through sex or drugs.
* * *
During the dark days of the ’80s, Clinton was the First Lady of Arkansas, a place where gay and AIDS activists had little or no clout. But once she reached the national stage with Bill’s election in 1992, the issue was squarely in her line-of-sight; indeed, the Clinton administration absolutely marked a more progressive approach to HIV/AIDS. You’d think Hillary would want to brag about that, rather than lending a false good word to a predecessor.
Of course, Bill Clinton’s record was far from perfect. He refused to drop the federal ban on funds for needle exchange programs, which had saved countless lives in the U.K. But his presidency actually contributed to the decline of radical AIDS activism, not by suppressing it, but rather because he seemed so much less hostile and callous than Reagan and Bush. As Deborah Gould wrote in her landmark book on ACT UP, “the revival of hope following Clinton’s election” played an important role in “the demise of the direct-action AIDS movement.”
If nothing else, the response to Hillary’s remarks shows that we’ve come some distance since Ronald Reagan’s death in 2004, when fewer spoke of his AIDS record, toward remembering what actually happened.
The crisis goes on for many Americans, and millions around the world. In the apology she posted on Medium, Clinton rightly attacked Republicans who have blocked Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. This has especially hurt African Americans living with HIV in southern states.
There’s room for her to draw an even sharper contrast, however, while educating Americans about the history of HIV/AIDS. The Clintons faced hecklers from ACT UP, but—except in the eyes of fanatical Republican critics—they weren’t icons of greed, rapacity, and callousness in the 1980s. More to the point, they weren’t pulling down municipal tax abatements for luxury apartments that could have gone to help people living with AIDS afford to stay in their homes. When ACT UP’s New York chapter created a Housing Committee in 1988, as the historian Tamar Carroll recently noted, it was obvious where they should hold their first protest, and others to come: Trump Tower.
  By Timothy Stewart-Winter an assistant professor of history at Rutgers University-Newark, where he co-directs the Queer Newark Oral History Project. He is the author of Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics and is working on a new book on the history of HIV/AIDS in the U.S.

March 12, 2016

Hillary Clinton Forgot the HIV History Praising the Reagan’s who Ignored it



Image result for nancy and ronald reagan and aids
                                                                 









I saw the tape of Hillary praising the Reagan’s and particularly Nancy Reagan today in regards to their great contribution to the AIDS crisis of the 80’s. I got sick to my stomach.

 As much as I like Bern I never thought he had a chance and would never get the numbers to win the nomination and probably if he did he would loose to any of the Republicans running. I was quietly within me comfortable to vote for her even with problems that she’s had but we’ve had so far worse and many of those problems are Republican created. Just like they wanted to removed  a popular president in Bill Clinton because he had sex in the Oval office with someone beside Hillary and even then if they found out he did Hillary on top of his desk that might have been cause as well. 
This nation elected Pres.Bush and with it all the problems it should have known to put in to office a man that was clearly not studied in the world politics and its problems. 

When I heard the Hillary comments I wanted to run to my computer and write or bitch or yell to someone. Then already she had already back down. The thing was that her story of how the Reagan’s were so good for informing everyone about AIDS was never reconciled with her backtracking. For me to begin to forgive her for that I had to listen of how she put that together. Anyone who was at least 12 years old during the 80’s most know there was just silenced from the federal government. 
I have to commend the HRC for sending a message which she immediately heard. That make me feel better but I don’t think I could watch anything she says now and not remember how easily she talked about something in which she was clearly wrong. She had to know about this but I don’t care because that’s for her and her shrink if she is got one to iron out. As far as Im concerned when the primaries come to my state I might not vote for her. It all depends who at the time I think can beat Donald Trump.
Adam 





The below piece is the one I caught at msn.com.

For someone who has always seemed the gay and the liberal vote I assumed she knew about HIV and its history particularly in a city in  which skyrocketed to a senate seat.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton is apologizing for praising Nancy Reagan's response to the HIV/AIDS crisis after facing a torrent of criticism from her supporters.
"While the Reagans were strong advocates for stem cell research and finding a cure for Alzheimer's research, I misspoke about their record on HIV and AIDS," Clinton said in a statement tweeted Friday. "For that, I m sorry."


The candidate quickly walked back comments from her interview earlier Friday with MSNBC, when she said she really appreciated the Reagans' work on HIV/AIDS.
"Because of both President and Mrs. Reagan in particular Mrs. Reagan we started a national conversation. When before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it,” Clinton told MSNBC.

Her remarks, which took place just before the former first lady's funeral, were quickly condemned on social media by advocates who said Ronald and Nancy Reagan had done the opposite of trying to address HIV.

Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, tweeted  Nancy Reagan was, sadly, no hero in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Nancy Reagan, in particular, has been criticized for ignoring pleas for help from her friend, actor Rock Hudson, just weeks before he died of AIDS.

In her apology, Clinton did not specifically criticize former President Reagan or his wife on their HIV response. Critics charge that the Reagans ignored early warnings of the epidemic because of homophobia.

Members of Reagan s administration have since admitted that Reagan declined to discuss the issue for his first several years in office.

PBS documentary about Nancy Reagan that focus on her role in the AIDS crisis

November 18, 2015

Before You Discuss Sheen’s or Anybody’s HIV Status PLEASE Read This



                                                                       

 Introduction from the Publisher, Adam Gonzalez: I decided that before posting a picture of Charlie Sheen which everyone knows how he looks by now or how the HIV cells look under the microscope I would do two things. First place a warning sign that everyone recognizes and then a warning. 

Secondly, the Warning:
The yellow and black sign is the universal sign of contamination through radiation. HIV= radiation, No is……..Ignorance=radiation

The worse thing anybody can do in reference to HIV be one that is HIV+ or the one that thinks he/she is not, is to start talking about it before getting educated on the subject and I will explain why and why this is no hype. Watching what people were posting in all the available social media on Tuesday after the HIV coming out of Sheen, made me sick. Mostly all of it it was back to 1984. It was like we have learn nothing. I have a lot to say but I wont say it. Instead I will post an introduction on HIV/ stigma and then a posting by Lambda Legal Services.

After years of writing and educating people of new treatment meds and the HIV 101 basics, it is disheartening to see postings from what seems like idiots who thought they had something to say and had to say it or they were going to miss out in history or something to that idea. The problem with this is not as much as what they say but that they are saying something. Why? For the same reason the virus keeps replicating not so much because the virus is so smart but that we are so dumb in dealing with it.

Why? The reason the virus mostly replicates millions of replicas in people is because people don’t test, don’t find out, don’t become undetectable. Why undetectable? Self explanatory, the less you have the less to transmit. 

What is that got to do with anything? When people that should be getting tested to find out and if positive and then enter treatment right away, they instead don’t test! Why? Why test. If this is the stigma attached no just to the decease but to the people that test, Would you test? Do you think someone close to you would test and be tagged positive, AIDS carrier, etc? If you don’t test HIV+ people wont think wrongly of you and they don’t have to explain anything. Even legally they could be off the hook in certain places. Is it better to be the giver in world of hurt than the one that receives. The reason that the disease has been control in certain areas and out of control in others is testing and finding out, then getting control of it through a meds regimen.

It was sad seeing some people that have been positive coming out again and saying  they were in a futile attempt to control the fear mongering and misinformation that I saw today.

The times I tested in the past for HIV if I would have thought I was going to be positive Im not sure I would have not tested. I always thought I was going to be negative and I think a lot of people think that way. The people that do test are in many instances are those showing signs of sickness and by then a lot of damaged has been done to that person’s immune system and to others that came in contact with someone who became positive and was not tested. Usually when a person test positive they have the most amount  of virus in their system. The virus can move in with their whole family since your immune system doesn’t know they are there yet; Therefore this is when they are the most susceptible to transmit.

Those two points explained I will leave it here and instead I will give you the article that appeared in Lambda Legal last night. I think is good advice for those that have tested positive and to those that should be getting tested and their love ones. 


Advice from the senior attorney and HIV Project national director of Lambda Legal:
By now, you likely are aware that actor Charlie Sheen disclosed on the Today show this morning that he is living with HIV. Regardless of the reasons for this public disclosure at this time, Lambda Legal recognizes that coming out as someone living with HIV is an extremely personal decision and not an easy step for anyone.  

We hope that Mr. Sheen’s announcement will advance the conversation about HIV and AIDS in this country. As an organization committed to protecting the civil rights of people living with HIV, here are some things people should keep in mind as this is discussed in the coming days.

First, HIV is not the disease it was 25 years ago. With access to care and treatment—and the support needed to take advantage of those services—a person living with HIV can lead a healthy, productive life of near-normal length. A person who is diagnosed early and has consistent access to care and treatment has a life expectancy that is only a handful of months shy of a person without HIV. 

Second, the chances of transmission from a single sexual contact are much smaller than most people imagine. Even the sexual activity with the highest risk—receptive anal sex—results in transmission less than 2% of the time. And that is without taking into account use of prevention technologies, such as condoms, “treatment as prevention,” or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

Third, with successful treatment, the chance of transmission between sexual partners is likely zero. Last year, preliminary results of a study that documented approximately 30,000 sex acts within couples of mixed HIV status, where the HIV-positive partner had a suppressed viral load due to treatment, showed no transmissions of HIV. These preliminary results are in line with an earlier study that at first documented a 96% reduction in the already low per-act risk of transmission, and was recently updated to reflect the fact that not a single transmission could be linked to an HIV-positive partner with a suppressed viral load.
That’s an additional reason why it is so important to learn your status and seek treatment if you are living with HIV. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has expanded access to health insurance to millions of Americans, reducing the healthcare access problems that plague communities of color, people with low incomes and other marginalized populations. Eliminating the HIV-related disparities that result from unequal access to care is a primary reason that Lambda Legal has been doing work to ensure the continuing viability of the ACA in every state, and Lambda Legal’s Know Your Rights: HIV hub has information about obtaining access to care if you—or your partner—has tested positive for HIV.

Safer sex is a shared responsibility, and new prevention tools are being developed to make a healthy sex life easier than ever. In 2012, the FDA approved HIV-negative people’s use of an antiretroviral HIV medication (Truvada) as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), to prevent the acquisition of HIV. Research shows that taking PrEP seven days a week is  nearly 100% effective at preventing HIV. PrEP is a game changer, because it provides a prevention method that is entirely within the control of the HIV-negative individual and helps to balance the scales of prevention responsibility. And new and improved prevention technologies are on the way!

Finally, it’s essential to realize that shaming or punishing a person, regardless of whether it is a celebrity or an everyday Joe/Jane, who gets tested and knows they are HIV-positive but does not disclose that private medical information to others—for any number of very legitimate reasons—is not the way to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this country. Public health officials agree:
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy asks us to “tackle misperceptions, stigma and discrimination to break down barriers to HIV prevention, testing, and care.” The CDC unequivocally asserts that HIV “stigma hampers prevention,” and according to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice, “the stigma associated with HIV remains extremely high and fear of discrimination causes some Americans to avoid learning their HIV status, disclosing their status, or accessing medical care.” While voluntary disclosure of one’s HIV-positive status (when it is safe to do so) is considered a best practice by public health officials, encouraging both partners to take appropriate measures to prevent HIV transmission is the best way to keep everyone healthy, happy and sexually fulfilled.

To answer general questions about HIV testing, disclosure, privacy, discrimination and more, check out Lambda Legal’s Know Your Rights: HIV. For more specific questions, contact our Help Desk.

 By Scott Schoettes  who is the senior attorney and HIV Project national director of Lambda Legal. This article was originally published on the Lambda Legalblog.

October 28, 2015

AIDS Advocates Launched Campaign to Save Discount Drug program from PhRMA



                                                       

                                                                           




PhRMA Needs to make a few more billions and is taken the business approach of ‘if you can’t afford it you shouldn’t buy it’ even if it cost you your life. We are back to the past with advocates and HIV people going to the streets to protest the gutting of this program to improve the already sky high profits. They have promised a big return to their share holders and how are going to keep their word if they don’t raise the prices? What if it kill some people, people die everyday. That seems to be the business model of some drug manufacturers. 


AIDS advocates and others launched a campaign to save the 340B discount drug program from being gutted by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), according to a press release by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), one of the groups leading the charge.

Protesters took to the streets outside PhRMA headquarters in Washington, DC, on October 22, as PhRMA held a roundtable discussion about the 340B program. 

AHF also launched a public service announcement titled “I Count,” in which people who rely on the discount meds say, “Actual people count, not profits. Stop counting profits and start counting people.”

Congress created the 340B program in 1992. It requires drug manufacturers to provide discount meds to nonprofits and groups such as AIDS service providers that meet the needs of underserved clients. The program accounts for only 2 percent of drug purchases nationwide, but drug lobbyists are intent on gutting the program, according to the AHF. 

“340B works beautifully. The only people who have a problem with it are greedy drug companies and the people who support them,” said AHF president, Michael Weinstein. “And 340B does not cost the government anything: all of the discounts come from the drug companies, simply in the form of reduced profits on the sales of these drugs. As the 340B program is only two percent of all drug sales, the drug companies can easily afford this. In fact, if 340B is cut, more people will turn to the government for help. Safety net providers participating in 340B are a vital part of the healthcare delivery system which need to be reinforced not cut.”


According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Office of Pharmacy Affairs (OPA), the 340B discount drug pricing program, which was created by Congress in 1992, “…requires drug manufacturers to provide outpatient drugs to eligible health care organizations/covered entities at significantly reduced prices. The 340B Program enables covered entities to stretch scarce Federal resources as far as possible, reaching more eligible patients and providing more comprehensive services.”
“Under the guise of ‘leadership,’ the drug industry is trying to weaken and dismantle elements of the government’s successful and lifesaving 340B discount drug program, which serves underserved communities through pharmacies run by AIDS organizations like AHF as well as other community groups,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “340B works beautifully. The only people who have a problem with it are greedy drug companies and the people who support them. And 340B does not cost the government anything: all of the discounts come from the drug companies, simply in the form of reduced profits on the sales of these drugs. As the 340B program is only two percent of all drug sales, the drug companies can easily afford this. In fact, if 340B is cut, more people will turn to the government for help. Safety net providers participating in 340B are a vital part of the healthcare delivery system which need to be reinforced not cut.”
“The 340B program is under constant assault from PhRMA and the drug industry, which will not stop until they have killed or severely handicapped this program,” said Michelle Morgan, AHF’s Director of National Advocacy Campaigns, and who is spearheading Thursday’s protest. “Unfortunately, some in Congress and the administration in general seem to be far more concerned about what pharma thinks than in looking out for safety net providers and their patients. That is why we are protesting at PhRMA—to stop drug companies’ efforts to gut a federal program that helps the neediest so they can fatten their wallets. We are also demanding that HRSA abandon its ill-conceived and unlawful ‘Mega-Guidance’ recommendations.”
PhRMA Event Will Explain PhRMA’s Interpretation of HRSA’s Proposed ‘Mega-Guidance’ for 340B
The catalyst for the Roundtable Discussion hosted by PhRMA (and the protest) was the recent release of proposed ‘Mega-Guidance’ on the 340B program issued by HRSA and which is now open for public comment. This proposed Guidance, which allies of PhRMA have called “a good start,” will severely limit the ability of safety net providers to participate in the program, and restrict the amount of care and services they can provide to vulnerable populations. The luncheon roundtable is intended to discuss PhRMA’s interpretation of this Guidance. The purpose of the protest is to provide a countervailing voice, that the program works exactly as Congress intended: it saves the federal government money, and helps protect the public health.
“The Mega-Guidance that HRSA has proposed is a solution in search of a problem,” said Laura Boudreau, Chief Counsel for Operations for AHF. “The guidance goes outside the bounds of the 340B law in a number of key respects that deeply hurt safety net providers and the patients they serve. If the guidance goes through as written, there will inevitably be legal action by safety net providers to challenge it, just the way that the drug industry has previously challenged other 340B guidance.”
The pharmaceutical industry has twice sued to show that HRSA does not have the legal authority under the original 340B legislation to create regulations with the exception of in a very few areas, an assessment that AHF agrees with. In 2007, HRSA also started down the same path of issuing guidance but later withdrew it.
Harris Poll (Dec. 2013): Only 1 in 10 Americans Thinks Pharma Is “…Honest and Trustworthy.”
And from the industry that brazenly put the word ‘Integrity’ in the name of its pharmaceutical advocacy coalition, ‘Alliance for Reform and Integrity,’ a 2013 Harris Poll revealed: “Just one in ten (Americans) say they think … pharma and drug companies (10%) … are generally honest and trustworthy.”
Since then, the industry’s reputation has taken even further hits with widespread negative public reaction to the roll out of Gilead’s $1,000 per pill Hepatitis C treatment in 2013. In addition, news last month that former hedge fund manager and current Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli was raising the price of the drug Daraprim, a 62-year-old medication to treat toxoplasmosis, from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill drew enormous negative media coverage, widespread public outrage and prompted calls for a government investigation. All pharma’s actions on its pricing and policies—including price-gouging like Mr. Shkreli’s—is making the issue of drug pricing and access a significant 2016 presidential campaign issue.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 492,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.

Contacts

AHF
Ged Kenslea
Senior Director, Communications
+1.323.308.1833 work
+1.323.791.5526 mobile
gedk@aidshealth.org
or
AHF
Christopher Johnson
Associate Director of Communications
+1.323.960.4846 work
+1.310.880.9913 mobile
christopher.johnson@aidshealth.org

September 11, 2015

What if You Can’t Afford Your HIV Meds?



                                                                          
Last year, Howard Sellers says he faced an impossible choice: buy groceries or pay for his anti-viral HIV medicine. “There were times I would skip my doses of medication because I just didn’t have the money to pay for it,” Sellers told us. “It started getting so bad that I would literally miss about a month of meds.”
Sellers, who has worked for the Department of Education since 2002, had been at P.S./M.S. 165 on the Upper West Side for seven years, first as a teacher, then as a community coordinator and dean. 
“The DOE health plan didn’t cover all my anti-viral meds,” Sellers explained, noting that his monthly co-payments frequently added up to more than $400, in addition to his student loan payments and his $1,050/month apartment share in Fort Washington. 
Sellers, who graduated from SUNY New Paltz and Columbia Teachers College, says he made his starting salary, around $48,000 annually, for years until he recently received a small raise. 
“They bumped me up to 54. I was supposed to get a raise of 7K [more], which didn’t happen, but I came to work because it’s about the kids, and I was just hoping that it would happen eventually. It didn’t.” 
Skipping medication put a dangerous strain on Sellers's body—he estimates that he was hospitalized at least a half-dozen times during his last two years of work. Eventually, the 36-year-old educator says he lost roughly 30 pounds and survived on school lunches.
“I couldn’t even get a second job, because there was so much on my plate that when I left school at eight or nine at night, there was nowhere for me to go work, because I was back at school at seven the next morning.”
Last summer, Sellers began writing checks to himself from the school’s checkbook.
“I wrote exactly the amounts for my meds, so if my meds were $280, I’d write myself a check for $280. If my meds for the months were $330, I would put $330. I’d use my checks to supplement my co-payments for my meds.”
Over the course of five months, Sellers stole around $2,200. 
“I acted in desperation, and I got by for a little bit, but my conscience weighed on me.” 
That's when he decided to confess to his principal.
“I said to her, look, I have an illness that you haven’t known about that I’ve been suffering with. I haven’t gotten a pay raise, I’m stressed, I’m struggling here, I’m living paycheck to paycheck I don’t have food,” Sellers said. 
Still, given the relatively small sum, his confession, and his willingness to repay what he stole, Sellers hoped that his principal would contact the DOE’s Office of Special Investigations, which “investigates allegations of improper or unlawful behavior,” or the Special Commissioner of Investigation, which handles more serious cases of “fraud, misconduct, conflicts of interest, and other wrongdoing” in the city’s school system. 
Instead, the principal called the NYPD. 
“It was like, OK, I just outed myself to someone who I thought was my friend, and she just completely threw me under, and it’s just been crazy since.”
In January, the Manhattan DA’s office charged Sellers with grand larceny, a felony, and identity theft and criminal possession of a forged instrument, both misdemeanors. Sellers was suspended from his job without pay, leaving him without health insurance. He lost his room in the Fort Washington apartment share, and has been hospitalized three times, most recently for contracting the parasite cryptosporidium. 
After one stay at Presbyterian Hospital, Sellers says he was unable to afford his medication; a physician ended up buying it for him.
“He's been the rock in his family, put himself through school, got financial aid and scholarships for New Paltz, got his masters, went through Teach for America, worked full time for eleven years, and can't afford drugs he needs to keep him alive, with health insurance,” says Alice Fontier, Sellers’ attorney.
“It's incredible that we live in a society that allows that to happen to people and then punishes them for it.”
91015sellerswindow.jpg
(Jessica Lehrman / Gothamist)
Advocates say that New York State has some of the best coverage options for people living with HIV/AIDS in the country, but that it can be difficult to match the services to people’s needs.
“Having people understand the full spectrum of benefits, and navigating that benefit system is really challenging, even for folks who understand the health care system,” says Wendy Stark, the executive director at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in Chelsea. 
“Whether you're eligible for Medicaid or whether you're eligible for ADAP or for a qualified health plan under the health exchanges, or whether you can avail yourself of different subsidies at different institutions, even finding those institutions—it's a really tricky business.”
Those who aren’t eligible for HASA—which provides low-income New Yorkers with HIV or AIDS with housing, food stamps, and Medicaid, among other services—may be able to receive help from ADAP, the state’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program. 
Under ADAP, New Yorkers making up to 435% of the federal poverty level—or $51,200—can receive drugs free of charge to treat HIV/AIDS, even if they are insured. 
For those out of ADAP’s range, there are still options to receive help with co-payments, which can balloon under a treatment regimen that easily can include more than a dozen medications. Pharmacy discount cards (BigAppleRXNeedy Meds) and discount plans sponsored by drug manufacturers like Gilead or through public hospitals or community health centers can lower monthly co-payments.
Stark says the myriad options and resulting confusion is a result of “a system-wide problem with our nation's healthcare system.”
“Unfortunately, because of our complex health system, a really important part of how to treat these issues is just getting medication in the hands of people who need it, and not have those people have to make really hard choices between medication versus rent versus food versus other life necessities.”
Alexandra Remmel, the director for client advocacy at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, says that in order to meet the state’s goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2020, “we must grow our efforts to get information out about life saving services that can remove barriers to treatment.”
"Every doctor will tell you not to skip [medication], it's that extra inch that says: Now how are you handling the cost of this? What kind of insurance do you have? Is it covering what you need? Is the deductible too high?” Remmel says. “These are questions that are not scheduled into a visit, but should be."
Sellers says that at least one of his doctors warned him not to skip his medication, but that ADAP never came up while he was faced with his ordeal in school. Negative comments he said his principal made about men with HIV made him afraid he’d be stigmatized, which further discouraged him from seeking help. 
“It made me kind of live this secret, and I never felt comfortable sharing that, so I didn’t,” he says. 
Sellers is now on Medicaid through HASA, which pays for his medication, but HASA also requires him to reside at the St. Nicholas Hotel in Harlem, a converted SRO that he calls “filthy.” 
“To be very honest with you, I dragged my mother out of that hotel many years ago,” Sellers told us. “You can look at the sinks and the tubs there are old cigarette burns on them. It’s really gross.”
He has a job at the Gap making $11.50/hour, but if he earns more than around $400 a week, he stands to lose his Medicaid and his benefits.
“I feel like I've hit rock bottom. I'd rather work and have an income then have to sleep in a hotel room somewhere and be living off HRA and living in one of their shelters.” 
The DOE declined to comment on Sellers's case, other than to confirm his employment. 
There is still the matter of the criminal charges against him—Sellers is due back in court at the end of the month. His attorney says the Manhattan DA’s office is offering him a deal: pay back half of what he stole and the felony will turn into a misdemeanor; pay it back entirely and it will turn into a violation. 
Once the DA is finished with him, the DOE will determine whether he can go back to work.
“I want to clear my name. I want to get this over and done with,” Sellers says, adding that he is eager to work as an educator again. 
“I was a product of the New York City Department of Education; I came out well. There are many kids of color who look up to men in the system. I feel that they need to see someone in a suit who is pushing for their education and their success, someone who is there to listen.”
“I was desperate and I made a mistake. I don’t feel it defines me.”

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