News Round-Up (HIV Edition)

A Long-Term Survivor Speaks Out


Sean McKenna (above) reflects on the urgency of overcoming isolation and depression for people who tested HIV positive before 1996. READ MORE


Research Suggests HIV Treatment May Prevent Accelerated Brain Aging 

Cognitive decline has been a major concern for people living with HIV as they age.



New HIV Cases Drop to Lowest Number in New York City Since 1981
The city saw the lowest number of new HIV cases in 35 years following a big public push for testing and treatment. There were 2,493 new HIV diagnoses in 2015, a 8.3 percent drop from 2014. Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett credited the city and state’s programs that offered free anti-viral drugs such as PrEP and PEP to New Yorkers and a media campaign that promotes safe sex, as the biggest factors behind the declines. “This is very important because the more options people have the more likely they will prevent infection,” she said. The data, however, showed slight increases among the New Yorkers who are the majority of new diagnoses. Men made up of 81 percent of the cases, up .3 percent from 2014, blacks and Latinos made up 78 percent of diagnoses.


HIV Vaccine Therapy Lets Five People Control Virus Without Drugs
The therapy gives the immune system the tools to flush out HIV, meaning daily drugs can be ditched – one man has been free of them for seven months


HIV-Positive Older Men of Color Tell It Like It Is, Sex and All


Frank Ambriz, Howard White and Robert Waldron have certainly lived full lives—and they’re not about to slow down. In fact, they’re sharing some of the experiences and wisdom they’ve gained as older minority men living with HIV. As members of a men over 50 HIV support group with Brooklyn’s GRIOT Circle, an LGBTQ group for elders of color, the three men are telling their life stories as a way to spread a message of HIV prevention and awareness. READ MORE


After Two Decades of Stagnation, U.S. HIV Infection Rate Falls
The estimated annual number of new HIV infections in the United States fell 18 percent between 2008 and 2014. Stagnant at about 45,000 to 50,000 per year since the mid-1990s, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) estimate of HIV incidence fell from 45,700 to 37,600 during this recent six-year period. Findings from the CDC’s new analysis, including a report that focused specifically on HIV rates among men who have sex with men (MSM), were presented at the 2017 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle.


HIV Discovered Hiding in Overlooked Memory T Cells
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) avoids detection by the immune system in an unexpected hiding place: the same cells that are meant to attack it, new research suggests. Sarah Palmer, PhD, a deputy director, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Sydney, and her team have confirmed the specific immune memory T cells that harbor latent HIV. The small bits of hidden virus can replicate and cause damage after years of antiretroviral therapy. The discovery was a surprise. Memory T cells are important because they remember previous infections and how to defeat them. The cells provide life-long immunity against diseases such as measles or chicken pox, for instance.


Growing Old with HIV After Decades of Drug Success
The success of breakthrough HIV drugs means one of the biggest challenges in the decades to come will be treating HIV as part of the aging process. More than half of all people with HIV in the United States are over 50, and by 2030 it is estimated that this figure will rise to 70 percent, according to the International Society for Infectious Diseases. Older HIV patients will be in general decline, while also battling conditions caused by decades of HIV drug use.


New York Commissioner: 'When Science, Community and Political Will Come Together, We Can End The Epidemic'
New York City’s strategy to end the HIV epidemic is firmly rooted in science, was developed in conjunction with community activists, and has support from top-level political leaders, Demetre Daskalakis told the 2017 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle earlier this year.


'What It Was Like To Be An HIV-Positive, Closeted Olympian In The 1980s' by Greg Louganis 


Five years after retiring from diving at the ripe old age of 28, I rediscovered my grade school passion for acting. I was a lead in an off-Broadway play where I played a chorus boy named Darius. Out and proud, he walked in gay pride rallies without a care. Darius dies from AIDS in the play, but his spirit comes back and tells his friends to hate AIDS, not his life. Like Darius, I was gay and HIV-positive. But unlike Darius, I was semi-closeted and scared — I had none of his pride and swagger. I realized I was living out my dreams through my character, a man who lived unapologetically without fear of ridicule. I’d had enough. I wanted people to know the truth behind the man who’d won four gold medals in two consecutive Olympics. READ MORE


A Report Documents Racism and Xenophobia in HIV Non-disclosure Media Coverage in Canada Calling Out the Media’s Racism & Xenophobia: HIV Is Not a Crime


How The Plague Years Changed The Consciousness Of America
The consciousness of a nation rises or sinks one citizen at a time. Tens of thousands played their parts, unwillingly or purposefully: heroes and villains, saints and sinners, the courageous and cowardly, sweethearts and assholes. Bizarrely, those roles could be reversed, depending on how one viewed the disease and those afflicted. Fighting for what they believe, a Catholic bishop or a drag queen could be hero or villainess, both with good intentions. Even bigots and hypocrites served their purpose, contrasting their cruelty, indifference, and cold hearts with the inherent goodness of the American people.


A Focus on Mental Health Vastly Improves HIV Treatment Programs


HIV and depression seem to come as an item, especially for those newly diagnosed. MORE


Newer HIV Prevention Strategies: TasP & Vaccination
Even as the use of PrEP gains traction, research is increasing into stopping HIV for those who are already infected. Drug regimens to treat HIV patients have been widely available for some time. The costs of those medications have dropped to a point where many more patients have access to treatment. This improves their quality of life and helps to lessen symptoms. Recently, efforts have shifted in two interesting ways, focusing on treatment-as-prevention (TasP) and the development of rapid post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).


Public Health England Records First Downturn in Infections in London, Thanks to Frequent Testing and Rapid Treatment
The reasons for the fall are thought to be the big step up in testing, so that gay men at high risk because their partner has HIV would be offered testing every three months, and offering immediate antiretroviral drug treatment to those who test positive, which suppresses the virus. At the same time, significant numbers of gay men in London have been taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – one of the same drugs that can prevent them becoming infected with the virus. Some have been involved in trials to establish how effective PrEP is, while others have bought the drug online following successful trials in the US.


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