Positively Aware Online News Brief. Current HIV News and events
POSITIVELY AWARE 4/23/2012
The HIV Prevention Justice Alliance is joining a national coalition of organizations in an effort to ensure the rights of direct care workers, and that those who receive services are able to stay in their homes. The new movement, Caring Across Generations, is made up of organizations advocating for women’s, disability rights, older adults, workers, community, youth, students and caregivers.
“The voices, experience, and expertise that the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance brings are precisely what we need to strengthen the Caring Across Generations campaign,” said Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-director of the Caring Across Generations coalition. “We have a lot to learn from the years of work to ensure quality services and care for people living with HIV. We are thrilled to welcome the Alliance, and look forward to building the movement we need together.”
“In the HIV/AIDS community, we know that truly confronting HIV depends on protecting what we have—Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and other programs— and creating what we need, like a comprehensive system of care for all, to finally break the back of the epidemic.” said Kiesha McCurtis, co-chair of the HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA). “We know how to end the epidemic in this country, if we have the political will and this campaign is part of the solution.”
Caring Across Generations is introducing federal legislation to create two million new, quality jobs in home care; improve access to care and support services; develop career advancement models and a path to citizenship for domestic and home care workers; improve and expand Medicare and Medicaid along with a solution to affordability challenges for those paying out-of-pocket for care.
“People living with HIV, our families, and loved ones have seen firsthand that in-home support and services can literally be the difference between living with dignity and dying before our time,” said Dee Borrego, co-chair of the Economic Justice Working Group of the HIV PJA. “The Caring Across Generations campaign brings full-scale solutions to the crisis in home care, and not a moment too soon.”
HIV Prevention Justice Alliance made the announcement April 17.
A research team led by Children's National Medical Center has identified a trigger that causes latent Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV) to rapidly replicate itself. KSHV causes Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and other cancers that commonly affect immuno-compromised patients, including those with AIDS. Appearing in the online edition of the Journal of Virology, the study identifies apoptosis, or the programmed death of a virus' host cell, as the trigger for high-level viral replication.
"Finding that the programmed death of a host cell triggered rapid production of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus, means that KSHV has the ability to sense and respond to critical changes in the cells that it grows in, something we didn't know before,” stated lead author Alka Prasad, PhD, who is a member of the Center for Cancer and Immunology Research at Children's National Medical Center. “We previously thought that the virus was more of an inanimate entity. This newly discovered pathway is clearly helpful to the virus and clues researchers in on how we might target treatments. If the host cell died quickly, before the virus could reproduce, then the virus could not infect any new cells. Having the ability to sense when the host cell is about to die and reproduce quickly in response gives the virus an evolutionary advantage. In addition, cancers caused by KSHV and other herpes viruses are commonly treated with drugs that kill cells, so the results could have a significant effect on the treatment of KSHV-related cancers, which we will need to explore."
KSHV and the cancers it causes most commonly afflict patients with AIDS and other disorders that affect the immune system. KSHV attaches to white blood cells and either actively replicates through a controlled gene expression program or remains latent.
“In addition to looking at the clinical implications of these research findings, we now need to focus in on the pathway that links apoptosis to this particular replication pathway and perhaps expand our research from KSHV to include another example of herpes virus,” commented Steven Zeichner, MD, PhD, the senior author on the paper, who is a principal investigator for the Center for Cancer and Immunology Research at Children’s National and a professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine. The study was supported in part by the new NIH-funded District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research, of which Children's National is a key member.
The Faces of HIV is a mobile art exhibit that depicts the lives of Florida residents who are living with HIV/AIDS. The exhibit, created by We Make the Change, has already traveled to Orland, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Tampa, and St. Petersburg. The next stop on their Florida tour will be Jacksonville, May 11–12.
The exhibit features captivating photographs, interviews, and personal observations of HIV-positive Floridians. Free HIV testing is often available at or near exhibit sites.
We Make the Change is an organization that provides HIV education and prevention services. “Together, we can become a powerful threat against the AIDS epidemic by turning our knowledge of HIV into action—and this action starts with each of us,” is their philosophy.
Janssen Therapeutics, Division of Janssen Products, LP, has awarded its first scholarship through Point Foundation, the nation's largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBT students of merit. Janssen Therapeutics is the first pharmaceutical company to fund a Point Scholarship.
The Janssen Therapeutics Point Scholarship provides funding for a four-year period to graduating high school seniors and college students with a field of study focused on HIV/AIDS or attending a business school. The scholarship recipient receives financial assistance, and is matched with a mentor who is a successful professional and serves as a role model for the scholar.
Janssen is awarding its first Point Scholarship to Siddarth (Sid) Puri to support his medical studies at the University of California (UC) Davis School of Medicine. Sid is a co-director of the Joan Viteri Memorial Clinic, a student-run clinic dedicated to serving the health care needs of uninsured drug users, sex workers and their families in Sacramento. He is also active in his school's LGBT People in Medicine organization and is pursuing research on health disparities faced by the transgender community both in the U.S. and in India.
“Thanks to the generosity of Janssen Therapeutics and Point Foundation, I am on the way to getting my medical degree so I can provide culturally sensitive medical care to the LGBT community and all people living with HIV/AIDS,” Puri said.
“Janssen Therapeutics is honored to support Sid's education and his efforts in advocating for the underserved,” said Ron Falcon, MD, Director of Marketing, HIV, Janssen Therapeutics, adding, “This scholarship further extends our commitment to diversity.”
Click here for more information and follow Janssen on Twitter at @JanssenUS.
In a case that could ultimately affect the possible use of Truvada for PrEP, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a generic drug can be sold for treatments not covered by the brand-name product’s patent.
In a 9-0 decision, the justices ruled that drug companies can use the federal law known as Hatch-Waxman to correct incomplete patent information. The ruling came as the result of a lawsuit involving the complex business practices of brand-name drugs and their generic counterparts—specifically, how a generic drug be sold for uses that are approved by the FDA, but aren’t covered by the brand-name product’s patent.
The case has potential implications for the FDA’s expected approval of the HIV drug Truvada for use as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (preventive) treatment against HIV (known as PrEP), if a generic version of Truvada becomes available.
The court issued its ruling April 17. SCOTUSBlog has details to the decision and the briefs, as well as recaps of oral arguments in the case.
Congress is back from a two-week recess and incredibly, they started off by voting not to repeal subsidies to oil companies, then moved on to defeat the Buffet Rule bill which would’ve evened out the tax code a bit (the Buffet Rule is named after billionaire investor Warren Buffet, who pointed out that he pays a lower income tax rate than his secretary.) Both the repeal and the Rule were heavily favored by “the American People,” whom Republicans always like to speak for as demanding whatever the GOP wants at the moment.
The newest on the quickly dwindling Affordable Care Act—the House Ways and Means Committee has found an easy target in order to meet its deficit-reduction goal under the Paul Ryan budget: the ACA’s insurance subsidies. The committee proposes to save $43.9 billion by requiring people to pay back any excess insurance subsidies they receive under the health care reform law. Smaller “recapture” efforts have garnered bipartisan support in the past, but this one goes further, requiring people to repay the entire amount of overpayments. But who determines that a subsidy has been too much? What do you want to bet that someone trying to live on $20,000 a year will be told they need to pay back that $100 they were “overpaid?” So much for “affordable care.”
Also, while the 20 million people who are supposed to gain subsidized coverage on the new insurance exchanges have gotten most of the attention, the health law also supposedly expands Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program to 17 million low-income families starting in 2014. Medicaid, however, is already straining to care for the more than 58 million already in the program because it doesn’t pay doctors enough to participate.
So let’s see—a Supreme Court challenge on constitutionality, continually rising premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, subsidies to the nation’s poor and “middle” class that now might have to be paid back, relentless attacks on Medicare and Medicaid, and now the “doc fix” issue. Seriously, does anyone really believe this thing will ever be implemented?
And finally, a sad bit of news—New York Democrat Edolphus Towns announced on April 16 that he would not seek re-election to the House. He would have been running for his 16th term.
Congressman Towns was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and served as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee from 2009 to 2011. He was a long-time champion of ending the disparity in health care, including mental health, among minorities. He was yet another progressive voice that will be missed, though Democrats are expected to retain his seat in November.