Positively Aware Online News Brief. Current HIV News and events
POSITIVELY AWARE 6/25/2012
Knowing your HIV status is the first step in taking control and taking care of yourself. As it has done since 1995, the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) is promoting HIV testing with National HIV Testing Day, June 27.
If you test negative, you can work to stay that way, NAPWA says; if you test positive, you can get treatment.
To find an HIV testing site near you, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up a web site that is searchable by ZIP code.
For the second year in a row, Walgreens, the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S., is marking the day by teaming with Greater Than AIDS to offer free HIV testing. Testing will be conducted June 27–29, 3–7 p.m., at 47 select stores in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis, Washington, D.C. and West Palm Beach.
You can locate participating Walgreens stores here.
For more information about National HIV Testing Day, visit NAPWA’s web site.
COURTESY OF THE NAMES PROJECT FOUNDATION
AIDS Quilt to go on display
To mark its 25th anniversary, the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be laid out in its entirety—all 48,000 panels—next month in Washington, D.C. Pieces of the Quilt will be on display June 27–July 1 and July 4–8 as part the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival. Organizers also plan to roll out every segment of the 54-ton quilt July 21–25, during the International AIDS Conference.
Wednesday is the 25th anniversary of the creation of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, begun in a San Francisco storefront to memorialize friends and loved ones who had died from HIV. The Quilt is maintained by the NAMES Project Foundation. For more information about the Quilt in Washington, click here, or follow #aidsquilt on Twitter.
People with HIV have more than four times the risk of sudden heart attack as those who are uninfected, according to a recent study published in May in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The finding appeared last week in an article in The New York Times about the discovery of increased heart-related deaths at the hospital. Examining medical records of patients at San Francisco General Hospital’s AIDS clinic who had died between 2000 and 2009, Dr. Zian H. Tseng, the study's lead author, discovered that an unusually high percentage of HIV patients on antiretroviral drugs had died of heart attacks.
HIV and other infections accompanied by HIV can cause inflammation in organs and tissue, which can produce blood clots resulting in heart attacks. In the intestines, HIV can cause “leaky gut syndrome,” allowing inflammation-causing microbes to enter the bloodstream.
“We should be screening people for coronary disease, aggressively treating blood pressure, aggressively treating cholesterol,” said Priscilla Y. Hsue, MD, a cardiologist at San Francisco General Hospital and co-author of the study.
For more information about HIV-related inflammation, read POSITIVELY AWARE’s July+August 2011 issue, Inflamed Response.
Young men receiving antiretroviral therapy for HIV have been found to have lower bone mass than other men their age, according to a study appearing in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
“The young men in the study had been taking anti-HIV medications for a comparatively short time, yet they still had lower bone mineral density than other men their age,” said co-author Bill G. Kapogiannis, M.D., of the Pediatric, Adolescent, and Maternal AIDS Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). “These findings suggest a short-term impact of HIV therapy on bone at ages when people are still growing and building bone mass. This raises concern about the risk of fracture as they age.”
“None of the young men we saw is in immediate risk of fracture,” said Dr. Kathleen Mulligan, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco. “However, our results indicated that it would be a good idea for young men newly diagnosed with HIV to make sure they exercise, get enough calcium and vitamin D, quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption.”
Among HIV-infected young men, average bone density in the hip was 5–8 percent lower, and 2–4 percent lower in the spine than for study participants without HIV. Some 250 young men ages 14 to 25 took part in the study; about 88 percent identified themselves as African-American or Hispanic and all lived in urban areas.
Is hepatitis B co-infection more deadly than hep C?
HIV-positive men who are co-infected with hepatitis B (HBV) are more likely to die than those with hepatitis C (HCV) co-infection, according to research published in the April 20, 2012, advance online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases. However, a related study found that liver-related mortality was quite high for HIV/HCV co-infected people who had an AIDS diagnosis.
The European agency responsible for reviewing pharmaceutical drugs for sale in Europe has recommended approval of Gilead Sciences’ new integrase inhibitor elvitegravir. Final approval would clear the way for the new anti-HIV drug to be marketed in all 27 countries of the European Union.
Gilead’s Marketing Authorisation Application presented to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) was backed by 96-week data from a Phase 3 study (Study 145) in which elvitegravir (150 mg or 85 mg) taken once daily was non-inferior to twice daily Isentress (raltegravir) (400 mg) with a regimen that included a ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitor and a second antiretroviral.
Data from the study were first announced in December, 2011. Complete results will be presented at July’s XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.
The London-based EMA recommended Gilead’s marketing application for the Quad single-tablet regimen for approval last December; in May, the agency also recommended the boosting agent cobicistat. The Quad combines both elvitegravir and cobicistat along with Truvada (tenofovir/embtricitabine).
For nearly 30 years, a federal ban has outlawed organ transplants between donors and recipients who are HIV-positive. Senators, Congressmen, and treatment advocates will host a congressional briefing June 27 to discuss repealing the ban.
Advocates claim that more than 1,000 people with HIV could be saved every year if such organ transplants were allowed.
The briefing is being held in collaboration with the offices of Senators Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Tom Coburn, MD (R-Oklahoma), along with Congresswoman Lois Capps, RN (D-California).
Among the organizations sponsoring the event are the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA), the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), AIDS United, the Treatment Action Group, and the Human Rights Campaign.
Roughly half of all new HIV diagnoses come from the Southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, reports Georgia Public Broadcasting. Democrats and Republicans alike in Congress are trying to figure out what to do about it.
“We don’t want this to grow like it did silently in the late ’70s and early ’80s with gay men, and people were dying unnecessarily because there had been no attention paid to the rising numbers,” says Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Lithonia). According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, about 40,000 Georgians live with HIV and AIDS, two-thirds in metro Atlanta.
AIDS United is leading a push to address the situation, hosting a congressional roundtable this week on Capitol Hill.
In a story in USA Today, Ronald Johnson, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at AIDS United, cited several factors for higher rates in the South, including “higher rates of poverty, racism that helps drive and fuel the problem, cultural conservatism that serves as a barrier, stigma around HIV, stigma toward… drug users and sexism.”
Pictured:Shereen El-Feki—PHOTO VIA TED.COM
Bad laws help spread HIV
Laws that effectively criminalize being HIV-positive are actually helping to spread the epidemic by perpetuating stigma, argues a physician during a presentation at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar.
“HIV brings out the best and the worst in humanity, and the laws reflect these attitudes,” says Shereen El-Feki, a physician based in Cairo, Egypt, where she works on health and social welfare issues in the Arab world.
El-Feki addressed the TED conference in May. Begun in 1984, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, but the non-profit devoted to “Ideas worth spreading,” has widened its focus to encompass other fields.
El-Feki’s TED Talk can be viewed here.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon introduced the 2012 report on the progress made in the implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Political Declarations on HIV/AIDS. The UN’s global plan aims to eliminate new infections in children by 2015, but the Secretary-General acknowledged that efforts would need to be redoubled to meet this goal.