Elite controllers

On behalf of the Elite Controller community, I’m writing to thank you for noting our existence in your article “Towards An HIV Cure” (September+October 2017), and for suggesting that we, as a collective, do have a role in advancing the “field of HIV cure research.”

More often than not, our contributions to that effort are relegated to the pages of scholarly journal articles with infrequent mention in the mainstream press or publications like POSITIVELY AWARE.

Given the field’s intense interest in a minority of cases (about 17) called “post-treatment controllers,” continued support of clinical studies focused upon elite controllers (around 500 individuals) is paramount to understanding the human response to the virus in the absence of medications.

Our individual contributions in the form of donations of blood and tissue samples to these important research studies shall continue in the hope of shedding light on how best to improve the lives of non-controllers in whatever form, for that is our personal and collective aim.

Congratulations on TPAN’s 30th anniversary!

—Loreen Willenberg
Sacramento, California

Louisiana law

I read with interest your article by Michelle Simek (“Undetectable Equals Untransmittable,” September + October 2017). Very informative.

But, she includes this incomplete message about Louisiana’s HIV laws:

But what about the naysayers? Those who don’t believe in U=U or have concerns? Some were contacted and declined to comment. However, Gina Brown, an activist from New Orleans who is living with HIV, says, “In the beginning I had some reservations about this message. I wasn’t really sure how it worked. To me it was almost too good to be true. I didn’t want to give PLHIV the wrong information or information that could get them into trouble. (Louisiana is a state that criminalizes HIV.)

It would be more accurate to report, Louisiana is a state that criminalizes the intentional exposure of another person to HIV/AIDS through sexual contact. But, despite the language in the statute, Louisiana courts have found that neither the intent to transmit HIV nor actual transmission is required.

This link provides an overview of HIV-Specific Criminal Laws in Louisiana and what a person living with HIV can be criminalized for: hivlawandpolicy.org/states/louisiana.

—Robert Johannessen
Communications Director, Bureau of Media and Communications, Louisiana Department of Health

PA at USCA 2017

Staff from POSITIVELY AWARE and TPAN, the non-profit HIV/AIDS services organization that publishes the magazine, attended NMAC’s U.S. Conference on AIDS 2017 this past September.  Our booth was turned into a “social media living room,” complete with a living room rug, illuminated couch, throw pillows, and other assorted pieces. The items were provided by Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & What Not, a popular Washington, D.C. vintage shop.

From left: PA Advertising Manager Lorraine Hayes, TPAN Development Director Merrill Kenna, TPAN CEO Patti Capouch, PA Editor-in-Chief Jeff Berry, PA Creative Director Rick Guasco, and TPAN Manager of Case Management José López.