Category: HIV/AIDS Awareness

Baby Steps: New leads towards an HIV cure

It’s a good month to be an AIDS activist!

After the publication of results pointing to the success of aggressive antiretroviral therapy campaigns in South Africa last week, the light at the end of the tunnel just got a little bit brighter.

Scientists announced on Sunday that a baby born with HIV might have been cured. The child, born in rural Mississippi, is now 2 and a half, and has been off medication for a year with no further sign of infection, AP reported.

Speaking at a press conference at the start of the 20th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infection in Atlanta, pediatrician Deborah Persaud called this “the first well-documented case” of its kind, ScienceNOW reported.

Though Persaud did not treat the child herself, she and her colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted studies of blood samples, leading her to conclude that early treatment may be the real hero in this case, ScienceNow added.

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The Dangers of Bacterial Resistance and AIDS

It seems like only yesterday that the AIDS pandemic first hit— arriving in a storm of panicked media exclusives and misinformation.  As with any communicable, life-threatening disease, the public’s first questions were inevitably ‘have I been exposed?’ or, even, ‘could I already have AIDS without knowing?’  In the beginning, there was little clear information on where the disease came from, or how it was spread—only the grim knowledge that people were dying.  The absurd—and often mocked—notion the illness could be contracted through a toilet seat or drinking fountain seemed very valid and real—and would only later be dispelled through many years of public education and AIDS literacy campaigns.

25 years later, World AIDS Day celebrated the anniversary of its founding in 1987—marking an important global milestone for AIDS research, awareness and fundraising.  The little red ribbon can be seen everywhere— from Vancouver to Helsinki— and AIDS is now a treatable disease with a vastly improved prognosis.  With modern retroviral therapy, many patients are living past the 20-year mark.  Of course, there’s still much to be done, especially in developing nations where these drugs are often not available—mostly due to financial or political concerns. Read More

FDA Advisory Panel Recommends Approval of Home HIV Test Kits and HIV Prevention Pills

There is an old saying that advises us that “prevention is better than the cure”. This is a widely accepted idiom and is especially true when it comes to HIV/AIDS because, as of date, no cure has been found for the disease. The only strategy that has been used in various scenarios is to prevent the transmission of the virus. So far, this strategy has been quite successful, although a lot more needs to be done, especially when it comes to the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/AIDS.

It therefore comes as great news to hear that advisory panels to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recommended that two new weapons be added to the HIV prevention arsenal. The first is an over-the-counter HIV kit that will allow people to test themselves in the privacy of their own homes1. The second is a pill that can help prevent people from becoming infected with the virus2.
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Vitalwave Supports World AIDS Day – Act Aware!

Today is World AIDS Day, an opportunity for people across the globe to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In the more than 30 years since HIV first emerged, more than 30 million people have succumbed to the disease. Amazing progress has since been made. Today, millions of people now have access to antiretroviral medication and the HIV infection rate in children is steadily on the decline.

On World AIDS Day, it is important to highlight one of the key issues impeding the fight against HIV/AIDS – drug resistance. This is the ability of HIV to thrive against the effects and efforts of an antiretroviral drug that is administered to prevent its replication. Some of the various factors that contribute towards treatment failure and HIV drug resistance include lack of knowledge among patients and healthcare staff, lack of strict adherence to treatment regimens, drug stock-outs, as well as sub-par patient monitoring mechanisms.

Today, it is important to celebrate the milestones organizations such as the WHO have achieved in the prevention and assessment of HIV Drug Resistance. The Organization has established the HIVResNet which is a global network of more than 50 institutions, labs, and experts aimed to support capacity building, surveillance, and data analysis.  It was found that access to ART in low and middle income countries have increased a notable amount; showing more than 6 million people receiving ART at the end of 2010 in comparison to a dismal 400,000 people having access to ART in these countries at the end of 2003. WHO has provided countries with “Early Warning Indicators” compiled from medical and pharmacy records that monitor the functioning of ART sites and mitigate chances of drug resistance. Read More

Campaign (RED) Fights HIV/AIDS

Founded in 2006 by U2 frontman Bono, the Red Campaign combats the effects of HIV AIDS in Africa by channeling the energy and attention of today’s eager consumers towards a priceless cause. The Red Campaign simply utilizes the financial expenditure of consumers in order to help people affected by HIV AIDS.  (RED) produces (PRODUCT) red items with influential partners including the likes of American Express, Apple, Bugaboo, Converse, Dell, Emporio Armani, Gap, Hallmark, Nike, Penfolds, Penguin, and Starbucks .  Generally, these items pass on up to 50 percent of their profits to the Global Fund in order to invest in HIV AIDS support programs [I].

By examining the Gap, the internal processes of Campaign RED can be broken down into three easy to understand steps [II]:
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Living with HIV/AIDS – A Story From Ethiopia

"It is the hope that people gave me by befriending me, accepting me and letting me know, with kind words, that I too could be happy"

Looking at Sarah* today, it would be hard to imagine that she is a person living with HIV/AIDS. Her lively, bubbly outlook belies the stigmatization that most of the people living with HIV have to endure day after day. The healthy look that she now exudes belies the fear that used to come when people saw her rapid loss of weight.

People tended to talk when they saw someone lose weight drastically. Before the disease was named ‘HIV/AIDS’ by western medicine, Africa had different names that were usually variations of the rapid weight lose that ensued once patients were infected. For example, in Uganda it was called ‘Slim Disease’ and in Ethiopia it was ‘Amenminé’ (Amharic for ‘that which shrivels’). Read More

Preventing Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission (PMTCT): A Common Fight

In 2009 it was estimated that there were 2.5 million children living with HIV/AIDS [1]. This heartbreaking number is 2.5 million more than it should be. Sadly, it is anyone’s guess how many of these infections could have been averted by the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV.

PMTCT is the acronym used to describe the efforts and protocols used in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Although PMTCT may at first seem a bit complicated, there are some steps like educating mothers-to-be, testing them for HIV, informing them of breast milk substitutes, following safer delivery practices and giving them access to anti-retroviral drugs and treatments. These measures can substantially cut down rates of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV.

PMTCT has been recognized as one of the best ways to combat HIV/AIDS, especially in the fight for the lives of children. And with that recognition, the efforts to implement PMTCT have been stepped up globally. For example, in 2005 the percentage of HIV infected women who had access to treatment in developing countries was only 15%. This percentage grew to 23% in just one year, and by 2009 it was 53% [2]. Read More

The Lazarus Effect – How $0.40/day Can Help Save A Life

Researchers have been referring to it  as The Lazarus Effect, the amazing beneficial changes that antiretroviral drugs can bring to an HIV/AIDS patient. Many things count in controlling the global HIV/AIDS pandemic – proper diagnosis, prevention, and education are all crucial, but access to treatment is key. The Lazarus Effect is a brilliant documentary showing us that with just two antiretroviral pills/day, health can be restored in a dying person.

Sponsored by the RED campaign, The Lazarus Effect follows four people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and takes us on a journey as they regain their health. In developed countries like the US & Canada, HIV/AIDS is a manageable disease because treatment is made readily available. But to an African that survives on less than $1.25/day, life can be a tragically different story. HIV/AIDS has killed more than 20 million people in Africa, and yet it continues to be a preventable and treatable disease. For just $0.40/day, a life can be saved. The Lazarus Effect shows us that this can be the case. Don’t wait to see how you can get involved, watch the 30-minute documentary today.

Remembering Elizabeth Taylor – HIV/AIDS Activist

Elizabeth Taylors - AIDS Activist, Relentless Crusader, Pioneer and Hero

Elizabeth Taylor — a great and courageous ally, friend and champion — has passed and we stop for a moment today to honor her courage and activism on behalf of so many of us.

When she first began speaking out about HIV/AIDS in the early 1980s, there was still a great deal of mystery, fear and stigma surrounding the disease. She was the first really big celebrity to use her fame to advocate for better public health policy, and to raise funds for HIV/AIDS treatment, services and research.

While she started local, appearing at the first major AIDS benefit for AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), in 1985 she joined forces with Dr. Mathilde Krim and went on to become the founding international chairperson of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR).

It was a time when thousands of people became devastatingly ill and died rapid and horrible deaths, and yet the silence from our government was deafening. In those dark times, Elizabeth Taylor used the light of her celebrity to draw mainstream media attention to the government’s failure to respond to the AIDS crisis. She boldly stood with us to urge public support for better treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS. In those days, before e-mail, texting, Facebook and Twitter, her voice had a powerful ripple effect that helped make the world more aware of this growing health crisis. Read More

Today is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Let's empower communities and organizations to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS

Far too many people think that HIV/AIDS is only a crisis in developing countries. Unfortunately, this is untrue. In March 2009, the state of Washington D.C reported an HIV prevalence of at least 3% among residents over 12 years old, a rate similar to those found in some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.1 Today’s National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the US is a nationwide observance to raise awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls and encourage them to get tested. This is especially important in low-income communities where access to healthcare based education and prevention measures are typically inadequate. It is also a day therefore aimed at empowering communities and organizations to take action in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Read More

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