Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day!! #WAD2014

December 1st, 2014 is World AIDS Day. The theme this year is “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation.” Visit here for more info on World AIDS day.

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.

For a lot more info, events, and lifestream of the Whitehouse Event, visit AIDS.gov. Also check out CDC.gov for much more info on AIDS care and treatment, including the CDC initiative Vital Signs.

Learn Vital Information about HIV Medical Care

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Anti-science Bryan Fischer: HIV doesn’t cause AIDS because Ebola… and shingles

I can’t even with these tweets. A most basic understanding of virology completely accounts for why these different viruses cause distinct diseases, and have different incubation times and disease progression. UGH!

[tweet https://twitter.com/BryanJFischer/status/518064674584395777] [tweet https://twitter.com/BryanJFischer/status/517862958018621440] [tweet https://twitter.com/BryanJFischer/status/518053518377111552]

HIV Treatment Works: CDC campaign encourages people with HIV to get and stay in care! #science #HIV

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This saturday is National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day! Yesterday CauseScience posted the CDC report finding that half of HIV positive gay men are not receiving adequate treatment. The CDC has recently launched an awareness campaign for all people living with HIV, HIV Treatment Works.

The HIV Treatment Works campaign encourages people living with HIV to Get in CareStay in Care and Live Well. Today, you can live a longer, healthier life by being in medical care and on HIV treatment. People featured in these videos share how they live well with HIV and how you can, too.

The treatments we have for HIV are extremely effective, and are one of the biggest biomedical research success stories in the last few decades. However, these breakthrough treatments are only effective if they are taken. While there are barriers to access treatment, this CDC campaign shows people how to get and maintain care and treatment.

More than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV. This campaign features people from across the United States who are living with HIV talking about how sticking with care and treatment helps them stay healthy, protect others, and live longer, healthier lives.

This campaign shows how people living with HIV have overcome barriers to get in care and stay on treatment.

Check out the HIV Treatment Works website for informative videos, info graphics, and posters and banners to get the word out about this campaign!

CDC report: ~half of HIV+ gay men are not getting proper treatment

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Just a few days ahead of the National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the CDC has issued a report detailing the lack of effective HIV treatment/care among gay men. The report was published in the CDC’s Morbity and Mortality Weekly ReportThe major finding of the report is that about half of gay men living with HIV are not getting adequate treatment. WebMd has a great summary article of the report here.

The research shows that while 77.5 percent did initially get HIV medical care within three months of their diagnosis, only about 51 percent continued getting care on an ongoing basis.

Worse, the report shows that the percent of men getting treatment and achieving healthy ‘viral supression’ is even lower. This is extremely concerning, given that the treatment for HIV is very effective and is one of the great biomedical breakthroughs of this century. Also, it appears that there is an age and race bias, with younger men and Black/African American men having lower levels of care compared with older men and those of all other race/ethnicities. The authors discuss potential reasons for these issues, and conclude that contributing factors likely include lack of health insurance, stigma, and discrimination. This report highlights the need for outreach to increase awareness of testing, treatment, and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

All of these numbers fall short of targets from the CDC’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which aims to have 80 percent of infected gay and bisexual men retained in ongoing medical care by 2015.

According to the CDC, gay or bisexual males make up 2 percent of the U.S. population but comprise 52 percent of Americans infected with HIV. Many are unaware they are infected.

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Laurie Garrett: Poignant remembrance of AIDS researchers lost on Flight MH17

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Check out the time.com article by Laurie Garrett about the HIV/AIDS researchers lost on flight MH17. As a friend and colleague of some of the researchers, her take on the impact of this tragedy is more than poignant. She also highlights that the AIDS research field, more than any other, can deal with and move beyond this type of loss. Thanks Laurie!

There was a time when we convened in these meetings and whispered the names of friends, colleagues, and loved ones that wouldn’t be coming this year because they died of AIDS. In our gatherings in the 1980s, grief hung like a curtain over everything…

 

A Tweeter asked me if the loss of Joep, Glenn, and other AIDS researchers and activists possibly on board MH17 would prove a major set-back in the fight against AIDS. No, I said. One of the glories of the AIDS community is that its bench is deep, its talents enormous, and its sorry history of processing grief and moving on is unparalleled. The dead, as has always been the case since this awful virus emerged in the late 1970s, will be mourned. And then energies will be mustered, to get the job done.

Tragedy on so many levels

Our hearts go out to all the victims of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 disaster. Even more saddening, several passengers were researchers and activists en route to the 2014 International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. Devastating and heartbreaking.

Anti-science quotable: Bob Frey #headslap

When you have egg and sperm that meet in conception, there’s an enzyme in the front that burns through the egg. The enzyme burns through so the DNA can enter the egg … [But when the] sperm is deposited anally … it’s the enzyme that causes the immune system to fail. That’s why the term is AIDS – acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Bob Frey, candidate for Minnesota House of Representatives

Not… even… close, Ugh

A Success Story: How pouring money into scientific research has helped fight HIV/AIDS

Last month, I was lucky enough to go to a seminar given by the esteemed Dr. Tony Fauci for the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus (CBRC) in Capitol Hill.  Dr. Fauci has been a pioneer for HIV/AIDS research and also a huge advocate for science funding.

Amidst all these depressing posts about how scientists don’t get enough funding, and how the future for science research is bleak, I just want to highlight this one success story to show you WHY it pays off to invest in science.

In summary, HIV/AIDS has been around for a while, but it began gaining attention in the early 1980’s with a major outbreak in the U.S.  This was a virus unlike any other, killing victims left and right.  The causes were totally unknown, and doctors were ill prepared to deal with this monster.  Luckily, our government poured money into HIV/AIDS research starting in the 1990’s and into the early 2000’s.  Check out the peak in the NIH funding budget over those years:

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With all this funding, HIV/AIDS research took off and after years of hard work by talented and dedicated scientists/doctors, here is where we are: we have a MUCH better understanding of the disease, we can prevent transmission of the disease, we can control symptoms in those infected, we can prolong the lives of those infected, and we’re getting closer and closer to a potential cure.  Dr. Fauci said it best:  In the mid 1980’s, when he came across a patient infected with HIV, their life expectancy was 6-8months.  Now, 30 years of research progress later, the same patient infected with HIV can live a relatively normal life with a life expectancy ~75 years.  WOW.

I think this is best summed up by the CDC graph of AIDS deaths over time:

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Notice how the number of deaths per year begin to decline around the same time that there is a huge peak in the NIH funding budget…

The HIV/AIDS story is not finished… there are still far too many cases, deaths and infections per year, still no cure, and there are definitely parts of the world where it is more prevalent.  Certainly, efforts need to be taken to continue to fight this disease. However, this is just a fantastic example of why it pays off to invest in science.  SO much progress has been made to control this disease and it’s in large part thanks to government funded research.  You would think that with other major killers and illnesses out there, like cancer and Alzheimer’s, we’d continue pouring money into these research efforts… And unfortunately that’s not the case.