Archive for June, 2009

Scientists develop new ‘weapon’ in HIV fight

Posted in The Fierceness on June 23, 2009 by jackmax2

New treatment opens path to possible cure

By Amy Minsky, Canwest News ServiceJune 22, 2009


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Scientists have found a new way to fight — and possibly eradicate — HIV, according to a study released Sunday by a team of Canadian and American researchers.

“For 15 years we haven’t had a clue,” said Dr. Rafick-Pierre Sekaly. “But now, we do. Now there’s a whole new perspective of how to get rid of HIV,” said the Universite de Montreal professor and director of the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute of Florida.

The new “weapon” will combine antiretroviral therapy, the current treatment for HIV/AIDS, with a new one the researchers are calling an intelligent targeted chemotherapy.

When doctors started using antiretrovirals to block the virus in the mid-’90s, they were able to transform a patient with HIV from someone who was going to die within the next five years to someone who could live up to and more than 20 years with the infection, said Sekaly.

But the virus was only diminished, never eliminated; patients were condemned to take medication for the rest of their lives.

“The minute the patient stops taking the therapy the virus is reborn,” said Dr. Jean-Pierre Routy, associate professor of hematology at McGill University in Montreal.

“Then, the immune system is destroyed and the patient becomes sick again.”

Patients become reinfected because the HIV in their system feeds from a reservoir contained within a cell. The reservoir, Sekaly said, acts as a sanctuary for the virus.

For reasons unknown until now, these sanctuaries were unaffected by antiretroviral therapy.

The researchers discovered the virus inside the reservoir is unlike the typical HIV virus. Whereas viruses successfully controlled with antiretroviral therapy divide, the virus contained inside the reservoir is dormant. This renders it impermeable to therapies.

“So, if the cell lives, the virus lives,” said Sekaly. “But if you zap the reservoir with a chemo, there is no more virus to allow it to come back.”

Routy said a separate study — conducted in the United States and released in late May — confirmed that increasing the dose and potency of antiretroviral drugs doesn’t affect the level of virus hiding inside the reservoir.

Though there are limits to the success of antiretroviral therapy, Routy and Sekaly say the new treatment’s success will be contingent on a patient’s positive response to antiretroviral therapy.

If a patient shows success with current treatments, then the new treatment can target the cells, killing the remaining ones, and “the patient will remain virus-free for a long time or forever,” said Routy.

Some HIV-positive patients do not respond to antiretroviral therapy. For those patients, zapping the cell will not likely yield significant results.

However, Routy said antiretroviral therapy has successfully blocked the virus in 85 per cent of people in hospitals and large clinics in Canada, indicating they would be good candidates for the new treatment to eradicate HIV.

Article here.

Jeromy Dunn from POZitively speaking. Open letter to readers

Posted in The Fierceness on June 17, 2009 by jackmax2

This is an open letter from Jeromy Dunn, a host on the POZIAM radio show, from his blog POZitively Speaking.


To my dear family, friends and to anyone else who reads this blog,

It should be no surprise to any one that this country is in economic dire straights. The auto industry is bankrupt, the financial industry is facing losses it hasn’t seen since the Great Depression, and the United States has close to a 10% unemployment rate. And with these, states are facing tremendous budget deficits. You see, most states are not allowed to carry a deficit, and by law each state must have a balanced budget.

In order for states to balance their budgets, law makers have to make increasingly difficult decisions. California is facing a $24 billion deficit and law makers are looking at slashing HIV/AIDS funding by $80 million the state will also lose $88 million in federal and an estimated $234 million in private matching funds according to Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. In the face of budget shortfalls, the North Carolina legislature is proposing to eliminate the HIV Medicaid Case Management program. This program provides crucial support to people living with HIV, helping them access medical care, medications, and the support services needed to live healthier lives.

With infection rates nearing 60,000 new cases every year and approximately 1.5 million living with HIV or AIDS today, we cannot allow these services to trimmed or cut completely out of the budgets. In this time of budgetary crisis, we all must accept the fact that we have to make sacrifices; however, this is a sacrifice that we cannot make.

You may be thinking that these cuts will never effect you; you are wrong. Dead wrong. Because I am HIV positive these cuts directly effect me, my partner, and my family. Anyone who is living with HIV today is at risk of losing their benefits which they have relied on for years and because some who are living with HIV/AIDS are unable to work and cannot afford private insurance on their own. Some have no family or their families have cut them out of their [families’] lives.

HIV/AIDS is not just a virus that feeds on healthy CD4 (TCells) to replicate, it also leads to depression and other mental / emotional health needs. HIV/AIDS is still a killer. HIV/AIDS when left untreated will usually lead to a person’s death within around 3-5 years of diagnosis. When HIV is treated with the right combination of medicines a person can live virtually a ‘normal’ and healthy life.

No one deserves this disease, I certainly never asked for it. I never wanted this. I never wanted to see what the news of my diagnosis did to my family and friends. So I am asking you today not to allow me to become another HIV related death statistic, nor should we allow anyone else to suffer the same fate neither.

So, please help those are not able to help themselves with a compassionate heart. Or if you wish not to help a stranger then help me; it could be my life you are saving.

Thank you for reading this,

Jeromy A. Dunn, HIV positive since 2005

An end to HIV?

Posted in The Fierceness on June 17, 2009 by jackmax2

NOH8 campaign by Adam Bouska

Posted in The Fierceness on June 14, 2009 by jackmax2

Jack Mackenroth Joins NOH8 Campaign

Adrian June 11th, 2009

Jack Mackenroth

Jack Mackenroth ’93 recently joined Lt. Dan Choi in the NOH8 Campaign.  The campaign began with a few portraits of everday Californians who support marriage equality and quickly grew to include celebrities, military personnel, law enforcement, and politicians, helping to raise national awareness about the impact of Prop 8.

Watch the NOH8 PSA below.  To visit the NOH8 campaign website, click here.

AmfAR Honoring with Pride

Posted in The Fierceness on June 14, 2009 by jackmax2

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