Monthly Archives: October 2011

HIV Diagnosis Progress Hampered by Inaccurate Online Information

Inaccurate and out-of-date online information about HIV is hampering efforts to improve early diagnosis rates, the National Aids Trust (NAT) has warned.

National AIDS Trust have set up HIVaware.org.uk, run in partnership with Durex.The charity carried out an audit of websites featuring information on HIV and other sexual health issues and found that much information was incorrect or out of date.

NAT chief executive Deborah Jack told GPonline.com that information about symptoms in particular was often inaccurate and represented a ‘missed opportunity’ to improve early diagnosis rates.

‘Given that we know that the majority of new infections are from people who are themselves undiagnosed – many of them at an early stage of infection – this is a real missed opportunity to educate people,’ she said.

‘There is no information about what the most common symptoms are what someone should do if they experience symptoms after putting themselves at risk.’

She said websites often stated that many people have no symptoms of HIV infection for years, even though 70%-90% of people have some symptoms during sero-conversion.

HIVaware.org.uk, will also be contacting publishers of inaccurate online information ‘to identify the content that needs updating and make suggestions as to how it can be improved’.

Ms Jack said the most common area where information was out of date is around testing. A number of sites state that laboratories can only test for HIV antibodies, whereas they can now test for antigens and nearly all clinics use these tests, she said.

Websites also inaccurately stated that there is no point in taking a test for at least three months and that patients need to wait for your test to be sent off to a laboratory to get your results, she said. In fact, antigen tests provide accurate results from four weeks after potential infection and point of care tests, which provide results in 20 minutes, are now being used in a number of settings.

Original Article by Tom Moberly at GPOnline.com

Are you interested in having a HIV test?  We offer a completely free and confidential rapid HIV test and you’ll get the results within 60 seconds from a simple finger prick test. We use the Insti HIV test produced by BioLytical laboratories. The test is 99.96% accurate from 90 days post contact for detecting HIV 1 and 2 antibodies. We also have a mobile testing van which is often out in communities providing mobile rapid HIV tests. Appointments are not always necessary, if you would like a test, please contact us on 0116 2559995

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Vote for Pozitude! The Website by Children Living With HIV

There are lots of websites out there which can give you help, advice and knowledge about HIV, and Pozitude stands out from the crowd.. read on to hear all about it and what YOU can do help them win an award for harnessing technology to bring about positive social change.

Pozitude is a website set up by a group of children who are living with HIV and they offer more than a simple website.  They offer a special place where the clock stops and you can navigate your way without running out of time.  Young people and parents alike can use this space as a good place to find out about HIV and what it’s like to live with HIV.

Some people still don’t have access to clear, easy to understand information about HIV so Pozitude decided to put together all sorts of information.

Sponsored by The Big Lottery, they asked for help from doctors, nurses, and other people who know about HIV and they hope that you will suggest anything that you might think would help a young person finding out they are HIV positive.

Visit whenever you like, learn about the facts, the fantasies, the realities and the myths about living with HIV. Ask questions and share ideas, come and find friends, but most important keep a positive attitude about your journey ahead.

Michelle Overton is a project manager at Pozitude, and she’s been nominated for Talk Talk’s Digital Heroes Award.  Babita Wakelin, who nominated Michelle  said, “Michelle is inspirational, but the kids using Pozitude are also truly Digital Heroes!” Pozitude says that the grant would enable it to update its websites and digital offerings as well as to develop a Facebook application that will help reduce the stigma associated with HIV.

Pozitude would also like to develop a smartphone application that will help young people who have moved away from home remember to take their medication at their set times.

The TalkTalk Digital Heroes Awards is an awards and funding scheme with a difference: it is the UK’s only scheme which recognises people who harness digital technology to bring about positive social change in their communities.

The TalkTalk Digital Heroes Awards, with Citizens Online and in association with The Mirror – and supported by Race Online 2012 – offers people a chance to win funding for a new or existing digital project.

If Pozitude wins the Digital Heroes competition, they can win a prize of £5,000 and if they win the East Midlands regional contest, they will be entered into a national final and could win £10,000 so what are you waiting for?

They answer questions such as “Is HIV The Same As AIDS“? “Who to Tell“? along with practical information like healthy eating (with recipes) and issues such as employment and faith.

They even have a section for parents and professionals which offer help and support for talking to children about HIV and the impacts it can have on life.

Leicestershire AIDS Support Services are voting for them, and we hope you do too! So visit Talk Talk’s Digital Hereo’s website and vote for Michelle Overton

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Gaddafi’s HIV Shakedown

Zakia Saltani has been warned not to talk to the press. She doesn’t care. She has waited 13 years to tell her story, and the Libyan government’s threats can’t stop her now. “After what happened to my family, what more can they do?” she asks. “I am beyond fear.”

At her friend’s house in Benghazi, with the red-black-and-green flag of the anti-Gaddafi rebellion spread proudly across her shoulders, she shows a framed photograph of her son, Ashur. He died of AIDS-related complications in May 2005, when he was 8. He had been one of more than 400 Libyan children who were admitted to the Al Fateh pediatric hospital in Benghazi 13 years ago with routine complaints like colds and earaches. They left with HIV. Like Ashur, roughly 60 have since died. Others are hanging on.

Until the Feb. 20 liberation of Benghazi by anti-Gaddafi protesters, the regime was able to bully people like Saltani into silence. Meanwhile, the government blamed the outbreak on five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor at the hospital, falsely accusing them of deliberately infecting their young patients, and sentencing them to death. The medics were finally released in 2007, but not before the regime had extorted an Eastern European debt-forgiveness package and roughly three quarters of a billion dollars in supposed compensation and health-care assistance, together with a civilian nuclear-development deal and a “very good military accord” (in the words of Gaddafi’s British-educated son Saif al-Islam) with the French government “and other confidential stuff we shouldn’t discuss on the record,” the smiling Saif told NEWSWEEK at the time.

Now Saltani and other ordinary Libyans are starting to speak out at last. She says this is the first interview she has ever given—and her anger against Muammar Gaddafi and his 41-year dictatorship begins to spill out. “On Feb. 2, 1998, we went to the hospital because Ashur had a fever and a cough,” she says. “He was 4 months old, and we stayed two days. We went back two weeks later for the same problems.” Shortly afterward she took her 5-year-old daughter, Mouna, to the same hospital with a high fever. Mouna also went home with HIV, although at the time Saltani had no way of knowing that either child had become infected.

The truth began to emerge a few months later. “In October we learned that the doctors were hiding something,” Saltani recalls. “They said there was something in his blood that they couldn’t identify. The head of the hospital told us not to say anything. When we found out it was HIV, the government told us the infection originated from outside Libya, and that it only affected 10 kids. Another doctor even tried to convince us that it wasn’t HIV, but tuberculosis.” When the families finally discovered just how many children had been infected, the regime sent many of the patients to Italy for analysis and treatment.

Foreign medics made useful scapegoats—and lucrative hostages.

Even then the regime still did its best to cover up the outbreak. Mohammed El Agili, 20, says he was 8 when his parents took him to Al Fateh for an eye operation in March 1998. Three days later he returned, still dizzy from the procedure. When rumors of AIDS swept through the city, he underwent HIV testing, along with all the other children who had been admitted to the hospital in early 1998. The result came back positive. “When I found out, I ran shouting through the streets like a lunatic,” says his father, Mahmoud. “And we made sure the government heard our cries. Gaddafi invited all the families to a tent in the desert outside Sert, saying he would give us whatever we wanted, but we had to keep quiet. ‘We don’t want foreigners to become involved in this,’ Gaddafi told us. ‘We don’t want this to get out of Libya.’ He warned us that our relatives outside Libya would be in danger if we talked. We were afraid. We had to keep quiet.”

The news blackout may have suited Gaddafi’s purposes, but it didn’t help young Mohammed deal with insensitive classmates. They bullied him until he finally gave up school at 12. A rabid fan of the Real Madrid football team, he now helps his brother run a mobile-phone shop near their house. Asked about his future, the HIV patient smiles at the question’s naivete. “My generation doesn’t think about the future,” he says. “Even without this disease, Gaddafi has destroyed all our futures.”

Although the cause of the outbreak remains a mystery, outside studies implicate poor hygiene at the hospital rather than any of the conspiracy theories that abound in Libya. According to a 2002 report by Italian medical investigators, all the infected children had received intravenous fluids, antibiotics, steroids, or bronchodilators, but no blood or blood products. Saltani says she found it hard to accept the regime’s allegations against the hospital’s foreign medical workers. “At first I didn’t believe it was them,” she says. “The Palestinian doctor and the Bulgarians had always taken good care of the children, but everyone was blaming them, so we believed it. We wanted to confront them face to face, but the government wouldn’t let us.”

Still, the foreign medics made useful scapegoats—and lucrative hostages. The ransom Gaddafi received for freeing them enabled him to pay the victims’ families roughly $1 million each, helping him to buy a little more silence. For 41 years he has controlled the country through a combination of violence, intimidation, and strategic payoffs. To test the regime’s limits on free speech was to risk imprisonment, torture, and death. And old habits persist, even in liberated Benghazi, where anti-Gaddafi rallies occur daily. The current director of Al Fateh Hospital, who was working there as a doctor when the infections took place, refuses to speak as long as Gaddafi holds sway in Tripoli.

Just before Saltani’s interview, her phone rings. The caller is Ibrahim El Oraibi, the representative who deals with the regime on behalf of the HIV families. She puts it on speakerphone so a reporter can hear. He screams at Saltani for violating the government’s gag order. “If Tripoli finds out, they will get angry and will stop sending AIDS medication to Benghazi!” Oraibi shouts. That could be a death sentence for Saltani: she herself contracted HIV from breast-feeding Ashur. Doctors say it’s a thing that happens only rarely, but it can happen. She has been taking antiretroviral drugs for a year, and has only two months’ supply left.

But she refuses to back down. “I don’t believe anything Gaddafi says anymore,” Saltani tells Oraibi. “I have been quiet for 13 years and I’m tired of it. I want to fight.” The intermediary pleads: “Don’t talk until we receive the medicine.” Saltani is unmoved. “Gaddafi needs to go—and you can go with him,” she says. “I’ve been waiting 13 years and I’m not going to wait any longer. He’s a liar, and I’m going to talk with whomever I wish.”

She hangs up on the caller and begins her interview.

Original Article by Mike Elkiin at The Daily Beast (March 2011)

Further reading: HIV Trial in Libya (Wikipedia)

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The following video is a Documentary by Mickey Grant about the Bulgarian Nurses in Libya.  It’s titled “INJECTION – AIDS, How Gaddafi and Son murdered over 400 Libyan children”.  Gaddafi used the possibility that he was executing these nurses partly because he was angry at having to pay the several billion dollar settlement to the families of the Pan Am Lockerbie Terrorist act he was responsible for.  In effect, he told behind the scenes negotiators that he wanted that same amount of money and was even willing to sale the oil exploration rights for 1 billion.

He also wanted the prisoner released in Scotland who was convicted of planting the bomb that blew up the Pan Am plane.  He stated that if this was done, he’d release the nurses and Palestinian doctor.  BP gave him the billon and hired lawyers and “others” to engineer the release of this terrorist.

The only newspaper that covered this was the Financial Times.

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Information about the effort and influence surrounding HIV/AIDS prominent people is available here.

What About HIV? – Infographic

An estimated 3000 young people are newly infected with HIV everyday.  Many young people living with HIV still do not have access to treatment and only 34% of all young people have correct and comprehensive knowledge about HIV and how to protect themselves.

@JPBervoets, a long time volunteer and board member at Art for AIDS International, was asked to design an infographic for a three-day summit in Bamako, Mali, to rally a youth-led response to HIV in lead up to the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS (Which took place in June 2011).

To learn more, please visit: http://www.whatabouthiv.org.

(Click image for larger resolution)

Via: http://www.whatabouthiv.org.

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New HIV Diagnoses – UK National Overview 2001 – 2010

Data released last month by the Health Protection Agency shows that almost 70,000 persons were accessing HIV-related care at the end of 2010, an increase of 4,100 (6%) compared to 2009. An estimated 90% were being treated as indicated under the current national guidelines.

Men who have sex with men remain the group most at risk of becoming infected with HIV, with 3,000 new diagnoses made in 2010 – the largest ever annual number of new HIV diagnoses in this group since the HIV epidemic began.

Dr Valerie Delpech, head of HIV at the Health Protection Agency, said:

“Despite progress in delivering treatment, preventing transmission is critical to reducing HIV costs to the NHS, which were an estimated £484 million in 2010 – an increase of £49 million from the previous year.

“The best way to prevent all sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, is to practise safe sex. This means using a condom with all new sexual partners until you have both been tested and given the all-clear.”

The national HIV and AIDS new diagnoses and deaths database held at the Health Protection Agency collects demographic and epidemiological information on adults (aged 15 years and older) who are newly diagnosed with HIV within England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Further demographic and epidemiological information on new diagnoses in Scotland are collected from Health Protection Scotland and for paediatric cases from the Institute of Child Health. On a six monthly basis, this information is collated to produce the number of individuals newly diagnosed with HIV in the United Kingdom, providing an understanding of the current epidemic and at risk groups.

You can download the new HIV diagnoses national tables from here.

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What Can We Do Now to Speed Up HIV Cure Research?

As most of you know, the case of Timothy Brown (aka The Berlin patient), a person who got cured of HIV and leukemia 5 years ago, has jolted a new energy and hope into the search for a HIV cure.  But most people with HIV, policymakers and potential funding sources are not fully aware of this case and what the new movement for a search for a cure are all about. So, Nelson Vergel, writer for The Body.com decided was to travel around the country to interview key players in advancing this field and make a short video that could serve as a catalyst for awareness and change.

This short video, done with a very low budget with the help of his activist friend Greg Fowler, is only part of a longer, more detailed documentary to be finished before World AIDS Day this year, the 30-year anniversary of the first AIDS cases.

Please watch it and forward it to your friends. Please follow the suggestions made in that video and become part of the cure! Everyone can do something now to raise awareness and funds not only for research but also for advocacy and education in this important new and expanding area.

Via TheBody.com

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Pill-Popping Reminder App for iOS!

Pill-Popping Reminder App Keeps You Out of the Hospital

So you know what happens if you don’t take your meds and you probably have one (or a dozen) pill box’s lying around somewhere and you even know a bit more about how HIV meds work.  All this knowledge is useless if you forget to take your meds but how to do you stay on top of it all when you’ve got so many other things to remember?

Any alarm system will do to remind you, be it an alarm clock, a watch or even a significant other.  Taking the correct medication at the right time can mean the difference between a nice evening in or a night in hospital and fortunately  for iOS users,there’s an app for that!

With the RxmindMe app, you’ll know when to take your drugs even when you’re out and about.

You’ve seen the translucent boxes with the compartments marked for each day of the week at the pharmacy and the free RxmindMe app (Android version is coming soon) is an extension to that simple system. The app not only reminds users to take their meds, it can be used to track prescriptions and store information about your doctor and pharmacy.

The app includes access to the FDA Drug Database so users can keep abreast of the medications they’re taking. And to help cut down on the confusion of look-alike pills, the app features the ability to photograph your pills.

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