Tag Archives: AIDS

HIV+ and worried about cancer? – You should be, read this and find out why.


Breakthroughs in medicine made it so a HIV diagnosis is no longer a death sentence; staying well with the illness is way less complicated than it used to be. That is, unless you are HIV-positive and get cancer.

Article via NewsWeek

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah, the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society and published earlier this week says HIV patients in the U.S. are much less likely than the general population to receive treatments for cancer, whether it has affected the gastrointestinal system, lungs, cervix, prostate, breast or blood.

Patients with HIV have a significantly higher risk for certain cancers, known clinically as AIDS-defining cancers. These include Kaposi sarcoma (a soft tissue cancer that causes lesions in the lymph nodes and mucous membranes), cervical cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The diagnosis of any of these cancers for someone who has HIV is considered a clinical sign that the infection has progressed to AIDS.  (Don’t know the difference between HIV & AIDS? – Click here to read more).

According to the National Cancer Institute, people with HIV are several thousand times more likely than people without the disease to develop Kaposi sarcoma. They are 70 times more likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma. HIV-positive women are five times more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer. In addition, HIV increases the risk for most common cancers, including those in the breast, prostate and lungs and colorectal cancer.

HIV is also often associated with other viruses that can cause or are related to certain cancers. For example, patients diagnosed with HIV may test positive for the human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer and some other types of cancers of both the male and female reproductive systems. HPV is also the cause of some head and neck cancers. Other viruses often diagnosed in people with HIV are Epstein-Barr and hepatitis B or C, all of which are linked to certain cancers.

To better understand how cancer specifically affects the HIV-positive community, researchers looked at data from the National Cancer Data Base on non-elderly adults diagnosed with several common cancers from 2003 to 2011, comparing 10,265 patients with an HIV diagnosis and 2,219,232 without. The researchers looked at rates of common types of cancer treatments across both populations, including chemotherapy, surgery, radiation or any combination. The result were published in the medical journal Cancer.

After adjusting for factors such as whether patients had health insurance, the researchers found that across the board, HIV-positive cancer patients were still significantly less likely to receive standard oncology treatments. For example, 32 percent of HIV-positive patients with lung cancer weren’t receiving treatment, versus 13.6 percent of lung cancer patients without HIV. HIV-positive patients with cancer of the upper gastrointestinal tract were more than twice as likely to go without treatment than those who didn’t have HIV. These disparities still existed for HIV patients who were privately insured, but those on Medicare or Medicaid, or uninsured, were even less likely to get cancer treatments.

However, the authors say the study shows health insurance isn’t the only cause behind the cancer treatment disparities. One finding indicates race and ethnicity could contribute to limited medical care: HIV patients who were black tended to fare worse. The authors also suggest the disparities could be driven by the lack of research on the relationship between cancer and HIV—for example, whether certain chemotherapies and cancer drugs are safe to use on HIV-positive patients.

“HIV-infected patients with cancer have historically been excluded from cancer clinical trials, thereby limiting the applicability of clinical trial results for this population,” the researchers write in the conclusion of their study. Oncologists often feel less confident when treating these patients, which results in poor survival outcomes.

Rates of cancer mortality among patients with HIV/AIDS have decreased significantly since the introduction of antiretroviral drugs. These drugs lower the amount of virus circulating in the blood, which boosts immune system function, preventing the HIV virus from progressing to AIDS. The introduction of these antiretrovirals in the marketplace in the 1990s also significantly reduced the rates for Kaposi sarcomas and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

But antiretroviral drugs don’t fully restore immune system function, and their efficacy slowly diminishes over time, leaving HIV patients susceptible to cancers later in life. Additionally, many of these drugs are still relatively new, and no one knows for sure what the long-term impact may be for patients who take them for the full duration of their life. Regardless of these factors, the older a person is, the higher his or her risk for cancer.

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Nancy Reagan refused to help dying Rock Hudson get treatment for AIDS.

 President Reagan and his wife Nancy with Rock Hudson (left) at the White House in 1984, a year before he died. Photograph: Courtesy Everett Collection/Rex

President Reagan and his wife Nancy with Rock Hudson (left) at the White House in 1984, a year before he died. Photograph: Courtesy Everett Collection/Rex

Nancy Reagan refused to help Rock Hudson, one of the leading Hollywood stars of the 1950s and 1960s, as he sought treatment for Aids from a pioneering doctor in Paris, it has been revealed.

But he collapsed at the Ritz hotel, and was taken to the American hospital in the French capital. His publicist contacted the White House – the Reagans were old friends – in an attempt to speed up a transfer to a military hospital to be seen by Dr Dominique Dormant, a French army doctor who had previously treated Hudson in secret.

But the commanding officer of the Percy military hospital in Clamart initially refused to admit Hudson because he was not a French citizen. According to documents published by BuzzFeed on Wednesday, Nancy Reagan, the US first lady, declined to help.

Hudson was eventually admitted to the hospital, but died in October 1985. He was the first high-profile celebrity whose death from complications relating to the illness was openly acknowledged, and the revelation that such a big star had Aids helped to raise awareness about the disease in the US and other western countries.

Original documents from the time, obtained from the Reagan Presidential Libraryby the Mattachine Society, a gay rights group, reveal that Hudson’s US publicist, Dale Olson, sent a telegram to the Reagans at the White House pleading for help on 24 July. It stated: “Only one hospital in the world can offer necessary medical treatment to save life of Rock Hudson or at least alleviate his illness.”

Hudson had been denied permission to enter the hospital because he was not French, but Olson added that they believed “a request from the White House or a high American official would change [the head of the hospital’s] mind”.

It was not a request from a stranger. Hudson had been friendly with the Reagans during the president’s time in Hollywood. But when it landed on the desk of Mark Weinberg, a young Reagan staffer, Hudson’s team did not get the response they were hoping for.

A note written by Weinberg on the same day stated: “I spoke with Mrs Reagan about the attached telegram. She did not feel this was something the White House should get into and agreed to my suggestion that we refer the writer to the US embassy, Paris.”

Weinberg told BuzzFeed that he had immediately spoken to the first lady after receiving the telegram. “I knew the Reagans knew Rock Hudson, obviously from their years in Hollywood, and for that reason I decided to call her,” he said.

He added that he advised the first lady that they “had to be fair”, and treat Hudson the same as anyone else, and she agreed. Weinberg recommended that the White House refer the matter to the US embassy in France, because it was “probably not the [last] time we’re going to get a request like this and we want to be fair and not do anything that would appear to favour personal friends.”

He added: “The Reagans were very conscious of not making exceptions for people just because they were friends of theirs or celebrities or things of that kind … They weren’t about that. They were about treating everybody the same […] The view was, ‘Well, we’re so sorry’ – and she was, they were both very sorry for Rock’s condition and felt for him and all the people – but it just wasn’t something that the White House felt that they could do something different for him than they would do for anybody else.”

Asked about the phrase “not something the White House should get into”, he claimed that it referred to “special treatment for a friend or celebrity”. He said: “That’s all it refers to. It had nothing to do with Aids or Aids policy or … that’s a whole different issue. We weren’t talking about that.”

Weinberg added that he was aware of longstanding criticism of the Reagan administration’s response to Aids.

Gay rights campaigners point to the Reagan administration’s reluctance to accept the seriousness of Aids as a health issue and tardiness in tackling the resulting crisis in the 1980s.

By the beginning of 1985, more than 5,500 people had died from the disease but the US government had taken few significant steps toward tackling it. The administration even recommended a $10m cut in Aids spending, from $96m, in its federal budget proposal released in February 1985.

Peter Staley, a member of Act Up and founder of the Treatment Action Group, dismissed the argument that the Reagans did not want to be seen to be giving preferential treatment to a friend.

“Seems strange that the Reagans used that excuse, since they often did favours for their Hollywood friends during their White House years,” he told BuzzFeed, pointing to the former president’s personal intervention to help a fundraising effort led by Bob Hope. “I’m sure if it had been Bob Hope in that hospital with some rare, incurable cancer, Air Force One would have been dispatched to help save him. There’s no getting around the fact that they left Rock Hudson out to dry. As soon as he had that frightening homosexual disease, he became as unwanted and ignored as the rest of us.”

Documents show Hudson was eventually admitted to the military hospital some days after the telegram was sent to the Reagans, after intervention from the then French defence minister Charles Hernu. But Dr Dormant’s diagnosis was not optimistic.

He told the Hollywood star that the disease had progressed too far, and HPA-23 treatment would be of little use. Hudson chartered an Air France Boeing 747 at a cost of $250,000 and returned to Los Angeles, where he was taken to the UCLA Medical Center.

His death, a few months later on 2 October, may have signalled a sea change in how the disease was regarded. While he was still in Paris his team revealed the star had been diagnosed with Aids a year earlier.

For the first time he was spoken about as a gay man and he became the first high-profile celebrity to die from Aids, after openly acknowledging he had the disease. Two months before his death, a Newsweek report noted: “Among homosexuals, the news also produced some tenuous hopes. Now that Aids had struck its first celebrity, many felt, there might be a stronger push behind the quest for a successful treatment.”

President Reagan gave his first major public address on the issue on 31 May 1987, at the request of Hudson’s friend and co-star, Elizabeth Taylor.

At a dinner for the American Foundation for Aids Research, he said: “It’s also important that America not reject those who have the disease, but care for them with dignity and kindness. Final judgment is up to God; our part is to ease the suffering and to find a cure.”

By the end of 1987, more than 41,000 people had died in the US from the disease.

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Media Reports on HIV/AIDS – 1982 – 1992

82-92 news clips

The following, near hour reel of news clips is fascinating watching if you’re interested on early HIV/AIDS news reports.

The clips begin by informing us of a rare type of cancer which only gay men appear to contract resulting in a new ‘Gay Disease’ called AIDS.   What follows is a genuine account of how western media documented and reported on HIV / AIDS including stereotypes and blatant discrimination both toward the HIV & Gay communities.  It was only after the high profile death of  actor Rock Hudson did we see large groups of people mobilise and start to take “HIV/AIDS” seriously, in part due to the nature of HIV affecting all populations and not just homosexuals.

The videos you are about to see are products of their time.  They may depict some of the prejudices that were common place in society.  These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today.  While the following does not represent LASS’ view of today’s society these clips is are being presented as they were originally broadcast, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.


  • Rare Cancer Type Traced To Homosexuals 6/17/1982
  • Gay Disease (Aids) 6/16/1982
  • Doctors Search For Answers To Aids Mystery 6/20/1983
  • Nyc Gay Parade 6/26/1983
  • Gay Pride Day Calls For Aids Help 6/27/1983
  • House Of Reps Hears Testimony On Aids 8/2/1983
  • Government Reports Scientific Breakthrough In Aids Research 4/23/1984
  • Sf Public Health Dept Closes Down Bath Houses In Sf To Curb Aids Epidemic 10/9/1984
  • Houston Prepares To Vote On Referendum On Civil Rights For Homosexuals 1/19/1985
  • Aids – Part 4 Of 5 9/12/1985
  • Actor Rock Hudson Dies After Battle With Aids 10/2/1985
  • Reporting Of Aids Cases Levels Off Indicating Change In Sexual Behavior 10/16/1985
  • Aids Becoming Political Issue In 1986 Campaigns 10/18/1985
  • Closing Of Mineshaft Gay Bar Amid Aids Crisis 11/6/1985
  • Aids Junkies 1/20/1986
  • Kokomo Parents Seek To Block Aids Boy From Returning To Class 2/20/1986
  • Ryan White Arrives For First Day Of School 8/26/1986
  • Ryan White Dies At 18 The Victim Of Aids 4/8/1990
  • Scotus To Determine States Rights On Legislative Restrictions On Gay Acts 3/31/1986
  • Justice Dept Rules Employers Can Fire Aids Victims To Prevent Aids Spreading 6/23/1986
  • Ultra-Right Winger Lyndon Larouche Asks For Quarantine Of Aids Victims 6/25/1986
  • The First Hospital Devoted To Aids Treatment : Research Opens In Texas 8/27/1986
  • Controversy Continues Over Prop 64 Which Would Quarantine Aids Patients 9/16/1986
  • Federal Government Approves Sale Of Azt In Prescription Form 3/20/1987
  • Pres Reagan Urges Youth To Abstain From Sex To Avoid Aids 4/1/1987
  • Col Legislature Considers Bill Requiring Drs To Report Names Of Hiv Positive 4/22/1987
  • Reagan Admins Long Range Plans For Aids Include Mandatory Testing 5/28/1987
  • Reagan Administration Speaks Out On Topic Of Aids Testing 6/1/1987
  • Pres Reagan Names National Commission On Aids : Includes Gay Activist 7/23/1987
  • Front Page: Gay March Contends With Aids Issue 10/11/1987
  • Washington Gay March 10/11/1987
  • Gays Protest Outside Scotus Over Lack Of Aids Funding 10/13/1987
  • Aids Protest In Nyc 3/24/1988
  • Stonewall:Gay Parade Natsot Material 6/25/1989
  • Gay Lib Demonstrators Celebrate Twenty Years Out Of The Closet 6/25/1989
  • Azt Testing Gives New Hope To Aids Patients 8/18/1989
  • After Eight: Aids Militants (Interview With Larry Kramer) 3/20/1990
  • Aids In The 90s 3/27/1990
  • Magic Johnson Press Conference Re: Testing Positive For Aids Virus 11/7/1991
  • Aids Conference In Florence Will Focus On Explosion Of Epidemic In Africa 6/16/1991
  • Aids Is Spreading Through Developing Countries 6/17/1991
  • Aids Quilt Unfurled In Washington 10/10/1992

HIV: Specialist clinical care, a UK national review

A new study on clinical care for for people diagnosed HIV is reporting excellent retention in care among UK adults with HIV, but also the high risk of disease progression among non-attenders.

Story via BioMed Central @biomedcentral 

Regular clinical care is important for the well-being of people with HIV. The study sought to  audit and describe the characteristics of adults with diagnosed HIV infection not reported to be attending for clinical care in the UK.

Public Health England (PHE) provided clinics with lists of patients diagnosed or seen for specialist HIV care in 2010 but not linked to a clinic report or known to have died in 2011. Clinics reviewed case-notes of these individuals and completed questionnaires. A nested case–control analysis was conducted to compare those who had remained in the UK in 2011 while not attending care with individuals who received specialist HIV care in both 2010 and 2011.

Among 74,418 adults living with diagnosed HIV infection in the UK in 2010, 3510 (4.7 %) were not reported as seen for clinical care or died in 2011. Case note reviews and outcomes were available for 2255 (64 %) of these: 456 (20.2 %) remained in the UK and did not attend care; 590 (26.2 %) left UK; 508 (22.6 %) received care in the UK: 73 (3.2 %) died and 628 (27.8 %) had no documented outcome. Individuals remaining in the UK and not attending care were more likely to be treatment naïve than those in care, but duration since HIV diagnosis was not significant. HIV/AIDS related hospitalisations were observed among non-attenders.

Retention in UK specialist HIV care is excellent. The audit indicates that the ‘true’ loss to follow up rate in 2011 was <2.5 % with no evidence of health tourism. Novel interventions to ensure high levels of clinic engagement should be explored to minimise disease progression among non-attenders.

To see the full study, visit:  http://beta.bmcinfectdis.com/articles/10.1186/s12879-015-1036-3

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Prayer is good, prayer and medication is better!

Pastor Elizabeth was told that prayer was all she needed to fight HIV, she stopped taking her medication after faith leaders insisted she cease taking anti-HIV and life saving drugs.  She wrestled with the decision and is now an advocate for taking medication.  She says “If you are sick, and someone tells you not to take medication, they are misleading you.  Pastor Elizabeth realises this and wishes to share that HIV is simply an illness which requires medication.

At the beginning of the HIV epidemic in the early eighties, some faith leaders preached that only ‘sinners’ contracted the virus, advising that the only solution for those living with HIV was to pray hard for forgiveness. While many faith leaders have since realised that HIV is simply a virus that can affect anyone, unfortunately some haven’t. In fact, a few have gone even further, telling those in their congregations who are living with HIV to stop taking their Antiretroviral treatment (ARVs) and instead concentrate on praying because that’s the only way they will experience emotional and physical healing.

Whether praying to be healed from HIV is being preached in select churches, or some church-goers living with HIV are misinterpreting what their faith leaders are telling them, a number of HIV positive people have died as a result of stopping their HIV medication. What remains unclear is how many people are being converted to this way of thinking. Is this a big problem warranting a global intervention, or are we making a mountain out of a molehill? I personally don’t know the definitive answers to these questions, but what I can say is that where prayer and HIV healing are concerned, I have witnessed and have heard of some pretty bizarre behaviour among people living with HIV, particularly within African communities in the UK and in some parts of Africa.

It was reported in October 2011 that blind faith in prayer claimed the lives of three people who were HIV positive.  At least three people in London with HIV died after they stopped taking life saving drugs on the advice of their Evangelical Christian pastors.

The women died after attending churches in London where they were encouraged to stop taking the antiretroviral drugs in the belief that God would heal them, their friends and a leading HIV doctor said.

HIV prevention charity African Health Policy Network (AHPN) says a growing number of London churches have been telling people the power of prayer will “cure” their infections.

“This is happening through a number of churches. We’re hearing about more cases of this,” AHPN chief Francis Kaikumba said.

Whether you believe in religion or not, there is absolutely nothing wrong with prayer to help you with HIV, however there is everything wrong with discontinuing medication in favour of prayer.  Take time to consider the different mechanises to combat HIV.  Prayer may help the soul and medication will help the body.  There are a lot of people of all faiths in within research and development who would hope you look after your body too.

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Sunil Gupta – From Here to Eternity


From ‘From Here To Eternity’ by Sunil Gupta

Sunil Gupta, is a HIV positive photographer who specialises in self portraiture, documentary and emotive photography.

In his series ”From Here to Eternity,” seen complete here, is in diptych format. On the left are snapshot-style pictures of the artist, in two cases in the process of receiving H.I.V.-related medical treatment. On the right are pictures of exteriors of gay clubs in London, deserted in daylight. The pairings look simple but are laced with complicated information.

In one lefthand photo, Mr. Gupta hugs a small pet dog; behind him hangs a framed picture of the phallic-looking Delhi landmark called the Qutab Minar, a 13th-century mosque tower built by Muslim colonizers. (Its Arabic inscription reads that it was built to cast the long shadow of God over the conquered Hindu city.) The right panel shows the locked gate like door of a club and beside it, a billboard with the words ”If God exists, why doesn’t He help you?”

The celebratory sense of communal empowerment sometimes associated with art produced in response to AIDS is missing here. Instead, social gathering places are inaccessible, desolate, sometimes half-hidden. Tenderness is a solitary emotion. Liberation takes the comfortless form of unromantic self-awareness.

Generating awareness, personal and public, has propelled Mr. Gupta’s career for nearly two decades, as an artist, writer and curator. He doesn’t makes it easy to come by; it rarely has a feel-good payoff, but it is the moral spine of this fine show.

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Canon Gideon Byamugisha visits Leicester (7th July to 13th July)


A week of opportunities to build your knowledge and understanding about HIV and other social issues from a personal perspective with Canon Gideon Byamugisha

Who is Canon Gideon Byamugisha?
Rev Canon Dr Gideon B. Byamugisha is an ordained priest in the Anglican Church of Uganda. In 1992, he became the first African religious leader to openly declare his HIV-positive status. He has since devoted his life to an HIV / AIDS ministry which has taken him to over 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and many other parts of the world.

Gideon is driven by a passion for the dignity and rights of all people, especially those marginalised, stigmatised and discriminated against because of their HIV positive status. He has played leading roles in the Church of Uganda’s AIDS program, the Uganda AIDS Commission, World Vision International, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, Christian AID, special conferences of the United Nations, and in founding the African Network of Religious Leaders Living With or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS.

Rev. Canon Dr Gideon Byamugisha in Leicester
Canon Gideon is in Leicester & the area supporting different LASS events from 7th July to 13th July. Canon Gideon’s visit theme is “Love (in any language) fluently spoken heals”. “Reaching & sustaining zero new HIV infections, zero household level poverty, zero youth unemployment & zero socially sanctioned violence”

The following are open to the public and you are very welcome to come to one or more of these.

HIV & Belief Session
Wednesday 9th July 2014: 10 – 1pm
Venue: LASS (53 Regent Road, Leicester LE1 6YF)
Canon Gideon will lead this session on HIV and Belief – exploring issues about stigma, self-stigma, support for testing and condom use and reducing discrimination and prejudice.
The session will be of interest to people whose faith / belief plays an important role in their life also for those with an interest in the role that faith and belief have on people’s lives to help them cope or otherwise with a long term condition like HIV.

An audience with Canon Gideon
Thursday 10th July: 4pm – 8pm:
This is an opportunity for Faith leaders and elders to meet Canon Gideon at LASS. Come along and find out more about his ministry and the theme of this visit. Light refreshments will be served.

Football & Faith
On Saturday 12th July: LASS is holding a Football & Faith Event for all the family at Emerald Centre, Gipsy Lane, Leicester LE5 0TB. 6 football teams will compete for the LASS “Know your HIV Status” trophy; we will be entertained by Gospel choirs; there will be family entertainment including a Bouncy castle; address and prize giving by Canon Gideon. There will be different health information and testing available at the event including HIV testing, information about prostate cancer and blood sugar checks. Tasty food will be available to buy from different stall holders.

For Further information or a training session booking form:
Please contact LASS on 0116 2559995.

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