Tag Archives: politics

Together We Will End AIDS

Entitled Together we will end AIDS, the new UNAIDS report contains the latest data on numbers of new HIV infections, numbers of people receiving antiretroviral treatment, AIDS-related deaths and HIV among children. It highlights new scientific opportunities and social progress which are bringing the world closer to UNAIDS vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.

The report also gives an overview of international and domestic HIV investments and the need for greater value for money and sustainability.

Calling for global solidarity and shared responsibility, the UNAIDS report contains commentaries from global and community leaders as well as people living with and affected by HIV.

Download here

Link to UNAIDS Campaign 

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A History of HIV & AIDS – 1996

As we prepare to enter our 25th year, we are reflecting on the global HIV events from the last three decades.  HIV has swept across the globe touching communities on every continent.  Here’s an introduction to some of the key moments in the early global history of HIV.  Catch up on the story using the ‘Recent Posts’ link to the right.

UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated in 1996 that more than 4.6 million people had died from AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic and that over 20.1 million were then living with the virus that leads to AIDS. The majority of those infected (over 15 million) lived in sub-Saharan Africa, followed by more than 31.8 million in Asia, 1 million in Latin America and the Caribbean and about 1.5 million in North America and Western and Central Europe.

On 1 January 1996, The UN aids agency, UNAids, is established.  UNAids – the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS opened for business. This was 15 years after the first published report of AIDS cases, 15 years during which most of the world’s leaders, in all sectors of society, had displayed a staggering indifference to the growing challenge of this new epidemic.

Tommy Morrison in February, 2007

In February, the heavyweight boxer Tommy Morrison was identified as HIV positive after being tested prior to a fight.  A few days before a scheduled fight against Arthur Weathers, Morrison tested positive on a mandatory HIV test performed by the Nevada Athletic Commission.  Morrison’s personal physician administered a confirmatory test, which was also positive.  Nevada cancelled the fight and placed Morrison on indefinite suspension.

At a news conference, a “reflective” Morrison said that he had contracted HIV because of a “very permissive, fast, reckless lifestyle’ that involved unprotected sex with multiple partners.”  Morrison also said that he once thought HIV was a danger only to drug addicts and homosexuals, but that his infection was evidence that HIV “does not discriminate.”  Morrison stated that he would never fight again but later in 1996, he announced that he wished to make a comeback with one more bout, the proceeds of which would benefit his newly created KnockOut Aids Foundation.

To treat his HIV infection, Morrison told the New York Daily News in 2001, he took antiretroviral medication, which reduced his viral load to low levels and according to his promoter, saved his life.

Beginning in 2006, Morrison launched a comeback bid, alleging that his positive HIV tests had been false positives or that he was a victim of a plot by a rival boxer.  The Nevada boxing commission’s medical advisory board reviewed Morrison’s status and concluded that the HIV positive results were “ironclad and unequivocal.”  The commission’s Keith Kizer stated, “I hope he’s HIV negative, I really do, but it doesn’t seem likely…We’ll wait and see what happens. He said he’s been tested several times in recent years, but (we’ll ask) what happened from 1996 and 2002, the years he won’t talk about.”  Morrison said he tried to get a copy of the original test results. “We’ve asked, but they can’t come up with it,” he said. “I don’t think it ever existed.”  USA Today reported that “Goodman said that’s nonsense: ‘All Mr. Morrison has to do is contact the laboratory, and they would immediately release the results to him.’

It’s very interesting reading, for more on Tommy Morrison, follow these links:

In May the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first ‘home sampling’ system of HIV testing.

Meanwhile in China it was estimated that the number of AIDS cases could be as high as 100,000. Two thirds of the reported AIDS cases had occurred in the southern province of Yunnan, where the use of heroin and the sharing of needles had helped the spread of HIV.

In the USA there had been a cumulative total of 81,500 AIDS cases in New York.

New outbreaks of HIV infection were erupting in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, China and elsewhere.

The International Aids Vaccine Initiative set up to jumpstart the search for an effective vaccine.


The first major breakthrough in the treatment of HIV comes in 1996, with the introduction of protease inhibitors as part of antiretroviral combination therapies.

Protease Inhibitors stop HIV replication by preventing the enzyme protease from cutting the virus into the shorter pieces that it needs to make copies of itself. Incomplete, defective copies are formed which can’t infect cells.

This new class of medicine means that viral loads drop, t-cells rise, and death rates plummet, even as it becomes clear that the new medications cannot “eradicate” HIV from the body and thus fall short of being a cure.  Alongside these tremendous advances, new HIV infections remain undiminished, and the drugs also prove difficult to take, cause serious side effects, and don’t work for everyone.

Robert Gallo, an American biomedical researcher, best known for his role in the discovery of HIV published his discovery that chemokines, a class of naturally occurring compounds, can block HIV and halt the progression of AIDS. This was heralded by Sciencemagazine as one of the top scientific breakthroughs within the same year of his publication.  The role chemokines play in controlling the progression of HIV infection has influenced thinking on how AIDS works against the human immune system and led to a class of drugs used to treat HIV, the chemokine antagonists or entry inhibitors.

Gallo’s team at the Institute of Human Virology maintain an ongoing program of scientific research and clinical care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS, treating more than 4,000 patients in Baltimore and 200,000 patients at institute-supported clinics in Africa and the Caribbean.  In July 2007, Gallo and his team were awarded a $15 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for research into a preventive vaccine for HIV/AIDS.

Just 12 months earlier, AIDS was considered a death sentence, and those seeking to treat it seldom uttered the words “AIDS” and “hope” in the same sentence.  However, in 1996 those terms have become inextricably linked in the minds and hearts of researchers and patients alike and while the new optimism must be tempered with numerous caveats, 1996 had ushered in a series of stunning breakthroughs, both in AIDS treatment and in basic research on HIV.

Protease inhibitors can now dramatically reduce HIV levels in the blood when taken with other antiviral compounds. At the same time, natural weapons in the immune system’s defences, polypeptide molecules called chemokine’s, have been unveiled as potent foes of HIV. This work offered new insight into the pathogenesis of HIV and may one day blossom into new treatments or even vaccines.

Read This: AIDS Research: New Hope in HIV Disease

These major breakthroughs resulted in a steep decline in the number of AIDS cases and deaths reported each year which gave hope to the many millions of people with HIV.  Less and less people with HIV were dying however, the number of infections continues to rise, and peaks at a new high from 2000, due in part to living healthy with HIV but also due to decreased education and awareness.

At the 11th International Aids Conference in Vancouver, excitement over the development of combination drug therapies is tempered by their extreme cost – estimated at $20,000 a year per patient.

Brazil introduces free combination therapy for HIV-positive citizens

At the end of the year UNAIDS estimated that during 1996 some three million people, mostly under the age of 25, had become newly infected with HIV, bringing to nearly 23 million the total number of infected people. In addition an estimated 6.4 million people – 5 million adults and 1.4 million children – had already died.

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A History of HIV & AIDS – 1995

As we prepare to enter our 25th year, we are reflecting on the global HIVevents from the last three decades.  HIV has swept across the globe touching communities on every continent.  Here’s an introduction to some of the key moments in the early global history of HIV.  Catch up on the story using the ‘Recent Posts’ link to the right.

By 1st January 1995, a cumulative total of a million cases of AIDS had been reported to the World Health Organisation Global Programme on AIDS.  Eighteen million adults and 1.5 million children were estimated to have been infected with HIV since the beginning of the epidemic.

AIDS had become the leading cause of death amongst all Americans aged 25 to 44.

Two research reports provided important new information about how HIV replicates in the body and how it affects the immune system.

The South African Ministry of Health announced that some 850,000 people – 2.1 percent of the 40 million population – were believed to be HIV positive. Among pregnant women the figure had reached 8 percent and was rising.

By the autumn of 1995, 7-8 million women of childbearing age were believed to have been infected with HIV.

By December 15th, the World Health Organisation had received reports of 1,291,810 cumulative cases of AIDS in adults and children from 193 countries or areas. The WHO estimated that the actual number of cases that had occurred was around 6 million. Eight countries in Africa had reported more than 20,000 cases.

Other organisations estimated that by the end of 1995, 9.2 million people worldwide had died from AIDS.

Worldwide during 1995, it was estimated that 4.7 million new HIV infections occurred. Of these, 2.5 million occurred in Southeast Asia and 1.9 million in sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 500,000 children were born with HIV.

The WHO estimated that by the end of the century, 30 to 40 million people would have been affected by HIV.

British DJ and entertainer Kenny Everett dies from AIDS on 4 April 1995.

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Sex education: we should teach young people about more than the mechanics

Sex education: too much emphasis on the mechanics, says Doortje Braeken, who argues for more teaching about sexuality. Photograph: David Levene (The Guardian)

Sex education polarises opinion, sets legislators against parents and parents against schools and regularly inflames media opinion. Somewhere in the middle sit young people: ill-served, receiving confused messages and gaining their information from famously unreliable sources, such as peers or the internet.

Sex education, as all too many experience it, is like teaching people how to drive by telling them in detail what’s under the bonnet, how the bits work, how to maintain them safely to avoid accidents, what the controls do and when to go on the road. It’s all about the mechanics. And that’s it.

There’s a growing consensus that young people don’t need sex education, they need comprehensive sexuality education or CSE..  CSE is sex education plus: the mechanics, plus a lots more about sexuality.

That means not just teaching young people about the biology of sex, but also teaching them about the personal, emotional, societal and cultural forces which shape the way in which they choose to conduct their lives. Armed with this understanding, young people can make far more considered decisions.

This approach has the potential to unite the warring factions that bicker over the fundamental rights and wrongs of sex education: CSE equips young people with basic biological knowledge, but at the same time it equips them to question why they act in certain ways, and whether or not it is right, valuable or desirable to do so. CSE imparts information, and promotes responsibility.

CSE contains components which allow learners to explore and discuss gender, and the diverse spectrum of gender identities that exist within and between and beyond simple heterosexuality. It also contains components that examine the dynamics of power in relationships, and individual rights.

These are not taught as theoretical concepts. They have serious practical effects on the way in which young people interact with each other, both in the sexual and the wider social and educational spheres. Studies have shown that addressing such issues can have a marked impact both in school and the expansion of young people’s social networks.

CSE also engages with what some doubtless regard as difficult territory. Sexuality – however, individually, we choose to regard it – is a critical aspect of personal identity. The pleasure that we derive from sexuality, even if that pleasure is the pleasure of feeling that a reproductive duty is being fulfilled, is a vital part of our lives: it’s what makes us human. CSE views sexuality as a positive force.

CSE exploits a variety of teaching and learning techniques that are respectful of age, experience and cultural backgrounds, and which engage young people by enabling them to personalise the information they receive.

What is most telling is that a large number of studies have reached the clear conclusion that CSE does not lead to earlier sexual initiation or an increase in sexual activity. To paraphrase, traditional sex education seems to say: “If you’re going to do it, this is how everything works and you need to protect yourself in these ways to prevent this.” CSE says all that, but it also asks young people to ponder what exactly “it” is, and to deepen their perception of its implications.

In a political environment which is quantitatively driven, we measure the success of sex education in straightforward health behaviour indicators. These are easy to manage: numbers which build on existing health surveillance and measurement systems, and which are simple to understand from an objective point of view.

However, CSE is a far more nuanced discipline, and it will be necessary to include other measures of programme success: qualitative, subjective indicators which relate to gender equity, empowerment and critical thinking skills.

While governments have recognised young people’s right to CSE via various intergovernmental resolutions and conventions, the journey from recognition to delivery will be a long one. Even in the UK, there are notable differences, with England having a bare-bones biological approach “puberty, menstruation, contraception, abortion, safer sex, HIV/Aids and STIs should be covered”, while Wales and Scotland have curriculums which incline far more towards the CSE agenda.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation, the organisation I work for, and its 153 member associations around the world, has been instrumental in pressing for the adoption of international policy commitments to CSE. For many, it may seem like we are pushing 10 steps ahead of the agenda when the basic principle of young people’s right to even the most basic introduction to the biology of sex is still not universally accepted.

Our view is different: it is that CSE is what will secure widespread acceptance of sex education, because it is about more than the mechanics of sex. It is about helping young people, the world over, to become more healthy, more informed, more respectful and more active participants in the life of their community and their nation.

Doortje Braeken is the IPPF’s senior adviser on adolescents and young people, responsible for co-ordinating programmes in 26 countries implementing a rights-based approach to youth friendly services and comprehensive sexuality education. She will be among the panellists for a live discussion on sex and sexuality education, taking place on the SocietyGuardian site from noon to 2pm on Thursday 31 May

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NICE recommends IVF for older women, and for people with HIV

Since the original recommendations on fertility were published in 2004 there have been many advances in both treatments and in the understanding of different techniques.


Childless women aged between 40 and 42 will be able to receive IVF on theNHS for the first time under proposals by the treatment regulator to help more people become parents.

Experts welcomed the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence‘s (NICE) planned new policy, which follows the emergence of evidence that IVF can benefit women of that age.

Since 2004 women aged 23 to 39 in England and Wales with an identified cause of infertility, or who have been infertile for at least three years, should have been offered up to three cycles of IVF.

But a squeeze on NHS spending and controversial restrictions mean many have been denied treatment.

Click to read ITV news, with video featuring ITV Daybreak’s Michelle Morrison on the proposed changes to who can get IVF on the NHS.

Under draft revised guidelines issued by NICE on Tuesday, eligibility for IVF – though only one cycle – will be extended to include women aged 40-42 who are deemed to suffer from “absolute infertility” and have no chance of conceiving by other means.

The regulator conceded, however, its stipulation that such women must not have previously undergone IVF was likely to mean that “quite small” numbers would actually benefit.

“Only a small minority of women aged 40-42 may benefit from the chance to have one cycle of IVF at that age,” said Susan Seenan, deputy director of patient group Infertility Network UK .

“It is good to see that the upper age limit for women has been raised as the evidence shows that we can have success with older women, though that should not take away from the clear message that age is still a major factor in fertility and that the longer one waits the greater the likelihood of problems”, said Professor Chris Barratt of Dundee University‘s school of medicine.

NICE also wants to cut the time women aged up to 39 should have been trying to conceive from three to two years. Seenan said that would reduce the frustration felt by childless couples and enable them to access IVF more quickly and thus increase their chances of starting a family.

The new proposals will also rule that only a single embryo should be transferred where possible.

It will also recommend for the first time that doctors can advise HIV-positive male patients that they can have unprotected sex with their female partner in order to conceive as long as the man meets certain criteria, such as being up to date with his antiretroviral medication, and agrees that they only do so when she is ovulating.

Catherine Murphy, head of policy at the Terrence Higgins Trust, welcomed the proposed change. “HIV medications have improved enormously in the last decade, making mother to baby transmission of HIV preventable and ensuring people can live long and healthy lives. It also means that natural conception is now a possibility for HIV positive men and HIV negative women in the right circumstances.

“An HIV diagnosis should no longer be a barrier to parenthood and we are very encouraged that NICE have recognised this in their consultation”, she added.

Original Article via The Guardian

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A History of HIV & AIDS – 1990

As we prepare to enter our 25th year, we are reflecting on the global HIV events from the last three decades.  HIV has swept across the globe and support touching communities on every continent.  Here’s an introduction to some of the key moments in the early global history of HIV.  Catch up on the story using the ‘Recent Posts’ link to the right.

One of the primary routes of HIV transmission is through direct contact between your blood and HIV infected blood. Although the majority of HIV infections via blood occur through injecting drug use, medical settings still account for a significant number of new HIV infections.  Across the world numerous cases of HIV transmission through blood transfusions, medical injections, medical waste and occupational exposure, are both reported and unreported.

There are an estimated 250,000 new infections per year as a result of the reuse of needles and syringes,1 and in Africa 250 to 500 people are newly infected with HIV each day as a result of unsafe blood transfusions.2 3 Testing of blood is essential but remains absent in many low and middle-income countries.

In 1990, at the beginning of the year, it was reported that a large number of children in Romanian hospitals and orphanages had become infected with HIV as a result of multiple blood transfusions and the reuse of needles.

In China, 146 people in Yunnan Province near the Burmese border were found to be infected with HIV due to sharing needles.

In June, a TV programme called ‘The AIDS Catch’ was screened in the UK, questioning whether HIV caused AIDS and whether AIDS was infectious. It was felt the programme caused significant distress among people with HIV and undermined the efforts carried out in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention.

Prime Minister John Major announced that the Government would pay £42 million compensation to haemophiliacs infected with HIV and their dependants.

British actor Ian Charleson was a Scottish stage and film actor best known internationally for his starring role as Olympic athlete and missionary Eric Liddell, in the Oscar-winning 1981 film Chariots of Fire. He is also well known for his portrayal of Rev. Charlie Andrews in the 1982 Oscar-winning film Gandhi.

Charleson was a noted actor on the British stage as well, with critically acclaimed leads in Guys and DollsCat on a Hot Tin RoofFool for Love, and Hamlet, among many others. Over the course of his life Charleson performed numerous major Shakespearean roles,  dies on January 6, 1990 from AIDS at the age of 40.  His death marked the first showbusiness death in the United Kingdom openly attributed to complications from AIDS.

Later, in 1991, the annual Ian Charleson Awards are established in his honour in to reward the best classical stage performances in Britain by actors aged under 30.

Teenager Ryan White, who in 1987 had surgery to remove two inches off his left lung and believed this was the moment of his infection, dies on April 8, 1990 at the age of 18 from pneumonia caused by AIDS complications.

Congress enacted The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act or Ryan White Care Act, the United States’ largest federally funded health related program (excluding Medicaid and Medicare).

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A History of HIV & AIDS – 1989

As we prepare to enter our 25th year, we are reflecting on the global HIV events from the last three decades.  HIV has swept across the globe and support touching communities on every continent.  Here’s an introduction to some of the key moments in the early global history of HIV.  Catch up on the story using the ‘Recent Posts’ link to the right.

1989: On February 7th, the FDA announced that it was going to approve an aerosol form of the drug Pentamidine for the treatment of PCP (Pneumocystis Pneumonia) AIDS Patents.  It’s still in use today for some people with PCP.

By March 1st, 145 countries had reported 142,000 cases of AIDS to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WHO regarded this as under-reporting, and estimated the actual number of people with AIDS around the world to be over 400,000. It was predicted that this figure would rise to 1.1 million by 1991. It was also estimated that 5-10 million people were already infected with HIV.

Click to read Hans Paul’s letter to the US Government

A Dutch man, Hans Paul Verhoef, was imprisoned in Minnesota, USA because did not declare that he had HIV when he entered the country.  Mr. Verhoef landed at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport en route to a gay and lesbian health conference in San Francisco in April 1989.

After his medicine was found (AZT) in his luggage he was detained under a 1987 law that allows the Immigration and Naturalization Service to deny entry to visitors with AIDS or the AIDS virus. (sic)

Supporters intervened in his behalf, and Mr. Verhoef was released after five days and allowed to attend the conference.

In August, results from a major drug trial known as ACTG019 were announced.  The trial showed that AZT could slow progression to AIDS in HIV positive individuals with no symptoms.  These findings were thought to be extremely positive; on August 17th a press conference was held, at which the Health Secretary, Louis Sullivan said:

“Today we are witnessing a turning point in the battle to change AIDS from a fatal disease to a treatable one.”

The initial optimism was short-lived when the price of the drug was revealed. A year’s supply for one person would cost around $7,000, and many Americans did not have adequate health insurance to cover the cost.  Burroughs Wellcome, the makers of AZT, were accused of ‘price gouging and profiteering’.  In September, the cost of the drug was cut by 20 percent.

By this time, 100,000 people diagnosed with AIDS had been reported to the CDC.  The proportion of AIDS diagnoses among women had increased, and smaller cities and rural areas were increasingly affected.

The television movie “The Ryan White Story” aired. It starred Judith Light as Jeanne, Lukas Haas as Ryan and Nikki Cox as Sister Andrea. Ryan White had a small cameo appearance as Chad, a young patient with AIDS.

Another AIDS-themed film, The Littlest Victims, also debuted in 1989, biopic-ing James Oleske, the first U.S. physician to discover AIDS in new born children during the early years of AIDS when many thought it was only spread by homosexual sex and drug use.

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