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What ‘The Golden Girls’ Taught Us About AIDS" via Barbara Fletcher

"But this is what The Golden Girls was so good at: bringing home those topics that often made people uncomfortable — racism, homosexuality, older female sexuality, sexual harassment, the homeless, addiction, marriage equality and more — and showing us how interconnected and utterly human we all are at any age. Served, of course, with that delicious trademark humor that infused the show throughout its groundbreaking, taboo-busting seven-season run.”


All these diseases are man made.

Do you think Africa is the epicenter of the most disastrous diseases by fate?

Africa didn’t have these cases of Ebola nor AIDS before European involvement.

California Trees Nailed As The Source Of Mystery Infections (NPR)

A fungus called Cryptococcus gattii can cause life-threatening infections, especially in people with compromised immune systems. One-third of AIDS-related deaths are thought to be caused by the fungus.

But though people in Southern California have been getting sick from C. gatti for years, nobody knew how.

"We had a good idea that the fungus was going to be associated with trees," says , a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University who studies C. gatti. “We just didn’t know what trees.”

And she didn’t have the time to find out.

But someone did: Elan Filler, a 7th grader who was looking for a science fair project. Her dad, , an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, Los Angeles, ran into , Springer’s advisor, at a conference, and told him about Elan. Heitman told Springer.

Elan Filler and Springer connected on email and figured out a plan. Soon Elan was making her way around greater Los Angeles, swabbing tree trunks and growing out the fungus in Petri dishes. None of the eucalyptus trees in the first batch she gathered tested positive for C. gattii, so she expanded her tests to include more types of trees.

Springer analyzed the genetic fingerprints of fungi in the samples that Elan sent to North Carolina.

Bingo! C. gattii from three trees, Canary Island pine, New Zealand pohutukawa and American sweet gum, matched almost exactly with C. gattii from infected patients. And the tree samples matched not just those from recent patients but from people who were sick 10 to 12 years ago. Thus this strain of C. gattii has been causing health problems in California for at least that long.

The were published Thursday in PLOS Pathogens.

The Canary Island pine is one tree species that hosts a fungus that causes disease in humans.


Haunting photos capture LGBT resilience in the face of the AIDS epidemic

Capturing the early moments of the AIDS crisis in the mid-1980s in San Francisco’s Castron neighborhood, award-winning photojournalist Thomas Alleman’s photo series, “Dancing In the Dragon’s Jaws,” illustrates the heartache, passionate anger and vulnerability that took the LGBT community by storm at the time. Alleman’s collection of 53 black-and-white photographs debuted in December 2012 at the Jewett Gallery in San Francisco.

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This week, an initiative called dotHIV launched to bring a new, socially conscious domain to the web.

It ends in — surprise — .HIV. Companies and individuals can purchase .HIV domains for $179, and a small donation will be made to an HIV/AIDS organization every time someone visits the site. The domains are free for HIV/AIDS charities. 

CEO Carolin Silbernagl is now focused on selling the domains through third-party marketplaces like GoDaddy. More than 10,000 .HIV domains were pre-registered, although those agreements weren’t binding, she says. Included in that batch were big name companies like Amazon, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Silbernagl doesn’t expect these companies to include specific HIV or AIDS-related content on their .HIV page, but instead expects most will simply redirect the domain to their standard .com pages, which still helps out her cause. “The Internet user gets a second door to the same Web content but it’s actually cooler because [of our] donation program,” she said.

The donations are small — $0.001 per click — but go toward causes selected by Silbernagl and the Initiative. The first organization slated to receive funds will be WE-ACTx for HOPE, a group fighting HIV and AIDS in Rwanda. Next on the list is the Sero Project, an organization focused on “ending inappropriate criminal prosecutions of people with HIV.” Across the globe, more than 35 million people are living with HIV, according to the World Health Organization.

THIS is how you use technology to bring about social change. I am absolutely giddy to see that big-name brands have already signed on, and I hope the rest of the world catches on like wildfire.