The makeup of the vaginal microbiome could have a significant impact on women’s susceptibility to HIV, according to new studies that were recently presented at the annual AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. Levels of certain bacteria determine not only how likely women are to become infected, but how effective preventative medication can be.

In recent years, studies have shown that susceptibility to HIV in women has to do with the presence of Lactobacillus, a species that creates an acidic environment that many pathogens can’t survive in. In the United States, 90% of white women have high levels of Lactobacillus in the vagina, compared to only 37% in women studied in SwaZulu-Natal, a province of South Africa with markedly high numbers of HIV infections in women. Following these studies, researchers are not finding more data to explain this strange phenomenon. 

A procedure of giving anti-HIV drugs to patients before infection called pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) has been noted to cause significantly more successful results for men than for women. Vaginal swabs were studied from women undergoing this procedure to compare those for whom it was effective versus those for whom it was not. Ian Lipkin’s lab at Columbia University found the most harmful species was Prevotella bivia, which was associated with a thirteen times higher likelihood of becoming infected with HIV in women where it was prevalent (greater than 1% of the vaginal microbiome). These women also had reduced levels of Lactobacillus. It was found that among women with less than 50% Lactobacilli, PrEP is only 18% effective, compared to 61% effective for those with over 50% Lactobacilli. Another bacteria, Gardnerella, which thrives where lactobacilli are scarce, inhibits the drugs.

Though some scientists are skeptical about how far this research can be applied to preventing HIV–efforts have shown that the gut microbiome is very difficult to manipulate–others remain hopeful that it will lead to more simple and effective drugs.

Read the full article here.

Medicine should never have been privatized in the first place. The concept of profiting off of human desperation and the need for life-saving medicine is, philosophically, intrinsically, and morally wrong both as a fundamental concept and in practice. The fact that Martin Shkreli was ever able to buy an AIDS drug and increase its price 5000% is indicative of a problem even bigger than a truly evil, despicable, and selfish human being; it is indicative of the problem of the current system of for-profit pharmaceuticals with obviously inadequate price regulation.

rawstory.com
Ex-hedge funder buys rights to AIDS drug and raises price from $13.50 to $750 per pill

A former hedge fund manager turned pharmaceutical businessman has purchased the rights to a 62-year-old drug used for treating life-threatening parasitic infections and raised the price overnight from $13.50 per tablet to $750.

According to the New York Times, Martin Shkreli, 32, the founder and chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, purchased the rights to Daraprim for $55 million on the same day that Turing announced it had raised $90 million from Shkreli and other investors in its first round of financing.

Daraprim is used for treating toxoplasmosis — an opportunistic parasitic infection that can cause serious or even life-threatening problems in babies and for people with compromised immune systems like AIDS patients and certain cancer patients — that sold for slightly over $1 a tablet several years ago.  Prices have increased as the rights to the drug have been passed from one pharmaceutical company to the next, but nothing like the almost 5,500 percent increase since Shkreli acquired it.

This is absolutely monstrous. He’s like a parody of a capitalist from a Marxist propaganda film. Jesus H. Christ what a piece of trash.

Spread his face around. Don’t let him be anonymous. Let everyone know his name and what he looks like so that he’ll never, ever be able to go about in public again without being utterly terrified.

9

“On Josie Webb’s thirteenth birthday, her aunt gave her a book that changed her life. It was a volume of Maya Angelou poems. After Josie read “And Still I Rise”, she knew she didn’t want to be a…a ballet dancer, or a nurse; she wanted to be a poet. So, it was a proud day when she graduated from Hillman with a degree in English Literature in high honors. That was the spring of 1992. But the following spring, Josie Webb has died of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome: the disease we all know as AIDS. 

I didn’t get AIDS from a blood transfusion, or by doing drugs. I got it by having unprotected sex with my boyfriend junior year in high school. I knew Frank was smart, fine, team star quarterback. Neither of us knew he was HIV positive. Lying in the grass on a humid night, looking up at the stars, you just know you’re going to live forever. Lying in the grass, it’s impossible to imagine that 5 years later you’ll be lying in a hospital bed with pneumocystis pneumonia and a few years to live. Nothing like an AIDS ward to teach you that youth is not immortality. More than anything, youth is the power to make choices. Now that I’m gone, I ask one thing of you. Remember always to choose life.” 
-Tisha Campbell guest-starring as a student living with AIDS. 

In an interview on Oprah’s “Where Are They Now?,” director Debbie Allen revealed that the episode was almost pulled from the air (due to several advertisers dropping out). However, years after the episode’s original air date, the series was praised for being one of the first to publicly tackle the subject and foster an open dialogue about the epidemic. (x)

Powerful. 

hivplusmag.com
Landmark HIV Vaccine Clinical Trials Take Center Stage at World's Largest Health Conference
A landmark study is underway to test an antibody that could potentially protect people from infection by almost all strains of HIV and it's not the only one.

Hopes for a truly effective HIV vaccine were mostly the stuff of dreams in 2000, the last time Durban, South Africa, hosted the biennial meeting of the International AIDS Society. The global HIV Vaccine Trials Network, based at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and led by virologist and former Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Larry Corey, was just being organized. No vaccine clinical trials were underway in South Africa, whose president at the time denied that HIV even caused AIDS. Sixteen years later, things have changed.

When Corey took the stage last week before fellow scientists, advocates, policymakers, and people living with HIV attending AIDS 2016, the world’s largest global health conference, his message was upbeat. “The HIV vaccine field,” he said, “is open for business.”

The HVTN, working with its sister network, the HIV Prevention Trials Network, or HPTN, based in Durham, North Carolina, has just begun what is already being called a landmark study to test an experimental, so-called broadly neutralizing antibody that could potentially protect people from infection by almost all strains of the rapidly mutating virus that causes AIDS. Called the AMP study, it will enroll 1,500 sexually active women at 15 sites in southern Africa. A parallel study will enroll 2,700 men and transgender people who have sex with men at 24 sites in the U.S. and South America.

The HVTN will roll out a second large-scale trial in South Africa in November with 5,400 HIV-negative men and women, the first such trial to be in the field in a decade and one that could lead to the first licensed vaccine against HIV.

And on Wednesday, Corey said that the HVTN could add a third clinical trial of a vaccine being developed by Janssen, a research division of Johnson & Johnson, in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital and the U.S. Military HIV Research Program. Initial results of a smaller trial will be available later this year, and “If they look good, a [large-scale] trial will be undertaken,” Corey said.

The three trials would represent three distinct approaches to an HIV vaccine — a testament to how challenging it has been to develop a vaccine against a virus that mutates so rapidly even within a single person that antibodies can’t keep up with the changes and against which no one has ever developed a natural immunity.

CLICK THE HEADER LINK TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE.

HIV

I work with people who have HIV as a part of my job. If you have HIV please remember:

HIV can be controlled by medications for a super long time (think 30 years+). It is more like getting a diabetes diagnosis than a death sentence.

No matter how your infection happened you deserve to live and have a happy life.

By federal law in the United States there is tons of resources to help you get medication for FREE.

You can find partners who will accept you and love you.

You can have children who are born HIV-. If a child is born in a first world county with medical care the likelyhood of transmission is rediculously low.

On medication your likelyhood of infecting others decreases significantly depending on your viral load.

PEP and PrEP are exciting things to look into to be able to have unprotected sex and prevent transmission.

HIV does not have to be central to your identity.

People who take their medication like prescribed can actually have as few as 2 doctor appointments a year for their condition !

Don’t let stigma, fear and lack of education get you down! You are a wonderful person and can achieve wonderful things. Don’t give up.

And if you don’t know your status please get tested. Please!

poz.com
Another Study Shows No HIV Transmission From Undetectable Partners
The final results of the famed HPTN 052 trial found no transmissions between mixed-HIV-status heterosexual couples when the partner living with the virus was treated with antiretrovirals (ARVs) and had a fully suppressed viral load, MedPage Today reports. In 2011, interim results from the trial found that treating HIV early was associated with a 96 percent reduced risk of transmitting HIV between such couples, compared with delaying treatment. The final results reduced this figure to 93 percent.

Publishing their final results in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers randomly assigned 1,763 people with HIV who were in a partnership with an HIV-negative, opposite-sex individual to receive immediate or deferred ARV treatment. A total of 886 participants started HIV treatment immediately, with CD4 counts ranging between 350 and 550. The 877 people in the deferred group were set to start treatment after two consecutive CD4 counts dropped below 250 or if they had an AIDS-defining illness.

After the 2011 interim results were released, everyone in the deferred group was offered treatment. The final results were also presented at the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa (AIDS 2016).

The HIV-positive participants were followed for a cumulative 10,031 years, while the HIV-negative partners were followed for a cumulative 8,509 years. Seventy-eight of the HIV-negative partners acquired the virus during the study, for an infection rate of 0.9 percent per year. Through genetic analysis, the researchers were able to determine that 46 of those transmissions—three in the early treatment group and 43 in the deferred group—were linked to the study partners; researchers were unable to determine a viral link in the case of the remaining six.

Comparing the HIV rates between the early and the deferred group, the researchers found that treating the virus early was associated with a 93 percent reduction in the risk of transmitting HIV. The 93 percent figure does not represent the risk reduction associated with having an undetectable viral load. The researchers did not identify any transmissions of the virus within couples when the HIV-positive member had a fully suppressed virus thanks to ARV treatment.

To read the study abstract, click here.

To read the MedPage Today article, click here.

theguardian.com
A generation of artists were wiped out by Aids and we barely talk about it
A new film about the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe is a shocking and brilliant reminder of the devastation HIV and Aids wreaked – and still does
By Suzanne Moore

Yet there was a time when you could walk around London or New York and see these gaunt faces, marked with sarcomas, and everyone you hung out with was dying. The official culture was in denial. Sometimes it was easier to be. I remember seeing Derek Jarman at a play. At that point he was blind. I didn’t want to see him like that. And then my friend was queer-bashed on the way home. Freddie Mercury died. Keith Haring died. Eazy- E from NWA died. Denholm Elliott died. Rock Hudson died. Fela Kuti died. And my uncle who wasn’t famous or even my actual uncle died. One of my friends lost seven people who were all under 30.”

towleroad.com
Mike Pence  wanted to use HIV/AIDS money to fund conversion therapy
Mike Pence, Indiana Governor and Donald Trump’s running mate, said in 2000 that he was in favor of sending money allocated to care for people with HIV/AIDS to organizations that provide conversion therapy.

Reason #523750 Not to Vote For Donald Trump: His newly-announced running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, staunchly opposes LGBT rights, much more so than your average Republican politician.

In addition to advocating for religious-based discrimination against LGBT people in his state, he also advocated for funds allocated for HIV/AIDS services to go instead to conversion therapy. And, as you’ll remember, conversion therapy is actually a part of the GOP platform this year. 

During his first successful run for Congress in 2000, now-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence wrote on his website in a section on LGBT issues that money from a program to help those with HIV/AIDS should go to organizations “which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

That section on LGBT issues was called, “Strengthening the American Family.” It read:

Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriage.

Congress should oppose any effort to recognize homosexual’s as a “discreet and insular minority” entitled to the protection of anti-discrimination laws similar to those extended to women and ethnic minorities.

Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.

This man does not belong anywhere near any kind of public office, let alone the vice presidency. Please. Do. Not. Vote. Republican. 

8

Gran Fury was an artistic collective active in New York between 1988 to 1995 that operated in tandem with ACT UP, the AIDS advocacy group founded in the city in 1987. The organizations’ graphical material, in particular its iconic SILENCE=DEATH design, eventually disseminated beyond the city and beyond activist circles into national discourse and popular culture. Named for a line of Plymouth cars used by the police department, Gran Fury’s tactics embraced advertising techniques - bold aesthetics and graphic design, the exploitation of public spaces, emphasis on wide distribution. At the same time, its members remained wary of the branding of its art as trendy “convenient product” and consistently emphasized the limitations of art and importance of direct action, exemplified by the recurring slogan “Art is not enough”.

Our first projects were poster sniping (illegal wheat-pasting of posters on vacant signage), and Xeroxed flyers, a working method which grew out of an ACT UP aesthetic and our limited funds. After about a year, our tactics changed as we questioned whether postering was the most effective means of reaching a large general audience. 

As Gran Fury received increasing art world support, we did so with the condition that we receive the greatest possible public access to our work, in most cases exhibiting outside the art space itself. We decided not to produce work for the gallery market. Art institutions provided us with access to public spaces a group such as ours would otherwise never have had the resources to acquire; they profited through supporting AIDS work by an activist group which met their aesthetic standards and which was willing to observe certain boundaries of wheat was and was not allowable-explicit obscenity or critique of their sponsors.

…At the same time, our work began to feel like a signature style, a convenient product for the art world to use to fulfill its’ desire to “do something” about the AIDS crisis. Gran Fury’s status as flavor of the month in the American art world was over; interest in our work had shifted to Europe where we consistently felt handicapped by attempting to understand their specific issues, as well as by our inability to use colloquial slogans. In 1992 we designed a campaign for Montreal which utilized the symbols of Quebecois sovereignty to draw attention to AIDS issues – specifically a warning to conduct research and design programs that would apply to the Canadian situation. The project backfired because the icon we chose to use was too potent – some did not recognize it as an AIDS campaign. In general, we found that we could only produce the most general messages, otherwise we ran the risk of misreading a local situation or creating something that would fail in translation.

Good Luck…Miss You ~ Gran Fury

We want the art world to recognize that collective direct action will bring an end to the AIDS crisis. And that collective direct action can mean a whole lot of things across a whole lot of communities: we have already been co-opted, we are complicit with the art world’s institutions in what we hope are strategic ways. We do not only act as an irritant, we also point to what’s going on in society at large. 

Whenever we can, we steer the art world projects into public spaces so that we can address audiences other than museum-going audiences or the readership of art magazines…

Our main beat isn’t with the art world, it’s with the United States government’s lack of response and the political crisis that underlies the medical crisis of AIDS. If we can use the art world as a tool to broadly articulate concerns, then we are glad for that support. My fear is that the heavy emphasis on the cultural analysis of AIDS distances us from the fact that this is a living, breathing crisis in which lives are at stake right at this moment.

BOMB: Gran Fury by Robert Gober

NYPL

4

The graying of AIDS – Stories from an aging pandemic

Wherever people have access to lifesaving treatment, what was once thought impossible has become increasingly common: people with HIV/AIDS are living into their 50s, 60s, and beyond. As of 2015, half of all people living with HIV in the United States are age 50 or older, and by 2020 that percentage is expected to rise to 70%. More than 3 million people age 50+ are thought to be living positive in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, a number that could triple by 2040.

Ageist beliefs about who is at risk for HIV regularly get in the way of potentially life-saving information being shared with so-called “older adults.” (When tracking HIV/AIDS statistics, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines people over age 50 as “older adults.”) Here in the U.S., people age 50 and older are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV later in their disease progression towards AIDS than their younger counterparts; as a result, older adults often start treatment late and regularly suffer from more HIV-related health problems. Again, ageism plays a role: whether because of lack of training or cultural taboos and social discomfort, health care providers are less likely to ask their older patients about their sex lives or substance use, and are less likely to test those patients for HIV.

Around the world, HIV/AIDS data collection often stops at age 49, so the numbers we have are often estimates based on projections grounded in data gathered on younger positive adults. What we know with certainty is that the need for aging-related HIV/AIDS services will continue to grow as future generations have the opportunity to age with the virus. But there are a lot of questions that need answers: What new medical challenges will arise from decades of living with HIV/AIDS, prolonged use of antiviral medications, and aging itself? What kind of support will HIV-positive older adults need in the long-term? What are we doing to prevent new HIV transmissions among adults later in life? And how can we best take advantage of the wealth of experience, passion, and insights this pioneering generation has to share?

______________________

The Graying of AIDS is a collaborative documentary project created by visual journalist Katja Heinemann and health educator Naomi Schegloff. For five years the team has worked to create media stories, multimedia art installations, innovative public health awareness campaigns with NGO partners, and educational materials that engage diverse audiences. The on-going “Stories from an Aging Pandemic” project is a participatory documentary installation and online archive. The Graying of AIDS team works with HIV-positive adults aged 50+ in a pop-up photo studio and interview station, creating a collective portrait of the first generation of adults able to grow “old” with HIV/AIDS. Thus far, more than 100 people representing 17 countries and 4 indigenous nations have participated in the project at the last two biennial International AIDS Conferences in the U.S. and Australia; the team hopes to travel to the next conference in South Africa in 2016 to complete the series for the 20th anniversary of HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy), the multi-drug antiretroviral therapy that made aging with HIV a possibility for so many.

Photography by Katja Heinemann/Interviews by Naomi Schegloff

See more images from The graying of AIDS and our other slideshows on Yahoo News!

time.com
The $750 Per Pill AIDS Drug Now Has $1 Competition
The $750 drug drew widespread condemnation for a huge price jump...

It’s part of a a new program called Imprimis Cares that will make over 7,800 FDA-approved generic drugs available at an affordable price.

A pharmaceutical company announced Thursday that it plans to introduce a significantly lower-cost version of Daraprim, the drug that made headlines last month after jumping from $13.50 per pill to $750.