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. 

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!

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. 

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.

2

A Word With: Javier Muñoz, the New Hamilton on Broadway [x]:

Mr. Muñoz has some obvious similarities to the man he is replacing — both have parents from Puerto Rico, graduated from New York City public schools and encountered Broadway as children, becoming passionate about theater. And their careers have been entwined for years — Mr. Muñoz was Mr. Miranda’s alternate, and then his successor, on “In the Heights,” and has been his alternate throughout the development of “Hamilton.”

But Mr. Muñoz brings his own life experience to the role. The son of a doorman, he grew up in a housing project — the Linden Houses, in East New York, Brooklyn, which he recalls as scarily violent and dangerous. “I can’t lie — I’m still afraid of it,” he says. “It was so much fear growing up there.”

He is 40, openly gay, H.I.V. positive and a cancer survivor — he had surgery and radiation last fall, missing weeks of performances in “Hamilton,” but has been back in the cast for months. He said he feels strong — the virus is undetectable, the cancer screenings negative — and is raring to go. “I had my first follow-up in March, and all green lights,” he said. “I’m good.”

[…]

Why are you an actor?

I decided in high school — at Edward R. Murrow in Brooklyn. I just fell in love with the idea that theater can be a mirror, theater can be a commentary, theater can be powerful and can start a conversation that needs to happen. I started working for a children’s literacy organization that used theater to teach literacy in after-school programs, and that was another powerful thing — suddenly the kid who really had trouble reading in class, or was embarrassed to speak out loud because of their accent, was inhabiting a character, using their imagination, reading and writing. That blew my mind.

Did you go to Broadway when you were growing up?

I did — school trips. The first thing I saw was “Me and My Girl.” And I loved it so much — I was singing “The Lambeth Walk” for weeks. After that, any time there was a school trip to Lincoln Center, or anything that was arts related, I was so into it.

What happened with your health last fall? How did you know you had cancer?

I have been living with H.I.V. since 2002, and I’m undetectable. I’m healthy, I’m strong and I’m very out about that because of the stigma still attached to it. But I’ve had a healthy fear about my health since I tested positive, and I asked how to test myself for lumps, because both my parents had cancer. And very early on in my learning how to do a self-examination, I found the lump. I wasn’t immediately worried because of where it was — and I do want to keep that private because that’s the only thing that’s mine in this. But I brought it up to my doc, and that’s what led to further testing and discovery.

You didn’t want to tell anyone at “Hamilton”?

I was filling myself with disappointment, as if you can blame yourself for cancer. But that’s a thing, you know. I had to reveal it, and then I had to own that I needed help, and I had to ask for help, and that was the hardest thing in the world.

You express a lot of gratitude on social media.

I have this joke — if it’s funny or not funny, I don’t know — but the joke is that I have died several times already, and that’s how it feels. My life completely and drastically changed in 2002 when I was diagnosed with H.I.V., and then again last year with cancer. And you can’t unknow what you know. Life is not the same after that. But I’m alive, and I’m for all intents and purposes healthy and well. And I’m grateful for that.

You planted a garden on the roof of Richard Rodgers, the theater where “Hamilton” is performed.

There’s so much energy on the stage, there are so many things we’re doing day in and day out, and I needed something there that felt still and calm, and gardening gives me that stillness and that calmness. Also, I’m growing something. And it may sound cheesy or corny, but it’s really not. The fact that life is created in that little garden bed heals me. It just does.

How many shows a week will you do?

Seven. It’s the same structure. [For the eighth performance] someone else gets to be sexy — I’m going to go eat pizza.

Something was killing people. We’d see 25-year-old handsome young men waste down to where they looked 95. It was like the walking dead, and there was so much of it … We’d spent so much effort building the gay community, and we thought it all would disappear.
— 

Kenneth Bunch on the Reagans’ troubling Aids legacy.

As the nation mourns the former first lady’s death, those on the frontline of the 1980s Aids crisis remember something else: a couple who turned a blind eye.

3

CORPORATE GREED, CAPITALISM AND THE U.S. HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

The Daraprim pill costs less than $1 to produce, but CEO Martin Shkreli, a former hedge fund manager, defended the 5,000% price increase saying, “We needed to turn a profit on this drug.”

The Infectious Diseases Society of America, the HIV Medicine Association and other health care providers wrote an open letter to Turning Pharmaceuticals, urging the company to reconsider.

“This cost is unjustifiable for the medically vulnerable patient population in need of this medication and unsustainable for the health care system,” the groups wrote.

(full BBC.com post »here)