Monthly Archives: May 2011

Dr. John G. Bartlett looks back on AIDS: A 30-year perspective

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HIV specialist and leading infectious diseases physician John G. Bartlett, MD, doesn’t mince words when you ask him about what his AIDS patients faced in the early days of the epidemic.

“They were the scourge of society – people didn’t like them because they were either gay or injection drug users, and there was a fear of contagion, that if you were in the same room with someone with AIDS you might get AIDS… They had diarrhea and dementia and wasting. It was an awful way to die. And besides that, everyone around you hated you. Can you imagine living to die that way?”

Dr. Bartlett became a ray of hope for people living with HIV/AIDS. He directed some of the first clinical trials of new treatments that prevent HIV from replicating, and pioneered the development of dedicated in-patient and out-patient medical care for HIV-infected patients.

In our third interview in a Science Speaks series commemorating 30 years of AIDS, Dr. Bartlett speaks frankly about hiding his treatment of AIDS patients from hospital administrators in the early ‘80s, key scientific breakthroughs over the years, and his views on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program moving forward.

Exploring the Global Health Initiative on the ground

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We have an enormous obligation to address the needs of other countries because we can, Executive Director of the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI) Lois Quam said at a Kaiser Family Foundation briefing Wednesday. “But we’re going to have to create new money by being more effective and efficient.”

It’s a familiar tune in the current economy.

But global health advocates are eager to see what changes the president’s ambitious six-year, $63 billion initiative is inciting on the ground – especially when many questions remain about what the GHI is and how it’s different from the programs previously in place.

The Kaiser event addressed some of these questions by exploring the rollout of the GHI…

Early in the AIDS epidemic: “Taking them through to their death”

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The following is the fourth installment in a Science Speaks series commemorating the 30th anniversary of the first scientific reports of what would become known as HIV/AIDS in June of 1981. John Donnelly reports on some important memories revealed by Dr. Eric Goosby of the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, responsible for running the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program.

A young child from the Democratic Republic of Congo recently diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in April 2010.When Dr. Eric Goosby, the U.S. global AIDS ambassador, opened a roundtable discussion with journalists this week, he said he welcomed the chance to reflect on the 30 years since the publication of a report describing what would later be known as AIDS. He opened the meeting by showing a picture of a two-year-old girl from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

She looked desperate, malnourished, and she tested positive for HIV.

Goosby: Study “challenges the way we are doing business”

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U.S. Global AIDS Ambassador Dr. Eric Goosby said today the Obama Administration is in the midst of a “rigorous internal discussion” on responding to the National Institutes of Health-funded study that confirmed treating HIV-positive people with antiretroviral (ARV) drugs dramatically reduces the risk of transmitting the virus. Asked about comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director […]

30 years of AIDS – An interview with Helen Epstein

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Helen Epstein is a freelance writer and independent consultant in public health. Her articles have appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, Granta and elsewhere. Her book The Invisible Cure: Why we are Losing the Fight against AIDS in Africa was a New York Times notable book of 2007. She has taught public health at Columbia University and Bard College, and has served as a consultant for numerous organizations including UNICEF, The World Bank and Human Rights Watch. John Donnelly interviewed Epstein as part of Science Speaks’ series on the 30th anniversary of the first reports of what would become known as HIV/AIDS. She talked about the role discordant couples and concurrent relationships play in driving the epidemic, a hotly debated issue.

AIDS at 30: an interview with activist Gregg Gonsalves

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Long-time AIDS activist Gregg Gonsalves is often outspoken, and known for saying things like “I’m holding my nose as I say this, but I miss George W. Bush,” as he was quoted in a New York Times article in 2009 criticizing Obama for his lackluster global AIDS plan that aimed to scale back the push to put more people on antiretroviral medication. He has spent more than two decades working on AIDS to address the U.S. and global epidemics, starting out at ACT UP/Boston in the late 80s. One of many accomplishments, Gonsalves is a founding member of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, a network of more than 1,000 people from 125 countries advocating for universal access to HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) treatment. He was also the first-ever recipient of the $100,000 John M. Lloyd AIDS Leadership Award.

In an interview with Meredith Mazzotta for a Science Speaks blog series commemorating 30 years since the first reports of what would come to be known as HIV/AIDS, Gonsalves speaks up about his personal journey to becoming one of the pandemic’s greatest activists, his upcoming AIDS research, and the panic he feels for future funding for AIDS.

PEPFAR releases long-awaited guidance for men who have sex with men

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The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program released a technical guidance document addressing prevention programs for men who have sex with men (MSM) as part of PEPFAR’s overall prevention strategy on Thursday. Originally to be released at the International AIDS Conference in Vienna in July 2010, the guidance was delayed for nearly a […]

Laws criminalizing gays impede work of HIV programs globally

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More than 70 countries around the world criminalize same-sex activities, to the detriment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the globe, and hindering their access to HIV prevention and treatment services. That was the message expressed at a Congressional briefing Tuesday afternoon, hosted by the Global Forum on Men who have Sex with […]

A major step in HIV vaccine research, but much more to do

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In commemoration of HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (May 18), Science Speaks conducted the following interview with Louis Picker, MD, associate director of the Oregon Health & Science University’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute. Dr. Picker led a team of researchers from VGTI, the National Cancer Institute – Frederick, and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative that reported a promising HIV vaccine approach in the advance online edition of the journal Nature last week.

Investigators gave 24 healthy rhesus macaque monkeys a vaccine for simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), the monkey equivalent of HIV, containing a genetically modified form of the Rhesus cytomegalovirus, which is used as a “vector,” or a carrier that transfers an infective agent from one host to another. Thirteen of the monkeys responded to the vaccine, with 12 of the monkeys showing no signs of SIV infection 12 months later. Authors say this will significantly contribute to the development of an effective HIV vaccine for humans… Read More

Price Reductions in ARVs for Developing Countries Announced

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The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) has teamed up with UNITAID and the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID) to negotiate new price reductions on key antiretroviral (ARV) drug regimens.  Today’s announcement means HIV/AIDS treatment will be more widely available as the newly reduced price ceilings will be available to most of the 70 countries […]