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May 2010

May 27, 2010


Pursuing a “Cure” for HIV/AIDS – Two Distinct Approaches

By Carl W. Dieffenbach, Ph.D., Director of NIAID Division of AIDS

Dr. Carl Dieffenbach, PhD

Dr. Carl Dieffenbach, PhD

Contrary to what you may have heard or read on the Internet, there is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS. While some say that there may never be a cure, I believe there is reason for hope. That’s because some of our best scientists are working on two distinct approaches to finding a cure for HIV/AIDS, both of which are starting to gain traction within the HIV/AIDS research community.

When people think of the word “cure,” some imagine a magic elixir that can completely wipe out a disease or illness from a sick person. Ideally for HIV-infected patients, it could be a drug or therapy that eliminates the entire virus from the body. In the mid-1990s, we learned that when taken properly, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) can dramatically reduce a person’s viral load (the amount of HIV in the blood) to undetectable levels. Initially, there was hope that this would be curative. However, once patients stopped taking the drugs, the virus growth rebounded and the virus began to spread throughout the body again. We now know why this occurs: HIV has the ability to hide within certain places in the body (called “reservoirs”) and lay dormant for many years. To find a cure, we need to identify and eliminate all these HIV reservoirs. While this is no doubt a very difficult goal to achieve, scientists are working toward uncovering HIV’s favorite hiding places.

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May 26, 2010


Sharing our Pride and Commitment in the LGBT Community

By Josie Halpern-Finnerty, AIDS.gov Project Coordinator, and Miguel Gomez, AIDS.gov Director

Pride Ribbon

As Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month Exit Disclaimer (June) approaches, we want to honor the LGBT community's role in the response to HIV and share our commitment to combating the stigma and discrimination that still affects many LGBT people. Though we have made progress in addressing homophobia and HIV-related stigma, they are still realities for many of us, and fear of discrimination can cause members of the LGBT community to avoid learning their HIV status, disclosing their status, or accessing appropriate prevention or care services. We must use every available tool to combat stigma for all communities.

We know that LGBT people are more likely to use social media Exit Disclaimer than the general population, and this has implications for our work. We've shared some of the ways that the LGBT community is using new and social media to share resources and respond to HIV. We'll continue to do so, highlighting the work of some of our microgrant recipients who are working with the LGBT community, among others. The LGBT community is innovative and continues to develop creative solutions to address homophobia and HIV-related stigma. We are honored to keep sharing some of those efforts with you through this blog.

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May 25, 2010


National HIV Testing Day Twitter Town Hall - June 3, 2010

Podcast of this blog post

Guest post by Karen Resha, MA, Lead Health Communication Specialist, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC

Karen Resha

Karen Resha, MA, NCHHSTP, CDC

On June 3, 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through our National Prevention Information Network (CDCNPIN) will host its first Twitter Town Hall in preparation for the 2010 National HIV Testing Day (NHTD). We are inviting you to attend this exciting event, but first let me answer what may be your first and basic question: “What is a Twitter Town Hall”?

As a Lead Health Communication Specialist at the CDC, I have heard of Twitter. I even have an account. But have I used it? Not really. I must admit that I am a novice. What I do know is that a Twitter Town Hall is not simply tweeting (sending short messages), but tweeting with a focus, for a set period of time, on the same topic, with other people and organizations on Twitter. Twitter has an impressive reach of more than 100 million users Exit Disclaimer worldwide — so these Town Halls have the capability of reaching an unheard of number of people and being perhaps the largest Town Hall ever held. Both President Obama and the First Lady have hosted town halls and/or discussions via Twitter.

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May 21, 2010


Keeping it Real: Understanding the Changing Landscape of HIV/AIDS Clinical Trials Communication

Earlier this month we presented at a symposium of the HIV/AIDS Network Coordination Project's (HANC) Exit Disclaimer Communications Working Group. We asked Amy Ragsdale, HANC Special Projects Coordinator to tell us a little more about the Working Group and how they are using new media.

link to HANC website

The HIV/AIDS Network Coordination (HANC) works with the six HIV/AIDS clinical trials networks funded by the Division of AIDS (DAIDS) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) with the intent of creating a more integrated, collaborative and flexible research structure. The networks (ACTGExit Disclaimer, HPTNExit Disclaimer , HVTNExit Disclaimer, IMPAACTExit Disclaimer, INSIGHTExit Disclaimer, and MTNExit Disclaimer) are an affiliated group of national and international medical research institutions and investigators that conduct clinical HIV/AIDS research to develop safe and effective drugs, prevention strategies and HIV vaccines.

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May 20, 2010


World Hepatitis Day

By Jeff Crowley, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy and Senior Advisor on Disability Policy (cross-posted from the ONAP blog on May 19 2010)

Today, May 19th we mark World Hepatitis Day. Hepatitis is a public health issue and impacts millions of Americans. For many people, hepatitis often goes undetected and becomes increasingly difficult to treat over time. Public awareness remains a critical factor in the prevention, detection and management of this disease and that there is a need to expand knowledge and eliminate hepatitis-related stigma among health care providers, at-risk populations, and the general public.

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