Friday, September 27, 2013

My Perspective About HIV+ Hetero men being invisible in HIV prevention.

I am an African American, HIV positive heterosexual man, living with the HIV virus. My perspective about HIV positive heterosexual men being invisible in HIV prevention stems from my experience over the past 16 years as a HIV positive heterosexual man, activist, health educator, and HIV prevention planner.
HIV positive heterosexual men being invisible in HIV prevention, is a question that has been discussed, studied, and debated by HIV planners, governmental offices of AIDS, and HIV positive individuals throughout the United States since this insidious disease reached the pandemic stage of existence. I would really like to speak to this topic from a positive heterosexual male point of view, but that has not been my true experience. Being an African American HIV positive man, HIV has been entwined in my culture, socioeconomic condition, and it is been heavily stigmatized. I have had a very different and traumatic experience with HIV.
The populations of heterosexual positive men in America have unknowingly for the most part and knowingly on the-other-hand, allowed ourselves to become invisible in HIV prevention. This invisibility is perpetuated by discrimination and stigma. For example, most HIV+ men are bread winners and we don’t have time or the support to mobilize. However, many are not spiritually fit enough to stand up and face discrimination, stigma, and ridicule. Therefore, most of us sit on the side lines and wait for the empowered populations of gay and bi-sexual men to fight the HIV battle for us. This approach allows our status to remain confidential and we can remain in the background. Conversely, we reap all the benefits that are afforded the gay male population, as a result of their effort, protest, and activism.
Moreover, Homosexuality is stigmatized in many African American communities and is also denounced by the majority of black churches, who see it as a sin. Most straight HIV positive men will tell you we are extremely uncomfortable in casual conversation with effeminate or homosexual men because they tend to take our acceptance of their sexuality as an opportunity to try to engage us sexually. We are not homophobic, but it is very difficult for us (straight HIV+ men) to relate to gay men who are unlike us, so we do not advocate, attend HIV functions, or strategies that are aimed at HIV positive men.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (2011) knowing your epidemic in a particular community is the first step in identifying, selecting, and funding the most appropriate and effective HIV prevention measures for that community. As a result, most heterosexual HIV+ men absolutely do not want to be categorized with anyone or anything that is homosexual. Consequently, the covert and overt power of discrimination and stigma toward HIV infection causes straight men to recoil and remain silent about their plight. This is the driving force behind the invisibility of HIV+ heterosexuals in HIV prevention.
Stigma towards people living with HIV is more often believed to have its roots in misconceptions about the virus. In regards to knowledge and perception, a higher percentage of African Americans believe myths that the virus can be transmitted via kissing or sharing a drinking glass. Clearly, the HIV prevention educational messages are not reaching the African American populations at the levels of our understanding and existence. The Black AIDS Institute (2006) according to Reverend Jesse Jackson stated that; AIDS has been allowed to stalk and murder Black America like a serial killer because we have been a complacent victim, submitting through inaction. It is now time for us to fight AIDS like the major civil rights issue it is... Therefore, a paradigm shift needs to occur in today’s HIV prevention strategies for African Americans. This shift must address the ineffective prevention efforts of today and to educate our children, adolescent, teen, young adult and adult populations about HIV. Only then, do I believe that our HIV+ heterosexual black men will become empowered, motivated, and supported to raise their voices to fight our HIV prevention inequities and become visible in the HIV battle.
Black AIDS Institute (2006, June) AIDS in blackface: 25 years of an Epidemic. Retrieved, May 29, 2012, from

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Study: Ciclopirox drug completely eradicates infectious HIV from cell cultures. #hiv #ciclopirox

The topical anti-fungal drug Ciclopirox causes HIV-infected cells to commit suicide by jamming up the cells' powerhouse, the mitochondria—according to a study by researchers at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. And unlike current anti-HIV drugs, Ciclopirox completely eradicates infectious HIV from cell cultures, with no rebound of virus when the drug is stopped. The study has been published in the journal PLOS ONE.

The treatment of patients with HIV has been revolutionized by the advent of combination anti-retroviral drugs. But although these drugs are highly effective at keeping HIV at bay, they must be taken for the life of the patient and never eliminate the infection completely. This is illustrated by the often rapid resurgence of virus in patients who stop taking these medications. The persistence of HIV is partially due to the ability of the virus to disable the cell's altruistic suicide pathway, which is normally activated when a cell becomes infected or damaged.

A team of researchers from three departments at New Jersey Medical School, led by Michael Mathews and Hartmut Hanauske-Abel, previously showed that Ciclopirox, commonly used by dermatologists and gynecologists to treat fungal infections, inhibits the expression of HIV genes in culture. The group now shows that the drug works against HIV in two ways: It inhibits the expression of HIV genes and also blocks the essential function of the mitochondria, thereby reactivating the cell's suicide pathway. Healthy, uninfected cells examined during this study were spared. And remarkably, the virus did not bounce back when Ciclopirox was removed.

The utility of Ciclopirox in patients with HIV, for instance after topical application to reduce sexual transmission of the virus, awaits verification in future clinical trials. However the fact that Ciclopirox is already approved for treatment of patients by the FDA and by its European counterpart, the EMA, and therefore considered safe for human use, may eliminate much of the time and expense ordinarily involved in the drug development process.

Indeed, the authors note the speed with which a second FDA-approved drug believed to have promise in subduing HIV, Deferiprone, has moved directly from tests in culture to a phase I human trial conducted in South Africa, thanks to previously published results now reinforced by additional research in culture described in the current paper. Studies in animals were safely skipped, creating a model for rapid transition from drug effect in a plastic dish to drug effect in patients. In contrast to Ciclopirox, approved for topical use, Deferiprone is FDA- and EMA-approved for systemic use (in certain thalassemia patients with iron overload). The discovery that two drugs, each well-tolerated by patients when used as indicated, are deadly to HIV-infected cells, may open a new chapter in the fight against HIV/AIDS that moves the world closer to the eradication of HIV-1 infection.

SOURCE Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

Thursday, March 7, 2013

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a day to "Share Knowledge. Take Action."

COMPTON, CA; MARCH 10, 2013 National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) held each March 10th sheds light on the disease's often overlooked impact on women and girls and empowers people to make a  difference. In 2010, women and girls made up two-thirds of people who acquired HIV by having heterosexual sex. For more information on activities and how you can get involved, visit NWGHADD website at

In recognition of NWGHAAD, Women Alive Coalition would like to take this opportunity to highlight an important issue that disproportionately affects women living with and affected by HIV/AIDS: DEPRESSION.
  • 70% of women are more likely to experience depression in their lifetime than men. One in four women will experience severe depression at some point in life.
  • Depression is the number one cause of disability in women.
  • Victims of sexual and physical abuse are at a much greater risk of depression.
  • Only about one-fifth of all women who suffer from depression seek treatment. 

Major depression is defined as a mood disorder characterized by one or more of the following (partial list):
  • Feeling sad, anxious, hopeless, or "empty".
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed, including sex.
  • Difficulty staying focused, remembering, or making decisions.
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself, death or suicide
Sources: American Psychological Association and National Institutes of Mental Health

Women Alive Coalition contend that stressors (e.g., lack of support, women serving as primary care givers, low self-esteem, intimate partner violence, and gender inequality, etc.) often cause women to experience depression.  Women coping with stressor(s) who receive an HIV-diagnosis are more vulnerable to blaming themselves, feel a sense of worthlessness, isolate themselves from family and friends, and fear of stigma.

"Share Knowledge. Take Action." Recognizes that for women to get back in alignment with their authentic self, we must strive to create more programs and services that address a woman’s self-efficacy and self-worth.  Achieving this re-alignment includes reciprocity (information exchange), intensity (increased self-efficacy through relationship building) and complexity (addressing barriers to prevention and care).  Women can re-establish themselves as “power brokers” in their lives their family, community and society by engaging in advocacy for their own increased quality of life. Their efforts have the capacity to include and concentrate on a complexity of key stressors that may be primary causes of poor health outcomes (both physical and mental).

Women Alive Coalition, Inc. started out in a living room in 1990 by a group of women living with HIV/AIDS who wanted to bring other women living with the virus out of fear and isolation through information, encouragement, emotional and social support. Our mission is to advocate collaborate, and educate to improve the physical, mental and emotional health of women, heterosexual men and their families living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS.

Give The Gift Of Hope Today!

Women Alive Coalition, is a recognized 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to advocate, collaborate, and educate to improve the physical, mental and emotional health of women, heterosexual men and their families living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS. Since 1990, we have provided a multitude of services ranging from peer support, treatment education, mental health and HIV primary prevention.

A young lady came to the organization newly diagnosed and not knowing much about HIV. Women Alive staff provided a safe space for her to talk about her feelings as an HIV+ positive woman. Since coming to Women Alive Coalition she has found permanent housing and has been living on her own for five years and has learned how to advocate for herself as a woman living with HIV.

Moving forward into twenty-two (22) years of service, WAC has evolved into a health and disease prevention agency. We provide emotional and social support group settings, HIV health education, risk reduction classes, staff trainings, outside referrals, advocacy, we will also link the uninsured into medical care.

With your partnership we can continue to provide life changing services to those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Please consider giving a gift of $25, $50, $75, or $100, whatever the amount you can give will be greatly appreciated.

You may make your tax deductible donation through our website:
Mark your calendars, Sunday, March 10th is NATIONAL WOMEN AND GIRLS HIV/AIDS AWARENESS and A DAY OF PRAYER for those afflicted with this chronic illness.

Thank you for your support and partnership.