amfAR GRAPHICS: HIV among gay black men

After our story Good news, bad news: HIV diagnoses decreasing among African-Americans, but black gay men still 3 times more likely to be infected as white gay men ran, amfAR sent us these graphics depicting the severity of HIV infection among gay black men. HIV disproportionately affects this community across the south.







—  David Taffet

Good news, bad news

HIV diagnoses decreasing among African-Americans, but black gay men still 3 times more likely to be infected as white gay men


Greg Millett


DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

HIV diagnoses among African-Americans have been decreasing over the past 10 years.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that statistics show African-American gay men are still three times as likely to be infected with HIV as gay white men, according to Greg Millett, an epidemiologist and researcher who currently serves as director of public policy for amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. But in that same time period diagnoses among gay African-American men increased by 87 percent.

One in four new infections in the U.S. is among gay African-American men.

While gay men make up only a few percent of the African-American population, 53 percent of new diagnoses are among gay black men.

And, Millett said, while black men are more likely to be tested than white men, black men are also more likely to be infected and not know it.

Statistics show that a greater percentage of African-American men who have been diagnosed as HIV-positive are not in care, compared to white men diagnosed with HIV. Millett cited a number of reasons for that, including a general mistrust of medical professionals in the African-American community dating back to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment conducted by the U.S. government from 1932 to 1972.

Men of color are more likely than white men to believe HIV was a virus manufactured to kill gay men and therefore don’t trust medication given to suppress that virus, he said.

In addition, a greater percentage of African-Americans with HIV are homeless, compared to other HIV-positive populations. “Housing is a huge indicator,” Millett said. “People in stable housing are more likely to take their medications.”

HIV criminalization laws, which don’t follow any public health recommendations and are disproportionately used against men of color often “dissuade testing,” Millett continued, therefore delaying or completely preventing treatment.

Millet also said Medicaid expansion is a huge tool in treatment of the disease. Southern states with large black populations disproportionately refused to add to their rosters of Medicaid recipients. Without that coverage, fewer low-income people receive the medical care they need with an HIV infection.
Among white gay men, 34 percent who are HIV-positive are virally suppressed with existing treatments.

Among African-American gay men, only 16 percent are virally suppressed. While a disparity in efficacy of some of the earlier drugs may have been a problem, Millett said, there’s no disparity with current medications.

“It’s an access issue,” he declared.

Abounding Prosperity Associate Director Tamara Stephney said compared to national figures, Texas is actually doing quite well. She said the most important statistic to her, locally speaking, is linkage to care.

Of the 2,000 people AP tests per year, the positivity rate is 4 to 7 percent. Of those testing positive, 85 percent remain in care.

Separate statistics aren’t kept nationally or on a state level for trans women with HIV, but Stephney said of their 40 trans clients, all remain in care.

As of 2014, 80,000 people are living with HIV in Texas — 63,000 men and 17,000 women. Of those, 16,146 live in Dallas County.

There were 887 new HIV diagnoses in Dallas County in 2014, the latest year from which information is available. Of those new cases, 652 were among gay men. Almost half of the total new diagnoses were among black men. The county didn’t release statistics that combined race and sexual orientation.

Within five years, researchers are optimistic about finding a cure that will knock out the virus altogether.

AmfAR recently committed $100 million to finding a cure by 2020. Millett said a grant of $20 million to University of California San Francisco would establish the first Institute for Cure Research.

He said the push for a cure was propelled by new medical leads that weren’t there just a few years ago and amfAR’s new financial stability that allowed it to raise the money for what it hopes will be a final push for the cure.


For National Black HIV Awareness Day,
Abounding Prosperity will hold a testing and fish fry event from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6 at
Abounding Prosperity, 2311 MLK Blvd.

“Know Your Status Dallas”
will provide HIV testing and information 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Feb 6 at the Southwest Center Mall

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 5, 2016.

—  David Taffet

amFAR announces new institute devoted to finding a cure for HIV


Paul Volberding, M.D

Officials with amFAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, announced today (Monday, Nov. 30), the establishment of the amFAR Institute for HIV Cure Research. The new institute will be a collaborative effort based at UC San Francisco and devoted to developing the scientific basis for a cure for HIV by the end of 2020. The institute will be the cornerstone of amFAR’s $100 million cure research investment strategy.

The announcement came during a press conference held early Monday afternoon, just one day before the world marks World AIDS Day 2015.

amFAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost said the foundation “intend[s] ti quicken the pace of cure research by supporting a collaborative community of leading HIV researchers in one cohesive enterprise. The institute will allow them to conduct the science, share ideas and test and evaluate new technologies and potential therapies in a state-of-the-art environment. And I can think of no better base for such an enterprise than the San Francisco Bar Area, the crucible of technological innovation in America.”

Frost added that establishing an institute dedicated to finding a cure for HIV “in a city that was once considered ground zero of the AIDS epidemic brings full circle the outstanding work that UCSF’s researchers have been doing over the past 30 years.”

In a statement released immediately following the press conference, amFAR officials said the new institute will support teams of scientists working across the research continuum — from basic science to clinical studies — and will tap into UCSF’s “extensive research network across the region.” Among the agencies collaborating with the new institute will be the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology and Blood Systems Research, as well as Oregon Health and Science University, Berkely, Gilead Sciences and the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle.

The new institute was established with a $20 million grant over five years, and it will allow teams of researchers to collaborate across institutions and disciplines to address “the four key challenges that must be overcome to effect a cure: pinpoint the precise locations of the latent reservoirs of virus; determine how they are formed and persist; quantify the amount of virus in them; and eradicate the reservoirs from the body.

The director of the new institute will be Paul Volberding, M.D., a UCSF professor of medicine. Joining him on the leadership team will be Mike McCune, M.D., Ph.D., chief and professor of UCSF’s Division of Experimental Medicine; Warner Greene, M.D., Ph.D., director and Nick and Sue Hellman distinguished professor of translational medicine with the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology, professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology at UCSF and co-director of the UCSF-Gladstone Center for AIDS Research; Satish Pillai, Ph.D., associate professor of laboratory  medicine at UCSF and associate investigator with Blood Systems Research Institute; Steven Deeks, M.D., professor of medicine at UCSF; Teri Liegler, Ph.D., director of the Virology Core Laboratory at UCSF-GIVI Center for AIDS Research; and Peter Hunt, M.D., associate professor of medicine in the HIV/AIDS division and a member of the executive committee of the AIDS Research Institute at UCSF.

They will work in collaboration with Afam Okoye, Ph.D., staff scientist at Oregon Health and Science University.

“For those of us who watched helplessly as thousands died, the opportunity to try and develop an HIV cure is truly amazing,” Volberding said. “We are proud to have been chosen by amFAR as the only amFAR HIV Cure Institute in the nation. We’re ready to end this epidemic.”

—  Tammye Nash

Two x Two raises $5 million

Two x Two for AIDS and Art, the fundraiser held Saturday that benefits both AmfAR and the Dallas Museum of Art,  raised $5 million this weekend. One piece at the auction, by artist Luc Tuymans, netted $700,000. Approximately 500 people attended the black-tie event, at which Grammy winner Gladys Knight performed.

The DMA’s Jeffrey Grove and AmfAR CEO Kevin Frost spoke, introducing Tuymans, who received the 2013 Award of Excellence for Artistic Contributions to the Fight for AIDS.

Celebrities including designer Diane von Furstenberg and actors Gilles Marini and Jesse Metcalfe were in attendance. You can see a slide show of the event after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The Rachofskys make Poz magazine’s 100 list

The December issue of Poz reveals the Poz 100 list featuring those who have made a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Dallas made the list through the work of Cindy and Howard Rachofsky and their Two X Two for AIDS and Art benefit. From

The key to how we do this is, in part, the POZ 100. This year’s list celebrates 100 people, things and ideas that reinvent—and improve—how we tackle HIV.

We would need tens of thousands of pages to celebrate all the wonderful people and organizations bravely and effectively fighting the virus. The purpose of the POZ 100 is to highlight some of those who are making big splashes right now. This year’s list is a little top heavy. By that we mean there are a lot of big names in government and global AIDS on it. But the reality of today’s pinched economy means that all AIDS funding is under heavy artillery fire. And the folks on this list have been taking the hits while defending the perimeter. They have gone to bat for our community when others would like us just to go away. And without leadership on global and domestic AIDS at the highest levels, the money expires—and so could we.

79. The Rachofskys 
Cindy and Howard Rachofsky, superstars in the world of AIDS fund-raising, bring fresh dollars to the mix. To date, their annual “TWO X TWO for AIDS and Art” event has raised more than $29 million jointly benefiting amfAR (of which Cindy is a trustee) and the Dallas Museum of Art. They get art donated to save people from AIDS. Each year, Dallas’s high society scrambles to secure tickets to this event.

—  Rich Lopez

Saturday fundraiser raises close to $5 mil for DMA and amfAR

Untitled (In and Out of the Darkness Face 43.01) by Mark Grotjahn

The star-studded Two x Two for AIDS and Art benefit dinner  and art auction reached a record with an astounding $4.8 million sold in art and other items. The money raised will benefit amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research and the Dallas Museum of Art. Not too shabby. And neither was the event.

Held at the Rachofsky House, the night included appearances by actor Stanley Tucci, singer Patti LaBelle and emceed by Tony-winner John Benjamin Hickey, also a 2011 Two x Two co-chair. Designer Kenneith Cole and amfAR chairman offered remarks. The Saturday event was a sell-out.

“This record-breaking year is testament to the generous donations by artists and dealers worldwide,” Howard Rachofsky said in the press release.  “The artwork by Mark Grotjahn and its $1 million selling price in the live auction took us over the top. Both Cindy and I are speechless. The audience and bidders continue to recognize the outstanding work of both these important institutions and put their hearts and money into this event.”

The $1 million bid for Grotjahn’s Untitled (In and Out of the Darkness Face 43.01), pictured, was the highest on any one piece in the history of the event.

—  Rich Lopez

Death: Burleigh John ‘B.J.’ Smith

Burleigh John “B.J.”  Smith, 62, of Dallas died March 29 from complications due to liver cancer.

Born in Shreveport to the late Bernard Cyril and Gwendolyn Smith, B.J.Smith worked 20 years for Cinemark Theaters as a film buyer before retiring in early 2010. He had a very outgoing and uplifting personality and he never met a stranger. His hobbies and interests included singing with the Turtle Creek Chorale for 11 years, movies, traveling, cooking and enjoying food and wine with friends.

He is survived by his partner of 31 years, Dennis Bellotto,; his sister Lynn Norton and family of Flower Mound; his brother Barney Smith and family of San Antonio; and his cherished cat Lance.

In lieu of flowers, Smith requested that memorial donations be made to AMFAR or The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society No formal memorial service is planned at this time.

—  John Wright

Taylor was early and tireless HIV/AIDS advocate

Actress will ‘stand for history on a podium above everyone else’

SANDY COHEN  |  AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES — Elizabeth Taylor was as well known for her AIDS advocacy as she was for her acting.

She was the first celebrity to speak out on the mysterious and socially divisive disease in the 1980s, calling for research, compassionate care and an end to discrimination against people with HIV and AIDS.

“I kept seeing all these news reports on this new disease and kept asking myself why no one was doing anything,” Taylor once recalled. “And then I realized that I was just like them. I wasn’t doing anything to help.”

She got involved with AIDS activism in 1985 and worked tirelessly to raise money and awareness for the rest of her life, said Craig Thompson, executive director of AIDS Project Los Angeles, where Taylor held early fundraisers for AIDS research.

“There have been a lot of incredible warriors in the fight, but she will stand for history on a podium above everyone else,” he said, adding that Taylor had seen firsthand how her friend, Rock Hudson, had lost his battle with AIDS.

In 1985, when the government had done little to educate people about the disease and nurses were afraid to deliver food trays to AIDS patients in hospitals, Taylor, along with a group of physicians, helped establish the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).

“This was long before celebrities routinely performed or worked with charities… and the cause she selected was a disease Americans were frightened about,” Thompson said. “It wasn’t just as if she took the risk of attaching her celebrity status to a cause. She picked the most controversial cause at the time. But she was like, ‘I have friends who are dying and I have to do something, and what I can do is help raise money and help raise awareness.”

Taylor, as chairwoman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, visited Capitol Hill to demand that the government live up to its promise to spend nearly $1 billion a year to help people with AIDS with the Ryan White Care Act. She and other stars befriended Ryan White, a teenager from Indiana who, as a hemophiliac, got HIV through a contaminated blood transfusion, was expelled from school because of his infection and became one of the disease’s most prominent early victims.

AmfAR leaders on Wednesday called Taylor “one of the most inspirational figures in the fight against AIDS.”

“She was profoundly instrumental in helping us identify the resources which have led to the research that has improved and extended the lives of those with HIV and AIDS,” said Kevin Robert Frost, chief executive of amfAR, which has invested more than $300 million towards AIDS research. “She served actively on our board up until the day she died,” Frost said.

Taylor testified on Capitol Hill in the early 1990s and convinced legislators to care about the disease, Thompson said.

“Every senator showed up. The rooms were packed and people were spellbound,” he said. “She connected HIV and AIDS to a generation that felt itself immune, the over-50 folks. Because Elizabeth Taylor was talking about it, people like my mother were reading about HIV and AIDS.”

Taylor put a public — and beloved — face on the disease.

“At a time when most Americans thought of HIV/AIDS as something that didn’t affect them, her commitment to the issue and considerable star power helped to take the fight against HIV/AIDS right into the mainstream of American society,” said Don Blanchon, who oversees the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, D.C., which named its main facility after Taylor in 1993.

Magic Johnson, who put his own face on the disease when he was diagnosed with HIV in 1991, tweeted his gratitude to Taylor on Wednesday.

“Elizabeth, thank you for all your help in the battle for HIV and AIDS,” he wrote. “You will be missed by the world.”

In 1991, the actress founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which has given more than $12 million to organizations across the country that provide direct care and services to people living with the disease.

Elton John praised his fellow AIDS advocate and entertainer as “a Hollywood giant … and an incredible human being.”

“She earned our adoration for her stunning beauty and for being the very essence of glamorous movie stardom,” John said in a statement Wednesday. “And she earned our enduring love and respect for her compassion and her courage in standing up and speaking out about AIDS when others preferred to bury their heads in the sand.”

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign said Taylor didn’t just fight for those with HIV and AIDS; she fought for equality for all.

“At a time when so many living with HIV/AIDS were invisible, Dame Taylor fearlessly raised her voice to speak out against injustice,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “Dame Taylor was an icon not only in Hollywood, but in the LGBT community where she worked to ensure that everyone was treated with the respect and dignity we all deserve.”

The group recognized Taylor with its Vanguard Award in 2000. “What it comes down to, ultimately, is love,” she said in accepting the honor. “How can anything bad come out of love? The bad stuff comes out of mistrust, misunderstanding and, God knows, from hate and from ignorance.”

Taylor died Wednesday from congestive heart failure. She was 79.

—  John Wright

PHOTOS: Elizabeth Taylor in Dallas

Elizabeth Taylor, second from left, and AIDS Services of Dallas Executive Director Don Maison, far right, at Dillard’s at NorthPark Center in Dallas in 1996. (Dallas Voice file photos)

Actress Elizabeth Taylor, who died today at 79, was a founder of the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Taylor was also chairwoman of amFAR in 1989 when the foundation provided a $100,000 grant that was used to start Resource Center Dallas’ Nelson-Tebedo Clinic. From the Dallas Morning News on Friday, April 28, 1989:

Leaders of the Dallas AIDS Resource Center announced Thursday that the agency had received a $100,000 grant to set up an AIDS research facility that will offer experimental drugs to people suffering from the deadly disease.

“This is a vital component that has been missing in Dallas,’ said William Waybourn, president of the Dallas Gay Alliance, which operates the resource center.

The grant, awarded by the American Foundation for AIDS Research, will establish a community clinic for AIDS research allowing AIDS patients to benefit from experimental treatments. The only other cities with such community research initiatives, as they are called, are New York and San Francisco.

“The need in Texas is particularly great for this type of research program,’ said Dr. Mathilde Krim, co-founder of the AIDS research foundation, which is based in New York. “There is virtually no clinical research being done in Texas. This will be the only opportunity for AIDS patients to get (experimental) drugs.’

The foundation divided $1.4 million among 16 community-based organizations for development of similar AIDS research programs. Groups in Austin and Houston also received grants.

In Dallas, plans are being made to open the Nelson-Tebedo Community Clinic for AIDS Research this summer at 4012 Cedar Springs Road, next door to the AIDS Resource Center’s offices. The center is named after Bill Nelson, a former president of the Gay Alliance, who has AIDS, and Terry Tebedo, a leader in the AIDS education movement who died from the disease in January 1988.

Later, Taylor would come to Dallas in 1996 and issue checks totaling $15,000 to Bryan’s House and AIDS Services of Dallas. Taylor visited Dillard’s in NorthPark Center to promote her new perfume, Elizabeth Taylor Black Pearls, and presented the checks to the AIDS services organizations at the end of the event. More pics after the jump.

—  John Wright