GLAAD, Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation release new PSA on AIDS; CDC releases new statistics

Liz Taylor at Freddie Mercury benefit

Elizabeth Taylor speaking at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation — GLAAD — and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation today (Tuesday, Oct. 20) announced the release of a public service announcement intended to “inspire, inform and re-ignite the passion and action needed to beat the HIV and AIDS epidemic once and for all.”

Created as part of an ongoing partnership between GLAAD and Elizabeth Taylor Foundation and produced by Martian Entertainment, the PSA begins with Taylor’s speech at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert as a way to introduce a new generation to the realities of HIV/AIDS and the tools available to overcome the epidemic. Meredith Viera, Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Groff, Michael Emerson, Tituss Burgess and Bebe Neuwirth are also participating.

A 30-second version of the PSA will air nationally, with support from Comcast-NBCUniversal, and an extended version will run online.

Joel Goldman, managing director of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, said his organization is “thrilled” to be partnering with GLAAD for this effort, noting that GLAAD was created “to respond to misinformation in the media about HIV and AIDS at a time when conversation in the zeitgeist about the epidemic was very high, but understanding of the virus was very low.”

Today, he continued, “it’s the opposite. Conversation about HIV and AIDS is barely discussed in individual circles and has comparatively fallen out of the news cycle. This is despite the fact that the U.S. has not seen a decrease in new infection rates in nearly two decades.”

GLAAD and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation announced the release of the PSA on the same day that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new statistical information regarding HIV among people aged 50 and over and regarding HIV among Hispanics/Latinos.

Here are some of the CDC numbers on HIV/AIDS and people over 50:

• In 2012, people aged 55 and older accounted for 24 percent — almost one quarter — of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV infection in the U.S.

• In 2013, people aged 50 and over accounted for about 21 percent of the estimated 47,352 HIV diagnoses in the U.S. Of these, largest number — 44 percent — were among those ages 50-54. The majority of the HIV diagnoses in those ages 50-54 were in African-Americans (59 percent), followed by Hispanics/Latinos (23 percent).

• In 2013, people aged 50 and older accounted for 27 percent of the estimated 26,688 AIDS diagnoses in the U.S.

• Of the 6,955 deaths related to AIDS in 2013, 37 percent were among people aged 55 and older.

Now here are some of the CDC numbers on HIV and AIDS among Hispanics/Latinos:

• In 2013, Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 23 percent of the estimated 48,145 new diagnoses of HIV infection in the U.S. and six dependent areas. Of those, 85 percent were in men.

• In 2013, gay, bi and other men who have sex with men accounted for 81 percent of the estimated HIV diagnoses among Hispanic/Latino men, and the annual number of diagnoses among Hispanic/Latino gay and bisexual men has increased 16 percent since 2008.

• Of the HIV diagnoses among Hispanic/Latina women in 2013, 86 percent were attributed heterosexual contact.

• In 2012, Hispanics/Latinos accounted for 21 percent of the estimated 1.2 million people with HIV infection in the United States, and by the end of 2012, an estimated 125,051 Hispanics/Latinos with AIDS had died in the U.S. and the six dependent areas.

• In 2013, 13 percent of the 6,955 deaths related to AIDS in the U.S. were among Hispanics/Latinos.

—  Tammye Nash

Gallo’s new AIDS vaccine to begin human trials

Robert Gallo

Dr. Robert Gallo

Dr. Robert Gallo, the man who in 1984 first proved that AIDS is caused by HIV and who now runs the Institute of Human Virology, has spent the last 15 years developing an AIDS vaccine. And now that vaccine is about to begin tests in humans, according to an article in Science magazine by Jon Cohen.

The Phase 1 trial will involve 60 volunteers and will focus only on testing the safety of and immune responses to the vaccine. It is being held in collaboration with Profectus BioSciences, a biotech that recently spun off from IHV.

There have been more than 100 AIDS vaccines tested over the years, but Science notes that Gallo and his team have developed a vaccine with “an unusual method of protection.”

The magazine explained that the vaccine, called “the full-length single chain vaccine,” “contains a version of HIV’s surface protein, gp120, engineered so that it links to a few portions of a protein called the CD4 receptor. When HIV infects cells, gp120 first binds to the CD4 receptor on white blood cells and then ‘transitions’ in such a way that hidden parts of the virus are exposed, allowing it to bind to a second receptor on the immune cells called CCR5. Once bound to both receptors, HIV can enter the white blood cell and establish an infection. The IHV vaccine aims to generate antibodies that bind to HIV’s gp120 when it’s in this transitional state, ultimately blocking attachment to CCR5, aborting the infection process.”

Gallo, now 78, said the development of the “full-length single chain vaccine” has taken so much time because he and his team have done extensive testing in monkeys and have faced “the typical vaccine challenges” in creating a human-grade product. They have also had to scramble for funding, he said.

But the researcher also acknowledged that he and his team took more time to bring the vaccine to trial because “We wanted more and more answers before going into people.”

The vaccine development team is being led by George Lewis with IHV, and includes Anthony DeVico and Timothy Fouts.

—  Tammye Nash

LifeWalk sets one record, hopes for more

As of Sunday, Oct. 4, when the event took place, the 25th anniversary LifeWalk had already brought in $527,000 “and counting,” according to Tori Hobbs, chief development officer for AIDS Arm INc., the AIDS service organization that presents the walk each year. That total, Hobbs added, sets a record for funds raised as of the day of the event.

The goal for this year’s LifeWalk was $600,000, and Hobbs said that by the time the final deadline of Oct. 23 rolls around, the organization expects to have reached its goal. The final total for LifeWalk 2014 was $592,628.

And the teams and individuals competing for top fundraiser honors also have until Oct. 23 to turn in their funds to be considered for prizes and recognition.

Here are a few photos from Lee Park on Sunday during LifeWalk, and special thanks to Avita Pharmacy for letting us post their group photo of walkers just before they stepped off. Other photos are by Tammye Nash.

—  Tammye Nash

Administration commits nearly half a billion dollars to PEPFAR

Susan E. Rice

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice on Saturday, Sept. 26, announced that the Obama Administration is investing “nearly half a billion dollars to support an AIDS-free future for adolescent girls and young women,” through the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

In a statement released Saturday, Rice said that both new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths are both down by more than 40 percent since the peak of the epidemic, adding that the Obama Administration has “invested nearly $50 billion” through PEPFAR to “achieve an AIDS-free generation, building on the initiative and $15 billion provided by President Bush.”

She continued, “Working with partner countries around the globe, we are now supporting life-saving antiretroviral treatment for 7.7 million men, women and children worldwide; enabled more than one million babies to be born HIV-free; and tested and counseled more than 14 million pregnant women last year alone.

“Today we are setting a bold new course by announcing ambitious PEPFAR prevention and treatment targets for 2016 and 2017.”

The goal is that by the end of 2017, PEPFAR will support antiretroviral treatment for 12.9 million people, pay for 13 million male circumcisions to help prevent HIV transmission and reduce HIV infections by 40 percent among adolescent girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries, Rice said. Every year, Rice noted, 380,000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV. That’s 7,300 every week, or more than 1,000 every day.

“This must change,” Rice said.

The new effort includes $300 million in additional HIV prevention investments with the PEPFAR-led DREAMS partnership, building on the $210 million that PEPFAR and private partners committed to DREAMS on World AIDS Day last year.

DREAMS stands for Determined, Resilient, Empowered AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe women.

“Over the last 15 years, we have seen remarkable results as we have worked together toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals,” Rice said. “PEPFAR’s new targets and investments come at a critical time as we transition from the Millennium Development Goals to meet the challenge before us in the new Sustainable Development Goals: to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

“We believe if we all — governments, private sector, civil society including faith-based organizations — bring our collective will and energy together, we can achieve an AIDS-free generation and bring this epidemic to a halt,” she conclluded.

—  Tammye Nash

Community forum on PrEP set in Houston


Damon Jacobs

The United Way of Greater Houston — Community Resource Center will host a one-day event on pre-exposure prophylaxis — PrEP — on Thursday, Oct. 22. The event is co-sponsored by Med-IQ, HealthHIV, Pozitively Healthy and the National Coalition for LGBT Health. The event is supported by an educational grant from Gilead Sciences Inc.

“Are you prepared for PrEP? A Community Forum to Explore the Optimal Use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV Prevention” will be open to the community from 5:15-8:30 p.m., and to HIV service providers from 5:15-9 p.m. Dinner will be provided. The UW Community Resource Center is located at 50 Waugh Drive.

Presentations will range from defining PrEP and how it works to identifying barriers to accessing and using PrEP. Continuing medical education and continuing education credits will be available for physicians, physicians’ assistants, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

Steering committee faculty for the event are Dr. Robert M. Grant, professor of medicine with the University of California in San Francisco; Dr. Oni J. Blackstock, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York; and Dr. Richard Elion, associate professor of clinical medicine with George Washington University school of Medicine in Washington, D.C. Community presenter will be Damon Jacobs, a licensed marriage and family therapist and consumer PrEP educator from New York City.

Advocates and consumers can RSVP to the forum here.

Providers and healthcare professionals can contact Med-IQ at 866-858-7434 or by email at for information. ASO/CBOs and consumers can contact HealthHIV at 202-232-6749 pr by email at for information.

—  Tammye Nash

2 Dallas organizations among those receiving prevention funding from CDC

Six community-based organizations in Texas —  including two in Dallas — are among the 90 CBOs nationwide chosen to receive a total of $216 million in new funding intended to strengthen HIV prevention efforts, according to a statement released this morning (Wednesday, July 1) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Kirk Myers, Abounding Prosperity

Dallas CBOs receiving funds are Abounding Prosperity Inc. and AIDS Arms Inc. Other Texas CBOs on the list are AIDS Foundation Houston Inc., BEAT AIDS Coalition Trust in San Antonio, Change Happens in Houston and St. Hope Foundation in Houston.

According to a statement from the CDC, “The selected CBOs have demonstrated experience and on-the-ground expertise serving populations most affected by the epidemic, including African-Americans, men who have sex with men, transgender individuals and people who inject drugs.

“Consistent with CDC’s high-impact prevention approach, CBOs will invest the new funding in cost-effective and scalable interventions, targeted to the populations that need them most,” the statement continued. “These include HIV testing, condom distribution, improving adherence to treatment among people with HIV, and ensuring access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for people at high risk of infection.”

These funds are “one critical piece” of the nearly $700 million the CDC invests annually in HIV prevention efforts across the country, the statement said.


Dr. John Carlo, AIDS Arms

Dr. Eugene McCray, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said the funding includes, for the first time, a component allowing organization to pool their expertise and resource into “prevention partnerships.” Of the 90 organizations receiving funds, 30 will serve as the lead of a partnership comprised of several organizations, giving 47 additional organizations the chance to contribute their expertise to help deliver more comprehensive prevention services.

“It’s clear that we need to focus our limited resources on strategies that can have the greatest possible impact,” McCray said. “This funding targets local communities to help maximize the impact of every federal prevention dollar. By delivering powerful prevention tools where they’re needed most, we can have a transformative impact on the epidemic.”

The funded organizations are in the 50 geographic areas that reported the highest number of HIV diagnoses in 2011. Of the 90 directly-funded CBOs, 67 (74.4 percent) primarily serve African-Americans and 15 (16.7 percent) primarily serve Hispanics; 64 (71.1 percent) primarily serve MSM.


—  Tammye Nash

AIDS Arms offers pop-up HIV testing locations this week


Dr. John Carlo

National HIV Testing Day is Saturday, June 27, and AIDS Arms Inc. is honoring the day with pop-up locations for free HIV testing in Oak Lawn and in Cockrell Hill, beginning Thursday, June 25.

While AIDS is no longer the death sentence it once was, it is still a pandemic,and its impact on individuals and families is staggering. The best way to fight it, says Dr. John T. Carlo, AIDS Arms’ CEO, is to educate ourselves and to know our sero-status.

“By getting tested, a person can find out whether he or she needs life-saving medications,” Dr. Carlo said, noting that these free HIV testing events provide the “ideal opportunity to take this important step in preserving the health, safety and lives of loved ones.”

The tests at AIDS Arms National HIV Testing Day events are “fast (results can be available in as quick as 60 seconds), free and performed in a confidential manner,” according to an AIDS Arms press release.

NHTD pop-up testing locations are:

• Thursday, June 25, 3-7 p.m. at Walgreen’s, 3802 Cedar Springs Road.

• Thursday, June 25, 3-7 p.m. at Walgreen’s, 8120 S. Cockrell Hill Road.

• Thursday, June 25, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. at Havana’s, 4006 Cedar Springs Road

• Friday, June 26, 3-7 p.m. at Walgreen’s, 3802 Cedar Springs Road.

• Friday, June 26, 3-7 p.m. at Walgreen’s, 8120 S. Cockrell Hill Road.

• Saturday, June 27, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. p.m. at Walgreen’s, 3802 Cedar Springs Road.

• Saturday, June 27, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.. at Walgreen’s, 8120 S. Cockrell Hill Road.

• Sunday, June 28, 11 p.m.-3 a.m., Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road.

—  Tammye Nash

Legacy’s Master Leasing needs sheets

Melissa Grove

Legacy Counseling Center’s glamorous Melissa Grove … because I didn’t have a picture of Larry to post

Legacy Counseling Center needs new and gently used full-sized sheets and bedding for its clients in its Master Leasing Program.

The program began about a year-and-a-half ago. About 24 apartments in Oak Cliff’s Oak Park Estates neighborhood were renovated and decorated with donations from the community to house people with HIV/AIDS who were homeless.

Residents who participate develop a one-year plan to get back on their feet, but having a place to live gives them the stability to do that. A number of residents who have participated in the plan have graduated out of the program.

Contact Larry by email or at 214-244-2240 to donate sheets or find out what else the program needs.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: Needle exchange pilot program bill passes House

texas-capitolThe Texas House voted overwhelmingly today (Tuesday, May 12) to support a pilot needle exchange program aimed at slowing the spread of HIV and other diseases in select Texas counties.

HB 65 by Rep. Ruth McClendon, D-San Antonio, passed on a bipartisan 92-37 vote with 2 representatives voting present. The program would create test sites for an anonymous exchanges in Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, Harris, Neuces, Travis and Webb Counties.

“These Needle Exchange Programs have proven successful throughout the nation and have recently been enacted in Kentucky and Indiana. Charitable and faith based organizations have tried establishing these programs in Texas for years, and it is about time the government allows these organizations to help their communities without fear of arrest or government interference,” McClendon said in a statement to the Voice.

The bill would not use state money to establish the program, instead relying on not for profit groups to take on the efforts without fear of prosecution.

When Legacy Community Health’s Januari Leo learned it pass today, she said she was floored. “It was unexpected. We had been following other bills,” she said by phone. Having followed the fight for needle exchange bills in their various iterations since 2003.

The bill has faced an uphill climb in the Legislature in the past. Leo said the bill nearly passed in the 2009 session. Last session right wing groups used it as bait to defeat many of its supporters in the House and Senate. Losing key Republican support left advocates thinking it was all but dead.

Like Leo, Resource Center’s Rafael McDonnell was surprised. He also welcomed the vote. “This is a welcome move by the House to create this pilot program. We’ve seen elsewhere that needle exchanges are effective to reduce the spread of communicable diseases like HIV. It’s a common sense policy and good for public health. I hope it finds support in the state senate.”

The bill’s future in the state senate is uncertain following the defeat last year of its chief Republican supporter former State Sen. Bob Deuell of Greenville by Sen. Bob Hall. The bill had no Senate companion this year.

To Stephen Pace of AIDS Interfaith Network, even if it just won in the House, the time for a needle exchange is still long overdue. “We need needle exchanges in the arsenal. It is part of the comprehensive approach to HIV. The struggle is really about judgment about drug use, not HIV prevention – and we have been involved in the struggle for 30 years,” AIDS Interfaith’s Steven Pace wrote via text message. ”It’s time for Texas to get on board with all the real ways of doing HIV prevention.”

—  James Russell

Legacy Counseling luncheon marks Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

legacylogoLegacy Counseling Center presents “Love After HIV/AIDS,” a lunch and learn event that explores disclosure, marriage, family and issues important to people living with HIV, in honor of Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Tuesday, March 10.

About one in four people living with HIV are women, and about 217,000 women — 80 percent of whom are of childbearing age (15 to 44) — are HIV-positive.

A number of issues surrounding HIV are specific to women dealing with the virus.

If you are pregnant and HIV-positive, take HIV medicine. If you take medicine, the risk of passing HIV to your baby is less than 1 percent, according to a press release sent by Legacy.

Even when they know their status, about one in four women postpone medical care because of barriers such as family, depression or threat of partner violence. Legacy urged women who are HIV-positive to seek medical care and call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233).

The luncheon takes place at noon at The Center for Community Cooperation, 2900 Live Oak St. and is free. RSVP to attend email or call 214-520-6308 ext. 384.

—  David Taffet