Category Archives: HIV

>Johnson & Johnson Doesn’t Care If People Die…….It’s All About Profits

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You gotta love Big Business. Tax breaks, bail outs, billions in profits.

People dying.

Oh, yeah, that last part may not be included in the quarterly report to shareholders, but it’s true.

It seems that monster pharmaceutical company, Johnson & Johnson,  is refusing to participate in the Medicines Patent Pool, which is designed to lower the prices of HIV medicines and increase access to them for people in the developing world.

Profits. It’s all about profits.

From Doctor’s Without Borders:
“Johnson & Johnson, which holds patents on three key new HIV drugs desperately needed throughout the developing world, has so far refused to license these patents to the Medicines Patent Pool. The Pool has been set up to increase access to more affordable versions of HIV drugs, including fixed-dose combinations that include multiple medicines in one pill, and to develop much-needed pediatric HIV drugs.The Pool would license patents on HIV drugs to other manufacturers and the resulting competition would dramatically reduce prices, making them much more affordable in the developing world. However, since the Pool is voluntary it will only work if patent holders like Johnson & Johnson choose to participate.”

Johnson & Johnson holds the patents on the HIV medicines rilpivirine, darunavir, and etravirine. Rilpivirine is a promising antiretroviral, under development for use in first-line treatment regimens, while darunavir and etravirine are important for patients who have developed resistance to their existing treatment.

And, even though Johnson & Johnson offers “reduced access pricing,” the cost of these drugs is out of reach of many in the world’s least-developed countries–many of those in sub-Saharan Africa. The cost of darunavir and etravirine alone runs more than $2,000 a year in countries where $2000 is what one might earn in a lifetime. Developing countries pay even higher prices.

Last December, the National Institutes of Health, which holds the intellectual property rights for a manufacturing process for darunavir, put its patent for the AIDS drug in the patent pool. Johnson & Johnson holds the drug’s remaining patents, and is effectively blocking other companies from manufacturing and making darunavir available at prices affordable for patients in the developing world.

Blocking the manufacturing of a drug that could save some people’s lives. For profit.

Please go HERE, to the Stop AIDS Campaign and sign the letter asking Johnson & Johnson to join the Patent Pool.

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Filed under AIDS, Big Business, HIV, Johnson and Johnson, Medicine, Petition, Pharmaceutical Companies

>Oh South Carolina, Could You Possibly Sink Any Lower?

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Did you know that……

  • South Carolina ranks11th highest new HIV infection rate in the nation.
  • Columbia, South Carolina’s capital city, has the 8th highest annual rate of AIDS diagnoses in the nation among cities with 500,000 or more residents.
  • There are over 300 South Carolinians on a waiting list for life‐sustaining HIV medications.
  • There are 17,500 South Carolinians were living with HIV.
  • Over half [56%] of South Carolinians living with HIV and AIDS, who know their health status, are not in regular care.

And what does the South Carolina Legislature do?
They propose a Bill (S.434) that would require the use of ONLY generic drugs to treat HIV/AIDS.
But guess what?
There are NO generic HIV drugs!
There will be a press conference and rally at the Sate House, next Wednesday, February 9, at 10 AM, in an effort to restore funding to desperately needed HIV/AIDS groups, like AIDS Drug Assistance program [ADAP] which helps people who have no health care, or inadequate health care, receive counseling, treatment and medications.
This is a crisis in South Carolina, and our legislators, and our wonderful new governor, Nikki Haley, are doing nothing about.
I am going to that rally, and urge anyone who is in South Carolina to attend as well. This isn’t only about people with HIV and AIDS, it’s about doing what’s right for our citizens.

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Filed under ADAP, AIDS, Health Care, HIV, Politics, South Carolina

>The Neighbors Aren’t So Gay Friendly

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I was trading emails with fellow blogger Buck [I Laugh, Therefore I Am and Channeling Julia Child] and we were sort of sharing our coming out stories, and the different ways, whys and hows of coming out. I told him that, after living in liberal California, and tres gay Miami, I was a wee bit concerned with moving to South Carolina. I didn’t know from the LGBT community here, especially in Smallville, so i was worried. But I shouldn’t have been; Smallville actually has a fairly decent gay community, both men and women, and most of the people Carlos and i have met are very lovely and accepting of another gay couple in their midst.
But then, there are the surrounding areas, and I have two stories of them today.
The first comes from up in North Carolina, where state Representative Larry Brown announced that one of his legislative goals for the new year would be that the government not spend money to treat adults with HIV or AIDS because they “caused it by the way they live.”

Oh yes he did.

Of course, he prefaced his insensitive remarks by proclaiming his support for a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality, naturally, so his hatred and bigotry is quite well-known. But the he went on to say that government shouldn’t spend money to treat HIV among people “living in perverted lifestyles,” saying, “I’m not opposed to helping a child born with HIV or something, but I don’t condone spending taxpayers’ money to help people living in perverted lifestyles.”

You know, you have gay sex, you some deserve HIV. Now, Larry Brown wouldn’t say exactly what he considers perverted–though I’m sure he has a pretty good idea, and keeps it in his bedroom, in the bottom drawer of his bureau, to take out and play with when he’s all alone–but he does say that adults who get HIV through sexual behavior or drugs would be among those who should not be treated at government expense.

To be fair, he is an equal opportunity asshole. He also thinks that if you smoke and get cancer, then the government shouldn’t pay for any of your treatment because smokers “choose to do that on their own.” And Brown has no comment on how to treat, oh, say women, who contract HIV through monogamous relationships.

He just wants the gays to be cut off from medical treatment because they deserve to die.

And then we move a little further north to Virginia, where the Virginia Department of Health will stop enrolling people into its $21.6 million AIDS Drug Assistance Program [ADAP] in the hopes that drug companies will step up to offer medication to clients. 
Hmmm, we’ll stop helping sick people, and hope someone else will take over.
And the interesting part is that the state of Virginia funds just 10%, or about $2 million, of the program, leaving the rest of the tab for the federal government, which pays the remaining 90% through the Ryan White CARE Act. 
The Virginia Department of Health predicts that those people living with HIV, on the waiting list, will be covered by Medicaid or drug companies’ assistance programs.
Nice prediction. I wonder if it’ll come true, or if Virginia will just let those people try to survive without medications and treatment.
As I said, I was pleased with how Carlos and I were accepted into the Smallville community, but now I worry about the neighboring states.

Larry Brown: Cut Off AIDS Funding
Virginia Freezes ADAP

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Filed under ADAP, AIDS, HIV, Larry Brown, LGBT, North Carolina, Uncategorized, Virginia

>HIV/AIDS By The Numbers

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These latest statistics of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic were published by UNAIDS in November 2010, and reflect the numbers at the end of 2009:
  • 33,300,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS
  • 30,800,00 adults are living with HIV/AIDS
  • 15,900,000 women are living with HIV/AIDS
  • 2,500,000 children are living with HIV/AIDS
  • 2,600,000 people are newly infected with HIV
  • 2,200,000 adults are newly infected with HIV
  • 1,800,000 AIDS deaths in 2009
  • 16,600,000 children are now orphans due to AIDS in 2009

 Sub-Saharan Africa carries the greatest burden of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with some 68% of the population living with HIV.
Epidemics in Asia have remained relatively stable and are still largely concentrated among high-risk groups.
Conversely, the number of people living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia has almost tripled since 2000.

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>30 Voices From The Past 30 Years, Part Five

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The Advocate marked the fourth decade of the AIDS crisis by revisiting some of the people who have been there since day one:

“The first year of GMHC [Gay Men’s Health Crisis] and the first four years of ACT UP were some of the most exciting years I have ever felt in my life. I have never felt such love, support, and energy among all of us fighting for common goals.”

Author and activist Larry Kramer. August 17, 1999.
 

“Over time, while the pandemic has not left the GLBT community, it has vastly extended within the LGBT community and into other communities, including heterosexual women, the majority of whom are women of color.”

Ana Oliveira, executive director of Gay Men’s Health Crisis. August 30, 2005.

 
“If we can create an engine called Microsoft that can put a computer in virtually every home in America, if we can create an engine called Nike that can put sneakers on the feet of people all over the world, then we have to begin to create engines–multibillion-dollar engines–that are addressing the great social causes of our time.”

AIDS Ride founder Dan Pallotta. February 19, 2002.
 

“I wonder now as I look around me, Who is going to carry my torch?”

Television personality and AIDS educator Pedro Zamora, testifying before Congress. July 7, 1998.
 

“At the tender age of 41–a year longer than I once thought I would live–I have never felt better, HIV transformed my life, made me a better and braver writer, prompted me to write the first big book pushing marriage rights, got me to take better care of my health, improved my sex life, and deepened my spirituality.”

Author and political pundit Andrew Sullivan. July 5, 2005.
 

“Not until same-sex relationships are fully recognized as equal to opposite-sex relationships; not until a gay or bisexual soldier’s sacrifice is equal to that of a straight soldier; not until we put an end to the chipping away of a young boy’s self-esteem by bullying in the school yard; not until there is a time when the concern is not who we love but that we love will the stigma of HIV/AIDS fade. And only then will our nation do all it can to finally put an end to a disease that so significantly impacts gay and bisexual men and people of color.”

A joint statement by Dr. Marjorie J. Hill, chief executive officer of Gay Men’s Health Crisis; Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; and Paul Kawara, executive director of the National Minority AIDS Council. October 1, 2010.

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>30 Voices From The Past 30 Years, Part Four

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The Advocate marked the fourth decade of the AIDS crisis by revisiting some of the people who have been there since day one:

“In 1986, when a great number of people that I knew had already died and were infected, I just assumed that I was infected also, because I couldn’t imagine why I wouldn’t have been. Finally, I had the courage to go and get the test, which was one of the scarier moments of my life. I found out that I was HIV-negative. At first I didn’t understand it, and then i felt guilty because so many friends of mine were dealing with this issue and I had been released from this burden. After a period of time, I thought, I’m a very lucky man, and I have to show up in this problem, not because I’m fighting for my own life but because I have to be a part of this fight. I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate in many ways, and I want to be a part of the solution.”

Producer and philanthropist David Geffen. December 29, 1992.
 

“Slick Willie, the Republicans were right. We should never have trusted you. You are doing nothing while we die. One year later, lots of talk, but no action. Bill, while me and my community are dying in ever-increasing numbers, all you do it talk.”

ACT UP member Luke Montgomery [Luke Sissyfag], who interrupted a speech by President Bill Clinton at an AIDS ward at Georgetown University Medical Center. January 25, 1994.
 

“I heard this big, hollow thud, and then I found myself in the water. I just held my head in the hopes… I [didn’t] know if I was cut or not. But I wanted to keep the blood in, or just not let anybody touch it. Dealing with HIV was really difficult for me because I felt like, God, thee US Olympic Committee needs to know about this. But I didn’t anticipate hitting my head on the board. That’s where I became paralyzed with fear.”Olympian Greg Louganis, telling Barbara Walters about his diving accident during the 1988 games. March 21, 1995.

 

“I remember complaining, ‘Why isn’t anybody doing anything? Why isn’t anyone raising money?’ And it struck me like lightning: ‘Wait a second, I’m not doing anything.’ So with the help of several other people, we put on the first-ever gay benefit here, the Commitment to Life. Betty Ford was the guest of honor, and it took about a year to put together. I’ve never heard so many nos in my life. Oh, my God,m it was unbelievable! Nobody in this town wanted to know or be a part of it. They said, ‘No, this is one where you want to stay away from.There’s a stigma.’ I didn’t even know that Rock Hudson was sick yet. i found that out two or three months after i was involved.”

Actress and activist Elizabeth Taylor. October 15, 1996.
 

“[As gay men] we’re conditioned to think we’re always at risk for HIV. I know that anytime I’ve gone for an HIV test, I always worry, even if I don’t engage in unsafe sexual behavior or inject drugs.”

Jose Zuniga, a volunteer for a 1997 live-virus HIV vaccine trial. November 25, 1997.
 

“If my story can help people–anybody at all–it is positive. I’ve always tried to help people, whether it be as a gay man, or a Mexican-American or now, someone who is HIV-positive.”

1996 national champion figure skater Rudy Galindo. May 9, 2000.

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>30 Voices From The Past 30 Years, Part Three

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The Advocate marked the fourth decade of the AIDS crisis by revisiting some of the people who have been there since day one:

“I wanted to do something about AIDS through the eyes of the gay community. There was nothing else out there, and people kept saying, ‘Why is this still a taboo subject?'”

Lindsay Law, executive producer of the film Longtime Companion. May 8, 1990.
 

“Remember that someday the AIDS crisis will be over. And when that day has come and gone, there will be people alive–gay and straight people, black and white people, men and women–who will hear that once there was a terrible disease and that a brave group of people stood up and fought and in some cases died so others might live and be free. I’m proud to be with the people I love–those who are fighting this war–and to be a part of that fight. And after we kick the shit out of this disease, I intend to be alive to kick the shit out of this system so that it will never happen again.”

Film critic, author, and GLAAD cofounder Vito Russo at the October 1988 ACT UP FDA protest. December 18, 1990.
 

“I hear people say, ‘Oh, gee, wasn’t that horrible then?’ but it’s just as horrible now. It’s just on a grander scale. Instead of spending $20 million, we spend $2 billion, but instead of having 10,000 cases we have 200,000 cases.”

Randy Shilts, former Advocate staffer and author of And The Band Played On. June 15, 1993.
 

“I tell people when I go out to speak that no matter how people got this virus, we’ve got to open our arms up to everybody–not just to me because I’m heterosexual. Until you’re able to educate society–not just about AIDS and HIV, but about gays and stuff–they’re always going to do and say stupid things.”

Retired basketball player and philanthropist Magic Johnson. April 21, 1992.
 

“For those with HIV, never despair, never give up, because things are happening all the time, because we will get there someday, and it could be sooner than some of us dare to expect.”

Mathilde Krim, founding chairman of amfAR. November 16, 1993.
 

“I’ve lost incredible numbers of people. I’m to the point where I don’t even remember who’s alive anymore… Some days I just assume everybody’s dead. I went through a one-year period where I’d say that i just don’t have anyone I love anymore. I had one friend whose ashes are buried in my backyard. I’ve done four quilts, and that’s just for people no one else had done it for.”

Actor and playwright Harvey Fierstein. October 8, 1991.

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