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Austrian Magazine Runs Limited Edition Printed With HIV-Infused Blood

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Vangardist, an Austrian men’s magazine focused on LGBT issues, is distributing a limited run of an upcoming issue that’s printed using the blood of three HIV-positive people. The ink to be used in this May’s edition of the usually digital magazine will be infused with blood in which the virus has been rendered inert and is safe to touch. The special edition run of the magazines are a part of a campaign to better explain just how the HIV virus works and to combat the stigma that still plagues positive people today. Some three thousand copies of the issue will go on sale May 7th for 50 euros each (about $56).

"With 80% more confirmed cases of HIV being recorded in 2013 than 10 years previously, and an estimated 50% of HIV cases being detected late due to lack of testing caused by social stigma associated with the virus," Vangardist CEO Julian Wiehl explained. "This felt like a very relevant issue for us to focus on not just editorially but also from a broader communications standpoint.”

The magazine will only be made available to subscribers at launch before seeing a wider release later on in the month.


Florida HIV/AIDS Organization Makes People Over 40 Pay For 'Free' Fundraiser

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Impulse Group South Florida, a community outreach group dedicated to spreading HIV awareness and education, has come under fire for age discrimination at one of its recent social functions. A massive pool party was thrown in Miami meant to spread word about the recently renovated Vagabond Hotel, a local landmark. Entrance into the highly publicized pool party was free to the public under the age of 40, but those 41 and above quickly realize that there would be a $50 cover fee if they wanted to join in the festivities. For a party that was being hashtagged on Instagram and Twitter with #JudgmentIsDirty, many felt as if judgment, and ageism, were in full effect.

“I’m amazed at the invite I just received – free admission up to 40 years of age and $50 over 40,” Ed Stevens, a would-be party goer said to South Florida Gay News. “In addition to whether this is even legal, it’s a shocking and blatant attempt to exclude mature people and another instance of how people in our community should know better, given the discrimination and judgements we face in the mainstream world. And I was looking forward to going back to this beautifully restored landmark.”

Since the pool party, disgruntled members of Miami’s gay community have taken to Impulse’s Facebook page expressing their concerns that the organization is more interested in throwing parties that cater to the young rather than addressing the health needs of the community as a whole.

“The primary strategy is to organically establish a following of socially active, young gay men through engagement at large, organized events, such as Evolution, which occurred in Miami on April 18,” Impulse responded in a press release yesterday. “The purpose of events like Evolution is to create a lively, fun atmosphere where these men can interact while simultaneously being exposed to information about HIV in a non-judgmental environment.”

Tiered pricing for community events like Evolution is common enough, with logic suggesting that younger, less economically established people would benefit from discounted tickets. That being said, it’s not hard to see why people interpreted two age-based tiers as somewhat problematic.


FDA Approves New Pill Combo Treatment For HIV Patients

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 6.15.05 AMThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new tool in the fight against HIV with a two once-daily, fixed dose combination of pills utilizing previously approved single drugs Evotaz and Prezcobix reports hivplusmag.com. The combination of the protease inhibitor darunavir and boosting agent cobicistat, which raises the level of other antiretroviral drugs in the bloodstream, is what creates Prezcobix. Karen Tashima, a professor of medicine in infectious diseases with Brown University and one of the key lead investigators in a study that led to Prezcobix’s approval, explained the relevance of this new development.

Said Tashima:

"This approval gives physicians the option of a Darunavir-based, fixed-dose combination tablet to treat adults living with the HIV-1 infection, which can help reduce the number of pills in their overall treatment regimen. Additional options remain an important medical priority to meet the diverse needs of those living with and managing this disease."

Evotaz assists in boosting Prezcobix's effectiveness, performing well in a 602-patient clinical trial with sustained effectiveness and safety over a 48-week period. Although a functional cure for the infectious disease is still being researched, several preventative and new treatment methods are steadily developing including a new discovery of a rarely occurring antibody produced within the body of HIV positive people, called 3BNC117, that reduces viral loads without the help of antiretroviral drugs. Early tests have shown that a single injection of the antibody into positive patients' (those who don't produce the rare antibody) dramatically decreased their viral loads and remained low for 28 days.


Single Experimental Antibody Treatment Suppresses HIV Viral Load For 28 Days

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One of the most promising developments in the search for a more lasting treatment to manage HIV appears to have come from within the human body itself. 3BNC117 is a rarely occurring antibody produced in the bloodstreams of HIV-positive people. Antibody production is the immune system’s natural response to viral and biological infection. Unlike most HIV antibodies, though, 3BNC117 has proven to be highly effective at reducing patients’ viral loads without the assistance of antiretroviral drugs.

Human test trials to analyze how the rare antibody interacts with both HIV positive and negative people are underway and their preliminary results have been fascinating. The bloodwork from HIV positive participants showed that their viral loads decreased dramatically and remained low for 28 days from a single injection of 3BNC117. HIV-negative participants reported negligible side effects. While the dosage of antibodies lowered the overall amount of HIV within test subjects’ bodies, it’s important to point out that the treatment wasn’t able to fully suppress or wipe out the virus.

The real promise of the drug lies in how long it lasts and how quickly it propagates throughout a person’s system. Normally antibodies take a fair amount of time to develop and spread throughout a person’s bloodstream to fight foreign bodies like viruses. The time between an initial infection and when a body begins producing antibodies is why, for example, some HIV tests are only effective two to three months after a person is initially exposed to the virus. While antibodies can help fight off viruses HIV is known for being highly mutable, adapting to challenges incredibly quickly. Giving people high dosages of 3BNC117 cuts out the waiting time and appears to rob the virus of the chance to change its physical structure.

Still, this particular use of the antibody holds immense promise. In primae trials it was shown to be somewhat effective at preventing HIV infection in non HIV-positive test subjects. Additionally 3BNC117 could be incorporated into other HIV therapies in order to boost their efficacy and lower the frequency with which they have to be taken.

(h/t The Verge)


'Looking' Star Danny Franzese Talks Body Positivity, Bears And More With James St. James: VIDEO

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Mean Girls and Looking actor Danny Franzese sat down with James St. James this week to talk body positivity in the gay community, HIV awareness, PrEP and his plans for the future.

Franzese also discusses his journey to self-acceptance, and how going shirtless in Bully helped him overcome his fixation on his weight.

Check out the frank, funny discussion, AFTER THE JUMP

Continue reading "'Looking' Star Danny Franzese Talks Body Positivity, Bears And More With James St. James: VIDEO" »


AIDS Healthcare Foundation Charged by Former Managers with Defrauding Federal Govt for Millions

Three former AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Inc. (AHF) managers have filed Federal and Florida State Whistleblower Act complaints against their former employer for taking illegal patient referral kickbacks, according to attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the case:

AhfAHF is charged with defrauding Federal healthcare programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Health and Human Services HIV/AIDS grant programs of at least $20 million a year in false claims since 2010. Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC represents the plaintiffs.

Filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on April 3 under the Federal False Claims Act and Florida False Claims Act, the complaint is based on the personal knowledge and documentation of Whistleblowers Jack Carrel of Louisiana, Mauricio Ferrer of Florida, and Shawn Loftis of New York. All held management positions at AHF prior to their jobs being terminated– despite having federal protection under the False Claims Act – after they notified their supervisors about the company's unlawful practices.

According to the complaint, AHF conducted an organization-wide criminal effort across at least 12 states, including Florida, that boosted funding from federal healthcare programs by generating HIV/AIDS referrals to the company's various service centers. AHF did this by unlawfully paying referral incentives to employees and patients in violation of the anti-kickback statute.

Said lead counsel Theodore Leopold of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC:

"AIDS Healthcare Foundation's fraudulent conduct is made even worse by the fact that these funds were entrusted to this healthcare company for the purpose of assisting a vulnerable patient population consisting of individuals living with HIV/AIDS, of whom more than 1.1 million reside in the United States"

The fraud was carried out, according to the news release, through illicit kickbacks that rewarded patients and employees for referrals to AHF's testing, clinical, pharmacy and insurance services centers.

AHF, headquartered in California where the kickback scheme began, operates in 11 states plus Washington D.C.

According to the complaint, this "'Linkage' – or the referral of HIV-positive patients into AHF's constellation of services – was AHF's 'holy grail' and the key to its business model." As part of this, a bonus compensation of up to $100 was paid to an employee who "linked a patient" with positive test result to AHF "linkage" coordinators for referral clinical services.

More info on the case HERE.


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