Monthly Archives - June 2011

Nelson’s Top 10 Tricks for Fat Loss

June 28, 2011

  1. Get real. Ask yourself: What is getting in the way of my health? What excuses am I using to not start giving a damn? There is no perfect time to start. Do it now, even if it means one change per week in your lifestyle choices. You deserve to feel and look the best you can!
  2. You cannot change what you do not measure!
    • Download a step counter (pedometer) app to your phone or buy one to carry with you all day. Research has shown that 10,000 steps a day keep people from gaining weight and may help those wanting to lose weight. It approximately equates to 3 miles. If by 6 pm you have not reached that goal, you can make up for the difference on a treadmill, walking the dog, walking to the store, etc. Read more on this.
    • Weigh yourself 3 times a week in the morning while on an empty stomach.
    • Get yourself a ring to wear on one of your fingers, or use the one you are wearing now; it’s the best way to find out if you are inflamed or holding too much water. When tighter, you need to exercise to decrease inflammation and water retention.
    • If you have a progressive doctor who can refer you for a full DEXA body scan, good for you. This is the best way to know your body composition in every part of your body.
  3. Change the way you drink and eat:
    • Avoid drinking sodas, fruit juices (eat fruit instead), more than two glasses of wine a day. Carry a water container in your car, office, and any place you hang out, and sip from it all day (you can add flavored Benefiber or Citrucell to that water if you need to drink something with flavor).
    • Also, avoid eating sweets, white bread, bagels, muffins, and most cereals (they are loaded with sugar and high-fructose corn syrup). Instead eat whole grain, dark-colored bread (if you have to), and never consume carbohydrates by themselves (adding good fats and fiber to carbs slows down glucose and insulin spikes in the blood that may predispose you to metabolic syndrome and fat gain). Watch a great lecture that will open your eyes to the effect of sugar on health.
    • Consume 20 grams of fiber (soluble and insoluble) per day. For most of us, this is hard to do unless we eat beans, nuts, and 4 servings of fruit and vegetables. Fiber improves insulin sensitivity, makes you feel full longer, keeps your gut healthy (friendly gut bacteria that produce vitamins love fiber), keeps you regular, and can lower the chances of getting colon cancer. Buy Citrucell or Benefiber, two over-the-counter products available in most grocery stores. Try to consume 12 grams of fiber a day from these supplements in water. You can also add them to soups, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, yogurt, water to sip all day at work, sauces, and home-made salad dressing.
    • To ensure that you have enough fruits and vegetables at home, buy frozen ones (frozen fruits and vegetables tend to be cheaper and loaded with vitamins since they are picked at their prime).
    • Follow a slow carb (low glycemic index) diet. Read this article carefully!
    • Twice a day, snack on almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and other nuts at work to get your good fats and fiber, and to make you less likely to cheat later. If you get tired of their taste, mix them with some dried fruit. Research has shown that people who eat nuts tend to have lower LDL cholesterol.
    • Avoid junk and fast food. The best way to do this is to have enough food at home and to bring lunch to work. Cook a lot of food on weekends and freeze meals in small containers you can take to work or heat up at home. Get yourself a slow cooker and use its enclosed cookbook to prepare warm foods that you can come home to. Do not sabotage yourself by bringing sweets and junk into your home. If you do, you’ll eventually eat them (most of the time, in one sitting!).
    • Watch your cravings at night, when most people find it the most difficult to avoid overdrinking alcohol or eating ice cream, cookies, and comfort foods.
    • Eat a large breakfast, a moderate lunch, and a small dinner. I know this sounds completely different to what most of us are doing every day.
    1. Skipping breakfast makes you more prone to overcompensate by eating more calories late in the day. Your body has spent 7-8 hours without food and is starved for nutrients in the morning. Do not feed it sugar and white flour products at this important time, like many people are accustomed to doing due to being rushed. Eggs, oatmeal (the type that has no added sugar, and you can add whey protein powder to it!), Greek-style yogurt with nuts and fiber supplements, low-fat cottage cheese with fruit (if you’re not lactose intolerant), almond butter sandwiches on multigrain (high-fiber) bread, and fruit are all good choices for breakfast.
    2. For lunch have some soup and a glass of water first and wait 10 minutes to trick your body into feeling full faster. Grilled chicken with vegetables, tuna salad over greens and nuts, a Greek salad with sliced steak, and any Mediterranean food choices are good.
    3. For dinner, fill yourself with stir fried (use olive oil!) vegetables and lean meats. Two hours before bed, you can have half an almond butter sandwich or yogurt with fruit. You will not be hungry and desperate with this diet!
  4. Do resistance exercise with machines at the gym if you are a beginner, or weights if you have more experience. Here are some other exercise recommendations.
  5. Get your hormones checked and supplemented if low
    • If you are having a hard time losing weight and you are doing all of the above, have your doctor check your blood levels of free testosterone and thyroid hormones (TSH, T3 and T4) (yes, women and men!). Low hormone blood levels can impair fat loss and energy levels required to exercise. They can also make your less prone to be motivated to follow a healthy regimen. Readmore about testosterone here.
  6. If you have access to a glucose tolerance test, take it. This test will determine how your body uses glucose for energy and compare it to a normal response. If you have impaired glucose tolerance, your doctor may want to prescribe metformin, an insulin sensitizer that may help people lose fat by helping their insulin work better at controlling blood sugar and metabolism.
  7. If your belly is hard and you cannot pinch much fat, you may mostly have visceral fat. You may want to talk to your doctor about a new FDA-approved product for HIV-associated visceral fat calledEgrifta (tesamorelin). Egrifta is a growth hormone-releasing factor that makes your pituitary gland make your own growth hormone. Growth hormone has been shown to help burn fat. If you do not have insurance, you can apply for patient assistance (more on
  8. Drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before every meal has been shown to improve glucose tolerance and insulin response. Better glucose tolerance and lower insulin resistance can make it easier to lose fat. Read more on this.
  9. Supplements:
  10. Find a support system that is there for you through all of your new lifestyle changes. Having an exercise/diet buddy is the best way to improve adherence to your diet and exercise program. Join groups online. Surround yourself with friends who support you all the way and enable you to succeed!

Must-See Lecture by Dr Paula Cannon on HIV Cure Research

I am happy to announce that the lecture given by Dr Paula Cannon in Houston sponsored by the Center for AIDS has been uploaded (6 parts since youtube has upload limits)
I highly recommend watching this great lecture that explains the current status and future challenges in this important field.  Dr Cannon, a charming speaker, was able to beautifully digest the information in layman’s terms for all to understand.

AIDS Activist Allen Huff dies of a HIV drug side effect

My friend, Allen Huff, died on Friday. He battled portal hypertension caused by Videx (DDI) and was not a candidate for surgery to repair the damage caused by that drug (read the FDA report that mentions the label change for the drug just last year:  FDA report on the side effect and label change for DDI )

It was very hard for me to see Allen die of wasting in front of my eyes since wasting syndrome has been my main area of activism in the past. The blood flow to his liver was restricted, so he was not able to absorb nutrients even though he ate constantly. His viral load was undetectable for many years and he was highly adherent and educated about treatment. He was so angry that it took so many years for this side effect to be mentioned. He had contacted BMS several times and they denied any indication that their drug could be involved in this problem.

Allen was only 51 and a kind soul that always found the time to tell people he loved them.  He worked as a volunteer in many HIV non profits and raised a lot of money for several of them. He had a lot of dreams of helping others. I am glad he had a lot of love around him in his last days. We celebrated his birthday with him a few days before his death and he was surrounded by his friends and family who were there to show their love. I am glad he was able to be conscious that day to receive it.

I am very angry that his life was taken away by a drug induced side effect and I hope no one else has to die of this slow death. I have received emails in the past from people who have the symptoms, but lost touch with them.

Early symptoms are unintentional weight loss, diarrhea, bloatness, fatigue, dementia that comes and goes (due to high blood levels of ammonia), and others. Liver enzymes are usually OK and no cirrhosis is seen. It took years to diagnose this problem in Allen, so it is important to be educated about this side effect so that any one you know who has taken DDI in the past gets early diagnosis by a liver specialist.

Allen Anthony Huff

Allen Anthony Huff, DC, 51, died at home after a lengthy illness, surrounded and comforted by family and friends, on June 9, 2011. His younger brother Bruce Huff preceded Allen in death. His devoted and loving partner Charles Wesley Gulick, his mother Grace Ann McNeill of Houston, and his father James Allen Huff, and wife Liz Young Huff, of Rapid City, South Dakota, survive him. His brother Christopher Huff and partner Andrea Gooldy and their son Christopher, of Atlanta Georgia, and brother Timothy Heckler, his wife Sharon and their daughters Alyssa, Sarah, and Isabel of Houston, Texas, also survive him.

Allen was born in Houston on June 6, 1960. He graduated from the Texas Chiropractic College as a Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine in 1985. In addition to his private practice, Allen was the Risk Management Director for the Spring School District for a number of years. He was also a hard working and most valued friend to the American Red Cross Protect Your Back Program where he gave 12,000 hours of volunteer service. For the Red Cross, he authored a Protect Your Back Course student book and instructors manual and personally taught the course to hundreds of other caregivers, physicians and EMTs.

Allen was a passionate advocate for HIV prevention and treatment. After his diagnosis in 1995, Allen became active with a number of national HIV/AIDS-related organizations including AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth and Families; Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. He published a number of articles on HIV and AIDS, including those for Poz Magazine and RITA. In Houston, Allen was involved with a number of HIV/AIDS nonprofits, most notably AIDS Foundation Houston and The Center for AIDS Information & Advocacy. For the past four years Allen served as a working board member for The Center for AIDS. Allen Huff will always be remembered for his love of life, his kind and gentle spirit and his fierce determination to take care of his own health while advocating and doing hands on care for others with the disease.

He deeply loved his partner Chuck, his family, his world wide extended family of friends, his much adored standard poodle rescue, Grant, world travel adventures (once being lost at sea and then shipwrecked by a typhoon on Norfolk Island, Australia) and the weekly dinners with the boys at Berryhill River Oaks, (amusingly known among those devoted compatriots as their Boo Hoo Lounge).

The family wishes to especially thank his personal caregiver, Ed Cervantes, his physician, Joseph Gathe, MD, and the Silverado Hospice staff and volunteers, along with his close buds for their wonderful compassion and care. These people made his end of life journey as serene and comfortable as it could possibly have ever been imagined. Allen knew that he was well loved and cherished and always returned that love without guile.

A memorial service will be held in the near future.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Allen’s memory may be made to The American Red Cross Houston, 2700 Southwest Freeway, Houston Texas 77098 and/or the Center for AIDS, 1407 Hawthorne St. Houston, Texas 77006.

AIDS Nelson Vergel, AIDS expert, talks HIV and healthy aging by Kate Sosin, Windy City Times

AIDS Nelson Vergel, AIDS expert, talks HIV and healthy agingby Kate Sosin, Windy City Times2011-06-08
Nelson Vergel and Jeff Berry from TPAN. Photo by Kate Sosin
Nelson Vergel is not what you think of when you say “AIDS over 50.”With hefty round muscles pushing out against a tight blue t-shirt and a lively demeanor, Vergel looks more like Mighty Mouse than a person resistant to nearly every HIV drug on the market. But Vergel is in the business of de-bunking myths about aging with HIV, and while his own HIV is a struggle, he’s also the living example of his work.
Vergel presented some of the latest findings on HIV and aging at Center on Halsted May 31, during his free talk, “Promising Advances in HIV Cure and Healthy Aging Research.” The event was sponsored by Test Positive Aware Network.
The Houston-based author and activist focused heavily on the scientific reasons why a cure to HIV/AIDS is both a distant dream and an impending reality. But while Vergel is following progress on possible cures, his own work focuses on informing other HIV-positive people on the changes HIV causes in the body and strategies for living well with the virus.
“We’re getting older. What is the quality of life going to be?” Vergel asked an audience of about 30 people.
According to Vergel, medication is just one of four useful in battling HIV. He also includes stress reduction, exercise, and nutrition.

In three years, he said, there will be four once-a-day HIV pills on the market (there is currently just one—Atripla). Still, HIV drug production is slowing because it’s less profitable than other drugs.
“We’re moving into a new world,” Vergel said. He expects that some HIV patients will be asked to go off their medications in time so that new possible cures can be tested.
That possible cure might include one found four years ago in an American living in Germany. The famous “Berlin Patient” may have been cured of his HIV when he received a bone marrow transplant from a donor whose genetic mutations made him resistant to HIV. Research on that method is ongoing, Vergel said, but it’s also still very risky and not enough information is available to make it a viable option yet.
In the meantime, Vergel recommends nutrition and exercise. Because people living with HIV are at heightened risk of osteoporosis, HPV, and other illnesses, Vergel said it is especially important to remain vigilant about getting screened for other illnesses, especially HPV.
“We’re not talking about bottoms or tops or women or men,” Vergel said. “[HPV] is affecting everyone.”
Medicine aside, exercise is the best medicine, said Vergel. “We [HIV-positive people] have an acceleration of the aging process by about 15 years,” Vergel said. “Frailty in aging is most related to body strength.”
Vergel suggests leg squats for preventing frailty. He also said a healthy combination of cardio and muscle resistance can slow the aging process.
New research has also shown merits of some vitamins in relieving some HIV symptoms. D vitamins can help maintain bone strength, while B vitamins can help relieve depression. Vergel warned, however, that patients talk to their doctors about vitamins as some can interact with HIV medications.
Vergel doesn’t stop at health, however. His talk also included strategies for fighting changes in body fat and fat under the skin (also known as lipohypertrophy and lipoatrophy) because Vergel said, “it’s not about getting older. It’s about getting your healthy look back as you age.”
Vergel thinks that a lot of doctors are reluctant to offer facial treatments to HIV patients who lose fat under facial skin because they see it as unnecessary, but he said that changes to body weight prevent some people from going on medication at all. However, a number of treatments exist for preventing weight changes while on HIV medication.
Finally, Vergel discussed testosterone treatments, which he has covered in his latest book Testosterone: A Man’s Guide. Testosterone is often taken by HIV-positive patients to combat fatigue, lack of motivation, poor appetite, and muscle loss. Vergel warns that these should be taken with caution because they can fuel cancer.
Before making any decisions, he said, talk to your doctor. But do your own homework, too, he said because not every doctor will cover all the bases on HIV management.
“The thing is, we don’t have standards,” he said. “We don’t have guidelines.”
Information on Vergel’s work as well as his complete slideshow presentation is available on his .

GSK- ViiV start their phase 3 study for their second generation integrase inhibitor (dolutegravir) in raltegravir experienced patients

For more on dolutegravir:

Report from CROI 2011

Dr Joe Eron presented new dosing and efficacy phase 2b data on the new GSK integrase inhibitor dolutegravir (DTG, S/GSK1349572) using 50 mg twice a day in patients whose HIV virus has developed resistance to raltegravir (Isentress). Prior data presented in Vienna from a cohort (cohort 1) of patients who took 50 mg once a day showed that patients with one or more Q148+ associated integrase mutations had reduced activity to the drug, so GSK decided to recruit a second cohort (cohort 2)  of patients who took 50 mg twice a day in hopes that the increased blood levels would overcome some of this lower efficacy. Despite a long half life supporting once-daily dosing, the lack of dose proportional increase in exposure above 50 mg precluded using 100 mg once daily.
Adult patients with HIV-1 RNA ≥1000 copies/mL showing genotypic resistance to raltegravir and to ≥2 other ARV classes received 50 mg twice daily of DTG while continuing their failing regimen (without RAL) to day 11, after which the background regimen was optimized with another active agent. Unlike the previously presented 50 mg qd cohort I, eligibility required at least 1 fully active ARV for day 11 optimization.
All patients in this 50 mg bid cohort II with extensive raltegravir resistance (mutations Q148+ others) virus responded compared to 3 of 9 in the 50 mg qd cohort I. The mean reductions in plasma HIV-1 RNA (log10 copies/mL) at day 11 were –1.76  for  50 mg bid cohort II ( a lower but still attractive response of –1.57 for Q148+ virus) and –1.45 for  50 mg qd cohort I ( a reduced response of –0.72 for Q148+ virus). DTG was generally well tolerated:  mild to moderate diarrhea was the most common adverse event (n = 6), while 1 subject experienced 2 severe adverse events (demyelinating polyneuropathy, at day 23; diabetes mellitus, at day 79) considered unrelated to study drug.
 Although the day 11 responses were numerically better in cohort II, the baseline fold change range in virus susceptibility to DTG for cohort II was more limited due to extensive raltegravir related mutations.  46% of patients taking the 50 mg bid dose had one or more Q148 associated mutations that were associated with reduced response to the prior 50 mg qd dose cohort.  Longer-term (24 weeks) assessments in this phase 2b study are ongoing.
The data from cohort 2 provide promise for patients with extensive raltegravir resistance. However, many of these patients are in deep salvage with no remaining active ARVs to construct a viable regimen, so even if DTG works for them they will need another active agent.  Luckily, several companies are currently collaborating in an upcoming expanded access program that will allow these patients at higher risk of disease progression and death to obtain more than one active investigational drugs without waiting three years for all of them to be approved.  I will write about this project in future articles.
DTG will also be tested in naïve patients in head-to-head with raltegravir  in phase 3 studies (using a background of Epzicom  (abacavir (Ziagen) + 3TC (Epivir) ) or Truvada. 

Fw: Hot Topics at The Body’s “Ask the Experts” Forums

From: “News at The Body” <>
Date: 07 Jun 2011 18:18:22 -0400
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Subject: Hot Topics at The Body’s “Ask the Experts” Forums

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June 7, 2011 Visit the Forums “Hot Topics” Library Change/Update Subscription

 How Can I Keep My CD4 Count From Falling?
My CD4 count is 690. I’m not taking HIV meds yet but I do doctor visits every three months to monitor my HIV health. Is there anything else I can do to help hold onto my CD4 cells?

Nelson Vergel responds in the “Nutrition and Exercise” forum

 Newly Diagnosed: What Are My Open-Enrollment Insurance Options at Work?
I tested HIV positive six months ago. I’ve been working for the same company for five years. I’m currently covered under my company’s group health and life insurance policy. I have a small $25,000 insurance policy. I also set up a $600 flexible spending account that has really helped with my doctor visit co-pays. Our open enrollment period will begin within the next few weeks. Will I be able to increase my life insurance? Would I qualify for short- or long-term disability coverage? Could my new HIV status jeopardize my flexible spending account?

Lynn Franzoi responds in the “Workplace and Insurance Issues” forum
 How Do I Tell My Partner I’m HIV Positive?
We’re a gay couple. We’ve been intimate, and I see our relationship really going somewhere. I just don’t know how to tell him I’m HIV positive, and in what atmosphere. Should I sit him down and come out and say it? Should I take him out for a nice dinner, then tell him after he’s finished his steak?

David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., responds in the “Mental Health and HIV” forum
 Fat Loss Around the Eyes: How Do You Treat It?
I’m 25 years old and I’ve been taking HIV meds for two years. I’ve read some past responses of yours from 2008 noting your preference for Radiesse (calcium hydroxylapatite, Radiance) in correcting deep under-eye lipoatrophy. Three years later, Juvaderm and Restylane are popular for use in this area, with less “lumpy-bumpiness” reported than with Sculptra (poly-L-lactic acid, New-Fill) or Radiesse. Has your practice shifted to using either of these? What are your current recommendations?

Gerald Pierone, M.D., responds in the “Facial Wasting” forum
where were you when aids began? Word on the StreetThis past Sunday, June 5, marks the 30th anniversary of the first-ever report on the illness that would come to be known as AIDS. To commemorate the day, we asked community members of all ages what they were up to 30 years ago — and at what point they first became conscious of HIV/AIDS. Read others’ responses, and feel free to add your own in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

You can view more articles, reflections, events and blog entries about the anniversary on’s 30 years of AIDS index page.

 What Do You Know About Edurant, the Latest HIV Med?
How does the HIV med Edurant (rilpivirine, TMC278), recently approved in the U.S., compare to other options for first-line HIV treatment? What do we know so far about the advantages and drawbacks to taking this drug?

Joseph P. McGowan, M.D., F.A.C.P., responds in the “Choosing Your Meds” forum

 Are Stomach Burning and Bloating Side Effects of Isentress?
I was on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) for four years and had problems sleeping because of the Sustiva (efavirenz, Stocrin) component of it. My doctor and I had a long conversation and I switched to Isentress (raltegravir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). I started the new treatment last week and am sleeping much better, but have a burning sensation in my stomach and feel a little bloated. Is this a temporary side effect or do you think it’ll last?

Keith Henry, M.D., responds in the “Managing Side Effects of HIV Treatment” forum

More Questions About HIV/AIDS Treatment:

 Could Meth Use Have Done Long-Term Damage?
About seven years ago I engaged in intravenous meth use. This went on for about a year and a half. During that time I became HIV positive. I haven’t used since then and am well off the drugs. My CD4 count was 150 at its lowest, which was right before I went on HIV meds. I’ve never been able to get higher than about 425 though I’ve remained adherent to my meds and my viral load has stayed undetectable. Could my meth use have had lasting repercussions?

David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., responds in the “Substance Use and HIV” forum

 How Often Should HIVers Have Their Bone Density Checked?
I’m 45 years old and I’ve been HIV positive for 20 years. Considering that bone loss is connected to longtime HIV infection, how often should DEXA (bone density) scans be performed on people living with HIV? I had one a year ago; is it too soon for another?

Keith Henry, M.D., responds in the “Managing Side Effects of HIV Treatment” forum
Connect With Others My Partner and I Tested Positive Together, But He’s Doing Better Than I Am!
(A recent post from the "I Just Tested Positive" board)

It has been really hard the past week trying to get my mind around the fact that we have HIV. Luckily my partner’s numbers are good; mine are not good at all, though I am told once I get on meds they will get much better. Scared and feel like an emotional wreck. My partner is taking this much better than I. He is just moving through the process and it does not seem to be fazing him. Might be that he has other problems that he has to deal with daily and has since he was 5, so he accepts his body needs help to go on, while I am used to being well and just charging on. Can anyone else relate? — DAH13

Click here to join this discussion, or to start your own!

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 What’s the Difference Between Creatine and Creatinine?
My creatinine level is a little high. Before I was diagnosed with HIV I used to take a creatine supplement on a regular basis. Could that be the reason for my elevated levels of creatinine? What’s the connection between the two?

Nelson Vergel responds in the “Nutrition and Exercise” forum
 If I’m HIV Positive and I Get Someone Pregnant, Is She Definitely Infected?
If an HIV-positive man has unprotected sex with an HIV-negative woman and impregnates her, does that automatically mean she’s become HIV positive? Is there any chance of her staying HIV negative after such an encounter?

Robert J. Frascino, M.D., responds in the “Safe Sex and HIV Prevention” forum

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Activist Central
 Action Alert: Urge Secretary Clinton to Address Housing in Next Week’s Speech to the UN

 Call to Action: Sign a Petition to Support Youth Participation in Global HIV/AIDS Decision-Making

 Action Alert: Condemn NY Post for Revealing Strauss-Kahn Victim Lives in AIDS Housing

 Join June 8 NYC Rally at Critical UN Meeting on HIV/AIDS

 Tell Washington, D.C. to Fully Fund ADAP and Other HIV/AIDS Programs to Prevent Needless Deaths

 NMAC’s ADAP Action Campaign: Get Free Flip Video Camera to Collect Stories

Donate to grass roots activism for the cure of HIV

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The AIDS Policy Project. Dedicated to a cure for AIDS.

June 7, 2011

Dear Nelson,

Here’s something amazing. A cure for AIDS may be within reach—soon—for millions of people. 

“I want to pull out all the stops to go for it,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, last Friday.

Fauci didn’t always feel that way. Until the AIDS Policy Project got into the picture, the National Institutes of Health wasn’t sure a cure for AIDS was even needed.
Together, we can keep the pressure on decisionmakers, change minds, cut red tape, and promote new ideas. But we need your help.

Here’s Dr. Fauci in 2008, talking about the first cure of a person with AIDS: “It’s very nice, and it’s not even surprising,” said Fauci, Director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in the New York Times. “But it’s just off the table of practicality.”

Top NIH officials told us repeatedly that the AIDS drugs we have are good enough; a cure wasn’t necessary.  We swung into action.

The AIDS Policy Project uncovered data showing that the National Institutes of Health was spending only 3% of its AIDS research budget actually trying to develop a cure for AIDS. Before us, no one had ever bothered to track cure research spending.

We challenged Dr. Fauci in personal email and public forums. Our friend Larry Kramer sent him a message about the cure: “Stop operating like a bureaucrat and start acting like a genius.”

We mobilized hundreds of people with AIDS to send letters to NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins demanding more money for a cure. In private meetings, elite research workshops and major press conferences, we called on Carl Dieffenbach, head of the Division of AIDS, to bump up the funding. We called the White House.

No other group was–or is–asking the NIH to spend more money on a cure. We are truly speaking truth to power in the service of people with AIDS.

Our work made the cover of POZ Magazine. We talked about the NIH in our town meetings—the first town meetings held on AIDS cure research in 15 years. The NIH began to capitulate—they announced $13 million more for cure research. They agreed to track their spending on a cure for the first time in the AIDS epidemic.

We didn’t stop. We worked for seven months with Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter Tina Rosenberg on a cure article for New York Magazine. The piece appeared last week; it isNew York’s most read and emailed article. In it, Fauci talks about cure research: “I don’t see a hot product.” Yet pressure was building.

Finally, on Friday, Fauci committed to “pull out all the stops” for a cure.

We need to hold him to his word. 

A crack team of AIDS activists—HIV doctors, community organizers, and policy advocates with decades of experience—has put the cure for AIDS back on the map.

Join us to support this crucial work by helping us raise $30,000 by June 30. We will kick off a grassroots campaign this Fall calling for $240 million for AIDS cure research at the NIH—four times the current level.

We don’t take money from drug companies or the NIH, which allows us to remain an independent voice. And we’re not just fundraising from the work. We’re doing the work.
Donate Now!

Together, we can do this.


Kate Krauss and Stephen LeBlanc, for everyone at the AIDS Policy Project
The AIDS Policy Project

5120 Walton Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
tel: +1 215.939.7852

“What this group in Philadelphia has so miraculously done is reignite this issue and run with it.” –Larry Kramer, playwright and AIDS activist icon; author of The Normal Heart   


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Nelson’s lecture in Chicago addresses aging with HIV

CHICAGO – A long-time AIDS activist and author spoke May 31 at Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted, about recent breakthroughs in research and potential issues persons with HIV/AIDS might face as they get older.
Matt Simonette
Long-time AIDS activist and author Nelson Vergel

Nelson Vergel, who lives in Houston, said that he has lived with HIV for 27 years at the beginning of his talk, “Promising Advances in HIV Cures and Healthy Aging Research,” which was sponsored by Test Positive Aware Network.

Even as the GLBT community observes a rather grim milestone, the 30th anniversary of the CDC publishing its first reports of AIDS on June 5, 1981, Vergel said much still needs to be understood about the infection, especially its implications for the aging process.
“We’re all getting older and there are things that are showing up in all of us,” Vergel said.
Vergel, a former chemical engineer, opened by discussing the state of current research on vaccines and cures for the infection. He lamented that many pharmaceutical companies, not having made tremendous profits in recent years with HIV/AIDS drugs in America, have ratcheted back investment in that area.
“When it comes to potent new drugs, we’re getting drier and drier,” Vergel said. “Unfortunately, it is market driven.” He did add, however, that some companies have been preparing new one-pill-a-day treatments that might eventually replace more complex treatments.
“I tell people, if you take one vitamin a day, you’ll get used to this,” Vergel said.
He also discussed Timothy Ray Brown, also known as “the Berlin Patient,” who seems to have had the AIDS virus completely wiped clear from his body thanks to a stem cell bone marrow transplant.
“It’s not until now that people are using the ‘c-word,’” Vergel said.
But while Brown’s story should inspire hope—Vergel’s own mother was ready to begin a fundraiser for him so he could have the same treatment—a great deal of research and testing must take place before Brown’s situation can be duplicated.
New studies in the wake of Brown’s case “are asking for a lot from people,” according to Vergel. Subjects are expected to get off HIV meds and undergo extremely invasive testing procedures, among other requirements.
Another consideration is that chemotherapy played so heavily into Brown’s treatment. “What are we going to do with the healthy (men and women) who don’t have leukemia?” Vergel asked.
By 2015, over 50 percent of persons with HIV/AIDS will be over the age of 50. As such, both medical professionals and the government will have to rethink standard treatments for people who are aging and have the infection.
“We’re going to live longer, but what’s our quality of life going to be?” Vergel asked.
Many infected individuals, for example, must contend with facial wasting. But Medicare usually refuses to pay for treatments unless a physician marks in the patient’s file that the person is suffering from a depression brought about by the wasting.
“Most people just want to get their face back, but you have to have ‘depression’ on your chart in order to have anything done about it,” Vergel said, adding that community activists need to start advocating on behalf of physicians as well as patients.
“Many doctors are refusing (to see Medicare patients) because Medicare doesn’t want to pay enough,” he said.
Vergel suggested that persons with HIV/AIDS be extra vigilant in guarding against afflictions beguiling older Americans. Bone density scans, exercise and vitamin D, for example can help stave off osteoporosis.
HPV infections were another condition to be concerned with. Vergel said the condition was common—“We’re not talking top or bottom, men or women,” he said—and concerned individuals should not be afraid to ask their physician about having an anuscopy done to check for anal warts if they think they might need it.
Doctors are rarely proactive about that particular procedure, Vergel said, adding that it was not the same thing as a colonoscopy, which usually is probing for gastro-intestinal issues.
Infected individuals are often “more frail by about 15 years,” Virgil suggested, so he said good overall advice is to be sure to take plenty of exercise.
“Exercise is the best therapy for most health problems,” Vergel said.

Interview with the first doctor who reported the first cases of AIDS 30 years ago

I’m honored to have Dr. Michael Gottlieb in this interview. He’s agreed to speak to us about the 30-year anniversary of the first report that he made to the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] on the first cases of AIDS.

Dr. Gottlieb, obviously, has been treating HIV since the beginning. He has his own medical practice in Los Angeles. He’s one of my heroes. I’m honored to have him here, speaking to us about the first report that he made, and about his thoughts on the present and future of HIV research and access.