Big News: Temple University Researchers Make Another Breakthrough in Hunt for AIDS Cure

It’s not every day that I get to deliver news this cool: Back in 2014, researchers at Temple University developed the technology to edit human cells and “snip out” HIV DNA. Now, in a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers at Temple have taken that technology even further, honing in on CD4+ T-cells, the cells that serve as the primary hosts for HIV-1 DNA. Using blood from human patients infected with HIV, they found that their technology not only eliminated the virus from CD4+ T-cells but also protected the cells against reinfection. And it did all of this without causing any damage to the cells.

Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor. Read more »

NATIONAL NEWS: Hillary Clinton Apologizes — Again — for Her Nancy Reagan AIDS Remarks

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton elaborates on her “mistake” remarks on former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s AIDS history.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made headlines this weekend after praising late former First Lady Nancy Reagan for starting “a national conversation” on HIV/AIDS. That response was met with instant backlash from various LGBTQ organizations, including her political endorser the Human Rights Campaign, which found Clinton’s remarks inaccurate. Chad Griffin, HRC president, reminded supporters on Twitter that Reagan “was, sadly, no hero in the fight against HIV/AIDS.” Shortly after, Clinton issued a brief statement on how she “misspoke,” citing the Reagans’ work on stem-cell research, but not AIDS advocacy. She would later release a long post on Medium, saying “to be clear, the Reagans did not start a national conversation about HIV and AIDS. That distinction belongs to generations of brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, along with straight allies, who started not just a conversation but a movement that continues to this day.” Read more »

PHOTOS: AIDS Education Month Kicks Off With Opening Reception

This week, Philadelphia FIGHT kicked off its 21st annual AIDS Education Month (AEM) with an afternoon reception at the Independence Visitor Center. The event drew community leaders and local celebs, like CBS Philly’s Cherri Gregg, who was named an honorary chair of AEM 2015; Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack; and Mayor Nutter, who was there with the director of his Office of LGBT Affairs, Nellie Fitzpatrick.



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Teyana Taylor to Headline Philly FIGHT’s Hip Hop for Philly Concert

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

Local AIDS-fighting nonprofit Philadelphia FIGHT announced today that Harlem-born songstress Teyana Taylor will perform at the third annual Hip Hop for Philly concert on June 27th at the Trocadero Theater. The concert is free and open to youth aged 13 to 24 who receive a free HIV test at a handful of participating agencies (see those below).

Taylor just released her first studio album, VII, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart last November. She is signed to Kanye West‘s G.O.O.D. Music label, and was featured on his recent single “Dark Fantasy.” You may also recognize her from her roles in Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming and Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy FamilyOther acts scheduled to perform at the concert include dance troupe Project Positive, and rapper E-Hos.

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Philanthropy Friday: AIDS FUND

Every Friday we spotlight a local LGBT nonprofit in Philadelphia. This week: AIDS Fund, whose “mission is to raise awareness about the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic in our communities and to provide funds to HIV/AIDS service providers.”

robb

AIDS Fund Executive Director Robb Reichard

Who are you? Robb Reichard, executive director of AIDS Fund

When was AIDS Fund founded? AIDS Fund’s roots go back to 1987, when the first AIDS Walk in Philadelphia was produced by Penguin Place, the predecessor of the William Way Community Center. We were incorporated as an independent organization two years later.

The organization’s shining moment, to date? In 2011, to mark the 30th year of the epidemic, and the 25th annual AIDS Walk Philly, we produced “1981 – Until It’s Over … ” a multimedia exhibit of the local history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. It was very rewarding to present both the struggles and advances we have experienced as a community. The positive responses we received from individuals who were a part of that history were particularly gratifying. The project then took on a life of its own with the development of the “1981-Until It’s Over … ” Timeline, a walk through history of the AIDS epidemic. We display The Timeline at community events and at high schools, colleges and universities throughout the region.

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Piper Kerman to Speak at AIDS Education Month Event

Orange is the New Black memoirist Piper Kerman will speak at Philly's first End AIDS Conference. | Shutterstock.com

Orange is the New Black memoirist Piper Kerman will speak at Philly’s first End AIDS 2015 Conference. | Shutterstock.com

Philly HIV/AIDS nonprofit Philadelphia FIGHT has released the itinerary for its 21st annual AIDS Education Month (AEM). Taking place throughout June, the schedule includes all kinds of parties, panels and workshops geared toward increasing local awareness, and sharing up-to-date information about how to prevent and treat HIV.

The big news surrounding the monthlong event is the brand new End AIDS 2015 Conference, which effectively combines three AEM events: the HIV Prevention and Outreach Summit, the Prison Health Care and Reentry Summit, and the Faith Leaders and Community Summit. The conference will include 65 workshops and a plethora of speakers—perhaps the most notable of which is Piper Kerman, prison-reform activist and author of the memoir that birthed Netflix series Orange is the New Black.

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How Philly Doctors Are Saving the World

For our latest Top Doctors cover story, we went beyond the doctor’s office to the labs where Philadelphia-based researchers work to eradicate diseases that claim millions of lives each year. To read about their bold advances, scroll down or use these links to jump to a specific topic: Read more »

SeniorLAW Center to Honor LGBT/AIDS Activist David Fair in First-Ever “6 Over 60” Awards

David-FairYou’ve likely seen the lists recognizing the hard-earned (but usually warranted) accomplishments of young folks, whether its “30 under 30,” or the even more head-slapping “25 under 25,” but it’s not too often that we see similar lists recognizing the work of older folks. Maybe “60 under 60” seems like too daunting of a task, but SeniorLAW Center, a local nonprofit working to protect the legal rights and interests of the elderly, is making it simpler and giving it a shot in their brand new “6 Over 60” Awards.

The awards will be handed out next Thursday, May 14th, at a gala in the Crystal Tea Room of the Wanamaker Building. The honorees include a handful of senior go-getters who have done everything from advocate for kids and public education to serve on the Superior Court of Pennsylvania and, in the interest of our readers, fight for the rights of the LGBT and AIDS communities. The fellow being honored in that latter category is David Fair (pictured).

Fair has been working since the 1970s to carve out a safe space for Philadelphia’s LGBT community, with a particular focus on HIV/AIDS victims and the homeless. He founded the Philadelphia Gay Cultural Festival in the 1970s, the Philadelphia Lesbian and Gay Task Force in the ’80s, and, in the early-’90s, We the People Living With AIDS/HIV. More on the impact of those groups and his other accomplishments from SeniorLAW:

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Top LGBT HIV/AIDS Resources in Philadelphia

The Attic Youth Center

255 South 16th Street
215-545-4331, atticyouthcenter.org
The Attic creates opportunities for LGBTQ youth to develop into healthy, independent, civic-minded adults within a safe and supportive community, and promotes the acceptance of LGBTQ youth in society. It “offers various support and educational groups that promote safer sex messages and practices. The Attic also offers free, confidential, HIV testing and access to safer sex supplies.”

AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania

1211 Chestnut Street, Suite 600
215-587-9377, aidslawpa.org
Founded in 1988, this nonprofit law firm provides free legal help to those with HIV/AIDS and those affected by the epidemic. AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania provides legal assistance with HIV/AIDS discrimination, health confidentiality, HIV testing protocols, housing, and more, with an emphasis on “breaking the physical and linguistic barriers that often impede access to legal services.”

ActionAIDS

1216 Arch Street, 6th Floor
215-981-0088, actionaids.org
ActionAIDS provides medical case management, HIV testing, prevention education, supportive housing, HIV treatment as prevention, and volunteer services so that no one in the Philadelphia region has to face AIDS alone.

Bebashi-Transition of Hope

1217 Spring Garden Street
215-769-3561, bebashi.org
Bebashi-Transition of Hope works to provide healthcare information, direct services, education, research and technical assistance to reduce and eliminate HIV/AIDS and other health disparities within the urban community of Philadelphia and its vicinity.

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Magazine Cover Printed With HIV+ Blood to Combat Stigma

A men’s magazine out of Germany called Vangardist has printed the cover of its latest issue with ink infused with HIV-positive blood. The point of their decision is to combat the stigma associated with the disease.

“If you’re holding the ‘infected’ print edition in your hands right now, you’ll get into contact with HIV like never before … It will make you reflect on HIV and you will think differently afterward. Because now the issue is in your hands,” writes Vangardist publisher and CEO Julian Wiehl in a forward to the special edition, the front of which is emblazoned with the words “This magazine has been printed with the blood of HIV+ people.”

Canoe has more:

resize_then_crop_753_422Vangardist printed 3,000 special edition copies with the blood donated by three HIV-positive people, but it assures readers that handling the magazine poses no risk of infection. …

“We believe that as a lifestyle magazine it is our responsibility to address the issues shaping society today,” publisher and CEO Julian Wiehl said in a press release.

“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, this felt like a very relevant issue for us to focus on not just editorially but also from a broader communications standpoint,” Wiehl said.

The blood was donated by a 26-year-old gay man from Berlin, a recently diagnosed heterosexual man who wished to remain anonymous, and a 45-year-old mother who was infected 20 years ago by her then-husband who didn’t tell her he had HIV, CBS reported.

Pretty powerful message. Read the rest of Canoe’s piece here.

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