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This weekly resource is committed to providing our HIV-positive community with relevant, newsworthy and meaningful information.

Volunteers Work Magic

Volunteers Work Magic

Volunteer Recognition event - a magical soiree

"Volunteers Work Magic" is the theme of this years POSITIVE LIVING BC event to recognize the amazing contribution by its volunteers.

  • When: 5.30pm, Thursday, April 26th
  • Where: Chateau Granville, 1100 Granville Street (@ Helmcken), Vancouver

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Oral Health Care

Canadian Treatment Action Council

Join an afternoon session to pilot test the Canadian Treatment Action Council's new Tools for Access workshop entitled Oral Health Care and People Living with HIV and HIV/Hepatitis Co-infection.

The workshop addresses the oral health care needs of people living with HIV and co-infection, the dental care treatment access issues they face, and consults with participants on policy options to address them.

  • When: 1.00pm, Friday, 30 Marchth

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Average Joe's - Lazer Tag

Lazer Tag

Come and join other HIV poz  gay guys at Lazer Tag.

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HIV and AIDS: then and now

Dr. Julio Montaner, clinical director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

Canada’s leading AIDS research centre is marking 20 years of pioneering lifesaving breakthroughs as it changes the face of HIV and AIDS in BC and the rest of the world.

Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) at St. Paul’s Hospital, says the centre has been at the forefront in revolutionizing the management of the disease since it opened March 16, 1992.

The state of HIV-AIDS treatment and research in the province today is a far cry from the dark and difficult days of late 1980s and early 1990s, he says.

While St. Paul’s took steps to help these people out, the rest of the healthcare community was a bit unwilling to commit to these kinds of services,” Montaner says. “The stigma our patients felt in those days was quite palpable.

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Centre saved renowned artist’s life

Vancouver artist Tiko Kerr

Vancouver artist Tiko Kerr says he’s lucky and thankful to be alive. He tested positive for HIV in Sydney, Australia, in 1985 when he was 32 years old.

My doctor told me to go home and put my estate in order,” he said. “And I did.

When he got back, he was surprised to learn the fate of his friends who were living with the deadly disease. “Everyone was dropping like flies,” he said. “All my friends from that generation are dead now.

With the advancements in HIV-AIDS treatment, Kerr said he’s “totally fine and healthy” now at 58. “I’ve been given my life back,” he added. “I don’t have side effects from the pills, which was a huge problem for many years. I literally feel like I’m 25 years old again.

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Pivot Legal Society explores Charter challenge against Abbotsford's harm reduction ban

Barry Shantz of the BC/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors

The City of Abbotsford is facing a potential legal challenge to its anti-harm reduction bylaw on the basis it violates individuals' Charter rights.

The Pivot Legal Society in Vancouver is exploring a legal argument that asserts Abbotsford doesn't have the right to deny people access to medical services, said lawyer Scott Bernstein. The 2005 Abbotsford bylaw bans harm reduction facilities such as needle exchanges or injection sites in all zones of the city.

"My sense is there's an issue when zoning bylaws attempt to regulate health care in a municipality," said Bernstein. "[The city] is overstepping its boundaries. It is exercising improper authority by denying a certain type of health care to a certain class of people."

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Dining out for life

Dining Out for Life

If you plan on eating out for breakfast, lunch or dinner March 29, make sure it's at a restaurant participating in Dine Out For Life.

From Whistler to White Rock, more than 250 restaurants are taking part in Dine Out, so it shouldn't be hard to find what you're looking for. Participating restaurants donate 25 per cent of their proceeds from the day.

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Keeping safe

Nak'azdli Drum Group

A conference last week aimed at those on the front lines working with vulnerable people in the community hopes to keep people a bit safer.

With “HIV facts” posted on the wall declaring things like “every year as many as 4,500 people in Canada are infected with HIV” and “74 per cent of new HIV infections in 2006 were among aboriginal people,” the motivation for the conference was literally written on the wall.

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Many HIV patients sexually abused as children

A study of hundreds of adult HIV patients found that a quarter of them were sexually abused as children.

The findings surprised Duke University researchers, who examined the health of 600 people between the ages of 20 and 71 who are infected with HIV.

More than half of those studied had experienced physical or sexual abuse during their lifetime. Half of them had experienced three or more significant traumas in their lifetime, such as witnessing domestic violence, losing a child or witnessing a parent's suicide.

What's more, those who'd been through psychological traumas such as these were more likely to be in poorer health. They missed doses of medication, had unprotected sex and visited the emergency room more often.

"For whatever outcome we looked at, psychological trauma ended up being a predictor of worse medical outcomes and poorer health-related behaviours," lead author Brian Pence said.

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Trauma drives HIV epidemic in women

Physical violence, sexual abuse and other forms of childhood and adult trauma are major factors fueling the epidemic of HIV/AIDS among American women.

Scientists have known for years that traumatized women are at greater risk of becoming infected. Now, two new studies from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Harvard Medical School demonstrate that a high rate of trauma among women already infected with HIV also plays a role in the epidemic.

The work may help to reframe many types of discussions about HIV/AIDS so that more clinicians take trauma into account when working with their patients.

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Teenagers born with HIV tell of life under society's radar

Clive was nine years old when he discovered he was HIV positive.

The devastating news that his mother, doctors and support workers had spent years preparing to break to him in the gentlest manner possible, was blurted out by a careless receptionist at his local hospital.

"My mum had bought me to see the doctor because I had earache, and this woman just read it out loud from my notes as she was typing my details into the computer," says Clive, who celebrated his 18th birthday last week. "I remember standing there, with my mother's hand around mine, as these feelings of complete confusion and fear washed over me."

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Drug holiday for HIV kids can be done safely

It's safe to interrupt HIV treatment for children, but only if they were placed on initial therapy before the virus could damage their immune systems.

One study gave the final results of the long-running CHER trial. The primary finding of CHER was that treating infants as soon as they are diagnosed - often within a few weeks of birth - offers better outcomes than waiting until they show signs of a failing immune system.

A second question posed by the researchers was whether treatment can safely be stopped for any reason after it is started.

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'It is their passing that keeps me going'

A. Toni Young watched five of her closest friends die of AIDS in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Each of them was profound in its own way, but it was her best friend Steven’s question in the last days of his life that would change hers.

He asked me, ‘What if this was you?’” remembered Young.

In the late 1980s HIV was still thought of as a gay man’s disease and resources almost exclusively supported infected white men. Despite his frail state, Steven had assistance. But women and people of color had little such help and Steven thought Young should do something about it.

Even though Young joked that it was “messed up” for him to do that to her, his challenge motivated her.

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Native Americans demand to be included in US HIV prevention plans

6th Nationalk Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day - 20th March 2012

On March 20, 2012, the 6th annual National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians across the U.S. challenge individuals, health providers, and government agencies to raise awareness about the impact of HIV in Native communities.

As health departments move forward in implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy released in June 2010, Native American health workers are finding their communities are being left out of local HIV prevention plans.

The trend across the country is to focus HIV prevention resources on the populations prioritized at the national level, which doesn't include Native people,” said Pamela Jumper-Thurman, a senior research scientist with Colorado State University’s CA7AE project.

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'The Announcement': How Magic Johnson deals with HIV/AIDS 20 years later

Magic Johnson

Today, 52-year-old Earvin "Magic" Johnson still wears a big smile everywhere he goes.

The former Los Angeles Lakers All-Star point guard, who won five NBA Championships and three MVP Awards in his 12 years in the league, is now an ESPN analyst, a broadcaster, an entrepreneur, and a philanthropist.

If you didn't already know that Johnson shook the world 20 years ago when he announced he had contracted the HIV virus, you would never believe, just by looking at him, that he still struggles with the disease today.

On Sunday night an ESPN Films documentary aired, directed by filmmaker Nelson George about Magic Johnson and the events leading up to his announcement on Nov. 7, 1991, that he had contracted the HIV virus and would retire from the game of basketball.

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HIV risk 29 times higher among Asian sex workers

Women engaged in sex trade in most developing countries, are nearly 14 times more likely to get infected by HIV compared to general women population, a new study has claimed.

The research, an analysis of over 100 studies involving nearly 100,000 female sex workers in 50 low and medium-income countries, found that overall prevalence of HIV in these women was 12 percent.

In 26 countries deemed to have a high HIV prevalence, the researchers found that about 31 per cent of female sex workers were HIV positive and they were 12 times more likely to be infected than women from the general population.

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New HIV cases increased in Russia in 2011

About 62,000 people were diagnosed with HIV in Russia in 2011, which is five percent more than in the previous year, the country’s chief sanitary doctor said on Monday.

The epidemic is increasingly “feminized,” with women accounting for more than 50 percent of all newly diagnosed HIV carriers in 13 regions.

Drug use remained the main transmission route for the disease, with contaminated needles accounting for 57 percent of all infections. Russia has an estimated 5 million drug addicts, a situation blamed mostly on cheap heroin from Afghanistan.

But sexual contact, mostly heterosexual, was gaining in prominence, with almost 40 percent of the people contracting HIV in 2011 having done so through sex, a 4.5-percent increase over the past three years.

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UK site to let users find and recommend best HIV services

The UK’s first service for people living with HIV that allows them to recommend healthcare providers to others and find recommended services themselves has been launched.

The initiative by HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust and healthcare recommendation site iWantGreatCare will enable people living with HIV to find and recommend healthcare services that are sensitive to their needs.

A 2008 study found that one in five people with HIV had experienced discrimination in the last year from GPs or other healthcare professionals.

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UK HIV charity urges patients to rate doctors to challenge 'discrimination'

One of the UK's biggest HIV charities is encouraging patients to anonymously rate named GPs online in a bid to signpost ‘HIV friendly' practices and help patients avoid ‘discrimination', after signing a landmark deal with the GP ratings site iWantGreatCare.

The collaboration with the Terrence Higgins Trust, which provides services to over 50,000 people a year, is the first in a series of agreements iWantGreatCare hopes to sign with charities, as it looks to expand the reach of its site.

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Computer simulations help explain why HIV cure remains elusive

A new research report appearing in the March 2012 issue of the journal Genetics shows why the development of a cure and new treatments for HIV has been so difficult.

In the report, an Australian scientist explains how he used computer simulations to discover that a population starting from a single human immunodeficiency virus can evolve fast enough to escape immune defenses. These results are novel because the discovery runs counter to the commonly held belief that evolution under these circumstances is very slow.

"I believe the search for a cure for AIDS has failed so far because we do not fully understand how HIV evolves," said Jack da Silva, Ph.D., author of the study from the School of Molecular and Biomedical Science at the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia.

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The downside of online dating: more STD's

The growing spread of sexually transmitted disease in Canada may be at least partly the result of the Internet dating boom, and the rapid intimacy that can develop before online couples even meet, some public-health experts say.

The phenomenon seems particularly relevant to middle-aged and older people, who appear to be flooding to dating websites, and are generally less apt to practise safe sex, suggest some analysts.

By the time you meet and start having sexual activity, perhaps you have this sense that you’re really comfortable and you know this person well,” said Pam Krause, executive director of the Calgary Sexual Health Centre. “So there’s no need to negotiate safer sex.

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Porn films: Best way to promote safe sex among gay men?

Public health officials recommended early in the AIDS epidemic that HIV-prevention education be targeted and explicit, using language and images familiar to those it is intended to reach.

Controversy has swirled ever since over what, exactly, is meant by "explicit" prevention education and who should pay for it.

Prevention educators recognized early on the potential of sexually explicit media (also known as porn) to provide instruction in the mechanics of safe sex and, they hoped, increase the use of condoms and practice of safe sex among gay and bisexual men.

In the late 1980s, Boston's AIDS Action Committee attempted to produce a safe sex film featuring porn star Al Parker. Cindy Patton, who today teaches sociology at Simon Fraser University, in Vancouver, worked on the project.

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Exhibit of AIDS posters at UR

AIDS education poster that was displayed in Montreal

Almost all schoolchildren learn about AIDS during health class now.

But 30 years ago, when scientists first identified Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrom and the HIV virus that causes it, misinformation was rampant. And public health officials wanted the word out.

Posters were on subways, on college campuses, anywhere where safe sex could be promoted.

Dr. Edward Atwater, a professor emeritus at the University of Rochester Medical Center, has collected these posters and other awareness information since 1990. So far, he has amassed more than 6,200 pieces.

“I’m a collector by nature,” Atwater says. “But I started to collect because of the history of medicine — and these are artifacts of medicine. But I do believe (the posters) are more social history.”

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