A Message From Our Founder: HAPPY NEW YEAR!


I just wanted to wish everyone a very Happy New Year! As you reflect on 2008 and prepare to step into 2009, please take a minute to remember all those who are suffering from
HIV/AIDS around the world, needing further treatment and resources. Keep in mind those who are still unaware of the magnitude of this crisis and are in need of further information. Here at Inaction Is Not An Option (INO), we've got BIG plans for 2009, including a ton of new content and articles, in addition to more HIV/AIDS awareness events and workshops as we continue on the mission to spread knowledge and education faster than the HIV infection. Furthermore, we will be consistent in our efforts to work with other organizations in order to provide information, treatment, and resources to those who are suffering and have no advocates. So INO will definitely be busy in the upcoming year!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read the blog. We appreciate all your feedback, so please continue to share it with us. We look forward to your continued readership and support in the New Year! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Julia Rock


According to a recent article by NBC29 (Virginia), the University of Virginia's Infectious Disease Clinic is testing a very unique text messaging program in order to improve the contact with HIV patients in the rural areas of Virginia. The program is described below.

The program launched last summer after a social worker saw that patients in less urban parts of the state were missing appointments and falling out of treatment.

In the program HIV patients are given a cell phone that only receives texts and can only call emergency and medical contacts. The goal is to see if they stay the course of treatment longer than six months.

In my opinion, a program like this should be monitored for success because if it IS successful, it can implemented around the country to improve contact with HIV patients who may need assistance in keeping appointments and maintaining their treatment.


An organization that has taken on the challenge of tackling both the crises of homelessness and HIV/AIDS is Housing Works, headquartered in New York City. Since 1990, Housing Works has been able to provide

lifesaving services, such as housing, medical and mental health care, meals, job training, drug treatment, HIV prevention education, and social support to more than 20,000 homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV and AIDS.
It is both the largest community-based AND the largest minority-controlled AIDS service organization in the United States. In addition, in order to pay for the many services it provides, Housing Works runs different social enterprise businesses.
Our best-known businesses are Housing Works Thrift Shops, a chain of upscale thrift shops located throughout New York City, and the Housing Works Bookstore Café, a used bookstore, literary hub and concert venue located in Soho in downtown Manhattan.
These businesses are able to bring in millions of dollars in revenue each year.

One of the services provided that has truly made a difference in the lives of Housing Works clients is Harm Reduction. According to the Housing Works website:
Harm reduction is a treatment approach that Housing Works uses to encourage our clients to reduce the harm that they may do to themselves or others through substance use and/or unsafe sexual practices. Harm Reduction focuses on practical tools—for example, the constant and regular use of new syringes and male and/or female condoms—as well as emotional ones: We empower our clients to understand the full impact of their actions on their loved ones and their community.

Source: Housing Works

Through the Harm Reduction approach, their clients are able to learn safer injection methods and exchange for clean needles, as well as learn about safer, healthier sex practices. This approach allows their clients to remain safe even if they are engaging in risky activities known to increase the risk of HIV transmission. Housing Works personnel have found that this method can have a better effect as compared to demanding that the persons they serve adopt sudden, unrealistic changes in behavior, such as quitting substance abuse "cold-turkey" or abruptly ending sexual activity. This helps to empower their clients, and it allows then to have an active role in managing their HIV and their own lives.

In essence, Housing Works continues to be a pioneer in the fight against HIV/AIDS and homelessness, consistently looking for ways to reinvigorate their programs to keep them relevant and consistent with their clients' needs.For more information about Housing Works and their different programs, please check out www.housingworks.org/services.

Source: Housing Works


First things first, get your emotions out! It's your life, so it's ok to be scared, nervous upset, disappointed, or downright angry. If you need to cry, scream, shout, or throw things, do it. It's only AFTER you've done all those things that you'll be able to "clearly" think about your next steps.

you are no obligation to deal with your result the same way as someone else; everyone reacts differently. You can choose to do nothing about it, if that's what works best for you. However, the HIV will not just go away if you ignore the diagnosis. Also, if you choose not to do anything, and you are sexually active, your risk of transmitting the virus is higher than if you were being treated. But no one can force you to act. If taking control of the situation seems like it's NOT the option for you, you can just carry on with your life.

On the other hand, you can
make the decision to take action. You can get information about the virus, how it affects the body, and what kind of treatment is available for you. The sooner you begin treatment, the better affect it will have in prolonging your lifespan. Once you come to grips with the disease and realize that it doesn't define who you are, you will be able to become more confident in yourself and make more informed choices for your future.

If you choose to take action, there are a few things that are essential:

1) Make sure to seek out a physician who is knowledgeable about and specifically trained in HIV care. This will ensure that you are prescribed the right kind of medication for your unique condition and receive accurate information regarding virus progression and treatment.
2) Seek out all forms of information regarding HIV - Speak with other who are infected and READ! The Internet and other media forms provide a plethora of educational resources for you to learn all you can. Soak it all in so that each of your next steps going forward will be well-informed.
3) Remember you are not ALONE. The Internet is filled with thousands of stories of individuals who have contracted the virus and the way they have been able to cope. You can also join support groups to surround yourself with individuals who will be able to identify with your situation and can provide useful advice.
4) ASK QUESTIONS! If you are unsure about the effects of the virus or the medication, seek professional help. It's your life, you have the right to all the answers you need.
5) A Positive HIV result is NOT a death sentence. As mentioned in earlier posts, your life with HIV will be what you make it. If you make the decision to get treatment, adopt a healthier lifestyle and keep a positive outlook, there is no reason why you can't live a rich, long life.

No matter which path you choose after receiving your positive results, remember it's YOUR path to choose. No one can pressure or force you to take or not to take action. Take your time, and think about what you believe is best for your. It's your life, you choose.


One organization that is making HUGE strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS, specifically in Africa, is Keep a Child Alive (KCA), a charity founded by Leigh Blake and nine-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys. According to the website, www.keepachildalive.org,

Keep a Child Alive is dedicated to providing life-saving anti-retroviral treatment, care and support services to children and their families with HIV/AIDS in Africa and the developing world by directly engaging the global public in the fight against AIDS.

Leigh Blake

Leigh Blake officially founded KCA in 2003. However, her involvement in the fight against AIDS began long before then. In the late 80s, as her career in the arts began to take off, Blake found she was losing her creative peers to AIDS. In 1989, she helped to found the Red Hot Organization, the seminal music industry initiative that raised funds for HIV/AIDS research and education by bringing together top artists such as David Byrne, Madonna, Annie Lennox, and U2. It was actually the proceeds from a Red Hot fundraiser that helped to lay the groundwork for KCA. For further details, read the following excerpt from the KCA website:

The seed of Keep a Child Alive was sown in Kenya in 2002. Royalties from Leigh Blake's previous fundraiser, Red Hot & Blue, built the AIDS Research and Family Care Clinic in Mombasa. A woman named Anne walked in to the clinic, desperate to obtain the anti-retroviral drugs her three-year-old son Brine needed to survive. At the time the medication's high cost was an impossible dream for most Africans to afford, and Leigh was so moved by this woman and her courage that she decided to pay for them.

Word of the children's desperate need for medication spread among Leigh's friends and colleagues, and soon they were offering to do the same. KCA Director Peter Edge became its first donor, and soon Alicia Keys passion for the issue drove her to become its first Global Ambassador.

What started as a very personal incident between two mothers has become a tremendous initiative for change. With around 3,000 children and family members on ARV treatment, over 45,000 people under our care, three orphanages receiving funding, and major clinic sites in expansion, Keep a Child Alive is making a direct impact in the lives of so many who need help.

Keep A Child Alive is only one of several organizations taking steps forward in the fight against AIDS. People of all races, backgrounds, and social positions have joined Leigh and Alicia to pool their resources and funds to provide life-saving medication for those affected in Africa with HIV/AIDS. It's important to keep these organizations in focus so that individuals will see that the fight, OUR fight, continues well past World AIDS Day on December 1.

For further information on KCA, check out www.keepachildalive.org

NEWSFLASH: HIV Can Penetrate a Woman's Healthy Genital Skin

In a recent article in HealthDay News, U.S. researchers explained that they have identified a new route of male-to-female transmission of HIV - a route in which HIV can travel through the healthy genital skin of a female to reach immune cells in just four hours.

Prior to this discovery, it had been believed that the normal lining of the vaginal tract was an effective barrier to HIV during sex, due to the idea that the large virus could not penetrate the tissue. Unfortunately however, researchers at Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University found that HIV can penetrate normal, healthy genital tissue to a point where it can get to immune cells and infect them.

In their experiment, the researchers were able to track the viruses, using flourescent tags, as they penetrated the outermost lining of the female genital tract in female human tissue obtained through hysterectomy and in animal models.

This finding highlights even further the need for consistent latex condom usage, given that healthy, unbroken genital tissue is not a true barrier to the virus. The good news is, if this finding is confirmed in future studies and research, it could help in the development of new microbicides and vaccines to protect women against HIV. Given that women now make up approximately 50% of all persons living around the world with HIV, finding more methods of prevention have become more critical than ever.

Source: Yahoo! News


Of all the regions of the world impacted by HIV/AIDS, none has been more devastated by this crisis than Sub-Saharan Africa. This is the area of the African continent that lies south of the Sahara desert. Of the 33 million people living with HIV/AIDS around the world, 22 million are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, of the 15 million orphans who lost their parents to AIDS, 11.5 million live in that region. In 2007, 1.5 million persons died from AIDS-related causes. During that same year, 68% of the global 2.7 million new HIV infections occurred in that region.

Some of the countries hardest in sub-Saharan Africa include South Africa
(5.7 million), Nigeria (2.6 million), Kenya (1.5-2.0 million), Mozambique (1.5 million), and Zimbabwe (1.3 million).

In looking at the primary methods of HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa, heterosexual intercourse remains the predominant method. In light of this fact, this region has also become home to the world's largest population of children living with HIV. Furthermore, in Demographic and Health Surveys in five African countries,
2/3 of the HIV-infected couples were found to be serodiscordant, meaning only one partner was infected. However, condom use was found to be rare in these couples. In fact, in Burkina Faso, one of the countries surveyed, 90% of the cohabiting couples said they DID NOT use condoms the last time they had sex.

Another mode of transmission that is an important factor is sex work, specifically in West Africa.
35% of female sex workers surveyed in 2006 in Mali were living with HIV. In Senegal and Burkina Faso, levels of infection exceeding 20% were documented among sex workers.

Staggering statistics like the above highlight the need for education and resources in this region. There are several organizations working to improve conditions in sub-Saharan Africa in regards to HIV/AIDS. With 22 million people living there with the disease, there is still plenty that can be done. Unfortunately, there will consistently be a need for funding, medication, counseling and education, and proper nutrition until we are able to get this pandemic under control.



Ready to see Inaction in action? On Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008, Julia Rock, founder of Inaction Is Not An Option, will be a guest speaker at "The Face of AIDS" event at the St. Marks Methodist Church in Harlem, NY. The event will be hosted by MMHighlights, a rising society & entertainment blog anchored by an exceptional avant-garde of young marketers whose expertise lie in integrated marketing communications. The purpose of the event is to help commemorate December as AIDS Awareness Month by providing information, literature, and entertainment to members of the Harlem community. The proceeds from "The Face of AIDS" event will be given to the Harlem 40 Youth program, which aids in helping Harlem youth strive for better futures through educational, professional, and social development initiatives. Click the image below for further details.

For further details, please contact mmhighlights@gmail.com. Even if you are unable to make it, please share this event with someone else. We want to spread awareness and education faster than the infection. Knowledge saves lives, so pass this on!


Of all the cities around the U.S. that are severely impacted by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, New York City tops the list. The City is home to approximately 99,000 persons that are living with HIV/AIDS, which is almost 10% of the total number of all individuals in the U.S. living with HIV/AIDS (1.1 million)*. Looking at the estimate by borough, Manhattan - 31%; Brooklyn - 25%; the Bronx - 22%; Queens - 14%, and Staten Island - 2%. Digging deeper by gender, men make up 70% of those living with HIV/AIDS; women make up the remaining 30%.

In terms of new infections, a recent study by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene showed that HIV is spreading in New York City at three times the national rate; an incidence of 72 new infections for every 100,000 people as compared to 23 per 100,000 nationally.

In 2006, an estimated 4,762 individuals became newly infected with HIV in New York City. Once again, looking at the estimates by borough, Manhattan accounted for 35% of all new infections; Brooklyn, 26%; the Bronx, 19%, and Queens, 17%.

Breaking down the statistics by gender, men accounted for approximately 75% of all new infections, with women making up the remaining 25%. From a racial standpoint, Blacks made up 46% of the new infections, Hispanics 32%, and Whites coming in third with 21%. However, these statistics quite disproportionate to the actual racial make-up of the city. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, White made up 44% of New York City's population, while Blacks and Hispanics were about the same at roughly 27% for each.

New York City has always been known for its diverse cultures, eclectic tastes, and broad horizons. Many people come to New York in search of a new home, new career, or an overall fresh start. However, as we've seen through the statistics above, New York is also a city that's in peril when it comes to HIV/AIDS. Even though there is an abundance of work being done in the city to combat the spread of this deadly pandemic, this information shows that there is, unfortunately, still so much left to do.

*All statistics are as of 2006
**Sources: NY Times, NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene