NEWSFLASH: House Adopts AHF Stimulus Funding Proposal for HIV Testing and Prevention

The U.S. House of Representatives has adopted the proposal of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to appropriate $300 million for HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, and services in the pending economic stimulus legislation.

Yesterday, the Democratic leadership of Congress proposed $355 million for domestic HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, STD and prevention programs as part of a $3 billion Prevention and Wellness Fund to prevent diseases and to reduce future healthcare costs. The funding proposal is included in the House of Representatives’ American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. The legislation is a cornerstone of the economic recovery efforts being championed by President-elect Obama who is working closely with Congress to implement an effective and durable program for economic recovery nationwide.

Earlier in the week, a coalition of AHF nurses, AIDS patients, and medical providers from Florida made their way to Washington to lobby Congress on Capitol Hill to include funding for HIV testing in the economic stimulus package. The specifics are as follows:

The visiting Florida delegation lobbied for funding for an expansion of the current Centers for Disease Control (CDC) HIV testing program to do over three million HIV tests in the next two years in order to find the 60,000 plus people currently infected with HIV but who don’t know it. AHF estimates that doing so will prevent at least 6,000 new infections, ultimately saving the government billions of dollars in medical costs.

This is a HUGE success in the fight against containing this infection, educating the public, and finding methods of prevention. As our previous post mentioned, the number of new STD cases has reached record levels. The CDC has also revised its estimate of new HIV infections in the U.S. to 56,000 per year, up from the previously reported 40,000 per year. It is important that we keep national and global focus on HIV/AIDS and other STDs and the need for increased education, testing, and assistance. It is a further step forward to have Congress sign off on new funding which can help meet those needs.

Source: AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF)

NEWSFLASH: Cases of sexually spread diseases on the rise

This NewsFlash is not limited to HIV, but it is extremely important nonetheless.

On Tuesday, government officials stated that the cases of sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise after years of consistent decline. Cases of chlamydia, one of the more common sexually transmitted diseases, are at a record high. According to the CDC, 1.1 million cases of chlamydia were reported in 2007.

Chlamydia can be symptomless and lead to infertility in women. In fact, at least 15,000 women become infertile every year due to untreated chlamydia and gonorrhea infections, says Dr. John M. Douglas Jr., director of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention.

Officials say that the increase in chlamydia can partly be explained by increased testing and better screening. But these current numbers translate to a rate of 370 cases per 100,000 people in 2007, which is an increase of 7.5% from 2006.

However, the reported cases are just a part of the picture. Health officials believe that approximately 2.8 million Americans get chlamydia each year.

Many people don't take chlamydia seriously because it is curable through a regimen of antibiotics. But contrary to popular belief, it is something to pay attention to. As mentioned above, it can cause infertility in women if left untreated. Also, when you have an STD/STI like chlamydia or gonorrhea, it makes you more susceptible to other infections, such as HIV. So if you are sexually active, please make sure that you are being tested for all STIs, not just HIV. Encourage your partner(s) to do the same. You want to ensure that both of you are maintaining physical and sexual health to avoid complications later on.


Some of you may have noticed the "INSPI(RED)" banner in the upper right corner of this page, but probably had no idea what it was for or what it meant. Or you may have visited our MySpace page,, and saw the background with the (RED) theme and wondered, "What is it?"

[(RED) is] a business model designed to create awareness and a sustainable flow of money from the private sector into the Global Fund, to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. Consumers buy (PRODUCT) RED, and at no cost to them, money is sent directly to the Global Fund, an international financing insitution that invests global monies in the fight against AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.

This initiative was first announced in 2006 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It was created by U2 frontman Bono and Bobby Shriver to further engage the private sector against the global fight against AIDS in Africa. After they worked together to set up DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) to secure cash flow from the public sector to the Global fund, they saw the need for increased private funding.

Here's how (RED) works:

Established brands partner with us and license the (PRODUCT) RED mark to create (PRODUCT) RED products and services. (PRODUCT) RED partners send a portion of the profits made on (PRODUCT) RED products directly to the Global Fund, to fight AIDS in Africa. The consumer does not pay extra for this. (RED) never handles this money – it is sent directly to the Global Fund.

A licensing fee for use of the (PRODUCT) RED mark is charged to manage and market the (RED) brand. This fee is paid by (PRODUCT) RED partners, and does not infringe on the amount of money they send to the Global Fund via sales of (PRODUCT) RED items.

As you can probably tell from the pictures, many well-known brand names have signed on to partner with (PRODUCT) RED including: American Express (UK only), Apple, Dell, Emporio Armani, Gap, and Starbucks. It's also important to note that these brands have not made the (RED) products more expensive than their regular items. So it's of no real extra cost to you to purchase a Gap shirt as compared to an ordinary shirt from their rack. The companies pay the extra to be in partnership, but they don't transfer the cost to you. So if you are a patron for any of these brands, it doesn't hurt to purchase a (PRODUCT) RED product. While getting a great fashionable item or accessory, you'll be able to donate to the Global Fund to continue the fight against AIDS and help to save lives.

Interested in learning more about (RED) and where to get (PRODUCT) RED items? Visit or check them out on MySpace at

Source: (RED)


That's right, INO's got a new URL! For those of you who may have been introduced to the site through the URL, we've got good news. You can now save yourself a couple of seconds by using our shorter url, For those of you who have become quite attached to the Blogspot address, it will continue to function so you can still use it.

Also, if there is a specific topic that you'd like us to cover here on the blog, we want to hear from you! E-mail your ideas to, and we'll do our best to post them here. If you would like to provide private feedback, you're welcome to email that as well. Thanks, and keep reading! Knowledge and action are what we need to stop this disease!

NEWSFLASH: Circumcision May Cut Risk of HIV and HPV

According to an article published by Reuters last month, there is now evidence that circumcision, which is the process of surgically removing the foreskin covering the head of a man's penis (usually at birth), can protect men from HIV and human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer in women, as well as genital warts. It is the most common of all sexually transmitted infections in the world.

Three studies were published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases presenting the evidence.

In the first report, Dr. Bertran Auvert of the University of Versailles in France and some colleagues in South Africa tested over 1200 men visiting a South African clinic. His team found that under 15% of the circumcised men as compared to 22% of uncircumcised men were infected with HPV.

"This finding explains why women with circumcised partners are at a lower risk of cervical cancer than other women," they wrote in their report.

The second study looking at U.S. men had less clear-cut results, but according to Carrie Nielson of Oregon Health & Science University and her colleagues, there was some indication that circumcision may protect men. The circumcised men were about half as likely to have HPV as the uncircumcised men, after adjustment was made for other difference between the groups.

The final study dealt with HIV. Lee Warner of the CDC and his colleagues tested Black men in Baltimore and discovered that only 10% of those at high risk of becoming infected that were circumcised had HIV, as compared to 22% of those were not circumcised.

"Circumcision was associated with substantially reduced HIV risk in patients with known HIV exposure, suggesting that results of other studies demonstrating reduced HIV risk for circumcision among heterosexual men likely can be generalized to the U.S. context," they wrote.

Previously, studies supporting circumcision to reduce HIV transmission had all been done in Africa. Most of the U.S. studies had been unclear.

In commentary, Dr. Ronald Gray of Johns Hopkins University and a team of colleagues, who were encouraged by the findings, said the following:

"In the United States, circumcision is less common among African American and Hispanic men, who are also the subgroups most at risk of HIV....Thus, circumcision may afford an additional means of protection from HIV in these at-risk minorities."

But they highlighted the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend routine circumcision for newborns.

"As a consequence of this AAP decision, Medicaid does not cover circumcision costs, and this is particularly disadvantageous for poorer African American and Hispanic boys who, as adults, may face high HIV exposure risk," Gray and his colleagues wrote.

They also noted the fact that "circumcision rates have been declining in the U.S., possibly because of lack of Medicaid coverage."

For further information on HPV, visit

Source: MSNBC


A nurse educator at Rutger's University's College of Nursing is piloting a unique method of spreading the message of safe sex: cell phone soap operas. Yep, you heard right. According to an article by the Associated Press, the purpose is "to use short videos to go beyond pamphlets on safe sex and deliver the message to women who might otherwise tune it out."

The article goes on to explain that Rachel Jones developed this education campaign using professional actors and scripts based on focus groups with women in Newark and Jersey City. She filmed a series of 12 "soap opera vignettes" using a grant from a Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey. She also received a $2MM grant from the National Institutes of Health to test the effectiveness of the campaign.

Jones said, "Women who watched the first pilot were getting upset, angry, exacerbated.....Women really saw themselves in that video. We're really resonating with urban contemporary themes that we believe are relevant to women.......What we believe will happen is that knowledge alone is not effective at changing behaviors.. We believe that women in the community will so identify with heroines in the story their own behaviors will change as well."

Rachel Jones

Women in the federal study will watch the 20-minute episodes on their cell phones. Their risk-reduction behavior will be measured against a control group that will receive text messages urging condom use, but no video. A total of 250 women will participate.

The scripts feature "nitty gritty stories of risk and risk reduction" that women can identify with, she said, adding that cell phone viewing ensures privacy and offers the viewer the chance to watch again and again as desired.

Jones has dedicated her career to reducing HIV/AIDS among young, urban Black and Latina women, the two ethnic groups with the highest levels of infection. Part of her focus for this campaign is to hopefully change behavior among these groups of women.
"I had very bright, wonderful patients who would come to me again and again with sexually transmitted infections," she said. She said the women understood that they were being exposed to HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, but engaged in unprotected sex anyway; even those who knew they weren't in monogamous relationships didn't insist their partners wear condoms."We have to normalize condom use," she said.
The plan is if the soap opera campaign is effective, Jones and her team will dedicate their efforts to mass distributing the DVDs with the soap opera videos. We look forward to positive results from the campaign. Should more women adopt the idea for consistent condom usage, that would drastically reduce the rate at which HIV is transmitted, especially among Black and Hispanic women.

For further information on this new campaign and a description of the actual soap opera, check out the full article:


In some of our previous posts, you've heard me refer to HIV medication as antiretrovirals or ARVs. Some of you may be wondering exactly what they are and how they help treat the HIV infection. Well, let's take a look:

What are ARVs? As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), antiretroviral drugs or antiretrovirals inhibit the replication of HIV. The aim of this drug treatment is to keep the HIV in an infected person's body at a low level. Unfortunately, ARV treatment is not a cure, and the drugs must be taken everyday for life in order to maintain the effectiveness.

How do they work? Usually ARVs are taken in combination, or more than one at a time. The reason is HIV is a persistent virus, and if only one drug was taken as treatment, the virus would quickly build up resistance and render the drug useless. Note: Taking three or more ARVs at a time can also be referred to as Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART). With a combination of ARVs, the rate that the HIV resistance would develop is drastically reduced. This delays the HIV replication of itself, and in turn, the immune system deterioration. Effective ARV treatment helps to prolong the life of an infected individual, slowing the illness and allowing a better quality of life and health.

How many different types of ARVs are there? According to the AIDS charity AVERT, there are now more than 20 approved antiretroviral drugs, and 5 different classes into which the ARVs are grouped.

ARVs has been able to sustain millions of lives around the world, however there are still millions more who are in desperate need of this life-saving medication.

For further information on the different types of ARVs and how they work, be sure to check out

Sources: AVERT, WHO


On Tuesday, Dec. 30, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) said that they have approved a new HIV blood test that screens for two of the less common strains of the virus.

The TaqScreen MPX Test is the first test of its kind to simultaneously detect HIV-2 and HIV-1 Group O strains. Both of these forms of HIV have mainly been found in African patients, but the FDA now explains that they have been recently detected here in the U.S.

In addition to its ability to detect HIV-2 and HIV-1 Group O strains, this MPX test also screens for the most common strains of HIV as well as hepatitis.

The test is specifically designed to screen for infectious diseases in human blood and tissue samples from donors. In a statement, FDA division chief Jesse Goodman said the following:

Blood donor testing laboratories will be able to use nucleic acid technology to screen for additional HIV strains, further assuring that donated blood and tissue are free from infection."
For further information on the approval of the TaqScreen MPX test, check out the FDA approval letter:

Source: MSNBC