Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Red Ribbon Service Awards!

On Saturday night May 21st, 2016, the awards were announced and presented at the Red Ribbon Service Awards Gala sponsored by Janssen Pharmaceuticals which was held at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

It was a great occasion and you should mark your calendars for the 2017 awards Gala for May 20th 2017!

See who won this year’s awards

We are still open for donations to defray the cost of the event.

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Every 9 Minutes

Every 9 Minutes

As we approach World AIDS Day and I reflect upon where we are, what we have achieved, and what can still be done to help combat this disease, it remains that HIV/AIDS is a relevant factor in all of our lives and that EVERY 9 MINUTES someone NEW IS infected with the virus. Much still needs to be done to help battle the stigma, bias, and fear that many in our society still have. Yet here is what we do know for sure . . . if you are not HIV+ then there is no reason to become infected if you practice safe practices. Condom use, getting tested on a regular basis, using universal precaution measures in health settings, the testing of donated blood have been vitally important to decreasing the transmission of this disease. So the questions should now be “what are we not doing” and “how can we find ways to better reach the public to increase awareness, education and prevention”.


Many of the fears, biases and stigma associated with the disease are based upon the uncertainties associated with its early origins. This disease shook the health industry and community; so many of the attitudes associated with it are based upon those early fears and perceptions. Yet 30 plus years later and all of the amazing advances in not only treating this disease, but also in what is known to be true and what is known not to be true, the myths still persist. PREP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis) is a therapy that is showing great results in preventing new infections. Early education, prevention for youth and adults, and testing in all pre-natal and all emergency room settings has been instrumental in finding and treating new cases of HIV and reducing the spread of HIV.


If we don’t find ways to combat the stigma, bias, fear, and shame that continue to be associated with being HIV+, we will still have many becoming infected. The fact that many still living with this disease do not feel comfortable sharing with family, friends and loved ones is not acceptable. The fact that many will not share in their churches, employment or housing is not acceptable. The fact that many who are living with this disease fear being evicted from their homes, fired from their jobs, denied quality healthcare, rejection from their families, loved ones and friends is not acceptable. The fact that we still have so many that for whatever the reasons are living in fear is a statement about us as a society. If our places of worship are not places were those infected feel comfortable going and sharing, then where?


We, as the general public, can help eliminate many of those fears, biases and shame by becoming better educated. By understanding that HIV is not transmitted through drinking behind others, sharing plates, kissing, hugging or touching someone infected with the virus. It is not spread through the air or by touching someone. We, as a community, can also be of help to those infected by encouraging them to get into care, stay in care, and to take their medications. We can encourage our loved ones to get tested regularly, and support those who test positive. We can educate ourselves and help combat the unawareness shared by those lacking in knowledge. We can encourage our houses of worship to be more vocal in supporting those infected and be places of healing.


When combating HIV, education is key for everyone . . . those infected and those affected. We know that a person living with the disease that is in treatment and on medication is less than 4% likely to pass the disease on to others and 96% likely to pass on the disease if they are not in care. We know that with expanded Medicare in this state we could be treating many more, in a more effective manner. We know that for prevention and education policies that encompass the full range of policies from abstinence, to sex education helps to fully prepare our high school youth to navigate the difficult choices many of them may face and the severe consequences many can face by not knowing. We know that an educated community that gets tested on a regular basis is a healthier one and encouraging testing in the emergency rooms and all regular doctor visits can help in identifying those infected and getting them the proper referrals they need to stay healthy.


Let’s make the coming year one where Every 9 Minutes someone is preventing HIV instead of acquiring it!!

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Scientists identify markers on immune cells

Scientists identify markers on immune cells that ‘predict who can stop drug therapy and stay well’

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The way a patient’s immune system responds to HIV infection could offer clues as to whether they will go on to achieve remission after drug treatment, scientists have discovered.

The breakthrough sheds light on the phenomenon known as ‘post-treatment control’ – where the virus remains undetectable in some patients even after medication is stopped.

The findings could open new avenues for understanding post-treatment control of the virus, and ultimately the eradication of HIV, Dr John Frater said.

The Oxford University professor said: ‘Normally, if someone is being treated for HIV infection and they stop their medication, the virus can be detected back in the blood stream within days.

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Long-term HIV Remission Case Raises More Questions than Answers

A French teenager with HIV who has managed to maintain an undetectable viral load for 12 years without antiretroviral treatment was a major topic of discussion at the 8th International AIDS Society Conference last month in Vancouver. While no one is calling this case a cure, it does raise some interesting questions about “post-treatment control” and may provide clues about how to achieve a functional cure or long-term HIV remission.

Asier Saez-Cirion

Asier Saez-Cirion from the Institut Pasteur in Paris described the case at a media briefing during the conference, and at the annual “Towards a Cure” pre-conference symposium.

The young woman, who is now 18, was infected with HIV before or during birth. Because her mother, who was first seen during late pregnancy, had a high viral load at the time of delivery, the baby was given preventive zidovudine (AZT) soon after birth. After finishing six weeks of zidovudine, her viral load rose to a high level, confirming that she was in fact infected. She then started combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) for treatment at three months of age.

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Cancer Therapies Give Hope to HIV Cure Research, But Access is Limited

Scientists attempting to find an HIV cure have turned their attention to progress made in cancer therapy research and development in recent years. Cancer “immunotherapies” are agents that change immune system functioning in order to clear foreign, cancerous cells from the body. HIV researchers speculate that these same agents may be useful in helping the immune system clear HIV-infected “reservoir” cells that linger even in the body even with successful antiretroviral therapy. Research progress is dependent, however, on pharmaceutical companies that develop immunotherapy drugs investing in HIV cure research instead of—or in addition to—cancer research.

Steven Deeks, MD (Photo: UCSF)

“We believe—in our large virtual family of [HIV] cure researchers—that enhancing T cell function may in fact contribute to an HIV cure,” said Steven Deeks, MD, professor of medicine in residence at the University of California, San Francisco. “It’s our hope that immunotherapy—as it becomes well-characterized in the context of cancer including how to manage its toxicity—we will be able to, in a few years, translate it to the context of HIV infection.”

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