Activists Arrested Protesting Federal Funding Ban on Syringe Exchange Programs

Funding Ban on Syringe Exchange Programs

Video posted on Vimeo by Housing Works.

Dozens of AIDS and harm reduction activists were arrested  after holding sit-in protests in four U.S. Senators’ offices. House Speaker  John Boehner (R-OH), and Representatives Denny Rehberg (R-MT), Mike Rogers  (R-MI) and Eric Cantor (R-VA) were targeted for their role in reinstating the  ban on federal funding for syringe exchange programs last December. Activists  entered the offices chanting and carrying signs that read “Syringe Exchange: A  Fix for AIDS” before they were arrested.

This demonstration was just one of many that took place  around the country on March 21 as a way to pressure Congress to remove the ban  on federal funding for syringe exchange once and for all.

“Our government should be embarrassed as this year’s host of  the International AIDS Conference to have snuck this into an unrelated bill  under the cloak of night last December,” said Charles King, CEO of Housing  Works, Inc. “The U.S. cannot be any shining example to the rest of the world on  how to end the AIDS epidemic when we’re still fighting foolish policies that  reject what we know works.”

Congress reinstated the ban as part of a spending bill it  passed to fund the federal government through fiscal year 2012, which ends  September 30, 2012. The ban on federal funding for syringe exchange was  originally adopted in 1989 but had been lifted in 2009. Without any discussion  or debate, the language was slipped into the spending bill by GOP Senators, and  was not objected to.

An overwhelming consensus of research proves that providing  clean syringes to injection drug users is a highly effective way to prevent the  spread of HIV and hepatitis C, and is credited with reducing the rate of new  HIV infections among injection drug users (IDUs) by 80%. Additional research  shows that syringe exchange programs neither increase the number of injection  drug users nor the long-term health care costs for the medical needs of people  with HIV and/or hepatitis C.

The latest study by the Centers for Disease Control and  Prevention (CDC) shows that while overall new HIV infections through  intravenous drug use have fallen by half over the last decade, one-third of  IDUs say they share needles. Ramping up funding for syringe exchange programs  makes more sense now than ever.

Many of the groups participating in the action are  organizing under the banner of the We Can End AIDS Coalition, which is planning  a massive mobilization in D.C. on July 24th.

For the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC) studies of syringe exchange programs in the U.S., click here and here.

To see the list of cities that participated in the Syringe  Exchange Day of Action, click here.

To find out more about the We Can End AIDS Coalition,  visit


Anti-Bullying Advocates Plead for Rating Change

Parents and teenagers who appear in the documentary  “Bully” met with former Senator Chris Dodd, now the head of the  Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), to plead with him to change the  film’s R rating, according to a report in The  Hill. Dodd organized a screening of the film in the MPAA Washington  offices. Harvey Weinstein, the film’s producer, echoed those pleas, saying,  “The reason everyone wants the PG-13 is so kids can see the movie  themselves.”

“Bully” chronicles the emotional and physical  suffering caused by bullying experienced by several middle and high-school  students. The MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration assigned the film  an R rating because the F-word is used several times in dialogue. The R rating  means children under 17 cannot see the film without a parent or guardian. The  filmmakers officially appealed the rating, saying that the film offers an important  message to children younger than 17, but the MPAA’s appeals board denied the  motion.

A study  published last year in the Journal  of School Health showed that LGBT youth who had been bullied were “2.5 times more likely to have been diagnosed with a  sexually transmitted disease, and nearly four times more likely to report risk for  HIV infection, compared with peers who reported low levels of school  victimization.”

The group lobbying for the rating change included David  Long, who is in the film and whose 17-year-old son committed suicide after  relentless bullying; Katy Butler, a Michigan teenager who has gathered more  than 300,000 signatures for a petition urging a rating change; and Kelby  Johnson, a transgender teen who appears in the film.

When Dodd suggested that the filmmakers should either  release the film without a rating or edit out the cursing, director Lee Hirsch said  that editing the language is not an option.

“Our reality is not censored,” said Kelby  Johnson.



Legislation (Election) Watch

By Sue Saltmarsh

On March 20, Illinois voters went to the polls to decide  several primary races, including the Republican presidential race (Romney won).  On the same day, Congress continued to debate the highway jobs bill and  Republican Paul Ryan of Wisconsin prepared to unveil his second budget proposal  in which Medicare and Medicaid would be targeted for destruction.

Throughout Illinois “robo-calls” (computer-dialed, taped  messages) were being made for the candidates. One of them is of specific  interest to the LGBT community. You can hear it here. It is  one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do to bite my tongue about this. If  you’re interested, you can read what I would’ve said at my personal blog.

Good news from the primary—Illinois State representative  Kelly Cassidy of the Viagra bill won her race against challenger Paula Basta,  Tammy Duckworth will run against Tea Partier Joe Walsh in the 8th  district and Dr. David Gill, an outspoken single-payer advocate, won his downstate  primary against Democratic machine-supported Matt Goetten for the Congressional  seat of the 13th district. He has been invited to DUH.

For now, everyone please pay attention to the Ryan  budget and start the phone calls and emails flooding in. If you need help  figuring out who your elected representatives are, or how to contact officials  who are outside your district, click here.


MIRC Support Group 3/20 upcoming meeting

Positive Mind & Body Support Group Network




Midway Immunology & Research Center (MIRC)


Cordially invites you to an

Evening Dinner

Amongst Friends


Tuesday, March 21, 2012


Topic: Hep C & HIV/AIDS


Genentech – Jeannie Macaluso

Hepatitis C Specialist

6:00 – 6:30pm Dinner

6:3pm – 7:30pm Presentation

7:45pm – 8:30pm – Closed Meeting







Midway Immunology & Research Center (MIRC)

356 East Midway Road

Fort Pierce, FL  34982


For additional details regarding this meeting you may also contact:

Positive Mind & Body Support Group Network

“A Positive Life is a Sound Mind & Body”


 (772) 563-2503 – (772)453-1067   

Bionor Pharma’s Vaccine Research Moves Forward

Swiss pharmaceutical company Bionor Pharma announced on  February 15 that researchers have completed a final review of the company’s  lead therapeutic HIV vaccine, Vacc-4x, and its ability to reduce HIV viral  load compared to placebo. These final conclusions from  the Phase 2b, placebo-controlled, double-blind, international, multicenter  trial confirm initial findings of a statistically significant difference in  viral load set point between Vacc-4x and placebo groups at the end of the  study. The full results in addition to the final review of the immunological  assessment are being prepared for publication in an international peer reviewed  journal.

Researchers from the Ragon Institute, Harvard, and MIT  published findings in 2011 confirming the existence of conserved regions on p24,  a core protein of HIV, and emphasizing their potential as targets for an HIV  vaccine. Bionor had identified these domains over a decade earlier, and began  developing the vaccine based on these findings. Today Bionor’s Vacc-4x is the  most studied immunotherapeutic product targeting p24.

Vacc-4x is designed to generate immune responses to  conserved domains of p24 that are common to all strains of HIV. Sustained  immune responses to p24 have previously been shown to delay HIV disease  progression.

 Final review of Phase 2b data confirms a statistically  significant 64% reduction of viral load “set point” (average of the last two  viral load measurements before the end of the study) in patients receiving  Vacc-4x compared to those given placebo, indicating a possible new option for  patients and doctors. The HIV viral load set point in patients given Vacc-4x  was 60% lower than the level before starting with standard antiretroviral  treament, or ART. In the placebo group, no change compared to pre-ART was  observed.

“These final results confirm that Vacc-4x lowers viral  load in patients with HIV who have remained off ART for at least six  months,” said Vidar Wendel-Hansen, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer, Bionor  Pharma, “and suggests a correlation between this effect and the vaccine-induced  immune responses to p24.”

Based on the conclusive Phase 2b data, Bionor is studying  several paths to guide the direction towards a Phase 3 pivotal trial, the final  study before regulatory review and market entry:

  • Vacc-4x       revaccination of patients from the phase 2b study, to further reduce the       viral load set point (planned study 1H 2012). Such an approach may       eventually lead to a “functional cure,” meaning that HIV viral       load is gradually reduced to lower levels following successive ART-free       periods.

  • Vacc-4x       in combination with Revlimid (lenalidomide), an immunomodulatory drug, for       patients with unmet medical needs. Based on the       confirmed ability for Vacc-4x to lower viral load in HIV patients, Bionor       will study the effect of combining Vacc-4x with Revlimid for patients who       are well controlled on ART but fail to improve CD4 T-cell counts.

  • Vacc-4x       in combination with Vacc-C5, to reduce viral load and the spread of       infection. Vacc-C5 is designed to induce antibodies to HIV that can reduce       HIV associated immune hyperactivation which leads to AIDS. Preclinical       studies have shown that Vacc-C5 successfully induced antibodies against       HIV in rabbits and sheep. Bionor intends to conduct the first human clinical       study of Vacc-C5 in the spring of 2012. Subsequent to the Vacc-C5 Phase 1/2       trial, Bionor intends to combine Vacc-4x with Vacc-C5, a treatment that       can potentially revolutionize the management of HIV infections and could       form the basis for both a therapeutic and a preventative vaccine.

Bionor is furthermore investigating different options for  administration of its vaccines.             An ongoing trial at Oslo University Hospital aims to reveal  whether Vacc-4x given by nasal administration can provide equivalent effect  compared to delivery by needle injection. Such administration will be important  for cost and availability in both Western and developing countries. All patients  have been successfully included in the trial and the results are expected in the  first half of 2012.

More information about Bionor Pharma, its research,  and products is available

National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS

NAACP National Conference Call

for the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of HIV/AIDS

Thursday, March 8th @ 9:00pm EST (6:00pm PST & 8:00pm Central)

Greetings to our NAACP State Conference Presidents, Health Chair Committee, State Health Chairs, Religious Affairs Committee, 11-City Tour pastoral participants and our Faith-Leader partners!


On behalf of the NAACP Health Department National Director Shavon Arline, we invite you to join us for a national conference call for the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of HIV/AIDS Thursday, March 8th @ 9:00pm EST (6:00pm PST & 8:00pm Central). March 4th thru March 10th, is the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of HIV/AIDS.  In observance of this awareness day in the faith community, the NAACP Health Department will host our national call. This will be a time for us to come together for the eradication of HIV/AIDS through prayer. The call will NOT last longer than 30 minutes.


We invite you all to join us as we unify in a moment of conscious prayer for the healing of AIDS. Please call 218-862-1000 and use pin 444382 #. There were be countless participants on the call, therefore we are asking everyone to mute your line by pressing *6.


The purpose of The National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS is to bring national attention to the AIDS epidemic in the United States and the extraordinary role faith communities can and are playing in AIDS prevention, education, service and advocacy.


The National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS promotes the continuous national mobilization and education of faith communities to take an even greater role in the implementation of AIDS education and services within local communities and across the nation.


We look forward to you joining us on this call. And, we thank you for your ongoing support to the mission and vision of the NAACP!




Rev. Keron R. Sadler
Manager of Health Programs
NAACP National Headquarters
4805 Mt. Hope Drive
Baltimore, MD  21215


About The National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS

The National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS is the coming together of all people of faith to unite with purpose, compassion and hope. Through the power of God’s love, we will educate every American about HIV prevention facts; encourage and support HIV testing; advocate for the availability of compassionate care and treatment of all those living with the disease in every community in America; and love unconditionally all persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

The National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS