National AIDS Housing Commission (NAHC)

 

HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS) Proposed for $32 Million Cut in House FY14 Appropriations – Act Now!   In the House Transportation-Housing Urban Development (THUD) draft, HOPWA is recommended for funding at $300 million. This is a $32 million cut from the last year’s level of $332 million and a $15 million cut after sequestration hit. 

This level of funding would harm many successful HOPWA programs, cut housing availability and support and reduce necessary, life-saving support services for persons living with HIV/AIDS.   Other programs in the HUD budget were equally brutalized if not more so.  Click here to see the breakdown of the rest of the HUD portfolio provided by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.


What you can do to take action on HOPWA:

This bill will be going to THUD Committee Mark-up tomorrow morning at 10 AM ET. Please contact your Representative TODAY. 

How to contact your Representative:

  • Call the House switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and ask for your Representative’s office.
  • Ask to speak to the staffer who handles THUD Appropriations.
  • Tell the staffer about the importance of HIV/AIDS housing in your community.
  • Ask the staffer to ask the Representative to contact the THUD Appropriations Subcommittee members. Tell the subcommittee member that: The cut to HOPWA is unacceptable and would devastate one of the most effective programs administered by the government.
  • Let NAHC know the results of your outreach at nahc@nationalaidshousing.org.

Thank you to the HIV PJA network for taking action and improving the lives of people living with HIV!

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$4.1 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps)

 

Save SNAP from Cuts!

Last week, the Senate passed a bill that cuts $4.1 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) over a period of ten years. The Farm Bill threatens vital access to food stamps that many low-income families and communities depend on more than ever, especially during hard economic times. Food stamps are critical to the health of many people living with HIV.

As the bill heads to the House for a vote either Wednesday or Thursday this week, we must act together in order to prevent cuts to SNAP and support food access for millions who rely on this program.

Here’s what you can do:


Participate in National Call-In Day:

Call the toll-free hotline at 866-527-1087

Listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted.  Once you are connected to your Representative, state that you are a constituent and give your name and the town you are calling from.  If you are a food pantry or other food distribution program, be sure to give the name of the local agency you are affiliated with.

Let them know you are calling about the Farm Bill and deliver this important message:

As your constituent, I am asking you to vote against the House Farm Bill due to the cuts to SNAP.  With so many families still struggling to put food on the table, it is important to protect and strengthen programs like SNAP and TEFAP.  I understand the need to reduce the deficit, but increasing hunger is not the way to do it.


Take it to Twitter:

Spread the word by sharing with your local networks and on social media to take action on preventing cuts to SNAP.

Sample tweets

  • Call Your Rep & Tell Them to Vote No on A Farm Bill That Cuts SNAP 866-527-1087. #SNAPworks
  • Fight Hunger. Tell Your Congressman to Vote No on A Farm Bill That Cuts SNAP. 866-527-1087. #SNAPworks

Send a Letter to your Newspaper’s Editor:

Draft, adapt, and send a letter to your editor using the framework below to illustrate how the SNAP cuts through the Farm Bill impact you and/or your community:

Dear Editor,

The US House of Representatives is currently debating the next Farm Bill. This five-year bill not only addresses agriculture policy, but also sets the policy and funding for the largest federal program the supports vulnerable families facing hunger – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps.)  The current House version of the Farm Bill contains devastating cuts SNAP that would negatively impact over 2 million individuals that utilize the program to ensure their family has food on the table.

[Insert story of local impact here. Could be the story of an individual that relies on the program. Could be about how your food pantry has seen an increase in demand and cannot fill in the gap that the cuts would create.] Our community and our country is only as strong as our programs that protect the most vulnerable.

I urge Congressman/woman [insert name] to vote no on a Farm Bill that cuts SNAP.
Sincerely,

(Individual or Organizational Signee)

Leading HIV Researchers and Argos Therapeutics Highlight Importance of Immunotherapy in HIV Eradication Efforts

 

June 13, 2013 09:59 | Source:  Argos Therapeutics             

          DURHAM, N.C., June 13, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — In conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) June 14th Public Meeting on HIV Patient-Focused Drug Development and HIV Cure Research, leading HIV researchers and Argos Therapeutics Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of fully personalized immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases using its Arcelis™ technology platform, today highlighted the role of immunotherapy in potential HIV eradication studies.

“Over the last several decades, HIV drug development has given us the ability to control the viral load of HIV positive patients and ensure that patients do not die of AIDS,” said David Margolis, M.D., a professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, Epidemiology, School of Medicine and Director, Program in Translational Clinical Research at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “With more and more patients living but requiring lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART), the next logical step is to find a way to eradicate the disease. Early clinical trials suggest that we may be able to unmask cells that are hiding latent HIV. Combined with the potential of immunotherapy to target and destroy infected cells, eradication may be closer than we ever imagined.”

“Our personalized HIV product, AGS-004, is among the most effective immunotherapies in the field at eliminating virally infected cells and therefore an excellent candidate for inclusion in innovative eradication strategies,” said Charles Nicolette, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President of Research and Development for Argos Therapeutics. “The FDA’s public meeting on the impact of HIV on daily patient life is an important step in understanding just how much of a burden ART and other HIV treatments are to this patient population. We are formally announcing that our ongoing clinical development of AGS-004 will be directed towards total HIV eradication.”

Dr. Nicolette will be detailing Argos’ HIV development strategy for AGS-004 at the Towards an HIV Cure Symposium on June 29 and 30 in conjunction with the International AIDS Society in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

About 1.1 million people in the United States are currently living with HIV. Once a patient has been diagnosed with HIV, they are typically prescribed ART consisting of three or more antiretroviral drugs.1 ART is not a cure for the HIV infection but controls viral replication within a person’s body and allows an individual’s immune system to strengthen and regain the capacity to fight off infections. However, even patients who are well controlled with ART drugs have a significantly shorter life expectancy than the general population.2 Additionally, ART drugs do not entirely eliminate chronic inflammation which can lead to co-morbidities such as heart and lung disease, kidney failure, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and memory loss.

“Current treatment options for patients infected with HIV are far from perfect and require patients to take multiple pills at specific times every day for the rest of their lives, often leading to inconsistency in treatment and ultimately an increase in co-morbidities,” said Jean-Pierre Routy, M.D., Division of Hematology and Immunodeficiency, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University Health Centre. “The goal of an eradication effort utilizing immunotherapy will be to reduce the burden of treatment and maintenance for these patients and ultimately cure them.”

The FDA public meeting is intended to obtain patient input on the impact of HIV on daily life, currently available therapies to treat the condition, and patients’ views on issues related to HIV cure research. The meeting will take place June 14 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET.

To create AGS-004, ribonucleic acid (RNA) is isolated from HIV particles obtained from patients, and dendritic cells are generated from a single leukapheresis procedure. Selected RNAs are then used to “program” the dendritic cells with the patient-specific payload to trigger an immune response against the patient’s HIV infected cells. These patient-specific, antigen-loaded dendritic cells are formulated into a ready-to-use, intradermal injection.

For more information about AGS-004, visit www.ArgosTherapeutics.com.

About the Arcelis™ Technology Platform

Arcelis is a fully personalized, active immunotherapy technology that captures all antigens, including mutated and variant antigens that are specific to each patient’s disease. It has been shown to overcome immunosuppression by producing a durable memory T-cell response without adjuvants that are associated with toxicity. The technology can be leveraged to manufacture personalized therapies for any cancer or infectious disease.

The Arcelis process integrates readily into many current treatment paradigms, using only a small tumor or blood sample and the patient’s own dendritic cells, which are derived and optimized following a single leukapheresis procedure. The proprietary process uses RNA isolated from the patient sample to program the dendritic cells to target the entire disease-antigen repertoire. The activated, antigen-loaded dendritic cells are then formulated into the patient’s plasma and administered as an intradermal injection to produce the desired patient-specific immune response.

Arcelis technology also overcomes many of the manufacturing and commercialization challenges that have impeded other personalized cancer immunotherapies. Automated processes allow a single facility to serve all of North America and can be used to treat any cancer or infectious disease with the same manufacturing process and equipment.

About Argos Therapeutics

Argos Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of fully personalized immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases using its Arcelis™ technology platform. Argos’ most advanced product candidate AGS-003 has initiated a Phase 3 study for the treatment of mRCC, and the Company plans to have data from its Phase 2b study of AGS-004 for the treatment of HIV in late 2013. For more information about Argos Therapeutics, visit www.argostherapeutics.com.

Supervised and Unsupervised HIV Self-Testing Both Earn High Marks

 

Author: Mark Mascolini


10 June 2013

Supervised and unsupervised HIV self-testing both had high acceptability scores and often resulted in partner self-testing, according to a systematic review of 21 international studies. Test sensitivity was marginally lower with unsupervised testing, and no studies evaluated posttest linkage with counseling and treatment.
Stigma, discrimination, lack of privacy, and long waiting times prevent some people from using facility-based HIV testing. By some estimates, 6 of 10 people with HIV do not use facility-based testing. Self-testing eliminates these barriers and could improve testing rates. An in-home HIV self-test is available in the United States, and access to such tests will probably spread.
To assess acceptability, feasibility, and linkage to care with health professional-supervised self-testing and unsupervised self-testing (with counseling via phone or internet), researchers reviewed seven databases and abstracts from six major conferences on HIV and sexually transmitted infections. They identified 21 studies, seven involving unsupervised testing and 14 involving a supervised strategy.
The analysis revealed that both HIV self-testing strategies had high acceptability (range 74% to 96%), high preference scores (range 61% to 91%), and high partner self-testing rates (range 80% to 97%). Studies that compared acceptability of the two strategies with facility-based testing showed that people preferred self-testing and preferred oral self-testing to blood-based self-testing.
Specificity was high with both supervised and unsupervised testing (range 99.8% to 100%), while sensitivity was lower in one unsupervised study (range 92.9% to 100%) than in three supervised studies (range 97.4% to 97.9%). (Sensitivity is the ability of a test to single out people who have a certain disease. Specificity is the ability of a test to classify people who do not have the disease as negative.)
In one unsupervised study, 102 of 106 participants (96%) said they would seek posttest counseling. No studies assessed actual posttest counseling or treatment outcomes. Most data came from people in high-income countries (11,019 of 12,402 individuals, 89%). Fifteen of 21 studies (71%) were cross-sectional rather than longitudinal.
The researchers proposed that “controlled trials of high quality from diverse settings are warranted to confirm and extend these findings.”
Source: Nitika Pant Pai, Jigyasa Sharma, Sushmita Shivkumar, Sabrina Pillay, Caroline Vadnais, Lawrence Joseph, Keertan Dheda, Rosanna W. Peeling. Supervised and unsupervised self-testing for HIV in high- and low-risk populations: a systematic review. PLoS Medicine. 2013; 10: e1001414.

Complete article provided by PLoS Medicine, an open-access journal