Monday, November 22, 2010

Winners: Who HAS doubled the budget of the NIH?

The National Institutes of Health has been flat funded since 2003, and due to high biomedical inflation, the lack of money is eating into major research opportunities for major diseases, a fact that has somehow escaped the attention of the American people.

Love him or not, former Representative Newt (short for Newton) Gingrich helped double the size of the National Institutes of Health when he was Speaker of the House of Representatives. We at the AIDS Policy Project always like to identify who actually did what. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The clock is ticking.

On Friday, I was in downtown Philadelphia with my colleague Jose Demarco talking to the staff and clients of a local AIDS organization; we have a town meeting this Thursday.  I was explaining the case of the Berlin Patient and the follow up research taking place. People were fascinated, and a small crowd gathered around me. 

One man said, "My partner has that, (the CCR5 deletion that helped cure the Berlin Patient), and we're always trying to enroll in cure studies, but no one seems to be interested." I said that we are going to be collecting a list of people who want to participate in cure research. 

Then I pointed out that many researchers don't realize that people with AIDS still need a cure, since there are effective treatments. The group fell silent. They were stunned--They could not believe that researchers didn't know that they desperately want a cure.  Then there was a flurry of conversation and people wanted to know how they can send a message to researchers that people with AIDS need a cure.

We talked about what it's like to have HIV, even if you have access to AIDS meds. You could have an AIDS-related heart attack, or get lethal liver cancer or AIDS-related lymphoma that your body can't fight off. I have lost friends this way. A lot of people seem to be developing cognitive problems, including dementia. You can get facial wasting, or wasting through your whole body, or a hump on the back of your neck that tells the world you have AIDS. People seem to slide ominously from youth to old age.

Picture these people in the hundreds of thousands.

But the US is only a sliver of the global AIDS epidemic:  We are home to about 1/33 of the people with HIV in the world.  Of the roughly six million people who urgently need AIDS drugs right now, only 20%-30% have access to medication. The others are dying. And we may be at a high water mark for access to AIDS treatment--wealthy countries are cutting funding for AIDS treatment for people in developing countries. Getting treatment will be a struggle for them for the next 50 years, if they are successful. But without treatment now, they won't live to see a cure.

When you think about AIDS cure research, remember this: The clock is ticking. For people with AIDS in the US. And for the millions and millions of people in developing countries who are dying just like it's 1989. We need a cure.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Town Meeting on a Cure for AIDS: Philadelphia (November 18)

Please forward widely:

The AIDS Policy Project is sponsoring an AIDS CURE town meeting in Philadelphia on Thursday, November 18th, 2010. There is major research taking place that is pushing us closer to a cure. The stakes are huge for the 33 million people with AIDS, most in developing countries, most with no access to AIDS drugs. We will talk about the science and the global health implications of cutting-edge AIDS cure research.

Jay Kostman, MD, HIV physician and researcher, will examine the science, and activists will discuss a new campaign.

November 18, 7 pm, 1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA

Snacks will be provided.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Los Angeles Town Meeting on AIDS Cure Research

November 3, 7:00 pm

Plummer Park Community Center, 7377 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, Rooms 5 & 6

The AIDS Policy Project is holding a public town meeting to discuss some exciting new AIDS cure research, as well as a new grassroots, activist campaign for a cure AIDS.

The meeting will feature a talk by two scientists, Paula Cannon, PhD, from the University of Southern California; and Dr. John A. Zaia, from City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, CA. Both are studying ways to change the immune cells of people with HIV to make them resist HIV infection; the HIV-resistant cells would then replace infected cells. This work follows up on the 2008 case of the Berlin Patient, who was cured of AIDS through a bone marrow transplant using a donor who was born immune to HIV. The event is being co-sponsored by AIDS Project Los Angeles and CIRM, California’s state stem cell agency. The AIDS Policy Project's cure campaign is the subject of the cover story of this month's issue of POZ Magazine (

Says Kate Krauss, Executive Director of the AIDS Policy Project, “Most people don’t realize that a patient was cured of AIDS in 2008. California is leading the way in both funding and actually doing the critical research that follows up on that case and might lead to a cure for millions of people. Thirty-three million people have AIDS right now, and most can't get treatment. It’s important for the community to stand up and say, ‘we need a cure.'”

The town meeting is open to the public and anyone with an interest is encouraged to attend. While not required by organizers, RSVP emails from attendees to or call 215-939-7852. For more information about the cure campaign, see   Please spread the word.