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HIV/AIDS
Section Newsletter
Spring 2004

A Successful Mid-Year Meeting!

The Leadership Group of the HIV/AIDS Section held a very successful Mid-year Meeting on March 22 and 23, 2004, at APHA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Thirteen members were in attendance, with other members participating via conference call. Members attending included:

Mike Case - Chair-elect and Chair, Nominating Committee;
George Clifford - Treasurer and Resource Development Chair;
Richard Conviser - Immediate Past Chair;
Susan Fulmer - Chair;
Kathye Gorosh - Action Board Representative and Representative to the Joint Policy Committee;
Angela Powell - Section Council, Policy Committee Chair, and Representative to Governing Council;
Scott Rhodes - Section Council and Program Chair for 2005;
David Rosenstein - Representative to Governing Council;
Scott Smith - Program Chair;
Stephanie Taylor - Section Council;
Ron Valdiserri - Representative to Governing Council;
April Winningham - Secretary and Communications Chair; and
Brenda Woods-Francis - Section Council and Bylaws/Operational Policy Chair.

The two-day meeting offered opportunities for the Leadership Group to dialogue with APHA staff. Dr. Georges Benjamin met with the Leadership Group, as did Barbara Reck (Membership), Fran Atkinson (Section Affairs), Don Hoppert (Federal and Congressional Affairs), Lakitia Mayo (Grassroots Advocacy and Affiliate Affairs), Kim Krisberg (The Nation's Health), and Alan Baker (Chief of Staff). In addition to reports from Section committees, discussions were held on a number of topics, including but not limited to: Section involvement and growth, collaboration with other sections and organizations, advocacy, proposed policies, resource development, outreach, the Annual Meeting and its program, meetings and events, and budgetary issues.

On Monday, March 22, the Leadership Group hosted a Policy Issues and Collaboration Luncheon, with special guests Dr. Judy Auerbach (Vice President for Public Policy, amfAR; formerly with NIH), Kate Smith (Assistant Director for Public Policy, SIECUS), Ann Lefert (Public Policy Associate, NASTAD), and Don Hoppert (Director of Federal and Congressional Affairs, APHA). The group discussed a number of current and upcoming issues that Section members may want to know about and advocate for, including but not limited to: CARE Act reauthorization in 2005; comprehensive health education; support for sexuality research; ADAP funding; and utilizing conferences as necessary opportunities to disseminate research findings. All in attendance agreed the meeting and discussion were beneficial and that opportunities for continuing collaboration should be pursued.

The Mid-year Meeting proved to be an important opportunity for face-to-face dialogue between the members of the Section Leadership Group, APHA staff, and organizations with whom we hope to continue collaborative relationships.

Advocacy and Action Update

During this year's mid-year Leadership meeting at APHA headquarters in March, four of us went to Capitol Hill [otherwise known as "Hill Visits"] to visit a total of 12 Congressional offices. Three of us were "repeats" from last year [Susan Fulmer, our Section Chair; April Winningham, Section Secretary; and myself, Action Board Representative] and we had one new recruit this year - Scott Rhodes, Section Councilor.

During our visits we discussed APHA's three priority areas for the year: Access to Care; Elimination of Racial/Ethnic Disparities; and Public Health Infrastructure, as well as several other key HIV-related issues. The visits provided each of us with the opportunity to voice specific HIV priorities depending on our interests and those of our elected officials. Between the four of us we covered a broad range of issues, such as the Early Treatment HIV Act, continued need for increased Ryan White CARE Act funding, the negative effects of abstinence-only education funding, health literacy, ADAP in Arkansas, AIDS funding in Wisconsin, HIV in older adults, and access to pharmaceuticals.

As April said, "I highly recommend this experience! It was much easier for me the second time around in that I was familiar with the process …[also, I suffered less from the "rock star" syndrome…]. Because it was easier, I'm more likely to do it again and again…." Scott, who was hesitant at first to step forward to join us, said, "It was an amazing opportunity and I loved it. I think that more activists and researchers need to step forward to dialogue and engage in a co-learning process for change."

So, with that said, the next time you are in Washington, D.C., please consider taking the time to visit the people you elected. APHA has been wonderful by setting up the appointments for us and preparing briefing packets. This year's Annual Meeting is in D.C., and APHA wants to set up visits for us while we're there. So stay tuned for more information on this great opportunity!

Think about joining APHA's legislative network to keep in touch with public health issues. Check out <www.capwiz.com/apha/home/> and JOIN NOW!

APHA Task Force on Aging

America is aging. At the turn of the 20th century, one in 25 Americans was aged 65 years and older. By 1990, that number had increased to nearly one in eight Americans. Moreover, this trend is expected to continue with one in every five Americans being aged 65 years and older by the year 2050.

In order to address the public health needs of our aging populations, the APHA Executive Board approved the formation of the Task Force on Aging, which was formally launched at the 2001 Annual Meeting in Atlanta. The specific aims of the Task Force on Aging are to: 1) raise awareness and promote education about individual and population aging within APHA and in the public health community; 2) recommend ways to improve the public health infrastructure in the context of an aging population; and 3) develop and advocate for public policies that will improve the health and well being of the aging population throughout the world.

Of particular interest to Section members will be the special session planned by the Task Force for the 2004 APHA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. This session entitled, "The Aging of America: A Crisis for the Health Care Workforce" will provide insights into the unprecedented impact that the growth of the elderly population will have on the U.S. health care system over the next 50 years.

Please feel free to contact April Winningham, the HIV/AIDS Section representative to the Task Force, if you have further interest or questions concerning the Task Force's scope of work.

HIV/AIDS Section Announces New Listserv

The HIV/AIDS Section has created a new listserv for members of the Section to exchange information and hold discussions regarding this rapidly evolving public health issue. While many APHA members have an interest in this area, they may be members of other Sections. To enrich their listserv discussion, the Section invites all APHA members who would like to be part of this online community to subscribe and offer views, ask questions and communicate with fellow committed colleagues.

To subscribe, e-mail <hiv-aids@liststar.apha.org>.

In the subject line/field of the message, type "subscribe hiv-aids-l". Please note that the content of the subject line is case sensitive and that the "l" is the lowercase version of the letter L, not the number one. Also, members may join other section listservs. For more online discussion group information, visit <http://www.apha.org/private/lists.htm>.

New HIV Preventatives Could Revolutionize the Global Fight Against AIDS

In advance of the Microbicides 2004 conference in London, which took place March 28 - 31, 2004, and drew over 800 participants from 53 countries, senior scientists and HIV experts from the Medical Research Council, the Imperial College London and the Department for International Development issued a news release saying that the development of microbicides - new weapons in the armory defending against HIV infection - could revolutionize the global fight against AIDS.

Microbicides are substances that could offer protection against infection from HIV and are being developed into cream and gels to be applied to the vagina or rectum before sexual intercourse, explain researchers. A number of microbicidal products are likely to be on the market and accessible before an HIV vaccine, and even with only moderate update, could prevent 2.5 million deaths from AIDS over three years, they say. There are 62 candidate microbicides in development and six that have entered, or are about to enter, Phase III clinical trials.

These products are intended to work in a number of ways: killing or otherwise immobilizing the virus; blocking infection by creating a barrier between the virus and the cells of the vagina or the rectum; or by preventing the infection from taking hold after it has entered the body. Ideally, a microbicide would combine these mechanisms for extra effectiveness.

Jonathan Weber, Professor in Genito-Urinary Medicine and Communicable Diseases at Imperial College in London and Microbicides 2004 co-chair, said, "We desperately need new methods to prevent HIV transmission in the face of rising prevalence of infection globally. As we still have not been able to develop an effective HIV vaccine, vaginal microbicides are now the most promising biomedical intervention for the prevention of HIV infection on the horizon."

A day-long satellite session titled "Challenges in Rectal Microbicide Development" took place on the 28th at the Royal Society of Medicine. The meeting, sponsored by the HIV Prevention Trials Network of the Division of AIDS at the National Institutes of Health, the UCLA AIDS Institute, amfAR and Virco-Tibotec, provided a detailed update on the epidemiology and behavioral aspects of anal intercourse, the mathematical modeling of the impact of rectal microbicides, the pathogenesis of the mucosal transmission of HIV, and approaches to rectal microbicide development. The necessity for vaginal microbicides to be safe for use in the rectum was noted.

Updates on recent international microbicide research and development, including information on the first Phase III trials, were presented at the conference, which was held at the Hilton London Metropole.

For further information, visit the following Web sites:

Microbicides 2004 - <http://www.microbicides2004.org.uk>

The Alliance for Microbicide Development - <http://www.microbicide.org>

The Global Campaign for Microbicides - <http://www.global-campaign.org>


*Summary of news release from the Medical Research Council, dated March 23, 2004, and other official conference documents prepared by Jim Pickett.

Men on the Down Low Brought to the Forefront

"Undercover," "in the life," "mess around," and "kickin' it" are all terms that have been used to describe the "cheating" behavior of married men or men in a committed heterosexual relationship who have sex with other men without their spouse or partner's knowledge. Now add to these terms "being on the down low," or "DL."

While being on the "DL" is not a new phenomenon, it is certainly new to popular culture and the mainstream media. In fact, the subculture of primarily black men who have sex with other men but do not identify as gay has emerged and been highlighted on recent television programs such as the Oprah Winfrey show. J.L. King, a self-identifed member of the "Down Low" community, discussed his experiences with Winfrey on her show and in his newly released book entitled, "On the Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of "Straight" Black Men who Sleep with Men." King stresses that although he engages in sexual activity with other men, he is not gay. In fact, King reports that "being gay" is a phenomenon of "white culture," a culture he "does not want to be part of."

While King has been labeled "homophobic" and/or the product of a hip-hop culture which depicts black men as hyper-masculine, "macho," and/or "gansta thugs," he emphasizes the fact that this sub-culture does exist within the black community. Moreover, King points out that "Down Low" men often put themselves and their female sex partners unknowingly at risk for HIV by engaging in anonymous, unprotected sex with other men. King hopes that through his book and appearances on television program's such as Winfrey's, he can help educate black women in particular, among whom rates of HIV continue to increase, about this phenomenon.

STUDENT LEADERS WANTED!!!

The HIV/AIDS Section is actively seeking students with an interest in the field of HIV disease to become involved with the Section! Positions are available on a number of committees, and we hope to involve more students in the active management of the Section. Currently, the Section has several graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in leadership roles, including Secretary, Secretary-elect, Membership Committee Chair, Web Committee Chair, International Health Workgroup Chair, Student Representative, and Annual Meeting Booth Coordinator. We encourage more students to step up to the plate and get involved! Our immediate need is for persons to assist with the planning and implementation of our social events for the Annual Meeting in Washingon, D.C. If you live in the Metro D.C. area and are interested, please contact our Student Representative, France Nguyen, or Section Chair, Susan Fulmer. We look forward to having you work with us!

NEW! E-ssentialLearning: Expanded Access to Annual Meeting Sessions

 
APHA is expanding the educational experience of both presenters and attendees at the APHA Annual Meeting by investing in LCD projectors, computers and new Web-based technology for all scientific sessions. This new technology will enable voice and PowerPoint presentations to be recorded and uploaded to the APHA Web site following the meeting, thus extending the life of the meeting and providing access to hundreds of actual scientific session presentations that Annual Meeting registrants may have missed while attending other sessions.

Annual Meeting attendees can receive full access to these expanded sessions by registering for EssentialLearning on the Annual Meeting registration form. Special introductory discounted fees are $25 for Annual Meeting session presenters, $50 for APHA members (who are not session presenters), and $100 for non-members and are in effect for anyone registering for the full APHA Annual Meeting by the Oct. 1 pre-registration deadline. These fees will increase substantially for anyone registering on-site at the Annual Meeting in Washington.

Log-in information and password access to these E-ssentialLearning sessions will be provided to registrants immediately following the Annual Meeting.

NEW! Presenters Able to Upload PowerPoint Presentations in Advance

LCD projectors and computers are now included as part of the standard audiovisual package in each session room. This new technology will enable presenters to upload their PowerPoint presentations in advance of the meeting and have them pre-loaded on the APHA session computers. Individual presentations then begin with a click of the mouse. The cost and inconvenience of bringing a computer to the Annual Meeting has been eliminated for presenters, allowing them to take advantage of new technologies and be a part of the E-ssentialLearning experience.