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Follow Rae Lewis-Thornton

If you are on Twitter, it is a must that you follow Rae Lewis-Thorton.  She is beautiful, vivacious, HIV-positive and does not mind sharing her experience and wisdom with all of us. 

Check her out here:

Here is her bio from her website:

Emmy Award Winning AIDS Activist, Rae Lewis-Thornton was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 23. She rose to national acclaim when she told her compelling life story on the cover of Essence magazine. Despite living with HIV/AIDS for over 20 years, she travels the country using her life as an example that AIDS is a non-discriminatory disease. Her anticipated autobiography, Unprotected- A Memoir, will be release in 2009 by Hyperion Publishers.   

Rae Lewis-Thornton, Inc was founded by Rae Lewis-Thornton to focus on AIDS education.  Primarily destroying myths and stereotypes surrounding who can, and how one becomes infected with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) know to cause AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).  Through lectures, she focuses on: 

Prevention of HIV

Understanding HIV

Promoting Early Testing and Detection of HIV

Living with HIV/AIDS


Sororities effort spotlights need for more HIV testing in the black community

 7:00AMHIV.jpgJerry Campbell / Special to the GazetteTesting doesn’t hurt: Ondraya Dixon, left, of Zeta Phi Beta sorority, and Danielle Royster, center, of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, volunteer to be tested publicly for HIV on Friday to encourage Kalamazoo residents and especially African-Americans to get tested. Jan de la Torre, a prevention specialist with the Community Aids Resource and Education Services center, right, hands alcohol swabs to the women.

 KALAMAZOO — The Community Aids Resource and Education Services center in Kalamazoo held a symbolic public HIV testing event Friday afternoon to encourage residents, especially those in the black community, to get tested.

The event was held in association with the graduate chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. Participating were members of various historically African-American college-based sisterhoods.

Ondraya Dixon, 34, a member of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority, and Danielle Royster, 39, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, tried to show how easy getting tested is.
“I think when they see people they know at church and people they see at the grocery store getting tested, some of the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS testing in the black community will start to disappear,” said Zenda Thompson, president of the alumni chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho.

Dixon said she jumped at the opportunity to participate after being shocked by statistics that showed the lack of testing in the black community.

“When I first saw the numbers about the black community, they were staggering,” Dixon said. “People seem to have a fear of knowing. They just want to live life to the fullest, when they can be impacted even if they’re being careful.”

Blacks make up only 13 percent of the population nationally but account for 49 percent of HIV/Aids cases. In Kalamazoo the discrepancy is even wider — blacks make up 14 percent of the population and account for 59 percent of HIV/AIDS cases.

Thompson, and Jon Delatorre, HIV/AIDS specialist for CARES cochaired the event.

“I met Jon last summer through our  Write A story Love Safe program,” Thompson said. “Jon said he wished he had us as a contact during last year’s black awareness campaign. It’s tough to reach that demographic when you don’t have anyone representing it.”

Delatorre and Thompson, with each other’s help have worked together with the sororities to produce a number of Youtube videos. The one-minute videos are aimed at educating the disproportionately affected black community about HIV/AIDS.
“This is the year we finally decided to make a big push in social media,” Delatorre said. “We’re hoping to reach more people through more outlets than before.”

Thompson agrees, but stresses the earlier someone is educated about the effects of HIV/AIDS and the measures of prevention that are available, the better the results will be.

“When people ask me what will work best I always bring it back to the children,” Thompson said. “Even if it is only my own two that I talk to, they will talk to others. And they will talk to more.”


7% of Sub-Saharan’s old people living with HIV

SENIOR Citizens Association of Zambia National Co-ordinator Rosemary Sishimba has said seven per cent of the older people in Sub-Saharan African countries are living with HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Officiating at media breakfast organised by Helpage International on Wednesday, Sishimba said it was sad that the media had not prioritised coverage of the elderly in society.

“Little is known about the vital role of older persons in social development, in the context of the HIVand AIDS pandemic a disease that has ravaged African countries socially and economically,” Sishimba said.

She said the evidence suggests that the older persons had taken the burdensome role of caring for the children as a result of HIV and AIDS in sustaining families,usually with scanty resources.

“We carried out regional consultative meetings on HIVand AIDS for the older people in eight African countries and we found out that in Kenya 72,550 older people were living with the pandemic,” she said. “As at now we have not yet established the per centage rate for Zambia as we are still carrying out the survey,” Sishimba said.

She said it was important for the government and cooperating partners to ensure that the older people in society were sensitised on the social norms of condom use.

“The problem that the older people are facing right now is that they think HIV and AIDS is a disease that can only be contracted by the young in society,” she said. “The existing preventive education message targets younger people, leaving out or programme that would be relevant to older people,”

Sishimba said the media should play an active role in reporting and sensitizing the aged in society about the pandemic.

“The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) need to collaborate with media to sensitize the public and government about the need and circumstances of older people in general and older care givers. It is however very unfortunate that the media houses hardly have interest in reporting on issues concerning the older people in society,” Sishimba said.

She said if the Sub-Saharan countries were to win the fight against HIV and AIDS more concerted efforts was an important aspect.


Medicare now covers HIV tests

Washington — The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Dec. 8 that Medicare will cover HIV screening services, effective immediately.

Testing will be covered for Medicare beneficiaries who are at increased risk for HIV, as well as for those who request the service.

Under the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, lawmakers gave CMS the flexibility to add to Medicare’s list of covered preventive services. Before MIPPA, Medicare could cover additional screenings only when Congress authorized it to do so.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the number of Medicare beneficiaries with HIV increased by 80% between 1997 and 2003, from 42,520 to 76,500. In fiscal year 2008, Medicare spending on HIV totaled $4.5 billion, representing 39% of federal spending on HIV care.

The decision was hailed as a milestone by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Beginning with expanding coverage for HIV screening, we can now work proactively as a program to help keep Medicare beneficiaries healthy and take a more active role in evaluating the evidence for preventive services.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 1.1 million people in the U.S. have HIV, with about 25% not realizing they’re infected. Without treatment, AIDS generally develops within eight to 10 years.

In 2006, the CDC called for widespread HIV screening, and the American Medical Association recommends that physicians routinely test adult patients.

At its Annual Meeting in June, the AMA also called for the development and adoption of a single, national plan to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Under a resolution adopted at the meeting, the AMA will work with the White House’s Office of National AIDS Policy and other relevant bodies to develop such a program.

“Every adult should know their HIV status,” said Howard K. Koh, MD, HHS assistant secretary for health. “This decision by Medicare should help promote screening and save lives.”



Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, South Africa’s former health minister who gained notoriety for her promotion of lemons, olive oil and garlic to treat HIV and AIDS, has died at the age of 69.

Nicknamed “Dr Beetroot” after another one of her suggested remedies for the conditions, Ms Tshabalala-Msimang served as the country’s health minister for a total of nine years.

The Associated Press notes that while she was one of the most unpopular government ministers in post-Apartheid South Africa, she made some advances, such as forcing down the price of medicines and improving services in rural areas.

In a statement, the ANC said: “We pay homage to this gallant fighter and will forever treasure the contribution she made in the struggle for liberation and the building of our democracy.”

According to UNAIDS, in 2008, there were 22,400,000 people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

Written by Clare DevlinADNFCR-1663-ID-19518706-ADNFCR


National Leader on Latino HIV/AIDS Rights Dies

NEW YORK—Dennis De Leon, one of the most recognized national leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS, died Monday in Manhattan at the age of 61, reports El Diario/La Prensa. De Leon, who was of Mexican descent, was the first Latino in a public position in the country to admit that he had HIV at a time when the stigma and discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS meant social ostracism. In 1993, De Leon wrote an opinion piece featured in The New York Times in which he admitted to having the virus. He became president of the Latino Commission on AIDS the following year.

“Dennis was a passionate supporter of our community who always demanded equal rights. He was the person responsible for giving a voice and purpose to the Latino awareness movement and fight against the AIDS epidemic,” said Lillian Rodriguez Lopez, president of the Hispanic Federation.


HIV/AIDS: The incurable epidemic

FOR nearly 30 years scientists have been trying to break the back of the AIDS epidemic. Two recent studies show just how difficult and how distant that goal is.

Researchers announced Monday that their trial of a microbicide to prevent the transmission of HIV to women failed. The trial involved 9,385 women from South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania over four years. The gel, known as PRO 20000, worked well in the lab and as part of a small trial in February. Unfortunately, it bombed in the large-scale trial. While 4 percent of those who were given a placebo tested HIV-positive, 4.1 percent of those given the microbicide tested positive.

The failure comes on the heels of the disappointment over what was believed to be a breakthrough in the development of an AIDS vaccine. In September, there was great excitement over a study funded by the National Institutes of Health whose preliminary results suggested a trial vaccine reduced the chances of HIV infection. After more than two decades of failure, a clinical trial had shown a measure of protection against HIV infection for the first time. But secondary analyses of the data published in October tempered the initial enthusiasm. The vaccine trial involved more than 16,000 people in Thailand. Over a six-year period, half received a combination of two previously failed vaccines. The other half received a placebo. In the three years after their shots, 51 participants who got the vaccine became HIV-positive, while 74 who got the placebo contracted the disease. This suggested that the risk of HIV infection was reduced by 31 percent.

Several concerns about that study existed. For instance, the vaccine was tailored to combat a strain of HIV common in Southeast Asia. So its impact on strains prevalent in Europe, North America and Africa is unknown. And there was the possibility that the success was a fluke. When only those who received all six doses on schedule are taken into account, scientists found that the vaccine reduced the risk of infection by 26.2 percent. But there was a 16 percent possibility that the results were due to chance; that percentage shouldn’t go above 5.


Still, there’s hope that information garnered from the experiment will be useful in developing a vaccine that works. “This is the first time that any vaccine trial in humans of an HIV vaccine has shown any positive effect, very modest thought it was,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told us. “In my mind, this does not constitute this vaccine as an ‘effective’ vaccine since the effect was so modest . However, it does now form the basis for trying to dissect out any ‘correlates’ of protection that we might identify and then try to optimize or maximize them in the development of future HIV vaccines.”

One thing that caught our attention is this: Of the more than 16,000 people in the vaccine trial, only 125, or 0.7 percent, became HIV positive. All participants were counseled on how to protect themselves from HIV and were given condoms. (Those who contracted the disease will receive free anti-retroviral treatment for life.) While scientists continue searching for a vaccine or a cure, prevention remains paramount.


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