Jeanne Bergman's blog

Kids Today

I can’t find any mention of research on HIV+ children or on preventing mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) in the program of the HIV Research Catalyst Forum.  But I did hear many women talk about how ARVs saved their children’s lives. They are calling for more clinical trials for HIV+ children, research on pediatric and adolescent HIV/AIDS, and studies on the long-term effects of ARVs taken during pregnancy on children who are HIV-negative.

Perhaps the greatest victory yet for HIV prevention has been the success in blocking mother to child transmission. Without intervention, there is a 15-30% chance that an HIV+ woman will pass the virus to her baby during pregnancy and delivery, and an additional 5-20% that her newborn will be infected from breast-feeding. But transmission can be reduced to less than 2% if an HIV+ woman takes ARVS during and after pregnancy, a short course of ARV treatment is given to the baby, and transmission  from breastfeeding is prevented by ARVs or by substituting formula.

Despite the tremendous success of PMTCT, old questions persist and new questions have arisen.  In many cases, research has been done but the findings aren’t easily accessible to the parents who need to know; in other cases, more research is needed.  read more »

The Denver Principles

ACT UP's "Denver Principles" have come up several times at the HRCF. Many activists new to the struggle aren't familiar with this fundamental and visionary expression of the rights of people living with HIV and the role of allies, and the rest of us can always stand to be reminded of what matters.  Here they are.

THE DENVER PRINCIPLES (1983) (Statement from the advisory committee of the People with AIDS)

We condemn attempts to label us as "victims," a term which implies defeat, and we are only occasionally "patients," a term which implies passivity, helplessness, and dependence upon the care of others. We are "People With AIDS."


1. Support us in our struggle against those who would fire us from our jobs, evict us from our homes, refuse to touch us or separate us from our loved ones, our community or our peers, since available evidence does not support the view that AIDS can be spread by casual, social contact.

2. Not scapegoat people with AIDS, blame us for the epidemic or generalize about our lifestyles.


1. Form caucuses to choose their own representatives, to deal with the media, to choose their own agenda and to plan their own strategies.

Be involved at every level of decision-making and specifically serve on the boards of directors of provider organizations.

3. Be included in all AIDS forums with equal credibility as other participants, to share their own experiences and knowledge.

4. Substitute low-risk sexual behaviors for those which could endanger themselves or their partners; we feel people with AIDS have an ethical responsibility to inform their potential sexual partners of their health status.


Biomedical Prevention is Always About Social Justice, Too

Since 1983, when Michael Callen and  Richard Berkowitz wrote “How to Have Sex in an Epidemic,” most HIV prevention work has focused on individual behaviors, particularly around sex and drugs.  The prevention symposiums here are exploring many other prevention strategies that need much more research.  The Prevention Justice Alliance is calling attention to the structural drivers of HIV—socio-economic factors like racism, poverty, mass incarceration, homophobia, and homelessness—and showing that to defeat AIDS we must fight for social justice.  And this morning’s discussion of “Biomedical Interventions for HIV Prevention” also made it clear that HIV science can never be separated from social issues.

Biomedical prevention interventions target people who have HIV in order to reduce infectiousness, or people who don’t have HIV to reduce their susceptibility, or both. Monica Ruiz, from George Washington University, reviewed what is being researched now, including cervical barriers, microbicides, vaccines, treating and managing STIs, and post- and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PEP and PREP)—mostly with discouraging results so far.  read more »

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