Will, Skill or a Bill

I have often pushed the Mantra of Charity as something to be approached in a sensible way.

Do what you can and what needs to be done. If you cannot pay or have the skills to help then you can still spread the word. You can get others to donate and or volunteer.

The story of HIV in India is an incredibly tragic one with the stigma being so strong that HIV+ people often don’t tell their loved ones that they are sick.

And this causes more tragedies. For many HIV is a death sentence, but the creation of ARVs mean that HIV and AIDS are treated as Chronic Diseases now, like Diabetes or Hypertension. With ARVs one can live decades and hold down a normal life.

And part of that normalcy is love and companionship. [Read more…]

I Get Mail – Sex for the Gods

[notice]Testing out my three tier comments policy. Expect fancier artwork to be put in place when I can get some up but consider this topic a Yellow one. Stay on target, and discuss away. And at all points will there be no personal attacks and no bigotry. The following topic is NSFW as it contains a discussion about the sex trade. If you like what you read then pass it on, as I do feel there are a fair few misconceptions[/notice]

This was watched and reviewed at the Bengaluru/Bangalore Meeting of Freethinkers and it got me thinking and one of it’s members asked me if I could have look at it. It’s about the Devdasi or the sacred prostitutes of India. I am not against it, it’s not incorrect but it has a few misconceptions that we can clear up. [Read more…]

It Gets Better – Things Can Change

Normally I stay away from Reddit, it was a bit beyond me and I heard tales of abject misogyny. But this is equal parts inspiring and tragic and makes me want to join in.

Things won’t get better unless we make it better ourselves. Despite all the doomsayers and judgements and deaths, the HIV epidemic in the MSM (men who have sex with men) community is fading away. One day we will defeat HIV, but for now reading the stories of those who survived and learning from their loss is important.

Ignorance is Deadly

Sometimes you find articles such as this and you are simply lost for words.

This is a terrible piece of advice. Of the 27 million or so HIV positive people on the planet, 22 million are from Africa. Roughly 22 million HIV/AIDS patients are black.This advice is part of the reason why there are 22 million HIV positive black people.

Because it is an article born out of denial of the enormous amount of death. It is an article born out of fear that a positive HIV test could ruin your life. It is an article born out of the idea that black people get HIV/AIDS in increasing numbers because of some massive and pointless conspiracy to kill off black people rather than a genuine disease. And all this denialism increases the chance black people will have unprotected sex with multiple partners because they don’t believe a disease can be spread like this.

This man is not a doctor. The advice he gives is frankly insane!

1. None of the manufacturers of the HIV tests guarantee the accuracy of their tests.In fact, they warn that their tests should not be used alone to determine if someone is HIV positive or negative. If the manufacturers of the HIV tests don’t have confidence in their own product then why should Black People?

Most guarantee the accuracy of their test. With the ELISA (Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbancy Assay) test which is the most commonly used front line diagnostic test, the false positive percentage rate is around 3%. However we do not use ELISA as a be all and end all of HIV testing. If you test positive with this, you are given a further battery of tests.

These will include blood tests and a Western Blot. The western blot is highly sensitive. The number of false positives is minimal. Roughly out of a 10000 positive tests, three could be false. And a false positive doesn’t mean anything without the symptoms. If you are given a false positive result and later show no signs of HIV infection then we test again. If you show negative then we say “Sorry! False Positive”.

Nothing in life is 100%.

2. There are about 70 different things that can trigger a false positive result on HIV tests. These include vaccines such as for flu, hepatitis B and others. YES, if you recently had a vaccine, it can cause you to test positive on an HIV test! Even pregnancy can trigger a false positive response on an HIV test.

Actually, it’s only seen in acute illness and allergies. There has been absolutely no link between vaccinations and false positive HIV tests and this is utterly bizarre scare mongering. And pregnancy does not cause false positive HIV tests. Not on the Western Blot. This is an outright lie.

3. Test results vary over time.That is, you can test positive one day and go back to the same hospital or clinic a year later and test negative!

Only if you have a false positive. That’s the point of calling it a false positive. The vast majority do not have this. In HIV every single day worth of anti-retrovirals is a massive increase in life expectancy. 

4. Test results vary between hospitals. You can go to two different hospitals on the same day and take an HIV test and get two different test results!

No you cannot. The kits are standardised. Maybe in the case of false positives or poorly run tests but most hospitals tend to have standardised procedures which are nearly impossible to fuck up. Maybe it happens but I have certainly never heard of it. Maybe if it’s a false positive/negative test but those are insanely rare.

5. Test results vary between countries. There is no international standard on how to even interpret the results on an HIV test. This means that you could test positive in America, but in Australia your same test result could be considered negative!

When the colour change happens on an ELISA you may have HIV. If it matches to a western blot you have HIV. This is universal across the globe. Australia and the USA may use different kits but the principles are the same. The colour change may be slightly different and use dots or bars to represent positive tests but the honest truth is the tests are pretty much the same.

6. Test results vary depending on which test kit is used. This means that an ELISA test could indicate that you are positive, but a Western Blot test or PCR test could indicate that you are negative.

True. However that is why we combine the test with two sources. The ELISA is a great, cheap rough and ready test that gives results in under an hour. The PCR and Western blot take days. A positive ELISA followed by a negative western blot or PCR is indicative that you are fine. In the west both tests are done. A confirmation of HIV/AIDS is only given if you have a positive ELISA followed by a positive Western Blot.

7. The HIV tests do not look for HIV in your body. The tests just look for chemical reactions which have never been proven to have anything to do with HIV. This is why doctors will say that you are HIV positive, but they will not state in writing that you have an active infection of HIV. There is a big difference between being HIV positive and actually having HIV!

The ELISA test specifically looks for antibodies to HIV. Now the author may not think immunity works but clearly that’s because he seems to be “just some guy” and “an idiot” rather than “a trained professional”. ELISA detects antibodies in serum. Western Blot however detects HIV related structural proteins in serum (AKA HIV coat structure) and PCR detects it’s DNA. So out of the three normally used tests, only one detects something that isn’t present in HIV. If we use a Sandwich ELISA, we can even detect specific proteins and even link it to concentration. However normally we use a cassette ELISA which is simpler than the fancy type. 

8. The personal information you give at a testing facility will have a big impact on how they interpret the test results. That is, if you say that you are a homosexual or an intravenous drug user, this will drastically increase the chances that they will claim that you have HIV.

Clearly this individual has never ever been to a HIV test. If you are from a high risk group such as Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) or IV drug users, we ask you to have more HIV tests. Mainly because the truth remains that IV drug use spreads HIV and the MSM demographic is responsible for a number of cases far higher than their numbers should suggest. Even today roughly 50% of cases are from the MSM community (in the west) mainly because until recently there was no incentive to use condoms in anal sex. It’s just good common sense to get yourself tested even if you aren’t from these demographics.

And there is no interpretation of test results. If you have a Positive ELISA test and a Positive Western Blot with appropriate symptomatology you are HIV positive. We don’t care whether you are the local gay bath house village bicycle or the junkiest of them all or if you are a priest. You are HIV positive. 

9. If you are told you are HIV positive this will have a devastating emotional impact on you and your family. Even worse, if you start taking drugs like AZT, DDI and protease inhibitors you will be poisoning yourself and most likely die a slow horrible death. AZT for example was originally a chemotherapy treatment, but in 1964 it was deemed too deadly and its use was discontinued. It destroys the bone marrow which is where a person’s blood cells are formed! Therefore, people who supposedly have an immune system problem are being given a drug which destroys their immune system!

Instead you should be ignorant of your HIV status and infect more people with your deadly disease. Because that hasn’t harmed black people at all. AZT does not cause bone marrow depletion but anaemia by inhibiting expression of DNA. Erythropoetin and activity increases RBC counts just fine.

And it shows how utterly insane the author is. AZT is Zidovudine, a Reverse Transcriptase inhibitor. It does not affect the immune system in a negative fashion. It was infact shelved as an anti leukemia drug in mice due to it’s lack of effect rather than it’s toxicity. It however cured some leukemias caused by a retro-virus. Which is why it was of interest when HIV was discovered.

10. No HIV virus has ever been isolated. The early claims of isolation have been proven false and turned out to be nothing more than cellular debris! Even the person who supposedly discovered HIV, French scientist and Nobel Prize winner, Luc Montagnier, has publicly admitted that he never obtained a purified sample of HIV. This means that all of the HIV tests are worthless because there is no purified sample of HIV which can be used to measure the accuracy of those tests. It also means that all of the HIV/AIDS drugs are worthless because they are based on a virus that nobody has ever isolated. This is why scores of prominent doctors and scientists have been denouncing the HIV/AIDS hypothesis as a hoax!

HIV has been isolated over, and over and over again repeatedly. Luc Montagnier has never said any such thing and the virus has been repeatedly isolated via a variety of different methods. We even have electron micrographs of the damn thing and that’s as empirical as it gets.

Wait scores of doctors and patients?

Wait what?Are there seriously patients out there… sufferers of HIV who deny the existence of the virus and are having sex…

Okay this has stopped being an amusing article filled with stupid people and has started being a fucking dangerous insight into a group of people who are actively spreading a disease that kills 100% of it’s victims at this point and time.  This man is part of the reason why HIV is so rampant amongst africans and indeed rising in black people. This goddamn idiot is actively spreading the infection.

Denialism kills, Curtis Cost shows precisely how easy it is to kill someone with ignorance.

It Get’s Better – Let Joe tell you a Story

Ricky loved Madonna made my heart break a little.

We often forget people after they become statistics. In 2007 alone out of roughly 250,000 men who have sex with men (the term Gay Man is not used anymore because it ignores people who experiment and people who are bisexual), roughly 5000 a year die.

But remember those are rough figures. And that those who die are people just like Ricky. Just like you and me. They have dreams like us. They had things they were passionate about be it questionable pop music or writing stupid blogs.

But most of all remember that we could avoid this and we can stop more of these stories. It should be Ricky Loves Madonna, not Loved. And we can do it, we are humans. We touched the fucking moon and killed smallpox. We can kill HIV once and for all.

Support those who fight or fight yourself against it. Wear a red ribbon, give money, support needle exchanges, support gay rights and proper sex education. Teach your boys to take responsibility and use protection. Teach your girls to do the same too since the numbers of straight people getting the disease are on the rise.

And above all remember that statistics merely give you a picture, but the picture is made up of real people. We are all statistics at some point.

The Changing Face of HIV and AIDS

Click to see a Larger Image

It’s a stunning piece of information, simple and elegant enough to portray the fight against HIV/AIDS that we are facing.

It’s still a big problem, it’s not going to go away. All those numbers of people at the moment are still guaranteed to die. We need to change that.

If you can, please donate to charity. Even one person receiving ARV therapy is one person who gets to live. 

Why I Fight

We only have one world for the moment. One life in which to live on this earth, No hell below us, and above us only sky. Most of us on the internet are lucky enough to live in paradise of civilisation but there are people who live in a very real hell. And it’s not upto any mythical god to save them. It’s upto us. We are responsible for ourselves, we are not babies but adults and it’s time to act like adults.

This woman would have been ostracised by her society due to the stigma of her disease and their ignorance, she is alone and left alone to die. Religion would deem her sinful for the way she probably contracted it. Religion probably caused her to contract it due to stances on sex education, female empowerment and contraception. The quacks would try and milk her for all she’s worth by offering her snake oil and false hopes. Alternative medicine would claim that our methods don’t work and that we are probably responsible for her condition.

What I fight for is the chance to show real hope to such people. To give them a real chance. It’s things like this that reaffirm your faith. You don’t need god to have faith in what human beings can do if we really put our minds to it. It is my hope that we humans can destroy this disease and make it go the way of Smallpox. But for that we need to fight ignorance, religion and human greed. And we can do this by ARVs, Condoms, Education and Empowerment.

It is my greatest wish that one day while reading an Anti Vaccine site there is literature about how HIV wasn’t so bad much like how smallpox is treated today. Because on that day, I will know that I would have worked towards turning one of the most feared diseases in the world to nothing more than a rumour. And on that day we would have eliminated one of the greatest scourge’s of mankind.

You don’t need ARVs or Medicine to make a difference. Just a smile and a kind word can do wonders. Compassion is at it’s core the most powerful and beautiful thing a human can do.