The Real Deal on HIV Transmission

By Elisabeth Long

From PHN Issue 38, Fall 2018

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is not spread easily. There are a lot of myths about how people get HIV—from mosquito bites to sharing utensils to toilet seats to coughing and sneezing. None of these are true. The reality is that HIV is only transmitted when a body fluid that carries a high concentration of HIV gets into the bloodstream. Mainly, HIV transmission occurs through unprotected sex and sharing drug use equipment. Fortunately, the risk of HIV transmission can be reduced in
a number of ways. Continue reading “The Real Deal on HIV Transmission”

Searching for an HIV cure

By Kirsten Sandgren

From PHN Issue 36, Spring 2018

The human body has a truly amazing set of defenses against infection. Considering how much our bodies are exposed to in the course of our day-to-day lives, it’s a pretty rare occurrence for us to get sick. Even when we do become ill, the immune system is able to recognize the invader, signal to the many different cells that are responsible for keeping us healthy, and almost always come out victorious. Despite this, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is able to cause lifelong infection. HIV affects over one million Americans and more than 37 million people around the world.There is no cure for HIV/AIDS currently, but there is promising research being done to improve treatment and hopefully find a cure in the future. Continue reading “Searching for an HIV cure”

Risk of Sexual Transmission of HIV from a Person Living with HIV who has an Undetectable Viral Load

Reprinted with permission from the Prevention Access Campaign

From PHN Issue 34, Fall 2017

There is now evidence-based confirmation that the risk of (sexual) HIV transmission from a person living with HIV (PLHIV), who is on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) and has achieved an undetectable viral load in their blood for at least 6 months is negligible to non-existent. (Negligible is defined as: so small or unimportant as to be not worth considering; insignificant.) While HIV is not always transmitted even with a detectable viral load, when the partner with HIV has an undetectable viral load this both protects their own health and prevents new HIV infections.[i] Continue reading “Risk of Sexual Transmission of HIV from a Person Living with HIV who has an Undetectable Viral Load”

Safety and After-care for Prison Tattoos

By Tracey Hamilton

From PHN Issue 32, Spring 2017

The primary fear most people express about getting tattooed in prison is that they may contract the HIV virus, which may cause AIDS. HIV is only one of many viruses that can be transmitted. Syphilis, tuberculosis, strep, staph, and hepatitis are just a few of the other diseases to take into consideration. Continue reading “Safety and After-care for Prison Tattoos”

My Involvement with the HIV/AIDS Awareness Program at the Oregon State Penitentiary

By Timothy Hinkhouse

From PHN Issue 27, Winter 2016

In the mid-1990s, it was brought to the attention of the health staff at the Oregon State Penitentiary that an HIV/AIDS education program needed to be assembled to educate the population about this “scary new disease.” The Oregon Health Department contractor who was doing the HIV testing and counseling at the time brought it to their attention because she lost her brother to AIDS and she wanted to help those still alive. A team of incarcerated people who worked well together put together an outline for an education program, the HIV/AIDS Awareness Program (HAAP). We came together because we were on the same page about the necessity of reducing the rate of new infections and clearing up prevalent misconceptions about exposure and transmission. Continue reading “My Involvement with the HIV/AIDS Awareness Program at the Oregon State Penitentiary”

Truly Understanding the Connection between HIV and Incarceration

By Laura McTighe

From PHN Issue 24, Spring 2015

   We know that HIV and incarceration overlap. One in seven people with HIV will pass through our prisons and jails this year. But knowing that HIV and incarceration overlap doesn’t tell us why. Understanding why is critical if we are to end AIDS. Continue reading “Truly Understanding the Connection between HIV and Incarceration”

Ending the Spectrum of Violence Against Women: The Positive Women’s Network

By Teresa Sullivan

From PHN Issue 21, Summer 2014

“We, as women living with HIV, envision a life free from violence, coercion, and discrimination for all people. We, as women living with HIV, demand an end to the many different forms of violence faced by all women, including physical, emotional, psychological, religious, sexual, institutional, and economic violence, and the trauma that violence leaves in its wake.” —Positive Women’s Network, USA

When we hear the word “violence,” the first thing we visualize is the physical abuse of someone. And women living with HIV are indeed vulnerable to physical violence because of stigma and ignorance. This reality was made brutally clear yet again a few weeks ago with the heartbreaking murder of Elisha Henson, who was killed in Texas because of her HIV status. A survey conducted by the Positive Women’s Network, USA (PWN-USA) last year found that 72% of women living with HIV who responded were survivors of intimate partner violence. However, for PWN-USA, ending violence against women includes ending a spectrum of human rights violations, including but not limited to physical violence, that women have faced for many generations throughout history. Continue reading “Ending the Spectrum of Violence Against Women: The Positive Women’s Network”

There’s No Shame in Love

by Jose de Marco

From PHN Issue 19, Winter 2014

I’m Jose de Marco. My father was Latino, my mother was African-American. I’m a man that loves other men.

   I believe if people were more accepting of who they are, they would not care when other people criticize them about who they love. But you have to get to the point where outside influences—whether it’s church, your teacher, your mother, or your brother—your happiness cannot depend on the permission of other people. Continue reading “There’s No Shame in Love”

Recovery from Injustice: An Interview with Ronnie Stephens

by Suzy Subways

From PHN Issue 10, Spring 2011

Ronnie Stephens is an HIV outreach advocate and consultant in Austin, Texas. He has been HIV positive for 10 years and a worker in AIDS services for 14 years. His life’s work is with people who are at risk for HIV because of homophobia, racism, and imprisonment. “I try to target the population that I was locked up with,” he explains. Stephens has been in drug recovery for ten years and gives it much of the credit for his survival. But to him, recovery from drugs is only part of the picture. Like preventing HIV and staying out of jail, it goes beyond the individual. Communities have to do this work together.

Q: What do you mean by “recovery from injustice”?

A: A lot of people who do AIDS strategy don’t really get the idea of social injustice. When they talk about substance abuse and prison, I say, well, half of these kids got beat up down there. They beat you up, and [the prison guards] say, “Well that’s because of what you are.” So what do you have to offer our clients coming out? These kids have been abused. Some of them have been raped, some of them have no family to go to. What do you do for those individuals who are coming back into society and don’t have any family to turn to? That’s kind of traumatizing. That hurts. Continue reading “Recovery from Injustice: An Interview with Ronnie Stephens”