Saturday, January 30, 2010

HIV, the call center industry & a talking steriotype

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I was a t work and I wasn't able to see the report on HIV that was aired last January 27, 2010.

The report was delivered in Filipino. Here are some of the content of the story:

Reporter: “Maagang pagkamulat sa internet sabi ng sociologist na si Josephine Aguilar Placido (Univesity of the Santo Tomas). Ito ang pangunahing dahilan bakit pabata na ng pabata and nakikkipag sex. Hindi raw nakakatulong na madali nang maaccess and mga pornographic website.”

Placido: “ang bata, ididiscover nya ang lahat kung ano meron ang computer”

Reporter : “Ayon kay placido, maari ring sisihin ditto ang malalaswang panoorin sa telebisyon at pagrebelde ng tao sa problema sa pamilya. Malapit din sa tukso ang mga nasa call center kung saan ang mga empliyado ay mula high school hanggang college., dahil na rin sa oras ng trabaho.”

Placido: “yung oras ng pagtatrabaho nila ay amalapit sa kung ano mang gusto nilang gawin… na you know.. malapit sa tukso. Bonding moments mo yan sa pamilya mo pero asan ka? Nagtatrabaho ka e. Wala ka sa pamilya mo.”

Reporter : “Paalala pa ni Placido na ang sex ay kinakailangang gawin sa tamang panahon at edad.”

Reporter : “Sa huli ayon pa sa mga experto, pinakamabisa pa ring paigtingin ng mga magulang and pagtuturo ng tamang pagpapahalaga o values sa kanilang mga anak lalo na sa mga kabataan ngayun. Dahil ito ang mga sisilbing pundasyon para makaiwas sila sa ano mang tukso sa kapaligiran.”

I wonder why it is so easy for people to point a finger onto who is at fault, rather than find a constructive way of dealing the issue and finding resolutions.

I was aghast how lacking the information they presented and how they pinpointed the internet, television programs and family as being available or lacking on something which causes the HIV/ AIDS victims getting younger (please forgive me for using the word “victim” for lack of better term).

It’s true that internet and family are some of the factors affecting a person’s drive to discover stuff about sex and everything associated with it. But I feel that the lack of information and proper education is the main cause why people do silly and stupid things… things like engaging in sex at an early stage.

Everything around us, including humanity is evolving. And together with that evolution is the craving for knowledge. Taking this in consideration, I should take my hat off to give a kudos to the internet technology for addressing this desire for knowledge. Not everything in the internet is neurally healthy. Nevertheless, internet is effective in information dissimination and peoples should learn to maximize it. Check this link,, as a proof how internet affect HIV prevention.

Television share the same acknowledgment from me. Family on the other hand should not be blamed as far this issue is concerned. I have seen people from different kind of family back ground and one differ from the other in so many ways regard less of the similarity of their family values. I came from a conservative family with a good and strong foundation as far as values are concerned… yet I am living with HIV.

Now let’s go the call center agents. Placido said that call center agents are prone to temptations because they work during the evening. Is she even thinking before coming out with what she just said? Call center agents are not the only one working during the evening. Police officers, Doctors, Nurses, Reporters, advertising employees, 24 hour convenient store staff, public transportation drivers, hotel employees… the list goes on and on. Why pinpoint the call center industry. Sigh… now she just put a dent on her credibility as a thinking doctor.

Lastly, they forgot to mention that our educational system lack capacity to educate young minds as far as reproductive health and sex education is concerned. Stop blaming other sectors and start putting up a good foundation in our educational system. If only someone taught me about sex and copulation back in school and showed me how to properly use a condom, I would have not experimented and discovered it by my self. I would have not turned out to be HIV positive.

Family, education and technology work hand in hand. One cannot work efficiently and effectively in the absence of the other/s.

HIV 101 - HIV test

What is an HIV test?

An HIV test shows if someone is infected with HIV, the virus that attacks the body's immune system and causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or what is more commonly known as AIDS. There are several different tests that can be used to determine if you are carrying the HIV virus. The first test developed is still the most frequently used for the initial detection of HIV infection: the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or as it's more commonly known, the ELISA or EIA.

The ELISA is usually done by drawing blood, usually from a vein in the arm. The process is no more uncomfortable than a typical blood test. For most people, it is not particularly painful and the blood draw is accomplished quickly.

If the ELISA test is negative—meaning that antibodies are not found—the testing is complete. If the ELISA test is positive, the laboratory will want to make sure that it is not a "false positive" result (some molecules in the bloodstream can sometimes cause a false-positive result). First, they may repeat the ELISA test. If it's positive, they will conduct a test called a Western blot. If both the ELISA and the Western blot test yield a positive result, a diagnosis of HIV infection is confirmed and the results are sent back to the healthcare professional who ordered the test.

If you have blood drawn for an HIV test, it can take between one and two weeks to learn the results. If it seems as if you are waiting a long time to learn the results, this in no way means that the result is "positive" and that the laboratory needs more time to conduct additional tests.

When should you get tested and is the test result accurate?

There is a "window period" which is the time it takes the body to produce antibodies after HIV infection has begun. For the vast majority of those who will test positive, antibodies to HIV will develop within 4-6 weeks after exposure. Some will take a little longer to develop antibodies. To make certain that you receive a reliable test result, it's necessary to wait at least three months (13 weeks) after your last possible exposure to the virus before being tested.

Getting tested before three months may result in an unclear result or a false negative. Some testing centers may recommend testing again at six months. More than 99 percent of those who are going to seroconvert will do so within three months (seroconversion is the development of detectable antibodies to HIV in the blood as a result of infection.) It's extremely rare for seroconversion to take more than six months to develop detectable antibodies.

No diagnostic test will ever be 100 percent reliable, but if you test negative at the appropriate time (i.e., 13 weeks after possible exposure to the virus), you can consider that to be a dependable confirmation that you are HIV negative.

What are some of the other tests available?

These are other reliable, government-approved tests which are widely available:

Rapid Testing:

Samples are obtained and analyzed using the ELISA test. The results are usually available within ten to sixty minutes. If the result is positive, a follow-up test is required, usually by drawing blood and sending the sample to a laboratory for Western blot testing. If the result is negative, there is no need for additional testing and the result can be considered conclusive.

Convenient and faster, this method is often used in healthcare settings, particularly where urgency is an issue such as with someone who is pregnant or about to give birth. Because it provides a result so quickly, this is an increasingly popular method for testing.

Several rapid HIV tests have been approved for the FDA, all of which can only be performed by healthcare providers (they cannot be purchased directly by consumers). The approved tests are the Oraquick Rapid HIV Antibody Test (using oral fluid or blood samples), the Oraquick Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody Test (tests for both HIV-1 and HIV-2 using blood samples), the Clearview Complete HIV 1/2 and HIV 1/2 STAT-PAK (a blood sample is used to check for antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2), the Reveal Rapid HIV-1 Antibody Test (requires a blood sample), and the Uni-Gold Recombigen HIV Test (requires a blood sample). While the time to conduct each of these tests do vary, they all yield results in less than an hour. If you are interested in any of these tests, you should call your healthcare provider to see if he or she conducts these tests and, if not, where you may go to have one done.

The collection of oral fluids to look for HIV antibodies using the Oraquick Rapid HIV Antibody Test may not be as accurate as the other rapid assays that use blood samples. There were reports starting in 2005 that some testing sites in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City had higher rates of false-positive test results than usual, meaning that the Oraquick Rapid HIV Antibody Test using oral fluids (but not blood samples) falsely detected antibodies in people who were not infected with HIV. Most—though not all—of these sites later found that there were problems with how the tests were being handled by providers. However, the test is still highly accurate in terms of detecting antibodies in people who are infected with HIV (it has an extremely low false-negative rate).

It's very important to understand these new tests do not change the length of time you have to wait after a possible exposure to HIV to get a reliable result. You still need to wait three months (13 weeks), to allow time for antibodies to become detectable in the blood for an accurate result.

The Oraquick, Clearview, Reveal Rapid, and Uni-Gold Recombigen tests are not the only rapid tests available. Some hospitals, clinics and a few private doctors' offices have their own in-house rapid tests, which are also completely reliable.

Home Sample Collection Tests:

Using a provided safety lancet, you will need to prick your fingertip and place drops of blood on the blood specimen card included in the test kit. You only need enough blood to fill a circle the size of a dime. The kit will contain a unique identifying number that you'll need to have handy to learn the results. The blood specimen card is then sent to a designated laboratory where it is tested using the ELISA/Western blot tests. The results are usually available within three to seven days and are accessed by calling a telephone number provided by the laboratory. The results, along with counseling, are provided by trained counselors over the telephone.

Oral Fluid Test:

A device is used to collect oral (mouth) fluid (i.e. saliva). Oral fluids can contain antibodies to HIV, which can be detected using the ELISA and Western blot tests. The Oraquick Rapid HIV Antibody Test, which has a high degree of accuracy and produces results in less than an hour, can be conducted using oral specimens. Oral specimens are usually collected using the OraSure HIV-1 Oral Specimen Collection Device, which can then be tested using the rapid assay or traditional testing procedures. Because oral specimen collection is so easy and comfortable to accomplish, this test is often used in clinics, doctors' offices, hospitals, and school-based and university health centers.

Urine-Based Test:

A urine sample, collected in a cup, is used for the ELISA/Western blot tests. The results of this noninvasive and non-technical method can be obtained at a return visit, typically in one to two weeks. It's commonly used in community-based and outreach settings, adolescent, school and university-based settings. Anyone with a positive urine result must have a confirmatory blood test.

I can't wait 13 weeks to find out! Are there other options?

There are tests that can look for the virus—not antibodies—in the blood. Because the virus becomes detectable in the blood much sooner after infection than antibodies, these tests are an option for people who simply can't wait 13 weeks to find out the results of standard ELISA/Western blot testing. And because there has been some encouraging research indicating that people who diagnose their HIV infection early—meaning the first weeks after infection, before antibodies become detectable—can protect their immune systems by starting treatment early, these tests are proving to be very useful for people who recently engaged in a high-risk activity (e.g., receptive anal sex without a condom) and fear they might have been infected.

These tests look for fragments of HIV, either floating around freely in the bloodstream or inside cells in the bloodstream. Some tests—known as qualitative tests—yield a "positive" or "negative" result, meaning that the virus was or wasn't found (GenProbe's Aptima HIV-1 RNA Qualitative Assay is the only test approved for this purpose). Other tests—known as quantitative tests—yield a "viral load" result, meaning the amount of virus in a sample of blood. Roche's quantitative Amplicor HIV Monitor Test is frequently used by doctors and research centers but is not specifically approved for this purpose. It is only approved to monitor to people who are known to be infected with HIV, particularly to find out if their treatment is working properly.

These tests are highly sensitive, meaning that they can detect even the tiniest amounts of HIV in a blood sample. However, they are not always specific, meaning that they can sometimes yield a false-positive result. In turn, follow-up testing using standard ELISA/Western blot assays, is typically recommended.

These tests must be ordered by a health care provider, meaning that you should call your doctor if you think you may have recently been exposed to the virus and would like one of these tests. It's also important to keep in mind that these tests can be expensive and are not usually covered by insurance for diagnostic purposes.

Aren't there two different kinds of HIV? How do I know what I should be tested for?

The two known types of HIV are HIV-1 and HIV-2. In the United States and Europe, the overwhelming majority of HIV cases involve HIV-1. HIV-2 infections are predominantly found in West African nations. The first case of HIV-2 was discovered in the United States in 1987. Since then only 79 people with HIV-2 infections have been identified in the United States. While the CDC does not recommend routine screening for HIV-2, when someone tests for HIV-1 using ELISA/Western blot tests, there is a 60% to 90% chance that HIV-2 will be detected if it is present.

Not every test will automatically include testing for HIV-2. Anyone who thinks there's a possibility they have been exposed to HIV-2 and/or any of HIV's more rare subtypes should mention this when being tested. Among those for whom HIV-2 testing is indicated are those with sex partners from a country where HIV-2 is prevalent or people with an illness that indicate underlying HIV infection, such as an opportunistic infection, but whose HIV-1 test result was negative.

What about subtypes of HIV?

Thus far, 11 distinct subtypes, also known as "clades" or "genotypes," have been recognized of HIV-1. More than 96% of the HIV-1 infections in the United States and Europe are caused by subtype B. Subtypes B and F predominate in South America and Asia. Subtypes A through H of HIV-1 are found in Africa, along with HIV-2 in sub-Saharan Africa.

The ELISA/Western blot tests can detect antibodies to all HIV-1 subtypes. Viral load tests can also detect and quantify subtypes of HIV-1. The viral load tests can also detect and quantify HIV-2.

Should I get tested for HIV?

Getting tested is recommended if any of the following apply to you:

  1. You should be tested at least once a year if you are sexually active, particularly with three or more sexual partners in the last 12 months.

  1. You had a possible exposure to HIV either through vaginal or anal intercourse without the use of a condom or have been involved in any other risky sexual behavior.

  1. You have shared/reused needles or syringes to inject drugs (including steroids), or for body piercing, tattooing, or any other reason.

  1. You are a health care worker who's had a work-related accident such as direct exposure to blood or have been stuck with a needle or other object.

  1. You are uncertain about your sexual partner's risk behaviors or your sexual partner has tested positive for HIV.

  1. You are pregnant or are considering becoming pregnant.

  1. You have had certain illnesses including TB (tuberculosis), or an STI (sexually transmitted infection), such as syphilis or herpes.

  1. You have any reason to be uncertain about your HIV status.

If you have engaged in behaviors that have put you at risk of becoming infected with HIV, you may also have been exposed to other STIs. Some of these can be quite serious and require immediate treatment, such as syphilis or hepatitis C virus (HCV). If you are being tested for HIV you should also discuss with your provider whether you are at risk and should be tested for these STIs.


HIV 101 – A personal thought from a guy living with HIV

ABS CBN’s TV Patrol aired a report last January 27, 2010. The televised report highlighted that there is a concerning growth on the number of HIV cases and that most of the people coming out as positive comes from the call center industry. I wasn’t able to see the news first hand since I was busy documenting an orientation on Rapid Access to Vulnerability on HIV in Davao City. This news came to me through a text message from a good friend who I used to work with in a call center in Manila.

As an advocate against HIV/ AIDS, I was shocked how irresponsible the above mentioned news network released the report. I learned later on the real story of the interview because I was able to speak with the doctor that was interviewed. She mentioned that the HIV cases are growing and that the age of those getting infected is becoming younger. She also admitted that she mentioned that some of the people tested positive for HIV are yuppies. Then the reported insulated something like…yuppies, like people from the call center? Talk about putting words in one’s mouth. The network edited and aired the interview and made it sound like the call center industry has a big contribution on the growing number of HIV cases – which is not the case!

I knew that statement would cause havoc and stir people to react. And it did. I received a lot of text messages from my ex-call center team mates. I heard reactions from the participants of the activity I am covering and people from different HIV/ AIDS NGO and support group.

I received a phone call from a friend asking if I am willing to be interviewed regarding the initial report the news network aired. I said yes. I was given the Zen Hernandez’s (reporter) mobile number and I contacted her. She said they are making a case study on people living with HIV, as to how they are coping up with their status and what are the supports they need. But I was under the impression that they are making an new report to neutralize the impression they made on HIV vs. the call center industry.

Morning of January 29, 2010. I just arrived from my Davao trip the evening before and haven’t had enough sleep, I met with the reporter and was interviewed. The interview was long and substantial. I was asked personal questions. I made sure to highlight the fact that the growing number of HIV cases has no direct relationship to the call center industry.

People don’t get infected with HIV because they work in call centers. Neither they get it because they work nights nor because they have frequent access to internet (net service used for business in call centers). People get infected with HIV because they are careless, irresponsible and ignorant.

Police, Doctors, hotel employees, convenient store staff, and others… even reporters and people in the mass media business work nights so it is unfair for the call center industry to be tagged as a big contributor on the growth of the “numbers”.

I can talk about the experiences I have with ignorant, prejudice and discriminatory people. About how many loving people work to help others. Or I can just start discussing HIV 101. But that’s not what I want to do right now. What I want is for everyone to stop and contemplate. What if you’re the one who’s infected with the “H” virus? How do you want to be treated? How do you want to be perceived? Let me know so I would know if your needs and wants are different from mine… but I am supposing we all have the same wishes.

I wish for many things but hope for one thing… that I would be able to help make this world a safe, healthy and better place to live in… for all of us.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

HIV 101 - What are the symptoms of HIV?

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In the period immediately after infection has taken place there aren't any specific symptoms. Within two to four weeks after exposure to HIV, a person might have flu-like symptoms such as fever, swollen glands, muscle aches, diarrhea, fatigue or rash. In rare instances they may occur within a few days after the exposure has taken place.

These symptoms usually go away after a week or two. Often, if they occur at all, they're so mild they're hardly noticeable, although for some people they are severe enough to warrant calling a doctor.

It's important to keep in mind these symptoms are almost identical to those of many other illnesses. That's why testing is so important. Very often people who have the symptoms are worrying unnecessarily. Only by taking the HIV test can someone reliably know their HIV status. Everything else is just guessing and HIV is too important and issue to merely guess about. [source:]

Just to summarize, following are the main HIV symptoms:

1. Rapid weight loss

2. Dry cough

3. Recurring fever or profuse night sweats

4. Profound and unexplained fatigue

5. Wollen lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck

6. Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week

7. White spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, in the mouth, or in the throat

8. Pneumonia

9. Red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids

10. Memory loss, depression, and other neurological disorders.

Please don't rely on HIV symptoms to know whether or not you are infected with HIV. There is a possibility that you don't show any of the HIV symptoms but can still be infected with HIV/AIDS.[source:]

Since there is no known cure for HIV yet, it is better to get tested soon... early detection and treatment of HIV is better than cure.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Mother’s Advice

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I am one of those Poz who are lucky to have a very supportive family. My parents never asked me how I got infected nor did they condemn me for being HIV positive.

I remembered how my mom uttered, back in the hospital when I told them about my condition… “Wag na ating tanungin kung pano nya nakuha, basta suportahan nalang natin sya” (Let’s not ask him how he got it instead let’s just support him.)

We’re Mormons and you can only imagine how conservative my family values are… nevertheless we’ve always maintained a liberal thinking.

My parents have a very good foundation as far as church values are concerned. They never fail to remind us of how we need to work on our life and our salvation. But please don’t get me wrong… my parents are very respectful when it comes to preaching their kids church stuff. Now you know where my values are coming from.

I paid my parents a visit last night. As usual my mom gave her reminder on how I need to set my priorities and how I need to work on the spiritual aspect of my life to be able to go back to heaven and be with my family and God. As a respectful son, I listened to my mom and what she had to say… She advised me to go to my bishop and advised me to confess my sins and work on my deliverance.

I asked my mom, if I do that, will my HIV go away? Will I get cured?

She paused and said, "no, but it will give you a chance to repent and start a new life."

I asked her, does the church accept HIV positive people? She answered, the church accept everyone who is willing. The church does not discriminate anyone.

I asked her, are you ready if people find out that your son is HIV positive?

Then she uttered one of the most loving answers she said so far…

“When I found out that you’re HIV positive, I got sad… I cried. But now I know I am ready. I always pray for you and write your name when I visit the temple. What other people will say is immaterial because they can’t say anything to harm us.”

She added, “Sometimes I wished I can turn back time and transform you into a baby once more… then I would be able to change the mistakes that was committed. But I can’t do that. Things happen for a reason and there is learning on everything that comes to pass.”

I can’t help my self from crying.

I had a long, heart to heart conversation with my mother and I felt her love and sincerity.

I have a lot of regrets in my life but my mother told me that we all make mistakes and it’s only fair to accept those mistakes, learn from them and move on and make sure we do better going forward.

She asked if she can give me a hug and asked me if it’s not too late. I said “no mom, it’s not too late.”

She gave me a very comforting embrace. I love my mother and I am thankful that she remained strong and wise despite her weaknesses.

She said she loves me and I said the same in return.

I never felt very open towards my mother about my feelings... but this time, I learned that it is very important to keep an open communication with your parents and other family members. Whatever we make of ourselves, our family will always be our family and it is only right that we show them we love them.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

HIV 101 - The HIV Life Cycle

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In order for viruses to reproduce, they must infect a cell. Viruses are not technically alive: they are sort of like a brain with no body. In order to make new viruses, they must hi-jack a cell, and use it to make new viruses. Just as your body is constantly making new skin cells, or new blood cells, each cell often makes new proteins in order to stay alive and to reproduce itself. Viruses hide their own DNA in the DNA of the cell, and then, when the cell tries to make new proteins, it accidentally makes new viruses as well. HIV mostly infects cells in the immune system.

Infection: Several different kinds of cells have proteins on their surface that are called CD4 receptors. HIV searches for cells that have CD4 surface receptors, because this particular protein enables the virus to bind to the cell. Although HIV infects a variety of cells, its main target is the T4-lymphocyte (also called the "T-helper cell"), a kind of white blood cell that has lots of CD4 receptors. The T4-cell is responsible for warning your immune system that there are invaders in the system.

Replication: Once HIV binds to a cell, it hides HIV DNA inside the cell's DNA: this turns the cell into a sort of HIV factory.



There are a few things you need to know in order to understand HIV infection.

DNA: DNA is like the "blueprint" for building living cells.

Enzymes: Enzymes are like the workers of a cell. They build new proteins, transport materials around the cell, and carry out other important cellular functions.

RNA: RNA is like the construction boss. Cells use RNA to tell enzymes how to build a specific part of a cell. To make a new protein, enzymes will copy a specific part of the DNA into a piece of RNA. This RNA is then used by other enzymes to build a new protein or enzyme.

Proteins: The building blocks that are used to make living things.

Nucleus: A small package inside the cell where the genetic material is kept.


The HIV Life Cycle

Step 1

A virus consists of an outer envelope of protein, fat and sugar wrapped around a set of genes (in the case of HIV, genetic information is carried as RNA instead of DNA) and special enzymes.

HIV has proteins on its envelope that are strongly attracted to the CD4+ surface receptor on the outside of the T4-cell. When HIV binds to a CD4+ surface receptor, it activates other proteins on the cell's surface, allowing the HIV envelope to fuse to the outside of the cell.

Entry can be blocked by entry inhibitors.

Step 2: Reverse Transcription

HIV's genes are carried in two strands of RNA, while the genetic material of human cells is found in DNA. In order for the virus to infect the cell, a process called "reverse transcription" makes a DNA copy of the virus's RNA.

After the binding process, the viral capsid (the inside of the virus which contains the RNA and important enzymes) is released into the host cell. A viral enzyme called reverse transcriptase makes a DNA copy of the RNA. This new DNA is called "proviral DNA."

Reverse transcription can be blocked by: Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs), and Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs).

Step 3: Integration

The HIV DNA is then carried to the cell's nucleus (center), where the cell's DNA is kept. Then, another viral enzyme called integrase hides the proviral DNA into the cell's DNA. Then, when the cell tries to make new proteins, it can accidentally make new HIVs.

Integration can be blocked by integrase inhibitors.

Step 4: Transcription

Once HIV's genetic material is inside the cell's nucleus, it directs the cell to produce new HIV.

The strands of viral DNA in the nucleus separate, and special enzymes create a complementary strand of genetic material called messenger RNA or mRNA (instructions for making new HIV).

Transcription can be blocked by antisense antivirals or transcription inhibitors (TIs), new classes of drugs that are in the earliest stage of research.

Step 5: Translation

The mRNA carries instructions for making new viral proteins from the nucleus to a kind of workshop in the cell. Each section of the mRNA corresponds to a protein building block for making a part of HIV.

As each mRNA strand is processed, a corresponding string of proteins is made. This process continues until the mRNA strand has been transformed or "translated" into new viral proteins needed to make a new virus.

Step 6: Viral assembly and maturation

The final step begins with the assembly of new virus. Long strings of proteins are cut up by a viral enzyme called protease into smaller proteins. These proteins serve a variety of functions; some become structural elements of new HIV, while others become enzymes, such as reverse transcriptase.

Once the new viral particles are assembled, they bud off the host cell, and create a new virus. The virus then enters the maturation stage, which involves the processing of viral proteins. Maturation is the final step in the process and is required for the virus to become infectious.

With viral assembly and maturation completed, the virus is able to infect new cells. Each infected cell can produce a lot of new viruses.

Viral assembly can be blocked by Protease Inhibitors (PIs). Maturation, a new target of companies developing anti-HIV drugs, may be blocked using Maturation Inhibitors.


Here’s a picture of HIV budding from a T-cell,

colored scanning electron micrograph of a single HIV budding from a T4 cell

colored scanning electron micrograph of a T4 cell (green) infected with HIV (red).
© NIBSC/Science Photo Library


Saturday, January 16, 2010

oPOZsite attracts

I always want to do what is good and right and wished so hard that people would see my good example. I live by example, hoping that people would do the same and make the community we live in a safe, healthy and better environment for everyone.

But people remember past mistakes. Even the ones that has expired and already lost its relevance. Most often than not, people find it hard to move on and the expired incidents always remain a factor in their future judgements towards people and situation. And yes, they still cling even to those that has expired and already lost its relevance.

I am part of this Poz group that is being established that aims to help unify all the other Poz support groups and bridge the gaps. Majority of the support groups are very supportive, but there are those who oppose for different reasons.

The differing group are literally “positive” but exude a very negative outlook. Some have issues with other members, others have personal issues and some, a number is simply reacting because of lack of information and knowledge and of course, there are those who cling to the out dated, immaterial matters.

I’d like to go into details about this but my emotions are getting in the way. Nevertheless, I am hoping that I thing will turn out alright… it always does.

For now, I am banking on positive thinking and my untainted aspiration.

As the text message I received this morning said: “Positive thinkers see the invisible, touch the intangible and achieve the impossible."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

HIV on the rise (A repost)

Health Update: HIV on the rise


December 28, 2009, 6:04pm

As many Filipinos prepare to celebrate the unfolding of the year with a bang, another boom is on the offing, that is, the rapid and alarming boom of HIV infections in the country—the Department of Health’s (DoH) Registry on HIV and AIDS shows the rise in the incidence whereas 395 new HIV documented cases from January to September of last year increased to 549 for the same time period this year.

However, Joshua Formentera, President and CEO of Positive Action Foundation Philippines, Inc. (PAFPI) shares that a series of intervention done last November 22, 27 and December 6 during the gay pride march yielded a result that is alarming and, as Formentera puts it, shocking.

The intervention was composed of doctors, nurses, people from the non-government organizations (NGOs) and private individuals who volunteered and set up a booth in places where people often go to party and have a good time. This time, the volunteers chose Malate in Manila for the free counseling and screening to party-goers who were mostly composed of men having sex with men or now called in a politically correct manner MSMs.

Using a rapid test kit, volunteers would be able to determine if the examined blood is reactive or non-reactive and as Formentera explains, “If the result (of the screening) shows reactive, there is something wrong with the blood but it does not necessarily meant that the person tested have HIV,” but adds, “Although there is no confirmatory testing yet, rapid testing (according to medical research) shows 99 percent accuracy.”

He says that the November 22nd intervention results to approximately 70 MSMs who availed of the voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) and 13 were found reactive. The following week, November 27, 40 MSMs availed of the VCT and 5 were found reactive while during the gay pride march last December 6, out of 130, 13 were found reactive.

And he recounts that those who availed of the VCTs were initially scared, “Makikita mo sa mukha eh, there is a sort of panic but then again, once these people consumed alcohol, their fear disappeared, a kind of macho image.”

The alarming result is not yet a part of the DoH Registry and according to him, the number could increase 500 times over for the coming years. “In 2007, there is a ratio of 1 to every 1,000 (that is 1 HIV positive in 1,000 who were tested), now ratio is 5 to 1,000… and that is very alarming and looking at the sustainability of treatment for ARV, it is really not enough because there is no large chunk of budget allocated for the treatment.”

He explains further that those were found reactive were in Manila alone, “What if this was conducted in Quezon City, Makati and other metropolitan areas around the country?” he asks flabbergasted. Currently, he explains that there is a paradigm shift in the practice of intervention for if before, NGOs and other agencies concerned with the decrease and management of HIV observes “go, come here to us” attitude, now, they are the ones who go to the vulnerable groups of most at risk populations like MSMs. Also, he says that before, most of those recorded HIV incidence came from the sector of migrant workers but since the turn of 2009, HIV infections spread to the key population wherein everyone could be at risk.

As an answer to this distressing increase, Formentera explains that “Education is fundamental in achieving our goals like addressing the stigma and discrimination (associated with HIV/AIDS) but also to prevent infection in the country.” However, he reveals that other government agencies should be proactive in the issues of HIV for DoH is just one agency and needed other agencies to fully implement the programs on HIV and AIDS.

He explains that information should be dynamic and should be disseminated from national to local and vice versa. “If failure to educate the young people especially the area of the Department of Education (DepED) there will be a failure in putting in place the study of HIV and AIDS in the curriculum,” and notes that those new HIV cases now belongs to the average age group of 19 to 24, the more reason for DepED to act since the agency is a part of the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC).

“The DoH has done many things already but they should not be left alone. They should be supported from different angles by other government agencies and our society, community, political leaders and church.” He explains that the church plays an important role in giving out information and encouraging people to work together for he concludes, “HIV is everybody’s business.”

Currently, PAFPI and seven other NGOs like Pinoy Plus Association (PPA), Empowered of Iloilo, Mindanao Advocates, Crossbreeds of Bacolod, Cebu Plus and Babae Plus formed the National Association for Filipinos Living with HIV and AIDS (NAFWA) in the Philippines. This is to ensure that national programs are cascaded to the grass root level and will hasten the programs on advocacy and education.

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