What’s Happening with HIV?

I hope a few of you, over the past few months, were thinking “Didn’t there used to be a dude who wrote for this site?  I wonder whatever happened to him?”

Well, the end of grad school and starting a new job happened to me, but I’m happy to say that I have waded through the transitions, and I am back and proud to be bringing you some great thoughts, links, and stories about sex and sexuality along with these other talented bloggers.

As for me, I recently started a job that, while it’s not very new (it was my internship), is certainly nice to be doing for pay.  My new is as a full-time therapist working with people living with HIV in Detroit.  I talk to them about their lives, and hopefully use some of things I learned in grad school to help guide their choices towards making their lives better.  I’ve got a lot of ground to cover, since the city of Detroit can fit Manhattan, Boston, and San Fransisco in its borders with room to spare (see Figure 1.)

Figure 1

While I’ve previously written about the importance of acknowledging that HIV and the stigma associated with it is still a big issue, I have a few more links and thoughts to share.

I found another book that was very valuable in understanding the past, present, and future of HIV, along with some interesting thoughts about what we can do to help the future of HIV be better for all involved.  The Epidemic, by Jonathan Engel, is an entertaining yet academic book(think Mary Roach or Malcolm Gladwell) that has the most comprehensive details about HIV that I’ve encountered. I’m working on a more detailed review of it, so check back later this month for that!

One of the biggest advances in the field of HIV research in the past year has been in vaccination research.  This article from the Wall Street Journal talks in great and comprehensive detail about creating vaccines in a very similar fashion to which they create flu and other viral vaccines.  This is because HIV, like the flu, is a virus that mutates often and easily, and has thus far avoided having any kinds of antibodies that work effectively against it.  There seems to be much more hope for creating a safe and effective vaccine, and I’m interested in seeing what 2011 brings.

Another interesting article that a co-worker brought to my attention (thanks, Chris!) was about a new natural alternative to HIV medications.  This article talks about a substance found in bananas that has been found to have effects at preventing HIV transmission.  This is encouraging news for creating new microbicides that are effective against HIV and derived from natural substances.  NOTE: this does NOT mean that eating bananas (OR sticking/smearing them on your pink parts) will protect you from transmitting or contracting HIV, so please don’t try that as a method of protection against HIV or any other sexually transmitted infection.

Finally, one of the biggest stories from 2010 was the man who was “cured” of HIV.  According to aidsmap.com, Timothy Ray Brown, a U.S. citizen living in Germany, showed no trace of the virus two years after a stem cell transplant.  This procedure, which was performed for advanced leukemia, gave the patient CD4 cells that were devoid of the typical HIV receptor, which protected against the virus infecting these cells.  Experts agree that this expensive and dangerous procedure should only be used in dire cases, but acknowledge that these findings show hope for a future cure.

I hope this post has helped you learn a little more about what’s happening with HIV presently.  I’m looking forward to my new job, and sharing what I learn with MSP readers!

Learn about MSP posts as they happen by following us on Twitter@mysexprofessor. You can also follow Craig VanKempen, the author of this post, @craigvk.

Figure thanks to University of Detroit.

NOTE FROM DEBBY: We are so happy to have Craig back!

About Craig VanKempen

Craig VanKempen

Craig VanKempen, LLMSW/MPH, is a sex educator and therapist practicing in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area. His professional interests include HIV, polyamory, compulsive sexual behavior, religion and sexuality, and GLBT issues.

  • TheSpecialLadyFriend

    Hooray! Good to hear from you again! :)

  • http://twitter.com/YouShouldKnowCA You Should Know

    Thanks for writing about HIV