Last month I was a speaker at the 16th Annual Conference of the National HIV Nurses Association. The title of my presentation was, Late Diagnosis – the patient’s experience. Listening to one of the HIV nurses talking about stigma reminded me that it is not only us the patients who have to suffer from stigma but also the people who care for us and that includes our HIV nurses. I remember asking mine why she also had to remain ‘invisible’ and she told me it was to protect us and to protect our families. Because of having to hide and remain anonymous in this manner I feared she would never receive the true acclamation she deserved for all her vital work. HIV nurses play a key role in the lives of HIV positive patients, so on behalf of positive people all over the world all I would like to say a great big thank you.
It’s not only our HIV nurses and specialist doctors who play a huge role in our lives but also the scientists and researchers who will hopefully find the cure for this disease. Tragically many were wiped out in the Malaysian air crash. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude for the momentous goals they achieved before they met their premature deaths in such a shocking manner leaving us with such a devastating loss – a loss of some very great minds and a loss of hope for the future.
Downing of Malaysia Airlines: Effects on International HIV/AIDS Research According to The Richard M. Brodsky Foundation
The Richard M. Brodsky Foundation would like to issue the following statement with respect to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. There were 100 AIDS researchers, activists, public policy advocates and visionary planners about finding the cure for AIDS on the doomed flight. Dr. Joel Lange, former President of the International AIDS Society, had a novel approach for finding the AIDS cure. He managed to convince the AIDS scientists that while AIDS is a medical disease, it is first and foremost a medical pandemic. His plea to researchers: share your research. It is not about who discovers the cure, but that the cure is discovered. Currently there are 1,600,000 people dying from AIDS every year while there are 2,300,000 new HIV cases every year according to the UN AIDS Report for 2013.
The tragedy of the MH17 airline crash not only extends to the loss of 298 humans lives, but to individuals across the globe. Among the flight’s manifest were about 100 contributors that were planning to attend the 20th International AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia. It’s incredibly devastating as there was a loss of knowledge and experiences that could impact the progression of research. The annual conference is very different from traditional medical gatherings. There is a mixture of scientists, clinicians, human rights activists, patients & public health employees that come together in order to collaborate. These events have helped drive understanding and responses to HIV/AIDS in a short amount of time.
Dr. Joel Lange was a Dutch clinical researcher who focused on HIV therapy. He served as the former president of the International AIDS society. He was also the founding Chairman of PharmAccess Foundation, which advocates the improvement of access to HIV/AIDS therapy in developing countries. Dr. Lange played a very active & important role in HIV/AID research. In the mid-1990s, he advocated for the use of combination therapy in the management of HIV/AIDS. This was important as it reduces the development of drug resistance compared to monotherapy! He was an important advocate for providing affordable AIDS medications to African countries. “If we can get cold Coca-Cola and beer to every remote corner of Africa, it should not be impossible to do the same with drugs.” Dr. Lange was a charismatic leader who promoted collaboration among doctors and researchers. Additionally, he helped promote the idea of HIV/AIDS being a medical pandemic and not a disease. It is not a question of who gets the glory for discovering the cure to HIV.
About the Richard M. Brodsky Foundation – The Brodsky Foundation’s goal is to raise awareness that there are 15,100,000 AIDS orphans living in sub-Saharan Africa who have lost one or both parents to AIDS. A lack of doctors, medicine, affordable healthcare, education, clean drinking water & nutritious food combined with an abundance of poverty, hunger, malaria & tuberculosis is the reason why 2/3 of the people dying from AIDS are from sub-Saharan Africa.