Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rise Above HIV I/WE WANT A F-IN CURE> Campaign 2014 STARTS NOW!

But this year we feel the wording has to be changed to get our point across. The point being that 33 years of HIV/AIDS is long enough. It’s time for a cure. So if you want to put your best face forward and show the world you’re ready then join Rise Above HIV’s 2014 Campaign “I WANT A F*@KING CURE”
It’s Free. All you have to do is send your photo to Subject Line: I Want A Cure.
Or Message Jeremy Hobbs or Shelby Welchel on FB.
Each photo is made for your FB COVER PHOTO. SO, wear your banner with pride.
The campaign goes all year round, but if you want to be in the Special Commemorative Video that will air on December 1, 2014 in honor of World AIDS Day, you must have you photo submitted no later that November 28th.
35 Million People Living with HIV all around the World and 28 Million Have Perished. Isn’t it time for a cure?
Stand up and Submit your photo today and become part of the Solution to find a cure.

Jeremy Scott Hobbs

4411 Rosemont Drive
Columbus Georgia 31904


Of all the forces that make for a better world, none is so powerful as hope. With hope, one can think, one can work, one can dream. If you have hope, you have everything.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Let’s make safe sex second nature

Can we talk about something that’s been on my mind for a long time? Since I was – oh, about 17 years old? Not getting pregnant.
There are many reasons for this hang-up – besides the reason that I’ve inherited a wildly anxious brain. (Fact: I once took a pregnancy test because my period was six hours late. Apologies to my boyfriend at the time for that nervous meltdown!) But the most dominant, overarching reason — and cause for that anxiety — is that right now, at the age of 25, I’m not exactly eager to further the noble Andrews family line.
Imagine my surprise, then, to learn that 25 is the average age at which an American woman has her first child. This fact was so shocking to me that I set out to do a little research on the state of contraception in our fair United States. Is 25 really the age at which women are choosing to delve into motherhood?
Short answer: not necessarily. A study by the Guttmacher Institute found that 51 percent of pregnancies in the United States in 2008 were unintended. For the record, that’s higher than both the global average of 40 percent and the average for developed countries, which is 47 percent.
At this point, you may be asking yourself: “Why am I reading about this here? How is this Gristy?” I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that there are few things you’d be less jazzed to think about during sex than carbon emissions, so I’ll keep this brief and reference a great piece on family planning and climate change that Valerie Tarico wrote for Grist last month. From her article (but seriously, you should read the whole thing):
The Aspen Institute has estimated that voluntary family planning for all who want it could provide 8 to 15 percent of needed carbon reductions. David Wheeler and Dan Hammer at the Center for Global Development argue that putting climate dollars into family planning programs (to make up for expected shortfalls) compares favorably to many investments in low-carbon technologies.
It doesn’t take scientific research or the brain of Bill Gates to figure out that our impacts grow as our numbers grow — that gains in the efficiency of, say, air conditioners or cars can be swamped by the growing number of air-conditioned houses and cars on the road. Analysis of population trajectories and effects seems like an obvious and necessary part of the climate dialogue.
Both of those studies have a focus on the developing world, but that’s not the only place where family planning can make a big difference for the climate. In fact, considering that we wealthy people use so many more resources and cause so much more carbon pollution than the rest of the world, we need to be doing a lot better with contraception ourselves. As a 2010 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences put it, “change in U.S. population growth has a pronounced effect on emissions, despite its small contribution to global differences in population outcomes, because of the relatively high per capita emissions.”
It’s pretty alarming, then, that one out of every two U.S. pregnancies is unintended. But this is not just an issue of (cute little bronze-cast) carbon footprints. It’s crucial, for the purposes of social and economic equity, that women have all of the resources and information they need to be able to have children when and how they want to do so. Study after study confirms that when women are better educated and informed, they will choose to have fewer children — and an unintended pregnancy can have serious impacts on a woman’s quality of life.
Why, in one of the wealthiest countries in the entire world, is the unintended pregnancy rate so high? Where are we screwing up? How are we failing women?
From my own personal experience, I’m really not sure. I went to an inner-city public high school with a predominately low-income student body. Teenage motherhood was enough of a reality that we had an in-school nursery for students’ children. (For the record, I think that this was a terrific resource.)
Then, by contrast, I went a private college where many of the students came from very privileged backgrounds. And I was regularly shocked by the cavalier attitude that some of my friends and peers took to contraception in general. “We didn’t use a condom, and I’ve missed like three pills in a row,” someone would say, quite casually, and I would immediately start to feel dizzy from heart palpitations.
“Am I being nuts, to be making such a big deal out of this in my own brain?” I started to think. “Do I need to start taking benzodiazepines with my Ortho Tri-Cyclen?” (This is a joke, obviously. Always ask your doctor before you mix medications!)
No. I don’t believe that I am crazy (not for this, at least). An unexpected, unplanned pregnancy is a big deal, both for many of the women who experience them and for our society at large. The fact that we have so many makes me think that somewhere along the line, the way we talk about sex and deal with contraception got screwed-up in our country.
I want to explore the ways in which birth control can become second nature – notsomething that is enough of a pain in the ass that the average woman might be prone to neglect it, and also not a cause for a low, constant undercurrent of anxiety for the more Type-A among us.
So, as a 25-year-old woman who is not prepared to start down the motherhood path, I’m going to try to answer this question: How can we make contraception really work in the United States, for the benefit of individual women and our society as a whole? Follow along as I investigate the options to find the ones that are the most convenient, effective, and easy to use.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

HIV Prevention Pill Truvada Is for Women, Too

Health workers typically approach gay and bisexual men for counseling about drugs to prevent HIV. But that leaves women who may be at risk out of the conversation.

Written by David Heitz 

In the two years since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Truvada for HIV prevention, almost all outreach efforts have targeted men.
“PrEP legitimately has been framed as an intervention for high-risk men, particularly gay men, and that’s all good,” Kimberleigh J. Smith of Harlem United Community AIDS Center in New York City told Healthline. “But the fact remains, PrEP is an option for women.” 
Smith is one of a half dozen women who will appear on a panel at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Mount Sinai Roosevelt Hospital in New York City for a “PrEP Rally,” as the event is being called. Other panelists will include a doctor, a social worker, and three women who either have taken or are taking PrEP. 
“PrEP is not an intervention useful for everybody, but it needs to be accessible for everybody, particularly for specific individuals for whom condoms won’t work or can’t work, or for whom traditional HIV prevention is not sustainable,” Smith said.
That includes women in heterosexual relationships with HIV-positive men, including those who are trying to conceive. It also includes female sex workers. 
PrEP ... has been framed as an intervention for high-risk men, particularly gay men, and that’s all good. But the fact remains, PrEP is an option for women.
Kimberleigh J. Smith, Harlem United Community AIDS Center
In a study of almost 5,000 heterosexual couples of mixed HIV status in Kenya and Uganda, Truvada as PrEP reduced the chances of the noninfected partner contracting HIV by 75 percent. Among people with detectable levels of the drug in their blood, infection risk was slashed by 90 percent.
Truvada must be taken every day as directed in order to be effective. Participants in the trial were also counseled about safe sex and given condoms.

Using a New Pill to Have a Baby the Old-Fashioned Way

Poppy Morgan of San Francisco, California, will appear on the panel via webcam. In 2012, Poppy conceived in the traditional way with her husband, who is HIV positive. He had (and still has) an undetectable viral load; she took PrEP. She gave birth to a healthy baby in 2013 and is considering using PrEP again to have a second child, she said. 
She told Healthline she had initially planned on using a sperm donor for the first baby but changed her mind. 
“I was with some friends, and my husband and a friend were walking in front of me talking,” she said. “I was looking at my husband, how he was walking, how his hair looked. I was like, you know, I married him because I love him. I don’t want to look down at my child and say, 'Whose mannerism is that?'” 
Couples of mixed HIV status can conceive biologically by first having the male partner’s sperm certifiably stripped of the virus. The process is called sperm washing and can cost as much as $10,000.

Doctors Hesitate to Prescribe PReP for Women

Morgan said she used PrEP for 17 months, taking the pill every single day. Even though she gave birth to a healthy baby and did not contract HIV herself, she said finding a doctor to prescribe Truvada for her was difficult, even in an HIV-conscious city like San Francisco. 
“I ended up having to go to my husband’s doctor at an HIV clinic,” she said. “I talked to my primary doctor about prescribing it, but she said absolutely not, it would be unethical for her to do that, that it would be condoning risky behavior.”
Her husband had an undetectable viral load during his most recent HIV test prior to conception. Viral loads can ebb and flow during so-called “blips.” Morgan said her husband had his viral load monitored regularly, and they postponed trying to conceive during such spikes. 
She said that once she became pregnant, she took PrEP for an additional 28 days.
Smith said public health officials in New York City are working hard to overcome issues that keep women from accessing PrEP, financial or otherwise. “For women we need to find the right providers and right clinics, and those may not be the same places as those for men," Smith said.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


I've never known
Who I really am
Red riding hood
or son of Sam?

Good or bad
big or small
black or white
short or tall

Am a mama's girl
or a daddy's guy
could someone say
oh why! oh why!

Can I be me
and live my life
or must I be 
someones wife?

Question is
Who still Am I
Will i find out
Before I die?

written by 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

CDC opens consultation hotline for HIV prevention pill

The CDC has launched a national consultation service for clinicians prescribing pre-exposure prophylaxis, according to a press release.

The Clinician Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Hotline, or PrEPline, is a toll-free resource for information about the daily HIV prevention pill. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has been shown to significantly reduce the risk for HIV infection among adult men and women at substantial risk for HIV infection infection through sex or injected drug use, according to the release.
PrEPline is aimed toward physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants providing primary care to uninfected patients with high risk. The phone service is staffed by experienced clinicians and offers written and online checklists, guidelines and other informational materials.
“PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention tool that has the potential to alter the course of the US epidemic if its use is increased among patients who are at substantial risk for HIV infection,” Dawn Smith, MD, MPH, of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the CDC, said in a statement. “By offering free, expert advice based on the new federal guidelines to clinicians, including those who may not have experience prescribing antiretroviral medications, PrEPline will ensure clinicians across the country have timely access to the information they need to get PrEP into the hands of their patients.”
The service is funded by the CDC and will be implemented in partnership with the Health Resources and Services Administration’s national Clinician Consultation Center at University of California, San Francisco.
PrEPline is open to calls from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, and can be reached at 855-448-7737.
For more information:
Visit the national Clinician Consultation Center website at
See Also


To my surprise, it turns out that my doctor doesn’t consider HIV an STD.  So that sweet relief I felt when she said my organ function was great and that I’m STD free?  Yeah, it didn’t cover the fact that she was about to tell me that she believed I was in the early stages of an HIV infection. Here are 36 thoughts that raced through my brain after I received what turned out to be false positive HIV test results…
1. This doctor is a fucking bitch. There is no other word for it. Who delivers this news over the phone, on a Friday afternoon, offering no resources, and then says not to worry, but to use condoms until I can see the infectious disease specialist she’s referring me too (but at no particular time mind you)?! She doesn’t say the name of the test, doesn’t explain it for those of us who may be Ivy-educated, but still never took anything beyond Bio 101 in college.
2. I need to leave to leave my office. NOW.
3. I can’t believe about I’m about to tell my new, lovely, pregnant coworker that I may be HIV positive.  She’s just the first person I see and I have to talk to someone.
4. I’m surprisingly not embarrassed by the admission. HIV doesn’t discriminate. I’m grateful when she doesn’t ask specifics and just hugs me.
5. Mostly, I’m confused.  I tell my coworker how it doesn’t make sense.  That I’m beyond careful.  That I get tested every six months to a year.  An amazing decision in the end, as she gives me contact information for our department of health and tells me I can talk to a counselor friend of hers.
6. My doctor may be useless, but I am not.  It may be a Friday afternoon, but there is SOMETHING I can do about this.
7. I have friends that are MDs!  They can explain this test. They can tell me what comes next. They won’t judge me.
8. More confusion—my doctor friends hold me and tell me they don’t understand what test it was. They haven’t heard of it.
9. Woof. My friends now know the nitty-gritty details of my sex life.
10. Relief—I don’t have to spend the weekend alone. We leave to get a bag of my stuff and my trusty Zoloft prescription I left at home. Too bad my horrid doctor couldn’t at least give me a Valium (or 10) for the weekend. I don’t know how to make it through the next 60 seconds, let alone the next two days.
11. I call the HIV counselor and she tells me that pregnant women often give false positives. Please let me pregnant! But it’s so unlikely. I tell her, frankly, that it’s more likely that I have HIV…
12. This is the hardest day of my life. I’m grateful for that—I haven’t lost someone very close to me, no serious illness in those I’ve loved, no tragic events, etc.
13. The anxiety and nausea kind of feel like the worst breakup ever. But even with heartbreak you know there are other fish in the sea.  I can’t get new blood.
14. I’m not worried about my health so much. You have to die of something, and as my lovely MD friend told me, HIV-positive individuals now have a greater life expectancy than those with diabetes.  I will have to pay more attention, but I don’t feel like this is a death sentence.
15. Fuck, I don’t have the kind of money to deal with this.  I have amazing insurance, but I work in education. I will have this for the rest of my life. What if I lose my job?
16. Who is going to want to be with a woman who’s HIV positive? I could look like Gisele, have the comic timing of Kristen Wiig, and 98 percent of people still wouldn’t want to be with me out of fear.
17. Speaking of men, how did I get this!? I have had unprotected sex with one person, in a long-term, exclusive relationship.
18. He may have been an emotional moron, but he would never knowingly expose me to anything. He would also never have cheated. Right?
19. Holy crap. What if I gave it to him? Shit, did I give it to the guy I’m dating now, even if we’ve used protection?
20. This still doesn’t make sense. I got tested one year ago. I had been with that long-term partner for six months at the time, and I tested negative.
21. I’ve never even shot heroin. This is so messed up.
22. I understand that I can be that tiny percentage of people who just contract it, despite taking all precautions. If I’m that person, I cannot blame myself.
23. I know I can still have kids without the HIV being passed along to them with almost certainty, but could I do that to kids?  What if I DID die young? I don’t want my kids to grow up without a mother.
24. Confidence in my next step: I’m going to the local AIDS clinic. I’m getting retested. This can’t be right.
25. I’m so grateful to have my doctor friend back here in the room with me.  If I’m going to take a test and get a medical diagnosis, I’m going to make sure she knows what it is and that I understand it.
26. I’m going to be sick.  I make us all leave the room while the test runs.  The counselor’s eyes keep glancing back at the test, and I keep trying to read her reaction.
27. Uh oh. That sandwich I got at Panera is not going to stay down…
28. The set up for this test is kind of ridiculous. Why is it that these life-altering tests are set up with the same system—a stick with one line or two.  It’s even cotton-like at one end. Surely science has progressed further than this.
29. This is it. If it’s positive, there are specialists in the next room that will explain everything. One even went to my high school. I know his wife.  So weird.
30. It’s negative. Oh my god.
31. Wait. Can I trust this test?  I’m told it’s meant to be extra sensitive—giving false positives if necessary to catch every possible infection.  In 26 years of working there, my counselor is confident in my negative test result.
32. I need to get drunk.
33. I need to see my man-friend. I know I cancelled our date, but now I just need a hug. I need to feel like my life is back to normal.
34. I want to cunt-punt my primary care physician.
35. Aren’t I supposed to feel better?  It’s two days later and I still can’t leave my apartment. I’m anxious. I’m angry. I’m sad. I don’t know where my man-friend is.  He blew me off.
36. I need to write this down … someone, somewhere, understands all of this. I am not as alone as I feel.

Friday, October 3, 2014

8 Ways to Live With a Chronic Illness

“Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain,” wrote Vivian Greene.
“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow,’” wrote Mary Anne Radmacher.
These are two of my favorite quotes about living with a chronic illness, about the quiet conviction required from someone with a lasting condition to live gracefully, without getting bitter. I have, for the last six years, lived with treatment-resistant depression, fighting death thoughts (“I wish I were dead”) throughout my day. Although I haven’t stopped trying new drugs and alternative therapies, I am finally accepting the possibility that I may never get “well” or as well as I was in my twenties and early thirties.
So I’m shifting my energy from finding a cure to learning how to “live around” the illness, turning to people with debilitating conditions like fibromyalgia, lupus, and chronic fatigue syndrome–as well as to scientists, meditation teachers, and great thinkers–for instructions on how to manage painful symptoms. Here are a few gems I have picked up, tips on how to dance in the rain … and where to find the courage to try again tomorrow.

1. Let go of the blame.

Former law professor and dean Toni Bernhard contracted a mysterious viral infection on a trip to Paris in 2001. In her courageous and inspiring book, “How to Be Sick,” she writes:
I blamed myself for not recovering from the initial viral infection–as if not regaining my health was my fault, a failure of will, somehow, or a deficit of character. This is a common reaction for people to have toward their illnesses. It’s not surprising, given that our culture tends to treat chronic illness as some kind of personal failure on the part of the afflicted–the bias is often implicit or unconscious, but it is nonetheless palpable.
I was relieved to read this because I have tremendous shame for not being able to beat my condition with the right eating, thinking, meditating, or exercising. Not until Bernhard stopped blaming herself for the illness could she begin to learn how to treat herself with compassion and begin to free herself from unnecessary suffering.

2. Distinguish your illness from yourself.
I learned this concept in the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course I took a few months ago at the local hospital: how to separate your pain from yourself. You can be aware of the symptoms, the aches, the hurt without inviting them to become part of you.
So as I’m running or swimming and get a painful thought, such as, “You will always suffer; you would be better off dead,” I acknowledge the thought, I register where in my body it has landed (usually my neck or shoulders), and then I try to detach from it so that I don’t over-identify with its message.
Bernhard would lie in bed and repeat, “There is sickness here, but I am not sick.” It was her effort to break down the notion of a solid, permanent self that leads to fixed identities such as “I am a sick person.”

3. Address envy.
According to Bernhard, “Envy is a poison, crowding out any chance of feeling peaceful and serene in the mind.” I so struggle with this myself. I’m envious of my husband, who doesn’t feel suicidal if he skips two days of working out. I’m jealous of friends who can chill out with beer and pizza on Friday night and not be worried about the severe ramifications those substances would cause on their moods the next day.
The antidote is a Buddhist term, “mudita,” meaning sympathetic joy; joy in the joy of others. The idea is to be happy for my husband and friends: to try to enjoy their joy. “Look! They are enjoying delicious pepperoni pizza. Isn’t that sweet?” Bernhard says it’s ok to fake this in the beginning. Mudita will eventually enter our hearts and minds and bodies until it’s a genuine expression.

4. Honor your limitations.
Chronic illnesses are tough on people-pleasers because the pleasing types can no longer skate by in their low-maintenance way. It only took me a few years of suffering the consequences to figure out that it’s far more painful to not assert myself (and cause a setback that could last months) than it is to say, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t.” Honoring my limits means I choose to stay home from a family vacation. Those decisions are painful because I’m missing out on fun memories and photo opportunities that I could post on Facebook. But I know how easily my health can deteriorate, and I need to protect it with everything I have.

5. Connect with universal suffering.
There is a famous Buddhist tale of a bereaved woman whose only son died around his first birthday. “Can you revive my dead boy?” she asked the Buddha.
“Yes,” he replied, “but I will need a handful of mustard seed from a house where no child, husband, parent, or servant has died. She returned to the Buddha empty-handed, because death had visited every house.
I don’t mean any disrespect to bereaved parents, as I know losing a child is the greatest pain. However, the story is a powerful reminder for me that my suffering is merely part of the universal suffering that all of us, as human beings, endure. If I can place my ouch in proper perspective, my heart opens in empathy for others.

6. Use your pain for good.
“I’m certainly not going to waste this pain,” Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California said about the sudden suicide of his Matthew, 27, in April of 2013. “One of the things I believe is that God never wastes a hurt and that oftentimes your greatest ministry comes out of your deepest pain.”
Whenever my death thoughts are so loud that I can’t hear anything else, I will start to pray the Prayer of St. Francis, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace …,” and follow it by a Buddhist prayer that meditation teacher Tara Brach, Ph.D., mentions in her book Radical Acceptance: “May my life be of benefit to all beings.” These two prayers channel my pain to a purpose or deeper meaning, and widen the circle of my compassion.

7. Let go of expectations.
Anyone who has been sick for over a year knows the disappointments of new treatments that promised to be “it”; the cure that would end your your nightmare, only to fail. Or of working with doctors that you really thought understood your condition, only to be disillusioned.
Our suffering arises from our desire for certainty and predictability, says Bernhard. When we try and let go of our yearning for control, we can begin to know peace. She writes:
Imagine living in a world where we’ve let go completely and it’s okay if we can’t go to that family event, it’s okay is a medication doesn’t help, it’s okay is a doctor is disappointing. Just imagining it inspires me to let go a little. Then it’s easier to let go a lot. And every once in a while, I let go completely and, momentarily, bask in the glow of that blessed state of freedom and serenity that is equanimity.
8. Find your tribe.
One of the most popular quotes on Pinterest (author unknown) reads: “When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with glad cries of ‘Me, too!’ be sure to cherish them. Because those weirdoes are your tribe.” I didn’t have a tribe the last few years, and I desperately needed one because it was unfair to dump my stuff on my husband every day.
So two months ago I started Group Beyond Blue, an online support group for people who live with depression and anxiety. It is officially my tribe. There is humor, wisdom, empathy, and friendship there that has helped me navigate through my moods more gracefully than when I was tribe-less. Even if I wake up every single morning of my life with painful death thoughts, I know I will be able to live a full life because of this group.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crunch Cake

Southern Bite "Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crunch Cake"
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crunch Cake
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
  • 1 (16.5-ounce) boxed spice cake mix
  • 1 (15-ounce) can plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F and lightly spray a 9X13 baking dish (or pan) with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine the cake mix, pumpkin, oil, water, and eggs in a large bowl and mix until well combined, about 2 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and lemon juice. Stir until mixed, adding more lemon juice if necessary to get the mixture smooth and just pourable.
  4. Pour half of the cake batter into the baking pan and then drop dollops of the cream cheese mixture on top. Gently spread the cream cheese mixture as much as possible, but don’t stress over getting it perfect. Top with the remaining cake batter and spread evenly.
  5. Mix the chopped pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in another bowl and sprinkle over the top of the batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake is set. Cool before slicing.