Popular Posts

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Obama Says He Will Seek More Money for AIDS Programs

“So make no mistake, we are going to win this fight,” Mr. Obama told an audience of international activists, celebrities and lawmakers of both parties assembled at George Washington University for the annual World AIDS Day, 30 years after the disease was identified. “But this fight is not over — not by a long shot.”

That comment seemed directed at potential donors, whether organizations, individuals or other countries. Advocacy groups say contributions have suffered as perceptions have taken hold that the epidemic has been arrested. Mr. Obama acknowledged that while the rate of infection has declined elsewhere, in the United States it has remained steady, disproportionately hitting the young, African-Americans and Hispanics.

“This fight is not over — not for the 1.2 million Americans who are living with H.I.V. right now, not for the Americans who are infected every day” or their families, Mr. Obama said. And, he added, “It certainly isn’t over for your president.”

For the domestic fight, Mr. Obama announced that he was committing to seek $15 million more for the Ryan White program supporting H.I.V. medical clinics in the United States and $35 million for state programs providing access to necessary drugs. For global efforts, he set a goal of nearly doubling to six million the number of infected people who will get antiretroviral AIDS drugs through a program that his predecessor, George W. Bush, started.

Mr. Bush and former President Bill Clinton appeared by satellite, Mr. Bush from Tanzania, a focal point of the anti-AIDS effort in Africa.

Throughout his administration, activists have complained that the Obama administration has done less for the global fight than Mr. Bush. During the 2010 mid-term election campaign season, they repeatedly heckled Mr. Obama at political appearances — a situation the White House surely wants to avoid as he seeks re-election in 2012.

On Wednesday,Mr. Obama paid tribute to Mr. Bush, calling his contributions “one of his greatest legacies,” but he also strongly defended his own record.

Mr. Obama said that under his administration, the government has increased support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and reauthorized the Ryan White program. And, to applause from attendees including the musicians Bono and Alicia Keys, he recalled that he had ended a ban that prevented people with HIV-A.I.D.S. from entering the country — an action that cleared the way for the United States to host an international AIDS conference next year, for the first time in the gathering’s two decades.

“The president just put a powerful down payment toward the end of the AIDS crisis,” said Matthew Kavanagh, director of advocacy for Health GAP, an activist group, in a statement. And the international group Doctors Without Borders hailed Mr. Obama’s financing commitment as “the shot in the arm that the global H.I.V./AIDS response needs right now,” and called on Congress “to turn this commitment into reality.”

For several minutes after his address Mr. Obama greeted audience members. Then he returned to the White House, where a huge red ribbon hung from the North Portico in honor of World AIDS Day, flanked by two newly decorated Christmas trees.

Recipes for Health: Albacore Steaks With Simmered Fennel — Recipes for Health

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 leek, white and light green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, cleaned, and thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 pounds fennel, trimmed, quartered, cored and cut across the grain into thin slices

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 pounds albacore tuna steaks

1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring, until leeks are limp, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the mixture is fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add the fennel and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, cover and cook slowly for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the lemon juice, taste and adjust seasonings. The mixture should be very soft.

2. Meanwhile, season the albacore steaks with salt and pepper and heat the remaining olive oil in another pan over medium-high heat. Sear the albacore steaks for 30 seconds on each side. Place on top of the fennel. Cover the pan, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through.

3. Sprinkle on the parsley and serve, laying the fish on top of the fennel, with lemon wedges on the side.

Yield: 4 servings.

Advance preparation: You can cook the fennel up to 2 days ahead and refrigerate. Bring back to a simmer in the skillet, add the albacore fillets and proceed with the recipe.

Nutritional information per serving: 439 calories; 4 grams saturated fat; 4 grams polyunsaturated fat; 10 grams monounsaturated fat; 65 milligrams cholesterol; 20 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams dietary fiber; 210 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 46 grams protein

Some Stem Cell Donors Can Be Paid, Court Rules

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said that a federal law prohibiting payment for donated organs did not apply to stem cells extracted from circulating blood.

“The statute does not prohibit compensation for donations of blood and the substances in it, which include peripheral blood stem cells,” Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel.

The lawsuit was brought against the federal government by a coalition that included patients seeking bone marrow transplants and MoreMarrowDonors.org, a nonprofit group that wants to offer donors $3,000 in scholarships, housing allowances or gifts to charities.

“Every year, nearly 3,000 Americans die because they cannot find a matching bone marrow donor,” Jeff Rowes, a lawyer at the Institute for Justice, which represented the plaintiffs, said. “Today’s decision will put a stop to this irrational prohibition, and it could save thousands of lives in the process.”

The statement said compensation would now be permitted in the Western states covered by the Ninth Circuit.

The court did not address the plaintiffs’ contention that the ban on compensation was unconstitutional. And it did not allow for payments done by extracting cells from bone marrow.

The National Organ Transplant Act of 1984 counts bone marrow as an organ for which payment is prohibited but does not ban payments for blood, sperm or eggs.

Bone marrow was once taken from a donor’s hip, but today about two-thirds of patients receive marrow from stem cells taken from the bloodstream.

CNN Heroes: When a wheelchair is a luxury

Hero gives mobility, hope to disabledRichard St. Denis was named one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011Since 2008, St. Denis has helped provide hundreds of wheelchairs to rural MexicansSt. Denis: "In many rural areas of Mexico, people don't even know what a wheelchair is"

(CNN) -- Since 2008, Richard St. Denis and his nonprofit, World Access Project, have provided hundreds of wheelchairs and mobility aids to people living with disabilities in rural Mexico.

St. Denis and his group also teach recipients how to use their chairs and maximize their quality of life.

CNN asked St. Denis for his thoughts on being chosen as one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011.

CNN: Where were you when you got the call that you'd been selected as a Top 10 CNN Hero?

Richard St. Denis: I was at home in Santiago Casandeje, Mexico. I was completely surprised.

I am honored to be one of the Top 10. The door has been opened to show the world the huge need for wheelchairs in Mexico, the plight of those who are stuck in their house because they can't move, and all the lives we are changing.

CNN: What do you hope this recognition will mean to the World Access Project?

St. Denis: I hope that many people and organizations will come alongside of World Access Project to help provide mobility and a better quality of life to the many disabled of Mexico. ... I hope that people will realize that poverty is poverty and (that) those who have so much (should) help those in desperate need, in whatever country.

I hope new volunteers, individuals or organizations -- from schools, churches -- will come to Mexico to give away a wheelchair, to encourage, to inspire and to change a life.

I started this organization because I saw the happiness, joy and ability of Leti, a 17-year-old girl who I gave her first wheelchair. When American volunteers participate in a wheelchair donation, they realize the huge difference they can make in another person's life and the unexplainable feeling of watching someone get up off the floor into their first wheelchair. The one who receives the wheelchair laughs, and the mother cries tears of joy.

I hope that not a single used wheelchair in the U.S. will ever be thrown into a dump and that every wheelchair that is sitting in a garage or basement will now be given to someone who desperately needs it.

I hope this award means we will be able to provide a new life and opportunities to all those in Mexico who deserve to be as independent and successful as people with disabilities in the U.S.

CNN: How will you use the $50,000 award that you receive for being selected as a Top 10 CNN Hero?

St. Denis: Every penny will go to World Access Project to continue the work we're doing.

In the past couple months, our financial levels have been dropping, and I was wondering if we would last another year. We have new cities we want to go to, and there are thousands of people in Mexico who need wheelchairs.

CNN: What do you want people to know most about your work?

St. Denis: In many rural, impoverished, uneducated areas of Mexico, people don't even know what a wheelchair is. They don't know what their disability is or why they can't walk. They have no hope, no expectation for the future, and no resources to change their situation. ...

We host clinics and camps to teach them how to use their wheelchairs so they can get out of their house. We use able and disabled volunteers to encourage them and give them hope. The Mexican government is trying to help, but doesn't have the financial resources or connections in remote areas to contact or help everyone. Many people in tiny pueblos have no electricity, dirt floors and cook using a wood stove. For a person with a disability to have a wheelchair is an unthought-of luxury.

I have seen the lives of many people changed after receiving a wheelchair.

Kike, who fell out of a tree when he was 12, is now an artist and helps support his family. Tomás was in a car accident, is now married, works in Walmart and has been promoted from greeter to the electronics department. Leti is married and has two children.

(With) a wheelchair, some motivation, a new perspective, love -- a new life is created. No degree, no training, no qualification is necessary. Just a willingness to provide mobility, motivate and encourage are all that is needed to help someone get to where they never imagined they could be.

Florida city battles fear and denial

Wade Price, who is gay and living with AIDS, has struggled to find acceptance. HIV/AIDS is like "hush-hush" says one man who tested positive this yearAdvocates say they can't post red ribbons on their offices because of stigmaNew HIV infection rates are increasing in northern Florida cityEditor's note: This week, CNN Health's team is taking a close look at the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Southeast with a series leading up to World AIDS Day on December 1. Learn more about the problem and our upcoming stories here.

Jacksonville, Florida (CNN) -- When the topic of HIV/AIDS enters a conversation, Earl Thompson hears that it's "just what gays get."

"It's not a gay disease," said Thompson. "It's a human disease."

When a person gets a disease like cancer, support pours in, said Thompson, a slender 27-year-old with a boyish face. Family and friends fund raise and make sure their loved one gets proper care. But that's not the case with HIV.

"It's like hush-hush," said Thompson, a Jacksonville native, who learned before his birthday in April that he has HIV. "You feel unlovable. You feel tainted. They're going to point a finger at me and be judging me.

"Just from the community, I know they don't talk about it. Jacksonville has many years before we're close to Miami, Orlando or Tampa. If something goes wrong, you don't talk about it."

It's a problem all across the Bible Belt. The Southeast is disproportionately struck with higher HIV/AIDS rates than much of the rest of the country.

Dealing with the epidemic in the South "is extremely challenging, because the stigma and discrimination is worse," said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "There is less discourse around prevention, sexual health, comprehensive sex education in schools or having strong, community-based advocacy activities."

Pastor fights HIV stigma in rural town

Jacksonville has the fifth-highest number of AIDS diagnoses among U.S. cities, according to CDC statistics from 2008.

The state says this could have been a statistical aberration because surveillance methods and HIV/AIDS reporting laws changed in Florida in 2007, causing fluctuations in the data.

But local HIV advocates in northeast Florida say the problem is a real one, not just a statistical blip.

"Here in Jacksonville, we're kind of the buckle in the Bible belt," said Donna Fuchs, executive director of Northeast Florida AIDS Network. "HIV carries a huge stigma in our city."

Fuchs said the organization had trouble finding office space in 2000. One property owner refused to rent to the group, saying he didn't want people with AIDS in his buildings.

Today, the office sits on a quiet, tree-lined street with a simple sign that reads: NFAN. A red ribbon, the ubiquitous sign for HIV/AIDS, usually adorns the logo for the organization. But not here.

"Clients didn't want a red ribbon on the door," said Fuchs. "We had to take it down."

Four blocks away, there is another HIV organization -- one named for NBA star Magic Johnson, who revealed in 1991 that he is HIV-positive.

When that clinic opened a decade ago, the ribbon-cutting ceremony was held inside the lobby. Organizers moved the event indoors because people feared being seen and associated with the disease.

Today, that one-story clinic tucked behind a towering magnolia tree no longer bears Johnson's name.

"The only way we can get people to come through the front door is to create a fictitious name." said Todd Reese, associate director of Health Care Center operations at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "No one walks into any building or floor that has any association with HIV."

Although visible HIV signs may be scrubbed from public view, the epidemic has worsened.

HIV cases in Duval County, which mostly consists of Jacksonville, increased by 33% in the first half of 2011. This year, the county Health Department reports an increase in new cases.

"It's really not acceptable," said Dr. Bob Harmon, the county's Health Department director. "This disease is ruining lives, and it's still killing people, especially low-income people who don't get tested enough and who don't get treated early."

Several HIV/AIDS advocates in Jacksonville criticized sex education in schools that emphasized abstinence. The mentality is that HIV/AIDS is not an issue here, several advocates said.

"Denial is the biggest problem," said Reese.

And those who reveal their HIV status struggle to find acceptance.

Thompson observed that some people who knew about his HIV status avoided physical contact with him. In social settings, they watched their drinks to make sure their glasses didn't get mixed up.

"Sometimes you feel like a pin cushion, like you're never going to find acceptance," Thompson said. "You feel like you're going to be looked at as a disease, not as a person."

No one walks into any building or floor that has any association with HIV.
Todd Reese, associate director of Health Care Center operations at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation

What perpetuates the epidemic is a social issue, Reese said.

In Florida, the HIV/AIDS focus has historically been placed in southern part of the state. Some of the earliest HIV cases were found in Miami and in the Haitian immigrant population in South Florida. Miami still struggles with new HIV/AIDS cases; often, it has the highest AIDS rates in the country.

"You can go to Miami and you can put up a billboard, you can talk about condoms, AIDS and sex," Reese said. "You can't do that in Jacksonville. People will be offended. They don't want to talk about it or see it. They don't want to see billboards about it."

And Jacksonville is no small town: It has about 821,000 residents.

iReporters share their stories on World AIDS Day

It's a different population, said Harmon.

Wade Price said the virus has been ignored.

"In north Florida, our population profile is more like Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi than it is central and south Florida. That generally means higher rates of poverty, lower rates of completing high school and college, and higher percentage of African-American population."

Duval County has a high percentage of African-Americans, and in Jacksonville, 71% of the total HIV cases are African-Americans.

Wade Price, 46, is a black gay man, proud father of three and grandfather of three.

He keeps a half-dozen orange prescription bottles of anti-HIV medications on his nightstand next to his red leather-bound Bible. The pages of his well-worn Bible are patchworks of green and orange highlights. He reads scriptures every night and attends a Baptist church twice a week.

Because his faith is crucial, Price decided to tell the head minister of his church how he struggled with being gay. He wanted to have prayer meetings with ministers and start a church support group.

Price told the minister: "I'm not the only one. Lots of people are keeping quiet, living double lives."

The minister rebuffed him, saying, "Wow, it's times like this, I don't like being a minister."

"That's one aspect of black churches," Price said. "They want to turn blind eyes to it. ... I'm fighting this battle on my own."

Price left that church and found another one last month that is more accepting.

"We pretend it's not happening," Price said. "The virus is being spread. You want to pretend like sex isn't happening. They say, 'Condoms, oh, no! That's not for God!' What's not for God is living with ignorance."

The social climate in northern Florida tends to be more conservative, said Harmon.

Veronica Hicks said things are changing and that more people are paying attention to HIV/AIDS in her community.

"There may be a reluctance to talk about this in the family, in the church, in other social settings and to perhaps ignore it," he said.

But there are signs of change. Churches in the community have started to talk about the HIV/AIDS epidemic, said Veronica Hicks, 50.

Hicks has never felt the need to hide her AIDS diagnosis and told her fellow church members and her pastor.

"They embrace me with it," she said. And Hicks's church has already started an HIV/AIDS testing and awareness ministry in Jacksonville.

While stigma persists in the community, it's getting better, she said.

She reported seeing growing HIV support groups, increasing turnout at community HIV/AIDS events and a recent line of people waiting to get tested at a mobile clinic.

"It shows me that people are willing to become more educated because HIV is prevalent and relevant."

Happy Meal toys no longer free in San Francisco

McDonald's skirts 'Happy Meal' toy banLaw putting nutritional requirements on kids' meals goes into effect ThursdayMcDonald's will no longer give free toy in Happy Meals in San FranciscoLawmaker said he wrote the law to curb childhood obesity

(CNN) -- Goodbye, free plastic toys inside Happy Meals -- at least in one major California city.

A new San Francisco law goes into effect on Thursday that prevents fast-food restaurants from giving away trinkets, action figures and other toys in their kid's meals unless their food meets nutritional requirements.

Parents who order Happy Meals at the 19 McDonald's locations in San Francisco will have to request the toy and pay 10 cents. That amount will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House of San Francisco. Burger King, which has 13 restaurants in San Francisco, announced that it will also offer kids meals' toys for 10 cents.

McDonald's kid's meals do not meet the law's nutritional standards. The meals have to be less than 600 calories and contain fruits (a half-cup) and vegetables (3/4 of a cup). They must have less than 35% of the total calories coming from fat, less than 640 milligrams of sodium and less than 0.5 milligrams of trans fat.

The current Happy Meal consisting of a hamburger, kid's-size fries and a cola would meet the calorie, calories from fat, sodium and trans fat requirements under the San Francisco law. It would contain 500 calories, 125 calories from fat and 600 milligrams of sodium.

But it would not meet the fruit and vegetable quota. The pickle and onion on the hamburger does not come near the required ¾ cup of vegetables. The French fries do not count as a vegetable, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

The new law will affect about 50 fast-food restaurants in San Francisco such as Burger King, Carl's Jr. and Subway.

"Our efforts are geared towards addressing childhood obesity epidemic," said San Francisco City and County Supervisor Eric Mar, who proposed the ordinance.

About one-third of children in the United States are either overweight or obese, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health advocates have long accused fast-food restaurants of enticing children to eat fast-food meals high in fat and sodium by using toys tied to characters in new movies.

McDonald's said in a statement: "While we will fully comply with this law, we also have a responsibility to give our customers what they want.

"Parents have told us they'd still like the option of purchasing a toy separately for their child when they buy them a Happy Meal or Mighty Kids Meal."

The announcement that the money from toys would go to charity was met by skepticism by Corporate Accountability International, a corporate watchdog group.

"As McDonald's long has, it is again using a charity that helps children get well to defend a practice that contributes to a range of diet-related conditions like diabetes. Currently McDonald's uses its contributions to the charity to defend the hundreds of millions it spends marketing its junk food brand to kids each year," according to the group's statement.

The new ordinance has had a greater impact beyond San Francisco, Mar said.

"We inspired other local cities, parent activists and health organizers to take up the issue too," he said. "We started a national dialogue in San Francisco. It has become a national issue."

Similar initiatives have been proposed in New York in an effort to curb childhood obesity. And Santa Clara County initially passed the ban early last year.

Mar said he met with several franchise owners in the city regarding the ordinance. Despite initial opposition to the law last year, he said that there's growing awareness that having healthy options is good business practice.

Earlier this year, hamburger chain Jack-in-the-Box announced it would discontinue kids' toys in their meals for children.

Also this summer, McDonald's announced that it would revamp its iconic Happy Meal to contain healthier options.

The meals will carry apple slices, reduced portion of French fries and a choice of beverage, including new fat-free chocolate milk and 1% low-fat white milk, instead of defaulting to soda. The changes started in September and will spread nationwide by the end of March 2012.

However, the new version of the Happy Meal still does not meet the requirements of the San Francisco law.

Although the San Francisco law has been criticized as legislating health and nutrition, Mar said the responsibility ultimately falls on the parents. But, fast-food restaurants play a role and "benefit from the pester power of the kids of young ages," he said.

"It's our job as a local legislator to protect public health," he said. "Nothing is more important than children's health."

He said the momentum for this law came from pediatricians and mainly parents who live in the lowest income neighborhoods. "They were the main voices of our campaign," he said.

The long-term goal is to move children's meals toward lower fat, sodium and calories, Mar said.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...