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The 411 on HIV and Pregnancy

If you are HIV-positive and pregnant, or considering becoming pregnant, you probably have 18 million questions about prenatal care. Well, you’re in luck. The groovy folks at Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative (PACPI) have teamed up with the Illinois Department of Public Health to create the Illinois Perinatal HIV Hotline. You can call 1-800-439-4079 day or night to get information about: current treatment guidelines links to specialty care case management rapid HIV testing for women in labor lots and lots of other stuff (no, really!) Not only have they set up the hotline, but they’ve created a website so full of excellent information it’ll make your head spin (in a good way). If you don’t believe me, check it out...

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Who Knew the Swedes Were So Mean?

You may have heard about the first-of-its-kind-in-the-world ruling from the Geneva Court of Justice last month. The court was considering the appeal of a 34-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo who had been convicted of having unprotected sex without first disclosing his HIV status. In considering his appeal, the court relied upon the paradigm-shifting opinion of the Swiss Federal Commission for HIV/AIDS, which issued a consensus statement early last year. In that statement, authored by four of Sweden’s leading HIV experts, the Commission asserted that, based on available evidence, HIV-positive individuals on successful antiretrovial therapy (in other words, people with undetectable viral loads for at least six months) are essentially non-infectious: their research showed that the risk of HIV transmission through unprotected sex was roughly 1 in 100,000. In the case before the court, the man had...

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Stigma and Hysteria are Alive and Well in the Heartland

Surely you’ve read in numerous mainstream media reports that AIDS is now a “chronic, manageable” illness like diabetes or high cholesterol, thanks to advances in antiretroviral medications. Right. Consider the panic that hit Normandy High School in St. Louis last month when news spread that maybe — maybe — as many as 50 kids in the school might — might — have been exposed to HIV. Prom dates were cancelled. Parents from a different school worried that their football team shouldn’t play against Normandy. Yeah, that’s just how people would have responded if there had been an outbreak of diabetes at Normandy. Astonishingly, the superintendent thought it necessary to send letters to 1,300 parents informing them the school was a possible cesspool of infection — despite the fact that the Department of Health had confirmed exactly one infection. “We...

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