A+ R A-

blackvoicenews.com

HIV/AIDS Experts: Prevention Pill Could Encourage Risky Behavior

E-mail Print PDF

US experts urge approval of first AIDS prevention pill 

By Chris Levister

A panel of health experts on Thursday urged the Food and Drug Administration regulators to approve Truvada, made by Gilead Sciences, as the first preventive pill against HIV/AIDS.

Truvada first made headlines in 2010, when government researchers showed it could prevent people from contracting HIV. A three-year study found that daily doses cut the risk of infection in healthy gay and bisexual men by 42 percent, when accompanied by condoms and counseling. Last year another study found that Truvada reduced infection by 75 percent in heterosexual couples in which one partner was infected with HIV and the other was not.

Mitchell Warren, executive director of HIV prevention group AVAC, said after the vote that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), or the method of taking a drug ahead of potential exposure to HIV, "while not a panacea, will be an essential additional part to the world's success in ending AIDS." “For the millions of men and women who remain at risk for HIV worldwide, each new HIV prevention option offers additional hope,” he added. “I think this is a huge milestone,” said Dr. Robert Grant, associate director of the Center for AIDS Research at the University of California, San Francisco, who led the

panel's research. “We are in an era for the first time when we can see the end of the AIDS epidemic.” But Truvada's groundbreaking preventive ability has exposed stark disagreements on prevention among those in the HIV community. While Truvada's supporters say the drug is an important new option, critics worry it might give users a false sense of security and lead to reduced use of condoms, the most reliable defense against HIV. “Unfortunately this kind of viral marketing leaves the perception that one can just take a pill and go out and have unprotected sexual intercourse,” said Dr. V. Diana Woods, President Inland Empire African American Health Institute (AAHI).

“The idea of taking a pill to prevent HIV or STD infections makes perfect sense but to market this drug as prevention without considering the impact of science versus perception, or the psychological, emotional and physical responsibility that comes with having sexual intercourse, is highly disappointing and dangerous,” said Woods. The trouble is adherence. How do you ensure that patients take the pill every day? Who takes responsibility for patients who didn't take their medication diligently and are not protected? “Plain and simple, in the heat of the moment people take risks.” Experts also question the drug's effectiveness in women, who have shown much lower rates of protection in studies.

“The jury is still out,” says Stephanie T. Edwards, President, Board of Directors, California Statewide African American HIV/AIDS Coalition, Inc. (CAAHAC) The Truvada research was conducted on gay males and does not address HIV/AIDS in women who account for about 1 in 4 new HIV/AIDS cases in the U.S.

Studies show of those newly infected women 2 out of 3 are African American, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. Studies show most of these women got HIV from having unprotected sex with a man. To date more than 230,000 African Americans have died of AIDS - nearly 40 percent of total deaths - and of the more than 1 million people living with HIV in the U.S. today, almost half are black. “We can ill afford to take our eyes off tackling the root causes of this epidemic which include poverty, incarceration, stigma, fear, discrimination, homophobia, negative perceptions about HIV testing, and lack of awareness of HIV status,” said Edwards Edwards added, in an era when antiretroviral therapy can help HIV-infected individuals lead healthier lives, African Americans with HIV/AIDS are more likely than other racial groups to postpone medical care and become hospitalized, with the result that they are more likely to die from HIV-related causes.

“HIV’s racial divide is not new,” said Woods. “Each year when national surveillance data are released, we see the ever-increasing toll the AIDS epidemic is taking on the African-American community. Each year, we ask the same question: Why is AIDS hitting black Americans hardest? There are no simple answers.”

Woods and others also worry that wide scale use of Truvada will divert limited funding from more cost-effective options and squeeze already-constrained health care resources that can be better spent on cheaper and more effective prevention therapies. Truvada sells for about $900 a month, or just under $11,000 per year. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which opposes approval of Truvada, estimates that 20 HIV-positive patients could be treated for the cost of treating one patient with preventive Truvada.

Edwards said, given the social and economic characteristics of poor African-American communities, a more systemic approach must be taken to help build stable communities. She said national policies must effectively deal not only with unstable housing and incarceration, but also with the poverty and social disadvantages of poor African-American neighborhoods.

“These policies must address the role that homophobia plays in driving new HIV infections among black MSM (men who have sex with men), so that programs mitigating that impact can be implemented.”

“These medical breakthroughs are indeed watershed moments,” said Woods. “However, we must keep moving the agenda forward with a multi-prong approach that includes providing equal access to affordable HIV/AIDS treatment, encouraging abstinence, condom use, HIV testing and awareness of one’s HIV status.”

Remembering Fanny Brown

E-mail Print PDF

Fanny Marion Brown was known by her family and friends as Marion. She was a native of California born to Mary & Frank Adams on May 12, 1923, in the city of Monrovia. Marion was the fourth child of eleven chil- dren and had 4 sisters and 6 brothers. She was called home on April 26, 2012.

She attended school in Monrovia and graduated in 1943 from Monrovia Arcadia-Duarte (MAD) High School. She enjoyed visiting with her fami- ly, dancing, country western music, gardening, crocheting, playing bingo & keno, and cooking. She also enjoyed working at the family business, Adams part owner, she was able to show her warmth and love of people.

Marion moved to Riverside with her family in 1944. On November 19, 1949, she married, CMSgt Ellis G. Brown, Sr. (who preceded her in death). Out of this union, they were blessed with 5 children, Deborah Patrice Brown, Ellis G. Brown, Jr. (Doris), Tina Alise (Brown) Robinson (Eddie), Mary Ellen (Brown)–Smith (Mark), and Ronald Kirby Brown (deceased).

Marion is survived by her 3 sisters; Thelma Adams-King, Helen (Adams) Armstrong, & Eunice (Sharon) Adams-Lisberg, her 2 brothers Jerry Adams (Carolyn) & Tim Adams (Mary) and her brother–in-law Rogers Brown. She leaves to cherish her memory, her grandchildren; Ama, Trey, EJ (Eddie IV), Robert and Candies, as well as a host of nieces, nephews relatives and friends.

LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS TO END – SATURDAY

E-mail Print PDF

BVN Staff Report 

The most generous federal extension program for unemployment benefits, known as FED-ED in California, won’t be available after May 12. About 93,000 people will be immediately affected, according to California’s Employment Development Department (EDD).

“The week ending May 12, 2012, will be the last week EDD can pay FED-ED benefits to eligible unemployed workers, even if someone has a remaining balance on their FED-ED extension,” according to an EDD news release. The federal government took extraordinary steps in 2009 to prop up workers who lost their jobs during the recession. The normal 26 weeks of state benefits were supplemented by three types of federal extensions that added up to 73 more weeks for a total of 99 weeks of benefits, the longest on record.

Since March 2009 when the program began, more than 912,000 unemployed Californians have received $5 billion in payments.

The EDD currently pays about $310 million a week to Californians in regular and federal extension benefits, assisting unemployed workers and their families and helping local businesses where much of these benefits are spent. California’s unemployment hit 11 percent in March — that's three percent higher than the national average.

But while it remains high, the three-month average is not 10 percent higher than it was at this time last year, making California ineligible to continue to provide extended benefits, according to U.S. Department of Labor standards.

More information about the new potential maximum weeks of federal benefit extensions can be found on the EDD website, along with more information on assistance for unemployed workers.

Rwandan Prime Minister Challenges Cal. Baptist Graduates

E-mail Print PDF

University graduated a record number of students

By Chris Levister

The Right Honorable Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda, shook hands, kissed babies and reaffirmed his commitment to human rights and the need for widespread political reform throughout Africa during a combined visit to California and to deliver a commencement address at California Baptist University in Riverside.

From the colorful kente cloth sashes worn by several Rwandan graduates to the warm breeze that wafted over the sea of faculty and guests, Habumuremyi’s visit was a festive stop on an international campaign to strengthen ties between Rwanda and the U.S. Habumuremyi, who served as that African nation’s minister of education from May 2011 to October 2011, addressed the graduates of the private school in Riverside on Saturday. He said his presence there underscored the strong bond between his nation and the United States “and the leadership of this great university.”

In December 2011 the U.S. and Rwanda ratified the U.S.-Rwanda bilateral investment treaty (BIT) aimed at promoting open trade and investment.

The Rwandan official expressed pride in the first cohort of Rwandan students to receive their baccalaureate degrees under a presidential education agreement California Baptist University established with the East African nation in 2007.

“Rwanda’s sons and daughters, attending CBU under the Presidential Scholarship program have over the last four years carried out the unique responsibility of being Rwanda’s first ambassadors to CBU, and I am confident that they will go on to serve with distinction as CBU’s ambassadors to Rwanda when they return home,” Habumuremyi said.

Until 1994, educational opportunities for Rwandans were extremely limited. After the genocide, most primary schools and more than half of prewar secondary schools reopened, though no more than 5% of the adult population received secondary education through 1996. Although educational quality remains an issue, access to education expanded dramatically in recent years and the Government of Rwanda’s Nine-Year Basic Education policy, implemented in 2010, contributed to an increase of the primary school completion rate from 52.4% in 2008 to 79% in 2011. Free basic education was extended from 9 years to 12 years in 2012.

He congratulated all of the graduates on behalf of Rwanda’s president, His Excellency Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan people.

“As your friends and family, we share in your joy and are very proud of what you have accomplished in the course of your undergraduate education, both in and outside the classroom,” Habumuremyi said. “It is now incumbent upon you all to put to good use the knowledge and skills you have acquired from CBU and your passion to learn.” California Baptist University (CBU) graduated a record number of students during spring commencement ceremonies surpassing the 1,000-graduate mark for the fourth consecutive year. The Class of 2012 numbered 1,330 graduates, the largest in the 62-year history of CBU.

Dr. Ronald L. Ellis, CBU President, conferred degrees on a total of 281 graduate students and 786 undergraduates in separate ceremonies on Friday evening and Saturday morning. Another 263 students were eligible to graduate at the December 2011 commencement ceremony.

Dr. Richard L. “Rick” Miller, Superintendent of Riverside Unified School District spoke at graduate ceremonies held Friday evening. Miller told students receiving master’s degrees that they were “joining the top 10 percent nationally in educational attainment” and said that privilege comes with a responsibility. “As a member of the top 10 percent you will be responsible for leadership in our society,” Miller told the graduates. “You have been equipped by your professors and staff here at CBU, so there is little question that you know what to do. Now the question becomes, what will you do and will you make a difference?”

Student Loan Interest Rates Could Double This Summer

E-mail Print PDF

Advocates weigh risking cutbacks in the Pell program for low-income students

By Chris Levister

Americans owe almost $1 trillion in student loans. As if paying off students loans wasn't tough enough, interest rates could double this summer. On July first, the interest rate on federally subsidized loans will go from 3.4% to 6.8%. That means the more than 7 million students taking out loans for the next school year will have to dig deeper in their pockets to pay them off.
If Congress does nothing, the cost to students borrowing the maximum $23,000 in subsidized loans is an extra $5,000 over a 10-year repayment period.
President Barack Obama is launching a major campaign to convince Congress to extend the lower interest rate, including a Twitter campaign, an appearance on the Jimmy Fallon show and multiple speeches on the increase. The President used his weekly radio address and a round of visits to large universities in North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa to call on Congress to put forward and pass legislation to prevent the loan hike.

The partisan flavor of the debate is all but sure to be on display at Obama's college events, which are likely to feel more like re-election rallies.

At a time when Americans owe more on student loans than on credit cards — student debt is topping $1 trillion for the first time — and the Occupy movement has highlighted the rising furor over spiraling student debt, the issue has moved higher on the political agenda. But the question of what to do about the looming interest rate increase has landed deep in the chasm separating Democrats from Republicans, who accuse the president of using the issue in a fiscally irresponsible way, in an attempt to buy the youth vote.

The White House insists Obama's events are driven by the need for college affordability and his view that education is an economic cornerstone.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement, millions of students would be financially squeezed if rates go up, to the cost of an additional $1,000 on average. "More and more middle-class families are starting to think college might not be for them," Duncan said. "It's for rich folks. That's a real problem."

Another problem: The cost of keeping the interest rates frozen on these subsidized Stafford loans could run $6 billion a year.

Subsidized Stafford loans are low-interest loans for eligible students that help cover the cost of higher education at a four-year college or university, community college, or trade and technical schools.

It is unclear how that cost would be paid. Duncan said the administration will work with Congress on the answer. For now, the White House is pushing a one-year extension, not a permanent fix.

“Bad policy based on lofty campaign promises has put us in an untenable situation,” said John P. Kline Jr., the Minnesota Republican who is chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The low interest rate stemmed from the 2007 College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which reduced interest rates on subsidized Stafford loans over the following four academic years — from 6.8 percent to the current 3.4 percent — with the proviso that the rates would revert to 6.8 percent this July.

Mr. Kline, who earlier this year called the interest-rate hike a “ticking time bomb set by Democrats,” said he was exploring other options in hopes of finding a solution that served borrowers and taxpayers equally well. For Obama, the matter gives him a platform to position himself as a defender of the middle class or those working to make their way into it. He is shifting from the issue of tax fairness, which he has hammered for weeks, to education in front of young voters who helped fuel his winning coalition in 2008.

The president carried voters between the ages of 18-29 by a margin of about 2-to-1 in 2008, but many recent college graduates have faced high levels of unemployment, raising concerns about whether they will vote in large numbers for Obama again. Outside Congress, even some of the strongest student-aid advocates debate the question. While nearly everyone is in favor of the broad goal of college affordability, some experts point out that even 6.8 percent is lower than the rate on most private student loans. And they question whether it is worth risking cutbacks in the Pell program for low-income students, one possible consequence of using more federal money to keep interest rates low on the Stafford loans, which are in wide use by middle-income students.

When the 2007 law was passed, 77 Republicans — most of whom are still in Congress — voted for it. But in the current climate of fractious partisanship, new legislation introduced by Representative Joe Courtney to extend the lower rate has 127 co-sponsors, all of them Democrats. Mr. Courtney said he was hopeful that some Republican support would be forthcoming as the political stakes became more apparent. "President Obama believes we must reward hard work and responsibility by keeping interest rates on student loans low so more Americans get a fair shot at an affordable college education," the White House said in a statement.

Polling shows Obama holds a sizable lead over his presumed opponent, Mitt Romney among registered voters under 30. In Obama's first run for the White House, young voters helped him carry GOP-leaning states like North Carolina and Indiana thanks to major voter registration drives on college campuses.

Obama campaign officials have estimated a universe of about 8 million voters between the ages of 18 and 21 who weren't old enough to vote in 2008 but could be tapped to support the president this time. Yet Obama may be a tougher sell to young people this time.

Page 18 of 160

Quantcast

BVN National News Wire