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HIV

There's at least one thing Bill Gates and President Trump agree on: The media don't always get things right.

For Gates, the problem is with the foreign aid coverage.

"The nature of news is mostly to cover big setbacks," Gates says. "So if a little bit of money was spent improperly, that's what gets the news coverage, even though 99 percent of it was spent well."

This focus on failure leads to false impressions about the effectiveness of foreign aid, says Gates.

It's one of the biggest medical mysteries of our time: How did HIV come to the U.S.?

By genetically sequencing samples from people infected early on, scientists say they have figured out when and where the virus that took hold here first arrived. In the process, they have exonerated the man accused of triggering the epidemic in North America.

When you're pregnant, going to the doctors can be exciting. You get to find out if you're having a boy or a girl. Maybe hear the baby's heart beat.

But in southern Africa, many women find out something else.

Allison Groves at American University recently ran a study in a town outside Durban, South Africa. They followed about 1,500 pregnant women. The results left her speechless.

Every night at 8 p.m., 18-year-old Catherine Msimango takes a pill.

It's the same pill that people with HIV take to fight the virus. Only she doesn't have HIV.

Msimango says the pill gives her power against the virus. She can take it even without her boyfriend knowing.

"It's all about my safety because I don't know what he does when I'm not around," she says. "If he doesn't want to use protection [a condom], I know that I'm safe from the pill."

When a Connecticut woman who was HIV-positive died earlier this month, her family decided to donate her organs to others who needed them.

Doctors in Maryland announced Wednesday that they performed two landmark, successful surgeries with her kidney and liver — transplanting the organs to HIV-positive patients.

Earlier this week, officials at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore announced they had received approval to begin conducting the first organ transplants from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive recipients. This comes after a 2013 change in the law that lifted a ban in place since 1988.

Surgeons at Johns Hopkins say that they are ready to begin performing liver and kidney transplants as soon as the appropriate candidates are available.

There's a place in the city of Tijuana, Mexico, called El Bordo, which has always been somewhat reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic movie scene. The name comes from "the border," which is where it's located: right by the fence that separates the U.S. from Mexico, among the enormous paved canals that run through Southern California like concrete veins. Hundreds of people live in those canals, often in makeshift tents, the smell of sewage made ripe by the hot Tijuana sun. It's a place where many deportees try to get by. It's also a site of heavy drug use.

Dr. David Rawlings (left) and Dr. Andrew Scharenberg (right) pioneered a gene editing method that gives human T cells the ability to resist HIV and either kill HIV or tumors. The research could have clinical applications in as early as a few years.
Courtesy of Seattle Children's Research Institute

Ross Reynolds speaks with Dr. David Rawlings, director of the Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies at Seattle Children's Research Institute, about how his team pioneered a breakthrough gene-editing technique that could help patients with HIV, genetic blood diseases and certain cancers. Their study was published in the September issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Transgender people are not getting adequate health care, and widespread discrimination is largely to blame, according to a recent World Health Organization report. And the story is told most starkly in the high rates of HIV among transgender women worldwide.

JoAnne Keatley, one of the authors of that study, puts it plainly.

Marcie Sillman speaks with Vaughn Palmer, columnist for the Vancouver Sun, about successes in British Columbia's fight against HIV and AIDS.

Shane Avery practices family medicine in Scott County, Ind. In December, a patient came to his office who was pregnant, and an injection drug user.

After running some routine tests, Avery found out that she was positive for HIV. She was the second case he had seen in just a few weeks.

"Right then, I kind of realized, 'Wow, are we on the tip of something?' " Avery says. "But you just put it away. ... It's statistically an oddity when you're just one little doctor, you know?"

Blood drive sticker from the Red Cross.
Flickr Photo/Maia C. (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Jeannie Yandel talks to Randall Russell, CEO of Lifelong, about the FDA's announcement that it will recommend the lifting of a ban on gay and bisexual men who want to donate blood. The decision will be put up for public comment in 2015.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says by the year 2020, he wants to cut the number of new HIV infections in half.

He was sitting in a clinic. Waiting. And waiting. And waiting for his grandparents' HIV medicine.

Sizwe Nzima was a high school student in Cape Town, South Africa, when he would pick up the medicine for his HIV-positive grandparents, who had difficulty traveling to the clinic themselves. Because of the long lines, Nzima usually waited hours and often made multiple trips to the clinic before and after school. He tried to bribe the pharmacists to get the medication sooner. But it didn't work.

Phelokazi Tinzi met the man of her dreams at a barbecue.

She was 28 years old, and visiting her cousin in Cape Town, when her future husband approached her. "He told me I was beautiful, but I thought he was just saying that to every girl," she said. But she gave him a chance – and her phone number. A few weeks later, they were engaged.

Marcie Sillman speaks with SeattlePI.com reporter Levi Pulkkinen about why King County Public Health officials decided to place an HIV-positive man under court supervision.

A Death Sentence Turns Into A Call Of The Wild

Sep 4, 2014
Courtesy of Leo Egashira

Leo Egashira, 60, is no stranger to death. He once saw his life flash before him when chased by a thousand-pound muskox in Greenland.

However, he had an even scarier encounter when he received an HIV diagnosis back in 1992. The life-changing event fostered his appreciation of the outdoors.

Flickr Photo/Michael Fleshman (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, who is credited with discovering the HIV virus in 1983, about the early days of HIV/AIDS research, and why she's hopeful that a cure can be found. She won the Nobel Prize in 2008 for her work on the HIV virus.

Don't Stop 'Til You Reach The Summit

Aug 7, 2014
Courtesy of Leo Egashira

Join Esa Tilija and Meghan O'Kelley for an inspiring podcast about individuality and living life to the fullest. Meghan shares how autistic high schooler Lorenzo learned to express himself through an unconventional hobby: impersonating Michael Jackson. Esa tells the story of how Leo, an avid backpacker, got a life-changing diagnosis that served as a call to truly live.

RadioActive is KUOW's program for high school students. Listen to RadioActive stories, subscribe to the RadioActive podcast and stay in touch on Facebook.

Flickr Photo/Wheeler Cowperthwaite (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Dr. Matthew Golden about HIV infection rates in King County. Golden directs the HIV/STD control program at King County Public Health.

Wikimedia

In the campaign to prevent HIV and sexually transmitted infections, counselors like Chief Odood are on the frontlines.

The HIV Prevention Pill No One is Taking

Jun 17, 2014
Flickr Photo/felix.castor (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Shaun Knittel, associate editor at Seattle Gay News and founder of Social Outreach Seattle, about why few people in the gay community are taking Truvada, a pill that when taken daily is 99 percent effective in preventing HIV infection.

Flickr Photo/Jon Rawlinson (Cc-BY-NC-ND)

David Hyde talks with Mitchell Warren about the breakthroughs and challenges of HIV prevention over the last 30 years. Warren is the executive director of AVAC, an international non-governmental organization that works on HIV prevention.

Warren said that one of the greatest breakthroughs in HIV-AIDS prevention was the rise of the citizen activism that pushed for funding, creativity and urgency in research. "AIDS really changed how research happened," he said. "Science changed because communities ‘acted up.’"

Flickr Photo/West McGowan (CC BY-NC-ND)

David Hyde talks with UCLA professor Sean Young about his new study that links language used in tweets with high rates of HIV infection.

In only the second documented case of its kind, an infant born with the AIDS virus may have been cured of the infection, thanks to an intensive drug treatment begun just hours after her birth. The baby girl — now 9 months old — from Long Beach, Calif., is still on that regimen of antiretroviral drugs. But researchers who described her case at an AIDS meeting in Boston this week say advanced testing suggests that she is HIV-negative.

Flickr Photo/anqa

In the global fight against HIV/AIDS, there's some very good news. According to a new report from the United Nations, the number of new HIV infections are down by nearly one-third over the last decade. Among children new infections are down 52 percent. The number of AIDS-related deaths are also down.

What are the major factors driving this progress? And what barriers still need to be overcome? Katrina Ortblad is a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. She talks with David Hyde.

HIV In King County: Demographics Differ From National Trend

Jun 18, 2013
Flickr Photo/The Stigma Project

 According to the most recent reports from King County, as of April of this year there are currently more than 7,000 people living with HIV, including AIDS cases, in King County. Those are just the reported cases. Most of the people with HIV in King County are white men between the ages of 20 and 40 years old. That is a different picture than AIDS cases nationally, where more than 50 percent of HIV and AIDS cases are people of color.

David Hyde discusses HIV with Dr. Matt Golden, Director of Public Health at the Seattle & King County HIV/STD Control Program. Plus, hear stories from people who have been diagnosed with HIV.

More Resources

AP Photo/Luis Romero

Every person between the ages of 15 and 65, regardless of risk factors, should get routinely tested for HIV. That’s the recommendation from the US Preventative Services Task Force, an independent panel of doctors and researchers.

Consensus Builds For Universal HIV Testing

Apr 30, 2013

Everybody needs an HIV test, at least once.

That's the verdict from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which has just joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a scrum of professional medical societies in calling for universal testing for the virus that causes AIDS.