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Thursday, December 1, 2016

World AIDS Day 2016


On the eve of World AIDS Day 2016 a historic vaccine trial has launched in South Africa that could very well change the tide of AIDS.

Today it's extremely rare for a child in the United States to be born with HIV. Sadly, we can't say the same for other parts of the world, like Africa, where my youngest son was born, and subsequently orphaned by AIDS. It's hard to fathom, that here we are in 2016, with medicines that can totally prevent a mother from transmitting the virus to her child, and yet children, moms, entire families are still dying of AIDS in other parts of the world. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Foundation is trying to change that.

Diagnosed in 1996, after the birth of my second child, I carried the HIV virus for more than ten years without ever knowing it. I had no symptoms. Our diagnosis came as a total shock.

I get pretty emotional when I think about those early days. They were difficult. The medicines were many and they came with side-effects. Once upon a time my children had to take eleven to thirteen pills a day to keep the virus undetectable. Today, they take one pill a day. They are all "undetectable" and their immune systems are healthier than the average child. We are living in remarkable times, for sure, and not a day goes by that I don't thank God for the advances that have allowed my children to thrive. Back when my husband and I were starting a family, it was unheard of for a woman to get an HIV test. Things are different today. Just the other day I saw an HIV test on the Walgreen shelf. That one test could save someone a lifetime of grief.

This World AIDS Day I am thankful for so many things, but I am especially thankful for the many doctors and researchers out there who are working to end HIV/AIDS. They are true rock stars in my eyes.

Hold on to hope. Educate yourself. Get tested. Get involved. We will see the end of AIDS.

To learn more, tune to WNYC The Takeaway (9:30am today) to listen to myself and leading pediatric expert Dr. Donna Futterman talk about recent advances made in the treatment and prevention of pediatric AIDS.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

"Dear Lucky Agent" Contest

Me, Gaga-Baby, and Blackie in San Diego around 1974

As a girl I moved around a lot. By the time my eighteenth birthday rolled around, I'd lived in five states and attended thirteen different schools. I was always the new girl, which was not an easy thing to be as I was incredibly shy. It was during this time that I fell in love with books. Books were my refuge, my escape. The first book I remember falling in love with was Where The Red Fern Grows. After that, Little House on The Prairie, the whole series, and of course Judy Blume ruled as I embarked on my teen years. 

When I was twelve years old, my sister, who was ten years my senior and already living on her own, gifted me with a diary for my birthday. That gift changed my life. Finally, I had a place to confide all of the things I'd kept inside. I wrote in that diary every single day. Some of the stories I wrote were true and some were fiction. In school, while I failed miserably at Algebra, I received A+'s in English and essay assignments. More than anything, I loved to write. 

Still, it wasn't until I was twenty-nine and taking a creative writing class that something I wrote garnered the attention of my writing Professor. Soon after, I had my first short story titled, "The Lost Story" published in The Tale Trader. I was floating on air.

I continued to write stories, fiction as well as non-fiction, and had some success, but me, write a book? I had all these stories and ideas, but was I up for the challenge? I decided to give it my all. I wrote my first book in 2011. A semi-finalist in The William Faulkner Novel-In-Progress Contest, the story was picked up in 2012 by the second publisher who read it. Unfortunately, that publisher, after a short stint with POD, went out of business. Thankfully, they rewarded me with the rights back to my novel, and although I was deeply saddened, I was not defeated.

I've been writing stories all of my life, some true, and some fiction. I will always be in love with the process of writing novels. I adore the challenge as well as the creative process of bringing characters and story to life. It's what I was born to do. In fact,  I've recently finished my second novel. It's a story I've wanted to write for many years--one that had to simmer. In other words, I had to grow as a writer. That said, this is an exhilarating time for me. I'm just beginning to query agents with this newest endeavor. It's exciting and challenging at the same time. In order to garner agent interest, much like a book jacket, you must entice them in 300 words or less! No easy feet, but it can be done if you work hard. 

I tend to write fictional stories that emcompass real-life issues that effect us all, like love, family, and those once in a life-time moments that can suddenly change everything. Of course I always pull for the underdog, and some of my stories but not all of them delve into the subject of HIV/AIDS. It's a tough topic but one I feel compelled to write about.

Stories will always be around. They teach, they entertain, they enlighten, but perhaps most of all they unite us in a shared human experience like nothing else can. Stories bring us together.  

Thanks for allowing me to share my own story with you today. We all have a story. So believe in yourself and believe in your story. This is after all, NANOWRIMO month. And if you've been engaging in your own love story with words and have written a novel, here's a link (and a chance) to have your story heard.   The Writer's Digest  "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest. Good wishes and good luck.

Sincerely,

Suzan

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Nest





When I first began writing Red Ribbon Diaries, my children were small. I was a new adoptive mom, juggling life, kids, and a career without so much as a compass to keep me pointed in the right direction. But you know what? There is no one right direction when you're a mom. You have to take a multitude of turns, some of them hard lefts with your foot mashed on the gas in front of oncoming traffic! But no matter the road, you do what's in the best interest of your kids. Am I right? That's just what moms do.

We fix things. We kiss bruises. We do our best, always, and sometimes our best falls short. Maybe the prom dress needs a stitch or two, or the lunch money gets left on the counter, or how about the time you washed the boy's white football uniform with his sister's red pajama pants? Sorry, Yonas. But  hey, your kids love you regardless, and you love them back. After all, you're a family, be it through adoption or some other miracle, it doesn't matter. The common denominator we all share is love, and love moves mountains, love grows kids into exceptional adults, and if we're lucky, love even brings them back to the nest every once in a while, after they're grown.

I am a lucky mom. I've been blessed with chocolate face kisses, sticky high-fives from a jelly-fingered two-year-old, bleacher-butt, gray hairs, late night, teenage hellion, God-loving, walking down the aisle, tears in my eyes OMG that beautiful bride is my daughter...moments. Thank you, God, for those moments.

Should your path lead you here, you'll find many stories, some happy and some sad, about my family and about my life.  HIV isn't an easy disease to bear at any age, let alone grow up with, and this blog became a wonderful place for us to share our story. This blog gave us a voice--a place to laugh, and even cry if we needed to, but perhaps most importantly, this blog became a source of inspiration to so many people. The letters and support that have poured in over the years have meant so much to our family. Thank you!

I hope you enjoy the stories I share here and find within them something to take with you on your own journey of love and miracles.

Sincerely,

Suzan




Tuesday, July 5, 2016

To Test or Not To Test...THAT is the question.

My husband took an HIV test today. 
Testing Guidelines 

This coming March my husband and I will have been married for twenty-nine years. This isn't his first test. To err on the side of caution, I ask him to take an HIV test every few years. In case you didn't already know, I'm HIV positive and my husband is not. I often say that it's not the people with HIV you need to worry about, it's the ones that don't know their status that are cause for concern. Why? Because not only is knowing your HIV status vital but also the best way to prevent the spread of HIV.  In fact, HIV is totally preventable. 


It gets better. Did you know that taking an HIV test can be as easy as going to your local drugstore? 

It's true. It's never been easier to test yourself for HIV and you can have your results in as little as twenty minutes, in the privacy of your own home. Really. READ DIRECTIONS, SWAB GUMS.

AND Twenty minutes later...
My husband's result is NEGATIVE!

So what if your result comes back positive, you ask? A positive result is not the end of the world. Today, antiviral medications drive the virus to undetectable levels. I'm proof that with good medical care you can live a normal, healthy life and pose no risk of infecting your partner. Yes, you can have sex. You can even have a healthy child, if you choose. The only thing better would be a cure, and even that's not as far fetched as we once believed. So be brave. Take the test. 

To learn more about mixed status couples, HIV prevention and pregnancy visit: https://www.avert.org/learn-share/hiv-fact-sheets/mixed-status-couples





Wednesday, March 16, 2016

God's Plan + Cardio


I counted the years yesterday and it's mind-blowing. I've been a mom for over half of my life! And the real kicker? I'm almost fifty and have a fourteen-year-old. Enough to make your gills quiver, isn't it?  

But seriously, every child needs a parent, biological or adopted, to love them unconditionally, and I knew I could do that. I've always loved being a mom, and a wife. That's what makes me the happiest in life. 

The thing that makes me the most unhappy is the worry that came with being a parent. Even before I was diagnosed with HIV, I remember feeling this sense of urgency that I just HAD to survive, HAD to be there to raise my children. Then there were the dark years, after my children and I were diagnosed, where I just hoped to live long enough to see them through--whatever God's plan.

HIV was quite the curve ball. Good thing I have the husband, family, and friends that I do. They carried me through those difficult days and for that I'm forever grateful. 

So what do you do when life throws a curve ball? I'd like to think that I'm an expert by now. I'm not. But I am a good study, and I have picked up some valuable tools along the way. They are:

1. In all things be brave, honest, and kind.

2. There is no substitute for prayer. 

3. A little laughter goes a very long way.

4. Love will conquer everything.

5. Don't sweat the small stuff. 


Today, I aspire to see my children through to a cure and science is backing me up. I will, one day, see my babies (now 25, 20, and 14) HIV-free! This calls for a high round of cardio, am I right? 

So long for now. Putting on my snazzy Nikes and off to conquer a hill or two... Whatever it takes. 


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day


This coming March 10th will mark the tenth annual National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Women and Girls, can I get a s-h-o-u-t? In case you didn't know, women and girls aren't the only ones affected by HIV. I'm being facetious. While women with HIV were once considered the minority, AIDSgov states that white, heterosexual women now account for about 20 percent of all new HIV infections in the United States, and those numbers are growing.   

I can remember vividly the first time I heard the word AIDS. It was 1985. I was nineteen and attending hair school in Southern California when one of my friends, a student named Trenton, sat down with me at a picnic table for lunch. He was drinking a soda, and when I reached to take a sip, he pulled the soda can from my hand. "You can't drink after me, anymore. I have AIDS," he said. I didn't know what AIDS was, but by the look on his face, I knew it was bad. A few weeks later, my friend Trenton quit hair school and moved away. I never saw him again.

There are two words that I don't use and one of them is hate, but I hate AIDS. 

For richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, you and I already know that HIV/AIDS affects us all. So, what I'd like to say, on this (almost) National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, is thank you. Thank you for remembering me and giving we ladies a s-h-o-u-t to help raise HIV/AIDS Awareness, and whoever you are--gay, straight, black, white, man, woman, or child--we are in this together. Be well. Be Strong. Be SAFE. 

Here's a list of HIV/AIDS Awareness Days that occur throughout the year below. 




Monday, December 1, 2014

Today is World AIDS Day



This morning when I awoke all of the rooms of my house were dark. One of our cats, an orange feline with large yellow eyes, trailed behind as I made my way into the kitchen hoping for a quiet hour or two to write before daybreak and my family awakened.  And then I remembered what today was.

The clock on the mantle glowed 6:25am as I took a sip of java and then lit all seven candles in prayer.

Today is World AIDS Day, a time of reflection and a time for raising awareness.

Perhaps you know someone with HIV or have lost a loved one to AIDS. That’s why you care. Maybe your life depends on a cure. That’s why you care. Maybe you’re a research scientist working day in and day out to make a difference, to one day find a cure. You care. Maybe you’re an orphaned child with big dreams and all your life you’ve been living with AIDS because your mother never knew she had it. The world cares. Maybe you're a young man or woman living with HIV in secret because you’re afraid that no one will care. Know that someone cares.

Maybe we’re all in this together. Maybe, just like me, you have to care.

A quiet moment, a simple prayer. I blow out the candles as daylight and the sound of my children's footsteps fill the house, and I am so grateful for the many people in our world who care. Wishing you love, health, and hope this day and many more to come.






Friday, February 28, 2014

Grateful Hearts--St. Jude Childrens's Research Hospital

I'm incredibly touched by all the kind words, prayers and people who have been moved by our story as told by my husband in the Winter/2014 issue of PROMISE. This made me cry. Please follow the link and then share St. Jude's page on your FB to help support the wonderful work of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. I can't even put into words what they've met to our family. Thank you with all my heart for your support of St. Jude and their commitment to research and saving families. God Bless.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"A Mother's Story"

In honor of this upcoming National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day:

"A Mother's Story" as it appeared in The Huffington Post by Suzan Stirling 
My name is Suzan. I'm an ambassador for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, where I advocate for people to join the fight of mothers around the world to protect their children from HIV. I'm also the author ofThe Silence of Mercy Bleu -- a story about a young woman who grows up harboring the secret of AIDS.
When people ask me what propelled me to write a novel about HIV/AIDS, they're often surprised to learn that I am a (now 27-year) survivor of the disease. But unlike my character, Mercy, who grows up with the disease and later strives to have a healthy baby, I didn't learn the truth until it was almost too late.
I met and married the love of my life in 1988, and a couple of years later we decided to start a family. In 1990, our wish came true and we welcomed a beautiful baby girl into our lives. In those early years, everything was perfect.
But then in 1996, shortly after the birth of our second child, something began to go terribly wrong. In the matter of a few months, both of our children became very sick.
Alee, our then 5 year-old daughter, began to rapidly lose weight. At the same time, our newborn baby, Mitch, had to be put on a respirator in the ICU, where he would spend weeks fighting a respiratory virus his young body couldn't fend off.
The doctors were candid -- things weren't looking good. There were numerous tests and long hospital stays, but still we had no answers. It was a parent's worst nightmare. We were losing both of our children and no one could tell us why.
I'll never forget the phone call that saved my children's lives. It was a new doctor. She was quick to the point. She said, "Something in your son's blood work warrants an AIDS test. I suggest your whole family be tested."
I was in complete shock. I just remember thinking, "I'm going to have to watch my children die." I didn't think I was strong enough to handle that.

We took our HIV tests, and tragically, our doctor was dead on. I tested positive for HIV. So did Alee and Mitch. We were very lucky in that my husband was negative.
Almost overnight, my family became just another face of AIDS.
It wasn't hard to trace where I'd contracted the virus. Before I'd met my husband, I'd been engaged to a young man who I was later told had died of cancer, but who I now believe died of AIDS. I had carried the virus for nearly 10 years without ever knowing it.
My husband and I nearly lost Alee and Mitchell that year, but 1996 -- the year we were diagnosed -- was also the same year that protease inhibitors became available. My husband and I would crush the blue pills into pudding, clap and cheer, and somehow our children would manage to swallow the brown, sticky mess.
Daily, we saw improvements. This new medicine, in combination with two others, literally brought our children back to us. It was and still is the most miraculous thing that I have ever witnessed.
People often ask me how HIV has changed me, and I almost want to say, "How has it not changed me?" To be completely honest, you can't go through what I've been through -- any life-threatening illness really -- and not come out a completely changed person. HIV is even more difficult because it's a disease that many people suffer with in silence, myself included, for many years.
There were so many things that my family and I had to work through to get to where we are today. HIV forced me to be a much braver, more open person, and I'm thankful for that.
It's never easy for me to share my story, but I think it's important for me -- especially as a mother -- to do so. Today, with medicines that drive the virus to undetectable levels, there is now more hope than ever of staying healthy and stopping HIV transmission. This means being able to protect your partner from the virus, and being able to have a child born free of HIV.
My husband and I were fortunate. We didn't lose our children. The same can't be said for families in other parts of the world, like Africa where our youngest son Yonas was born.
Every day around the world, one thousand mothers -- many of them unaware that they carry HIV-transmit the virus to their own babies in utero, during labor, or through breastfeeding. Without access to the right medicines, they are helpless to protect their own health and that of their babies. Being a mother with three children who are all positive, yet remarkably healthy, I can only imagine what that feels like.
The hardest part of my having HIV was never that I might die -- the hardest part was that I had given this terrible disease to my children. No mother should have to carry that burden. Not today, not ever. Especially when mother-to-child transmission of HIV is completely preventable. With preventative services, the chances of a mother passing the virus on to her children are extremely low -- less than 2 percent. Those are some pretty terrific odds.
We can stop mothers and their children from dying. Really, we can. I know because I've seen it with my own eyes, with my own family.
It's been 16 years now since my children's health was restored. I will get to see my children grow up, and I know that for a parent, there's no greater gift.
As an ambassador for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, I get the privilege of joining in the fight to eliminate pediatric AIDS. The work done by the Foundation and its partners around the world is saving children's lives and sparing families unimaginable heartache.
The Foundation has made huge strides to help mothers like me, and lifesaving medicines are now reaching more people than ever. You can be a part of that progress.
Join the fight of mothers around the world, and help us get closer to a new generation born free of HIV.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Ode to AIDS


I want to share this poem that I wrote some years back, when my children were still quite young and I had to face the very real possibility that I could succumb to AIDS and leave them motherless. Chances are, if you're reading this post you either know someone or have lost someone to HIV/AIDS. This is for you. 


        
Where You'll Find Me 


Where crimson clouds blaze bold
And tree,
A charcoal silhouette stands tall against a crooked sky
Here is where you'll find me.

Where delicate vines cling ‘round tree’s trunk
Breathe in the tall, sweet grass
This is where you’ll find me.

Initials carved into knotty bark
A token of my love for you.

When winds gust autumn
And trees rain gold upon the muddy Earth below
If you should need me,
Here is where you’ll find me.

I’ll rest beneath the untouched snow
Until doves come calling and mystic rivers flow.

Forget me not, for one hundred years from now
Here is where you'll find me
Waiting, one with all God’s creation
To once again be born anew.

~Suzan Meredith


Monday, October 14, 2013

The Finish Line


This year marked the 20th annual AIDS WALK for Louisville! We couldn't have asked for a better day and I have many people to thank for making this day possible. A big thanks to Brad Hampton, the Walk's Event Director, for providing a golf cart for my children, so that they were able to participate in Louisville's AIDS Walk for the very first time. I can't tell you how special that made the day for my husband and I.

I also have to give a shout-out to Monkey Drive Screen printing for putting a rush on our T-shirts. They turned out A-mazing! But the biggest thanks of all goes to my husband, for just being the man and husband that you are, and for making "impossible" things possible. It's because of your determination and refusal to ever give up that we are healthy and well today. I love you.


Another big first was viewing a portion of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling that it evokes. Yes, sadness, but also peace, love and an incredible spirit from those whose lives each square represents.  A few minutes before the walk began, I noticed that Yonas, my eleven-year-old, had strayed from the pack and wondered over to The Great Lawn, a grassy area where pieces of the AIDS Memorial Quilt were on display. I walked over to him, and together we walked the aisles, viewing the names and precious keepsakes sewn into the fabric squares. Suddenly Yonas stopped.

"Hey Mom." Yonas reached my hand. "Look at this one," he said. The quilted square he pointed to was that of four white doves in flight that circled a poem titled, "White Wing Doves."

To be just like the white wing dove 
With a spirit that flys so wild and free
Even though all our fears and pain
We must find and get through within our soul
Our spirit inside tries hard to just let it be
Even all the tears and sorrows we'll have for life
The spirit will find the peace from within
So I pray to you dear Lord to please
Bless all spirits to be like white wing doves
With a blessing forever to fly so free
Just spread you wings.

~Michael D'Wayne Arder

I thought of my son as he read this poem out loud, and how ironic that his name, Yonas, in his native language (Amharic) means "White Dove," and it was all I could do to hold back my tears. We stood there for only a few moments, before I whispered, "Come on, time to go." Dawn G had just announced that the walk was ready to begin.

The ribbon, cut, fell to the ground and off the crowd went. Through the sea of people, I watched my family in front of me and I held tight to my husband's hand. "Thank you, God," I whispered.

I couldn't have asked for a better day, and as we crossed the finish line at this year's Louisville AIDS Walk, I was struck with this tremendous feeling of awe.

You see, that finish line symbolizes something far deeper for me. The end of AIDS. We will see that day and somewhere, watching over us, is an angel named Michael, whose life and struggle will never be forgotton.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Trick or Treat : )


My Little Kitchen Witch

Happy October! It's no "trick" that this is my favorite time of year so you know it's been a real "treat" pulling out the Halloween gear today : ) While I've been lighting pumpkin spice candles and toting my youngest back and forth to football, my husband, a former Marine, has been busy raising money for Titan Marine Wounded Warrior Project Benefit. The WWP event, which will include music, food, bar and silent auction, will commence on the eve of November 2nd, 2013 so be sure and check them out on FB!   


I'm also happy to share that for the first time all three of my children will be walking in this year's Louisville AIDS and Pet Walk  to be held Oct. 13th at Waterfront Park. The only hitch is that I have to okay a different mode of transport through the walk facilitators. Once I have the okay, we'll be able to register! My big wish for Oct. is for two Segway motor scooters, or a golf cart (that can be rented or donated for the day) so that my two oldest children, who both have disabilities that make walking long distances difficult, can participate! The walk will benefit Volunteers of America, a wonderful community based help organization whose mission is to help people living with HIV. I'll be creating an "event" to be posted a bit later for anyone who'd like to sponsor our walk. Our goal is to raise $500 for VOA and we will match whatever is raised! If not for this wonderful  "helping" organization many people in my community with HIV would go without such fundamental needs as shelter, food, and health care


These are the facts: 


AIDS related deaths in the US alone are estimated to be more than 650,000. That's more American casualties that WWI, WWII, The Korean War, and Vietnam combined. It's hard for me to wrap my mind around those statistics, but there they are. Would you believe that worldwide AIDS has claimed a staggering 35 million men, women and children? That takes a moment to sink in, doesn't it? Unfortunately, these numbers don't lie, and I think we can all agree that a new strategy is in order. 


The great news is that for the first time we have real hope that a solution to AIDS is within reach. One step, one more scientific break and we could very well have the cure. Be it cancer, the homeless, the disabled, or AIDS, all it takes is just one person to make a difference. My adopted son was saved by one American missionary who saw his need. One person can change someone's  life. 



My hope for you this month is that should you come across a mother who cannot give her children enough, you'll fill up a box with presents, or should you see a beggar in the street that you reach into your pocket. And if you believe for something crazy, like a cure for AIDS, that you'll have the courage to fight for it with all your heart. I hope that your month is full of rewards and all the good that you do comes back to you ten-fold. Happy Trick-or-Treat!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Closer to a CURE


For the last sixteen years (since my children's diagnosis) all of my most important choices have revolved around this one, larger than life question, "Will this bring us closer to a cure?"

Asking myself that question has brought me clarity and focus in times of uncertainty, and believe me there have been many.

I think as parents, we're tried and tested on a daily basis on how to best care and look after our families. In our situation, the kids' medical care has always had to take a front seat. My children are seen regularly at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. They are a cutting edge research hospital, and being a patient there means that you agree to take part in studies that the hospital is conducting.

When asked if we will take part in a particular study, my "clarity" question comes in handy. It helps me to focus on what's most important for my children. If I feel that the study is too invasive or just not right for my children, naturally, I decline. If we all decide that a certain study they ask the children to participate in could benefit, or even possibly bring us closer to a cure, then we jump on board.

My children have beaten some incredible odds and I thank God every single day. Do I believe that one day my children will be cured of HIV? I do.

During our last visit to St. Jude, we were talking with one of the workers. The kids were enrolled in a "survey" study in which they had to answer questions about their general knowledge of HIV. One of the questions they were asked was, "Do we have a cure?"

I smiled when my son answered, "Yes, of course. We just need to find it."

His words just may have been prophetic. Read this amazing story and you'll understand what I mean.
Once thought to be an impossible feat, doctors at the University of Minnesota are attempting to cure a six-year-old little boy of both his HIV and cancer. He underwent a very difficult transplant (the first of its kind) just yesterday, and now will be in isolation for the next 100 days while he recovers.

I don't usually ask my blog followers for favors, but because I believe so strongly in the power of prayer, I'll ask that you pray for this child, his family, and the doctors who are attempting to cure him of both his HIV and cancer. This "first of its kind" transplant could lead us toward what my family already believes possible...a cure for HIV.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Blue Skies Ahead


Stepping out on the Big Four Bridge yesterday afternoon. 

As my daughter and I strolled across the walking bridge I had a moment to reflect on our remarkable journey.  I say remarkable not because of our circumstance.There's nothing noteworthy or remotely remarkable about being HIV positive; what would be remarkable, though, is to live to see the end of HIV. I dream of a world cured of AIDS and there are doctors and researchers believing for the same, but there is work to do. 

As the media buzz over the Mississippi baby functionally cured of HIV settles, we are left with more questions than perhaps answers. One of the biggest, "Can we replicate these same results in others?" 

The short answer is, yes, of course we can. We now know that HIV can be stopped (in some individuals) when caught early enough. This holds true for early HIV exposures treated prophylactically, as well as babies born to mother's infected with the disease. So, what does all this mean? It's a giant step toward one day ending AIDS. 

Already, with just the medicines we now have available, we could end mother to infant transmission for good.  Anti-virals are an amazing class of drugs that drive the virus to levels that are so low that passing the virus, even in vitro becomes highly unlikely. Unfortunately, the majority of women who pass the virus onto their babies are unaware that they are carriers until it's too late. Testing and treating are key. As a mother, and a proud Ambassador for The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Foundation  I encourage you to get involved. AIDS isn't over yet. We still have a long road ahead, but we will get there. 







Wednesday, August 29, 2012

HOPE for an HIV CURE

For me, these two remarkable men signify HOPE. Pictured in the photo above are Dr. Gero Hutter, a hematologist who will go down in history as the first to "cure" or eradicate the HIV virus from someone infected with the disease, and Timothy Brown (aka The Berlin Patient) the first man to be cured. 

I remember a few years back reading an article where a leading AIDS researcher was quoted as saying,  "HIV will never be cured." I was devastated. To think, that someone at the helm of research had no belief in a cure for a disease that, if not cured, would destroy millions of lives, worldwide.  

There will always be nay-sayers, and there will always be those special few who set out to accomplish the "impossible," and succeed. Think about it. Once upon a time, someone said the world was flat, we'll never walk on the moon, and a cure for HIV would never happen...

Never say Never, friends. Hats off to these two for attempting the "impossible," and would you just look what happened. Now that we know that HIV eradication is possible, this will surely lead to newer and more innovative cure research. We have much to look forward to!

Read more about Dr. Gero Hutter here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gero_Hütter