A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘hiv/aids

[LINK] “The Man Who Was Immune to AIDS”

A Mike on Facebook linked to Jesse Green‘s New York Magazine article on the life of Stephen Crohn. One of the first people discovered to be immune to HIV infection due to a specific mutation preventing the virus from infecting white blood cells, Crohn was nonetheless devastated by being a rare survivor of his group. A powerful article.

Steve Crohn seemed almost euphoric, as if relieved to be checking off items on a list that had grown overwhelmingly long. In July, he flew to London to install one of his paintings in the home of the friends who’d commissioned it. Back in New York, he caught up with emails, left messages on machines, never mentioning or exhibiting any despair. Over lunch with the dean of his alma mater, he offered to provide photos he’d taken in the ’60s for an exhibition on the civil-rights movement. To his younger sister he mailed a birthday card featuring a tabby cat, apparently knowing full well the circumstances under which it would later arrive. He made lists of his bank accounts and passwords. Check, check, check.

And he finished his maps. For his entire life as an artist—he was now 66—he’d had to support himself and give structure to his existence with various day jobs: copyediting, magazine production, interior design, social work. But proofreading for Fodor’s was his longest-running gig, and perhaps the most congenial. He could do it from home, or what now passed as home. And for a punctilious person, it could be oddly satisfying. He would carefully read the manuscripts of travel books the publisher was preparing, compare the texts to the maps, and make sure everything mentioned in one was accurately pictured in the other. This time, this last time, he saw that the restaurant 2 Fools and a Bull was missing from the Oranjestad detail. The Tropicana Aruba resort on Eagle Beach had also gone missing. He neatly noted these mistakes, then brought the completed work to the Random House building, leaving it at the lobby desk. This was last August, Thursday the 15th, 1:30 in the afternoon.

Perhaps you saw him that pleasant day: one of those friendly-looking gay New Yorkers, aging but not old, thick but not fat, six-footish, with blue eyes and a slight dusting of ginger in the white fuzz haloing his face. Beefy worker’s hands, yet with a fine gold band on the right ring finger. Busy like someone with lots of work and places to be—though this was a front. He was freelance in the largest sense: unattached, perhaps unattachable. Most of all he was a survivor, which to him meant not just being but being special. He smoked Dunhills. Brushed his teeth with Vade­mecum. Was hearty with strangers, dapper at cocktails, cultivating the air of a wealthy eccentric despite his Social Security check. He dressed just so: often a neckerchief jauntily affixed, a beanie or a bolo tie, a popped collar, interesting socks. He had the verbal flair of Oscar Wilde if Wilde had 12-stepped. “Darling!” he’d call anyone. Or, an encouragement: “Go you!”

The obituaries got a lot wrong, but this much was right: Stephen Lyon Crohn didn’t die of AIDS. Not dying of AIDS was in fact the reason he got obituaries at all. Certainly it wasn’t because of his hundreds of artworks, however beautiful; few people had seen them. Being the great-nephew of the great Burrill Crohn—the doctor who described and gave his name to the chronic inflammatory disorder—was a piquant detail but not the point. No, it was Steve’s own medical description that earned him inches in the Daily News: “ ‘The Man Who Can’t Catch AIDS’ commits suicide at age of 66.” Or, as the Los Angeles Times put it: “Immune to HIV but not its tragedy.”

It was true: Steve was one of a surpassingly small number of people on Earth whose bodies essentially ignored HIV. And he was one of an even smaller subset who had occasion to find out. Back in the early 1980s, at a time when thousands of gay men, including dozens Steve knew and loved, began dying, he kept on living. Surely he’d been multiply exposed, and yet as he waited a year, and then many, to join those he’d lost, he came to realize that his body would not give him the chance. Frantic to find out why, he went from doctor to doctor, all but begging someone to study him; when eventually someone did, a great discovery was made. Not only had he inherited a genetic mutation that spared him, but that knowledge would lead to the development of a drug that even now helps sustain the lives of people not as lucky as he. “He realized that he could provide a piece of the jigsaw,” one researcher said, “and he was right.”

Written by Randy McDonald

June 19, 2014 at 2:48 am

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • James Bow wishes he had better choices in the Ontario election than to vote for the least bad party.
  • Centauri Dreams shares an essay by Cameron Smith examining cultural evolution on long-duration interstellar missions, like generation starships.
  • Crooked Timber continues its symposium on the ethics of immigration, arguing in favour of open borders.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that streaks on Martian dune slopes might be ephemeral sheets of water.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the continuing devastation of Louisiana by the side-effects of the oil industry.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that the cap-and-trade economics of the carbon market are spreading throughout the United States.
  • The New APPS Blog wonders if the boredom plausibly associated with immortality could be dealt with by a short memory–the goldfish solution, as the blog calls it.
  • Peter Rukavina shares a lovely example of his printing, a short passage of Jack Layton’s final address to Canada.
  • The Russian Demographics blog wonders what will happen to HIV in Crimea now that it’s part of Russia.
  • Torontoist notes that the New Democratic Party promises many lovely things for Toronto if it wins the Ontario elections but doesn’t describe how it would pay for it all.
  • Towleroad notes that playing a gay man in the 1981 film Making Love destroyed his film career.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that the anti-terrorist campaign in eastern Ukraine is much less bloody than Russian campaigns in the North Caucasus, and notes that the Russian Orthodox Church isn’t quite on side (losing Ukraine would hurt it).

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes the TTC proposal to remove some streetcar stops.
  • Discover‘s D-Brief suggests that one reason humans are physically weaker than other primates is because we sacrificed physical strength to support our brain instead.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper suggesting Earth has much more carbon and water sequestered inside than expected.
  • Geocurrents notes that estimates on the size of various economies, including Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, often vary quite widely even between years.
  • The Inkfish blog notes that the Humboldt squid can apparently radically slow down its metabolism when it hangs out in oxygen-poor waters.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that continuing improvements in HIV/AIDS mortality have led a Vancouver hospital to shut down its dedicated ward for patients.
  • Language Log shares a photo explaining how an Arabic word on a sign in Iraqi Kurdistan as badly mistranslated.</li
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money discusses misogyny and gun control after the Rodger shooting.
  • The Planetary Society Blog announces that the parent organization supports the NASA proposal to capture an asteroid into lunar orbit, with qualifications (how much will it cost?).
  • Towleroad notes that in Ghana’s capital of Accra, a mob in a Muslim neighbourhood lynched a gay man and began looking for his partner.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the growing list of travel restrictions on Russian citizens imposed by the Russian government and argues anti-Semitism is a bigger threat in Russia than in Ukraine.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • blogTO shares photos of Scarborough’s motel-heavy Kingston Road.
  • Centauri Dreams features an essay by one Nick Nielsen putting forth a typology of theoretical starships.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper analyzing the albedos of hot superearths and to another paper that measured the diameter of superearth Kepler 93b to within 120 kilometers.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to one paper noting that genetic evidence seems to suggest multiple waves of migrants from Africa and another noting that the mission planners for the New Horizons Pluto probe are looking very late for a Kuiper belt object for their probe to study.
  • Eastern Approaches follows the Ukrainian elections.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen suggests that the BJP may have the credibility necessary to strike a deal with Pakistan.
  • Progressive Download’s John Farrell notes concern for egg donors as cloning technologies which make use of human ova advance.
  • The Russian Demographics blog notes that the annexation of Crimea by Russia, combined with the secessions of Donetsk and Luhansk, would see the Ukrainian population shrink.
  • Towleroad links to an essay at Out by a man talking about his choice to make use of Truvada to prevent HIV infection.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes a sad legal dispute between the parents of a deceased man over the division of his ashes.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that eastern Ukrainian separatists are trying to encourage separatism from the top down, and notes Russian tensions with the Crimean Tatar leadership.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes the ideological and generational divides within UKIP.

[LINK] “Advocating Pill, U.S. Signals Shift to Prevent AIDS”

Donald G. McNeil’s article in the New York Times about the prophylactic use of the anti-HIV drug Truvada to prevent HIV infections, as a supplement or even a replacement for condom use, got a lot of attention. Deservedly so: this could change the dynamics of HIV in queer communities substantially.

Federal health officials recommended Wednesday that hundreds of thousands of Americans at risk for AIDS take a daily pill that has been shown to prevent infection with the virus that causes it.

If broadly followed, the advice could transform AIDS prevention in the United States — from reliance on condoms, which are effective but unpopular with many men, to a regimen that relies on an antiretroviral drug.

It would mean a 50-fold increase in the number of prescriptions for the drug, Truvada — to 500,000 a year from fewer than 10,000. The drug costs $13,000 a year, and most insurers already cover it.

The guidelines tell doctors to consider the drug regimen, called PrEP, for pre-exposure prophylaxis, for gay men who have sex without condoms; heterosexuals with high-risk partners such as drug injectors or male bisexuals who have unprotected sex; patients who regularly have sex with anyone they know is infected; and anyone who shares needles or injects drugs.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have long been frustrated that the number of H.I.V. infections in the United States has barely changed in a decade, stubbornly holding at 50,000 a year, despite 30 years of official advice to rely on condoms to block transmission.

Although there is no guarantee that gay men will adopt the drug regimen, federal officials say something must be done because condom use is going down. In a C.D.C. survey in November, the number of gay men reporting recent unprotected sex rose nearly 20 percent from 2005 to 2011.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 20, 2014 at 8:44 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to one paper examining the search for exomoons and links to another looking for very widely-separated exoplanets.
  • Far Outliers’ Joel shows some unusual Japanese words.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World blog notes, in the context of recent riots, that Vietnam is an important player in global supply chains.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the opening of a museum in New York City dedicated to the September 11th terrorist attacks. Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly can’t bear to visit.
  • Language Hat notes the new Russian laws banning profanity.
  • At his blog, Peter Watts discusses his experience speaking at a conference about the origins of revenge.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla notes that comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, target of the ESA’s Rosetta probe, is now growing a coma.
  • Towleroad notes that the Centers for Disease Control in the United States have released guidelines for the use of truvada to prevent HIV infections.
  • The Transit Toronto blog notes that there’s a TTC subway car ravaged by Godzilla down on Yonge Street.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy deals with the complex copyright case of a man who killed himself after a nasty divorce and whose ex-wife is trying to remove his writings critical of her from the Internet.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • The Dragon’s Tales links to news of remarkably thorough reconstruction of Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes.
  • Eastern Approaches visits eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.
  • Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis notes that Pakistan still apparently lays claim to the former Muslim-run princely state of Junagadh in Gujarat.
  • Joe. My. God. and Towleroad both note a proposed bill before the Russian parliament that would require the fingerprinting of all HIV-positive people in a national database.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes a continuing crisis in the availability of rental spaces in the American housing market, linking it to low-density zoning.
  • Torontoist notes the sad loss of a pet pigeon on Queen Street West.
  • Towleroad notes continuing controversy over the use of the HIV drug Truvada as a prophylactic against infection.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy visits controveries over affirmative action in the United States where different minorities (here, Asian-Americans) have different claims.
  • Window on Eurasia visits the increasingly problematic lot of Crimean Tatars in their Russian-occupied homeland, notes that traditionally pro-Russian Belarus is newly wary of its eastern partner, and quotes from a journalist who predicts catastrophe from a Russian pursuit of empire.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO shares a visual history of the Toronto Islands. (I really will have to get there this year.)
  • At Broadside Blog, Caitlin Kelly draws lessons from the experience of a journalist who literally overworked himself to death. When should people note their limits?
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that close-orbiting hot Neptune GJ 436b, even with its comet-like tail produced by heating from its sun, isn’t going to lose its atmosphere.
  • Eastern Approaches notes that Poland’s Donald Tusk is presiding over new military spending inspired by the Ukrainian crisis.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World blog and Eastern Approaches both deal with the international consequences of ongoing Russian involvement in eastern Ukraine, the former calling for broad sanctions.
  • Marginal Revolution wonders if the Russian-majority city of Narva in northeastern Estonia will be the next target of Russia.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer discusses the implication of Russian gas price increases for Ukraine.
  • Torontoist notes the impact of CBC’s announced job cuts.
  • Towleroad links to a teaser for the new HBO movie version of The Lonely Heart and reports on Barbra Streisand’s explanation as to why she couldn’t get the movie made.
  • Une heure de peine’s Denis Colombi writes (in French) about the sociology of working hours in France and among the French.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that rising xenophobia in Russia is alienating many non-Russians and reports on one Russia who argues that there isn’t a necessary conflict between liberalism and imperialism.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • The Buffer blog advises online writers as to how often they should post on different media.
  • Centauri Dreams reacts to the discovery of the ocean under Saturn’s moon Enceladus.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a recent paper claiming to set limits on a potential distant planet X and observes archeological data suggesting a 9th century settlement date for a Tongan island.
  • Eastern Approaches comments on the Hungarian election.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Doug Merrill warns that if Russia does move into eastern Ukraine, terrible choices will be afoot.
  • Geocurrents’ Claire Negiar takes a look at the Caribbean island of St. Martin, divided between French and Dutch halves.
  • Joe. My. God. links to an article examining the use of the drug Truvada to prevent HIV infection and notes that Blondie’s Debbie Harry has come out as bisexual.
  • Language Log’s Victor Mair explains what Chinese might mean when they talk about prayer.
  • Towleroad’s Ari Ezra Waldman comments on Brandon Eich’s resignation.
  • Window on Eurasia notes one Russian commentator’s argument that the Baltic States have been lost to the Russian sphere, another noting a fall in anti-Caucasian sentiment in the media as Ukraine heats up.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • The Burgh Diaspora’s Jim Russell observes the fine scale of globalization’s movements, which connect nations not so much as they do neighbourhoods.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze revisits the Kepler-9 system and notes the disintegrating sub-Mercury planet that is KIC 12557548b.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that waves have been detected on Titan’s Punga Mare.
  • Eastern Approaches takes a look at Slovakian politics.
  • Far Outliers revisits the massive volcanic eruption that hit the Melanesian island of New Britain circa 600 CE.
  • The Numerati’s Stephen Baker wonders if his new novel The Boost is anti-Chinese simply by describing a hegemonic China not acting differently from the United States. (I must read the book.)
  • Strange Maps notes a Turkish exclave in Syria–a tomb of an ancient Turkish hero–that might bring Turkey into the Syrian civil war.
  • Towleroad notes a study suggesting that crystal meth use accelerates the progress of HIV/AIDS in users.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s Eugene Volokh notes the death of a Ukrainian soldier on a base stormed by Russian soldiers in Crimea.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the fears of many Crimean Tatars of Russian rule.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell shares his eclectic list of recommended blogs.
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