[AIDS CELEBRITY] Magic Johnson,Rock Hudson,Freddie Mercury

LOS ANGELES – AIDS claimed a string of celebrity victims in its early days, from Rock Hudson to Freddie Mercury, but fellow stars have played a major role in fighting the killer disease over the years since.

Elton John and Elizabeth Taylor were among leading figures who used their celebrity from the start to raise awareness and funds for research into HIV, as well as reducing the stigma of what was initially seen as a “gay plague.”

Retired basketball player Magic Johnson has campaigned tirelessly since announcing in 1991 that he had contracted HIV, while pop icon Michael Jackson, a friend of Taylor’s, was also a strong supporter before his death in 2009.

John’s “White Tie and Tiara Ball” has become an annual star-studded fixture organized with his partner David Furnish since 1999 to raise funds for his Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF).

The EJAF has raised some $225 million for projects in 55 countries since it was founded in 1992.

“Both Elton and David are absolutely passionate about the work of the Foundation. They are on the phone weekly getting updates … and discussing stategy,” said Anne Aslett, boss of EJAF’s British arm.

“Celebrities can speak personally and emotionally … This means their influence can be enormous,” she told AFP, citing the impact of others including the late Princess Diana, Whoopi Goldberg and Sharon Stone.

AIDS first came to broad public notice in 1981, when US doctors noted an unusual cluster of deaths among young homosexuals in California and New York.

In the three decades since then it has killed nearly 30 million people, and 33 million others live with it or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS by destroying immune cells, according to 2009 World Health Organization (WHO) figures.

The first major celebrity victim was Hudson, whose admission that he was suffering from HIV in the early 1980s helped raise the profile of the disease. He died in 1985, aged 59.

Flamboyant US entertainer Liberace died in 1987 followed in 1990 by Scottish “Chariots of Fire” actor Ian Charleson and New York artist Keith Haring, who was only 31 when he died.

Queen frontman Mercury died the following year, perhaps the first high-profile pop star to succumb publicly to the disease. Jacques Morali, creator of camp music icons the Village People, died the same year.

Also in 1991 Oscar-winning British director Tony Richardson died, while Magic Johnson announced he was HIV positive, retired immediately and dedicated his life to fighting the deadly disease.

In 1992 “Psycho” actor Anthony Perkins, Britain’s Denholm Elliott and sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov all died, followed by tennis star Arthur Ashe and ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev in 1993.

The list of high profile AIDS victims has tailed off as awareness grew and more effective treatments were introduced — at least in rich developed countries — but celebrity campaigners kept fighting.

Screen siren Taylor, who died in March aged 79, regularly organized AIDS fund-raising benefits until her own health complications mounted.

“She saw this terrible disease, and she was angered by the fact that nobody was doing anything about it,” said Kevin Frost, head of the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), co-founded by Taylor in 1985.

“She just stepped right into the breach.”

Magic Johnson, 51, was one of the first to benefit from the cocktail of antiretroviral medications which emerged in the mid-1990s to keep HIV in check — and he believes his infection and survival were meant to be.

“This happened to me for a reason, and I know it was for me to help someone else,” he said in an interview in Newsweek magazine ahead of the HIV anniversary.

But he is concerned that, while gays have taken steps to protect themselves, African Americans still treat the subject as taboo — the HIV infection rate for black women was 15 times that for white women, according to 2006 figures.

“Those numbers really break my heart… The gay community has done such a great job of getting their message across, and it’s worked, But there is still such a stigma with the virus in our community, and that prevents any progress.”

Some groups who benefit from celebrity funding play down the importance of star power, saying staying power is more important.

“In the world of AIDS advocacy, Elton is seen less as a celebrity and more as one of the real leaders in the fight,” said Drew Altman of the Kaiser Family Foundation, one of dozens of groups backed by Elton John’s Foundation.

“When he gets involved he sticks with it when others show only temporary interest,” he told AFP.

But while the British singer has made a huge difference, after three decades there is still much more to be done, stresses Aslett.

“I know Elton would say we’ve lost so much and we’ve come so far because of AIDS, we cannot give up now. The fight against AIDS is mobilizing the greatest support even seen for a health issue,” she said.

“As we go into the fourth decade since HIV first appeared, we must work towards an end for this global killer.”

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[AIDS] 13 yr old Homosexual BOY, youngest person

TAIPEI – A 13 year-old boy has become the youngest person to become infected with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) through sexual intercourse, according to health officials.

It is suspected that the boy became infected while working part-time for a 50 year-old male, who lured him into sex with money, said Lin Ting, deputy director-general at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The boy was visiting an adolescent center when he tested positive for AIDS, Lin said, adding that the CDC had traced the source of transmission to the older man, whose test also came back positive.

Lin noted that young boys were referred to as “Sky Food,” or delicious food falling from the sky, by adult homosexuals on the internet, who seek ways of enticing boys either with money or other incentives.

According to statistics compiled last year, the number of young people contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has continued to rise in Taiwan.

Compared to 2009, 13.3 percent more cases were diagnosed among those aged between 15 and 24 years old, the deputy director-general said. As of today, there are 55 cases where victims are under 19 years old.

Lin pointed out that sexual encounters and drug injections are the two major routes of infection. With the HIV/AIDS population in Taiwan standing at 20,057, and 65.9 percent of those with the disease were infected by engaging in sexual practices and 32.2 percent through intravenous drug use.

As more HIV/AIDS-positive homosexuals are spreading the disease through unsafe sex, the CDC has established health websites and homosexual centers in Hsinchu, Taichung and Kaohsiung to combat the dangerous trend.

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Why monkeys are AIDS immuned by nature?

A species of monkey resistant to their equivalent of HIV could help scientists develop new approaches to human treatments.

Bizarrely, it could lead to therapies which turn off the immune response to HIV rather than try to boost it.

Sooty mangabey monkeys do not become ill when infected, but until now researchers did not have much idea why.

However, a team of experts from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and Emory University believe they have found two key differences in the way that the monkeys’ immune systems deal with the virus.

The monkeys appear able to generate only a low-level immune system response when confronted with an infection of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV).

They can also keep their ability to make T cells – the kind of immune cells depleted in humans with HIV.


It is hoped that understanding why monkeys naturally infected with SIV do not develop AIDS might teach researchers important lessons about the mechanisms underlying the development of AIDS in humans infected with HIV and identify ways to prevent this happening.

New insight into the mechanisms that control the number of virus particles in the blood of sooty mangabeys naturally infected with SIVsmm, the strain of SIV that naturally infects sooty mangabeys, has now been provided by a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and Emory University, Atlanta.


HIV and SIV infect immune cells known as CD4+ T cells. So, the authors set out to determine how CD4+ T cells affected the number of virus particles in the blood of sooty mangabeys naturally infected with SIVsmm — did they provide immune control of the number of virus particles or did they simply provide a place to live a replicate.

The number of SIVsmm particles in the blood of naturally infected sooty mangabeys decreased when the monkeys were depleted of CD4+ T cells and then increased again as the number of proliferating CD4+ T cells rebounded.

So, it was concluded that availability of proliferating CD4+ T cells is a key determinant of how many SIVsmm particles can be detected in the blood of naturally infected sooty mangabeys, rather than CD4+ T cells providing immune control of the virus.

Editor’s Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Human immune system indirectly ASSIST Aids rather than ATTACKING them.

Nugget: Human immune system indirectly assist Aids rather than attacking them.

A team of researchers from the University of California at San Diego found that humans infected with HIV developed a strong immune response to the virus using antibodies – proteins which “tag” invading viruses and bacteria and mark them out for destruction by immune system cells.

The San Diego researchers found that while the antibodies were effective at marking out certain viruses, some were surviving.

This had the undesirable effect of promoting more durable strains.

Dr Douglas Richman, who led the study, said: “The neutralising antibodies are exerting a very strong selective pressure on the virus, and the virus is continually mutating to avoid it.

“The bad news is that the virus is always one step ahead, and the neutralising antibody response can’t control it.”

Richman hopes that the antibody response can be modified to cover a wider range of HIV, and be more effective.