Monday, 24 August 2015

We have bent it; NOW we can BREAK it!

In 2014, there were 36.9 million people living with HIV, most of them women and children in sub Saharan Africa.  Since 2,000, 25.3 million people have died of AIDS.

We have highly effective treatments for HIV, treatments that drive the virus in a patient's bloodstream to undetectable levels and once there, render the  virus incapable of transmission to another human being.  Test and treat everyone and the AIDS pandemic is over.

Here is how far we have come:  As of March 2015, 15 million people living with HIV were accessing effective treatment; up from 13.6 million in June of 2014.  That is staggering, life changing, world altering success.  That's treatment for  31 % of all children living with HIV, 41 % of all adults and 73% of all pregnant women infected with the virus in whom treatment prevents transmission to the newborn.  That's a lot of vulnerable people that have been given a shot at a decent life, a lot of children whose parents can live to care for them and a lot of families that can stay intact and healthy.

As it stands today, HIV cannot be cured.  Our immune system is pretty remarkable.  You have billions of cells called CD4 cells.  These are a type of white blood cell that are essential to a healthy immune system.  As soon as a virus or a bacteria enter your body, these amazing cells send signals to other immune cells which then kill the invading infection.  Without these cells, the immune system is rendered useless and the body is left vulnerable to a wide range of infections which ultimately kill the host.  Let's be clear, in non-scientific terms, this is terrible death.

You are beautiful and so are your CD4 cells

The HIV virus uses the CD4 cells to stay alive.  The virus enters the CD4 cell and uses the cells systems to divide itself causing the death of the cell and rapid division and spread of new HIV viruses.  We now have miraculous medications that stop the HIV virus from entering, using and killing the CD4 cell.  As long as a person with HIV takes these medications, he/she will live and live well.  But HIV still lurks.  Some CD4 cells containing the virus are left on standby.  They sit in latent pools of cells waiting to be called into active duty.  These pools of cells can exist for a lifetime and, in fact, it would take 120 years until each one has been called upon to fight infection.  Until all of these cells are called into action, HIV medications cannot reach the virus that hides in them.  Normal life expectancy, yes.  A cure, no.  At least not today.

But, new medications are on the horizon.  They act directly on these sleeping CD4 cells to kill the virus they contain.  A cure is within our reach.  After 25 years of fighting this virus with millions left dead and many more still infected, we are so close to a cure.

We have bent it; now we can break it!

I'd like to make HIV treatment and, eventually that cure, available to people who would otherwise be left out....and left to die.  We're building a clinic in Lesotho, Africa.  It will treat thousands of people infected with HIV.  And when the cure is available, we will have the structure in place to bring that cure to the most vulnerable people on the planet.  What a win for humanity that will be.  And we all know, humanity needs a few 'wins' right now.

Help me start equipping that clinic:  exam tables, stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, surgical tools, you name it, we'll need it.  Let's fully equip four exam rooms.  Bring $20,000 into the picture and do something no other North American community is doing!

Donate that much in the next three weeks, and I will run 5 km and cycle 50 km.  I may not be breathing at the end, but I will do it.  Join me if you'd like.

September 19th.  The fourth annual Bracelet of Hope Falling Leaves run ( and in my case, cycle).

Click here to donate:

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