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All Communication Lines Are Now Open

All Communication Lines Are Now Open


While learning that you are HIV-positive might not mean the immediate initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy, AIDS experts still recommend that newly diagnosed patients see their doctors to form long-term plans to stay healthy. Too often, however, people who seek medical care are not as well-educated about HIV treatment issues as they could be and thus leave all the planning and decision making to their caregivers. To provide HIV-positive people with information and tools to be more active participants in their care, Agouron Pharmaceuticals teamed with the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, the American Public Health Association, and the National Association of AIDS Education and Training Centers to create 'Dialogues: Education and Treatment for a Well Planned Future,' a national communication and education initiative. The campaign, launched on June 3, includes a Web site, a toll-free hotline, and printed materials that provide easy-to-understand information about HIV, its effect on your body, how it is treated, plus tips on working with health care providers, one of the major focuses of the outreach effort. 'Patients often don't have the confidence or knowledge they need to engage in a meaningful conversation with their providers,' says Vicki Kelemen, senior director of marketing and strategic business at Agouron, a Pfizer company. 'As a result they're not as in tune to what some of their options are in terms of treatment and what might be best for them. Our participation in 'Dialogues' really came about to help bridge this communication gap.' Agouron announced the campaign through mailings to over 400 AIDS service organizations, a letter sent to physicians and other care providers, and television, newspaper, and other media coverage. Recognizing that most of the nation's new HIV infections are occurring among minorities, particularly African-American youths and women, the campaign organizers also recruited members of the R&B group TLC to serve as spokeswomen for the campaign. TLC is a longtime proponent of safer sex and HIV awareness. The group's hit song 'Waterfalls,' from its Grammy-winning 1994 album, focused on the dangers of HIV, and singers Tionne 'T-Boz' Watkins and Rozonda 'Chilli' Thomas in 2002 created a $25,000 AIDS educational scholarship in honor of the late TLC member Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes, who died in an April 2002 car accident. Because the Dialogues campaign seemed a good fit for their HIV outreach, Watkins and Thomas eagerly signed on. 'This is very important to us because a lot of people don't have the information they still need, they don't have knowledge about the disease,' Watkins tells HIV Plus. 'AIDS is still here and is alive, and a lot of people aren't thinking about that. We're going to keep talking about it and pushing it out there so we can reach a lot of people and help them live a longer, healthier life.' Thomas, who notes that she's lost a close friend to AIDS, is more direct: 'We just want to save lives.' For more information about the Dialogues campaign, visit the initiative's Web site at or call (800) 576-6600.

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