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It Takes a Village To Stop HIV

It Takes a Village To Stop HIV

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Clockwise from top left: Leila Lopes, Mary Fisher, Jean Redmann, Bill Shopoff, Jerrold Nadler, Thomas SteitzThe Queen Africa's Leila Lopes, recently crowned Miss Universe 2011, is a British-educated 25-year-old Angola native who says she cherishes inner strength over outer beauty. During the pageant, held in Brazil in September, the outspoken Lopes slammed racists and plastic surgery, and pledged to expand her philanthropic missions. 'I've worked with various social causes. I work with poor kids, I work in the fight against HIV,' she said to reporters after the competition. 'I think now as Miss Universe I will be able to do much more.' Angola, specifically, needs Lopes's help'the recently war-torn nation is very poor and antiretroviral medications are hard to come by for many. The Scientist When Yale University biochemistry professor Thomas Steitz first started working on the science of HIV/AIDS, he was quoted in the New England Monthly saying, 'There are a lot of people willing to work on these problems who are just sitting on their hands.' Steitz wasn't one of them. In 1992, he and a team of scientists at Yale created a picture of a HIV-1 reverse transcriptase'a breakthrough that finally allowed drug makers to begin taking the guesswork out of how to combat the virus's spread in the body. And in 2000, he completed a high-resolution image of an uncharted part of the molecule that now means drugs can be made so patients don't develop a new immunity. For that discovery and others, he won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2009. The Advocate Novelist and activist Jean Redmann is known for her mystery writing and HIV advocacy, both interests connected by the allure of New Orleans. The author's fictional work focuses on Big Easy-based private investigator Micky Night in books like Water Mark, whose stories she writes when not doing her full-time work: serving as the director of prevention at NO/AIDS Task Force, a New Orleans-based AIDS awareness and prevention program. The organization focuses on HIV testing and education in a region that desperately needs preventative, comprehensive HIV care, especially for high-risk groups like black adolescents and gay men. New Orleans, and the state of Louisiana, consistently ranks high in new HIV infections each year. The current economy leaves the organization making due with the limited resources it has. NO/AIDS receives most of its funding through federal grants'not their Republican-run state government. 'Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately,' she says, 'HIV programs have been flat-funded, meaning they have not been cut, but not added to either.' The possibility of the federal government budget cuts or the replacement of a nationwide initiative does not deter Redmann: 'We want to make sure our clients receive the services they need. It doesn't really matter if we are the only ones doing the work or not. What matters most are the people.' The Visionary A former television producer and assistant to President Gerald Ford, Mary Fisher travels the globe promoting awareness and compassion in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The daughter of a wealthy GOP power broker, Fisher made news in 1992 with a historic speech at the Republican National Convention in which she asked members of her party 'to lift the shroud of silence which [has] been draped over the issue of HIV/AIDS.' Of that landmark address, Norman Mailer wrote 'When Mary Fisher spoke like an angel that night, the floor was in tears and conceivably the nation as well.' HIV positive for two decades now, the Arizona-based artist 'fuses artistry to advocacy and passion to purpose' in her creation of powerful works and has tirelessly rallied people around the world with her messages of hope and urgency. She served as an ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, as well as on the Leadership Council of the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS. In addition, she founded the Mary Fisher CARE (Clinical AIDS Research and Education) Fund. The Fundraiser If you raise a dollar for AIDS/HIV causes, you're doing more than most folks. Bill Shopoff does more than that. The Irvine, Calif. businessman has raised over a quarter million dollars for HIV services as a cyclist in AIDS/Lifecycle's Ride to End AIDS. Shopoff has completed the 575-mile San Francisco to Los Angeles route six times, taking up the cause to honor the many friends he lost to AIDS. Crediting his fundraising success to personal reach-out, especially to those directly affected by the disease, Shopoff says of the Lifecycle: 'There's nothing I've done that's been more rewarding.' The Fighter New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler revels in being on the progressive side of history. The New Yorker started a 16-year run in the state assembly in 1976, where he became an early advocate for people living with HIV and AIDS. During the height of fear and ignorance, Nadler championed a state-funded program to help fund medications for people fighting AIDS and helped usher in a ban on discrimination against New York's HIVers. Soon after Nadler took congressional office in 1992, representing parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, he fought for legislation including the Ryan White CARE Act (which was first passed in 1990, but must be re-upped regularly and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. In September he reintroduced a bill to ban housing discrimination against HIV-positive people. Though funds are tight everywhere, Nadler is optimistic when looking at the big picture of HIV research and funding. Nadler recalled a point in the mid-1990s when Beltway fights often broke out over funding for government-backed programs, a scenario not unfamiliar to contemporary politicos. The Republicans wanted to stop bankrolling the National Endowment for the Arts, but Democrats fought for a compromise to gradually defund the NEA over the course of three years. 'I said, 'This is a great victory!' Everyone thought I was crazy, but a couple of years later, the Republicans were out, and, we ended up saving the program,' he says. 'It's still being funded. So after the next election, I know we can live to fight another day.' 'Neal Broverman, Michelle Garcia, Winston Gieseke, Lucas Grindley, and Ivan Villanueva
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