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September 2012 News from ADARC

Dear Friend,
Thank you for your support of ADARC's mission to find solutions to the HIV/AIDS epidemic through scientific research. We want to share some of the scientific progress taking place in our laboratories, and hope you will enjoy being a part of future breakthroughs.

Discussion on AIDS in Black America     


Dr. David Ho welcomed a group of community leaders, activists, physicians and public health professionals to ADARC for a discussion based on ENDGAME: AIDS in Black America, Renata Simone's latest film which premiered on Frontline last July. The panel also included: Vicki Sharp, MD, founder of the Center for Comprehensive Care; Monica Sweeney, MD, MPH, Assistant Commissioner of the Bureau of HIV/ AIDS Prevention and Control at the NYC DOHMH, and Nel Davis, a retired California nurse who was featured in the film.  


Renata Simone has been ADARC's friend and collaborator for almost 20 years, since Irene Diamond engaged her to direct a documentary on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Most recently, she directed a short film commemorating ADARC's 20 years. She has devoted most of her career to telling the story of the epidemic on film, giving voices to its victims and warriors.


 Although AIDS was initially described as a white gay male disease, it has always affected black men, women and children. Today, close to half of all Americans infected with HIV are black. In ENDGAME, Ms. Simone tells the story of how, from the earliest days, prejudice, silence and stigma allowed the virus to spread deep into the black community.


In New York City, blacks account for almost half of the 111,000 people diagnosed with HIV, said Dr. Monica Sweeney. In her opinion, the epidemic needs to be addressed by a three-legged stool made up of government, community, and individuals. She reiterated that individual responsibility cannot be left out of the equation, and that people need to understand that if they engage in risk behavior, they can get infected with HIV.


Dr. Sharp discussed her work with a population that includes many formerly incarcerated people. Among her patients, blacks are poorer than non-blacks. They are less likely to achieve viral suppression, less likely to be referred to mental health services, and less likely to remain in treatment. She and Dr. Sweeney both remarked that several other illnesses that can cause premature death are also more prevalent in the black community, such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and renal disease. In Dr. Sharp's opinion, the high rate of incarceration among blacks plays an important role in the spread of HIV/AIDS, which is something also reflected in Ms. Simone's film.


ENDGAME makes it clear that the epidemic has reached every corner of the black community, including celebrities such as Magic Johnson, teenagers who have lived with HIV since birth, drug users, prisoners, educated gay men, and even church-going retirees. Nel Davis, a retired nurse, married a deacon of her church and later found his HIV diagnosis inside a Bible. Ms. Davis, who was infected by her new husband, knew very little about the disease and thought life was over when she was diagnosed. Now, she works educating people about the epidemic, and supporting newly diagnosed patients. She hopes that the disclosure of her status in Ms. Simone's film will help fight the stigma and shame associated with the virus.


You can watch ENDGAME in its entirety and read additional interviews on Frontline's website. If you would like a copy of Renata Simone's documentary that marked ADARC's 20th anniversary, please contact Melissa Haber.  



 Support to Develop a Vaccine Against C. Difficile  


C. Difficile
Photo credit: Janice Carr - Centers for Disease Control
Dr. David Ho's laboratory has recently been awarded a grant by the National Institutes of Health to support the development of a vaccine against
Clostridium difficile, a bacterium commonly known as C. Diff, which is the leading cause of diarrhea and colitis among hospitalized patients. This grant is shared with Dr. Ciaran Kelly from Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.


C. Difficile infection can cause severe and even life threatening symptoms, particularly among elderly patients and those who are immunosuppressed. C. difficile disease is the most common cause of bacterial diarrhea in immunocompromised  HIV-positive patients in a hospital setting.


There are more than 300,000 cases of C. difficile-associated diarrhea reported each year in the United States alone. No vaccine is currently available and measures to prevent infection through patient isolation and hand-hygiene and contact precautions have had limited success.

C. difficile causes symptoms by producing two potenttoxins (toxin A and toxin B).  Studies have shown that immunity against toxin A can be protective. Dr. Ho's group, led by Postdoctoral Fellow Chandrabali Ghose-Paul, will attempt to develop a vaccine that combines the non-toxic receptor binding domain of toxin A and toxin B with C. difficile flagellar proteins. These proteins make up the bacterial flagellum, and can trigger an immune response when recognized by Toll-like receptors, proteins that play a key role in the innate immune system.


"We believe that the incorporation of flagellin in our toxin A/B vaccine will serve as an adjuvant, boosting its effect, and resulting in a powerful and effective vaccine against C. Difficile," said Dr. Ghose-Paul.




Academic Seminars   


Invited speakers share their work on HIV/AIDS with a scientific audience.

To attend, please email              

Monday, October 1 - 12:00 - 1:00pm


Saurabh Mehandru, MD - Mount Sinai School of Medicine


"Dendritic cell mediated mucosal cross talk: towards the rational design of mucosal vaccines"

In This Issue
AIDS in Black America
Vaccine against C. Diff
Academic Seminars
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2012Brochure Science is the Solution

Thank you for your interest in ADARC's work. Our institutional brochure, which summarizes our history, research programs and achievements is now available. You can read it online or to request a printed copy, please call (212) 448-5069.  
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