Blog

Suncoast Man Inspires With His Transition Story

By Nicole Sommavilla – SNN
June 6, 2017

A Suncoast man is sharing his transition story hoping to help others. (Mason Fitzpatrick is a Prevention Specialist at Community AIDS Network)

“The only way that I can explain it is living 24 years and feeling like my entire body was chained to the ground, that no matter what I did or said, I was never free,” says Mason Fitzpatrick as he thinks back to his childhood. (more…)

HIV Disparities in the South

Richard Wolitski, Ph.D., Director
Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

May 23, 2017

Why did it take us so long to focus our attention on the disparities experienced in the South? Was it that AIDS was first identified in big cities on the east and west coasts—Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York? Is it that we’ve become desensitized to reports showing that people living in the South are worse off than others on a wide range of health measures? Is it about maintaining the status quo when it comes to funding? Or do unconscious biases about the South and the people who live there play a role? (more…)

Hepatitis C is Spiking Among Young People

Time Health
Alexandra Sifferlin
May 11, 2017

Cases of hepatitis C in the United States have nearly tripled within a five-year period, reaching a new 15-year high of around 34,000 new hepatitis C infections in 2015, federal health officials reported. Experts attribute the higher rates to more injection drug use during the ongoing opioid epidemic. (more…)

Many baby boomers don’t know they have Hep C until liver deteriorates.

The Morning Call, Scott Kraus – Contact Reporter
April 10, 2017

Three years ago, the outlook changed dramatically for patients with hepatitis C. Until 2014, a hepatitis C diagnosis meant a slow decline into cirrhosis, possibly liver cancer.  (more…)

Positive Women’s Network and HIV Activists Rally at Capitol

 

March 31, 2017

CAN Peer Navigator, Lindsay Connors, shared her extraordinary experience as a member of Positive Women’s Network USA, and their participation in AIDSWATCH 2017. (more…)

National Doctors Day 2017

March 30, 2017

March 30th marks the annual observation of National Doctors Day.  This day was established to recognize physicians, their work and their contributions to society and the community.  On National Doctors Day, we say “thank you” to our physicians for all that they do for us and our loved ones. (more…)

Bethesda House food pantry to get second chance

Herald-Tribune
February 7, 2017

SARASOTA – The food pantry at the nonprofit Bethesda House will get a second chance this spring after it was shut down by a city panel in December.

Sarasota city commissioners indicated Monday afternoon they would like to find a way to carve out an exemption in city zoning codes that would allow the food assistance program to continue its nearly 30 years of service. (more…)

HIV Injection Treatments Are Gaining Ground

Report by Alix Redmonde, ABC7
January 11, 2017

Actor Charlie Sheen recently revealed that an injectable drug has rendered his HIV viral load undetectable. Community AIDS Network’s Medical Director Tanya Schreibman M.D. explained how injectable medicines now offer options and hope for qualifying people with HIV, and of a phase three clinical trial that CAN is recruiting patients for. (Video Report) (more…)

World AIDS Day 2016

The Sarasota Post
Written by Vicky Sullivan

On this World AIDS day in 2016, Florida has the highest rate for new HIV cases in the country! Due to cutbacks with the state health system and awareness down in the millennial generation, HIV/AIDS is still very much alive and well. Yes, we have had significant advances since the 80’s when HIV/AIDS was a death sentence to so many. The profile was higher with celebs like Rock Hudson and child hemophiliac Ryan White bringing attention to the new disease. The newer generations still need information regarding prevention. They must understand that this disease is still a very real problem in 2016.  (more…)

Big Medical Advances Seen 25 Years After Magic Johnson’s AIDS Diagnosis

ABC7 Healthy Living Report
By Denise Dador
November 8, 2016

On the 25th anniversary of Magic Johnson disclosing he had AIDS, researchers say even with treatment advances, prevention remains the best medicine. Twenty five years ago, Magic Johnson held a press conference and told a room of stunned reporters he had tested positive for the virus that causes AIDS. Johnson has remained healthy thanks to advances in medicine.  (more…)

The Plague Years

Sarasota Magazine
November, 2016

“Twenty-five years ago, the AIDS plague was raging, and people were dying right and left. Community AIDS Network (CAN) was founded by two amazing people, Susan Terry and Dr. Jeffrey Stall, in a depressing little building on East Avenue. Sarasota philanthropists came to the rescue and built the current headquarters, which include medical, dental, counseling, psychiatric, prevention and education services. It’s the gold standard for AIDS clinics.  (Article)

Good News and Bad News About Hepatitis C In Men

The Good Men Project

 

Hepatitis simply does not get as much press as HIV/AIDs or even STDs like gonorrhea or chlamydia. However, it is still an important issue and can constitute a major threat to men’s health in particular. Here’s what men should know about how this disease is transmitted and how to prevent it from happening to them.  (more…)

Flu Season Approaches; What Do People with HIV Need to Know?

September 15, 2016

Most of us know by now that the best way to protect ourselves and our families from the flu and reduce the spread of influenza is to get a flu vaccine — every year — and that includes people with HIV. But flu seasons can be hard to predict and no one year is exactly like the last. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here’s what you need to know for 2016-2017.  (more…)

Sexually Transmitted Diseases Becoming More Resistant to Treatment


Report by Alix Redmonde, ABC7

September 6, 2016

According to the CDC, sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in the U.S, but effective treatment is on decline. Gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis are among the most common STDs becoming more resistant to antibiotics. Here on the Suncoast, numbers of HIV-infected teens and seniors are on the rise and treatment options are losing efficacy.

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What it was like to be an HIV-positive, closeted Olympian in the 80’s

By Greg Louganis
July 13, 2016

Five years after retiring from diving at the ripe old age of 28, I rediscovered my grade school passion for acting. I was a lead in an off-Broadway play where I played a chorus boy named Darius. Out and proud, he walked in gay pride rallies without a care. Darius dies from AIDS in the play, but his spirit comes back and tells his friends to hate AIDS, not his life.

Like Darius, I was gay and HIV-positive. But unlike Darius, I was semi-closeted and scared — I had none of his pride and swagger. I realized I was living out my dreams through my character, a man who lived unapologetically without fear of ridicule. I’d had enough. I wanted people to know the truth behind the man who’d won four gold medals in two consecutive Olympics. (more…)

Hepatitis C is Curable


This week my patient died from a curable, preventable disease.

I met John, a 61-year-old man when came to me for hepatitis C treatment. John had been shocked to find he had hepatitis C during a routine screening test which is recommended for all Baby Boomers , regardless of risk factors. Unfortunately, like John, at least half of the more than 3 million Americans with hepatitis C don’t know they are infected. By the time of diagnosis, John already had severe liver scarring, known as cirrhosis, meaning hepatitis C had been silently at work for many years.
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Hepatitis C and Baby Boomers (1945 – 1965)

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Hepatitis C Overview

Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C has been called a silent epidemic because most people with Hepatitis C do not know they are infected.

While some people who get infected with Hepatitis C are able to clear, or get rid of, the virus, most people who get infected develop a chronic, or lifelong, infection. Over time, chronic Hepatitis C can lead to serious liver problems including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer. But many people can benefit from available treatment options that can eliminate the virus from the body and prevent further liver damage. In 2012, CDC started recommending Hepatitis C testing for everyone born from 1945 – 1965. While anyone can get Hepatitis C, up to 75% of adults infected with Hepatitis C were born from 1945 – 1965.

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CAN’s Vilma M. Vega, MD Testifies on Zika Virus Threat

Dr. Vilma Vega is Medical Director at the Comprehensive Care Clinic in North Port, 14243 Tamiami Trail, which offers medical, social and educaiton services essential to the health and well-being of those living with HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, sexually transmitted diseases and other infectious diseases.

It was an honor to testify June 15 in Washington, D.C., before 12 members of the Florida delegation of the U.S. House of Representatives, regarding the worldwide Zika virus crisis. I told the congressmen that while there have been no reported positive cases in Sarasota or Manatee County, no county in Florida is impervious to the Zika threat. The number of cases we have seen thus far is only the beginning. This virus could spread exponentially across the state in the months ahead. We must prepare and plan for the worst.

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Accelerated Aging

Do People with HIV Really Experience Accelerated Aging?

Recent talk about HIV and aging has almost always been scary. A number of studies conclude that people living with HIV have so-called “accelerated aging” — meaning they will suffer heart attacks, strokes, cancers, and osteoporosis more often and sooner than those without HIV. Reading and hearing about these concerns can be disheartening, especially for those who have fought so hard, over so many years, to control their HIV.

Well, this is one article on aging and HIV that will challenge the concept of people living with HIV having an early expiration date. Instead, we can look at what we know and what we don’t, to get a better idea of what the risks are for HIV-positive people growing older — and what they can do about them.

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Importance of HIV Testing

By Alix Redmonde, ABC7
June 27, 2016

July 27 is National HIV Testing Day. According to the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-million people in the United States are living with HIV, and one in eight people don’t even know they have the virus.

Florida’s numbers of new HIV cases are among the highest in the nation.  (See broadcast)

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Suffering in Silence: Why the HIV Community Can No Longer Ignore Mental Health

By Josh Middleton
From TheBody.com


The reality is that the HIV community is in the middle of a mental health crisis, the stakes could never be higher and our lives are on the line. We are focusing on the exterior rather than the interior and quantity over quality. Our tunnel vision has blinded us to the serious situation in which we find ourselves.

Dr. David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.SC.W., who is a contributor to TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com and author of Lust, Men and Meth: A Gay Man’s Guide to Sex and Recovery, has provided professional insight into this issue:

“Those of us living with HIV/AIDS must be vigilant about mental health. In any given 12-month period, more than one quarter of us will meet criteria for anxiety disorder, and over half will have a serious depressive episode. This can affect medication adherence and it impacts our psychological and physical health.”

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HIV/AIDS Awareness Days

From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

National HIV Testing Day, June 27, 2016, is a reminder to get the facts, get tested, and get involved to take care of yourself and your partners. Comprehensive Care Centers are participating with facilities providing HIV testing.

An estimated 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and that number grows by almost 50,000 every year. One in eight people who have HIV don’t know it. That means they aren’t getting the medical care they need to stay healthy and avoid passing HIV to others. The CDC has found that more than 90 percent of new HIV infections in the United States could be prevented by testing and diagnosing people who have HIV and ensuring they receive prompt, ongoing care and treatment. (more…)

Instituting Change in Sunshine State

By Joe and Steven LoBosco-Hammer
June 16, 2016

 

Dear President, Governor, Attorney General, Senators, and every other being that can institute change,

The happiest place on Earth no longer is.  The sunshine state is dark and stormy.  I implore you to act…and react…appropriately…and immediately.  It’s not going to change what’s happened.  It will change what can happen moving forward.  It won’t affect anyone adversely.  In fact…it will strengthen each of us…individually…and as a whole.  While there’s so much that you can’t do…there’s also much that you can’t not do.  Please…now is the time to right some wrongs that should never have been the way they are.

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A Look at the Graying of HIV

By Barbara Peters Smith
Herald-Tribune
Published: June 4, 2016 at 11:28 pm

 

Survivors from the U.S. AIDS epidemic of the 1980’s and 90’s are accustomed to being told they dodged a bullet. They now they are fortunate to be alive, all these decades later.

But on this 35th anniversary of the first public scientific notice of a rare and mysterious pneumonia afflicting five young gay men in Los Angeles, those who made it through the early years of panic, confusion and grief say it’s not as if they can ever feel the disease is all in the past. It’s more like they are veterans of a war, they say, living with that bullet still inside them. Today, more than half of the 1.25 million Americans infected by the human immune deficiency virus ae 50 and older; in just four years, that share should reach 70 percent. “A 60-year-old with HIV,: says Scott George, director of advancement for the Community AIDS Network in Sarasota, “really has the body of a 75-year-old. And it’s devastating.”  Full article