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practicing culture, politics, life activism & poetry: awo attends the toronto aids conference, 2006, on the net. we will read, write and post at together. series. (357)

blood angers my head my face my skin my muscles my heart
and i have learned to draw breath and utter my spirit
there on the bright council floor dressed dark and hat-wearing
standing for you standing for me standing for standing
singing a song that steals your breath to injustice in birmingham
here today & always

– lyr

you and i will be attending the toronto xvi international aids conference via the net this week.

. . . i think, all told, the most remarkable aspect of the toronto internet experience is the uncensored blogsite put up by champ, time to for instance, i intend to upload posts to the champ site about the need for a vaccine, and insist that the vaccine development be included in the list of champ demands. originally, i was wary about the tone of blogging, but that has loosened up a bit. let’s see what happens when we post on the site together.

this will be a multi-part awo suite of posts. (links below are not active yet)

357.01 conference links
stories we’re following
357.02 RH Reality Check recently called Gates the 9th member of the G8.
357.03 richard gere is scheduled to speak monday night; kaiser will webcast
357.04 First Medical Marijuana Exhibit at the XVI International AIDS Conference: Canada Leads the Way
357.05 steal your breath to birmingham (above)
357.06 town photo & poem
357.07 monte carlo night at cpg in los angeles & photos & lyrics
357.08 i hear from mmjers in torrance, north hollywood, lawndale, and expect to visit the redondo beach city council

go to or
regarding a vaccine

by richard kearns

regarding a vaccine: an open letter to akerji ndumu, blogger on on champ’s “” site, readers and other participants at the xvi international aids conference in toronto, 2006. (awo:357.31)

dear akenji ndumu & cchers,

my name is richard kearns. i am a gay man living with aids in los angeles, infected 1980, diagnosed 1987. i am an aids activist. i publish a los-angeles-based blog called

i believe you have made a serious omission in not including vaccine development as a top-priority goal on the list of champ demands, posted elsewhere on this site. i have included an abbreviated list below. i think the logic and support for this top-priority assignment are quite compelling:

vaccine should be global top priority

#1 laurie garnett writes in the july 2005 council on foreign relations report on hiv and national security:

clearly, the entire question of national security and hiv/aids would be moot were there an effective, affordable vaccine available. investment in basic vaccine related research and development ought to be a critical priority. similarly, were prevention campaigns aggressively funded and executed the world over, the security dimensions of the pandemic would obviously be softened. no aspect of hiv-prevention has received adequate attention on the global stage.

not ENOUGH profit: big pharma’s “economic disincentive” for a vaccine spelled out in bucks for you

#2 frank greeve wrote in the may 22, 2006 charlotte, nc observer:

“the basic problem is that vaccines, which typically offer long-term immunity from one battery of shots, aren’t nearly as profitable as drugs that are taken daily. pfizer’s cholesterol-lowering lipitor, for example, with $10 billion in global sales, grosses more than all the world’s vaccines combined.”

big pharma has re-tooled and acted to eliminate the development of vaccines.

#3 paul a. offit wrote in health affairs, vol 24, issue 3, 622-630 © 2005

“during the past fifty years, the number of pharmaceutical companies making vaccines has decreased dramatically, and those that still make vaccines have reduced resources to make new ones. pharmaceutical companies are gradually abandoning vaccines because the research, development, testing, and manufacture of vaccines are expensive and because the market to sell vaccines is much smaller [read less lucrative – rk] than the market for other drug products. congressional action could assure both a steady supply of existing vaccines and the promise of vaccines for the future.”

the effort being put into vaccine development today is completely inappropriate to the global need we know it represents. we need to set immediate, clear goals in time and money for not only the swift development of a vaccine, but also for the distribution of a vaccine. we can’t wait to develop the vaccine and then think about how to go about distributing it. distribution shouldn’t be a vehicle for profit either.

we need a vaccine without profit.

it disturbs me that vaccine development has been overlooked by champ and swept under the carpet by big pharma. i hope we can add the item, with specifics, to the list of champ demands before the conference is over.

i look forward to hearing comments and responses.


richard kearns
los angeles, ca Demands for the Int’l AIDS Conference

By Akenji Ndumu

President Bush: It’s time to deliver on real HIV prevention by supporting:

•   At least $1 billion per year for domestic HIV prevention programs, with a goal of cutting the annual rate of new HIV infections in the United States in half by 2010.
•   No HIV testing without informed consent and guaranteed access to quality treatment, care, and prevention services.
•   Federal funding for comprehensive sex education in public schools and no more funding for stigma-based HIV prevention programs, including abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) programs.
•   Increase investment in research for new HIV prevention options. [microbicides. a vaccine should be here too – rk]
•   Honest HIV prevention education that doesn’t censor real conversations about sex.
•   Increase funding available for the purchase of receptive partner or “female” condoms for both men and women.
•   Globally, invest $1.2 billion in the multilateral Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria and fix the bilateral PEPFAR progra
regarding a vaccine, part 2: a second open letter to akenji ndumu, blogger on champ’s “” site et cchers at the toronto aids conference (awo:357.32)

in the may, 18, 2006 niaid / nih press release for hiv vaccine awareness day:

Since 1987, dedicated investigators supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have enrolled more than 23,000 volunteers in 96 HIV vaccine clinical trials that have tested at least 58 different vaccine candidates.


wow! seems like we’re doing a lot, doesn’t it? but let’s do some long division. just to be ballparkish, let’s say the nih is talking about 20 years of vaccine research. that would be a little over 1,000 volunteers tested a year. hm. even skewed with fewer persons earlier on, more persons later. hm.

 96—almost 100—vaccine clinical trials? 230 persons a clinical trial, or thereabouts? hm.

58—say 50 because we’ve been rounding up—vaccine candidates? (usually persons are candidates, but in this case the usage is candidate vaccine, interesting and revealing of bedside manner, isn’t it?) 460 persons per candidate? hm.

25 million dead? 40 million infected? one more every 6 seconds? hm.

doesn’t seem to me like that much in the way of vaccine research, though i salute & revere the volunteers (at the bottom of the niaid’s / nih’s thank-you note to itself).

when will we start to take vaccine development seriously?

i urge champ to add “manhattan project for life” vaccine development to its list of xvi aids conference demands. an hiv vaccine without profit.


richard kearns
ps – in wwii, the “manhattan project” was the codeword for the crash us program to develop the atomic bomb before germany

i ended up posting a series of arguments about urgent vaccine development that are pretty didactic. how is it i can be a loud voice?

will put together comments for later. wanted to check in.

--richard kearns

ended up with seventeen posts and am expreiencing overextension hangover. will report back in a couple of days.




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