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Depicting HIV/AIDS
New Research

Brian NEW HeadshotA Message from EIC's President, CEO & Co-Founder, Brian Dyak

Over the past weeks the topic of HIV/AIDS has gained increased media attention. Reports of a child “cured” from HIV/AIDS have been met with both celebration and hesitation, like in this article from Dr. Paul E. Sax who explains that the practical implications of these results may not necessarily be that a cure was found but instead that we are on our way to learning what it will take to eventually find a cure. This blog, recently posted on mentions that understanding these new research reports can feel like being a detective on CSI. Not everything is always as it appears and, all too often, early research reports require further investigation to be fully understood.

Scientific research is of key importance to promoting a high quality of life and advancement of technology. As members of the entertainment industry, reports of new research results lead us to question: How could this news affect our characters who are living with HIV/AIDS? What other new research is out there? What do these discoveries really mean to those who are diagnosed and their families and friends? Research ultimately leads to new discoveries that can guide our thinking in terms of how we react to diseases and diagnoses in those around us and ourselves. Unfortunately, research can sometimes be difficult to understand for the general media audience, leading to false conclusions.

This newsletter will focus on further exploring the current research on HIV/AIDS by taking a look at a recent study called VOICE that is helping us better understand new ways to control this epidemic and reduce the likelihood that someone will become infected.

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 And the Nominees are...
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 In this issue...
  • A Message from Brian Dyak
  • Tips for Including HIV/AIDS Research in Creative Depictions
  • Profile On: Vickie Lynn [Real Story]
  • Did you know? Current Research - PrEP & VOICE Trial Study
Tips for Including HIV/AIDS Research in
Creative Depictions

This week’s Profile On expert Vickie Lynn explains that sometimes the media can oversimplify complicated research that may lead to misconceptions and false hope among audiences. Think about the following suggestions when utilizing new research in your storylines.
  • Including references to research can strengthen a storyline. Consider ways to include dialogue, where appropriate, between your character and their health care provider regarding new studies and how the results relate to the character.
  • Attempt to include how new research can affect your characters, both positively and negatively. When research is oversimplified, characters may turn to fads that could prove unsuccessful in their treatment but when thoroughly understood, research can greatly improve one’s understanding of their disease and possibly their quality of life.
  • Oversimplification of a “cure” can sometimes lead to high risk behavior that may cause an individual to overlook common forms of prevention. Consider ways that you can explore new research in your storylines while also promoting the importance of safer sex practices and barrier protection as an important step in preventing HIV Infection.
  • Always examine your sources when using research results and references to new studies by consulting with an expert whenever possible.

  Profile On: Vickie Lynn [Real Story]

vickielynnVickie Lynn is a blogger from The Well Project’s “A Girl like Me” blog that focuses on HIV/AIDS Research. Vickie is also a Public Health Doctoral Candidate with a focus on Behavioral Health.

Without research I would not be alive – and that is a fact. I was infected in 1985 before medications were available, and in 1991 I was diagnosed with “full blown” AIDS (I really hate that term). In 1994, new medications were discovered, which gave me a second chance at life; it gave me the opportunity to return to college and follow my dreams. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to realize this is real. But even successful research is not without its challenges.

For example, consider the recent story of a toddler being “cured” of HIV. The takeaway message for me is, “there needs to be more research.” Some of the challenges that these particular researchers will face is that further studies to prove the theory would need to be done in countries that have a high rate of mother-to-baby (perinatal) transmission. In the U.S., the rate is only 2%. Studies done outside of the U.S. can also create challenges due to the differences in the governing bodies related to research.

Attrition, or the loss of participants to further follow up, is also a challenge often faced in health research. Attrition can be especially high when it comes to people living with HIV, who not only have physical issues but also financial issues that may make it difficult for them to live in a stable environment. These challenges can all lead to unreliable or unclear results that require further investigation even following the release of findings.

The media is an important tool when it comes to disseminating research information, but sometimes the results can be oversimplified and misunderstood by audiences. I think an important way to avoid these misconceptions would be to encourage people to speak with their health care providers, and seek out second opinions to make sure they fully understand how new results affect their diagnosis and treatment plan. I survived the early horrors of HIV/AIDS and have researchers to thank for that.

Now I am a new researcher and I am currently working on a project that involves delivery of health interventions via a video telephone for people living with HIV. It is fascinating work, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with my colleagues on this project. My ultimate goal is to be able to make a difference in the lives of people living with HIV and to prevent others from becoming infected.

This is an excerpt. Click here for more!
For more information on Vickie contact
EIC’s First Draft Services.

 Did you know?
Current Research -
PrEP & VOICE Trial Study

  • According to the CDC, PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a new HIV prevention method in which people who are not infected with HIV take a pill daily to reduce their risk of becoming infected. The pill makes it harder for HIV to multiply, which lowers the amount of HIV in the blood and makes it harder for the virus to become established in the body, similar to the “malaria pills” that individuals may take when they are staying in a region where exposure is likely.
  • When used consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection among adults at very high risk for HIV infection through sex. For some, PrEP may represent a much-needed additional prevention method -- but it will not be right for everyone. It is an intensive approach that requires strict adherence to daily medication and regular HIV testing. It is intended to be used in combination with other HIV prevention methods.
  • VOICE- Vaginal and Oral Interventions to Control the Epidemic – was a major HIV prevention trial, focused on women, that tested the safety and effectiveness of three different PrEP products that contained antiretroviral medicines commonly used to treat individuals living with HIV. The VOICE Study focused on 5,029 women in Uganda, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Researchers discovered that most women in the trial did not use the products daily as recommended, confirming that this treatment was not appropriate for the African women who participated in VOICE -- a population that was mostly young and unmarried. When compared to older, married participants, single women under the age of 25 were least likely to use the product as assigned and most likely to contract the disease. There are many causes for a lack of adherence to this medication and more research is needed to further understand what causes these problems with adherence and what can be done to fix them and increase the effectiveness of these medications.
  • Other trials focusing on HIV prevention in women are ongoing. Results are expected in late 2014 or early 2015.
 Learn more about PrEP and the VOICE trial:

For more about this study or related HIV/AIDS research, please contact
EIC’s First Draft program to be connected with an expert today!

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To set up your own FREE First Draft Consultation with one of our experts contact Ashley Jupin: 
or 818-861-7782
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