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Transgender Day of Remembrance, Thanksgiving and World AIDS Day

A select compilation of events



WORLD AIDS DAY: In 1982, Michael Callen (center) and Richard Berkowitz, two gay men with AIDS living in New York, wrote How to Have Sex in an Epidemic: One Approach. Callen and Berkowitz are among the earliest warriors in the battle against HIV. See Nov. 28. (Photo courtesy National Institutes for Health)

NOV 17

“Stop Killing Us” Transgender Day of Remembrance, FRI Nov. 17 @ 6:00 PM at Los Angeles City College (855 N Vermont Ave). Panel and candle light vigil with name reading ceremony honoring trans lives lost to the epidemic of hate and violence and what we can do to put an end to it. Panelists include Chandi Moore (I Am Cait, Children’s Hospital), Aiza-Angelina Alamilla (FCC), Maria Roman (APAIT), Queen Mother Karina Samala (TAB), Elias Lawliet (UCLA) .

NOV 18

TransGiving Dinner 17, SAT Nov. 18 @ 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Adam Project (514 Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach). TransGiving was created to provide the Trans community a safe and positive space to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. Contact Chanel Chela Demuir on social @motherchela.

Transgender Wellness & Wellbeing Conference, SAT. Nov. 18 @ 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at LAC + USC Medical Center (1200 N. State Street). The City of West Hollywood will co-sponsor the 2017, conference and series of workshops that include such topics as physical wellbeing, emotional wellness, prosperity wellbeing and creative wellness. The conference and lunch is free to attend, but registration is required. For more information and to register, please contact Bonnie Smith at (323) 848-637.

NOV 20

City of West Hollywood’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, MON Nov. 20 @ 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Center for Early Education (563 N. Alfred Street). The event will include speakers from the community, City representatives, and transgender performers. The names of murdered transgender people will be read aloud and a march will immediately follow. Flags will be flown at West Hollywood City Hall at half-staff in remembrance.

Long Beach Transgender Day of Remembrance, MON Nov. 20 @ 4:30 PM at Harvey Milk Promenade Park (195 E 3rd St, Long Beach). Join The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, Human Rights Campaign, and Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, for the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance and stand in solidarity and honor the resiliency of our trans community members.  This year’s event will feature a reading of names of those lost over the last year as well as a candlelight vigil. Several community members will present.

Orange County Trans Day of Remembrance, Nov. 20 @ 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM at Sasscer Park (N. Ross and W. 4th Street).  Join Orange County’s LGBT Center at Plaza Calle Cuatro in Downtown Santa Ana and remember our fallen brothers and sisters who were taken from us too soon. The march starts at 4 p.m. at Sasscer Park at N. Ross and W. 4th streets in Downtown Santa Ana and ends at CO4 with speakers and a vigil. For more info email Sefe Zamora, [email protected]

NOV 21

Thanksgiving Dinner for LGBT Seniors, THU. Nov 21 @ 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Rockwell Table and Stage (1714 Vermont Avenue). If you are a Senior LGBT person and are a client of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, then this is a feast of gratitude.  Enjoy all the best staples Thanksgiving has to offer and enjoy your old friends…and make new ones! RSVP by email: [email protected] or call 323-860-5830.

NOV 27

AIDS Quilt Display, MON Nov. 27 through FRI Dec. 1 @ 8 AM – 5 PM daily at West Hollywood City Hall (8300 Santa Monica Blvd).  The AIDS Memorial Quilt, conceived by the late Gilbert Baker for the Names Project, is one of the most moving tributes to the scores of gay men and others who died of AIDS.  In it’s final display in Washington DC it covered nearly the entire National Mall.  This is a rare display of some of the earliest panels of the quilt.

NOV 28

AIDS Literature from Lambda Literary Book Club, TUE Nov. 28 @ 7 PM at West Hollywood Library Community Room (625 N. San Vicente Blvd.). A discussion of Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS.  The book is a profound exploration of the intersection of race, sexuality, class, identity, and the politics of AIDS activism beyond ACT UP, capturing both a generation struggling to cope with the deadly disease and the extraordinary refusal of two men to give in to despair. Facilitated by Steven Reigns. For more information:

NOV 30

Feminine Energy:  Defining the Woman You Are, THU Nov. 30 @ 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM @ The Village at Ed Gould Plaza (1125 N. McCadden Place). This fun and empowering discussion-based workshop will allow you to explore your femininity and unleash your unique form of self-expression. No topic is off-limits (respectfully, of course), so this is an amazing opportunity to ask questions and gain a fresh perspective to help you be the best you possible.


Desert AIDS Project’s 4th Annual Everyday Heroes Award, FRI Dec. 1 @ 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM at Camelot Theatre (2399 East Baristo Road, Theatre One, Palm Springs). Desert AIDS Project honors local everyday heroes to mark World AIDS Day.  The annual event, now in its fourth year, features an outdoor reception, award presentations, live entertainment and the after-party. Tickets are $40 to $150 and are available by calling 760-992-0445.

AIDS Candlelight Vigil, FRI Dec. 1 @ 6:00 PM @ starting point NW corner of Crescent Heights & Santa Monica Blvd and end Council Chambers, West Hollywood Library (625 N. San Vicente Blvd.). Remember the hundreds of thousands of people who died of AIDS.  Never forget their names or the dark and dangerous period of time we fought our way out of.

Paul Starke Warrior Awards, FRI Dec. 1 @ 7:00 PM @ Council Chambers, West Hollywood Library (625 N. San Vicente Blvd.).  Awards Presentation to individuals providing HIV and/or substance-abuse services. Special Guest Speaker Laurie McBride, lifelong LGBTQ activist and former California Assistant Secretary of State. View the Being Alive Musical Globe Display made by members

to represent their HIV journey to wellness.

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U.S. announces more funding for HIV/AIDS fight in Latin America

Jill Biden made announcement on Saturday in Panama



Former Panamanian first lady Lorena Castillo and UNAIDS in 2017 launched a campaign to fight discrimination against Panamanians with HIV/AIDS. Panama will receive $12.2 million in new PEPFAR funding to further combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Latin America. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

PANAMA CITY — First lady Jill Biden on Saturday announced the U.S. will provide an additional $80.9 million to the fight against HIV/AIDS in Latin America.

Biden during a visit to Casa Hogar el Buen Samaritano, a shelter for people with HIV/AIDS in Panama City, said the State Department will earmark an additional $80.9 million for President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief-funded work in Latin America. A Panamanian activist with whom the Washington Blade spoke said LGBTQ+ people were among those who met with the first lady during her visit.

Pope Francis visited the shelter in 2019.

“I’m glad we have the opportunity to talk about how the United States and Panama can work together to combat HIV,” said the first lady.

Michael LaRosa, the first lady’s spokesperson, noted Panama will receive $12.2 million of the $80.9 million in PEPFAR funding.

“This funding, pending Congressional notification, will support expanded HIV/AIDS services and treatment,” said LaRosa.

UNAIDS statistics indicate an estimated 31,000 Panamanians were living with HIV/AIDS in 2020. The first lady’s office notes the country in 2020 had the highest number of “newly notificated cases of HIV/AIDS” in Central America.

The first lady visited Panama as part of a trip that included stops in Ecuador and Costa Rica.

The Summit of the Americas will take place next month in Los Angeles. The U.S. Agency for International Development and PEPFAR in April announced they delivered more than 18 million doses of antiretroviral drugs for Ukrainians with HIV/AIDS.

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New highly-infectious variant of HIV discovered by Dutch scientists

This new variant of HIV-1 damaged the immune system twice as fast, “placing individuals at risk of developing AIDS much more rapidly”



The human immunodeficiency virus in the bloodstream (Photo Credit: NIH/CDC)

CAMBRIDGE, UK – A study published this week by Science (journal) detailed an alarming discovery by researchers, clinicians and epidemiologists in the Netherlands of a new, highly-infectious mutated variant strain of the human immunodeficiency virus, (HIV), circulating in the country.

The BEEHIVE project – which stands for “bridging the epidemiology and evolution of HIV in Europe and Uganda,” detailed the findings which showed that a distinct subtype-B viral variant of HIV-1 damaged the immune system twice as fast, “placing individuals at risk of developing AIDS much more rapidly”, and those with this variant were at a higher risk of transmitting the virus to others.

The variant, known as the “VB variant”, causes CD4 cell decline to occur twice as fast in infected individuals compared with other viral variants. This is a clinical hallmark, or “signature” of the extent of damage caused by the HIV virus. In addition, those infected with the VB variant also demonstrated an increased risk of transmitting the virus to others, the data suggests.

Individuals infected with the new “VB variant” (for virulent subtype B) showed significant differences before antiretroviral treatment compared with individuals infected with other HIV variants:

  • Individuals with the VB variant had a viral load (the level of the virus in the blood) between 3.5 and 5.5 times higher.
  • In addition, the rate of CD4 cell decline (the hallmark of immune system damage by HIV) occurred twice as fast in individuals with the VB variant, placing them at risk of developing AIDS much more rapidly.
  • Individuals with the VB variant also showed an increased risk of transmitting the virus to others.

The project’s researchers, clinicians and epidemiologists did determine however, that those infected with the VB variant had “similar immune system recovery and survival to individuals with other HIV variants.”

However, the researchers stress that because the VB variant causes a more rapid decline in immune system strength, this makes it critical that individuals are diagnosed early and start treatment as soon as possible.

BEEHIVE project‘s lead author Dr Chris Wymant, from the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute and Nuffield Department of Medicine, said: “Before this study, the genetics of the HIV virus were known to be relevant for virulence, implying that the evolution of a new variant could change its impact on health. Discovery of the VB variant demonstrated this, providing a rare example of the risk posed by viral virulence evolution.”

“Our findings emphasize the importance of World Health Organization guidance that individuals at risk of acquiring HIV have access to regular testing to allow early diagnosis, followed by immediate treatment. This limits the amount of time HIV can damage an individual’s immune system and jeopardise their health. It also ensures that HIV is suppressed as quickly as possible, which prevents transmission to other individuals,” Senior author Professor Christophe Fraser from the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute and Nuffield Department of Medicine, added.

In its Global HIV & AIDS statistics — Fact sheet, the UNAIDS Secretariat detailed the statistical data: 


  • 28.2 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy as of 30 June 2021.
  • 37.7 million [30.2 million–45.1 million] people globally were living with HIV in 2020.
  • 1.5 million [1.0 million–2.0 million] people became newly infected with HIV in 2020.
  • 680 000 [480 000–1.0 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2020. 
  • 79.3 million [55.9 million–110 million] people have become infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic.
  • 36.3 million [27.2 million–47.8 million] people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic.

People living with HIV                                                                          

  • In 2020, there were 37.7 million [30.2 million–45.1 million] people living with HIV.
    • 36.0 million [28.9 million–43.2 million] adults.
    • 1.7 million [1.2 million–2.2 million] children (0–14 years).
    • 53% of all people living with HIV were women and girls.
  • 84% [67– >98%] of all people living with HIV knew their HIV status in 2020.
  • About 6.1 million [4.9 million–7.3 million] people did not know that they were living with HIV in 2020.

People living with HIV accessing antiretroviral therapy

  • As of 30 June 2021, 28.2 million people were accessing antiretroviral therapy, up from 7.8 million [6.9 million–7.9 million] in 2010.
  • In 2020, 73% [56–88%] of all people living with HIV were accessing treatment.
    • 74% [57–90%] of adults aged 15 years and older living with HIV had access to treatment, as did 54% [37–69%] of children aged 0–14 years.
    • 79% [61–95%] of female adults aged 15 years and older had access to treatment; however, just 68% [52–83%] of male adults aged 15 years and older had access.
  • 85% [63– >98%] of pregnant women living with HIV had access to antiretroviral medicines to prevent transmission of HIV to their child in 2020.

New HIV infections

  • New HIV infections have been reduced by 52% since the peak in 1997.
    • In 2020, around 1.5 million [1.0 million–2.0 million] people were newly infected with HIV, compared to 3.0 million [2.1 million–4.2 million] people in 1997.
    • Women and girls accounted for 50% of all new infections in 2020.
  • Since 2010, new HIV infections have declined by 31%, from 2.1 million [1.5 million–2.9 million] to 1.5 million [1.0 million–2.0 million] in 2020.
    • Since 2010, new HIV infections among children have declined by 53%, from 320 000 [210 000–510 000] in 2010 to 150 000 [100 000–240 000] in 2020.

AIDS-related deaths

  • AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by 64% since the peak in 2004 and by 47% since 2010.
    • In 2020, around 680 000 [480 000–1 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide, compared to 1.9 million [1.3 million–2.7 million] people in 2004 and 1.3 million [910 000–1.9 million] people in 2010.
  • AIDS-related mortality has declined by 53% among women and girls and by 41% among men and boys since 2010.
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‘Promising’ HIV vaccine study conducted at George Washington University

“We are tremendously excited to be advancing this new direction in HIV vaccine design with Moderna’s mRNA platform”



Courtesy of the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences

WASHINGTON – D.C.’s George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences is one of four sites across the country in which a preliminary component of an experimental HIV vaccine is being given to volunteer participants in a study aimed at reversing years of failed attempts to develop an effective HIV vaccine by pursuing what study sponsors say is a new, promising approach.

The study, which involves 56 healthy, HIV-negative volunteer participants, is being conducted by the nonprofit scientific research organization known as IAVI and the biotechnology company Moderna, which developed one of the coronavirus vaccines now being used throughout the world.

In a Jan. 27 joint statement, IAVI and Moderna said their study is part of a Phase 1 trial designed to test newly developed experimental HIV vaccine antigens to determine if they will lead to the development of an effective HIV vaccine.  

According to scientific literature, antigens are substances such as bacteria, viruses, and chemicals that induce the body to release antibodies that fight off infections. The statement by IAVI and Moderna says a vaccine technology developed by Moderna to use another component of the human body called messenger RNA or mRNA to strengthen a potential vaccine’s ability to fight off infection by HIV is also a part of this vaccine study.

“We are tremendously excited to be advancing this new direction in HIV vaccine design with Moderna’s mRNA platform,” Mark Feinberg, president and CEO of IAVI, says in the statement. “The search for an HIV vaccine has been long and challenging and having new tools in terms of immunogens and platforms could be the key to making rapid progress toward an urgently needed, effective HIV vaccine,” he says in the statement.

The statement says that scientific teams at IAVI and the biotechnology firm Scripps Research helped to develop the HIV vaccine antigens being tested in the trials taking place at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and at locations in Atlanta, Ga., Seattle, Wash., and San Antonio, Tex.

It says the trial involving the 56 volunteer participants — who are divided among the four sites — began on Jan. 27 and is being funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Among those calling the IAVI-Moderna trial an important step in HIV vaccine development is Carl Dieffenbach, director of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

“This is a variation of a theme,” Dieffenbach told the Washington Blade. “IAVI in collaboration with NIH did a version of this study already with a protein form of this immunogen,” Dieffenbach said. He said that study worked out well and was published in a scientific journal.

“What’s unique about this latest study is they’re using RNA to deliver the vaccine rather than a protein,” said Dieffenbach. “So, this is an important step for us in the vaccine field, that they can now compare the protein to the RNA.”

Dieffenbach said the IAVI-Moderna trial is taking place after two other recently completed HIV vaccine studies involving human trials that NIAID was involved in resulted in findings that the two experimental HIV vaccines were ineffective. He said a third HIV vaccine study NIAID is involved in that is taking place in the U.S. and South America is expected to be completed in about a year.

The ongoing study in the Americas involves men who have sex with men and transgender individuals as those participating in that vaccine trial, he said.

Dieffenbach said in addition to the vaccine studies, NIAID is monitoring at least two studies of medication aimed at curing HIV. One of the studies was conducted by HIV researcher Dr. Timothy Schacker, who serves as Vice Dean for research at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Schacker arranged for human trials of people who are HIV positive and taking standard anti-retroviral HIV medication to be given an experimental HIV cure medication developed by the biotechnology company ImmunityBio called Anktiva, according to a Jan. 31 statement released by ImmunityBio.

The statement says the trials showed promising results in the ability of Anktiva to induce the immune system of HIV-positive patients under standard HIV treatment who participated in the study to “kill” the latent or “hidden” HIV in their body that would otherwise reactivate and cause illness if they stopped taking HIV medication.

The goal of the development of Anktiva is to “rid the body of the virus for good and eliminate the need for antiretroviral therapy,” the company’s statement says.

Dieffenbach said his office was also monitoring an HIV cure study being conducted by the Rockville, Md., based genetic engineering company called American Gene Technologies. The company is conducting a human trial for a therapeutic treatment it has developed that’s intended to enable the immune system of HIV-positive people to permanently eliminate HIV from their bodies. The company has said it was hopeful that early results of the effectiveness of the treatment would become available this year.

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