Transgender non-binary couple announce pregnancy with cute photo

The couple, from Brighton, announced they were expecting a baby (Twitter/JayJackson)

The couple, from Brighton, announced they were expecting a baby (Twitter/JayJackson)

A transgender and non-binary couple have announced they are pregnant in a cute post on social media.

Reuben and Jay, from Brighton, had started a GoFundMe in April 2018 to raise the necessary funds for fertility treatment.

The couple have now announced Reuben is pregnant after undergoing two IUI (intrauterine insemination) attempts.

Jay wrote on Twitter: “So… We’ve been keeping a little secret.

“IUI round 2 was a huge success! My boyfriend is pregnant!”

The couple also shared a photo of their baby.

They wrote: “Already getting their selfie game strong, just look at that profile!”

The couple also thanks everyone for supporting their fundraising campaign.

Jay wrote on Twitter: “Would like to take this chance to thank anyone who’s RT’d, contributed to or shared our fertility fundraiser.

“I honestly don’t know how we could have pulled this off without the support we got, financially and emotionally. Can’t begin to put it into words. We’re just so grateful.”

Last year, the pair said they were raising money for fertility treatment and spoke out about the challenges they faced.

“We are both trans / non-binary trans and don’t have a drop of sperm between us! However, we have found a donor from within the Brighton trans community who has amazingly and kindly offered to help with this.

“I have always wanted to become a parent, and initially believed that I would do this through adoption. However, I realised that due to my circumstances and the difficult nature of the adoption process this option is sadly not available to me.”

They said that as a queer couple they have come across “many barriers” to fertility treatment.

“Most frustratingly, the type of help that we are looking for would be available for us for free if either of us were assigned male at birth and had viable sperm!”

‘Love & Resistance’: New exhibit celebrating Stonewall anniversary is rich with LGBTQ history

The New York Public Library’s “Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50″ exhibit shows how the LGBTQ liberation movement was dreamed up, organized and deployed.
Image: "Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50," an exhibition at the New York Public Library.

“Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50,” an exhibition at the New York Public Library.NYPL

NEW YORK — Taken individually, the artifacts, photos and publications on display at the New York Public Library’s new exhibit, “Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50,” do not immediately appear linked.

The show, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall uprising — the spark that ignited the modern-day gay rights movement — includes a 1955 issue of Physique Pictorial, a King Tut-themed invitation to a party at the famed Paradise Garage nightclub and personal photos of legendary lesbian activist Barbara Gittings.

But taken together, the exhibit shows how the power of the LGBTQ liberation movement was dreamed up, organized and deployed. It was a movement born in the streets of New York City, and “Love & Resistance” shows how a unique set of circumstances allowed for the formation of a true rainbow coalition to demand social justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.

Image: "Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50," an exhibition at the New York Public Library.
“Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50,” an exhibition at the New York Public Library.NYPL


Jason Baumann, the exhibition’s curator, said, “The 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots is a unique opportunity to reflect on LGBTQ politics and culture.”

“The thing that I hope people take away from it is that they can be politically active themselves and make the world a better place and that they can change the world themselves,” Baumann said in an interview with NBC News. “These people weren’t professional activists. They were just concerned people who knew that our society was unjust. And so they made a difference.”

Organized into four sections — “Love,” “Resistance,” “In Print” and “Bars” — the exhibit takes us through the ways LGBTQ activists, particularly those in New York City, began to recognize themselves as a community and moved to expand their political power.

Men kissing under a tree in Philadelphia in 1977
Men kissing under a tree in Philadelphia in 1977Kay Tobin / NYPL


At first, gay bars were some of the only safe spaces where this fledgling community could meet to organize, even as these establishments were also regular sites of police raids and often operated by crime syndicates, as was the case at the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago.

Bars like Stonewall attracted gay men, drag queens, lesbians and others in the extended queer communities, and the exhibit shows how authorities tried to flush these sexual and gender minorities out of public life. LGBTQ people were prevented from living openly by laws banning cross dressing, serving alcohol to “known homosexuals” and sodomy — some of which remained on the books in the state until 1980.

And lest a visitor think Stonewall was the point at which life changed for LGBTQ people in New York, raids continued for years: The exhibit shows this with artifacts from the Snake Pit, where a 1970 New York Police Department raid ended with a gay man impaled on a fence.

The exhibit’s “In Print” section examines how these communities found one another in the pre-internet era, noting that “after Stonewall, there was an explosion of LGBTQ publications that reflected the new spirit of liberation.”

Original copies of magazines like The Ladder, RFD, Transvestia and Come Out! show how activists spread the word: “They were passed from hand to hand and distributed through small book shops and the mail,” according to the text boldly written on the exhibit’s wall. The distribution of LGBTQ magazines was a legal battle in and of itself, and one of the first wins in the struggle.

The show’s “Resistance” section examines how activism slowly morphed from “tightly orchestrated affairs with conservative dress codes” to a liberation movement modeled after those sweeping the world in the 1960s.

“LGBTQ political movements developed a range of demonstration tactics that were subsequently employed by AIDS activists in the 1980s and 1990s and continue to inform activist strategies today,” the exhibit text states.

“Probably the greatest impact of LGBTQ activism has been the transformation in relationships for people of all orientations,” reads the introduction to the “Love” section. “By challenging sodomy laws and barriers to marriage, LGBTQ activists expanded the legal and personal options for love in the culture at large.”

“They embraced the radical idea that sexual desire and love could be grounds for totally transforming society.”

The exhibit even lifts the veil on aspects of the LGBTQ liberation movement that are still taboo in today’s society: “LGBTQ people questioned the full range of possibilities regarding love, sexuality, and friendship,” reads an inscription in the “Love” section. “They experimented with open relationships, polyamory, communal living, erotic friendships, and cruising, and they even fought for the right to legal marriage. They embraced the radical idea that sexual desire and love could be grounds for totally transforming society.”

Baumann, the exhibit curator, said the exhibit draws upon a tiny fraction of the 100+ LGBTQ collections held by the New York Public Library, which include the papers of Truman Capote, ACT UP New York’s records, Diana Davies’ photographs and 79 linear feet of documents donated by Gittings and another lesbian activist, Kay Tobin Lahusen. He also pointed to the NYC Trans Oral History Project as an area where visitors can dive deeper into digital-only archives.

Alongside the exhibition, the library is publishing two books containing curated writings from LGBTQ activists as well as reprints of the exhibition items: “The Stonewall Reader” and “Love and Resistance: Out of the Closet Into the Stonewall Era.”

Love & Resistance: Stonewall 50” runs from Feb. 14 to July 14 at the New York Public Library in Manhattan. In addition to the exhibit at the main library in Midtown Manhattan, the New York Public Library plans Stonewall 50-themed programming at its 88 branches across Manhattan, Bronx and Staten Island.

This Friday, the library will host a “Love & Resistance”-themed After Hours event, which will feature exhibit walk throughs with Baumann, as well as an adult version of a crowd favorite, Drag Queen Story Hour.


Tim Fitzsimons



Planned Parenthood Offering Services for Gay Men and Trans Community

While PP has specialized in reproductive healthcare and education for women, they will now offer PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to gay men and trans people to prevent HIV infection, according to Phebe Brandt, a Philadelphia-based PP clinician.

“We do all the counseling around [PrEP],” Brandt said. “We do all the testing that’s necessary, we actually provide prescriptions. And if people don’t have insurance and need to go through the program through Gilead to pay for it, we facilitate the applications for that.”

Gilead, a pharmaceutical company, created in an in-house program to help uninsured people access highly priced medications.

Not only is PrEP available at PP, but so is hormone therapy for trans people.

“We started providing hormone therapy for trans folks over a year ago,” Brandt said. “We have everybody on their first visit meet with a social worker. They make sure that the client is in a good place to be starting hormone therapy… If everything checks out, if everything is good, we actually have the medication in house to get them started on the hormone therapy.”

“We soon realized that we were doing a disservice to our patients because we realized that trans folks who have sex with men are at such high risk for acquiring HIV, it was a disservice to them to not offer PrEP.”

Currently, these services are available only at the Philadelphia location Brandt works at. However, she expects other branches will offer PrEP soon.

Author:  Katie Burkholder


This Art-Focused Initiative Supports Women Living With HIV

LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN is here to fill a very special void: supporting and uplifting women living with HIV. Founder Jessica Whitbread tells PAPER that the project, which took root in 2013, was created to not only be a “two-week holiday focused on love,” but to make positive women around the world living with stigmas, sadness, and in many cases, violence, “feel at least a tiny bit of the love and support that is around them.”

To do this, Whitbread partnered with the premiere AIDS awareness-centered arts organization, Visual AIDS, and papermaking nonprofit, Dieu Donné, to literally spread love through art. Bringing the arts communities together with activists and women living with HIV, Whitbread and her partners encouraged participants to personalize paper valentines to send to women around the world. “The idea is that anyone and everyone can do acts of kindness for or with women living with HIV in their community, or themselves,” Whitbread explains.


Now in its eighth year, LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN will send out more than 800 handmade cards to women all over the world living with HIV, with a global reach of 40+ countries. Additionally, Visual AIDS has inspired offshoot groups in Ukraine, Jamaica, and Canada to join the initiative by leading their own de-stigmatizing love-focused projects, because as Whitbread notes, “kindness and caring can be tools for social change.”

PAPER caught up with Whitbread to learn more about LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN, and we meet some of the women who make the project so special.

LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN founder Jessica Whitbread

What motivated you to launch LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN?

Jessica Whitbread: As a woman living with HIV, for the most part I’ve been rather fortunate in regards to love, sex and limited stigma — though I know this is far from the reality of the vast majority of women living with HIV globally. I’ve heard so many stories about isolation, stigma, violence and sadness that I really wanted to create something that made those women feel at least a tiny bit of the love and support that is around them. So LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN was an idea that I had in 2012, actualized in 2013—to start a two-week “holiday” to focus on love. The idea is that anyone and everyone can do acts of kindness for and with women living with HIV in their community or themselves.

How has the project molded your work as an activist?

I have been living with HIV for 18 years and doing activism for most of that time. At a certain point, I was sick of all the toxic drama sometimes involved with activist movements and wanted to focus on kindness and caring as a tool for social change. LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN showed me that we can work differently together — and that the infighting in movements creates a toxic cesspool that I am not interested in being a part of. I use the feeling I get during LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN to remind me that when we work together and are kind to each other, that amazing things can happen.

What do you learn from the women involved with the project?

My goodness, I’ve learned so much from them! I am deeply inspired by every one of these women. Like Sita Banjade from Nepal, who this year brought a group of women living with HIV together and gave bags of rice and warm clothing to elder and disabled women for LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN. Or L’Orangelis Thomas from Puerto Rico, who was born with HIV; when I told her there was a group of trans women living with HIV in the Dominican Republic, she brought a group of poz youth together to make cards and handmade soap to send as a surprise present. Or CZ from India, who magically inspired local pop stars to dedicate music videos to positive women, and had a dance party with an HIV-positive kissing booth to stop stigma. Or the groups in Canada that wrote letters to incarcerated women living with HIV, and sent special cards. Most of the projects for LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN come from the heart and are about as grassroots as you can get. I’m inspired by the women’s creativity and dedication to making their lives and the lives of other women better.

“One misunderstanding that comes to mind is the thought that women living with HIV are not or should not be sexual […] Positive women are sexy and desirable and amazing lovers and total gems.”

What are the most common misunderstandings and misconceptions about women living with HIV that you encounter?

That’s a hard question. I guess one misunderstanding that comes to mind is the thought that women living with HIV are not or should not be sexual. This is totally outdated and has always been a misconception. Positive women are sexy and desirable and amazing lovers and total gems! I often look at the difference in the way that gay men living with HIV are depicted in relation to women — in particular when it comes to sex and dating. I remember a friend was complaining about this workshop that she went to where they gave the women’s group cupcakes with little penises on them. She was like, “This is so patronizing! I don’t want a fucking cupcake dick, I want a real dick.”

What do you hope this project achieves? What’s your biggest hope for it and the women involved?

2018 marks the 8th year of LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN. My hope has always been that by year 10, it runs itself and is 100% owned by the community. That it remains a time for people around the world to reflect and celebrate the lives of women living with HIV. Because positive women — cis, trans and femme-identifying folks — are incredible, and I really want to entire world to know this because honestly, if you are not engaged with these ladies, or the ones in your own community, you don’t know what you are missing.

Joyce McDonald, Visual AIDS Artist+ Member

What does receiving a valentine mean to you?

I was carrying a burden. I was really, really sad. And I went to the mailbox one day, and I took out the mail and there was a bid red envelope. When I opened it, it was a beautiful card, and then it said it was to me! And it just melted me. I was in tears, because at that moment, when I opened that card I felt the love. It really, really impacted me and I’m a hard person for something to impact.


Why Science Shows Us the Best Way to Beat HIV Stigma

The public has to know what HIV looks like in 2019, not 1989.

Ask a group of people living with HIV, as I did recently, whether HIV stigma is better or worse than in the old days and mostly you will hear “the same” or even “worse.” Those answers arrive despite more than 30 years of trying, of anti-stigma campaigns, of personal testimonies, of HIV-positive celebrities coming out, of stigma-challenging T-shirts. Despite throwing the book at stigma for decades, our attempts to move the needle have been fruitless—or that’s the perception.

Whether that perception mirrors reality is moot. The evidence is skimpy. Thirty years in, we have tools to measure stigma—and we are starting to see them used, including here in Canada—but data is sparse. True, stigma is a challenging entity to measure even on a one-time basis, yet alone to track over decades. But if the prevailing wisdom is that we will not treat ourselves out of the epidemic and that stigma and its underpinnings need to be defeated to achieve victory, then we desperately need a battle plan, plus good measurement tools and sustained data collection.

A campaign from Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

In their absence we must rely on evidence that is empirical. It’s not necessarily reliable. If I say that as a privileged white gay man, HIV stigma is markedly less now than what I encountered over 25 years ago when I was first diagnosed, that statement can and should be challenged.

We in the HIV community continue to chip away at stigma, though, without really knowing how effective our efforts are. We are not alone. A billboard caught my eye in downtown Toronto. Its message: “WHY DO SOME ILLNESSES GET TREATMENT WHILE OTHERS GET JUDGEMENT?” It’s from a thoughtful campaign from Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). “It’s time we said no more discrimination, no more ignorance, and no more funding gaps. It’s time for every Canadian to rally together to ensure mental illness gets the same priority as any other illness,” reads the message. But while the campaign’s objectives lean toward parity for people living with mental health, it also makes the point that values and judgment—and of course stigma—play an important role in health conditions way more numerous, in fact way more widespread, than HIV. “One in five Canadians experience mental illness in any given year. We all know someone” says the campaign’s website.

It’s not hard to identify other health conditions, besides mental health and HIV, that attract judgment, or blame or stigma of their own. Think addictions. Think smoking related cancers, for example. Think sexualliy transmitted infections (STIs) of all stripes. The point is that campaigns that target stigma relating to any one illness inevitably invite comparisons. (There is some literature that compares the stigma associated with illness A to illness B but I’m not going there. The Stigma Olympics this is not.) The point is first that experiencing stigma is not at all rare in society and secondly, that other disability groups are struggling to combat it too.

So what works?

I’ve often argued that the personal testimonies of people living with HIV are hugely important. They may not change societal views at anything but a snail’s pace, but they can and do change minds one at a time. Stigma though is so pervasive that, I’d wager, far more people work hard to hide their status than to share it with others. Relying on more people living with HIV to come out, because the challenges to doing so can be extreme, clearly isn’t enough. Meanwhile stigma is amplified by cruel comments on Facebook or dating websites. True our efforts are helped by newscasters who come out or movies that favourably portray HIV-positive characters, for example. On the other side of the coin, it’s also important to acknowledge that worthy efforts like these to eliminate stigma are also being diminished by negative publication around criminalization, the “HIV monster” narrative that has persisted for decades, and other unfriendly voices.

The Terrence Higgins Trust U=U campaign

The Terrence Higgins Trust U=U campaignCoutesy of Terrence Higgins Trust

Some prevention campaigns haven’t helped us either. Certainly early shock campaigns designed to scare the public away from contracting HIV may have aided condom uptake but also scared people away from people living with HIV . Even discounting those ads designed to scare, it’s arguable whether the raft of anti-HIV stigma campaigns around the world has had any noticeable impact. (For some commentary on these go here.) Essentially we just don’t know. Evaluation in any meaningful way is largely missing.

I’m not arguing that that we should dissuade people from coming out and telling their stories and I’m not arguing we shouldn’t continue to mount broadly based anti-HIV stigma social media campaigns. Instead we need to be more effective.

The CAMH messaging I mentioned earlier is a values-based approach we have seldom really tried. Essentially it says we shouldn’t blame people for their illness. I like ethics that work. But with HIV, there is a more important factor we have to contend with. It’s the fear of transmission, a fear which service providers have inadvertantly engaged in amplifying for decades. That HIV is no longer what it was presents us with an opportunity to present a different narrative. True it involves normalizing HIV in a way that some have resisted but the public has to know what HIV looks like in 2019, not 1989. There is, of course, a huge difference.

The new face of HIV, although sadly not yet universal, is a healthy face. It’s a face on a body that lives as long as the next person. It’s a face that need not be feared. Why? If we are on successful treatment, we cannot transmit the virus to our sexual partners. These are facts we can prove. This information changes our lives but has the potential to change our place in society. We are no longer a threat. Voices that share that new reality are our most powerful weapon yet.

In other words, we have entered an era of science-based messaging. “Can’t pass it on” from Terrence Higgins Trust was an early example. The ubiquitous U=U from Prevention Access Campaign is another. Their uptake and influence has been massive—check out the current POZ cover story on U=U for more examples. Importantly the campaigns address the fear of HIV transmission that has clearly driven stigma, but the campaigns also speak to the health and well-being of people living with HIV. It’s a winning combination, and in 2019 it represents the best path forward to end stigma.

POZ March 2019 cover U=U Undetectable = Untransmitable

The March 2019 issue of POZ

More importantly, instead of throwing anything anti-stigma against the wall and hoping it sticks, we now have a tool with a much higher chance of success. The U=U message is incredibly powerful. It’s based on science, of course, but science that is easily simplified. It will take time to convince a hesitant populace that we no longer need be feared. We must at the same time be sensitive to the fact that we aren’t all undetectable, because of treatment access issues or adherence issues or choice. The largest challenges are still faced by the most marginalized. They need support, not further stigmatization. That being said, the opportunity to change the face of HIV is out there like never before. Ending HIV stigma is no longer a distant dream. It’s attainable.

Author: Bob Leahy


Blowing Up the HIV/AIDS Myth

It’s true that overall HIV rates are declining in our country, but progress has been uneven.

 “Remember that one day the AIDS crisis will be over.

And when that day has come and gone there will be people alive who will hear

that once there was a terrible disease, and that a brave group

of people stood up and fought and in some cases died

so others might live and be free.”

—Vito Russo ACT UP 1988

Seems some people have forgotten that HIV/AIDS is 100% preventable and that no one has to get HIV/AIDS today. New infections continue, especially among our youth. One in seven don’t know they’re infected. Not identified, tested and in treatment, they are at risk of passing along the virus to others. Gay/bisexual young people ages 13 to 24 account for nearly 70 percent of new HIV cases. These are our kids!

The numbers reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that among women and people ages 35 to 44, prevention efforts have dropped new infections by more than 30 percent this past decade. Yet, the twofold increase in young bisexual and gay men ages 13 to 24 means our youth are not getting the message.

While HIV/AIDS continues to affect youth, the myth persists that if you do test HIV positive then a simple pill will wipe away the problem. It does not. Treatment is imperative. No question. It preserves quality of life and prevents transmission of the virus. But it has side-effects. Who wants to depend on pills for the rest of their life?

Remembering the early years of the AIDS crisis remains painful for many of us who loved and lost. Faces are impossible to forget. Cara, the little two-year-old baby who died in the arms of her mother— as I watched. And Cheech. I was part of the constant stream of people paying my respects at his beside after the life had slipped from his soul.

We have tools in our toolbox today. Getting tested, knowing your status, and staying on treatment will help ensure a healthier life living with HIV/AIDS. For under-represented people, Ryan White Funds are providing much-needed wrap-around services.

Annual HIV infections and diagnoses are overall declining in our country. The CDC credits this to targeted HIV prevention efforts. But the CDC acknowledges progress “has been uneven.” Our youth remain at-risk.

As a straight ally working to fight HIV/AIDS when I was a single mom, people would ask why I was involved. The answer was always the same. “I don’t want my son to grow up and contract HIV.”

It’s a myth that the HIV/AIDS pandemic is over. People who stood, fought and died—they are heroes. Their bravery will never be forgotten.


Author: Joyce Mitchell



Using anti-cancer immunotherapy to fight HIV

CRCHUM researchers are exploring a potential therapeutic approach

MONTREALFeb. 18, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ – Researchers at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) have shown that immunotherapy treatments against cancer could reduce the amount of virus that persists in people on triple therapy. In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, they show, in the cells of people living with HIV, how these therapies reveal the virus – until now hidden in the hollows of infected cells –  to the immune system.

“We identified the mechanism by which anti-cancer immunotherapy ‘awakens’ the virus from its hiding places and reduces the size of HIV reservoirs in people on triple therapy. Although most of our experiments have been performed in vitro, our approach could lead to the development of new therapies,” stated Nicolas Chomont, a CRCHUM researcher and Université de Montréal professor.

HIV reservoirs are cells and tissue in which the virus persists despite triple therapy. This treatment prevents the infection from developing into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). To survive and replicate, HIV needs to be hosted in a cell. As a rule, it infects CD4+ T lymphocytes, white blood cells responsible for activating the body’s defences against infections.

The virus remains dormant in these cells and builds a reservoir that is controlled, but not eliminated by antiretroviral drugs. The subject of intense study, these reservoir cells are the last hurdle in eradicating the virus and force people living with HIV to take antiretroviral drugs for the rest of their lives.

In 2016, Rémi Fromentin, a research associate in Nicolas Chomont’s laboratory, showed that the cells housing the persistent viruses have specific immunological characteristics: three proteins called PD-1, LAG-3 and TIGIT, that are frequently expressed at their surface. Today these molecules are the target of immunotherapies used to treat cancer. The researchers decided to evaluate the effect of these therapies on HIV reservoirs.

A strategy evaluated in a small number of people with HIV and cancer
“Our results prove that immunotherapies targeting molecules such as PD-1 could reduce the amount of virus persisting in people on triple therapy. One of the next steps would be to combine immunotherapy with molecules that, up to now, have been ineffective in eradicating HIV reservoirs. This combination of immunotherapy and chemical molecules could ‘awaken’ the virus and help remove the cells infected by HIV,” added Chomont.

In this article, Rémi Fromentin and Nicolas Chomont also present data from a patient in Montreal infected with HIV and treated by immunotherapy for a melanoma.

“The size of the patient’s HIV reservoirs decreased significantly, which is encouraging. However, we must remain cautious, because this doesn’t work with all patients. These treatments also cause considerable side effects,” indicated Fromentin. The results of clinical trials currently underway in the United States on patients with cancer and HIV should help guide future research.

Nearly 37 million people around the world live with HIV. Every day, 5,000 cases are reported to global health authorities.

The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the National Institutes of Health, the Delaney AIDS Research Enterprise (DARE) to Find a Cure, the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and the Réseau SIDA maladies infectieuses (FRQ-S).

To read: “PD-1 blockade potentiates HIV latency reversal ex vivo in CD4+ T cells from ART-suppressed individuals” by Rémi Fromentin et al. in Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08798-7

About the CRCHUM
The University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) is one of North America’s leading hospital research centres. It strives to improve adult health through a research continuum covering such disciplines as the fundamental sciences, clinical research and public health. Over 1,861 people work at the CRCHUM, including 542 scientists and 719 students and research assistants.

About Université de Montréal
Deeply rooted in Montréal and dedicated to its international mission, Université de Montréal is one of the top universities in the French-speaking world. Founded in 1878, Université de Montréal today has 16 faculties and schools, and together with its two affiliated schools, HEC Montréal and Polytechnique Montréal, constitutes the largest centre of higher education and research in Québec and one of the major centres in North America. It brings together 2,500 professors and researchers and welcomes more than 60,000 students.

SOURCE Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM)

For further information: Media contact – information and interviews: Bruno Geoffroy, Public Information Officer, 514-890-8000 ext. 30872,

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“You’ll Never Meet a Man at that Damn AIDS Foundation”

Don’t be so sure, responds Cupid in this real-life tale of activism and romance.

Passion impacts progress, survives setbacks, celebrates victories and overcomes disappointments. Having been an HIV/AIDS activist since the 1980s, I know the roller-coaster ride only too well.

As a TV news producer, starting in 1986, I used to turn an AIDS story a week during the early days of the unfolding pandemic. Soon I was recruited by an AIDS nonprofit to join its board. And I did.

Then … a life interrupted. Using protection, I got pregnant. I wasn’t married. The daddy didn’t want a kid. And with great support from my newfound HIV/AIDS community—I had a baby. At the age of 40.

Single-mom me and Jamie

I took six weeks off after my little boy was born then went back to work. Stretched thin, I never for a second abandoned my commitment to AIDS. Jameson attended his first AIDS walk in a stroller.

My mom was 76, and no question she was old-fashioned. But she supported my choices.

Still, she would ask, “Why do you spend so much time at that damn Sacramento AIDS Foundation? You’ll never meet a man there.”

Baby Jamie

She had a point. Most of my friends there were gay men. They loved me as a straight media-connected ally and new single mom. And I loved them back. When my aunt said I embarrassed the family by getting pregnant, the guys reminded me “shame” was not in our vocabulary.

I frequently got exclusive stories because of my involvement in the community. I had trusted sources, and they knew I would help carry the message.

One assignment was about needle exchange. It was illegal in those days to even meet about it. A well-known AIDS doctor invited my photographer and me to cover an underground meeting.

With a lawyer on stand-by in case we were arrested— and yes it was possible—the doctor, who was my trusted source, called-in sick! A bitchy woman tried kicking me out of the meeting, but I sat down on the floor, crossed my legs and refused to leave.

The city council was debating the issue, and I knew airwaves would raise awareness that needle exchange could help slow the spread of HIV/AIDS among injection drug users.

While sitting there, I noticed a handsome man across the room smiling at me. I assumed he was approving of my determination. I did get the story, and it led the 5 PM newscast.

That handsome man was a psychologist and harm reduction advocate. Shortly after, I was set-up to interview him for another story. And the rest is history.

My wedding

Turns out my mom was wrong. I did meet a man while working for that “damn” AIDS Foundation. She always embraced my son, then she came to love the new man, and my cause.

A couple of years later, that new man and I ended up getting married. Or rather, my son and I married that new man. At our wedding, the Gay Men’s Chorus sang as I walked down the aisle.

The Gay Men’s Chorus at my wedding

One of the songs I asked them to sing was “Stand By Your Man.” It brought down the house. My mom was tickled by how my life was turning out.

Twenty-five-years later, Jameson, my husband and I are all HIV/AIDS volunteers. And my son has lots of wonderful gay uncles.

Here we are today.

My mom died in 2002. In lieu of flowers, donations were used to start the Helen Veress-Mitchell Scholarship Fund to help young HIV-positive students attend college. The program is run by Capital City AIDS Fund (CCAF) and since has raised and given away nearly $200,000. My mom continues to smile.

My mom

As for the controversial meeting where my husband and I first met, after my story aired and activists advocated, the Sacramento City Council finally voted to approve syringe exchange for the region.

No question passion impacts progress. Setbacks are part of the process. But passion can also leave us reveling in the most unexpected surprises.


Author:  Joyce Mitchell



To end the HIV epidemic, addressing poverty and inequities one of most important treatments

Homelessness is a major driver of HIV/AIDS. Andrew Marcus/

In his State of the Union speech, President Trump called for ending the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and senior public health officials stated that the government plans to focus on highly impacted areas and getting drugs to people at risk.

I am a social scientist with over 10 years of expertise in the area of health disparities. My research interests include understanding and addressing disparities in HIV and cancer outcomes, particularly among immigrant and minority populations, using a social determinants of health framework.

While remarkable progress has been made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, ending the epidemic will likely take longer than 10 years and will take more than drugs. That’s because the main driver of the disease has more to do with social inequity than with the virus alone.

The overall annual number of new HIV diagnoses has remained stable in recent years in the U.S., but this has not been the case for all groups. In fact, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that major racial, ethnic, socioeconomic and even geographical inequities still exist. These inequities exist at every step in the HIV care continuum, from testing to mortality.

This means that there are gaps along the continuum and these individuals are being lost at each step, including HIV testing and diagnosis, linkage to appropriate HIV care, support while in care, access to antiretroviral treatment, and support while on treatment. These gaps exist due to barriers such as poor access to services, poverty, food insecurity and homelessness, and stigma and discrimination.

A HIV hot spot: The South

A nurse pricks the finger of a young person to draw blood to test for HIV. Adam Jan Figel/


Among the CDC’s most distressing recent findings: More than half of new HIV diagnoses in the United States occur in the South. The heavy burden of HIV in the South is driven by factors such as concentrated poverty in cities, suburban areas and rural counties, high levels of unemployment, inadequate local health care infrastructure, and a lack of access to health insurance and quality health care services. Other important factors include increased stigma and discrimination toward those living with HIV. This can lead to people being afraid to get tested or seek treatment for fear that someone may find out they have HIV.

Gay and bisexual men account for 66 percent (25,748) of all diagnoses and 82 percent of HIV diagnoses among males. And, although African-Americans represent 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 43 percent (16,694) of HIV diagnoses. Likewise, Latinos represent 18 percent of the population but account for 26 percent (9,908) of HIV diagnoses.Racial and ethnic minority women account for a disproportionate share of diagnoses of HIV infection among women.

An arsenal beyond the medicine chest

HIV interventions that focus narrowly on pharmaceutical or drug innovations alone or individual behavior change cannot effectively address the magnitude and complexity of the HIV epidemic, as I explain in my recently published article with co-researcher David R. Williams, Ph.D. at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in Public Health Reports. What we need most urgently today is a new generation of rigorously evaluated, cost-effective HIV interventions focused on the fundamental contextual factors for disease. These factors include:

  • access to adequate housing
  • access to quality health care and health insurance
  • access to child care
  • education, employment status, gender equality and income.

These factors are known generally as the social determinants of health (SDH) and have been viewed as the drivers of health for decades by many public health experts.

To cite a few examples, in one scientific study, structural community factors, such as poverty and poor employment opportunities, limited access to health care resources among women in the Deep South. In addition, stigma, transportation challenges, and access to illicit substances impacted health-seeking behavior and decision-making, and the ability to engage in HIV care.

Similarly, another study found that homeless individuals were more likely to be uninsured and less likely to adhere to their HIV anti-retroviral medication, demonstrating that housing is an important mechanism for improving the health of this vulnerable group.

Moreover, racial/ethnic stereotypes are deeply embedded in American culture and, whether consciously or not, can adversely affect the care that providers give to their patientsEvidence indicates that interventions that address implicit racial bias among providers can improve the quality of care and reduce racial/ethnic disparities in HIV outcomes.

With this scientific evidence in mind, it is perhaps unsurprising then, that despite three decades of public education and clinical campaigns, more than half of all the new infections in the entire region of North America, Western Europe and Central Europe occur in the U.S.

Make things fair

Tents for homeless people in San Francisco, Calif., where a lack of housing is a rising crisis. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced a plan to create new housing to provide homeless people with secure housing. Eric Risberg/AP Photo


So what will it take to end the epidemic in the U.S.?

Put simply, to fight HIV, we need to address poverty and social inequity. This approach is the vital game-changer needed to eradicate the HIV epidemic in the U.S. Whenever feasible, social determinants need to be incorporated into behavioral and biomedical strategies to increase their likelihood of success. A new generation of HIV interventions focused on the fundamental SDHs should be the centerpiece of efforts to address HIV-related disparities.

There is growing scientific evidence documenting that interventions that address poverty and inequities in social and living conditions can be effective in reducing risks of HIV infection. Numerous studies reveal that improving education and affordable housing can reduce incidence rates of HIV and AIDS, because low levels of education and unstable housing have been found to decrease social stability and increase HIV risk behaviors.

These studies reveal that interventions that strengthen women’s income, housing stability and gender empowerment are associated with improved psychological well-being, economic productivity and reduced HIV risk. Improving access to care and enhancing quality of care can also contribute to reducing disparities in the incidence of HIV.

It is time to recognize that every government action has the potential to affect health and health equity, including policies dealing with finance, education, housing, employment, transportation and health. Economic studies also support the fact that most rigorously evaluated interventions focused on SDHs have been shown to be cost-effective and save society money in the long run. It is therefore important to integrate this Health in All Policies approach to have the widest impact on the HIV epidemic.

I believe Americans must commit to making it clear to our leaders and to all Americans that all sectors of society gain when we invest in tackling inequities in the most vulnerable areas. HIV/AIDS is not a partisan issue. Political will – and good will toward our most vulnerable fellow citizens – can engender a national “culture of health” that shatters boundaries, equalizes access, and makes HIV/AIDS a fading spectre from the past.

Associate Professor, American University and Research Fellow at Center on Health, Risk, and Society, American University School of International Service


P.E.I.’s LGBT community seeks a welcoming place


People from P.E.I.’s LGBT community are coming together to talk about how they can create a space of their own on the Island.

“A lot of places have a gay bar or a coffee shop that is very welcoming, or a community centre, and P.E.I. doesn’t have any of those things right now,” said Hannah Gehrels, co-ordinator of the Linking Together project.

“This is something we’ve heard for years, and so part of this event we’re hosting a discussion around — is this something that we want on P.E.I., how do we move towards achieving it, what would we want it to look like?”

The idea to talk more seriously about creating a welcoming, physical space came out of a group of about 10 people from the community who have been meeting weekly for the last five months.

They hope to continue that discussion as part of a larger event planned at the Haviland Club in Charlottetown on Feb. 16.

The day-long event will include a trans panel, gentle yoga, a drag queen story hour and make-up tutorial, and even knitting lessons.

“It’s going to be an awesome event,” said Gehrels. “I encourage everyone to come.”

Nancy Russell/CBC
Nancy Russell/CBC

Gehrels hopes connections will be made at the free, all-ages event that will help the community to grow. She is asking people to register, as there will be food available.

There will also be blood testing with Dr. Greg German, a disease specialist with Health PEI. He will test for HIV and Hep C. There will be no names visibly attached to the tests. Results will be returned in two to three weeks.