2017 was a tough year for a lot of people, but through it all, a lot of positives came from it. Until the end of the month, I will be reflecting on personal, medical and community growth. Here are the top 10 things that I took away from 2017...
3. MY GROWING BOWLING BALL COLLECTION
I received this Bugs Bunny bowling ball from a co-worker who heard I collect bowling balls.
Two engraved “AIDS Care” bowling balls.
Arlene Van Halle, a former employee, who had an artist create this mosaic, glass bowling ball.
Recently, I was featured in “55-Plus” magazine. A reader sent this note to me:
Dear Dr. Valenti:
I am writing this on a typewriter as I do not have internet. I enjoyed reading of your work with AIDS in 55-Plus magazine and see that you collect bowling balls.
If you would like it, I would be happy to give you my mother’s bowling ball. She was a champion bowler during World War II and I would love for you to have it.
It is in a carry bag and in very good condition.
My take: This is a great community. A lot of people pay attention to the issues. In 35 years, I’ve had only a handful of really unpleasant encounters around my AIDS work. The overwhelming majority of people I’ve encountered have been supportive.
(I hope to continue to expand this collection in 2018. And, yes, I will take my new friend up on her offer of her WWII era bowling ball!)
4. RAPID START TREATMENT
Rapid Start Treatment: we stumbled on this as our PrEP program grew and we started seeing some people who were already HIV-positive.
Rather than waiting for a battery of tests to come back and struggling with insurance enrollment, we began to start treatment that day. Patients liked the idea and have accepted it.
New York City Health Department does Rapid Start Treatment. They call it “Jump Start” and they do it in the city’s 12 Sexual Health Clinics. Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, NYC Health Department Deputy Director came to Trillium and talked about this with us earlier in 2017.
My take: This is a major advance in treatment because it’s another way to stop HIV transmission. The CDC says that most new infections are transmitted to others during the early stages of infection when the viral load is highest. Rapid Start/Jump Start is becoming a global movement in HIV care. It is a major advance as we move to 2020. Also, keep your eyes on Dr. Demetre and Johanne Morne – they are both stars and will make a huge difference in getting us to the finish line.
Starting treatment ASAP can help End the HIV Epidemic!